Memories of Rolling Stones in Rugby immortalised in new book - The Rugby Observer
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18th Aug, 2022

Memories of Rolling Stones in Rugby immortalised in new book

Rugby Editorial 16th Oct, 2015 Updated: 27th Oct, 2016

THE TALES of early Rolling Stones fans from Rugby have helped an author put the finishing touches on his next title.

The new book, You Had To Be There: The Rolling Stones Live 1962–69, details the career of one of the most influential rock bands in history and gives a front row perspective on the group’s early live shows, and includes memories of their performances in Rugby.

Drawing on over 500 first-hand accounts from fans, supporting musicians and backstage staff, the book gives a insight into the early history of the “greatest rock’n’roll band in the world”.

The author, Richard Houghton from Manchester, sought the help of the Rugby Observer in October last year to see if there were any Rugby residents who remembered attending the Rolling Stones’ two concerts at the Rugby Granada Theatre in 1964.

The Stones, not even top of the bill in 1964, thrilled many young fans from Rugby at the Granada Hall.

The Stones played concert halls up and down the country between 1963 and 1965 and Richard Houghton was keen to hear from people with memories of the concerts.

He was pleased to say several Observer readers came forward with their tales of the shows, which feature in his new book.

A fan of the Stones himself, Richard 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 Sixties swing.”

Many of the responses were from people who were in their early teens at the time – and for many it was their very first concert, often going with their siblings or parents.

Richard added: “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.”

Here are just a few of the responses Richard received:

Janet Skinner (aged 15 at the time of the gig): “I went with my 14-year-old sister and a friend. The tickets were a Christmas present from my parents. We had never heard of the Stones before they came to Rugby as they were not top of the bill. On the morning of the concert we went up the Granada steps to look at the poster. There were two young men also looking. They turned out to be Mick Jagger and one other of the group. It was a great concert.”

Sue McCabe (ten): “Believe it or not I went with my mother and my brother. Looking back it’s funny to think of my mother being at a Stones concert.”

Richard Morris (18): “Most people, especially the girls, only really went to see the Stones who got a rapturous reception and screaming from the girls. I remember they were the next-to-last act so they must have moved up the list after the start of the two month UK tour with John Leyton. John Leyton was the final act and he was booed harshly after he appeared following the Stones.”

David Cumella (14): “I remember standing on the top step, waiting to go in, when a black Daimler-type saloon swept onto the forecourt and the group, all in long black coats, piled out of the car and ran straight up the steps at full speed and into the theatre. It’s significant to me because, when I say ‘ran up the steps and into the theatre’, the majority did but Keith wasn’t really in the moment and crashed right into my left shoulder, knocking me for six. He recovered in a second or two and scrambled to continue his journey on in.”

The Stones’ chosen venue in Rugby, The Granada Theatre, became Gala Bingo until it was demolished in early 2012.

Pete Shilton (ten): “I went to this concert as a treat for my tenth birthday. I went to the 6pm early show and my Dad drove me and some mates from my class at Dunchurch School there in our old Standard Eight car. I remember us standing up and shouting and I remember a lot of screaming girls, particularly when the Stones came on. I’m sure the Stones did I Wanna Be Your Man and Poison Ivy. I’d not long bought the Rolling Stones EP so I was looking forward to seeing them. I’m pretty sure that both performances were sold out as I know my mum had to stand in a long queue a couple of weeks prior to it.”

John Philpott (15): “You couldn’t hear a thing for all the screaming but what struck me was Brian Jones’ harmonica – I’d never heard blues harp before and it knocked me out so much that I went out the next day and bought a Hohner Vamper harmonica for ten shillings and sixpence. Half a century later, I have more than 50 in various states of playability.”

Sue Smylie (15): “I was still at school when the concert was advertised and, having no money and no chance of getting any from my dad in order to see – in his view – the sons of the Devil ‘gyrating’ on stage, I had to find some other way to see my favourite group. We queued outside the Granada up North Street before being let in. Everybody was highly excited and full of anticipation, including me – this being the first live concert by a famous group that I had ever seen. They were great, especially Mick Jagger, as his dancing was thrilling to a very excited 15 year old girl. They have remained my favourite group ever since.”

You Had To Be There: The Rolling Stones Live 1962-69 can be ordered from www.gottahavebooks.co.uk and www.amazon.co.uk.

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