A Golden way to go out...

The Golden Years have come to an end. Derek James looks back at more than a decade of fantastic fundraising concerts.

The crowd were still calling for more when the guitars and keyboards were unplugged, and the drums packed away for the last time as the Golden Years came to an end on Saturday.

Organiser Terry Wickham joined Mister Buss on stage for one last song before the curtain came down on what has become a way of life for so many music lovers and musicians.

'Thanks for all your support over the years. We've had some good times and helped a lot of people,' said Terry, founder member of The Zodiacs.

Since the first concert back in 1996, supported by the Evening News and BBC Radio Norfolk, around 20 bands from the 1950s, 60s and 70s have reformed, and more than �100,000 raised for charities and good causes.

Many of the bands loved playing again so much, they are back on the road.

The pop pioneers have become the grandfathers of rock.

Most Read

It all started when former Toffs drummer Derek Moore turned up at our offices with some old photographs in a bid to track down former members.

Memories of The Toffs inspired memories of other Norfolk bands formed in the late 1950s at the birth of the beat boom.

Former Continental Harvey Platt came up with the name The Golden Years, and Radio Norfolk started to broadcast some early recordings.

'Ricky Lee & The Hucklebucks backed The Beatles in Norwich of 1963,' said David Clayton, now station manager.

'We know what happened to The Beatles...but what about Ricky and the boys?' he asked.

We soon found out – and they were playing again along with so many other Norfolk bands, many got together for the first time in more than 30 years.

The Talk was packed for the first Golden Years in 1996 and when Mick Betts – now bassman with Mister Buss – started playing the Duane Eddy classic Peter Gunn – and the Golden Years was up and running.

It took a good organiser to get the concerts together and Terry Wickham fitted the bill.

He tracked down the musicians and persuaded them to play again. He found the venues, organised all the equipment and twisted everybody's arm to give him a good deal.

It's thanks to him that the concerts have been so successful, have brought back the good times for so many people, and encouraged a small army of bands to get back on the beat.

'It's been great, but I think it is time to call it a day.

'It's costing more and more to stage the shows and the whole idea is to have a good time and raise money to help others,' said Terry.

'And because the bands enjoyed playing together so much they are now back on the road so people can see them at other venues now,' he added.

Terry and I were proud to host the last Golden Years at the Ramada Jarvis Hotel on Saturday which raised money and awareness for the civic charity Rotary House.

A big thank you to the bands taking part: Throb, Mervyn and the Starbeats, Stewy McIntosh and the Offbeats and Mister Buss.

They proved yet again that Norfolk has produced some highly polished musicians over the years...and still is today.

I wonder if the stars of today will be playing at the Golden Years of tomorrow?