Memories of a legendary band’s early gigs on Wearside are spotlighted in a new book.
An Echo review of the All Star 64 Show at the Odeon Cinema in 1964 claimed fans got little Satisfaction when the Stones rolled into town - as screams drowned out all the songs.
But those Wearsiders lucky enough to secure tickets to the gig on February 20 recall otherwise - as revealed in new book You Had To Be There: The Rolling Stones Live 1962-69 by Richard Houghton.
“It is not a definitive history. It is the recollections and remembrances of the people who were there – in the front row, in the wings, in the side alley waiting for autographs,” he said.
“I got the idea when I went to see the Stones in Stockholm. Mick Jagger was about to turn 71, and it occurred to me that many of the people who saw the Stones when they were starting out would be of a similar vintage.
“Time has blurred some memories and polished others, but the stories are fascinating. They paint a picture of when five young men shared their enthusiasm for R&B with an unsuspecting world.”
Someone sold the Stones’ stubbed-out cigarette ends for a penny each after the show at the Odeon, and fans also tried to buy the water the Stones had washed their hair in backstage.Richard Houghton, author of new book You Had To Be There: The Rolling Stones Live 1962-69
The post-war years saw the music scene explode both nationally and locally - with young Tommy Steele making his professional debut at the Sunderland Empire in 1956. Up-and-coming band The Beatles supported Helen Shapiro in a show at the same venue in February 1963, before headlining two more local gigs later that year. And, just as the Mop Tops hit their stride as Britain’s top group, so the Rolling Stones - the antithesis to the more media-friendly Beatles - hit the pop scene.
“The All Star 64 Show at the Odeon had been booked before the Stones had scored a top ten hit - but they were already a ‘happening’ band,” said Richard.
“Not Fade Away was released the next day, on February 21, and went on to reach No. 3. The Stones broke through as a headline act just after performing in Sunderland.”
No song titles were featured in the Echo’s review, possibly because the paper’s music critic couldn’t hear them, but Not Fade Away, Bye Bye Johnny and You Better Move On were all on the set list.
“I’ve been told that the Lennon-McCartney composition I Wanna Be Your Man, written specially for the Stones by John and Paul from the Beatles, was also played at the gig,” said Richard.
“Ironically, by the time the Stones travelled back to Sunderland in 1965, to appear in two gigs at the Odeon on March 9, they were the biggest pop act after the Beatles.”
By 1965 the Stones had two No.1 hits - It’s All Over Now and Little Red Rooster - under their belt, and the shows sold out in record time. Rolling Stones fever hit Wearside with a vengeance.
“Someone sold the Stones’ stubbed-out cigarette ends for a penny each, and fans also tried to buy the water the Stones had washed their hair in backstage,” said Richard.
“During one of the shows, while Charlie was announcing the song Little Red Rooster, a girl even leapt onto Mick’s back. He calmly carried her to the edge of the stage.
“This phenomenal rise to success was achieved in an age where there was no YouTube, internet or X Factor. The music industry was controlled by record company moguls who thought they knew what young people should be listening to better than young people themselves.
“The Beatles had opened people’s eyes and ears to the possibilities of music but were, to many teenagers, nice boys and part of the establishment. The Stones were different.”
Plans for a third Sunderland appearance by the Stones, at Roker Park in 1970, were sadly red-carded by the Football Association - but memories of the first two will now live on, thanks to the book.
“It is not just about the Stones. It’s a window on the past, a look at what it was like to grow up in 1960s Britain. Teenagers hadn’t really been invented until the Stones came along,” said Richard.
“They played a part in opening many people’s eyes to what was possible, and I’ve been lucky enough to capture some great anecdotes of people who saw the Stones on their journey to stardom.”
* You Had To Be There: The Rolling Stones Live 1962-69 can be ordered from www.gottahavebooks.co.uk/stones at £12.49 for a paperback or £19.99 for a hardback. It is also available from amazon.co.uk at £17.49 and £24.99.