BALL PANTS KINGS CROSS 1960s

The ‘Ball Pants’ was a bizarre little cafe/bistro/thingy in Brougham Lane Kings Cross that existed in the late 1960s & early 1970s. There was live music most nights (Izzy Foreal, when he was Peter Knox, was the ‘resident’ bass player for some time). If you ever visited the place, this group would like to hear your story. At least one ‘Ball Pants’ regular is contemplating writing a history of the place.  FACEBOOK BALL PANTS GROUP

Izzy Foreal (Peter Knox) recently heard from Ralph Graham, who used to play guitar regularly at the ‘Ball Pants’, on his way to a stellar career in music. Izzy also re-encountered ‘Steve Hat’ (another ‘Ball Pants’ regular) some years back, and also ‘Peter Pop Star’, another ‘Ball Pants’ regular. We all did strange things to ourselves in those days: who has survived?
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January 2009: Another regular visitor to the Ball Pants recalls: “All I remember from the Ball Pants is Black Allen and a guy who was schizophrenic – he ducked from ‘planes’ and held a cigarette between each finger (horned rimmed glasses). That’s it, that’s all I remember. Oh yes and the coffee”.
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Izzy Foreal, when he was Peter Knox, was ‘auditioned’ for the band ‘Quill’ at The Ball Pants. Terry Wilkins, who was leaving Quill to join Flying Curcus, casually dropped into the Ball Pants one night and played some Quill originals on the guitar. Izzy / Peter, being the resident bass-player, fudged along and apparently played the songs okay. Red McKelvie (guitar) and Daryl McKenzie (drums) from Quill were conveniently positioned outside the front door listening to the unsuspecting auditionee. The next day Izzy / Peter got the invitation to start rehearsals with Quill. When he asked about an audition first, he was informed that he’d already passed it the night before! Izzy / Peter got a leg up into the Sydney music scene, and, as most of us know, Terry Wilkins went on to tour Canada with Flying Circus, and has been a resident of Canada ever since

 I think the fellow who owned the Ball Pants was named John, and I thought he was French. He and his wife opened another place in Oxford Street later called Charlie Chaplin’s (or perhaps just Chaplin’s) – I played bass there as well for a while in the house band (it was a bigger joint). We called ourselves ‘Frack The Bunt’ or some such silliness, and we weren’t really a proper band at all. A fellow called Swiss Chris played organ with us for a while, but he had to stop when some heavies came in during an afternoon rehearsal and repossessed his Hammond. I left there when Frank Butler from The 69ERS came in and rescued me to join that band (1970, I think). I have many strange stories about Charlie Chaplin’s, including the one about how I drove my girlfriend’s Volkswagon to the gig one time, and when I finished playing at something like 3 in the morning, I simply stepped out into Oxford Street and caught a cab home to Paddington. 

Luckily, my girlfriend asked me where I’d parked the car, which reminded me that it was still back somewhere near the gig. I had to catch another cab back, and drive it home. They were long nights in those days. (Maybe I should start a Charlie Chaplin’s Facebook group …)

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5 thoughts on “BALL PANTS KINGS CROSS 1960s”

  1. Hiya,
    June 2009. Ralph Graham here. Yup, the Ball Pants was quite a little place, tiny but full of character by virtue of the “clientele.” I shall stop by now and then with an anecdote or 3.
    The pay for playing at the BP was $3.00 per night plus food, “help yourself.” The only problem was that this was basically white bread and processed cheese and Peter Knox (Izzy Foreal) pointed out that this was not good food and that I oughta read the label. Chemicals, colours and white bread devoid of nutrition. Hmm. I was influenced by this health food vego and so with out any nutritious tucker on offer I had to spend out of my three dollars on food which included yoghurt (goats milk?) at the local deli.
    One day,we were up at Whitty’s Wine Bar or somewhere at Taylor Square and we had to get an amplifier/speaker box down to the Ball Pants at the Cross – a mile or so? “Got no money for a taxi,” I said. Peter says “No worries. We’ll carry it.” I did a double take and off we went. Well that healthy tucker he ate showed its worth as while I struggled bravely, appealing for rests, Peter marched along as if on a Sunday walk!
    I’ll be back.

  2. I was a regular “patron” at Ball Pants in its heyday. Procul Harum, Cream, the Byrds and others could be heard about anywhere. The acts varied like crazy, from unreal good, to some horrendous offerings that should have stayed home – wherever that was. The food was awful. No doubt about that. The druggies and dead-heads were legion, but that place was amazing! I have a lot of good memories from there. Tiny, dark, and very cool!

  3. I was also, as a young teenager, a regular there. How many of you can remember the night a young Joan Baez wandered in, picked up a guitar, sat on a stool and played a set?

  4. I think I went a couple of times..As you went through he front door there was a screen you hand to go round to get in…I vaugly remember my first sight as I came into the room..There was a guy with hair and Lennon glasses and his face was like a ghost..scared the
    Life outa me as i think I was on acid…Went to parties in Brogham st address that the guys from Heart”n”Soul a Kiwi band lived ..I think..Had a Hammond organ in the band…I remember a trip in the truck to Bondi beach with them…no reality memories though…I remember thinking what a cool place I’ve found..sort of Folkie…

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