The Toby Jug in Tolworth opened its doors in 1934 as a ‘roadhouse’ to serve passing motorists from the recently opened Kingston Bypass (today the A3). Music became an increasing part of its offering during the 1960s, and its legendary years came under the banner of the Toby Jug Blues Club from 1968.
In a four year period up to 1972, a dizzying array of blues and rock acts showcased some of their early material to the Toby Jug crowd. Fleetwood Mac, Led Zeppelin, Status Quo, Thin Lizzy, and Genesis were just a handful of the high profile UK and Irish acts to grace its stage, while legendary American blues singer-guitarists Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker and Howlin’ Wolf also made an appearance. The culmination of this was the extraordinary night on 10 February 1972 when David Bowie debuted his Ziggy Stardust persona, a piece of rock history celebrated in AMP’s ‘Bowie and Beyond’ exhibition at Kingston Museum in 2022.
Click the link below to listen to our Toby Jug Blues Club Spotify playlist, featuring an array of high profile artists who played at the venue
Hear all about one of the borough’s most legendary venues below. Tim Harrison is editor of local newspaper The Good Life and in 2021 authored Hello Tolworth, I’m Ziggy, a book all about The Toby Jug and that legendary night in 1972. He spoke to AMP Kingston about the early history of the site, its evolution into a music venue, and the night of Ziggy’s debut. He also spoke about the contentious recent history of the Toby Jug site.
Pete McSweeney and Pete O’Sullivan are two friends who were teenagers when Ziggy Stardust first came to prominence. An 18 year old McSweeney was in attendance at The Toby Jug that night, and spoke to AMP Kingston about being one of the 60 or so to have witnessed musical history. O’Sullivan meanwhile reflected on Kingston’s wider musical culture at the time.