Rock 'n' roll and pop music in Bradford: 1960-66
Rock 'n' roll and pop music in Bradford: 1960-66 essay (
Rock ‘n’ roll music in 1960s’ Bradford and some attitudes of the times – 1960-66 (part one)
Introduction – August 2001
Bradford city centre had changed little since the 1900s when the new decade of the 1960s began. All the great old buildings – Bradford City Hall (or the Town Hall as it was then known), the Wool Exchange, Mechanics Institute, the Swan Arcade and Kirkgate Market – were all blackened from over a hundred years of coal-fired mill chimneys spewing out thick black smoke which badly polluted the atmosphere. Coal was king and powered the textile mills and engineering workshops employing many thousands of Bradford men and women.
Gradually, as the 1960s progressed, the smokeless fuel coke and oil-fuelled boilers came to replace coal as Bradford Corporation introduced smokeless zone areas around the city. The council also began stone-cleaning many of the city’s great buildings starting with the City Hall in the spring of 1965 (see T&A Monday 31 May 1965 and Tuesday 3 August 1965).
Under the headline ‘Fresh Air’, the Bradford Telegraph & Argus editorial of Wednesday 20 February 1974 proudly boasted: “After a campaign which began a quarter of a century ago, Bradford is now only four months away from becoming a clean-air city... We have almost forgotten those miserable, murky fogs which in the past sent us home coughing and spluttering on winter evenings when the city’s transport was brought to a halt. And there are benefits which cannot be seen – to the lungs of the citizens – which are most important of all.
“The struggle to make Bradford smoke-free has not been an easy one. The pioneering work went on in a climate where many people loudly advocated their love of the open coal fire. Home would not be so sweet, they said, without smoke going up the chimney. Just 20 years ago this week, when proposals to establish 20 smokeless zones were debated by the city council, there was criticism from both sides of the chamber. One alderman said, ‘I don’t believe in plausible platitudinous orders which we have no hope of enforcing’. Happily, however more far-seeing councillors of all parties stuck to their guns, and their faith has done more to change the face of Bradford than any other action since the war.” (T&A Editorial, Wednesday 20 February 1974.)
The early 1960s was a time of deference with Victorian attitudes still in existence, when national politicians, the Establishment and local civic leaders of the day were generally seen as upright, honourable types (they were mostly men too!). The bleakness and drab colourlessness of the time was also reflected in the calibre of political leaders themselves who tended to be stiff, stoic and dour types. The Conservatives had been in government since 1951 and Harold Macmillan had been Prime Minister since 1957. Very much a consensus One-Nation Tory, he came across as a likeable but old fashioned uncle-type. A popular leader who seemed to understand the needs of ordinary working class people his record on council house building is legendary, as is his ‘you’ve never had it so good’ speech of July 1957. “Let’s be frank about”, he said; “most of our people have never had it so good.”
But MacMillan fell victim to his own old fashioned naivety when the Profumo sex scandal broke hitting the National headlines in 1963, which showed him to be out of touch and naive.
In the early 1960s politics was seen as a serious almost reverential business, a preoccupation only for the upper classes and intellectuals. All this began to change with the emergence of a young American Democrat who became President of the United States of America in 1961. John Fitzgerald Kennedy (JFK) was like a spring of fresh air. Young, handsome and full of vitality he could have been a movie star – unlike Britain’s Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, French President Charles De Gaulle or Germany’s Chancellor Konrad Adenauer. Kennedy changed forever both the image of western politicians and the way they would have to deal with the new television media as a means of getting their views across to the general public.
Television had grown in popularity during the 1950s and in the early ‘60s our TV screens were dominated by home-grown British artists like Alma Cogan, Michael Holliday, Dickie Valentine, Frankie Vaughan and many others. And from America came the likes of Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Nat ‘King’ Cole, Johnnie Ray, Frankie Laine, Dean Martin and Perry Como. Now although these stars were very popular they were really the favourites of the older generation. Teenagers of the day were more interested in rock ‘n’ roll and pop music.
Since the emergence of rock ‘n’ roll music in America in 1955-6 a generation gap had opened but hadn’t fully formed into a social phenomenon. This didn’t really come about until the emergence of the British Beat music scene in 1963-4. Then teenagers became a real social entity in their own right, much to the dismay of many amongst the older generation and Establishment opinion-makers of the day. This is the backdrop to the story I hope to tell in the pages that follow.
Rock ‘n’ roll had first burst onto the music scene in 1955 with Bill Haley and the Comets’ ‘Rock around the clock’ number one hit record in America between June and August 1955, and a chart topper here in Britain in November. The record’s popularity had been greatly aided by the movie ‘Blackboard Jungle’ which featured the record in the soundtrack. The record caused “movie theatre mayhem worldwide”, to quote from the book ‘New Musical Express Rock ‘n’ Roll Years’, page 13.
But it was in 1956-7 that rock ‘n’ roll music really exploded when Elvis Presley, followed by Carl Perkins, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran, Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers. Then in March 1958 Elvis joined the US army for two years and in February 1959 tragedy struck when 22-year-old Buddy Holly was killed in a plane crash, along with the Big Bopper and Richie Valens. Three days earlier, on 31January, Buddy Holly had played the Duluth Armory in Minnesota and there in the audience a 17-year-old Bob Dylan. (Source: ‘Bob Dylan – Day by Day’, Clinton Heylin.)
In a short four year span rock ‘n’ roll already had a turbulent and tragic history and when Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran came to do a joint tour of the UK in 1960, there was a real buzz of excitement. After all these guys were the genuine article, the real thing, from the birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll music – unlike Britain’s home-gown rock ‘n’ roll imitators.
By this time Britain’s first rock ‘n’ roll and skiffle music stars, Tommy Steele and Lonnie Donegan had largely been overtaken in popularity by a newer, more vibrant breed of rock ‘n’ roller, such as Adam Faith, Cliff Richard, Marty Wilde, Billy Fury and others. Much more hip, more slick and more sexy than their predecessors, these were the artists who dominated the British scene when Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran came to do their UK tour in 1960.
Bill Haley had already done a UK tour between January and February 1957 and a member of the audience at one show was a 16-year-old Cliff Richard. In 1958 Buddy Holly toured the UK (closely watched on TV by Liverpool teenagers John Lennon and Paul McCartney), and Gene Vincent had toured previously in 1959. And all were greeted with great enthusiasm by Britain’s teenage rock ‘n’ roll fans.
It was on Saturday 30 January 1960 when the Bradford Guamont Cinema played host to Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran, with Vince Eager in support. Tickets for the show cost 3/6 and 7/6 (18 pence and 38 p today).
Unfortunately the T&A carried no review of the shows (there were two performances) although Opera, Classical music and variety shows were regularly reviewed in the columns of the newspaper. However some 12 days later the T&A published a letter by 18-year-old R J Bentley of 29 Marsh Street, Bradford, who had attended the show.
A huge Gene Vincent fan who had collected all his records, Bentley wrote to complain about the “Cochran-struck rabble” who had cat-called Gene Vincent during his performance. He wrote: “Vincent, while handicapped with a broken leg, always does his best to give his audience a rousing performance” and he urged those responsible to “treat your stars in a decent manner or else you’ll never see them in this city again. I recall the words of Bill Haley, Jim Dale, Cliff Richard: ‘I’ll never come back to Bradford again’. And now Gene Vincent has added his name to that list – I don’t blame him!” (RJ Bentley’s letter, T&A Thursday 11 February 1960.)
A week later, on Thursday 18 February, the T&A published two readers’ letter generally supporting RJ Bentley’s criticisms, under the headline: “Teenagers vulgar calls appalled mother at ‘Rock’ show.” One reader, Mrs M J Miller wrote, “I heartily agree with RJ Bentley in everything he said about the Bradford teenagers attending the Big Beat Show at the Gaumont Cinema. I, a mother of two teenage daughters was in the audience...and was appalled with the vulgar remarks passed around me. Teenagers who cannot behave in a decent manner and give these stars the cooperation and reception they deserve should stay at home. The stars come here to entertain, not to be abused.” The letter is signed by Mrs M J Miller, 7 Sefton Grove, Idle Road, Bradford. (T&A, Thursday 18 February 1960.)
Just two months later Eddie Cochran was dead and Gene Vincent lay seriously ill in hospital following a road accident, and on Monday 18 April 1960 the T&A reported the story as follows:
“Rock” singer injured – seriously ill... Gene Vincent, the 25-year-old American ‘Rock’ singer, who was injured in a car crash near Chippenham, Wiltshire, yesterday, was taken to hospital following the accident in which Eddie Cochran, 21-year-old American rock ‘n’ roll singer was fatally injured.
Vincent has multiple injuries, but a hospital spokesman said he had a fairly comfortable night and his condition was improving. Gene Vincent was one of the top-of-the-bill artists in a concert at the Gaumont Cinema, Bradford, in January. The other passengers in the car – Miss Sharon Sheeley and Mr Patrick Thompkins (29) are also in hospital with multiple injuries.
The inquest on Cochran may be opened at Bath tonight. The American Embassy in London want it as soon as possible so that the body can be flown back to the United States for burial.” (T&A, Monday 18 April 1960.)
Less than four weeks later Cliff Richard and the Shadows stepped on to the same stage at Bradford Gaumont Cinema where Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran had performed only twelve weeks earlier. It was on Friday 29 April 1960, tickets cost 3/6, 8/6 (18p and 43p) and a report on the show appeared in the T&A as follows:
“Teenage fans’ long wait... was worth it. Never will Cliff Richard, the teenage singing star, forget the night he came to Bradford. Two hours after the curtain should have gone up on the first performance at the Gaumont Cinema last night, Cliff was still sitting in his dressing room while 3,000 teenagers who had been waiting since 6.30pm stamped their feet, booed and kept up a continual chant of ‘We want Cliff’. And it wasn’t until 8.35pm, just as the audience was arriving for the second half that the first performance began. The explanation? With the exception of Cliff who travelled to Bradford by car, all the other performers had arranged to make the journey from Norwich to Bradford by coach. But the driver was late. Instead of picking them and their instruments up at 11am he arrived at 2pm, and the coach did not arrive at the Gaumont until 8pm.
When the curtain finally arose, waiting was forgotten. Excitement mounted until at last Cliff – dazzling in white silk tie and shoes – stepped on to the stage. Girls sobbed in their seats or made the singing completely inaudible with their screams. Some even tried to dash down the aisle. But extra precautions had been taken and commissionaires pushed them back to their seats. The second performance, scheduled to begin at 8.45pm, began at 10.30pm. Extra police stood by in case of trouble.
The screaming and shouting was repeated and during Cliff’s final number girls rushed from their seats. One even managed to run on to the stage but was carried off and later thrown out by a burly commissionaire. At 11pm the curtains closed and ‘God Save the Queen’ was made inaudible with shouts of ‘We want Cliff’. As the Town Hall clock chimed midnight 3,000 disappointed teenagers made their way home on foot, in taxis or in late transport.” (T&A, Saturday 30 April 1960.)
One fan who couldn’t make it to the Gaumont Cinema to see the show was 15-year-old Mary O’Brien of Parkside Road, West Bowling. Her story was told in the T&A on Monday 2 May 1960.
“Flower guitar for Mary” ran the headline with a picture of Mary who missed the show because she was in Bradford Royal Infirmary. Mary is pictured holding the guitar made of flowers which Cliff had sent to her. She suffered burns when she tried to save a picture of Cliff in a fire at her home in West Bowling. Cliff was told about the incident and decided to send her the floral guitar which had been presented to him by members of his fan club at Shipley. (T&A, Monday 2 May 1960.)
In December 1960 the story of “two disgusted teenagers” was told in the T&A under the headline “Teenagers readers want to know... who took our precious autograph books.” They wrote, “On Thursday 27 October, we took our autograph books to the manager of the Gaumont Cinema as this is the custom for autograph hunters whenever celebrities are appearing in order that the manager can get the books signed. However, when we went to collect our books on Monday we found to our horror and dismay that someone had taken several pages out...with the autographs of such people as Cliff Richard, Johnny Preston and Conway Twitty on them.” The letter is signed “Two disgusted teenagers”. In response the manager of the Gaumont promised he would do all he could to clear up the mystery. (T&A 4 December 1960.)
Some attitudes of the times – 1960
“Sultry sex-kitten” query – Girls are asked about slouch and pout” ran the headline in the T&A on 30 March 1960. The article reported a speech by Professor William Walsh of Leeds University about the priorities of teenage girls. “Jazz, jive, jeans and green eye-shadow – do girls who adopt these fancies of modern life believe they are putting their talents to the best use and for which they were designed, he asked at last night’s annual dinner speech day of Bolling Girls Grammar School held at St George’s Hall.” (T&A, Wednesday 30 March 1960.)
Another fashion story, just a week later, went as follows...“launching the latest fashion in footwear – the winkle-picker – Mr Jack Webber of the British Footwear Manufacturers Federation, said teenagers bought on average one pair of shoes a fortnight. Then he took a closer look at the winkle-picker in his hand – Cliff Richard wears them – and murmured ‘I think they’re hideous’. (T&A, Thursday 7 April 1960.)
A month later, on Friday 29 April, the T&A carried an article with the headline “Boy in jeans goes to prayers – Parents will fight”. This was a page 13 story about 13-year-old Michael Lambert, a Skelmanthorpe boy who had been barred from attending school for a month because he wore “tight black jeans”. He was turned away again, the report continued, when he arrived at school wearing “a green turtle-neck sweater, a sports coats and black jeans with green seams”. He went into the main hall and attended prayers but was told to report to the headmaster’s study. Michael’s mother has written to the Queen in protest at the way her is being treated. (T&A, Friday 29 April 1960.)
In October 1960 the T&A carried an article with the headline “No skirts above the knees – Shipley governors’ list unsuitable clothing for schools.” Included on the list of banned school clothing was “slacks, skirts above the knees, hooped skirts or near-transparent blouses, stiletto heals and jewellery including necklaces and rings. And for boys – jeans, multi-coloured pullovers, Teddy boy-type coats, leather jackets and jewellery.” (T&A, Friday 21 October 1960.)
On 1 December the T&A told of the advice to student nurses from Mrs Coggan, wife of the Bishop of Bradford. Under the headline “Nurses told don’t fear being left on the shelf”, she is reported as saying “do wait and realise that the right one will come at the right time. Give heart and soul and mind to your present work – be prepared to wait five or ten years if need be.” (T&A, Thursday 1 December 1960.)
In the same edition regular columnist Anne Riding asks, “Where oh where, is that helping hand of chivalry? Has the age of chivalry come to an end? Is the price women have had to pay for emancipation the disappearance of those acts of courtesy so prevalent in the reign of the first Elizabeth, so lacking in the reign of the second? By chivalry I mean those small masculine attentions which take such little effort to perform, yet do wonders to boost the moral of any female – the helping hand as you step off the bus, the raised hat, the complimentary remarks on the way you are dressed, the assistance as you put on your coat... Many of the older men are wise enough to realise that although women like to be thought of as independent, they are still greatly appreciative of good manners, and it is mainly the younger men who have thrown courtesy to the winds.” (T&A, Thursday 1 December 1960.)
1961 was a fairly lean year for touring rock ‘n’ roll shows in Bradford. Perhaps this was because the BBC and ITV were now giving more air time to pop music. In addition many of Britain’s top pop stars were busy reading scripts and learning their lines for the pop movies they’d been contracted to make. Still, fans could then watch their pop heroes on celluloid when the films came to local cinemas.
But in February Cliff Richard made a return visit to the city, and the T&A reported the event as follows: “Cliff makes an ‘Olympic’ getaway”, ran the headline. It was a getaway good enough to make an Olympic sprinter envious. Before the huge curtain had closed at the Bradford Gaumont on Saturday night, rock ‘n’ roll singer Cliff Richard had fled the stage, sped down a short corridor, rushed through an emergency exit and jumped into a waiting car, which whizzed him away. It was done so quickly that the 6,000 fans whose shrieks and yells during the two-house concert had transformed the cinema into something like a pit of hysteria.
But they certainly made their presence known during the interval. While I talked to the singer in his dressing room hundreds of enthusiasts were banging on the street doors screaming ‘We want Cliff!’ There wouldn’t have been much left of him if he had stepped outside. “Did you ever go on like this when you went to a concert?” I asked him. “Well”, he said, “I do remember once shouting at a Bill Haley show.” (T&A, Monday 27 February 1961.)
Some attitudes of the times – 1961
In the T&A of 16 February 1961 Anne Riding features “an art student who isn’t a beatnik” (the headline) with an interview with 18-year-old Bradford art student Ruth Nelson. Anne Riding describes Ruth as having “a face which causes heads to turn as she walks up to Regional College of Art, Bradford, each morning in a scarlet leather coat and pointed shoes... Ruth has outgrown the beatnik stage when she wore black stockings, tight skirts, and duffle coat, and has developed a mature dress sense of her own influenced by the designers of Paris and Italy whom she has studied. At the same time, Ruth is typical of most teenagers in that her fashion whims change with the wind. Now she longs for an oilskin jacket, but admits that within a few weeks of wearing one, it could easily find a place beside the discarded winkle pickers at the back of her wardrobe.” (T&A, Thursday 16 February 1961.)
On 16 May 1961 the T&A reported a speech by Bishop of Bradford Dr Donald Coggan, who said last night, “The Bible once held the place of honour by every fire side. But now it has been dethroned by the TV Times...” (T&A, Tuesday 16 May 1961.)
Things get off to a quick start this year with a letter by “Three teenagers” appearing in the T&A’s letters column, on 11 January. Under the headline “They don’t like the Twist”, the teenagers wrote: “Recently a lot of publicity has been given in the Press and on TV to a new ‘dance’ popularly known as the ‘Twist’. There has been in the past decade a spate of new and unusual dance movements sweeping across the Atlantic, but surely this latest import is the most revolting to date. In the cinema there are ‘X’ certificates designed to protect young impressionable minds. The sensual movements involved in the ‘Twist’ must be a greater danger.” Signed “Three Teenagers”, T&A, Thursday 11 January 1962.
The following day, Friday 12 January 1962, there appears a great ad on page six for the new film ‘The Young Ones’ starring Cliff Richard, Robert Morley, Carole Gray and the Shadows, showing at the ABC Ritz Bradford from Sunday 14 February for seven days. As a14-year-old teenager I went to see the film along with many hundreds of other fans in the Bradford area.
A week later, on 18 January, T&A readers are told about the arranged concert by new singing star Helen Shapiro under the headline “To sing in Bradford – Teenage Helen Shapiro who will appear at the Bradford Gaumont on Saturday.” (T&A, Thursday 18 January 1962.)
A great review of the show appeared in the T&A on 22 January under the headline “Yorkshire debut by Miss Helen Shapiro.” Three days later a further article appeared under the headline “Helen Shapiro has rare kind of stage magic”, and stated that the “15-year-old has possibly the most valuable potential in show business today. She is that rare person – a natural artist... We were in her dressing room between shows at the Bradford Gaumont. 3,000 patrons were just leaving the building; 3,000 more were about to take their seats. Outside a group of youngsters were hammering the stage door and chanting ‘We want Helen’.” (T&A, Thursday 25 January 1962.)
In February another top pop star came to the city, announce in the T&A on Friday 16th as follows: “Adam WILL sing in Bradford. Singing star Adam Faith will make his only appearance in Yorkshire during the present stage tour when he tops a two-house variety bill at the Gaumont Theatre on Thursday next week.” (T&A, Friday 16 February 1962.)
A short review of the show appeared in the T&A on Friday 23 February under the headline “Adam Faith sings and twists – Top rank pop singer Adam Faith stepped on to the stage to squeal of delight from many of his female fans and quickly charmed his audience at the Gaumont Theatre last night. The young man...sang many of the numbers which have brought him record fame. He presented a snappy version of ‘Let’s twist again’ to which he did the twist between singing... The ‘Adam Faith show’ which was seen by two houses last night had a good support bill, including the John Barry Seven who performed Dave Brubeck’s intriguing ‘Take Five’...” (T&A, Friday 23 February 1962.)
Just over two weeks later Billy Fury came to the city. “Fury fans smash windows – Bradford cinema besieged” ran the headline. “Fourteen windows at the Gaumont Cinema were smashed last night when screaming fans besieged the exit doors. They hoped to see Billy Fury, John Leyton, Eden Kane, Shane Fenton and others who had taken part in the costliest bill of its kind ever to be staged at the theatre.
Police reinforcements had to be called to Quebec Street to move on the crowds, although there was still a group of girls outside the stage door at midnight. With the exception of John Leyton, who managed to ‘escape’ at about 11pm, all the big name personalities had already left the theatre before the crowds assembled.
Earlier, in Billy Fury’s dressing room, his manager told me that during the eight weeks’ tour they had had to become ‘expert escapologists’. He said: ‘We have had to climb over roofs, dodge through corridors and run disguised through alleyways.’
For the Gaumont management it was crowds again today. By 7am twelve girls were already outside the booking office to make reservations for the forthcoming Cliff Richard show. By mid-morning there were long queues and the telephone never stopped ringing.” (T&A, Saturday 10 March 1962.)
On the bill for “The Big Star Show” were Billy Fury, John Leyton, Eden Kane, Shane Fenton and Joe Brown.
Less than four weeks later the T&A carried a similar story under the headline “20 girls invade the Shadows dressing room – When Cliff Richard and The Shadows topped a concert bill at the Gaumont Theatre on Saturday night, 20 teenage girls broke a window and climbed into the Shadows dressing room. They were quickly removed by the police. Bruce Welch, a member of the Shadows, said he and another member of the group had returned to their dressing room but had been unable to get in! Audiences totalling well over 5,000 applauded their way through two concerts.” (T&A, Monday 2nd April 1962.)
On the front page of the T&A on 8 May there’s a story about Jerry Lee Lewis (26), “the American pop singer who appears at St George’s Hall, Bradford, on Thursday... pictured at London Airport greeting his 17-year-old wife Maria, on her arrival to join him.” (T&A, Tuesday 8 May 1962.)
Then, three days later, the T&A reported the “brilliant show. American ‘rock’ singer Jerry Lee Lewis was given a screaming welcome by a near-capacity house when he stepped on stage at St George’s Hall last night. Earlier he had had an enthusiastic reception from another 800 young fans at the first show in his one-night visit. Lewis’s performance was equally explosive, and he kept the crowd happy by singing and playing a variety of numbers and piano rhythms with great gusto. With him in Bradford was his 17-year-old wife Myra.
Supporting groups were those of Vince Eager, Mark Eden, Johnny Kid and his Pirates, the Viscounts, the Bachelors and the Echoes. Dave Reid was Compare.” (T&A, Friday 11 May 1962.)
In July Gene Vincent returned to Bradford and once again there was controversy. The story is told in the T&A of 12 July under the headline “Singer turned up after teenagers had walked out – About 200 teenagers walked out of Bradford Majestic Ballroom last night unaware that American rock ‘n’ roll singer Gene Vincent, the man they had paid 4/6 (23 pence) each to see did make an appearance although earlier it had been announced that he was unable to reach the ballroom. Many of them left as soon as the announcement was made that Vincent’s car had broken down, first on the Doncaster by-pass and then again in Wakefield. They were given tickets for another dance. But the American singer arrived shortly after 10pm and went on stage for the last 20 minutes of the dance...with Sounds Incorporated backing him.” (T&A, Thursday 12 July 1962.)
On 25 August the T&A announced the “Big jazz bookings for St George’s Hall. Artists booked to appear include Chris Barber’s Jazz Band and Acker Bilk’s Paramount Jazz Band.” (T&A, Saturday 25 August 1962.)
Ever since the mid-1950s teenagers had used coffee bars as local meeting places, one of the main attractions being the Juke Box, where they could play the popular rock ‘n’ roll and pop records, have fun, meet members of the opposite sex and jive. A new coffee bar opened in Bradford in September and the T&A reported the story as follows: “Juke box lyric comes true for the Young Ones – Les Jeunes.” A page 8 story about the new coffee bar in Grattan Road, off Westgate, Bradford, run by young people for young people. “Previously a little transport cafe it has become a stylish up-to-the-minute meeting place where the younger generation can have a snack and something to drink in surroundings of their own. This non-commercial coffee bar – any profits will be kept in a special account and probably ploughed back into the business – is as smart and provides as good a service as any in the city.” (T&A, Friday 28 September 1962.)
Beatniks and rock ‘n’ rollers
During the period from the mid-1950s to the early 1960s there had been two distinct groups of teenagers, with very different tastes in music, outlook and dress style. The vast majority were fans of the mainstream rock ‘n’ roll and pop music scene, whilst a much smaller group – the Beatniks – were more into jazz, blues and folk music. Followers of American Beat Generation writers and poets like Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, the Beatniks tended to be student intellectual types, interested in ban-the-bomb and left-wing protest politics; the new modern ‘real life’ novels and plays by such as John Osborne (‘Look Back in Anger’) and the modern jazz sounds of Dave Brubeck and Miles Davis. They tended to be fairly untidy in appearance with boys and girls wearing sloppy ill-fitting jumpers and duffle coats.
For the mainstream rock ‘n’ roll teenager life was much simpler, which was to enjoy the raw energy of rock ‘n’ roll music and have as much fun as possible.
Regular T&A columnist Anne Riding tackled the question of teenagers in one of her articles as follows: “If a psychiatrist asked his patients for the associations the word Teenager brought to mind, my guess is that a typical response would include words like short skirts...stiletto heels...Cliff Richard...back combing...pop records and so on. Which is a shame. Because if ever there was a time when a person is going to assert his or her individuality it is in those in-between years when anything, bar middle-age, goes. In addition the Young Ones are the pace-setters. Afraid of nothing but being thought squares, they dress to make an impact and usually succeed.” (T&A, Thursday 1 November 1962.)
On Monday 12 November the teenage boy-meets-girl film ‘Some People’ was being screened in Bradford, at the Regal at Eccleshill, the Plaza, Great Horton and the Elite on Toller Lane. This was a film I really loved, especially the pop music soundtrack. I saw the film at the Elite on Toller Lane. I was 15 years old at the time.
Just a few days before Bobby Vee, the Crickets and Ronnie Carroll played the Gaumont Theatre for one night only. Tickets cost between 2/6 and 10/6 (23p and 53p). On Thursday 22 November a letter from “Two angry Bobby Vee fans” appeared in the T&A. They wrote, “We see old ‘Ariel’ is at it again (T&A, 15 November). We shouldn’t be at all surprised if it was he who reviewed the Bobby Vee show at the Gaumont recently. We were thoroughly disgusted with his report. It was given over entirely to the reporter’s opinion of teenagers. Half of it was incorrect. Bobby Vee could be heard singing quite plainly except for the last few numbers and if the reporter had been listening at all he would have been able to say whether he thought Bobby could sing or not.
He complains that there aren’t enough family shows. What about those put on all year round at the Alhambra? There are plays for adults, pantomimes for children, variety shows for the whole family and ballet for ballet enthusiasts. At St George’s Hall there are classical concerts for the high brows and jazz for jazz fans. But the teenager gets a show once in a blue moon and he complains. How selfish and prejudicial can one get? Another thing – we would like to know what is wrong with screaming. It’s the teenager who pays to go and see these shows so why shouldn’t the teenager do what he or she likes? We don’t hurt anyone, do we? What’s wrong with your paper anyway? You just cannot leave teenagers alone. Live and let live we say.” Signed “Two Angry Bobby Vee fans.” (T&A, 22 November 1962.)
The final rock ‘n’ roll show in Bradford in 1962 came on 15 December when Cliff Richard and the Shadows headed yet another show at the Gaumont – briefly reviewed in the T&A of Monday 17th December as follows: “5,000 youngsters went to the two houses at the Gaumont to see Cliff”. And on Saturday 22 December the T&A reported: “Cliff’s Bradford visit pays off. Cliff Richard headed a ‘pops’ bill at Bradford’s Gaumont last weekend when he was given a near-hysterical reception. And his appearance has paid dividends in the sales in the Bradford area of his latest numbers – ‘Bachelor Boy’ and ‘The Next Time’. The disc is now first place in the city, although nationally at the moment it is number 13.” (T&A, Saturday 22 December 1962.)
NB. I’m as certain as I can be that this I attended this show, the early show, with my younger brother Michael. He died in January 2008 aged only 55 years old. I still miss him terribly.
Some attitudes of the times – 1962
“Immediate gain is not the ultimate gain – Head” ran the headline in the T&A on 15 March. Referring to the “disease of gimme” and materialism, Miss E M Aspy, headmistress presenting her report at Grange Girls Grammar speech day, at St George’s Hall last night said, “When the attitude to things is wrong then fear enters in, and when it enters distrust and greed overshadow everything. Materialism for a time seems to be the right thing but it falls short and always fails us because it leaves us empty in the end. Materialism destroyed vision and left people apathetic and fit subjects for all sorts of advertisements to work on them.” (T&A, Thursday 15 March 1962.)
Another imaginative headline came in August with “Youth finds no outlet for idealism in Church –
Young people are finding in ban-the-bomb movements the outlet for idealism which they cannot find in the church, Reverend A Drewett told the annual conference of modern churchmen yesterday. The general criticism was that the church was either unaware of the real problems facing the younger generation or was afraid of discussing them. It is not without significance that so many young people support movements like CND.
Many of these would call themselves Christians but they cannot find in the church any outlet for their youthful idealism. Too often for them the activities and even the worship of their local church seems irrelevant...and many believe that Christianity had failed to provide a basis for a way of life in this scientific age. We preach unity – we practise disunity; we preach love – we practise indifference; we preach peace and goodwill – we support wars; we preach equality – we practise inequality. This is surely the root of the matter, said Mr Drewett.” (T&A, Friday 10 August 1962.)
During 1962 rock ‘n’ roll music lost much of its raw edge as many of the stars began to groom themselves for a further career in mainstream popular show business in TV, films, variety and cabaret. A whole crop of ‘teenage’ idol pop stars had also emerged during 1961-62, such as John Leyton, Jess Conrad, Bobby Vee, Mark Wynter and many, many others. All in all pop music had gone soft, mediocre and soppy with an endless stream of teenage boy-meets-girl songs that sounded the same! The stage was now set for the Beat music and Rhythm and Blues explosion – and, from America, a folk music revival led by Peter, Paul and Mary, Joan Baez and Bob Dylan.
The T&A of 12 January carried the very first picture of Bob Dylan describing him as “a new figure in American folk music who appears in tomorrow’s play ‘The Madhouse on Castle Street’ on BBC TV at 9pm.” (T&A, Saturday 12 January 1962.)
By this time Cliff Richard had already completed his second major pop film, reported in the T&A as follows: “Well, there’s no doubt about it! Cliff Richard is now at the top. The critics have lavished praise on his new musical ‘Summer Holiday’, which we will be able to see at the Bradford Ritz next week. Already he has been voted Britain’s most popular screen star, and now seems destined to stay so.” (T&A, Thursday 17 January 1963.)
Meanwhile the T&A reported a local event when “Two Juke Box shows became one.” This was a page 7 story about “an audience of 300 at St George’s Hall last night who listened to young British artists imitating such stars as Elvis Presley, Billy Fury, Brenda Lee, the Shadows and Gene Vincent. The music was generally too loud and with a few exceptions drowned the young artists’ efforts. Leeds- born disc jockey Jimmy Saville was the compare.” (T&A, Wednesday 30 January 1963.)
Just over a week later the T&A reported that ‘Please Please Me’ by the Beatles had hit the number one spot in the Bradford district pop charts. This was the Beatles very first number one hit record. (T&A, Saturday 9 February 1963.)
In the T&A of 28 February American pop singer Brian Hyland is interviewed to publicise his top-of-the-bill appearance at the Gaumont Theatre on Saturday 2 March. The journalist adds that “the Gaumont seems to be going in more and more for stage shows... In addition to Saturday’s concert, several big shows are booked for the next few weeks. On 22 March, for instance, there will be a remarkable line-up of popular artists. Taking part will be Joe Brown, Susan Maughan, the Tornados, Eden Kane, Jess Conrad, Shane Fenton and Rolf Harris. On 6 April Frank Ifield and Maureen Evans will top the bill. Shirley Bassey and Matt Monro will appear on 20 April, and three weeks later Del Shannon, Johnny Tillotson and the Springfields will appear. The attractions on 13 May will be John Leyton, Mike Sarne, Jet Harris and Tony Meehan, Mike Berry and Billie Davies.” (T&A, Thursday 28 February 1963.)
On 30 March the T&A reported that ‘How do you do it’ by Gerry and the Pacemakers had hit the number one spot in the Bradford record charts. (T&A, Saturday 30 March 1963.)
In the same newspaper there is an interesting article headed “Teenage fortune across the counter” by Michael Ford. He writes: “Britain’s teenagers spend freely – to the startling total of £1,000 million a year.” (T&A, Saturday 6 April 1963.)
Tonight at the Gaumont Theatre Del Shannon, Johnny Tillotson and the Springfields. Shows at 6.15 and 8.40pm. (T&A, Saturday 27 April 1963.)
In the same newspaper it is reported that the Beatles hit the number one spot in Bradford’s pop charts with ‘From Me To You’. (T&A, Saturday 27 April 1963.)
Two weeks later there appears an ad: “Tonight on stage at the Gaumont Theatre John Leyton, the Four Seasons, Mike Berry, Billie Davies and Jet Harris and Tony Meehan. Shows at 6.25 and 8.40pm. Tickets cost 3/6, 7/6 (18p and 38p). (T&A, Monday 13 May 1963.)
In the T&A of 15 June, the Bradford record chart shows ‘I Like It’ by Gerry and Pacemakers is at the number one spot. (T&A, Saturday 15 June 1963.)
At the Gaumont Cinema all this week ‘Just For Fun’ movie starring Mark Wynter, Bobby Vee, Joe Brown, Karl Denver Trio, Jet Harris and Tony Meehan, the Tornados and the Springfields (T&A, Wednesday 19 June 1963).
On the 5 July the T&A included an article about the Solo Bop under the headline “Shy boys invent a solo dance. Odd, isn’t it, that in these days there are teenage boys in Bradford who are too shy to ask girls for a dance. But it’s true. And these shy, so very shy, boys have found they don’t have to be wallflowers... They’ve invented a dance which doesn’t demand the nerve to ask a girl to dance – because girls aren’t needed! It’s known simply as the Solo Bop. ‘It first started at Teenbeat nights’, at the Locarno Ballroom of Mecca Dancing, Manningham Lane’, said DJ Barry Goodwin, ‘and it just caught on...’” (T&A, Friday 5 July 1963.)
“The Beatles shoot into top spot. ‘Twist and Shout’ (EP) straight in at number one in the Bradford top ten”, reported the T&A on Saturday 20 July 1963.
On 9 August the T&A carried an interview with pop wild man Screaming Lord Sutch, “alias David Sutch, who is fighting the Stratford-upon-Avon by-election as National Teenage candidate. He claims that young people don’t have a fair chance – they are considered intelligent enough to fight when they are 18, but not to vote or sign forms to buy a house.” (T&A, Friday 9 August 1963.)
“The Beatles are top of the pile – with ‘She Loves You’, straight in the Bradford charts at number one.” (T&A, Saturday 31 August 1963.)
“Beatles invade TV Times” advertisement with the first ever picture of the group to appear in the T&A (Wednesday 6 November 1963).
Meanwhile at number ten in the Bradford record charts are Peter, Paul and Mary with Bob Dylan’s ‘Blowin in the wind’. (T&A, Saturday 9 November 1963.)
On 15 November the T&A carried a letter signed by a “Beatle fan” from Keighley who writes, “it has come to my ears that the management of the Gaumont Theatre have departed from the normal routine for booking seats for the forthcoming visit of the Beatles in December. While it may be a purely internal matter as far as the management are concerned, it does seem unjust to the general public who anticipated going to the show. Imagine commencing booking at 10pm on Sunday evening, December 1st! It’s ridiculous and doesn’t give those of us who live outside Bradford an earthly chance. I hope you will publish this as a protest on behalf of all who desire to see the show, but who won’t be able to because of this unreasonable decision.” Signed a “Beatle fan”.
The newspaper carried a response from Mr Dave Wilmott, Gaumont Theatre manager, who said “The booking office will open at 10pm on Sunday 1 December, on the suggestion of the police...to avoid congestion and allow queuing. I don’t think the correspondent need worry about getting a seat. I am convinced that we shall not sell all 6,000 tickets on December 1st. Superintendent Keep, head of Bradford City Police said, ‘queuing should not begin earlier than 9am on the Sunday.’” (T&A, Friday 15 November 1963.)
On stage at the Gaumont Theatre ‘The Big Star Show’ with Billy Fury, Joe Brown, Carl Denver and Marty Wilde tonight at 6.20 and 8.40. (T&A, Monday 18 November 1963.)
“Beatles LP heading high” – T&A headline on 23 November, just a week before the group were due to appear at Bradford Gaumont Theatre. The item read: “Watch out for a Beatles coup in the top ten next week. Their new LP ‘With The Beatles’ is going great guns and will crash into the top regions of the charts next week if present demand, described as tremendous, continues.” (T&A, Saturday 23 November 1963.)
“Police leave cancelled for Beatles” – a T&A headline on 25 November. “Two thirds of Bradford City Police force have had their leave cancelled for next Sunday so that adequate supervision can be given to the thousands-strong queue expected at the Gaumont Theatre when the booking office for the Beatles show on 21 December will be open at 10pm.” (T&A, Monday 25 November 1963.)
Two headlines from the T&A – “Long, long wait for tickets – but fans are happy. Rain and cold – but few hitches in Bradford Beatle crush” (T&A, Monday 2 December) and “The police and the Beatles queue.” (T&A, Tuesday 3 December 1963).
The following day a letter appeared in the letters column under the heading “Praise for Police”. The writer says “I am proud of my teenage daughter and her friends after their Beatle queue. They deserve an award. Never a grumble when they were tired. They sang their heads off. Hats off to our marvellous police and mounted police, especially the rider of the horse Angus, who kept them singing, especially during the tedious last hour.” Letter signed by “Impressed”. (T&A, Wednesday 4 December 1963.)
The following week the T&A carried an article under the headline “Music not vital at pop shows.” It reported that “screaming teenagers made so much noise at popular ‘beat’ or ‘pop’ concerts at cinemas that the music was scarcely audible and certainly not vital to the performance, Mr Duncan Ranking for the Cinematograph Exhibitors Association, told a Performing Rights Tribunal in London today.” He added: “Instead of sitting quietly and attentively...the audience kept up a very loud and hysterical screaming. That screaming begins before the performers come on stage, it continues throughout the concert irrespective of whether music is being played or not...and renders the music itself virtually inaudible.” (T&A, Monday 9 December 1963.)
“The Beatles ‘I want to hold your hand’ still at number one in the Bradford top ten, with ‘She loves you’ at number 7 and ‘With The Beatles’ LP at number ten.” (T&A, Saturday 21 December 1963.)
The T&A headline for 23 December read “This time Bradford gave the big scream – Beatles visit. There were more than 6,000 sore throats in Bradford and district yesterday. There would have been a pair of semi-deaf ears, too, had not a kind Press colleague given to me some cotton wool plugs. For the big scream which went up on Saturday night would have drowned an artillery barrage. Bradford had never heard anything like it. The cause of it all – yes, the Beatles...” (T&A, Monday 23 December 1963.)
The Beatles ended the year on a real high with ‘I want to hold your hand’ at number one and ‘She loves you’ at number two in the Bradford pop charts (T&A, Saturday 28 December 1963).
Some attitudes of the times – 1963
“Teenagers – a dirty word, ran a headline in the T&A of 4 May 1963. “A school inspector, Mrs K Catlin, told an audience at Fountain Hall, Bradford, today, that in her opinion ‘teenagers’ was a dirty word. Addressing teachers, health visitors and others, Mrs Catlin said, “The word is associated entirely with the commercial approach to the pockets of young people... I don’t see any real need for it, and the term is disliked by many young people. At no time has this group of the population been so cut off from the rest of society. They have got their own slang, their own uniform and their own branches of activity, and they regard other people – anybody over 25 – as quite incapable of grasping what is going on. They think of themselves as a separate community, and somehow they have got to be brought out of that.” (T&A, Saturday 4 May 1963.)
See part two next page for years 1964-66...
Part Two - Live Rock and Pop music in Bradford (1964-66)
In 1964 Beatlemania spread across the Atlantic to America and Tamla Motown music came to Britain.
On 23 January the T&A reported that “Kathy Kirby is to top a big Bradford ‘beat’ bill – Kathy Kirby, who has been tipped to become Britain’s number one vocalist of 1964, will be in Bradford on Sunday 8 March to star in a two-house concert at the Gaumont to help raise money to buy a van for the Meals of Wheels service run by the WVS. The concert is being organised by members of the Bradford and district Round Table who have undertaken to buy a van for the Meals on Wheels service, which provides hot meals for needy old people in the city.
Also starring in the show will be Freddie and the Dreamers who are generally considered to be the third leading beat attraction after the Beatles and Gerry and the Pacemakers. Among other artists on the Gaumont bill will be the Merseybeats,...the Walker Brothers and Mike Sagar and the Quiet Three.
On Wednesday 4 March at the Gaumont will be the group who are offering the most serious threat to the commanding position of the Beatles. They are the Rolling Stones, whose appearance is as wild as their music. Planning to take part in the same show are the very popular Swinging Blue Jeans, John Leyton, Mike Sarne, Jet Harris, Mike Berry, the Hollies and Ben Elliot and the Fenmen.” (T&A, Thursday 23 January 1964.)
In the same edition there is an ad for ‘What a Crazy World’, a ‘pop’ musical starring Joe Brown, Marty Wilde and Susan Maughan – showing at the ABC Ritz, Bradford, all next week. (T&A, Thursday 23 January 1964.)
In the T&A of 29 January there appears an ad for Beatles wallpaper “covered with coloured pictures of John, Paul, George and Ringo”, costing 14/6 (73p) a roll. (T&A, Wednesday 29 January 1964.)
“Beatnik is now a dictionary word...along with the word Bingo” runs the T&A headline, reporting that “in the latest Concise Oxford Dictionary, published today, Beatnik is defined as ‘one of the beat generation (young people adopting unconventional dress, manners, habits, etc, as a means of self-expression and social protest)’.” (T&A, Thursday 27 February 1964.)
Today on stage at the Gaumont Theatre, at 6.15 and 8.40pm ‘The All Stars Show’, with Eden Kane, Mike Sarne, the Rolling Stones, the Hollies, Jet Harris and Mike Berry. (T&A, Wednesday 4 March 1964.)
In the T&A’s Youth Column on 6 March, there is a piece on the new fashion-conscious Mods, as follows: “The pace is hotting up in the mod-style dress stakes – £5 a week to stay ‘with it’. Mods have a motto – ‘If you aren’t with it, you are regarded as being past it’.” (T&A, Friday 6 March 1964.)
Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders and the Big Three appearing at the Queen’s Hall, Bradford, on Tuesday 24 March. (T&A, Friday 20 March 1964.)
“Wild scenes greet fans – Scores of screaming teenagers raced down the aisles during wild scenes at last night’s show at the Gaumont Theatre. Top of the bill was the Dave Clark Five...and the programme also included the Hollies. There were nearly 3,000 at the theatre for the first house and a similar packed theatre for the second performance.
Screams and cheers broke out right from the start of the show when the first group, the Kinks, appeared. They became louder with the appearance of the next group, the Mojos. With the turn of the Hollies, who topped the first half of the show, crowds raced to the stage.
The second half of the show featured the Treble Tones and Mark Wynter. Before compare Frank Berry introduced the Dave Clark Five crowds pressed around the foot of the stage chanting ‘We want Dave’.
A spokesman at the theatre said the scenes of excitement were similar to those which broke out when the Beatles appeared. A few girls fainted last night.” (T&A, Monday 6 April 1964.)
“Top Twenty Club for Bradford teenagers – The Top Twenty Club, a new Bradford teenagers’ club with the rhythm and blues and beat atmosphere, opens next Tuesday with an appearance by the Applejacks. The club is at Town Gate, Idle, where the former King’s Hall has been transformed to provide first class facilities. It is a club planned purely to cater for teenagers...
Big attraction for 17 June will be the Mojos.” (T&A, Wednesday 6 May 1964.)
“Girl fans tear jacket off Rolling Stones player – A screaming mob of teenage girls literally tore the clothes off the back of the Rolling Stones pop group last night after the group’s first-house performance at St George’s Hall. The victim of ‘Stonemania’ was 19-year-old Brian Jones, the group’s leading harmonica player.
During their performance the Stones had whipped the 1,300 audience into a frenzy. In the stalls girls and boys stood shoulder to shoulder on seats, several of which were damaged by girls stiletto heals. At the end of the act dozens of girls rushed the makeshift barriers blocking the way to the stage, but police managed to hold them back except one. She was caught on the stage.
By comparison the second house was ‘milder’. There was no mad rush forward at the end of the show and a brilliant piece of timing had the group back in the Victoria Hotel – where they stayed overnight – before the majority of fans left the hall.” (T&A, Friday 15 May 1964.)
The T&A of 17 June contained an ad for the Mojos at the Top Twenty Club tonight. Members 5/ (25p) and guests 6/ (30p). (T&A, Friday 24 June 1964.)
“Beatles and Cliff Richard films for Bradford – A friendly battle of the giants is soon to take place in Bradford. Competing for business at the same time will be two of the biggest names in show business – The Beatles and Cliff Richard. This week the Beatles first film ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ had its premier in London. The result was fantastic. Now it is announced that the film will open at the 3,300-seater Bradford Gaumont on 26 July. It is expected to run for at least three weeks.
On 2 August – a week after the opening of the Beatles film – Cliff Richard will be seen at the Bradford Ritz in his latest musical ‘Wonderful Life’. The cinema managements...think that in general the Beatles will attract the youngsters to the Gaumont and the family and older audiences to the Ritz.” (T&A, Thursday 9 July 1964.)
NB. As a 16-year-old teenager myself I went to see ‘A hard day’s night’ at the Gaumont Cinema.
At the Dungeon, 85 Westgate, Bradford, tomorrow – the king of R ‘n’ B Long John Baldry and the Hoochie Coochie Men. Members 6/ (30p), guests 7/ (35p). (T&A, Friday 10 July 1964.)
“There’ll be 326,700 seats but...fans still want to book for Beatles’ film – There will be 326,700 seats available in Bradford for those who want to see the Beatles’ film ‘A Hard Day’s Night’. And yet although this means that more than the entire population of the city could be catered for, many people have already panicked at the thought that they might not be able to get tickets. By letter, telephone and personally they have begged the management of the Bradford Gaumont, where the picture opens on Sunday, to allow them to book. The whole thing is quite incredible. For the first time, as far as I’m aware, a Bradford cinema is to run five shows a day. As the Gaumont seats 3,300 this means that 16,500 seats are available each day.” (T&A, Thursday 23 July 1964.)
“Pop group clash in Bradford averted: Beatles’ date stays – What would have been the biggest battle of beat groups Bradford has ever known was averted today when Manfred Mann and Bill Haley and his Comets withdrew from the contest. The Beatles will, after all, have the field to themselves. Up to noon plans had been made for the Mann-Haley concert at St George’s Hall on 9 October – the same day the Beatles will open their British tour with a two-house show at the Gaumont Theatre.” (T&A, Thursday 10 September 1964.)
“The Rolling Stones...are in Bradford on Saturday, on which day the Telegraph & Argus will publish a special edition containing full page pictures of all five members of the group. Order form for this special edition is on page 2. Tickets for Saturday’s show cost between 6/6 (33p) and 8/6 (43p).” (T&A, Saturday 22 September 1964.)
“Thin blue line held against Stones fans – Paying their first visit to Bradford since they were voted top pop group of the year, the Rolling Stones leaped on stage of the Gaumont Cinema on Saturday night to a tumultuous reception, equalled only by that which greeted the Beatles last year. Before the curtains had parted, hundreds of teenage girls scrambled from their seats and rushed the stage. The thin blue line of 15 policemen wavered but held.
As the Stones went into their first number the air became thick with flying objects as adoring fans showered the stage with autograph books, scarves, sweets – everything, including a home-made Gonk. Girls fainted. Girls jumped up and down on the seats. Girls just wept. And the screams went on. Little could be heard of the group through the noise. Had it not been for the thud of the drums and the almost eerie vibration from the amplified guitars, the group could have been practising a mime. But the girls didn’t care. Their shrieks drowned everything and then, as the final curtain came down, they stopped. Just like that. One minute there was deafening noise and the next and ever-ringing silence.
Over 30 girls fainted during the performance. Policemen had lost their helmets, girls had lost their shoes, and a wall panel near the stage had been crushed by the weight of bodies. To avoid a repetition of the scenes which took place the last time the Stones visited Bradford – the Victoria Hotel was besieged by hundreds of teenagers after the group had appeared at St George’s Hall – the Rolling Stones were picked by a police van on the outskirts of Bradford and smuggled into the theatre.” (T&A, Monday 28 September 1964.)
“6,000 in Bradford greeting as Beatles open their new tour” – This article includes a picture of “a smiling John Lennon delighted to receive a card for his 24th birthday from 5-year-old Karen Spence, of Pudsey. With John and his fellow Beatles is Mary Wells who is appearing with them on their British tour.”
At the Mecca Locarno Ballroom on Monday 19 October – the fabulous Easybeats. Admission 3/ (15p). (T&A, Saturday 17 October 1964.)
At the Gaumont tomorrow – the Honeycombs, Millie, Lulu and the Luvvers, the Applejacks, Gene Vincent and the Beat Merchants. 6.15 and 8.40pm. (T&A, Thursday 22 October 1964.)
Tomorrow night at the St George’s Hall at 7.30pm – Kenny Ball and his Jazzmen. Tickets 4/ (20p), 8/6 (43p). (T&A, Wednesday 28 October 1964.)
One night only at the Gaumont Theatre, the R ‘n’ B show with the Animals, Carl Perkins, Nashville Teens, Tommy Tucker and Elkie Brooks. Tickets 6/6 (33p), 10/6 (53p). (T&A, Saturday 31 October 1964.)
“Stones Bradford wedding” – page 5 story about Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts secret wedding in Bradford to art student Shirley Ann Sheppard (pictured). (T&A, Saturday 21 November 1964.)
At the Top Ten Club, Idle on Friday night – the Honeycombs. Admission 7/6 (38p). (T&A, Wednesday 2 December 1964.)
“Bradford bride for Kinks leader” (T&A, 10 December). “Bride for Kink” – page 10 picture of Ray Davies and his 18-year-old bride German-born Rasa Emilija Halina Didzpetris. (T&A, Monday 14 December 1964.)
NB. The Beatles at the Gaumont Theatre, Bradford, Friday 9 October 1964. I attended this show along with my younger brother Michael – I was 17 years old at the time. I’d managed to get seats in the stalls on the ground floor very near the back of the theatre. What a noise! It was bad enough before the curtain went up but once it did go up pandemonium broke loose. The screaming was deafening and it was impossible to remain seated because everyone in the pace was on their feet. I’d never experienced anything like it before – or since. An absolutely unforgettable but thoroughly enjoyable experience.
Below are brief extracts from a letter I wrote to my brother Michael dated 22 January 1998. I had found a book about the Beatles at Virgin Megastore in Manchester, where I then lived, and discovered the date when the Beatles played Bradford all those years before.
“I came across a book listing all the gigs played by the Beatles. And guess what I found? The date they played in Bradford when we saw them. It was at the Gaumont Cinema on Friday 9 October 1964 and they sang the following:
· Twist and shout
· Can’t buy me love
· I’m happy just to dance with you
· I should have known better
· If I fell
· I wanna be your man
· A hard day’s night
· Long tall Sally
Nine songs in all and the show was compered by someone called Bob Bain. Also on the bill were the Rustiks, Michael Haslam, Sounds Incorporated, Mary Wells (who closed the first half of the show), the Reno Four, Tommy Quickly and, finally, the Beatles.” (My letter dated Thursday 22 January 1998.)
Some attitudes of the times – 1964
“Head defends the Teenager – School speech...by Wibsey Secondary School head teacher Mr A Holroyd.” And on page 6 there’s an editorial comment headed ‘Growing up’. “Praise for today’s teenagers came last night from a Bradford headmaster, Mr A Holroyd... At the school’s speech day he said he had been with teenagers day by day for 36 years and knew as much about them as anyone. His verdict – ‘There is little amiss with 90 per cent of them.’” (T&A, Tuesday 17 March 1964.)
“Let us wed at 18 is the majority view of teenagers – When we debated the vote at 18 proposal recently there were those, notably the boys, who were against lowering the voting age from 21. The girls, however, came out howling for their rights. But teenagers appear to have few doubts about lowering the age limit for getting married. Following the Young Liberals’ proposal, who have produced a Charter for Youth, we questioned a number of youngsters to test their reaction. All but one were in favour of marriage without parental consent at 18.” (T&A, Friday 3 April 1964.)
“Bradford and pep pills – The menace of purple hearts and pep pills has not reached serious proportions in Bradford... Bradford Dr H Fidler said today, ‘most doctors in Bradford stopped prescribing these pills and tablets after the dangers were realised. Nobody really needs them. They were originally used as stimulants and appetite suppressors, but we have learned you can diet without them. If they all disappeared tomorrow no one would be any worse off.’” (T&A, 1 May 1964.)
“The things I admire in modern youth by the Reverend Dr Maurice Bennett, Eastbrook Hall Methodist Mission, Bradford – What’s right with the youngsters! That’s not a question; it is a statement. We have questions galore about them and often the implication is that there isn’t much right with the attitude of modern youth.
Here are some observations. Enthusiasm for the things they believe in. It may be said that this is true of every generation. Yet it needs to be said about our own youngsters. We may be impatient with the pattern of their belief. If their beliefs seem hesitant its probably because grown-up folk have lost the anchors of their own belief and tried to pull the wool over the eyes of youngsters. I’ve discovered that when youngsters believe, time and again it has really been hewn out of the rugged bit of life they have known.
Modern youth is courageous enough to criticise the Establishment. Now that takes some doing when one lives in a community hidebound by tradition and impressions so much dug-out of sentimentality. Looking at it one way we might be thankful for the seeming flamboyancy of dress and apparent ostentation in hairdos! At least some folk have the courage to be different.
They promote their own heroes and pin-ups from among themselves – not always will they accept the usual heroes. Whether it likes it or not adult society has got to come to terms with this new attitude to the establishment.
Modern youth show an exciting and adventurous creative ability. Their ‘offbeat’ rhythms, new scales in melodies and strange harmonies might be interpreted as part of the kick against rule and authority, but more and more people are making music themselves than for a long time in our land.
These people will accept a person for what he is and not for what he has. The barriers, by and large are down. I for one feel that the contemporary situation among youth is full of hope. They’ve inherited a pretty grim world. At present they are living through one of the greatest revolutions in history.” (T&A, Monday 18 May 1964.)
“Protest on teenage terminology – ...This terminology (such as ‘mods’ and ‘rockers’) has an effect in singling them out from the rest of the country and enabling them to indentify themselves as a special group. I should have thought a more accurate description would be ‘teenage riff-raff’ or ‘teenage hooligans’. The irresponsible hooligans, whose displays of outrageous behaviour have been sampled by Clacton and Margate people, must be cut down to size before it is too late.” Page 9 letter, T&A, 28 May 1964.)
“Those haircuts – it’s up to you girls. Mr E Borkwood had something to say about young men’s current hair styles when he addressed the St John’s Girls’ School speech day on Saturday. Amid laughter he told the girls: ‘Those of you have dogs will keep them clean and well-groomed...but it worries me how, after you have taken such care of your dogs, when you get older you will put up with anything in boy friends... Many of them have long, bedraggled hair, and unkempt appearances, your grandmothers would have told them ‘Go and get your hair cut and then I’ll speak to you’. You should follow their example, because it seems to me that it is up to you girls in England to force the boys to take pride in their appearance which seems to be lacking these days.’” (T&A, 27 July 1964.)
“Hairnets for firms ‘Rolling Stones’ – Apprentice engineer Alan Watson’s bosses were horrified when they saw his Rolling Stones hair cut. Now his bosses have issued him with a hair-net type safety cap. Alan said: ‘The safety officer told me I had better get a hair cut – or wear a hat. It had taken me since February to grow my hair long, so I decided to wear one of the caps.’” (T&A, 26 August 1964.)
“Hair estimate – The Men’s hairdressing concern of T S Bates, Wakefield Road, Bradford, has hit upon a novel way of advising long-haired customers. Painted in white on the step outside is the announcement: If it’s long ask for an estimate. ‘Because of them regular customers may have to wait up to three-quarters of an hour and long-haired gents aren’t usually willing to pay three time the price’, says the proprietor.” (T&A, 12 September 1964.)
In this year Tamla Motown consolidated its position with hit after hit record, a folk music revival came to Britain headed by Bob Dylan and Joan Baez and Folk Rock was born as Bob Dylan plugged in, went electric and opened up new ground for the Byrds.
At the Odeon Cinema all this week – ‘Ferry Across the Mersey’ (U) movie starring Gerry and the Pacemakers. (T&A, Monday 22 February 1965.)
“Hard night with the Hollies – After amazing scenes in the Majestic Ballroom, Bradford, last night – when over 1,000 teenagers saw the Hollies beat group – the staff began taking stock of damage expected to amount to about £50. The night began with both ballroom and group management having difficulty getting the Hollies onstage. Their act was continually interrupted by screams, near-hysterical girls rushing onto the platform and fainting cases being carried through a side exit. Several times officials had to pull girls from around the neck of members of the group. Eventually the Hollies act ended with the stage ringed by staff and two Bradford police constables...” (T&A, Tuesday 23 February 1965.)
Gaumont Theatre ad for Roy Orbison show on Friday 19 March, featuring the Rockin Berries, Marianne Faithful and Cliff Bennett and Rebel Rousers. Tickets 6/6 (33p) and 12/6 (63p). (T&A, Saturday 6 March 1965.)
Tonight at the Majestic Ballroom – Lulu and the Luvvers. Admission 4/ (20p). (T&A, Monday 8 March 1965.)
Tonight at the Top Twenty Club, Idle – The Mojos. Admission 4/ (20p). (T&A, Wednesday 10 March 1965.)
At the Lyceum Rainbow Club all this week – Joe Brown and his Bruvvers. (T&A, Monday 29 March 1965.)
In the Bradford record chart at number 8 ‘Times they are a-changin’ by Bob Dylan. (T&A, Saturday 10 April 1965.)
At the Lyceum Rainbow Club all this week – Kathy Kirby with Shane Fenton. Next week – Lonnie Donegan. (T&A, Monday 19 April 1965.)
Appearing at the Witchbarn Club on Manor Row, Bradford (opposite the Essoldo Theatre) on Saturday – Alexis Korner. (T&A, Thursday 22 April 1965.)
At the Top 20 Club on Wednesday ‘the living legend’ Gene Vincent, 7.30pm. Admission 4/ (20p). And at the Textile Hall on Friday – Heinz, admission 5/ (25p). (T&A, Monday 26 April 1965.)
Gene Vincent show at the Top 20 Club cancelled due to illness – date rescheduled for Wednesday 19 May. Tonight at the Top 20 Club – the Undertakers. (T&A, Wednesday 28 April 1965.)
The times they are a-changin’ by Bob Dylan back in the Bradford top ten chart at number 7. (T&A, Saturday 1 May 1965.)
All this week at the Lyceum Rainbow Club – Dusty Springfield.”(T&A, Monday 31 May 1965.)
“Joan Baez in Concert – BBC TV 10.45-11.15pm. One of the most striking personalities in the current folk music boom, America’s raven-haired Joan Baez, recorded two programmes during her visit to Britain in May, the first of which is to be screened tonight...” (T&A, Saturday 5 June 1965.)
Joan Baez in concert – part two. 10.40-11.15pm BBC TV. (T&A, 12 June 1965.)
Bob Dylan – 10.50-11.20pm, BBC TV. “The first of two programmes by this artist.” (T&A, Saturday 19 June 1965.)
Bob Dylan 10.30-11.00 BBC TV tonight. (T&A, Saturday 26 June 1965.)
This week at the Lyceum Rainbow Club – Alma Cogan. (T&A, Monday 28 June 1965.)
‘Mr Tambourine man’ by the Byrds at number one in the Bradford record charts. (T&A, Saturday 10 July 1965.)
At the Top 20 Club on Saturday – Jess Conrad. Admission 5/ (25p). Also booked to appear at the Home Wood Social Club on Thursday, admission 2/ (10p). (T&A, Wednesday 21 July 1965.)
‘I got you babe’ by Sonny and Cher at number one in the Bradford with Bob Dylan’s ‘Like a rolling stone’ at number 10. (T&A, Saturday 28 August 1965.
‘Like a rolling stone’ by Bob Dylan at number six in the Bradford top ten, with ‘All I really want to do’ by the Byrds at number 5/ (T&A, Saturday 4 September 1965.)
“Camping on cinema steps – Two Batley girls aged 16 (pictured) are today camped on the steps at the Gaumont Cinema waiting for the advance booking office to open at 11 o’clock tomorrow morning so they can buy tickets for the appearance of the Rolling Stones on 4 October. Complete with flasks, umbrella and pop magazines, they hope to stay the night and will return early in the morning if they are moved on. ‘We must have front row seats’, they insisted.” (T&A, Friday 10 September 1965.)
At the Top 20 Club this Saturday – Heinz. Admission 5/ (25p). (T&A, Wednesday 22 September 1965.)
‘Eve of Destruction’ by Barry Maguire at number 7 in the Bradford top ten, with ‘Laugh at me’ by Sonny Bono at number 9. (T&A, Saturday 25 September 1965.)
Page 2 ad for a special edition of the Telegraph & Argus to celebrate the appearance of the Rolling Stones at the Gaumont on Monday 4 October. Price 3 pence. (T&A, Saturday 2 October 1965.)
“Stones are praised and surprised – Last year they took Gaumont audiences by storm... This time the cinema was only half-full for the first house and three-quarters full for the second. This means that there were well over 2,000 empty seats.
Its doubtful whether so many girls have fainted at a Bradford show before, however. ‘There were literally dozens’, said Mr Peter Davis, the Gaumont manager. A more than 30-strong St Ambulance Brigade unit dealt with the fainting – setting up headquarters in an exit way during the first house and in the orchestra pit during the second. Several seats were broken and some pierced by high heels.” (T&A, Tuesday 5 October 1965.)
Manfred Mann and the Yardbirds at the Gaumont Theatre on 22 November. Tickets 6/6 (33p). (T&A, Monday 1 November 1965.)
‘Positively 4th street’ by Bob Dylan at number 9 in the Bradford top ten chart. (T&A, Saturday 17 November 1965.)
Some attitudes of the times – 1965
Page 6 editorial comment with the heading ‘Pop’ – “Criticism of the popular music of the day like that of Mr Keith Rhodes and Mr R Fletcher, two music teachers at Grange Boys’ School, Bradford, who say in a letter to parents, ‘pop is primarily an exhibition of sexual paganism’, is not new. Similar judgements of the past were directed against the tango, the one-step, the Charleston and jazz in general.
The two music masters rightly point out that pop music is not good music, but they cannot be right in saying that it is ‘primarily an exhibition of sexual paganism’. Any dance – even the old-fashioned waltz – can become an exhibition if the dancers want to make it so. The current craze for ‘beat’ will pass as did ‘pops’ of yesteryear, but while it remains why attack it?” (T&A, Monday 4 January 1965.)
“Popularity of pop – I do not accept that a teacher of music is entitled to dictate what type of music a person should prefer or should label lovers of pop music morons. The popularity of pop is not due, as Mr Rhodes alleges, to the gullibility of young people, nor to the prodding persuasion of commercial interests, but to the spontaneous reaction to music which has some tuneful and musical content.
It is not up to a teacher of music to lead, guide or persuade on musical tastes. It is among things, his job to demonstrate and explain to his pupils all forms of music, including pop. How many pop records has Mr Rhodes in his school?
A vital point that pop has brought to light is that it is enjoyed by youth of all classes and intellect and is therefore in accord with the inevitable modern tendency to lessen the gulf between the two main classes in society. As parents can rarely have an effective say in what their children shall enjoy musically, and it is not in any case within their power to determine what types of music the TV, wireless, dance-hall or juke box shall play, it all seems a pointless exercise to write to parents in the first place.” (Page 6 letter to the T&A, Friday 15 January 1965, signed by “Pop”.)
“Get your hair cut, says girl to boys – I think it is about time that the younger half of the male sex realised how awful they look with long hair and did something about it. For some time now there has been a joke about not being able to distinguish between boys and girls. This is very true, and as girl I protest.
Boys’ hair was never meant to be long and it looks untidy, dirty and thoroughly off-putting. It is also unhygienic and can be very dangerous where working near machinery is concerned. Why must they hide their faces behind strands of hair? Are they ashamed of people being able to see what they look like?
I agree that hair can be too short as well as being too long, but a boy with a reasonable hair style looks cleaner, tidier and more good looking.” Page 3 readers’ letter signed “Hairfield”, T&A, 22 March 1965.
“The short skirt craze – How far dare a girl go? With the hemline, I mean. The short-skirt craze, inspired by French designer Courreges at the Paris Spring Collections, started when his space-age clothes rose a fairly modest couple of inches to just above the knees. Since then, and especially this week during the present autumn collections in Paris, hemlines have shot up alarmingly.
Some reports say they are now six inches above the knee... This sounds slightly ridiculous to me because no-one with any modesty about their legs would dare to wear their skirts that short. Knees have been described as the ‘ugliest joints in a woman’s body’. In 99 out of 100 cases, this is true. Few girls have pretty knees. Yet women all over the world have been following the trend slowly over the past months. A few years ago, I would no more have worn my skirts as short as I do nowadays than go to work in a bikini.” (By Angela Derwent, T&A, Friday 30 July 1965.)
The Beatles decided to stop touring, Bob Dylan is injured in a motorcycle accident, the pop radio pirates are challenged and banished by the British Labour Government and the BBC is given the job to create a new national pop radio station, Radio One.
Lulu and the Luvvers at the Lyceum Rainbow Club all this week. (T&A, Monday 31 January 1966.)
Lonnie Donegan at the Lyceum Rainbow Club all this week. (T&A, Monday 7 March 1966.)
“Big scream on again? Page 8 article about the Walkers Brothers, booked to appear at the Bradford Gaumont. (T&A, Friday 8 April 1966.)
“Bachelors’ fans burst window – When a surging crowd of fans and onlookers, awaiting the arrival of the Bachelors pop group, swayed forward, three women and two babies were pushed through a plate-glass window into a television display at Vallances music shop, Market Street, Bradford today.
Miss Sheila Simpson, a student staff nurse of Bradford Royal Infirmary, herself a fan, arrived to help the injured. But she found that the only injury, other than shock all round, was a cut leg.” (T&A, Friday 25 March 1966.)
Page 2 ad for Brian Poole and the Tremeloes at the Hole in the Wall club, Bradford, this Easter Saturday. Tickets 10/ (50p). Also ad for Roy Orbison, the Walkers Brothers, Lulu and the Marionettes at the Gaumont Theatre tomorrow. Tickets 6/6 (33p). (T&A, Thursday 7 April 1966.)
“Three girls hide in club – When Bradford police received a telephone call at about 10.45am yesterday to say that the caller thought someone was breaking into the Lyceum Rainbow Club, they got in touch with the owners of the club and went to investigate. Mr John Hammond, joint managing director of the club, said later yesterday: ‘We searched high and low and, eventually upstairs in a very cramped space behind some electrical equipment, we found three teenage girls. They had covered themselves with a large basket to hide and were piled on top of each other. They were all heartbroken and begging to see the Walker Brothers who arrived today. The trio’s efforts to see their favourite pop vocalists were in vain however. The police gave them a warning and we gave them a telling-off and sent them home.’” (T&A, Monday 25 July 1966.)
At the Gaumont Theatre on Saturday 22 October – the Walker Brothers. (T&A, Saturday 1 October 1966.)
Tonight on stage at the Silver Blades Ice Rink, Little Horton Lane, Bradford – Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers. (T&A, Tuesday 18 October 1966.)
“The Troggs are dogs – The screaming and near-hysteria of the pop fans for their current idols, which marked the Walker Brothers’ show at Bradford’s Gaumont Theatre on Saturday night, persisted at the close of the first-house performance. Of the 3,000 audience, comprising mainly teenagers, almost a thousand remained standing in rows chanting ‘We want the Troggs’.
The bill included Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich and “special guest stars” the Troggs, but the Troggs had not ‘made the scene’. As police moved up the auditorium the thousand gradually streamed out, still chanting, through the rear doors, many of them weeping and calling ‘the Troggs are dogs’. The Troggs did arrive in time for a spot in the second part of the two-house show.
St Ambulance officials were kept busy the whole evening, administering smelling salts to the young fans, and earlier Bradford Fire Brigade had rescued a 14-year-old girl from a 20-foot high wall at the rear of the theatre. She had shinned up the drain pipe, and was unable to get down.” (T&A, Monday 24 October 1966.)
At the Lyceum Rainbow Cub all this week – Freddie and the Dreamers. (T&A, Monday 14 November 1966.)
“BBC likely to run pop radio – carrying the war to radio pirates. Plans to provide a national alternative to the pop radio pirates are to be announced tomorrow by Mr Edward Short, the Postmaster-General. The BBC is expected to operate the service without any financial assistance from advertising. The national pop service...will go into operation as soon as possible and will take over one of the BBC’s medium wavelengths. The amount of pop music per hour will be far less than the almost non-stop service which has been one of the main reasons for the success of the pirates.” (T&A, Monday 19 December 1966.)
“Pop around the clock...with BBC – The BBC is to operate a new pop music programme in the new year, broadcasting almost 24 hours a day...” (T&A, Tuesday 20 December 1966.)
Some attitudes of the time - 1966
“Word ‘teenager’ is criticised – Some teenagers were rebellious-layabouts, good-for-nothings, but so were some adults, said Miss D Waite, of Leeds College, at Belle Vue Girls’ speech day in St George’s Hall last night. I dislike that awful word ‘teenager’, she declared. It was not invented in my day, and I dislike the assumption that all teenagers are alike. It is not so. Each generation had to hammer out its own code, and there had to be standards. The greatest rule was consideration for other people’s feelings.” (T&A, Thursday 3 March 1966.)
“Teenage drug takers – The description by a defending solicitor of a 16-year-old girl visiting coffee bars in Bradford and meeting drug pedlars will have worried parents. A mother asks in our correspondence columns today for the names to be published of the bars where the drugs can be obtained. Parents could then tell their children not to go there. But such a list is not available. A drug pedlar could visit without the proprietor or staff knowing his purpose. The culprits are not easy to catch.” (T&A editorial comment, Friday 27 April 1966.)
“Mini-skirt rumpus – What a rumpus the mini-skirt is causing! Since the ever-rising hemline leapt to eight inches above the knees we have seen it at Ascot, on television, and in the Press. One thing is certain – everyone notices it and has an opinion about it, either for or against.” (T&A, Wednesday 22 June 1966.)
“Beatle is right about Jesus – The Reverend T Chivers, preaching last night at St Barnados Church, Keighley, sympathised with recent reported remarks by John Lennon, of the Beatles, which have caused controversy in America’s Deep South. Lennon is reported to have said that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus. ‘Personally I do not see what all the fuss is about’, said Mr Chivers. ‘To test the truth we have only to imagine the appearance of the Beatles in Keighley at church time to realise which is more popular’.” (T&A, Monday 8 August 1966.)
“John Lennon’s remark – John Lennon’s over-publicised pronouncement that the Beatles are more popular than Jesus would be amusing if its impact did not instance the neurosis that seems to be increasingly evident in American society. It is significant that the controversy was sparked off in Birmingham, Alabama, perhaps the centre of Southern race hatred. How can the South brandish Bibles in moral indignation at four harmless musicians while simultaneously condoning an un-Christian policy of racial terrorism? Such hypocrisy might well lead a neutral observer to conclude that Lennon is right, at least as far as the South is concerned.
Strangely neither the Pope nor Dr Ramsey has upped and exhorted us to bouts of paranoia. The American reaction is to be filed away with the Ku Klux Klan, Goldwaterism and other phenomena under the heading of ‘The Great American Neurosis’.” (Page 3 letter by Richard Poole, Low Moor, Bradford. T&A, Tuesday 9 August 1966.)
“Compulsory haircuts – The Recorder, Mr John Cobb, QC, at Bradford Quarter Sessions, commented today: ‘I find it a startling fact that the Ice Rink at Bradford can require young men to get their hair cut as a condition of entry, but this court has no such power.” (T&A, Tuesday 20 September 1966.)
Alan O’Day Scott – Saturday 1 September 2001.
* This work was written in 2001 and a handwritten copy is kept in Bradford’s local studies reference library. This version was typed in August 2009.
Rock music after 1966 –
This work covers what I consider to be the most important period of 1960s’ pop and rock music, when teenagers made their greatest impact as a generation on the move and forging its own identity. Although the latter part of the 1960s was momentous in its own way, I think it is fair to say that teenagers were not as united as a movement after 1966. One reason for this is the diversity that emerged, especially in 1967 with the emergence of the Hippie movement and so-called psychedelic music and the huge festivals that took place after 1967 in America and Britain. With the emergence of the Hippies, Britain’s youth began to splinter and break up into different factions with each group supporting its own musical heroes. Although not touched upon in this essay Tamla Motown had a huge following both before and after 1966, as did mainstream top of the pops chart music.
Out of the 1967 psychedelic movement emerged a more serious type of music, which came to be known as Rock music. Early pioneers of this genre in Britain include the Beatles (via their albums ‘Revolver’ and ‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band’ albums of 1966 and ’67), the Pink Floyd, Cream and later on, Genesis. And the rest, as they say, is history!
Sadly along the way we have lost many great rock stars, many of them dying young, far too young. The very first and one of the greatest was Buddy Holly (1936-1959), quickly followed by his great friend Eddie Cochran (1938-1960). Other greats include Brian Jones (1942-1969), Jimi Hendrix (1942-1970), Janis Joplin (1943-1970), Jim Morrison (1943-1971), Gene Vincent (1935-1971), Elvis Presley (1935-1977), John Lennon (1940-1980) and George Harrison (1943-2001). All made a great impact one way or another and provided the soundtrack of our young lives as teenagers in the 1960s, perhaps the greatest musical decade of all.
Live music in Bradford - some other writings (part three)
Some other writings on the rock ‘n’ roll and pop stars who came to Bradford
In a letter to the Bradford Telegraph & Argus of 25 May 2002 Christine Soothill tells about the time she went to see Buddy Holly and the Crickets at the Gaumont on Sunday 9 March 1958. “Bill Haley was the first to rock ‘n’ roll there”, she writes, “but the legend that Buddy Holly left behind is sacrosanct... It was not until years later that I realised Des O’Connor was the compere, when he talked about it on his show.” (T&A, 25 May 2001.)
Christine wrote to the newspaper again about some of the other great rock ‘n’ roll stars that appeared on stage at the old Gaumont Theatre (later renamed the Odeon). “In the late fifties and early sixties”, Christine writes, “Buddy Holly, Bill Haley, Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran all appeared there. Later, there were groups like the Beatles and many others. That building holds a lot of memories for a lot of people and if there is an attempt to demolish it in my lifetime, I will be the first to lie down in front of the bulldozer.” (Christine Soothill’s letter to the T&A, 28 November 2003.)
In the T&A of 22 October 2008 there are some excerpts from the original review of that Buddy Holly and the Crickets concert of March 1958, by former T&A entertainment writer Peter Holdsworth. He wasn’t at all impressed. After describing the “fanatical reception given to the screeching guitar player and his two colleagues”, he challenged “anyone in the audience to tell me what 70 per cent of the words which issued from the lips of this foot-stomping, knee-falling musician. Where on earth is showbusiness heading? The tragedy often is that many of the performers, like the trio last night, have a basic talent which they distort in order to win an audience’s favour.” (T&A, 22 October 2008.)
Adam Faith at St George’s Hall. We have no date for this appearance but here is what popular columnist Mike Priestley wrote about the event. “He would have been a mere lad of 19 or 20 when he came to St George’s Hall accompanied by the John Barry Seven and sharing a bill with Emile Ford and the Checkmates (whose extraordinary performance stole the show). And I was even more of a lad of 16, sitting in the audience... Compared to Emile he wasn’t an exciting stage performer. However, he must have impressed me enough for me to go out and buy his first album, or LP as they then were. It was actually a first for me, too – the first LP I ever bought, and quite an investment for someone on a paper round income. Adam, it was called, and it was released in 1960.”
(Mike Priestley, T&A, 11 March 2003.)
Beatlemania in Bradford. In the T&A of 22 November 2003 there appears a feature by popular columnist Jim Greenhalf. “In Bradford citizens of a certain age may remember the two shows which the Beatles performed in Bradford in February and December of 1963, both at the Gaumont cinema.” Describing this as “a historic moment in popular culture when on 21 December 1963 the Beatles took Bradford by storm – the second of three visits – and changed music forever. No-one had ever seen anything like it. Two shows were scheduled. When the 6,600 tickets (8/6 or 45p and 15 shillings or 75p) went on sale on 1 December thousands were waiting to pounce on them. Some had queued for 17 hours, defying the weather which was a lot more wintry than it is now.
John, Paul, George and Ringo first set their Cuban heeled boots in Bradford on Saturday 2 February 1963. That was the year when the winter went on into spring and the country was covered with snow and ice for weeks. Please, Please Me, the Beatles’ second single was number two in the Top Ten; but the group arrived as part of a package tour which featured 16-year-old Helen Shapiro, Kenny Lynch and Danny Williams. They did two shows.
On Saturday 21 December the boys were back in town... In February the Beatles were a supporting act. On that Saturday night in December they were top of the bill, supported by Billy J Kramer and the Dakotas, Rolf Harris, the Fourmost, Cilla Black, Tommy Quickly and the comedy group the Barron Knights.” (Jim Greenhalf, T&A Weekend supplement, 22 November 2003.)
It is surprising that Jim Greenhalf doesn’t include the Beatles’ final appearance in Bradford of Friday 9 October 1964 in his feature article, but this may be because of lack of column space.
Stars flocked to Bradford – “1964 was the year the names flocked to this city”, writes Mike Priestley in July 2006, “appearing at venues as big as the 3,000-seater Gaumont and as small as the Little Fat Black Pussy Cat, Bradford’s answer to the Cavern in a tunnel under Sunbridge Road. In between was the Majestic, the Mecca Locarno,...St George’s Hall, the Top 20 Club at Idle and the Dungeon...
Here’s a list of the main singers and groups who appeared in Bradford...many of them several times, compiled with the help of the excellent Bradford Timeline website. The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Joe Brown and the Bruvvers, Kenny Ball’s Jazzmen, Crystals, Johnny Kidd and the Pirates, Heinz, Manfred Mann, Rockin’ Berries, Swinging Blue Jeans, Jet Harris, Mike Berry, Eden Kane, Kathy Kirby, Freddie and the Dreamers, Mersybeats, Walkers Brothers, Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders, Dave Clark Five, Mark Wynter, Hollies, Kinks, Mojos, Tremeloes, Applejacks, Chuck Berry, Carl Perkins, Animals, Nashville Teens, Pretty Things, Long John Baldry, Alexis Korner, Memphis Slim, Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames, Inez and Charlie Foxx, Gene Vincent, the Applejacks, Lulu and the Luvvers, Honeycombs, Millie, Elkie Brooks, Graham Bond Organisation (with Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker and Dick Heckstall-Smith)... And those were only the already big names or the soon-to-be-big names.” (Mike Priestley’s ‘Past Times’ column, T&A, 29 July 2006.)
Jazz music in Bradford
In another article by Mike Priestley, he tells us about the night Acker Bilk and his Paramount Jazz Band played at the St George’s Hall. “It is a winter’s evening somewhere back in the mists of time, when the Sixties are just beginning and have yet to start swinging. The place: St George’s Hall, Bradford. The act: a bunch of musicians wearing colourful, striped waistcoats, led by a bearded clarinettist in a bowler hat with a Somerset accent and a droll sense of humour. The audience are a mixture of middle-aged Dixieland jazz purists and young new fans brought in by the trad craze that bridges the end of the 1950s and early years of a decade in which the pop charts are to incorporate a vast range of music traditions and styles.
There is quite a strong representation of art students in the packed rows of seats, appreciation of traditional jazz being one of the things which at the time goes with the study of art.”
Mike also tells us that a young David Hockney was present at the show. (Mike Priestley, T&A, 12 January 2001.)
In a series of articles in the Telegraph & Argus between March and April 2005 readers are told about the Students Club on New Victoria Street, opposite the Alhambra Theatre. The site of the old club was demolished in the late 1960s or early 70s, to be replaced by Princes Way and the Police Headquarters. In another article by Jim Greenhalf in the T&A on 16 March 2005, we are told about the old place. “Buried beneath the concrete of one of Bradford’s busiest roads lie the remains of a long-forgotten jazz club. And on its walls, according to former musicians, are potentially priceless murals painted by David Hockney...”
“Cullingworth parish councillor John Coultous was a student 50 years ago at Bradford Art College... The Students Club was run by Mike Lamb and Peter Dennehy and lasted only until the end of the 1950s, John Coultous recalls”
It was a non-alcohol venue and skiffle and jazz groups played there. Mike Powell, former singer with the skiffle group the Delta Six often performed there. He is quoted in Jim Greenhalf’s article as follows: “It was a great place, a precursor of the Cavern in Liverpool. Long John Baldry was there. George Melly, who used to wear all black in those days, used to swing like a monkey from a bar across the front of the stage.” (Jim Greenhalf, T&A, 4 March 2005. Also see articles and letters in the T&A dated 28 March, 16 April and 22 April 2005.)
Alan O’Day Scott
Updated 26 August 2009