Stars in his eyes

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The article about Kettering’s musical heritage in last week’s Remember When brought back memories for John Davies.

He said: “I saw many artists on stage at The Granada. I don’t have the exact dates but I think they were all pre-1960. I was still at school and used to bunk off the day after a show.

“I recall seeing Billy Fury, Dusty Springfield, who was a spotty little girl, Gene Vincent and Joe Brown and The Bruvvers. Joe Brown played his 12-string guitar while leapfrogging over the other band members.”

Mr Davies, of Kettering, also remembers meeting The Shadows in the car park at the back of The Granada after a show.

He said: “I met Bruce Welch, Hank Marvin, Cliff Richard and Jimmie Nichol. Tony Meehan was not there so I assume Jimmie Nichol was his stand-in on drums. I can’t find any record of him playing with The Shadows, but he did stand in for Ringo Starr who was ill at the start of The Beatles tour in 1964.

“Myself and my friend asked Cliff to sing, he declined but said he would play if someone else sang, he then sat on the steps of their bus and played a guitar while the others gave a short rendition. They then finished loading the bus and drove off. They had a small, single-decker bus that they used to tour round in.”

Other memories include seeing Screaming Lord Sutch in his dressing room. “He had a giant Alsatian dog with him, and Gene Vincent diving over the grand piano. None of the groups who played at The Granada were big stars at the time but they all put on good shows,” said Mr Davies.

Later, on October 26, 1962, Mr Davies met Frankie Vaughan, who was a guest at a dance at the Central Hall in Kettering.

He recalled: “The dance was on behalf of the National

Association of Boys Clubs week and I was the representative for the Keystone Boys Club. Frankie was a patron of the association and signed many autographs on the back of the dance tickets, which we sold to raise funds.

“I remember he came up the stairs towards me, held out his hand and said: ‘Hello, I’m Vaughan.’”

Mr Davies used to try to get the performers’ autographs and has some from a Harrison [it’s impossible to work out the initial], Kerry Martin, Hal Robins and Benny Gould, but doesn’t know which band they were playing with. He would love to know if the Harrison was George, of Beatles fame.

As well as seeing bands at The Granada, he also watched films there. He said: “In those days there was a cartoon and two main films and a local band used to play in between. One band that played was The Senators, who are still playing now. It was great value.”

Horace Panter, who featured in last week’s article, also wrote in and said: “I am still the bassist in The Specials and an exhibiting artist, having launched my career this year with a major exhibition at The Strand Gallery in London.

“I visit Kettering regularly to visit my mother, who now lives in Barton Seagrave.

“One of the unsung heroes of the Kettering music scene, in my opinion, is Max Norman who, like me, also went to Kettering Grammar School and who produced multi-platinum albums for Ozzy Osbourne in the 1980s.”

Diana Buckton, a reader from Nashville, Tennessee, got in touch with her memories. She said: “I remember going to The Granada for the ‘One Night Stands’ that were popular in the lates 1950s and early ‘60s.

“We saw the John Barry Seven when there were nine of them and they all wore different coloured drape suits.

“Screaming Lord Sutch scared us to death when he leapt from the wings screaming. Adam Faith wore a beautiful pale blue leather suit and, of course, who could forget Gene Vincent in his leathers? Del Shannon came from America and I’m not sure, but I think Brenda Lee came too. She is still singing in her Nashville home.”