The Beatles and the Rolling Stones
It seems very funny to write about the two most famous ‘Pop’ Groups of the 1960’s and even today their music is still very popular.
The Rolling Stones continue to play as a band, at concerts all over the world, their band being almost the same as it was 40 years ago.
I came in contact with both groups as a Policeman in 1964. I recall that I was on a week’s late shift in October 1964. The Beatles were due to play two concerts at the Hippodrome in Middle Street and as at all their appearances, great crowds were expected. They had started their tour of Britain on the 9th October in Bradford. We had been told a couple of weeks prior to their concert that many of us would be working in the town centre on ‘A’ Division on the date of the concert. All police leave days were cancelled, as it was pretty obvious that we would all be needed, mainly for crowd control. The young people of the town were all very excited and proudly boasted at having a ticket for the concerts.
As it happened I was a great Beatle fan and looked forward to the chance of seeing and hearing these four young guys who were world famous. It seemed that every record that they released was a massive hit and immediately shot to the top of the then hit parade. I for one eagerly looked forward to the date of the concert and hoped that I would be able to get a duty within the Hippodrome building so that I could see and hear them play their hit songs.
They were going to play two evening concerts on Sunday 25th October, the first one commencing at 6pm.
I was on duty in Middle Street around 2pm and although we shut the road around this time the roadway was thronging with excited and very vocal young people. As the afternoon passed the crowds grew considerably all eager to get a look at the Beatles as they arrived. Their arrival had been kept secret and known only to the senior officers who were there in numbers.
Superintendent Alan Probyn
The Officer in charge of the operation was Superintendent Alan Probyn and he had obviously put in a considerable amount of ‘local knowledge,’ in the planning of the arrival and exit for the Beatles. He had also arranged for around 40 Policemen to be in attendance both inside and outside the Hippodrome.
With a view of assisting in any First Aid treatment, a 20-strong group of St. John Ambulance people were also in attendance, under their Superintendent, ‘Ted’ Sanderson. They took over Middle Street Primary School as a First Aid Post and treated around 18 young girls, mainly suffering from emotion and hysteria.
Almost opposite the Hippodrome theatre was the GPO garage (Now called BT.) this garage stretched from West Street to Middle Street with entrances in both streets.
At the appointed time and at the signal from one of the senior officers, the doors of the garage in Middle Street opened and four lads, dressed in washed denims raced across Middle Street and into the Hippodrome. This happened so quick that I am sure that the crowds didn’t quite realise that the Beatles had arrived.
With them safely in the theatre several of us were moved to different locations. I got my dream job; I was to work inside the Hippodrome in the auditorium immediately in front of the stage, as security to stop the young fans from jumping onto the stage. But first I had yet another job and that was to be on the dressing room door of John Lennon. At least that was the job I was told to do but what followed made that impossible.
The four Beatles certainly had no intention of sitting in their room and continually changed from one dressing room to another. They were full of fun, noisy and very excited. They took the ‘Mickey’ out of each other as well as the two of us who were there for security reasons. The fans were let into the theatre and even at the back of the theatre the noise could easily be heard.
It was soon time for the Beatles to go on stage and at a signal I moved out into the theatre and into the extremely noisy auditorium. I took my place in the front with about a dozen colleagues, looking out at a sea of faces, shouting out their favourite Beatle’s name, each one trying to shout louder than their friends. The announcer then called out each Beatle’s name, ‘George, Ringo, John and Paul, The Beatles.’ Then with a great crescendo of noise, the curtains opened and there they were in their familiar suits and haircuts, their own distinctive look.
The screams from the young audience raised a number of decibels and was truly deafening and it was impossible to hear the Beatles playing their familiar hit songs. The temperature inside the theatre was stifling and many young girls fainted and needed first aid. Many of the young audience had become so excited that they had wet themselves where they stood. Although everyone had a seat, there were no one sitting down, everyone was standing to get the best possible view.
While the band played their very famous and popular songs items continually flew from the audience onto the stage. There was the usual hail of ‘jelly babies,’ thrown with some accuracy by the screaming girls. Theses were followed by a huge number of dolls, then programmes, toilet rolls and screwed up paper, on which were scribbled messages addressed to the group.
We knew that at some point the girls would charge down the aisles and try to get onto the stage. We were ready and when it happened it was easy to stop them, and they were told to return to their seats, but none did, probably because they couldn’t hear what we were saying, added to the fact they didn’t want to.
There was a short intermission and then they were back, singing in full voice while the young girls continued to shout and scream. The concert eventually came to an end and returned to the dressing room area. They were all very happy and were having their fill of liquid refreshment and food. They were pouring sweat and really worked very hard to entertain their young fans. The theatre was cleared and after some clearing up and cleaning it was soon time to let in the second house. By this time I was finding it very difficult to hear, I had been totally deafened by the noise and there was a time when I wondered if my hearing would return as normal. I had wanted to see the Beatles, been given a wonderful opportunity to do just that and now I wasn’t quite so sure that I wanted to go through it all again. There was no chance of changing my job, I had been detailed for that specific task and in those days nothing was changed.
It was soon time for the second show to start and I took my place once more in front of the stage. The second show was exactly the same as the first, the deafening noise, the excitement of the young people and the Beatles giving it all they had. The concert eventually came to an end and the Beatles came on for an encore and went off again. The audience were shouting their heads off for them to come on again but that was not to happen. While they were on stage, their belongings were gathered up and while the people waited they were whisked away, out of the building, across the road and back into the GPO garage. They got into the chauffeur driven car, the garage doors opened and the car was quickly on its way via West Street. The audience were still shouting for their heroes to come back but the Beatles were by that time a long way away from the Hippodrome and heading northwards.
The Beatles concert also included the very well known American recording star, Mary Wells, who had sung her heart out during the evening, but it was the Beatles that the young fans had come to see and hear.
After the Group and Mary Wells had sneaked quietly away and the fans had all left there was only one noise that could be heard in the Hippodrome, and that was the shuffling sound of the brooms sweeping up tons and tons of paper and other rubbish, there was a different variety show to get ready for Monday evening.
It took several days before I felt my hearing had returned to normal and hoped that I would not have to endure noise like that again. Initially I was worried that my hearing would be affected by the prolonged noise of the two concerts. However, deep down I was as excited as some of those young people that made up the audience and so very glad that the opportunity was afforded to me.
It was estimated that about 4,000 frenzied teenaged fans saw the two Beatles concerts on this evening.
The deputy manager of the Hippodrome; Mr. Edward Evers, later said that he and his staff were forced to scour the theatre for around two hours making sure that none of the teenaged fans had secreted themselves in the theatre. The staff even searched behind the stage and up on the roof, taking particular note of the tops of other adjacent buildings to the theatre. He was pleased with the outcome of his staff and the security afforded by the Police, which, in total made for a very successful, enjoyable and trouble free evening.
The Rolling Stones
A few weeks later I again found myself on duty in Middle Street, this time it was the Rolling Stones in concert. I recall several differences between the two events. The crowd, although still young were of an older group by several years. The five members of the Rolling stones arrived the same way, through the GPO garage but they were dressed very smartly and unlike the Beatles changed to scruffy clothes to go on stage for their concert. Their concert was also very noisy but this time I managed to get a position near to the back of the auditorium and so it wasn’t quite as noisy for me.
An Evening Argus reporter had attended the concert and a report of the concert was reported in the Monday’s edition. However, one reader took exception to comments made in the report by the reporter and on Thursday 29th October the following letter appeared from one disgruntled fan: –
‘Contrary to your report on the Beatles performance at the Hippodrome, Brighton on Sunday (Evening Argus, Monday); George did NOT look defiant and ‘Ringo’ did NOT ‘carry on regardless.’ The Beatles looked very happy and smiled nearly all the time. Paul’s charming smile never left his face.
Furthermore, they did NOT sneak quietly away, as you stated. I saw them come out. They got into their car and Paul looked round and waved to me, still smiling, but looking rather tired. The Beatles were gear, but your reporter doesn’t seem to like them.
(From) Miss Janet Dyball, Caledonian Road, Brighton.
That was my first brush with famous people and famous and well-known events but it wouldn’t be the last.