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.

11 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

    • Posted by vintagerock on July 22, 2014 at 2:56 pm

      Hi Jay I think it will have been Metro Radio or Radio Newcastle. I can’t be sure but I think Alan Robson had a programme on local radio at the time and played a lot of local bands.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Robson
      It could well have been his show. Cheers Peter

      Reply

      • Peter, Not sure if you were listening to Alan’s NIGHT OWLS radio show TODAY, Sunday, Oct 4, by any chance, but I was able to call in and discuss with Alan the time when Sting was on his program live with Last Exit. He recalled that it was “during their last year as a band,” which places it sometime in 76 or 77, and that it was on a Sunday when he used to play a wide variety of music within the same show. Sometimes jazz, sometimes other genres. He says about it now that Sting had a self-assured quality that was both uncommon and also not possessed by his other Last Exit bandmates. It was no surprise to Alan that Sting made it with another group later on. Additionally, he also indicated that he recalled hem specifically playing BED’S TOO BIG WITHOUT YOU on the show. The early Last Exit version of this has eluded me for 3 decades, although about 5 seconds of it was used as backing music on VH1’s Behind the Music segment years ago, which had been supplied to the show producers by Gerry Richardson, the keyboard player of Last Exit. I suppose that the only chances of hearing THIS EXACT radio program is if someone local happened to have been taping it off their radio back in the late 70s and kept the cassette all the way till today. Maybe SOMEONE did so and doesn’t even know that their recording has Sting on it, or maybe has a cassette(s) with no labels on them that contain this music. The appearance was apparently lined up by Sting’s brother, so maybe he made a recording, or someone else did for the band, since I’d have to imagine they’s want to have heard what they sounded like afterwards… Maybe something will surface someday. I’d happily pay a nice reward for something like that!

      • Posted by vintagerock on October 5, 2020 at 10:04 am

        Hi Jay no sadly I didn’t hear the radio show. Fascinating story. I agree that Sting had something about him in those days. I saw him in Last Exit, and in the Newcastle Big-Band, and many times at Newcastle Poly dance on Friday night watching the bands. He always stood out in his jumper and had a certain presence about him. Happy days and happy memories cheers Peter

      • Posted by Jay Matsueda on February 4, 2021 at 10:39 pm

        Further to my comment above, apparently they only played a portion of BEDS TOO BIG WITHOUT YOU, and it was with Sting on acoustic bass. From what Alan seems to be able to recall, live performance on the radio was a bit of a ‘new’ thing at the time, and the intellectual property / copyright aspects of doing that were still a bit fuzzy at the time, so bands didn’t play full songs sometimes during their appearances. This was apparently more of an interview only with a few impromptu acoustic measures of the one song played.

      • Posted by vintagerock on February 5, 2021 at 10:31 am

        Thanks for the clarification Jay cheers Peter

  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

  3. Posted by Rob on June 30, 2021 at 2:50 pm

    I remember seeing Last Exit on tv playing “Don’t give up your dayjob”. I suppose this was on Look North. It was stated they were moving to London.

    Reply

    • Posted by vintagerock on June 30, 2021 at 2:53 pm

      Hi Rob I don’t recall the TV broadcast. I would love to see it! Of course they did move to London and the rest is history, as they say. Happy days Peter

      Reply

    • Posted by Jay on June 30, 2021 at 3:00 pm

      Hi Rob, Details like this are the stuff of legend! Would you happen to recall or have any educated guesses as to what station or program this could have been on? What season or month? THANK YOU for racking your brain for any crumbs that you can recall!

      Reply

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