THERE'S lots of great gig venues in Colchester - from dedicated entertainment spaces like Colchester Arts Centre to high street venues like Three Wise Monkeys and Coda.

But apart from the occasional big summer show in Castle Park, we tend to see the smaller and more up-and-coming acts performing in the town now of days.

This wasn't always the case, however.

In fact some of the world's biggest bands have actually performed in the town over the years, although you might not necessarily know about it.

For instance did you know Bob Marley and the Wailers once arrived in town? Or that Pink Floyd have actually played here - SIX times? 

Here are 18 of the biggest bands to have performed gigs in Colchester:

The Shadows, The Regal Theatre, 1961

The sometimes Cliff Richard fronted band performed in Colchester many times during the late 50s and early 60s, particularly at The Regal Theatre.

The Regal is now the known as the old Odeon, in Crouch Street.

The Rolling Stones, Odeon Theatre, 1964

Famous bands in Colchester
  • Picture: The Rollings Stones Youtube channel

You don't get much bigger than the Rolling Stones in the music world.

Mick Jagger and co arrived in Colchester relatively early on in their career, performing at what is now the derelict old Odeon in Crouch Street.

The band have gone on to sell more than 200 million albums and become one of the most influential rock groups of any generation.

The Kinks, Odeon Theatre, 1964

Many people don't know that the old Odeon in Crouch Street was as famous as a live music venue before it became better known for showing blockbuster movies.

The Davies brother brought 60s legends The Kinks to the venue back in 1964.

They also played at the University of Essex later in their career.

Pink Floyd, University of Essex, 1966

Prog legends Pink Floyd played at the university on several occasions in their early days.

In fact, they are said to have played SIX times at the uni.

The Who, University of Essex, 1968

Widely regarded as one of the biggest rock bands of all time, The Who once graced the stage in Colchester.

They performed the year before the release of their famous rock-opera Tommy.

Thin Lizzy, Woods Leisure Centre, 1973

Back in the day the late Phil Lynott brought the Irish rock band to Colchester.

They also played at the university in years afterwards.

Bob Marley and the Wailers, University of Essex, 1973

This one must go down as one of the biggest gigs Colchester has ever seen.

Bob Marley and his band played at the university during their time on Island Records.

The reggae superstar went on to sell more than 75 million records and become one of the most important cultural figures of the 20th century.

Queen, Woods Leisure Centre, 1974

Famous bands in Colchester
  • Picture: Queen At Live Aid via the Live Aid Youtube Channel

Woods Leisure Centre was a hugely popular venue back in the day and features on this list a few times.

In 1974 the venue welcomed none other than Queen, and legendary frontman Freddie Mercury.

Not quite Live Aid, but we bet it was a special night for those lucky enough to get tickets.

AC/DC, University of Essex, 1978

Famous bands in Colchester
  • Picture: Youtube/TheACDCDoctor

Now one of the biggest and well-known rock groups of all time, AC/DC had actually already released five albums when they performed at the uni.

The underground show is legendary and was even recorded by some forward-thinking gig-goer. 

There's some footage on Youtube here:

The Police, University of Essex, 1979

Sting's band performed at the uni during their relatively early days.

They went on to be pretty successful... 

The Specials, Colchester Institute, 1979

The specials in Colchester
  • Picture: Youtube/Tudor Sykes

Ska legends the specials performed at what is now Colchester Institute in the late 70s.

The college wasn't particularly famous for live shows, so it must have been quite the gig.  

A lot of the show was recorded. 

You can watch a video of the band performing here:

The Smiths, Woods Leisure Centre, 1983

Famous bands in Colchester
  • Picture: The Smiths Youtube channel

Salford boys The Smiths performed in Colchester back in the day.

As this reader recalls, it was a special night.

They also performed at the University too during their years on the road.

There's no sign of a reunion at the moment, with Morrissey becoming a controversial character to say the least in recent years. 

REM, University of Essex, 1984

The then up and coming band went on to be the biggest band in the world in the late eighties and early nineties so this is quite a feather for the university's cap.

Apparently they played a huge set of almost 30 songs, including a number of covers.

Blur, Various

Famous bands in Colchester
  • Blur's Damon Albarn

Ok, so this one is cheating a little bit.

But Blur are one of the biggest bands Britain has produced in the last 30 years.

Damon Albarn and guitarist Graham Coxon first met at Stanway School and they played their first gig in the Goods Shed, Wakes Colne, in 1988.

They also played at the uni on more than one occasion and in 2010 they returned for a special homecoming gig at the East Anglian Railway Museum.

Read more >>> Colchester heroes Blur played homecoming gig in Wakes Colne

The Prodigy, Hippodrome, 1991

The Prodigy: Keith Flint
  • The late, great Keith Flint, of The Prodigy

Another Essex band who went on to bigger and better things are The Prodigy.

But back in their early days, the Braintree band were regulars in Colchester and in particular at the Hippodrome in the High Street.

They went on to join fellow Essex band Blur in headlining Glasto of course - a bit different from their early performances at the Colchester club... 

Radiohead, University of Essex, 1992

File photo dated 07/07/17 of Thom Yorke from Radiohead performing on the main stage at TRNSMT festival in Glasgow. A sketchpad used by Radiohead to carve out ideas for their second album The Bends could fetch over £10,000, when it is sold at Ome
  • Thom Yorke of Radiohead. Picture: PA

Before becoming one of the most celebrated and diverse bands of their generation, Radiohead played a gig at the university in Wivenhoe.

The uni really was a hotspot for gigs back in the day as this list shows. 

It seems it was a breeding ground for future headliners of Glastonbury. 

Pulp, University of Essex, 1994

Britpop royalty Pulp performed at the University of Essex in 1994.

Another band who went on to headline Glastonbury after graces the stage in the town.

Faithless, University of Essex, 2010

The group, best known for the songs "Salva Mea", "Insomnia", "God Is a DJ" and "We Come 1", were one of the biggest dance acts of the early noughties.

They visited the uni in 2010 to play at Sub Zero and in the same year they also played Glasto.

Read more >>> 10 famous bands you might not know are from Essex

What's the biggest band you've seen in Colchester?

There are so many more we've missed or been forced to leave out of this list. 

What was your favourite gig in Colchester or the biggest band you've seen?

Let us know in the comments or email