Plans for new music venue where Ritz Ballroom Kings Heath once stood
Plans to create a new arts centre on the site of a legendary Kings Heath music venue, which played host to some of the biggest bands in the world in its heyday, look set to take a step closer with a high profile recording project.
Kings Heath Walk of Fame hopes to create a new music venue in York Road where the Ritz Ballroom once stood and the latest venture to help see it become a reality is a project to re-record the Beatles’ iconic Rubber Soul album.
The Ritz was owned and run by well-known Irish couple Joe and Mary Regan, who were known to most as Ma and Pa Regan.
The Beatles were among the acts to grace the stage of the former cinema, along with the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd and The Kinks.
The venue later became a Cash Converters store and was destroyed by a serious fire in March 2013.
Kings Heath Walk of Fame has rounded-up a collective of top local musicians to re-record Rubber Soul to boost awareness of plans to recreate a modern day version of The Ritz and to help raise funds for the project.
Rubber Soul Rebound features Trevor Burton of The Move, Fuzzbox’s ViX and Boat To Row’s Michael King.
Other contributors include Martin Fisher and Enda Mullen, members of Midland Celtic rock combo The Holy Showband, who form part of The Eggmen.
The album is being recorded at Highbury Studio, which has hosted the likes of UB40, Duran Duran and Ocean Colour Scene over the years.
The CD will go on sale on December 3, exactly 50 years after the release of the original Beatles’ album.
Bob Prew and Ken Whittaker are the men behind the Kings Heath Walk of Fame, which honours such home-grown stars as Toyah Wilcox, Trevor Burton and Fuzzbox.
Bob said: “It’s a must for Beatles fans. It will make a great Christmas present for all music lovers and is guaranteed to become a real collector’s item in years to come.”
Other musicians featured on the 14-track CD are Abi Budgen, Goodall, Sylvia, David Garside, Peters and Dog, Acoustica, Hannah Brown, Tim Walkerdine and Eleanor Dattani.
The CD ends with an ensemble version of Run For Your Life, featuring all of the musicians singing and playing together as The Rubber Band.
In the 1960s Joe and Mary Regan owned a host of clubs in Birmingham. Their empire also included The Plaza, Handsworth, Birmingham, The Plaza, Old Hill, and The Gary Owen, Small Heath.
Mary, who was also a PE teacher in Coleshill, was responsible for selecting and booking the acts.
At the time of Joe’s death, in 2004 aged 92, the couple had two children, six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
The appearance of the Beatles at The Ritz on February 15 1963 proved an occasion to remember.
Beatlemania might have been yet to sweep Britain but the band had certainly started to take off.
The concert had been booked much earlier but by the time of the show the single Please Please Me had just been released.
It meant hordes of girls were lying in wait at the small venue, forcing the band to climb over a fence at the rear to get in.
After eating their sandwiches the band began to practise before the gig – which didn’t go down well with Joe Regan.
He is said to have shouted: “Tell them to turn that racket down!”
But the Regans were good negotiators and persuaded Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein to allow them to perform for their previously agreed fee, even though they had stormed the charts in the intervening period.
Rubber Soul Rebound will be officially launched as part of the Walk Of Fame’s Christmas Party on Sunday
December 6, at Fletchers Bar on York Road, opposite the burned-out ruins of the old Ritz.
Tickets cost £4 in advance from the Kitchen Garden Café or £5 on the door.
Copies of Rubber Soul Rebound cost £10 and can be ordered via https://kingsheathwalkoffame.bandcamp.com/album/rubber-soul-rebound.