Musical memories

The Granada played hostto a number of big name acts over the years before becoming a bingo hall. For retro
The Granada played hostto a number of big name acts over the years before becoming a bingo hall. For retro

A new book maps the places top musical acts have played, come from and drawn inspiration from, and has some interesting insights into Kettering and Corby’s place in musical history.

The Rock Atlas was written by David Roberts and lists 650 musical locations and the stories behind them.

The book records a visit to Kettering’s art deco Granada cinema on October 25, 1974, by the Bay City Rollers who at the time were climbing up the charts with their fifth consecutive Top 10 single All Of Me Loves All Of You.

The gig later appeared in Q magazine’s list of its Top 50 Gigs. The magazine recorded that there was “fan behaviour unlike anything seen since the height of Beatlemania” at the concert.

The fans who didn’t faint that day (and there were many who did) mobbed the band, trapping them in the Granada manager’s office before a rescue operation by Kettering’s police force. The Granada replaced the Regal cinema in June 1948 and saw many top-name acts appearing. These included Flanagan and Allen, Morecambe and Wise, Joe Loss and his big band and Vera Lynn. In the 60s performers including The Who and Billy Fury came to the Granada and it featured as a destination on Dusty Springfield’s first solo tour of Britain.

Gene Vincent appeared on the Granada’s stage on a motorbike and the Rolling Stones appeared in 1964. When Freddie and the Dreamers played they were pelted with jelly babies by screaming teenage girls. The Granada is now the Gala bingo hall. Corby also appears in the book, which records that “the town was an iron and steel-making hotbed before decline in production and large scale unemployment in the 80s. The band Big Country eloquently documented the promise of a new town and new life ‘built on sand’ by their fellow Scots on “Steeltown”, a track featured on the number one album of the same name in 1984.”

An Asda supermarket now stands where the steelworks’ blast furnaces once stood.

David said: “The book took me five years to write but the Bay City Rollers’ Kettering entry was one of the easiest to research.

“I’d stumbled upon an old piece in Q magazine which had rated the group’s concert in Kettering as one of the most amazing gigs of all time and just went from there.

“I didn’t manage to interview anyone who was actually in the audience, which was a shame but maybe one of your readers can get in touch now if they remember that extraordinary day in 1974.”

Other names mentioned in the book include Richard Coles, who played keyboards for The Communards in the 80s and was born in Kettering. He is the son of Nigel Coles, a former president of Kettering Chamber of Trade, and went to St Peter’s School in the town. He is now an Anglican priest. Broadcaster “Whispering” Bob Harris, was born in Northampton, as was radio DJ Jo Whiley.

Jim King, who was an original member of the rock band Family, was born in Kettering. He played saxophone and harmonica, and sang occasional lead vocals. Radiohead’s Thom Yorke was born in Wellingborough. Some critics hail Yorke as one of the most influential figures in the music industry; in 2002, Q magazine named Yorke the sixth most powerful figure in music.

Other musical stars with connections to Kettering are Horace Panter, who went to Kettering Grammar School in the 60s and played bass guitar for The Specials, and John Illsley, an ex-Kettering Technical College student who co-founded Dire Straits.


The recommended retail price is £19.99, and it is available from all good bookshops and at Amazon.

What are your memories of seeing big name acts in the area? Contact Janet Bew on 01536 506164 or email