THE Beatles were undoubtedly the most influential band in the history of music.
But are the Fab Four reason enough to stop a bulldozer in Blackpool?
The debate over the future of the old ABC Theatre has been ratcheted up over the last seven days.
Ever since Blackpool Council revealed plans to buy it, knock it down and put a car park in its place, hundreds have signed up to save the old cinema building.
Historic performances by The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and Morecambe and Wise have been name checked as part of the reasons why it should be saved.
While I support anyone who wants to save part of their town’s heritage, I fear the campaign has come too late – years too late.
The ABC has long gone. Its heart and soul were ripped out when it was transformed – latterly into resort ‘super club’ The Syndicate.
It is now an ugly eyesore which no operator wants, certainly they didn’t want it when it failed to sell at auction last month.
In the last week some have likened the council’s plan to that of Liverpool City Council when it scandalously poured concrete into the Cavern Club in the 1970s or Blackpool Council’s own shameful support for the demolition of The Grand.
The Cavern was the true birthplace of the Beatles – The Grand, the jewel in Blackpool’s theatre crown.
However, The Syndicate can never be placed alongside those two landmark buildings, given all that remains of its previous life as the Hippodrome and then ABC are the bricked up arches and the exterior shell.
I read with interest local impresario Duggie Chapman’s letter in yesterday’s Gazette in which he said the site should be transformed into a conference centre. I agree.
But let that centre be a gleaming, new building, one that will attract major conferences and the associated trade that comes with them.
I love old theatres. The Grand is perhaps one of my favourites. It would have been a crime to have lost it.
I was proudly involved in The Gazette’s campaign to keep the North Pier Theatre open seven years ago.
Sadly, Blackpool lost the ABC – the theatre where so many entertainment legends played – many, many, years ago.
What it now has is a 1960’s building which stokes memories for those old enough to remember its heyday (Paul McCartney singing Yesterday for one) but possesses very little in the way of architectural importance.
I agree with those who say what this town needs, far more than another car park, is a major attraction – one which may even include a museum to the town’s cultural heritage – and I await to see what the council’s post-temporary car park plans are with interest.
But let’s push for something new, something which Blackpool can be truly proud.
As for the long gone ABC, the wonderful memories will live on with the many people who went there or witnessed its pomp via their TV screens.
Do you want a Number One pop pickers? Not arf, alright
FOR those who bemoan the romance has gone out of the charts think again, better still get an iPod.
Don’t get me wrong I love record shops.
I love wandering into these magical, mythical places of sound and leaving with a tangible piece of plastic in my hand.
When I was a kid I always bought my tunes from Woolworths or HMV, well they were ‘chart shops’ meaning your purchase counted towards the Hit Parade. I knew I was doing my bit for Depeche Mode’s cause. It didn’t help as they’ve still never had a number one. That’s as depressing as their seminal 1986 album Black Celebration.
But what I didn’t know then, which I know now, is the charts back then were rigged.
On a fascinating radio show, the other night, Paul Gambaccini listed the songs handed top spot by record company shenanigans.
Did you know Vic Reeves’ Dizzy was allegedly held off number one for a week so his record company could get U2’s The Fly to top spot?
It apparently did it by limiting supply of Vic’s spiky pop anthem when bosses realised it was outselling Bono.
Or how about the record company that deleted Elvis Presley’s A Little Less Conversation after four weeks at number one so a young pop act on its books could zoom to the top of the charts?
Just think Elvis deleted for Gareth Gates. . . the mind boggles.
Of course now, with digital downloads once the song is out there can be no shady practices, it’s actually more honest.
All right the romance of the record shop has been undermined (CD singles now make up just one per cent of chart sales) but I reckon if I pay enough 79ps Depeche Mode will one day get that deserved number one off the back of my downloads alone.
Well, that’s if the Gareth Gates Fan Club don’t beat me to it.
A legend’s feat lives on
IT was with great sadness I read about the death of the last surviving Jarrow March protester Con Shiels this week.
At the age of 96 he was the final one of those hardy souls who walked to London to demand help after the closure of their shipyard.
The crusade saw about 200 unemployed men walk from Jarrow in Tyneside to Westminster in 1936.
Mr Shiels, who was 20 at the time, joined his father and the other protesters for the final part of the 300-mile journey.
John Prescott called him an “inspiration”, and who could disagree with that.
The immediate impact of the march saw those involved shunned at Westminster, although many see the crusade as instrumental in the direction of the Labour Party.
The working class showed it could unite, mobilise and get their voices heard – even if those in power had no interest in listening.
The jobs the marchers craved may not have come, but the symbolism of that historical event is so ingrained into our national and social conscience now.
And it is people like Con Shiels and his father we owe that to.