THEIR nightclub was the town’s premier hotspot for more than 30 years.
And it sealed their places in Huddersfield’s history books forever.
Now former Johnny’s bosses, Joe and Johnny Marsden, want help creating their own history book.
The brothers are today launching a new website documenting the 34-year history of the club and are asking former punters to log-on and have a look.
With the help of a small team, Joe and Johnny have been uploading old photos from across the four decades of the Beast Market club – from its 1969 launch through to their exit in 2003.
They are adding captions and stories to the site www.johnnyshistory.com but admit they can’t remember it all.
Johnny, 67, said: “We have always kept photographs and newspaper cuttings for our scrapbooks.
“We’ve got about 3,000 photographs on there and we’re adding the stories as we go along.
“I’ve started to write the ones I can remember but we’re asking people to get on there and get in touch if they see themselves or recognise someone.”
The brothers say they were going to, and still may, write a book about their famous club, but thought the website was a great way to thank all the guests and clients that graced it over the years.
Johnny added: “It’s not an ego trip for us, it’s a historical document for the benefit of, and as a thank you for, the town.
“We’re trying to involve the people of Huddersfield who have been very good to us.
“For old members it’s something that they can show their children or grandchildren.
“There are people all round the world who remember Johnny’s nightclub and they’ll be absolutely thrilled they can go online and look at how it used to be.
“We are Huddersfield people. Our family and this area goes back 100 years in various types of business and we haven’t gone anywhere since the big sale in 2003.
“So this is to give something back to Huddersfield and the people who supported us and the members who met their future wives at our club.”
Joe, 58, who was just a teenager when he began running the club with his brother, added: “We want to leave a bit of a legacy.
“This website is going live and there’s a lot of it we can’t complete so we’re inviting people to have a look and see if they can say ‘yeah, that’s me’ and contact us if you have you any stories, good or bad, to add.”
Johnny said the website may also help him track down old members that he had gifts for.
He explained: “I organised a trip to the Cavern club in Liverpool in the 1960s when Cilla Black was working in the cloakroom.
“Two coach loads of our customers all had to be made members of the Cavern, which I organised.
“We’ve got about 20 of those cards of kids that went on that trip who didn’t pick them up and I’d like to give them to them – or their children or grandchildren.”
The brothers, who now run Lord Street hotel, Central Lodge, said they had hundreds of great memories from bygone years and hoped people could share them.
“We opened on Friday, December 19, 1969,” said Joe.
“We say we saw out the 60s – just. It was rocking in the 70s with disco fever; we survived the 80s, had a ball in the 90s and went on until the noughties until the sale.
“I was just 16 when we opened and the number one record when was Two Little Boys (by Rolf Harris).
“I would say the 80s was the best. They were a tough time but we were experienced by then and we had a good client base. The music was good and we were young.”
Joe said his favourite memories of their time in charge included the hot summer of 1976 and the musical revolution of 1977.
“We had a beer garden which could hold 200 people and nobody else had one,’’ he said.
“In those days nobody had air conditioning. We were packed every night and it was great fun.
“Then of course there was 1977 when Saturday Night Fever came out and disco took off.
“Prior to that people mainly went to Batley Variety Club but then discos really took off which took us in the 80s.
“My fond memories include seeing a young man and a girl come in, then seeing them courting.
“Then we don’t see them for six months and then they would come and book their engagement party, then their wedding reception, then their christening.”
Johnny’s partner, Angela, said she remembered how they used to handle rowdy customers in a more sensitive way than modern-day bouncers.
“Some lads used to have too much to drink on a Friday night and then try and get in,’’ she said.
“Johnny used to make them walk round the complex, have a cup of coffee and walk round again and sit in our deckchairs outside.
“Sometimes they’d never get in but they’d had three cups of coffee and a long walk.
“Johnny would organise them a taxi home but they’d come back sober the next night and spend a fortune.”
Despite being at the sharp end of boozy behaviour most of his life, Joe said he had nothing but great memories
“Now and then I bump into a chap now in his 50s, who was a young nutter that I’d bounced out of the club back then and now he shakes my hand and says ‘how are you?’. We’ve got no enemies.
“The people of Huddersfield have been very good to us. I wouldn’t change a thing, no regrets at all.
“I’ve met some great people – complete unknowns as well as famous – made some friends from not just customers but staff as well.
“We still see some of them and I miss a lot of them.”
To log on to the site go online to www.johnnyshistory.com
Go to the next page to see how the brothers turned down The Rolling Stones appearing - for the sake of £2
THERE have been some famous visitors to Johnny’s over the years.
They included pop stars, soccer players and politicians.
But perhaps the most famous would-be guests were actually turned down by the Marsden brothers.
One of Johnny’s favourite anecdotes is that he turned The Rolling Stones down as they wanted too much cash.
“They rang me from the Hole In The Wall Club at Bradford University,” he said.
“They’d finished a gig and they wanted to do another gig because they’d finished early.
“All they wanted is what they said was their petrol money.
“They wanted £20 and we only paid £18.
“I’d never heard of them but I asked the customers and they said they were a bit wild, so I said no.
“For the sake of two pounds we turned them down. Two months later they were a global sensation.”
Those who did get inside the club complex – which also included the Huddersfield Hotel, The Boy and Barrel pub and the Rosemary Lane Bistro – included former Prime Minister Harold Wilson, Brian Blessed, Norman Wisdom, Wham!, Ewan MacGregor and even former hostage Terry Waite.
Joe said one memorable occasion included a big singalong with former prime minister Harold Wilson and Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman.
He said: “They were all on stage, each had a microphone, a cigar and a drink and they were singing Ilkley Moor B’aht ‘at – every verse twice.”