Tricia McGill--on Rock and Roll



I’ve been watching a series on our Aussie National TV station about the early days in Cilla Black’s singing career and it brought back so many memories. Some younger people might not be familiar with Cilla, but guess you’ve all heard of the Beatles and The Rolling Stones. You’d have to have been living on another planet not to have heard of them. Anyway, back to Cilla. I was fortunate enough to have lived through the early days of Rock and Roll. I say fortunate as I don’t think any music has matched up to those glory years of the late fifties and 60s.


When I first attended dances at my local town hall in my teenage years we mostly did a sort of shuffle around the floor as in those days it was strictly ballroom dancing and who could do the foxtrot or tango—certainly none of the young men I danced with. But then Rock and Roll came on the scene in the form of Bill Haley and his Comets, and the like. My cousin, who was also my best friend, and I began to excel at dancing this new-fangled Roll and Roll. I can still remember how my brothers, all much older than us, laughed at our antics. Little did they know how this new ‘craze’ would catch on. It spawned some of the greatest rock musicians ever. Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, and let’s not forget Elvis. I can still recall vividly the first time I heard Elvis on the radio. My cousin and I were enjoying a refreshing drink during a break at the dingy little dance club we went to twice a week, when the announcer came on to introduce this new singer who was sweeping all before him. I still get that same old tingle up my spine when I hear him singing Heartbreak Hotel. 


Now I think about it I was so lucky. I saw so many stars live in their early years as performers, including Bill Haley and the Comets, Frankie Laine, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Eddie Fisher, Matt Munro. Probably a few of them are long forgotten but there are two groups who are well known even today. We would go to the local market Saturday morning and buy the records of our favorites. Those round plastic things that apparently are coming back into fashion by the purists. I think I had every record made by Frankie Laine and stupidly left most of them behind when I left England. 


Moving on a few years, and I met my husband, who shared my musical tastes. How we loved to rock and roll the night away. I met him many, many years ago on Christmas Eve at the Tottenham Royal, a dance hall. I Googled it and it doesn’t exist anymore. Pity, as it was a wonderful venue.


Getting back to Cilla. My husband and I went to a dance hall every Saturday evening and the manager there got a batch of tickets for a Beatles performance and I was lucky enough to be included in the select group who went along to a local theater. To be honest I can’t recall one song the Beatles performed as the screaming from besotted girls was so loud they could have been playing rubbish. But then one of them introduced Cilla, and I can still see this girl standing there singing her heart out. I believe her first hit was ‘Anyone Who Had a Heart’. Well anyone with a heart had to fall for her then and there--and many did--and remain fans to this day.


We also went along to see one of the early Rolling Stones performances. From memory it was at a Boat club along the River Thames at Richmond. It must have been a huge place with rafters as some boys stripped their shirts off to hang from the rafters. I was an arm’s length away from this skinny bloke called Mick Jagger as they performed on the stage and who would have guessed that 50 odd years later he and the Stones would still be a household name.




I do hope my reminiscences have brought back some happy memories for others.



Tricia McGill’s books can be found either on her webpage: www.triciamcgill.com

Or on her Books We Love page: http://bookswelove.net/mcgill.php
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