Reader memories of the Empress Ballroom in Venn Street had old chum Graham Rushworth getting in touch to set the record straight about Johnny Kidd and the Pirates and with stories of his own.
The group was responsible for one of the seminal British rock and roll records – Shakin’ All Over. Unfortunately, the photograph we used was of a later line-up and not of the personnel actually responsible for the hit.
They went against the trend at the time and had only three musicians plus a singer – Clem Cattini (drums) Brian Gregg (bass) and Alan Caddy (guitar).
They produced a powerhouse sound that was the inspiration for such bands as Led Zeppelin and The Who. Johnny Kidd died in a car crash in 1966.
Graham knows the original members and first met them when he was starting out as a musician with local band The Cadillacs which formed at Mount Pleasant School.
Graham said: “We heard Johnny Kidd was coming to the Empress Ballroom in Venn Street and went to see the owner, Mr Sissons, and told him we would open for them for nothing.
“We didn’t know it at the time but we set a precedent that made us unpopular with all the other local bands.
Each time a group came up from London, Mr Sissons would tell the local support that they would, of course, be doing it for nothing because the Cadillacs did.”
The Cadillacs eventually split up with its members going in different directions – Mike Bamforth to play rock ‘n’ roll in America, Ian Percival to play in France and Graham to join Denny and the Witchdoctors, among many bands.
Graham says: “Those original three Pirates went on to become the mainstay of the Tornados, Billy Fury’s backing band.
“Billy played Huddersfield as the headliner of a rock ‘n’ roll tour. Us local musicians knew a lot of the people in the groups because we’d played with them up and down the country and a few of us went down. We spent the day with them, saw the concert and, afterwards, we were outside the theatre.”
They heard there was a problem with Billy Fury’s hotel booking and he had nowhere to stay. Graham said to Tornado Brian Gregg, “Tell him, if he’s stuck he can stay at 14 Basil Street, Crosland Moor and me mum will look after him.”
Next thing, Billy and the Tornados were piling out of a car outside Graham’s home. Graham saw the bedroom curtain twitch and thought he had some explaining to do when one of the tour managers arrived and said they had fixed Billy up at the Dryclough Hotel.
The next morning, he was having breakfast and his mum said: “I had the strangest dream last night. I dreamt Billy Fury was outside our house.”
Graham said: “It was no dream. He was. He almost stayed here.”
She was furious Graham had let him get away. Everybody was a Billy Fury fan.
Today is the start of National Gardening Week .
To celebrate, I shall be mainly staying inside and watching the grass grow outside.
I am not a horticulturist of any kind and the only green fingers I get is when I use my grand-daughter’s felt tip pens.
Start Something Beautiful is the cry at the Gardening Week website. It urges people to get out into the fresh air, dig earth, plant flowers, trim rose bushes and design water features.
It is hoping that half a million sunflower seeds will be sown.
Gardens are immensely popular with many folk, but I am not one of them. I must have been scared as a child by a gnome.
I was definitely scarred by the hard work involved in laying a lawn – a project I was once foolish enough to undertake. That cured me of any further outdoor work. The lawn is still there and thriving 30 years later.
Not that its health has anything to do with me.
There was a time I left the bottom part of the garden totally untended for several years on the pretext that it would be a boon to wildlife and nature. I had to eventually get someone to clear it when it became impenetrable without a machete, map, compass and a day’s supply of food.
Once it had all been rendered to lawn I allowed my wife Maria to do the mowing. But the other year she put her foot down and said no more.
Now we have a chum who comes round every fortnight to cut the grass.
He’s due any day.
When he arrives, I shall sit and watch.
David Simmonite’s memories of Charlie Frost’s dance studio in Brook Street, Huddersfield, have arrived late because he always uses pen and ink and the postal service rather than the internet.
To be honest, it makes a pleasant change to get a proper letter, occasionally, in masterful penmanship.
His story, however, of why he can’t dance, is less inspiring.
He went with two chums one Saturday morning for a dancing lesson and discovered he was the only lad there in short trousers.
“I never went again,” he says. “People with two left feet can dance better than me.”
My British beef about the importation of American words and slang hit a note with readers .
Back in the day, was the most recent that had got up my nose.
Allen Jenkinson, of Milnsbridge, says: “My most hated imported American word is mall – that acronym of market and hall. It’s the Byram ARCADE, not the Byram MALL, likewise it’s the Imperial ARCADE.”
Bob Vant says: “I tend to agree with you on the unthinking, automatic adoption of Amerislang. My unfavourite is 24/7.
“You can’t defend it, even on the grounds that it makes communication faster. After all, ‘round the clock’ says the same thing and uses fewer syllables.”