2 Shades of Grey

Songs from the soundtrack of your life

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Remembering the Astoria Ballroom in Rawtenstall, Lancashire

Walking round the Farmers’ Market in Rawtenstall yesterday and playing hide and seek with my grandson I suddenly spotted these mosaic tiles on the edges of a large planter.

I realised it was a tribute to the old Astoria Ballroom. If I’d seen the plaque first, commemorating the mosaic being opened by Bobby Elliott – a Burnley lad who drummed for The Hollies – I would have realised.

So here are tributes to some of the bands which played there from dance bands to The Hollies, The Four Pennies, the Spencer Davis Group and The Who (but no mention of the Walker Brothers). I remember it well from playing there. Happy days!p1040283p1040284 p1040285 p1040287 p1040288



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Walker Brothers played Rawtenstall Astoria 50 years ago

WalkerBros-240765It’s hard to believe it’s 50 years since the Walker Brothers were due to play at the Imperial Ballroom in Nelson, Lancashire. From memory I think that gig was cancelled and they later played at the Astoria Ballroom in Rawtenstall, Lancashire in early August – according my reliable source Ken Stott.

They were supported on that occasion by local group The Avalons. So I was there sharing a dressing room with these affable Americans.

They weren’t actually brothers but we didn’t know that at the time and with their good looks, Beatles-style hair and great singing voices were a deserved hit in the UK. Their big hit at the time, and their first UK No 1, was “Make it easy on yourself”

They were bigger in the UK than back in America and I saw a YouTube of Tom Rush performing their 1975 hit “No Regrets” which he wrote. He introduced it by saying that it wasn’t his best song but an English group had a hit with it and it paid for his sons’ education.

So some Americans thought they were an English group. More info here 



50th anniversary of supporting the Who

Never to be forgotten night supporting the Who at the Astoria in May 1965

Never to be forgotten night supporting the Who at the Astoria in May 1965

It’s 50 years today since I played with The Avalons at the Astoria Ballroom in a little town called Rawtenstall in Lancashire.

We were supporting a top group from London which had already had chart success and appeared on TV. They were The Who.

The ballroom was packed and everyone was eagerly anticipating the headliners. We played our set, as did the other supporting group The Imps, and then enjoyed a very loud performance from the Who. But not before we had to do another set. Keith Moon had gone walkabout in Rawtenstall borrowing our drummer’s jacket.

Beforehand we’d been sharing a backstage area with them and they were a friendly lot. Keith Moon was probably the friendliest whereas Pete Townshend kept himself apart a little bit. He was drinking red wine from the bottle unaware that Keith Moon had urinated in it!

Roy, our drummer remembers that Keith Moon gave him a handful of drumsticks, which he still has, and a beater for a bass/kick drum. He also got to play Keith Moon’s Ludwig kit as they stripped down his own and took it off stage to make room for the Who’s. It was after Roy commented to Keith about the solid sound of his bass drum that Moon put down to the beater that he gave it to Roy (later sold with the drum kit). Crazy but generous.

The Who was using an old ice-cream van (the ones with the elevated roof) as their transport which was quite interesting. One of their road crew offered to sell us a Vox 100 watt amplifier (something beyond our wildest dreams as we were using Vox AC30s and don’t think we’d seen one so big).

I think he wanted £100 for it but apart from the fact we didn’t have that kind of money the amp was stencilled all over with the name of the TV show from which it had been “liberated”.

My friend David, our vocalist, remembers the night vividly and looking back he thinks even then they were a competitive lot which gave rise to some of the tension.

However you’ve got to agree the Who were, and still are when they perform, a great rock band and it was a privilege to support them on that night 50 years ago.