Twist and Shout - when Rock ‘n’ Roll came to Norwich
Our Cilla had a way with words and she certainly knew how to shut up a group of rowdy and rude youths in Norfolk during this April 1964.
Cilla Black was already a big star at the time and the gig at the Olympia in Cromer was one of the smaller venues where she appeared with that great band Sounds Incorporated.
Around 700 people crowded into the venue to see and hear the young hit-maker sing her heart out but there were a small crowd of lads who jeered her…and Cilla was never one to mince her words.
“If you don’t like the show then go to the manager and get your money back in shillings. Then go home and gas yourselves,” she told them.
They shut up after that and Cilla went on to give a brilliant show. What a class act she was…as a singer and TV personality.
She told our reporter later that the reception was great. Her hit of the day was the timeless Anyone Who Had a Heart.
Although Cromer was tiny compared with many of the places Cilla had visited since she hit the big time she thought her trip had been worthwhile.
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“I don’t bother whether I go to big or small places so long as the audience is large,” she told us.
And then she and Sounds Incorporated went off to rehearse for a TV show with some group called The Beatles.
Fame happened so quickly in those days and it helped if you happened to come from Liverpool.
It was only a year before when The Fab Four arrived in Norwich in play a gig put on by Ray Aldous at the lovely old Grosvenor Ballroom on Prince of Wales Road which was pulled down in an act of civic vandalism.
Ray had coughed up £250 to attract them to the city and turned down the chance to book them for two more dates, later in 1963.
“I wanted to hear them first and see how they’d go down. It was one of those bad business decisions. Afterwards it was too late. You couldn’t get them for love or money,” said Ray.
He told me years ago how friendly and full of fun the Beatles were…just larking about most of the time.
And they also had plenty of time and advice for the band supporting them, our very own Ricky Lee and the Hucklebucks.
“It was a terrific experience,” Ricky told me. It was obvious from the start they were going to be big, very big, They were brilliant musicians with real style and harmony. Something special but they were also really nice, friendly chaps.”
The Scousers had a fish and chip supper at Valori’s on the other side of the road and disappeared into the night – to become the biggest rock band the world has ever seen.
Great Norfolk band Ricky Lee & the Hucklebucks went on to back the original American rocker Gene Vincent and no less than Pink Floyd.
Ricky went on to be part of the New Generation and Django’s Castle before finally he and the Hucklebucks got back together for the Evening News Golden Years gigs…and brought the house down.
For the full inside story of life on the road for Norfolk’s rock ‘n’ roll bands take a look at a brilliant new book by Brian Russell, the man behind the Norwich Artistes agency, called In Case I Should Forget.
Brian was part of great local bands such as Dark Ages, Influence, Edentree, Phoenix and The Brian Russell Showcase before bringing some of the biggest names in showbiz to Norfolk and Suffolk.
You can get a copy (it costs £10 and is a great read) before the shops open again by going to Amazon or clicking on brianrussell02gmail.com