Sir, While browsing through a brand new book, Never Mind the Ballards, which aims to chronicle all of the UK’s Rock and Pop cultural places of note and interest, I noticed that, we (Rotherham) get a mere mention for our Arts Centre playing host to Pulp’s first gig in 1980 (as well as having a member of Muse being born here).
Though this book appears to be fairly well researched, the poor research as regards to our rock music heritage infuriates me!
I have only recently completed a trilogy of books—Our Generation—that are very Rotherham leaning (along with our steel city cultural cousin Sheffield) and within these works highlight a whole volume of reasons to regard our town as having so much more than a small name-drop for one upcoming famous band playing here, fantastic as they are/were.
Did the Never Mind the Ballards writer bother to uncover the groundbreaking nights put on at Rawmarsh Baths, which saw acts such as Lulu— who happened to pay a visit to the pub across the road, the Star, for a quick drink, before one of her appearances there—and The Pretty Things, among many others playing there?
Or Greasbrough Club which was packed every week with soon-to-be famous acts and their fans, David Bowie, Tom Jones and Van Morrison paying very early career visits to our town centre clubs to perform.
Sadly we turned down the Beatles for the fee of £50, but no-one’s perfect! Later on we made up for this with Marc Bolan and T-Rex (supported by The Crazy World of Arthur Brown) performing at Clifton Park and further into the 70s the town had its very own Punk nights, among the first in the region, at the Rotherham Windmill club.
I have photos of a young Billy Idol drinking at the bar in my middle volume Out of Control. Many other soon-to-be famous Punk bands also performed there as well as ex-Sex Pistol Glen Matlock's band the Rich Kids.
Have you got any memories of Rotherham's musical heritage? Which bands did you see in the seventies, eighties and nineties? Use the "write a comment" button to post your recollections or click here to email a letter to the editor.
Add to these our own punk band The Prams, who donated a member to The Fall, the Comsat Angels being from Rotherham, our New Romantic Cult heroes My Pierrot Dolls and Vision (No.1 in Italy in the early 80s), the popular Mod and Soul nights at Clifton Hall and the Assembly Rooms where music fans from all over the country came along to, as well as famous Mod bands, the recent Blues Cafe, Number Ten and Live at Dickens venues who played host to many famous acts.
Why, the great band Pulp even had a Rotherhamite for its drummer, a certain Nick Banks who has very kindly contributed to my latest book This is Our Generation Calling and another contributor Rezillo/Human League member Jo Callis lived in the town for a time.
So, far from being a town that is so often only name-dropped as being the nation’s culinary joke (the Jamie Oliver spectacle of recent times) and supposedly has almost no contribution to offer to the UK’s Rock and Pop cultural heritage, its is very clear that Rotherham has been unfairly treated and regarded as being way too uncool by the ministers of good taste.
The town may have seen some very hard times of late and may well do for some time to come, but I for one can declare we have a lot to be proud of in our local history in relation to music.
It’s high time we began to celebrate and acknowledge it!
Tony Beesley (Our Generation author).