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Page updated 5 November 2010
David St John presents:
CALL UP THE GROUPS 11
The Beatles hit Southampton!
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Yet another new page full of nostalgia as we
look back to those years when many a young lad or girl would be singing at
dancehalls, youth clubs and maybe even hit the big time followed by theatre tours
and much more. Once again, this is all thanks to the many people who find
this website and get in touch with their own stories plus those all important
photos that really bring it all back as I share the images on this site.
Please keep checking back on this and other webpages as they often get updated
with add-ons, corrections and even more information (dont forget to 'refresh'
any page that you come back to read)
If you have read my 'Biography' page then you
will note that I started out singing rock n roll back in 1958 at the tender age
of ten! Sadly, I was under age to be singing at large public dance venues
so the school authorities quickly jumped on the promoter thus putting a
temporary hold on my career! However, I kept on dabbling away and making
music with a few pals as the 'skiffle' era saw youngsters playing cheap guitars
plus the usual washboard, basic drumkits and the old tea chest 'bass' that saw a
broom handle with connecting string placed on the crate to copy the likes of
Lonnie Donegan and co! Cliff Richard with the Shadows along with
many other UK artistes plus visiting US names kept the pop music business going
for a few years, until an unknown bunch of scruffy young Scousers were
discovered playing in a packed smelly underground cellar up in Liverpool and the
rest is history
I have written about this before on other
pages but my 'Epiphany' came in 1963, a few months after hearing that great new
record released in October 1962 and the sound just caught me and many more with
its catchy style. The disc was 'Love Me Do' by the Beatles who had been
playing in Hamburg in the same year, alongside several British pop groups and
some of them from Southampton so the stories had trickled back. It only
got to no. 17 in the UK charts but their follow -up release of the single
'Please Please Me' shot up to no. 2 in January 1963 and kickstarted a new
revolution amongst teenagers who had become rather tired of hearing and watching
clean cut American style crooners since the wild rock n roll days had died off.
Some still refer to Buddy Holly's tragic death as 'the day the music died' and
this phrase is still quite relative along with Don McLean's take on it via
'American Pie' so it was time for a 'new sound' and this is what the world had
been waiting for!
The winter of 1963 was one of the coldest ever
on record and it actually snowed from Christmas through to Easter but it didn't
stop me queuing overnight at the Southampton Gaumont Cinema (now the Mayflower)
for a ticket to the forthcoming show to be staged on the 20th May. It was
billed as the Roy Orbison Show but the early tour dates saw the rise of 'Beatlemania'
as the teenage fans were discovering how good these new faces were, so Roy had
to step down and close the first half of the show as it was quite clear that
nobody could follow the Beatles- even at that early stage. This was also due to
the Beatles third hit of 'From Me To You' providing them with their first no.1
and Brian Epstein had the power to shift his boys into the headlining spot.
This had also happened on a previous short tour with Helen Shapiro who also had
to step down the bill with deference to these new 'upstarts' as their popularity
exploded all over the UK.
The Show- I paid 10/6 (55p in today's
I can never forget
that amazing night as I had a good seat in the front stalls just a few rows back
from the stage and facing Paul McCartney on the left of the stage. The
rest of the show was terrific with fellow Scousers Gerry and the Pacemakers
knocking out their own first no. 1 hit of 'How Do You Do It' which had first been
offered to the Beatles! They also featured the follow-up of 'I Like It'
which later hit the top spot as did their third release of 'You'll Never Walk
Alone' which put them in the record books as the first ever recording act to
secure three no. 1s with their first three releases!
Roy Orbison was amazing as usual. Just
standing still with his incredible voice soaring all over the auditorium and
singing a selection of his many hit records- I was wondering if the Beatles
could really top that! Their first LP had just been released and was
the most fantastic collection of songs- hard hitting rock n roll mixed with
their own early compositions and I knew that this new group were going to change
the world of music. The compere had been teasing the audience throughout
the show and every mention of 'John, Paul, George, Ringo' etc brought screams
and squeals of delight from the girls all over the theatre! When the
curtains opened- all hell broke loose with a nonstop scream that lasted
throughout their whole performance
I did buy a programme for this
historic show but it went missing some years later. However, a short while ago I
put out a call to my Southampton musician colleagues including Dave Ward (ex
Earth Angels etc) and he replied with this nice surprise. His e-mail came
through on the 12th October- my birthday so quite a treat! Read his
own account of that night when the Beatles hit Southampton on their first big
From Dave Ward:
I am about to make your day........ in those
unforgettable words of Clint Eastwood. You asked us all if
we have any memories of The Beatles concert at The
Southampton Gaumont..... I WAS THERE!!!! WOOP WOOP!!!!! Not
only was I there, but I also still have the programme.
because I knew that in 46 years after the event, someone
would ask me about it.
As I recall, Gerry and The Pacemakers were good live,
I don't really remember an awful lot about the rest of the
support acts to be honest...well it was a long time ago! Roy
Orbison, in my opinion was not very visual... he just stood
in one place and never moved throughout his act....But Boy
could he sing?...He was fantastic!
know if you knew this Dave, but Roy Orbison started the tour
as the top of the bill.... It was only when The Beatles had
topped the charts with "From Me To You" that Brian Epstein
insisted on The Beatles topping the bill.
The Beatles opened up with "Some Other Guy"... a hit
for The Big Three...their presence was electric! I was sat
in the second row from the front nearest to where John
Lennon stood on stage.... The girls were going frantic... I
was experiencing Beatlemania LIVE!
Then something amazing happened.... something I have never
seen before or since... George Harrison approached the
microphone and raised his hands to quieten the audience.
Then made an announcement... "We are very flattered by the
screams... Thank you for that, but we would appreciate it if
you could save them for in between the songs because we want
you to hear our music"... This was followed by a thunderous
applause. And the fans did as George had requested and it
was great, you could actually hear the songs.
As I recall they did not do an encore... in fact they
seldom did...if ever... remember the concert at Hollywood
Bowl and The Shea Stadium?... when they finished their
act... they finished!
I hope this has
become useful to you and please find attached copies of the
original (worn) programme- no it's not for sale!!
The Beatles at the Gaumont- between shows
They returned for the Winter Tour of 1963 but
I was not able to join the massive overnight queue for tickets but managed a
seat up in the balcony as well as wearing my new black corduroy Beatle suit to
go with my long hair etc- typical 15 year old 'Jack the Lad' at that time!
Luckily, I still have the programme from this second amazing tour and here are a
few of the pages - if only it had been autographed by the 'Moptops'.............
I have still never discovered who dared to place coffee cups on this 'holy icon'
Note that our local Brook Brothers were appearing on this very same show and
they must have been so proud to return to their own turf on the same bill as the
best ever band in the world that influenced so many would be pop stars like me!
Within a few months I had settled in nicely with my first 'real' group- the Abdo-Men
who played loads of Beatles and Rolling Stones hits mixed with rock n roll, R&B,pop
hits and much more- you can read all this on the Biography page. This new
found avenue of life had also affected my school studies at Itchen Grammar
School so we parted company in 1964 as I 'dropped out' and got a day job in
between my nightly shows all over the South for the next eight years. Cue
that song "Oh what a night - late December back in '63......." It
was certainly one of my favourites!
Another local musician Sid Carter also writes:
In response to your Beatles mail I was at the Gaumont in
1963. (In fact my first live-music show there was Bill Haley and The
Comets)! In 1963 I was 20 years old and in my second band. I had the
privilege of a Grammar School education having been one of the first influx
of students, at the age of 11, to study at the then Totton Grammar School
(now a sixth form college). As stated on your website, my first band was the
Bert Turner Quintet which started in 1957. We played conventional dance
music but swapped instruments around a bit to perform songs like Presley’s
‘Let’s Have a Party’ and Ricky ‘Nelson’s It’s Late’. Presley’s Heartbreak
Hotel hit No. 1 in the charts on January 27, 1956 – 2 days before my 13th
birthday! I, and everyone else, had never heard anything like it! I was
hooked! But it wasn’t just Rock ‘n Roll that got to me – I was into Humphrey
Littleton and Chris Barber and by the time the trad boom came around me and
my sixth-form mates were hiring buses to go to Trad Nights at Matcham’s
Park. I moved on to The Malcolm John Five around 1961. I worked 6 months in
Southampton Civic Centre. Then followed 6 months working at The Power
Propeller company in Totton before heading off to Winchester School of Art
and, after a year, moving to Bromley in Kent to study graphic design at
Ravensbourne College of Art and Design. (Where I had the pleasure of seeing
The Nashville Teens, meeting Peter Frampton and after leaving college seeing
Fleetwood Mac, King Crimson, Osibisa and If with Terry Smith on guitar and
Dick Morrisey on tenor. I spent some time with Terry Smith and Andy Bown
during an ‘interesting period’ that saw me join The Duke Ellington styled
Swing Company . . . but those are other stories!
So the Gaumont concert must have been one of the last things I did before
going to college and getting married! I’d already seen Gene Vincent, Eddie
Cochran and Tony Sheridan at the Southampton Guildhall a while earlier.
Like anything that was ‘of-the-day’ we took the Beatles very much for
granted. They were the same age as us. They came from working class
backgrounds like us. They belonged to us and we belonged to them. What a
time it was with Mary Quant, David Hockney, Twiggy, David Bailey the list
goes on and on! I bought ‘Love Me Do ‘ in 1962 and there was no way I was
going to miss their Southampton show. All these years later I remember that
Roy Orbison topped the bill and Gerry and the Pacemakers and the Fab Four
shared the ‘under-card’! The biggest female response of the night was for
the slightly chubby-faced bass player . . . with Gerry and the Pacemakers!
It was so early in the careers of both bands that neither one was considered
the top group. I am horribly critical of musicians (ask my band) and I felt
that – instrumentally – Gerry and the boys were pretty superior to the
Beatles. But the songs . . . I totally believe that they were, and still
are, the best pop songs ever! But . . . the evening wasn’t about either band
– it was about Roy Orbison! He was magnificent, spellbinding and (his
‘limited’ guitar playing aside) utterly brilliant. After one of the shows I
read in the Echo that Mr. Orbison took 11 curtain calls!
Twenty years or so ago I visited my daughter in Liverpool. We met at her
boyfriends bedsit and on the wall was a reproduction of the 1963 Beatles
concert poster. The boyfriend was rendered speechless when I casually
remarked “I was at that show”!
September 2010 E-mail and photos from Dave Tibury:
Barry Lockyer sent me the URL for your site this
morning - some faces & names I remember, some faces but not names and some
names but don't recognise the face. Nevertheless, lovely to be reminded.
Also, to see Eastleigh's Market Street bustling reminds one that it was not
always the moribund dump it is today.
I regularly carried a camera back then (and still do) so
have a few unguarded shots of long-haired youffs, on and off stage. If you
would like I can dig some out, scan and forward. It may cover a couple of
bands you have missed....................
'talent' as a musician never really emerged - or to paraphrase Dave
Fulford's assessment "Y're playin the right notes man, but it just sounds
From '64 to 71 I was in C/Ford, moved to Romsey until
'79, then Bishopstoke, where I am now.
I'll have a dig when I have a minute and can probably
fill a gap on 'loud' Vern Chuter; Pete Forrester; Graham Medley
PF was our best man in '71. He now lives part way
up the A1 - have sent URL to the current Mrs Forrester so she can
show the computer illiterate fellow his decadent past.
This image comes from the 'you'd better beware,
you'd better take care, you'd better watch out if you've got long
black hair, Ah-ooooooooo' era. If memory serves me correctly, Dave
(c'mon man, lets get one up) Mitchell was in this version of the
band. The 'roadie' shown here, can't recall his name at the moment,
was a decent bloke, quiet and from memory a tad more erudite than
Dick Carpenter - bass - Lord Maurice Group - Below Bar C1967.
Dave Fulford c 1970
Fulford, Forrester, Clifford (I think) & Medley, C1970.
Bless the roadies! Can anybody name him?
I was surfing the net and came across a superb guitar website-
So I contacted Guy Mackenzie, only to find his strong links
with the Southampton music scene and he has sent me some info on his much missed
pal Bill Geddes who sadly passed away just a few years ago. Bill had quite
a long career in the music business and another 'disciple' of the amazing Hank
B. Marvin who, along with the Shadows and their singer (can't recall his name
right now.....) inspired so many young musicians from around 1960 on. This
is a copy of Guy's mail and it tells the story in his own words:
you so much for your interesting email and the link--I spent over an hour
yesterday looking through it all ( really enjoyed reading it --with a hint
of nostalgia too!) , despite the fact that I should have been working! And
I've added a link to your site on my Links page.
It was interesting to
hear about your connection with the Footprints--we'd only done a few gigs
and we ( I) really looked up to the other bands that night at the
Southampton Guildhall in 1965. They were much
better than us--especially them as they opened the show , we were on second!
But we did only get paid £5 between us for the booking!!
Top of that great bill were the Fleur De Lys and the Nite People
The others in the Blue Stars were Bill
Geddes( lead guitar) -- who was quite well known in the Soton area until his
untimely death a few years ago. You will
find more about him in my archive page. And Bob Smith ( rhythm guitar--we
didn't have a bass!) who married Bill's sister. He left music in, I think,
the 70's and has his own business now and lives near the New Forest--he 's
well known in the steam engine world and has, I think, a share in one. I
last contacted him about 3 years ago.
Bill was a natural musician and really taught
me to play drums--and was a much better drummer than ever I was! This was my
first venture in playing live and for pay and we only did a few
bookings--you'll see some of the venues included in my list. We did one gig
at the White Buck at Burley and I recall and a number in Eastleigh. I only
lived in Soton for 15 months and then moved to London. The time in Cranbury
Avenue (red light area) was a real learning curve for me and there
were about 4 of us trainee building supervisors/surveyors living there --we
each paid £3.10/-per week for full board and lodging inc.washing!!) We
became quite friendly with 1 or 2 of the "girls" but never indulged ( with
them anyway!) although we did have the occasional offer!
Re; the band , I was the only one who had a car
which made bookings difficult for Bill and Bob before I met them via an
advert in the Echo and we practised in Bill's front room-- I remember his
parents being very supportive and they really encouraged us. The only pics
which i have were taken behind his back garden --just one "shoot"! and I
have a very faded copy of the Guildhall gig ad which appeared in the Echo.
I don't know whether anything I've told you
would be of any use--but it would be great if it was. Apart from anything
else it will be a tribute to Bill who was a first class musician and
songwriter and could sing too--and it would give him a recognition which he
deserved but sadly , to a great extent, he never had. Incidentally -
the number he wrote which is featured in my archive section on him has about
250-300 "listens" every month.
Sorry to ramble on , but I could do a better
write up if its of any use--although you will certainly do it much better
than me as you seem a natural journalist. It would be nice to hear if Bob
Pearce remembers that Guildhall gig and , for that matter, the Blue
Stars--but probably not! I'll send some photos on, also the very faint ad
for the Guildhall gig.
All the best--you've certainly had ( and are
still having!) a great career in showbusiness--many congratulations! It was
fascinating reading the people you've worked with , met and the places
you've been to! Fantastic!
This is a copy of Bill Geddes' own CV which he wrote himself
in 2002, whilst learning to use a computer and I have uploaded a few of the
photos sent by Guy which link to the early group days. At this time, Bill
was very keen to get back into playing but sadly not in the best of health.
He was booked to play at the Dorset Steam Rally Fair in that same year but was
only able to perform a solo spot for around 30 minutes- the last time he
actually played in front of an audience. It was a very poignant time for
everybody and his health deteriorated until passing in 2004 at the age of only
WORKING GUITARIST: since 1964-2002
Like most musicians of that era. I was heavily influenced by the bands of
the early Sixties such as THE SHADOWS. THE BEATLES and THE ROLLING STONES
There was such a variety of music around at that time which included Rock
n Roll, Soul and The Blues: Saying that, I was playing music from previous
years on my
harmonica and recorder which I was taught at junior school. 1 am an avid
fan of HANK MARVIN. SIR Cliff Richard calls him "MR. GUITAR". As well
as HANK, I appreciate the likes of ERIC CLAPTON, MARK KNOPFLER and BRIAN MAY
I am a very versatile and talented guitarist with the ability to teach
others this instrument. I have good communication skills, cheerful and
cherish a good sense of
I am currently producing my own C.D.s and perform live on stage in
Cabaret and at various private functions.
For the last twenty two years 1 have played in a local band entertaining
at Dinner Dances. Social clubs. Weddings and Private Parties. Steam Rallys.
Carnivals as well as Holiday Camp Sites along the coast and in the new
Forest. During this time I have also deputised in other outfits as and when
I worked with other various bands in and around Southampton and the
neighbouring counties as far north as Leicester.
Professional musician at a Holiday Camp band in Kent for the purpose of
providing backing music for camp entertainers and dancing.
From "1966—1969 1 worked in the following Variety Shows:
THE SOUTHERN BLACK and WHITE MINSTRELS SHOW: 1966-1969 This was a show
based on the highly successful B.B.C. Television show that contained blacked
up male singers and girls dancing about while they sang. Myself and another
guitarist would break the two parts of the show performing guitar
instrumental and some vocals of the time.
SOUTHAMPTON AMATEUR ENTERTAINERS: 1966 — onwards: A show that was
formed solelv to entertain old folk in their rest homes.
THE BLUE STARS: Played clubs,pubs and private functions. 1965-1966. THE
HIGHLANDERS: First band formed in October 1964.
EARLY 1964 I learnt to play guitar by the Bert Weedon method !!
The Highlanders 1964 (Bill -right)
The Blue Stars card 1965
Watkins Rapier 33 + Vox AC30!
The Blue Stars
Bill Geddes-early photo
Guy MacKenzie (Blue Stars)
Bob Smith Bill 1965
Bob+Bill (Valentines Dance?)
Bob + Bill 1966
Bill and beloved guitar in colour!
B&B - 'Hank' specs?
B&B House party? 1970
Southampton pub- mid 70s
Isle of Sheppey Kent -Holiday Park 1980 Bill on
Bill finally meets his idol Hank B Marvin
Backstage at Southampton Gaumont (Mayflower) 1980
Not sure of line-up - around 1990s?
Steam Rally-New Forest late 1990s
Fine Blend poster FB publicity
"Fine Blend" were Alan Simpson ( guitar
and vocals), Ron Vint ( bass and keyboards) and Ed Chamberlain ( drums).
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