CHISLEHURST Caves took off as a music venue in the late 1950s when the South London Jazz Club organised concerts featuring Kenny Ball, Acker Bilk and Humphrey Littleton.

But the caves really exploded in the late 1960s when rock bands such as Pink Floyd and The Jimi Hendrix Experience came onto the scene.

Andy Bown, 55, who has played keyboards in Status Quo for the past 26 years, was a member of local band The Herd which played the caves six times in 1966 and 1967 before hitting the big time.

"The caves were very white, chalky and bloody freezing unless we were leaping around on stage," he said.

"We probably sounded crap because it was like playing inside a pudding basin."

But as pioneers of camp rock, The Herd wowed crowds with their heavy make-up, wild costumes and crazy antics.

"I was poncing about with eyeliner, mascara and gold suits," said Andy.

"The caves had a certain Hallowe'eny feel and nuttiness. I used to climb a white stepladder and throw bananas to the girls."

Philip Donkin, 22, from Bromley, a Bournemouth University MA student in radio production, is making a programme about the concerts for a student-run internet radio station.

"I wanted to tell the story of the concerts through the memories of people who were there by taking them back to the caves and interviewing them," he said.

One of Philip's interviewees is commercial vehicle salesman Bryan Harvey, 55, who lived in St Mary Cray and would walk to the concerts at the weekend.

Mr Harvey, who now lives in Somerset, saw Jimi Hendrix perform at the caves in 1966 on the same day as the release of Hey Joe.

"I didn't particularly like the music but Hendrix was tremendous," he said.

"He played the guitar with his teeth and behind his back and was completely out of his head."

But Jimi Hendrix was not the only one "out of his head" at the caves.

Mr Harvey says everybody took amphetamines or smoked marijuana.

"It was normal among one's friends in that culture and it never got out of hand."

Chislehurst resident Barry Mitchell, 53, who owns a music shop, Wing Music, in Upper Elmers End Road, Beckenham, was also

a regular partygoer at the caves.

"We taught the world how to smoke dope," he said.

"I probably saw some famous names but I don't remember much."

However, he does remember playing the caves with former local band The National Soul Board in 1966.

"There were a lot of sweaty bodies, a great vibe and a sea of 200 faces."

Paul Andrews, 44, of Green Acres, in Eltham, who has worked on and off as a guide at the caves since 1974, went to concerts in the 70s and saw bands such as The Primitives and The Pretty Things.

"Lots of people were rolling around in the mud," he said.

"There were all kinds of mischief going on, especially in dark corners."

The caves' acoustics meant as many as five different bands could play simultaneously in different alcoves.

But the concerts had always been illegal. They ended in the late 1970s after organisers were threatened with legal action.

Anyone with memories of concerts at the caves can call Philip Donkin on 07947 436871.