Guide to British Music of the 1960s

September 2007

Book Review

Legends on Tour the Pop Package Tours of the 1960s by Martin Creasey

This book documents a time not so long ago when music remained accessible to the fans. Nowadays the major artists seem confined to soul-less arenas and you have to travel half way across the country just to see a major artist play live. Imagine going down to your local Odeon, ABC or Gaumont cinema and seeing the top stars of the day. What's more, you would see several of the day's chart artists on the same bill even if they were musically very different.

The pop package tours put together several of the top artists on the same bill. They usually played their big hit and several other songs. The artists were often linked by a compere who would sometimes be a comedian. The Beatles were one of the bands who played these package tours in their early days. However, the book also tracks a number of other artists on tour such as the Small Faces, the Hollies, Cat Stevens, Roy Orbison, Gene Pitney and the Troggs.

Compared with the 21st century these package tours were far more informal and brought the artists and the music lovers much closer together. Not only were the venues more intimate but anyone stopping in the Airborne or other Aldershot pub near the ABC could be quite likely to bump into the three members of the Jimi Hendrix Experience having a quiet pint!

The book is lavishly illustrated with pictures of the venues and the acts. The author has investigated the photo archives of a number of local newspaper groups and has numerous photos from Aldershot, Bournemouth, Ipswich and Leicester. It is hard to conceive that this calibre of artists would even visit these towns today.

This is an important reminder of a time when music was far more innocent and more accessible. With the decline in local venues and cinemas now huge edge-of-town barns it appears unlikely that this level of intimacy between a major recording star and the fans could be restored.

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