The Talented Mr. Raper

The Talented Mr.Raper

‘A small part of the spotted path still remains. It’s got cultural significance.
We preserve that kind of thing. Why not the spotted path?’

The Staging Post in Whinmoor is currently a boarded up, former estate pub on Swarcliffe Avenue. A few years ago it was used on the Paddy Considine film Tyrannasour which starred Peter Mullen and Olivia Colman but that wasn’t the pubs first brush with fame. Back in the dark days of the early 1980’s Martin Raper brought a bit of London’s Blitz club to East Leeds and for a short time it became a musical hot spot.

“People forget there was already a bit of pop history which belonged to the club. Bill Nelson with Be Bop Deluxe almost made martin-raper-spotted-paththe place a second home and I’m told the Specials played there in 1978. I loved the whole Punk, New Wave and New Romantic scene which sprang up in Leeds around the same time but anything that was happening was in Leeds city centre and I got sick of going into town all the time, so I started a Bowie/Ferry/Alternative night at the ‘Post’ on a Tuesday night, it was so successful we came up with the idea to put on live music on a Saturday night.

I was the DJ at the time extending it to Saturday put a bit more pressure on as there was a lot more going on at weekends, so we had to up the ante. There was already a great family of Punks and Bowie freaks in the area, so it wasn’t difficult to gain momentum and things moved rapidly. I had a good relationship with landlord Ronnie who almost became a booking agent as well as running the pub. We managed to get the reformed Bow Wow Wow’s which was a massive coup. Then we got Blancmange followed by China Crisis. Leeds wasn’t exactly brimming with venues for up and coming bands at the time, the Duchess didn’t come about until later on, so we were establishing the Post as a venue for bands who often were playing outside their home towns for the first time or doing their first tour.”

martin raper staging-postIndeed, around 1981-82, the Staging Post could regularly be seen in the NME and Melody Maker listings, sitting proudly with legendary venues such as Liverpool’s Eric’s, Glasgow Barrowlands and Scarborough’s Penthouse.
“We put Flock of Seagulls on one night, they were recording an album which Bill Nelson was producing. Bill was a regular in the place but I couldn’t believe it when he walked in with John Peel, I mean, a living legend watching Flock of Seagulls at the Post.”

Fad Gadget played there, so did an early version of Dead or Alive about the same time. Martin and his friends had turned a housing estate pub into one of the places to go – but surely a load of New Romantics turning up mob handed created a few problems?

“There was always a certain element in the area who would have turned us over given the opportunity but we held our own. We’d created something worth fighting for, a scene that was a provincial version of what was happening in Camden Town, Kings Road and Liverpool. Once you were in there, nobody was going to judge you on your hair or what clothes you were wearing.”

Listening to Martin give a potted history of live music in the Staging Post, it seems a shame it’s joined the long line of boarded up estate pubs but the Post did become a part of musical folklore round these parts.

“I don’t think I made a shilling out of it but we created a vibrant cultural oasis at the end of the spotted path. There’s something about the spotted path that’s iconic, it’s like a dystopian yellow brick road leading from the estate into the pub. There’s a lot of building going on in the area, but a few pieces still remain, ironically directly outside the pub. I should go dig it up and try and sell them, well, people buy pieces of the Berlin Wall!”

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3 Comments

  1. Amazing bit of music history there with the bands and artists that performed.its a shame the staging post carnt be turned back into a small music venue once more. I’d be in all the time it right at end of my street .it would defiantly bring something more to East Leeds 👍

  2. Great read. Never knew they had bands on there. Can remember the place been a popular haunt for local Psychobillies and some pretty handy lads who were well into Bowie. Would love to read more. Thanks

  3. Neil Howson says:

    I remember Martin from the Leeds scene late 70s 80s, he was always a stylish guy and knew what was happening. Me and Steve Elvidge used to go to the Staging post regularly (steve lived nearby) and I remember great gigs by the Passage and Blancmange. We ran a Club called the UpZone at the time (where Basics started) and then went on to form Age of Chance. Martin was one of those who made things happen:)

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