Rock 'n' Roll Wiltshire
A recently published book has detailed all the many famous bands who passed through the county in the 1960s, and what they got up to! Read our article and view a gallery. And if you were at a memorable gig in years gone by tell us about it.
Although a city, Salisbury is often thought of as a quiet market town. However, during the post war period it had a thriving music scene and attracted toip name stars of the day to appear in its numerous venues.
Although big name acts occasionally visited clubs and dance halls in Swindon, Trowbridge, Chippenham and Devizes, it was Salisbury that proved the more popular stopping off point for the package tours of the era, as during this period a 'who's who' of British pop appeared live in the city.
Riot at City Hall
In April 1965 The Kinks provoked a near riot when appearing at the City Hall. The band had hardly begun their first number when girls began to faint, and stewards spent the next forty minutes trying to control the audience.
One girl - who it was thought had passed out - was half carried across the stage when she suddenly pulled away from the stewards to set upon Mick Avory, the group’s drummer.
Hold Tight! book cover
She pulled him back by hooking her arm around his neck and brought him to the floor, following which several more girls rushed the stage.
Through all of this, lead singer Ray Davies valiantly tried to play on entirely alone, but eventually the curtain came down and the promoter warned the crowd that the concert was over unless they could behave.
In all about a dozen girls fainted, but fortunately nobody was seriously hurt.
Following these events a police spokesman explained that, although they had previously had a presence at City Hall shows, they no longer provided this service and promoters therefore had to supply their own 'supervising'.
The police were content that this was normally carried out quite well - 'We don't find there is much trouble'!
Famous Wiltshire bands
The national scene naturally influenced local artists. Justin Hayward of The Moody Blues originated from Swindon and Calne band The Pack received a lot of radio play, but no other Wiltshire act could match the international success of Salisbury's Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich.
Cilla Black before taking the stage at the Gaumont
The story of the history Salisbury and South Wiltshire's music scene is told in the book 'Hold Tight! - Voices Of The Sarum Sound 1945-1969' by Frogg Moody and Richard Nash, with a foreword by local boy Dave Dee.
The book records the musicians' and fans' memories of them and the other local 'star' Rosemary Squires, but also of those who recorded but remain something of a cult, such as The Purge and The FBI, and those who 'nearly were' or just played for the hell of it - of which there were many.
Other stories in the book include Buddy Holly performing at The Gaumont; Beatlemania reaching Salisbury and The Plain; Mick Jagger and Keith Richard meeting some local toughs; the then unknown Rod Stewart refusing to perform; local musician Peter Mason joining the Bee Gees, and many more.
Share your memories
We'd love to put together an extensive section on the site detailing the many classic gigs Swindon and Wiltshire has played host to over the years.
Whether you saw The Beatles or The Stones at McIlroys Ballroom in Swindon in the 60s, Blondie at The Brunel Rooms in the 80s or Take That at Cairos Nightclub in the 90s, - we want to hear about it.
And if you have photos of any gigs by famous bands you attended in Wiltshire over the years, please send them in to us to add to a gallery for all to see.
Use the email link below to share your memories and photos.
last updated: 06/02/2009 at 12:49
Have Your Say
If you saw any famous bands in Wiltshire back in the day, tell us about it.
Simon Colebournin France