Dance the night away at the last ever Golden Years

After 16 years and more than �125,000 given away to charity, the gigs which reunited the Norfolk beat bands are coming to an end.

The last ever Golden Years will take place at the UEA on Saturday (April 14) – bringing the curtain down on a gig which has lasted 16 years and raised more than �125,000 for Norfolk charities and good causes.

What started as a 'one-off' reunion concert in 1996 has turned into an annual music festival which has reunited the bands from the 1950s, 60s and 70s.

Thousands of people have danced the years away at the concerts which have prompted many of the Norfolk bands to reform and go back on the road – often after a 40-year 'rest'.

'We have had some fantastic times, but all good things must come to an end,' said organiser Terry Wickham.

'We had said the concerts would finish last year but we all agreed to have one more gig – this time to help Big C – a charity so close to our hearts which does such fantastic work,' he said.

'It is also a great way of remembering a giant of the Norfolk music scene, John Lofty, who died last year. Some of his musicians will be getting together to honour him. But this Saturday will definitely be the last Golden Years. We have lost too many of our friends and none of us are getting any younger,' said the former Zodiac.

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Terry is the man who stepped forward to take on the challenge of organising what was thought to be one concert prompted by stories in the Evening News and broadcasts on Radio Norfolk.

It was as if a mighty steam locomotive had been woken from its slumbers and once up and running, there was no stopping it. The boys were back – and sounding better than ever.

Almost 20 years ago I was running a series of articles in the Evening News about life in Norwich during the 1950s and 60s – remembering the pubs and clubs and the bands, national and local, who played in them.

Derek Moore, of The Toffs, came forward with an appeal to find former members of the band and the former Continental and popular Norwich restaurant owner Harvey Platt came up with a name for a series of articles – The Golden Years.

Former DJ David Clayton, now the boss at Radio Norfolk, and ex-pop pirate Andy Archer came on board playing records and chatting to members of the bands.

Ten bands reformed and lined up for the first Golden Years gig at The Talk where they played years earlier. Every ticket was sold.

The concerts turned into two-day music festivals at the UEA featuring the best in Norfolk skiffle, rock and soul over the years. Hundreds of musicians have brought back the good times for thousands of people – and we've had a ball.

See you on Saturday and remember – be there or be square.

Those playing include Garry Freeman & The New Contours, Mervyn & the Starbeats and Mister Buss.

<t> The gig starts at 7.30pm Tickets cost �10 with proceeds going to Big C. On the door or call door or call Terry Wickham on 01603 864460.