Memories of The Stones in resort

Winter Gardens staff clear up the aftermath of the Rolling Stones riot. A grand piano was reduced to matchwood. / blackpool historical
Winter Gardens staff clear up the aftermath of the Rolling Stones riot. A grand piano was reduced to matchwood. / blackpool historical
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A new book about the career of the Rolling Stones gives a front row perspective on the group’s early live shows and includes memories of their performances in Blackpool.

Among the shows remembered in You Had To Be There: The Rolling Stones Live 1962-69, are concerts which took place in Blackpool – on March 3 and July 24, 1964.

The Stones onstage in the Empress Ballroom. Minutes after this picture was taken fans invaded the stage.

The Stones onstage in the Empress Ballroom. Minutes after this picture was taken fans invaded the stage.

The book, written by Richard Houghton and published by Gottahavebooks, contains more than 500 eyewitness accounts of the band’s first performances, beginning with pubs and clubs in and around London and culminating in their 1969 Hyde Park show. It also contains previously unreleased photos of the band.

Included in the book are the memories of the fateful night in July 1964, when The Stones played at the Empress Ballroom, Blackpool.

The concert was held during the traditional Glasgow Fair, when the resort saw a seasonal influx of factory workers and their families travelling down from Scotland to take their two weeks summer holiday – as many Glasgow business closed. It was a busy time in the town.

The notorious events which unfolded, led to Blackpool Council imposing a ban on Jagger and the boys performing in the town – a ban which was only lifted in 2008.

The concert ended in a riot – some of the 7,000 strong crowd stormed the stage, after guitarist Keith Richards was involved in an altercation with an audience member at the front of the stage.

According to witnesses, the violence erupted because the crowd had been spitting at the band.

After warning a man who had his hands on the stage and was encouraging others to spit, Richards lashed out.

The Stones were chased off the stage, and bottles and stones hurled around the room.

Angry fans smashed chandeliers, tore up seats and smashed a Steinway grand piano. Two people had to go to hospital and 50 were injured.

The events of that famous night are recalled by several fans in You Had To Be There, including Eileen Cornes, who was 16 at the time.

She was on holiday in Blackpool, from Shropshire, and went to the concert with her cousin Jean and an older Scottish girl they had befriended at the hotel.

She said: “Approximately three quarters of the way through the Stones concert, the venue seemed to get rowdy.

“Our Scottish friend advised us to take off our shoes and run to the back of venue, as she feared there was going to be trouble ahead.

“I hesitated at first, not really sensing danger, and she screamed at me to move.

“Without more ado, I did what I was told and we all went back to the hotel. The following day, we found out the Stones’ piano had been thrown off the stage into the crowd.”

Peter Fielding was in a band called The Executives who were the support band for The Stones that night.

He said: “They didn’t get much playing done to be honest.

“There was a bit of a fracas that went on and it erupted into them throwing bottles and all sorts, and then we ran to get out gear off and it just went bananas.”

Author Richard Houghton said: “I got the idea for the book last year, when I went to see the Rolling Stones perform in Stockholm.

“Mick Jagger was about to turn 71 and it occurred to me that many of the people who saw the Stones, when they were starting out, would be of a similar vintage.

“Fifty years ago they were teenagers and I thought it would be good to capture those memories of the early Stones shows before they fade.”

The publication of You Had To Be There: The Rolling Stones Live 1962-69 coincides with the recent announcement of a major Rolling Stones exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery in London next year.

The group have been performing live for more than 50 years.

Richard, of Manchester, said: “This book is not just about the Rolling Stones. It’s also a window on the past, a look at what it was like to grow up in 1960s Britain.

“Teenagers hadn’t really been invented until the Rolling Stones came along and they played a part in opening many people’s eyes to what was possible. The Stones helped to make the 60s swing.

“I’ve been lucky enough to capture some great anecdotes of people who saw the Stones on their journey to stardom.

“They started out as a group of rhythm and blues aficionados, sometimes playing to a handful of people in a pub and became the greatest rock’n’roll band in the world.”

Richard did not see the Rolling Stones live in the 1960s himself, although his mum did take him to see The Beatles. He was four years old, and the Fab Four are the subject of his next book, You Had To Be There: The Beatles.

He added: “I’d love to hear the memories of anyone who saw The Beatles in the 60s, because they set the entertainment world alight when they came along and there will be lots of people out there who heard them or saw them and just thought ‘wow’.”

You can share your Beatle memories with Richard by emailing thebeatlesinthe60s@gmail.com

You Had To Be There: The Rolling Stones Live 1962-69 can be ordered from www.gottahavebooks.co.uk/stones and www.amazon.co.uk or by emailing sales@gottahavebooks.co.uk