Rare pictures described as 'some of the most striking photos ever recorded of Sheffield’s rock scene' in the 80s and 90s discovered

A collection of unseen images by celebrated social documentary photographer Bill Stephenson have been hailed as “some of the most striking photos ever recorded of Sheffield’s rock scene”.

Wednesday, 20th October 2021, 8:52 am

His images inside Rebels rock club – which operated in the 1980s and early 1990s – feature in Neil Anderson’s new book on the venue.

Dirty Stop Out’s Guide to Sheffield – Rebels Edition tells the story of the Dixon Lane venue which originally opened as the Penthouse in 1969 by club impresario Peter Stringfellow and his brother Geoff.

It was taken over by Steve Baxendale in the early 1980s and became Rebels - one of the most popular clubs of the rock genre in the country.

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Photographer Bill Stephenson captured scenes in Rebels rock bar in Sheffield which feature in a new book

Neil Anderson said: “These images capture the club in its prime and are amongst the best photos I’ve ever seen from the period. It was an era before camera phones and quality photos are a rarity.

“I’m very grateful for Bill Stephenson for digging into his archives and giving us permission to use the shots.”

The opening of Rebels was perfectly timed as the rock scene exploded in the mid-1980s with the rise of Spandex-charged hair metal following the rise of the new wave of british heavy metal genre a few years earlier.

Rebels became a Sheffield institution. Neil said: “It was a blur of Newcastle Brown, bleached hair and rock’n’roll.”

One of photographer Bill Stephenson's pictures of Rebels rock bar in Sheffield which feature in a new book

“One of the worst days for Sheffield rock when that place closed”

DJ Lez Wright played in later years – his roots can be traced back to the Buccaneer – with Rebels becoming one of the most popular rock clubs in the region towards the end of the 1980s.

Regular Phil Staniland told Neil: “After ascending up the multi-lighted and very steep staircase, you entered the club on the top floor and paid through some kind of hole in the wall, I seem to remember. Then you ventured into a dark, black-walled, one-level room with music blasting out even beyond volume 11!

Photographer Bill Stephenson's pictures of Rebels rock bar in Sheffield feature in a new book by Neil Anderson

“It was a great club and not just popular with rockers. You’d always see a group of ‘stray’ townies or a bunch of hen party girls who at that stage in the night fancied something a little different to the ‘norm’.

“In the DJ’s box you had the ‘unsurpassable Lez’ at the controls, giving the public exactly what they wanted. This being every rock classic under the sun, delivered in a barrage of sound assaulting the senses, along with Lez’s memorable one-liners over the mike such as “Come on Rebels, f**kin’ rock ‘n’ roll!!!!!”

Philip ‘Cuffy’ Cuthbertson has fond memories: “I remember standing at the back, near Lez’s DJ box, along with the rest of the thrashers, moaning about the music yet still getting up and headbanging to it!

“One of the worst days for Sheffield rock when that place closed. Many, many happy memories! Wish it would reopen, even if I would look really old there now!”

Looking back to the days of hair metal: Photographer Bill Stephenson's pictures of Rebels rock bar in Sheffield feature in a new book

A collector’s edition of the book is on sale and half of the 250 copies have already been snapped up. Details from www.dirtystopouts.com

You can view more of Bill’s work at www.billstephenson.co.uk

The cover of Neil Anderson's new book Dirty Stop Out’s Guide to Sheffield – Rebels Edition, which features Bill Stephenson's pictures of the Sheffield rock bar