John Miles in concert in the 70s

John Miles in concert in the 70s. johnmprog I first became aware of John Miles in the early 70s. At that time, he was playing in ballrooms and workingmen’s clubs in his native North East. The John Miles Set were one of the best and most popular club bands of the time. I saw The John Miles Set support many bands, including The Kinks at the City Hall. I also remember a gig by David Bowie at Sunderland Locarno, where Bowie didn’t show and John Miles became the headliner. I also recall gigs at local clubs; one in particular sticks comes to mind at Ryhope Poplars club, where the packed concert room gave him a reception like nothing else I’d experienced at the time. In 1972 he appeared on the TV programme “Opportunity Knocks”, hosted by Hughie Green, and won, singing Bridge Over Troubled Water”. By then he was starting to gain a reputation outside the North East. From the early days, he had this song “Music”, which was pretty middle of the road, but none the less catchy, and it was obvious it was going to be a big hit at some stage.johmredcar The next time I saw John Miles in concert he was headlining at Redcar Coatham Bowl. This must have been in 1976, as it was around the time of his debut album “Rebel”, and the “Highfly” single. “Highfly” was his first hit, reaching No 17 in the UK charts. “Music” followed; reaching No 3, and becoming a standard, which must have been performed by hundreds on artists. I saw John Miles at the Reading Festival in 1977, where he appeared on a very muddy weekend; headlined by Think Lizzy. Come 1979 John was out on his own UK concert tour, which I caught at Newcastle City Hal, where he was supported by Bandit, featuring fellow North East musician Mick Grabham. John says in the “In Flight ’79” programme: “Hello. I was born 29 years ago in Jarrow. My musical education followed the usual pattern of events. Piano lessons from the age of 5 (which were boring) and then trying to persuade my dad to buy a guitar for me when I was still at Grammar School. It was about this time that I joined my first semi-professional group “The Influence”. johnmcityhall As a band we didn’t last that long, so when “The Influence” split up I decided to form the “John Miles Band”. We went down really well in clubs in the North and Midlands, so well in fact, that we decided to try and get a recording contract. Bob Marshall [Bob was the long standing bass player with John Miles] and I travelled down to London with our manager Cliff Cooper. While Cliff visited the record companies, Bob and I stayed at home and wrote songs. Eventually we signed a deal with Decca Records. Our first album was called “Rebel” and produced by Alan Parsons. Now three albums later Alan and I have been working together on a new one; “More Miles Per Hour”. Finally on behalf of the Crew and myself, have a good flight. John Miles.” John Miles live was always guaranteed to be a good show. As well as a singer, keyboard player and songwriter; John is also an excellent guitarist. Since the 70s John has gone on to sing and play with many big names. He has played with Joe Cocker; I saw him with Jimmy Page on his Outrider tour in 1988, and with Tina Turner. John is still playing, and recently appeared (June 2013) at a charity event at Newcastle City Hall.

15 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Mitch on November 12, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    I hope you don’t mind me sharing these concert memories with you Peter….only I was at lots of the gigs you reminisce about?

    John Miles’ first four albums are all excellent and I saw his band four times throughout this period.

    The first was as support act to Robin Trower at Newcastle City Hall on Sunday 22nd February 1976.

    I then saw him at Redcar Coatham Bowl on Sunday 18th December 1977, again at the City Hall Sunday 8th April 1979 and at Sunderland Empire on the same MMPH tour four weeks later on Saturday 5th May.

    The MMPH tour set list was – We All Fall Down, Highfly, Bad Blood, Overture, Rebel, Oh Dear, Satisfied, Music, Stand Up And Give Me A Reason, Stranger In The City, Fella In The Cellar, You Can’t Keep A Good Man Down.
    Encores; Slow Down, Nice Man Jack.


    • Posted by vintagerock on November 12, 2013 at 1:43 pm

      Hi Mitch of course I don’t mind. Happy to know that someone else finds my ramblings interesting
      I was probably at the gig with Robin Trower (I think) 🙂 best wishes Peter


  2. An interesting article – I remember the band playing in some working men’s clubs after the Bingo !


  3. Posted by Peter McCluskey on November 8, 2014 at 9:50 pm

    I saw him at the sunderland gig, I also have vague memories of a gig at the Mayfair ???


  4. I saw John Miles at Tyne Tees studio recording “The Geordie Scene” (74? 75?). My recollection is vague so I cannot remember the three numbers that he played, although I think one was “Music”. I do remember that Bob Marshall sat down for the complete set because allegedly he had bust his zip ….


  5. Posted by Ian Mitton on July 5, 2016 at 3:26 pm

    Hi! I saw John Miles at Brunel University back in the mid 70’s. He was supporting the Kinks and, quite frankly, blew them away. I am trying to place a date on when this might be. The website indicates the gig was 24th May 1975. Would that have been around the time you saw him support the Kinks at City Hall? Thx.


  6. Posted by Graham Hoey on August 30, 2016 at 9:34 pm

    Hi, I wonder if anyone can help. I had the pleasure while studying in Hull between 1978 and 1980, to not only see John perform, but also to be hired as a kind of roadie extra, thanks to a local entertainment support company. The thing is, this concert appears to not be on the official tour list, and neither John´s management, nor his main fan club, seem to be able to confirm the date of the Hull concert. My pass for the evening´s work was provided by KGD Concerts, does anybody out there remember this “special”?


  7. Posted by Stephen Fairbrother on December 7, 2021 at 8:15 pm

    Saw him at Liverpool empire in the 70’s, I’m sure John cougar was on too. Fell in love with live music on that day, saw him all over. Magnificent. RIP


  8. Posted by Maureen on August 16, 2022 at 7:45 pm

    My brother worked for John miles as a roadie I know he was with him in 1070 till he was poorly in 1972


    • Posted by vintagerock on August 17, 2022 at 12:12 pm

      Thanks Maureen a great talent. Sadly missed. He provided me with some lovely concerts over the years and some great memories Peter


  9. Posted by Harry Shemilt on January 1, 2023 at 7:42 pm

    I saw John miles at the Hammersmith Odeon during his MMPH tour and was struck by his sheer musicianship. I also saw him when he was in Joe Cocker’s band for the “Night Calls” tour and he stood out there as well. He also wrote a couple of songs for Joe’s album. His solo output is difficult to access now. I only just remembered that he died recently. What a loss.


    • Posted by vintagerock on January 2, 2023 at 12:34 pm

      Yes Harry John Miles was an excellent musician and a local hero in the north-east of England. I saw him many times and was never failed to be both entertained and impressed by, as you point out, his excellent musicianship. RIP John Miles Peter


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