The Peanuts Folk & Blues Club was set up by CND supporters, including Alan Bishop and John Boler, in Birmingham. Its name came from comments by the Labour Party leader, Hugh Gaitskell, who had been booed and heckled at a May Day rally in Glasgow, after he had defended the Polaris nuclear missile system (now known as Trident) based at Faslane. Referring to the hecklers he said "These people are nothing, they are just a load of peanuts".
The opening night was on 10th October 1963 in a basement coffee bar . After only tow weeks, due to the large numbers of people attending, it had to move to larger premises and the club moved to the Crown Corporation Street, with capacity crowds attending every week. In the early days a lot of "American Negro Blues" were sung and played, but in the 12 months following the tables were turned and greater emphasis was given to British folk songs.
The club used to book weekly guests, and early examples were, Jack & Margaret King, Tommy Dempsey, Tony McCarthy, Rosemary & Hugh Gentleman, Mike Robinson, Dave Phillips, the Stewart Family, Quentin Hood and Dave Brady. Apart from regular nights, week end activities were also planned, and included a folk weekend at 1 14th century mansion in Shropshire, a visit to the London Cellar Club at Cecil Sharpe House, and an exchange with a French club at Easter 1965.
The Club was non profit making and had no rules as it was considered that "all members should know how to behave" .
The club was run by Pam and Alan until 1965, when they gave up running it to join the group of people forming the Birmingham & Midland Folk Centre. During the two years that they ran the club Pam and Alan arranged a number of "concert" style evenings with multiple guests, the programmes of which can be seen in the "Concert" section of the club history. Both were held at the Midland Institute one on 26th September 1964 featuring Nadia Cattouse and Ewan McColl/Peggy Seeger. The other on 29th February 1964, which besides featuring a whole list of Birmingham folk artists, also included Spencer Davies and Steve Winwood, who went on to become world famous.
John Swift, Dave Phillips and Tommy Dempsey took over the reins in running the Peanuts in 1965. An article which was written by John Swift, regarding the running of the club from 1965 to 1967 was printed in The Broadside Magazine can be seen below.
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