Busted: The Raid That Closed Liverpool’s Eric’s Club, Part 2 – By Wah! Heat’s Rob Wynne Jones.
Above Photo Wah! Heat onstage at Eric’s Club, Liverpool (© Roy Williams).
Rob Wynne Jones was Wah! Heat’s drummer, who played on the last night Eric’s was open, and who was there when police raided the club.
I was intrigued after listening to Pete Wylie talking during part of the Wah! Heat set on a recording made the night of the raid (See You Tube link at the end of this article). He seemed to have prior knowledge of the raid, because, in amongst other relevant comments, he says “Do you know how it feels to be the last Liverpool group to play Erics?”, and “This is the last song you’ll ever hear by a Liverpool group in Eric’s”, well before the police raid actually took place. So a while back, I contacted Pete to ask him how he knew that, but he maintained a diplomatic silence.
I then asked Rob about what had happened to him that night.
This is what he said:
“Wah! Heat was supporting the Psychedelic Furs. We’d played our set and the Furs were onstage – they were becoming popular and the gig was well-attended. I liked the singer’s voice – dramatic with foreboding, which was ironic really, given what happened that night…
I was in the crowd watching the band, somewhere at the back of the club. I think around midnight, the house lights came up and the electricity for the band was cut off. There were undercover police in the crowd and other police with sniffer dogs swarmed into the club. They carried it out very fast, and the dog handlers speared through the crowd quickly.
The immediate reaction from the maybe 400 people inside Eric’s was disbelief. There was no panic; people just stood where they were, trying to take it in.
I was searched three times, in quick succession, more or less in the same spot where I had been watching the Furs. I had a badge pinned to the turn ups on my jeans and an undercover policewoman remarked it was a ‘funny’ place to wear a badge. I can’t remember what I said back, but obviously not enough to get arrested.
After the raid, we had to hang around so we could get our equipment out of the club. As far as I can recall we stayed in the club and made it known we had to get our equipment out. The backstairs behind the stage was a very quiet place and the door opened out into Matthew Street a couple of yards down from the main entrance.
As soon as we managed to get the kit out I was off in the van. I was driving the van so no drink for me that night. Probably being sober helped me to focus on the kit and getting it safely out of the club.
I didn’t see any serious searching for drugs, for example in the fabric of the club, I just saw uniformed officers with the sniffer dogs going round searching people for drugs.
It wasn’t mayhem it was quite a calm atmosphere of shock and disbelief in the club during the raid, but other people had quite a different experience it seems, especially outside.
Plus the drug planting by police officers – a shameful act on innocent people which will have affected their lives quite considerably.
I suppose the police got their quota of arrests that night in one fell swoop. It wasn’t until the next day that stories of what happened started to surface. Remember it was pre internet and mobile days so word of mouth anecdotes and telephone calls were the means of communication.
Finally, I asked Rob, “Looking back, how do you feel having been in the last Liverpool band to have played Eric’s?”
He replied, “Well it wasn’t what I expected, that’s for sure. Pete (Wylie) must have been told something by someone and I have my ideas on that but you’d have to ask Pete again…”
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This is the excellent You Tube recording of some of Wah’s set on that fateful night. Listen to Pete’s comments at 8 mns 2 seconds, 8.30-9 minutes and 9.57 mns)