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Music Notes: When West Runton rocked

PUBLISHED: 09:51 22 March 2013 | UPDATED: 09:51 22 March 2013

Julie Fielder, author of What Flo Said.

Julie Fielder, author of What Flo Said.

Archant Norfolk 2013

The music fell silent more than 30 years ago. But the memories of two iconic band venues in north Norfolk still echo loud and strong. From the 1960s to the 1980s as pop morphed to punk, with a glitter of glam rock teetering on platform soles along the way, the Cromer Links and West Runton Pavilion drew the biggest names of the day.

The Who, Thin Lizzy, David Bowie, Chuck Berry, AC/DC, Slade, the Sex Pistols and Status Quo were among the chart-topping acts who strutted those stages, in front of swaying, sweating crowds who might have watched their idols on Top of the Pops days earlier.

Friendships and courtships were forged among those heaving hordes who came from all over the region to the remote coastline meccas of music.

Those halcyon days were captured seven years ago in a book, What Flo Said, which combined dates and details with pictures and anecdotes about famous and local support bands. It sparked a fresh wave of nostalgia which is being published as an update online via an ebook – What Flo Said Next. Flo, named after the Fab Links Organisation, was the cartoon rock monster who appeared on the venue’s posters.

Author Julie Fielder was introduced to the Runton Pavilion as the 13-year-old daughter of doorman John Mason. “I was allowed to get into things under age. I first saw glam rockers Kenny in 1975 – standing up on the balcony with my friend. It was amazing. You’d just seen them on telly and there you were watching them live doing the Bump.”

The two venues rode the crest of a wave thanks to the booking skills of their managers – picking acts who were about to hit the charts – and because “bands liked to try out north Norfolk at the start of a tour, because there were fewer people there.”

Mrs Fielder spent a year researching the original book and was amazed at the response which saw two reprints after the initial 500 quickly sold out.

“As soon as it was out people contacted me with more memories and pictures but I could not afford to re-publish so we are doing it online as an e-book, but also keep updating the website,” she added.

Five reunions of people who went to the venues were also held at the Walcott Lighthouse pub, where the entertainment included some of the local bands who used to play at the Links and Pavilion.

New material includes pictures from the 1970s – with bands such as Generation X, The Members, Bow Wow Wow and Adam and the Ants.

“Some were from a man who said he took his camera so he could remember what happened the next day, as he was so drunk at the gigs,” smiled Julie.

The fortunes of the two venues faded as the music scene and other venues evolved. The Links burned down in 1978, and the Pavilion was knocked down in 1987. But their legacy lives on for thousands of gig-goers, as the Flo archive presses the “repeat play” button on the hi-fi of happy memories.

■ Information about the updated book is available at www.whatflosaid.co.uk

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