WHEN Mick Jagger and Keith Richards rolled into Rugby in 1964, one music fan knew he’d seen a band that would stand the test of time.
George Leach was 19 when he bought tickets to All Stars ’64 at the Granada Theatre where John Leyton, who had appeared in The Great Escape, would headline two shows on February 11. He was supported by an up and coming band of young men known as The Rolling Stones.
George said: “They were great.
Even though they’d only released a few singles, I thought they should have been topping the bill. I could tell that this band would not be going away anytime soon.”
George was a regular at the theatre, watching films as well as live music from local acts and big names including Cliff Richard, Tommy Steele and Frankie Vaughan.
George would see the stones again when they returned to the town to play at the theatre on March 13 1965, this time as the main attraction.
George’s father, also called George, worked as an maintenance engineer at the theatre. It was his job to ensure all the projection and lighting equipment was kept in working order. He was on hand to let the band into the side door and take them to their dressing room when they arrived in the afternoon.
Whenever his son played The Rolling Stones’ music in the house, George snr had always dismissed it as noise but after chatting with the band over a cup of tea at the theatre he had an epiphany.
George said: “Dad was so surprised how well spoken Mick Jagger was and that they were all very well mannered. After that evening he was a Rolling Stones fan!”
“They put on a brilliant show again, everyone was dancing around. I really think those were the days when they were in their prime and I feel that I’m lucky to have seen them at their best.”
That night, the band sent the audience into frenzy when they announced they would perform their new single The Last Time for the first time to a live audience.
As well as his memories George has kept programmes from the concerts at the Granada. Costing two shillings, the All Stars ’64 programme features a double spread of pictures and a short biography of The Rolling Stones which highlights guitarist Brian Jones’s 60-a-day cigarette habit.
The 1965 programme has photos from the band’s tour in Australia and profiles of the artists further down the bill. George always strongly dismisses people who even suggest to him that he should sell them.
The theatre building, which in its most recent incarnation was a Gala Bingo hall, had been earmarked for retail development by Rugby Borough Council to create at least 10,000 sq m of new retail space that will connect to the Clock Towers shopping centre.
George said: “I wasn’t very happy when I heard about the old cinema being knocked down, I went to the town hall to find out what was going on. It’s such a shame that we’ll be losing it - it’s a big part of Rugby’s history.”