Last Exit Newcastle 1975

gosforthhotel Before Sting formed the Police and started his journey on the road to mega-stardom, he could be found playing jazz-rock in a small upstairs room in a pub in Gosforth. The pub was the Gosforth Hotel, and the band was called Last Exit. Last Exit consisted on Sting on bass and vocals, drummer Ronnie Pearson, guitarists John Hedley and keyboardist Gerry Richardson. They existed for a couple of years in the mid-70s, and made quite a name for themselves playing around the Newcastle Area. They had a residency at the Gosforth Hotel, and also often played in the bar of the University Theatre (now the Playhouse). I saw them in both venues, and have strong memories of a couple of great gigs at the Gosforth Hotel. I went along with Marie, having read about Last Exit in the local press, and a write-up in Sounds. I also remember hearing a set they recorded for local radio. The room where they played was pretty small, and on the occasions we went to see them, the audience was quite small. The material was very jazzy with some great guitar work, and Sting’s vocals stood out. Their set included some early versions of songs which would later be recorded by the Police including “The Bed’s Too Big Without You”. Last Exit released a single in 1975, “Whispering Voices” and in 1977, they moved to London to look for greater success. However, after a few gigs most of the band returned to Newcastle, leaving Sting in the capital to pursue fame and fortune, which he was soon, of course, to find. I also saw Sting perform a few times as bass player in the Newcastle Big Band which was a large jazz band of around 20 musicians who played saxophones, trumpets, trombones, etc. They had a residency on Sunday lunchtimes in the bar of the University theatre, and I went through a few lunchtimes to catch their set. A very rare locally pressed lp exists of the band which was recorded in 1971 and features them playing standards such as Macarthur Park and Hey Jude. Sting was very recognisable in those days, and was always wearing his trademark striped sweater from which his name came. Marie and I would often spot him at gigs at Newcastle Poly Students Union in the mid 70s.

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4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Jay on July 22, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    I do not believe that it is a commonly known fact that they recorded anything for local radio. I certainly did not know this. Would you have any ideas as to which station it could have been? Some possibilities?

    Reply

  2. Posted by geoffn on November 4, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    Yes, Sting has written about those Newcastle Poly gigs and especially the sobering effect of hearing Stanley Clarke on bass with Chick Corea’s Return to Forever.

    I knew Sting distantly through the Newcastle Big Band, whose gigs I promoted at the University from time to time. When he first moved to London I ran into him at the 100 Club, where he proudly showed me a press cutting from his wallet. It was his first mention in a national music mag (Sounds, possibly) and said ” Last Exit: first Newcastle, next the world”.

    Who wrote that, I wonder? Phil Sutcliffe, possibly.

    Reply

    • Posted by vintagerock on November 4, 2014 at 5:13 pm

      Hi Geof I went to some of the Big Band gigs at the Playhouse. I seem to recall one Sunday lunchtime gig in particular. Yep, I think Phil Sutcliffe did write about Last
      Exit a few times. I think it was an early report by him that put it in my mind to go and see them at Gosforth. I was going to Newcaslte Poly gig a a lot from 74 onwards and would often see Sting there. Cheers Peter

      Reply

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