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13 November 2014

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Rock 'n' Roll Wiltshire

You are in: Wiltshire > History > Rock 'n' Roll Wiltshire > Hold Tight!

The Kinks

The Kinks

Hold Tight!

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

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

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
created: 26/02/2008

Have Your Say

If you saw any famous bands in Wiltshire back in the day, tell us about it.

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

Chris Rudd
In 1962 I played drums for Johnny Mike and The Shades (a Bath based band)I played only a few gigs before they turned fully pro and I left.I recall playing a gig in 1962 at Mcilroys in Swindon.The Beatles were due to perform there the following week. When the promoter announced that the Beatles were to appear I recall our bass player Noel Lawrence advising everyone to bring along a tin of insectiside !In my view Johnny Mike and The Shades went on to become argueably the best Band from the west countryDoes anyone remember this great band?

Nick Warburton
Hi I was wondering if anyone had any dates for Motivation (November 1966-August 1967), Penny Peep Show aka Penny Peeps (September 1967-August 1968) and Gethsemane (August-December 1968), whether they could email me at pleasemany thanksNick

linda mansfield
I saw david bowie at the corn exchange in devizes in the late sixties. He had no backing and an acoustic guitar. Also watched the who perform there but not sure of the exact year.

John Stevens
On a slightly more distasteful note, I believe that Gary Glitter had a night in the early '70s at Melksham Assembly Hall.

Ian Titcombe
Very little is ever mentioned about "The New Yorker Discotheque" in Swindon which was at the Top of Milton Road and was converted from the original Justice Court and cells. This place became the main music venue for Swindon Mods to congregate in the early 60's and to catch most of the top London "Soul/R and B" groups of the early sixties. The list is pretty comprehensive, Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames, Geno Washington and the Ram Jam Band, Zoot Money (always a favourite of mine), Jimmy James and the Vagabonds and one of the earliest appearances outside London of Cream, all appeared there plus many others whose names are lost in the annals of time. As there was no licenced bar (the Council would not give the place one) then the "back bar" of the Rolleston pub directly across the road was where everyone headed to during the break. Most of the groups would amble across as well and I can distinctly remember Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce drinking at the bar with absolutely no fuss from the people there.Regarding McIlroys and The Locarno, most of the groups playing there have already been mentioned elsewhere, The Beatles at McIlroys did not give the impression that they would become the worlds biggest group but it was early days and they played both some quite raw rock and roll and R & B music plus some Buddy Holly and the Crickets which made them a good group in my eyes! The Who appeared at McIlroys three times I think it was. They always started with the intro to "Heatwave" just to grab peoples attention and I always remember Roger Daultry saying after the intro and receiving little applause "I see we are back in Swindon then"! The Stones, Small Faces, Lulu, Animals, Rod Stewart with the Steam Packet, Cilla Black, Searchers, Hollies, all the Liverpool and Manchester groups appeared at one time or the other plus American acts like Gene Vincent, The Platters, The Coasters (in retrospect obviously not the "originals"). Great times and brilliant memories.

Peter Clouting
I saw the Small Faces at Trowbridge Town Hall on a rainy night in August 1965 (the same day their first single 'What you gonna do about it?' was released). I was three months short of my 16th birthday and envious of the hundreds of mods who arrived on scooters from everywhere within a 50 mile radius, some of whom I recognised as 'Faces' from the infamous Spin a Disc cafe in Chippenham. Outside there were running battles with local rockers while inside the cloakroom was filled with heaps of green parkas and the walls dripped with sweat as Steve Marriott ripped into 'Jump Back', 'Come on Children' and the crowd favourite 'E to D'. Jimmy Winston played keyboards (pre - McLagan)and I seem to remember some strange whirling device mounted on top of their speaker cabinets. Having seen all the great bands, Stones, Who, Zeppelin, etc. I still find it hard to beat the excitement of a night when everything came together - a great band at the start of their career and the height of the Mod phenomenon.

Mary Luckhurst
I can remember several 'pop' bands of the 60s performing at the Town hall or Gaumont theatre in Trowbridge. I was considered (by my parents) that I was too young to attend - always something I regretted, but I did manage to get the Who's autographs as they had a quick chinese meal in between setting up and performing.

Roger Edmonds
I was the bass player with Dick Delmont and the Strangers when the Kinks played the Neeld hall in Chippenham Sept 64, with Vaughan Lipscombe who comments below,I was stood at the back of the stage when the crowd come up over the stage chasing the Kinks it was awsome !! I hav'nt seen Vaughan in over 40+ years, good memories.

Kevin Tanswell
I saw my first ever live gig, at the age of 15, at Devizes Corn Exchange in 1971 (Status Quo). There followed a veritable who's who of rock bands as the Corn Exchange became a major South-West venue. Many of the gigs are recorded in my pocket diaries of 1972/3/4 and names that appear include King Crimson, Nektar, Rory Gallagher, Gentle Giant, Man (my personal favourites), Chicken Shack, Pink Fairies, Dr Feelgood, Curved Air, Edgar Broughton Band, Rod Stewart & The Faces, Cat Mother & The All Night Newsboys (which was a multi-media event also including a screening of the film 'Jimi plays Berkeley'), Osibisa, McKendree Spring, Hawkwind, the Groundhogs, Yes (one pre-Rick Wakeman, another on only his third appearance with the band)....many others graced the boards in a golden era for my hometown.

Simon Colebournin France
How about Roxy Music: Barclay James Harvest: Pink Fairies at the Neeld Hall in ChippenhamDave Edmunds: 10CC: Slade: Nine Below Zero: Greg Lake: Hot Chocolate at GoldgiggersAt Devizes Corn Exchange:Rod Stewart and the Fces: Rory Galagher: GroundhogsMany more as well

I carried a lot of gear for bands in the 70's. Wilko Johnson played the city hall in 77 i think, I followed the band to the next gig(pembroke college oxford where the support band were a little known bunch called motorhead

John Bishop
Further to Deb Rees'comments, the three groups that played at that concert in the John Street Multi Storey car park on Saturday 28 June 1969, were The Equals, Status Quo who replaced a group called the Chicken Shack at late notice and The Nite People. The event was organised by Swindon Youth Council of which I was a member, as part of Swindon Youth Week. Probably every current day laws were broken on that night as over 2,000 people turned up having only sold a few hundred tickets before the event. However, the event was very successful and included the final of Miss Youth Week as well, which was won by a 19 year old, Miss Jill Vertannes.

Stephen Eckersley
I remember the Beatles staying at the Antrobus Arms in Amesbury whilst they filmed scenes for Help! I was only 5 at the time, and I was smuggled into the Hotel foyer with my sister. I can still remember the sea of faces that crushed against the outer door, as people tried to get a view of the Fab Four, and the entourage that sweeped down the stairs, including John Lennon, who told my sister and I to get out! My father ran the pub next door to the Hotel, and often told us stories of girls trying to scale walls to get into the Antrobus and the obscene money that the was being thrown around by the Beatles Roadshow! Today its hard to imagine the impact on a sleepy Wiltshire town! On a slightly different subject, Dave Dee, D,B,M&T were the top chart act of 1965, and yet member Mick Wilson was a driving instructor in salisbury during the 70's and 80's! Where did the money go? (It certainly didnt go to Mick!!!)

Vaughan Lipscombe
yep, happy days ! in The 60s, 70s & 80s I was in a semi pro group from Corsham -Dick Delmont & The Strangers [and other subsequent names]. We supported the Kinks at Salisbury [before "You Really Got Me"] and again at the Neeld Hall, Chippenham, some weeks later when that song was top of the charts. What a frenzy they built up...We also supported the original line up of The Hollies in Salisbury. Such a good group - brilliant harmonies and a clear uncluttered sound. Then there was Tony Meehan & Jet Harris with Vince eager and others at Corsham Centre as the Carnival dance. ahhh memories...

David Scull
Back in the 60s I played in a local band called The Druids.We played most of the west country from London, Bristol, Bournemouth, devon and Cornwall, supporting many bands. I think the biggest name at the time was Gene Vincent who we supported at The Vista Cinema at Westbury, Wilts, which sounds unbelievable but true. We also supported Johnny Kid & the Pirates and the Tremeloes at the Grand, christmas 63.

Deb Rees
I saw Status Quo and The Equals at the multi-story car park in Swindon in the late 60's - there were many other bands as well - anyone remember it?

Brian Padfield
I remember Longleat House outside concerts in the 1960s :-Rolling StonesBilly J CramerThe SearchersThere were rumours about The Beatles but they neverappeared

Helen Patterson
I used to go to McIlroys on a Monday night when I was fifteen in 1962. I saw "Screaming Lord Such" who was carried out in a straight jacket after finishing his act. One Monday I couldn't go and my friend Carol went on her own. When she came home she told me she had seen a brillient band called The Rolling Stones!I can't believe that I missed them! I cannot remember The Beatles ever performing at McIlroys I also saw "The Swinging Blue jeans" in Swindon 1962/3 I think that was at the Locarno.Helen Patterson

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