Having read both of my rock fiction novels, Dream On and Full Circle, my good friend and esteemed reviewer Bodicia asked me if I would like to do a post on her blog about “rock bands I have seen”. I realise that such a subject is of appeal to a niche market only, but this for is for the rocking minority who understand how fab it was to have seen Led Zep at Knebworth in 1979… and I’d love to know about anyone else’s gig memories, in the comments below!
My pride and joy! Me with Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, 1989
I loved rock music from the moment I heard ‘Little Bit Of Love’ by Free in 1972, closely followed by ‘Silver Machine’ by Hawkwind, which was the first single I ever bought. I started going to see bands in 1975, when I was 16. In Northampton, where I lived, the county cricket ground housed a cricket pavillion which became the ‘County Rock’ on Saturday nights, where the entrance fee was just 90p – here I saw such delights as Budgie, and AC/DC and Judas Priest for less than a quid, before they were really big! I also saw the Heavy Metal Kids, featuring the late Gary Holton of Auf Weidersehen Pet fame - I can still remember him crawling across some net that was stretched across the ceiling. In 1976, The Sex Pistols were on, but me and all my chums just said, oh, that’s that punk rock stuff, isn’t it… and didn’t go to see them. I wish I had! Pop culture history on my doorstep - and we stayed in the pub!
From 1977 to 1981 I was with a chap called Ray whose favourite thing in life was going to gigs – we were always going off to the popular venues of the time; the Roundhouse, the De Montfort Hall in Leicester, and The Friars at Aylesbury. I saw UFO, The Slits, Ian Dury tons of times, The Tubes, Kate Bush… loads more.
Ian Dury, De Montfort Hall, 1978 – taken by me!!
Kate Bush was wonderful, with loads of dancers and different backgrounds. That sort of thing is the norm now, but back in a theatre in Oxford in 1979 it was pretty spectacular. Getting backstage to meet people was much easier in those days. Ray was a photographer; I remember one time he gave a roll of film to one of the press photographers who’d run out, and we were thus invited backstage to join in the party with Ian Dury. That was the first time I saw real proper groupies, and I was a bit shocked – innocent me! We also sneaked into the Palladium one afternoon when Kate Bush was rehearsing, and she very charmingly called out that we could stay if we were quiet!
…. which leads me to another memory. You know what? We used to sneak into half these places without paying. That became impossible after the 1970s, of course. Loads of people did it, though. Knebworth festival ground was sectioned off just by sheets of corrugated steel, and someone always had a spanner…! I remember going with my friend Helen to the Stones at Roundhay Park in Leeds in 1982…..
…. by that time we’d started paying! I’m really pleased I’ve kept so many of my tickets.
I didn’t go to any big venues during most of the 80s, but used to go to see local bands in Northampton pubs all the time. Then, during 1988/9, probably as an antidote to getting divorced, going to see a lot of the newer rock bands became my ‘thing’. I can’t pick a favourite – they were all terrific. Please note, all my photographs of the bands on stage at the time were as crap as everyone else’s, which is why I haven’t put any of them on here!
Me with The Quireboys, 1990
Thunder, The Quireboys, Great White, The Black Crowes, Motorhead, The Dan Reed Network… ah, those were the days. It was a really fun time.
My sister Julia with Danny and Luke of Thunder, in some pub, 1990
Julia and I and various others were always at The Town & Country Club (now The Forum), The Astoria, The Marquee, The Royal Standard. Most importantly, though, it was around then I discovered the mighty AEROSMITH, who remain my first love.
It seems weird that this is all nearly 25 years ago, now. I don’t know if bands still do this, but a lot of them did signing sessions in local record shops, then. There was a brilliant record store called Shades, or they’d be at Tower Records in Piccadilly.
Julia with Dan Reed, Shades, 1990
I’ve seen Aerosmith about 8 times, but Julia has seen them more often that I have… let me tell you a story! In the early 90s she joined the fan club, Aeroforce One, and went on a ten day trip along the west coast, organised by the club, in which she went to five gigs and lots of after-show parties. During this time she got friendly with the guy who ran Aeroforce One – and, several months later, he got in touch with her and asked her if she wanted to run the European branch! But that is her story, not mine… we are not worthy!
Milton Keynes Bowl, 1991
I used to love going to the all day things like Donington Monsters of Rock, or ZZ Top and various others at the Milton Keynes Bowl – rarely can I remember the journey home from these outings!
Donington, 1991 (I think!)
Then my life changed, as it tends to, and I stopped going to see bands so much – just the odd trip to Glastonbury (Black Crowes, Lenny Kravitz), or Aerosmith or David Lee Roth at Wembley Stadium. I also have to admit that about three years ago I had tickets to see Paul Rodgers, ex of Free and Bad Company and one of my heroes, together with Joe Perry (Aerosmith)’s new band, and I got the date wrong. The tickets were eighty quid each, and I got them out on April 8th to put them in my purse for the gig on the 10th – only to discover that it had taken place on the 7th….. I’m still gutted about it now!
I’m glad to say that my friends and I, though all well over 50, may never really grow up…!
The village of Rock, Northumberland, 2011
Thank you to Bodicia for asking me to do this, and to anyone who has enjoyed sharing my rocking memories!
Terry has written several 5* books, all of which can be found here on Amazon. Terry's website can be found here and watch out for Terry's new short story collection, Nine Lives, which will be free for five days from November 20. The stories are all in the genre of contemporary romance/drama - scarcely a rock band to be found!