First Picture: NME front cover
Second Picture: Bill Haley and the Comets
STOP PRESS. After trying on and off for the last 8+ years at long last I have been asked to assist some of the support staff at the old school in writing the history of the school !!!!!!! I will keep you all informed.
I came across this report of a concert in 1957 by Bill Haley and the Comets. The article first appeared in The Observer over 53 years ago. It really shows how different life was in the 1950’s.
Bill Haley and His Comets, 1957
'This way for the elite,' shouted the teddy-boy, clutching his guinea tickets in the foyer of the Dominion, Tottenham Court Road, for the first night of Bill Haley and his Comets. The front stalls, all at a guinea, were an odd mix-up of people. There were rows of teddy-boys and teddy-girls, usually segregated - the boys, nearly all short with hairbrush hair; the girls in tight black skirts or tartan trousers, with their thick thatches of hair over-hanging their foreheads like lettuces, making their intent, small faces look oddly the same.
Bang next to them were sedate elderly people, expense-account businessmen or bored-looking middle-aged couples, drawn to Bill Haley by some mysterious motive - seeking their youth perhaps, or a cure for boredom, or just watching how the other half lived. The other half didn't like being watched; the 'cats' looked at the 'squares' as if they were snooping schoolmarms. ...
Would there be any trouble? 'There's a couple here needs watching,' he [the cinema commissionaire] said, looking down at a lively couple by the exit who had been jiving, deftly and elegantly, without actually leaving their seats. (The management said that if they started jiving in the aisles, the show would have to stop.)
The curtain went up and there was the famous chubby-faced man with a kiss-curl, wearing a red tartan coat, smiling like a shy schoolboy, strumming at his guitar, pointing it dramatically towards the audience like a cheerful machine-gunner. He had an innocent greedy look, slipping his tongue round his mouth and looking upwards with boyish eyes, like a Fat Boy eyeing a huge ice cream. His band, all red, thumped and wailed round him, doing circus tricks with their instruments. 'Hullo Bill,' yelled the Circle.
The audience began to get worked up, but they watched one another carefully. The girl next to me nodded and stared at Bill Haley intently, mouthing every word of the jargon lyrics... 'K from the "kick" of a "rim-shot beater".'
The pair by the exit jived, still in their seats, swaying lower and lower. The boy next to the aisle bent right back onto the floor. A cinema official hurried up, bending down at the bent body to make sure it hadn't left the seat, and smiling with admiration....
At last came the oldest and greatest favourite:
One, two, three o'clock four o'clock rock...
It was too much. The couple by the exit rose in a trance from their seats. Others followed. In the back stalls a phalanx of teenagers rose solemnly, like a protest meeting, and shouted 'ROCK ROCK.' Tall, steely-eyed men appeared from nowhere, and looked menacing. The jivers by the exit sat down quickly. Then suddenly the curtain went down, without a goodbye or a thank you, after only 30 minutes of Bill Haley.
The Phalanx started clapping rock rhythm, and shouting 'We Want Bill.' More people stood up. More tall men appeared, looking more anxious. But there was still a weapon left. Over the loudspeakers at full strength blared out 'God Save the Queen'. There was a brief, anxious battle between 'God Save the Queen' and 'We Want Bill'. The Queen won. Never had the monarchy seemed so impressive. The teddy-boys slouched out, defeated.
It's a long way from the bad old days last September, when Rock 'n' Roll was causing juvenile delinquency in South London. Then it was regarded as something nasty, sexy, suggestive and un-English. Local councils banned the film. Bishops disapproved of it.
Now, it seems, it is all very different. Mr. Haley turns out to be a nice kid, just like us, who drinks milk and wants to make young people happy. Rock 'n' Roll is a recognised cure for frustrations, repressions and boredom. Even Prince Charles's dancing teacher gives lessons in Rock 'n' Roll. It shows that Britain is still virile and robust. Like Marilyn Monroe, Rock 'n' Roll has become respectable.
Written by Anthony Sampson, 10 February 1957
Out of interest Bill Haley's landmark 1954 track 'Rock Around the Clock' is considered the first popular rock 'n' roll record.
How things have changed! I, along with most of us, was not even a teenager when Rock ‘n’ Roll first began but I think it did not stop me appreciating the music and I do remember all the fuss associated with Rock ‘n’ Roll concerts.
Boy, I must be getting old!!!!
Keep in touch
Had this sent to me-----
The BBC has hired Lulu to serve as host for ten programs entitled, "Rewind The 60s," which will explore the music, culture and television of each year in the decade. The shows will use archive footage and first-hand accounts.
It is a long time since I last contacted you on any of your myriad subjects, but have long been meaning to ask you a question about one of your previous teachers.
As you may remember from when I have written before I attended, not Court Lane Schools but, Copnor Infants and then Copnor Junior Mixed Schools before moving to Northern Grammar School. It was whilst I was in the Junior School in my penultimate year, 1954/55 , age 9/10 years, class 3A we had a teacher in charge of this class called Mr. Greer, never knew a christian name as they were always Mr. Mrs or Miss. in those days. Having seen your photos. of your "Bill Greer" I have wondered, often, if it would be the same gentleman. There is certainly a strong resemblance, as I remember him and "Greer" is not what I would recall as being a particularly common name.
I remember he used to arrive at Copnor riding a push-bike which had one of those small petrol engines connected to, and driving the rear wheel, a real advance in technology at the time, altho' the name of this particular contraption evades me for the time being (Oh! what time does to the memory).
I also seem to remember that he lived either in Gosport or the Isle of Wight from where he commuted each day.
I do remember him with a great deal of affection and respect and wonder if you can confirm that it is the same person.
Trust that you are keeping well, and that you will continue to allow me to share your pictures and photographs of an age long since departed, stirring as they do such long held, wonderful memories.
Of course it was the same Bill Greer!
News and Views:
Francis Rossi of Status Quo has made a substantial investment in the 196 year-old Glen Rossie whiskey brand and the spirit will switch to a label featuring what looks like a guitar pick in his honour. Francis has been drinking the whisky for ten years after a waiter noted the similarities in their names.
On this day 11th June 1960-1965.
On 11/06/1960 the number one single was Cathy's Clown - Everly Brothers and the number one album was South Pacific Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Sunday Night at the London Palladium (ATV) and the box office smash was Psycho. A pound of today's money was worth £13.68 and Burnley were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 11/06/1961 the number one single was Surrender - Elvis Presley and the number one album was GI Blues - Elvis Presley. The top rated TV show was Probation Officer (ATV) and the box office smash was One Hundred and One Dalmations. A pound of today's money was worth £13.25 and Tottenham Hotspur were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions
On 11/06/1962 the number one single was Good Luck Charm - Elvis Presley and the number one album was Blue Hawaii - Elvis Presley. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Lawrence of Arabia. A pound of today's money was worth £12.89 and Ipswich Town were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions
On 11/06/1963 the number one single was From Me To You - The Beatles and the number one album was Please Please Me - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Great Escape. A pound of today's money was worth £12.64 and Everton were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 11/06/1964 the number one single was You're My World - Cilla Black and the number one album was Rolling Stones - The Rolling Stones. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Dr Strangelove. A pound of today's money was worth £12.24 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions
On 11/06/1965 the number one single was Long Live Love - Sandie Shaw and the number one album was The Sound of Music Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Sound of Music. A pound of today's money was worth £11.69 and Manchester United were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the day was Beatles in Queen's Birthday Honours