Supergrass touch down in Jericho

Local News News

An iconic Jericho music venue and the band it helped shoot to fame have been honoured with a blue plaque for their contribution to music history.

Platinum-album selling Supergrass returned to the Jericho Tavern in Walton Street, the site of their first gig, to pick up the PRS for Music Heritage award last week.

PRS for Music launched the Heritage Award to recognise venues where British bands made their live debuts.

The award ceremony reunited the ‘Alright’ band, which comprises brothers Gaz and Rob Coombes, Danny Goffey and Mick Quinn and hails from Cowley Road.

Despite appearing on good terms with his band mates, lead singer Gaz Coombes told The Oxford Student that there are “no plans” for a reunion. He said: “It’s not really in the planning. When we want to give each other a bell, get in a room and have a jam, we’ll do it.”

Coombes, who released his debut solo album Here Come the Bombs in May, has fond memories of the venue. He said: “Back in 1989 and 1990 when I was getting into watching bands live a lot of big bands like the Inspiral Carpets would come to the Tavern.”

The “In It For The Money” singer added: “The mood and the atmosphere was just incredible which carried on when we started playing here ourselves. It was a jam packed venue.”

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Supergrass formed in 1993 and released their first single, Caught by the Fuzz, in 1994. Coombes and Goffey had been playing at the Jericho Tavern since 1990 with their first band The Jennifers.

Bassist Mick Quinn said: “Everyone aspired to play the venue back in the day and I remember seeing my brother’s band This Way Up play there as early as 1983.

“We received our first positive reviews as Theodore Supergrass at the Jericho in 1994, when the promoter Maccy burst into the dressing room after our gig telling us, “You’ve got it!” Soon after, the feeding frenzy of record company A&R men started.”

The band went on to record six studio albums including the critically acclaimed I Should Coco and In It For The Money. Their most recognised single, ‘Alright’, hit number two in the UK singles chart upon release in 1995.

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Guy Fletcher, PRS Chair commented: “Supergrass were so much a part of our soundtrack to the 90’s and the guys worked incredibly hard. Their output was impressive and it is a genuine privilege to be presenting the group with this well deserved award.”

He added: “Oxford is an important hub for British music and live music venues like the Jericho Tavern need to be celebrated.”

Opening the event, PRS for Music Director Myles Keller said: “It all started right here, these guys have been an inspiration to thousands of bands and not just a generation but for generations to come.

“The world is a much better place for having Supergrass in it.”

Since opening as a music venue in the 1980s, the Jericho Tavern has played host to some of Oxford’s finest recording artists. Radiohead played their first gig at the Walton Street site under the name “On a Friday” in 1986.

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Other Oxford-based bands to have performed in the pub during their formative years include Ride, Foals and The Candyskins.

Veteran Radio 2 DJ Bob Harris said: “I love this venue and everything that it stands for.” He explained that the Tavern “has been the centre of music emerging from the Oxfordshire music scene now for nearly three decades”.

The ‘Old Grey Whistle Test’ presenter believes that it is “so important” that small venues continue to “thrive”. He said: “Small venues have been struggling with the general economic climate in the last few years.”

In 2009 the East Anglian Railway Museum in Essex became the first venue to receive the accolade having hosted legendary Britpop band Blur’s first gig.

The Colchester four-piece chose the museum to hold the first gig of their 2009 summer reunion shows.

Ten more British acts including Elton John, Status Quo and Snow Patrol have been presented with the award.