Mr Moonlight Frankie Vaughan shone on visits to Sunderland

Frankie Vaughan loved Sunderland. Of that there can be little doubt.

Tuesday, 19th April 2016, 1:54 pm
Updated Tuesday, 19th April 2016, 2:59 pm
Frankie Vaughan at Seaburn in 1970.

Today, we take a brief look back at the singing sensation who was a regular visitor to town and even played a part in one of Sunderland’s most famous days.

We can share his story thanks to the Sunderland Antiquarian Society.

Frankie Vaughan signs autographs for his fans in doorway of the Empire.

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Frankie Vaughan played the Sunderland Empire on numerous occasions starting in the 1950s.

But his links with the city lasted much longer than that and he kept on coming back.

He continued to entertain Wearsiders right through the 60s, 70s and 80s with his appearances at the nightclubs of Wetheralls and La Strada.

One promotion for La Strada had him down as Mr Showbiz Himself, and on a line-up which included The Saints, Tony Kent and Isobel Duncan.

Frankie Vaughan.

Frankie was the star attraction, along with the V men, and there was a supporting show as well.

But your chances of getting to see him were limited.

Mondays and Tuesdays would be sold out and and there would be few tickets for the other days of the week.

On one of his Empire appearances during the week of March 25, 1956 he was supported on the undercard by none other than a very young Bruce Forsyth, who was advertised as ‘The Incredible Character’.

Frankie Vaughan signs autographs for his fans in doorway of the Empire.

Bruce was bottom of the bill with the main support being Chic Murray and Maidie and Harry Worth.

They were twice nightly shows in those days.

Franke was on as the main act with Bert Waller accompanying him on the piano.

In a Bernard Delfont presentation, Franke was presented as “Vaudeville’s brightest singing star.”

Frankie Vaughan.

But he had plenty of company on a packed bill.

Chic Murray and Maidie was described as a popular comedian in a new comedy offering.

Harry Worth was intriguingly promoted as “Figure of Speech” while ohers on the bill included Medlock and Marlowe.

Les Delicados were hailed as dancers deluxe, and Bill Warehem with Barbara were hailed as “a page from Treasure Island.”

That left Billie Wyner and Brucie in his early days.

Our photos show Frankie Vaughan signing autographs for his fans in the doorway of the Empire in April 1957, and at Seaburn in October 1970.

He had a great interest in Boys’ Clubs and did a great deal of fundraising for clubs across the country and, when on Wearside, he always had time for Lambton Street Boys Club, visiting whenever he could.

He is pictured at the Club in 1961.

In May 1973 it must have come as a wonderful surprise when he was asked to lead the community singing at Wembley stadium at the FA Cup Final that year.

It would have been a real treat for Frankie, especially as the day involved football’s surprise package that year - Sunderland.

Even more so when the team beat Leeds 1-0 with so many highlights such as Ian Porterfield’s goal and Jimmy Montgomery’s wonder double save.

But what are you memories of Frankie and the other acts who appeared in the 1960s?

Perhaps you remember Acker Bilk and his Paramount Jazz Band which appeared for a week at La Strada in 1968.

He brought us the likes of Stranger On The Shore.

Or maybe you were a regular at the Bay Hotel where legendary groups such as Free, Pink Floyd, Tyrannosaurus Rex, Jethro Tull, and The Who all played.

Then there was Billy Fury, Karl Denver and Joe Brown who played at the Odeon in November 1962.

Tell us all about the Wearside music scene of the 1960s. Who did you get to see and what was the atmosphere like.

Perhaps you still have photos from the day. And maybe you got one taken with the stars.

Tell us all about your experiences of the time and who were the group, or individual stars, who shone.

We had so many venues which attracted the big names - whether it was the Bay, Rink, Odeon, Empire, La Strada and Locarno.

Let’s cast our minds back to the halcyon days of music in Sunderland.

Who was your favourite of all the big names who came to the city?

To get in touch with your memories, send us an email to [email protected]