Looking Back: When The Rolling Stones played in Morecambe

Former Visitor photographer Tony North took this photo of The Stones backstage at the Floral Hall in Morecambe. Left to right: Brian Jones, Charlie Watts, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Bill Wyman.
Former Visitor photographer Tony North took this photo of The Stones backstage at the Floral Hall in Morecambe. Left to right: Brian Jones, Charlie Watts, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Bill Wyman.

Fifty years ago an aspiring music promoter took a punt on a rising band and booked them for a gig in Morecambe.

Little did Mike Wilcock know that the shy Londoners who turned up in the back of a van that night would become one of the biggest rock groups of all-time.

It was September 27 1963 when The Rolling Stones played live at the Floral Hall in Morecambe. They had just cracked the UK charts with their debut hit ‘Come On’ but were still 10 months shy of their first number one.

Mike, who now lives in Cowbridge, Wales, worked at Nelsons Silk on Caton Road, Lancaster, at the time.

“We wanted to raise some money for the sports and social club so myself and a colleague put on a gig in 1962 at the Winter Gardens with Mike Sarne, who had a big hit with ‘Come Outside’,” said Mike.

“Then we put on Freddie and the Dreamers at the Floral Hall. Then an agent called Tito Burns offered me this new group called The Rolling Stones for £95, which was a lot of money. I took a chance on them and ended up selling 2,000 tickets for five shillings.

“They were supported by The Merseybeats and a local band called The Doodlebugs.”

Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman rolled up in a battered Bedford Van and played two sets, from 9pm to 9.45pm and 11pm to 11.45pm.

“They were exceptionally quiet, people were just getting their own pints from the bar and not even looking at them,” said Mike. People weren’t used to dancing to their kind of music, the American blues.

“As far as we were concerned they were just Cockneys coming up to the North West. It was the first and only time they played here though. Very soon the price went right up!”