7th Dec, 2016

Rolling Stones book remembers band's appearance in Coventry

Steve Carpenter 17th Jan, 2016 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

A NEW book about the early career of the Rolling Stones has been published and among the shows remembered are the band’s appearances at the old Matrix Ballroom in Coventry.

You Had To Be There: The Rolling Stones Live 1962-69 has been written by Manchester author Richard Houghton and contains over 500 eyewitness accounts of the band’s very first performances.

The first appearance in Coventry recalled in the book took place at the Matrix Ballroom on Fletchamstead Highway before the Stones had made the top ten.

Brian Robinson, then aged 18, saw their performance at the Matrix on November 16 1963.

He recalls: “Someone made a homophobic remark to Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts stood up on his drums, threw the sticks down and came to the front of the stage and pointed at the bloke and said “I’ll have you outside, mate.”

An 18-year-old Mike Russell was also in the crowd.

He said: “I was talked into going by a mate who had just bought their first record, Come On.

“Mick Jagger had an aura about him and great stage presence.

“The local lads were trying to goad them but they took no notice.”

The Rolling Stones returned to Coventry the following year on January 19, 1964 to play the Hippodrome.

“I went with a school friend, Pam,” 13-year-old Pam recalls. “The Hippodrome hosted pop concerts on Sunday evenings which consisted of about six current pop acts each performing five or six numbers.

“The screaming of the girls in the audience meant that almost nothing musically could be heard and the upper circle could be felt moving slightly with all of the audience’s excitement.  They sang Come On, It’s All Over Now and You Better Move On.”

Graham Bellamy was also at the Hippodrome show and remembers: “When the Stones came on some plonker shouted out ‘get your hair cut’ to which Mick replied ‘what – and look like you?’

Dave Jones also had an encounter with Mick Jagger, but not in the theatre: “My friend Bernie Spencer and I were walking home when we reached the junction of Holyhead Road and Queen Victoria Road.

“As we approached the traffic lights a large black limousine pulled up alongside us.  The window was wound down and Mick Jagger appeared and asked “which way to London, mate?”

Byt the time the Stones played their final gig in Coventry at the Locarno Ballroom on April 17, 1964, Not Fade Away had been a hit record and their first number one It’s All Over Now would soon follow.

“When the Stones came on everyone was screaming,” said Susan Brown, who was 17 at the time.

“We pushed and shoved until we were right on the front row. As I looked up Mick Jagger was just picking up his tambourine from the floor.

“I lent in to touch his leg, pulling myself onto the stage, when my charm bracelet got stuck on his trouser leg. He started his song running across the stage and his trousers started to slip down!

“The next moment a gang of men were there with fire extinguishers trying to control us.  Afterwards I was like a drowned rat.  I had a job the next day explaining to mum and dad about my dress, which was never the same again!”

Author Houghton has been a Stones fan for over 40 years and has seen them live on no fewer thatn 20 occassions.

He added: “50 years ago those fans were teenagers, and I wanted to try and capture their memories of those early Stones shows before they faded.

“The Rolling Stones were viewed as very anti establishment when they started out, and a lot of parents didn’t like them, making them particularly appealing to younger fans.

“So 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.

“I’ve been lucky enough to capture some great anecdotes from people who saw the Stones beginning 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.”

You Had To Be There:  The Rolling Stones Live 1962 – 69 can be ordered at your local book shop, via http://gottahavebooks.co.uk/ or at www.amazon.co.uk.