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The Pub That Rocked. The Largs Pier

It was in the ’70s and ’80s when the Largs Pier Hotel began to establish its reputation as an important meeting place for some of the truly great Aussie bands of the day, such as Jimmy Barnes and Cold Chisel, AC/DC, The Angels and Lobby Lloyd and the Coloured Balls. All played there in the early days as they began to establish their careers. It really was the pub that rocked!

Photo of the Largs Pier in 1982, taken by Ken Charlton from the Department of the Environment

Photo of the Largs Pier in 1982, taken by Ken Charlton from the Department of the Environment

The late Vince Lovegrove, talented muso, band manager and journalist, and his wife Helen ran the entertainment side of the venue in the early 70s, Helen recalls “One memorable night we had Rose Tattoo, Lobby Lloyd & The Coloured Balls and another punk band which caused a riot outside after the gig. The locals didn’t like all the punters who had travelled from all over. There were hundreds just milling around outside looking for trouble, then someone fired a shot into the air and the crowd vanished.

John Hopkinson was in the crowd that night and also remembers the shot being fired; “There was a guy who got into a fight. He went home and brought back a .22 and fired a shot. Nobody got hurt though”.

Such events did not happen all the time though, it was mainly about the music and the Largs Pier was one of a number of venues offering pub rock, the music of the era. ARW poster Jack Chynoweth remembers that “the lifesavers ran the Sunday night gig. Bands I saw there were AC DC, Lobby Lloyd and the Coloured Balls, Split Enz, Angels, Chisel, Salvation Airforce and Billy Thorpe. Between the Pier, Stage Door at the Shandon and the Pooraka you had a chance to see best Aussie bands of the time.”

Galaxygayle Mullin also remembers those Sunday night pub crawls; “Frangipani Gardens, then on to the Family Hotel at Glenelg, then to the Pier at Glenelg, then onto Leonards. Wow, most of those places have been replaced with some high rise, unattractive, boring apartments…the 70s really rocked!”

From time to time there were also some international acts on stage. I seem to recall that rock legend Del Shannon appeared there during the 1970s.

According to legend, Bon Scott, in the early days of his career lead singer with the Valentines, later with Fraternity and who became internationally famous as the lead singer of AC/DC, met his wife at the Largs Pier Hotel after a gig in 1971.

Jimmy Barnes returned to the Largs Pier in 2011 and reminisced about the good times he’d had in the “wild rock’n’roll pub”.

“I used to come here in ’72 as a 16-year-old, I’d pretend I was 18 to get in the door and come and see Billy Thorpe,” Barnes said. “It’s just amazing to come back here, the heritage and history of the place is the same and it still has the same atmosphere.”

Kevin Foley, local MP at the time, was there with Jimmy to present a plaque, recognising the hotel’s unique place in Australian rock history as the breeding ground of “Australia’s greatest band”.

What are your memories of the Largs Pier Hotel from the 70s and 80s?

33 Responses to The Pub That Rocked. The Largs Pier

  1. Angelo Mignone October 17, 2014 at 12:46 pm #

    I remember seeing Cold Chisel there for $2.00 circa 1979 when I was a 16 year old!

    • Jeffrey Lynch December 31, 2020 at 6:09 pm #

      Howdy i was one of those guys outside looking for trouble, im sorry if I was a head fk, but the Largs Pier Hotel, ROCKED!!!!!

  2. helen sharp November 21, 2015 at 11:00 pm #

    I remember the Largs pier. Saw AC/DC. Cold Chisel. My younger brother Ribert came to pick me and my friend up. He was 16 and sneaked in to find us. Ended up watching chisel. Highlight of his life. Still mentions it today .

  3. Cheryl November 30, 2015 at 12:08 pm #

    We used to go to largs bay hotel on sunday afternoons,bon would b there and get up and sing and then we would go to parties with bon and a music producer,mick.bon woukd be there just socialising and having a drink.he also wetmnt to the pier hotel in glenelg and during the week we wiukd all go to the tivoli,ahh good times past.

  4. Jan November 13, 2017 at 2:38 am #

    I went to the Largs Pier in the 70’s & Cold Chisel were performing as well as a band called Silver. I liked Silver better as the lead singer had long blonde hair (I was a teenager at the time). Does anyone else remember Silver or what happened to them as I can’t find any info on them at all on the internet???

    • John Edwards April 6, 2020 at 7:12 pm #

      Hi Jan
      I played bass guitar in Silver. The lead singer was Paul Reading who still plays around Adelaide. Ollie Andrews was on lead guitar, Ted Higgins on drums and Greg Ransom on keyboards. We played at the Arkaba, Countdown(Mediterranean Hotel in Hindley Street) as well as the Largs Pier. The band broke up in 1977.
      I went on to play in lots of other bands including the Swell Guys who regularly played at Lennies.
      Still playing at the Fringe in a show called Rock Arena that tells the story of Australian music in the 60’s and 70’s.
      Hope this helps.
      John Edwards

      • Nicholas Wing November 18, 2020 at 11:21 am #

        Hi John I’m from Uni SA and am conducting a study on the Largs Pier Hotel and would love to ask you a few questions if possible.

        Kind Regards,

        • Jill morley July 30, 2022 at 12:47 pm #

          I worked there in 1973 and 2 more times.

      • Lyn Townsend February 5, 2021 at 8:58 pm #

        Remember Silver well. My husband and I became good friends with Paul Reading aka Fluff! My husband, Adrian aka Pud was sound guy/roadie for The Keystone Angels back then.

      • Shirley Dodd April 9, 2023 at 11:53 am #

        Paul Redding is in a band now called Chartbusters. I belong to a rock and roll club and his band plays there. The drummer in your band was it Ted Hiddens or Roy. Roy Higgins played in a band called Taxi.

    • Rob April 10, 2020 at 11:25 pm #

      Hi Jan, just came across this; bit out of date; I was the keyboard player in the band Silver at the time. The singer you so obviously remember was Paul Reading; Olly Andrews on guitar; Wayne Gibson on bass (later a backing player for Andy Upton), and Ted Higgins on drums. I left the band to join Our Band, that became Tomlin, who also used to play regularly at the Largs Pier Hotel. Paul’s facebook page is I’m sure somewhere on there is a picture of him with long blonde hair. I am uncertain what happened to Silver after I left. Cheers Rob

      • Nicholas Wing November 18, 2020 at 11:41 am #

        Hello Rob,

        I’m am researching the history of the Largs Pier and Uni SA. If at all possible could I conduct a short interview with you either over email or over the phone?

        Kind Regards,

    • Dave Heslop May 17, 2020 at 10:14 am #

      Hi Jan, I do remember Silver playing around Adelaide,but I didn’t know them, I did however play in the Swell Guys with John Edwards. I have been in the Adelaide music scene since 1964 with John Swan, Jimmy Barnes’s brother, we were called The Soul Union. These day s I play in a duo called Acoustic Highway. Take care. Dave Heslop

  5. Jenny Millikan April 2, 2018 at 1:26 pm #

    I was 15/16 at the time ACDC played at the Pier my Friend Annette Harvey and i sneaked in to see this new band, amazing I said to Annette this band is going to be huge I am getting their autographs when I went up to Bon Scott he said only for a pash Annette said okay and gave the band a pash I gave each one a kiss and a hug and still remember the sweat smell I still have their autographs in my autograph book also mad dog dawding from the stars, the band spring water, Silver Studs. I was there when the gun was fired I can remember grabing my friend and running that was scary. Brandy and coke was 99 cents and Rod Westbrook worked behind the bar. 70’s what a great time

    • Pam murphy December 1, 2018 at 11:23 am #

      I went to school wiv annette we used to call her hang on harvey. Used to go to the pier four nights a week with sandy davies. Say hi to her see if she remembers pam murphy. We used to walk home from school together sometimes

  6. Sue Griffiths August 29, 2018 at 2:05 pm #

    I remember seeing a great Sydney band called Harry Young & Sabbath with fraternity play at the Largs in 1971

  7. Steve September 15, 2018 at 11:32 am #

    Wasn’t there but heard of great stories

  8. Erin Chaplin December 18, 2018 at 11:02 am #

    What Amazing stories. I wasn’t there. I wasn’t born! But my Dad was and he told me similar stories that he left with me. We play all the music he loved and pass the stories onto our own children. Magic!

  9. Paul Richards May 2, 2019 at 8:24 pm #

    I remember lady large on a Thursday night what a buzz for a young ?

  10. Maggie Collins October 7, 2019 at 2:57 pm #

    I loved the largs pier hotel my girlfriend ros and i MAGGIE were well known regulars i met Jimmy Barnes there in about 1973 thru Phil small who was my sister Mary ,s boyfriend for a while and i had a little crush on him too
    The whole small family came to wedding in January 74 i slso dated Phillip small,s brothers David for a while also met bon scott and his wife and Vince lovegrove no i wasn’t a groupy i dated Ronal alphabet who organised the talent for the pier and got to go to awesome parties in aldgate with the guys from fraternity
    Wow great memories wish I could go back in time also met David battye there the guy i should have married my sister met her husband Ian there still happily married and I met my ex husband Bruno sprudzans there too
    Would love to get in touch with some of the crazy wild kids i met back then the real time of my life as well as another ex naughty me Mark draper hot

  11. Mick Anear November 3, 2020 at 6:11 pm #

    Dave Nelson from the lifesaving club
    Organised the bands with whoever raised lots of money for lifesaving with Guy Pierce ( not sure of spelling) was son son of owner she rocked up occasionally in a Rolls
    We club members manned the doors

  12. Michael Anear November 3, 2020 at 6:14 pm #

    The Peoples Pier

  13. chris April 30, 2021 at 11:33 am #

    hi does anyone remember pete wells and rose tattoo @ the largs was told they played there a number of times ….

  14. Vaughan December 20, 2021 at 8:08 am #

    Guy Matthews. Son of Seymour Matthews. Yep Dave Nelson of Taperoo Beach Lifesavers and Ron Alphabet of Taperoo High Old Scholars got the bands from over east and bought them in for Thursday thru Sunday. The clubs got the door $, paid the bands , accom and bouncers. The pub got the bar $

  15. Ken Sparrow December 20, 2021 at 6:15 pm #

    I used to sell the News (Afternoon newspaper) on the front bar verandah late 50s early 60s would have been 6 o’clock closing in them days That was AUSTRALIA in those days, I can’t recall one nasty argument or fight plenty of hustle and bustle not enough time to blue with six o’clock coming around so quickly.

  16. Lyn Paget December 21, 2021 at 1:40 am #

    I worked at the Largs Pier Hotel in 1973 and 1974. I used to work as a receptionist in the office and then an extra Shift behind the bars and working the discos. Back then the Bar in the disco area was still really long and had not been shortened and area cut for Motel extension which was done later. Saturday afternooon and Sunday afternoons had live music as well as the evenings and the crowds were packef in absolutrly loving it and the popular drink was scrumpy(apple cider) on tap and orange.. The weather was hot and the taps were flowing It was so busy I was washing the glassed faster than the dish washer to keep up. I remember one of the musicians banging his sticks together and the tamborine going. He had a long ponytail tied back.I reckon they were called Matchbox or Captain Matchbox. It was so much fun coming to work. If the live music wasn’t on the Juke box was blaring with Nutbush city limits and china grove and so much more

  17. Julieanne Charles March 14, 2022 at 6:49 pm #

    I worked at the STAGE DOOR , early 80’s (Shanndon Hotel now the Links). I’m pretty sure 102 fm had something to do with it and it used to be $1 gold coin at the door.
    I have great memories of a very packed crowd there to see some great bands.
    I also drank at the Largs Pier ( started when i was under age ) Lots of great memories of many great bands & Lady Largs . I’m still friends with many of those I meet back in THE DAY .

  18. Jill Morley July 30, 2022 at 12:43 pm #

    I worked there in 1973 i started as a waitress, jimmy Barnes was the Sat afternoon entertainment, i graduated to a barmaid and Jimmy became the Saturday night entertainment. I think the best night was when Black feather preformed bop of the Blues, the pier went mad.
    I worked there 3 times in my working years first for Mathews then for Sandy Virgo.
    I still have friends from that era. Rock on Guys Jill

  19. Andrew November 3, 2022 at 4:03 am #

    Hi people, I grew up in Largs 9beach end of Wills Street, moved in in 1972 aged 7. I still think of the Pier as my local, even though I’ve been in Pommieland for 20 years now, back to Largs as often as I can. I was hoping that someone could tell me the capacity of the venue back in the day. I snuck in a number of times underage. My mate’s mum used to clean the place and a few times we went to help and look for the best way to f
    get in when a gig was on. I remember as kids giving Ol 55 a muthfull of abuse as they were taking equipment in after asking for an autograph and being told to “piss off”. Anyone know the capacity at its height? Andrew

    • Rachel April 9, 2023 at 6:17 pm #

      So is this hotel haunted? My parents have stayed here and heard ghost noises a d few other visitors have heard children upstairs running around ,,would love to hear …..rachel

  20. Andrew Eldridge November 3, 2022 at 4:05 am #

    Anyone know the capacity back in the day? Used to sneak in as a kid.

  21. Rohan Allan April 11, 2023 at 9:31 pm #

    My dad was a bouncer there and some of the stories are iconic

    • Rob November 16, 2023 at 11:50 am #

      I remember one Sunday night there a little pissed guy being chucked through a plate glass door by a huge bouncer. Was a rough night that one.

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