THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH ; Music on the Box in the Days When a Three-Minute Single Had the Power to Rock the World, 'Top of the Pops' Was Essential Viewing for Millions. as the Show Finally Bows out Tomorrow, Bobby Elliot of the Hollies - Who Performed in the First Ever Programme - Remembers How It All Began. and Ed Caesar Checks out the Original All-Star Line- Up
BobElliot, The Independent (London, England)
I remember that Top of the Pops show so well. Our manager at the time told us that we had a gig up in Manchester for the BBC for some programme called Top of the Pops. I remember thinking, "What an uncool name for a programme!" I thought it was going to be one of these minority BBC2 things. Obviously, it turned out differently.
The show went out live from this old church on Dickenson Road in Manchester. I remember all of us apart from Clarkie [Allan Clarke, guitars/vocals] turning up in the van. Clarkie had come up by train from London, and had shared a compartment with Brian Jones of the Stones, who were also on. At that time, we were a suit band, and the Stones were a T-shirt band. The train was running late, and they decided, on the train, to change into the clothes they were going to wear for the show. So Brian Jones changed out of his suit into his T- shirt and jeans, and Clarkie changed out of his T-shirt and jeans into his suit.
We all had flats down in London, and we felt that going up to Manchester was a bit of a chore, but the place itself was quite atmospheric. I remember there was a little canteen filled with Mancunian dinner ladies serving you sponge and custard and what have you.
Johnnie Stewart was the producer, but there was this guy who was there for many years called Harry Goodwin, who was a photographer. He was taking pictures of all these stars, John Lennon and Jimi Hendrix and everyone, all through the Sixties.
We knew the presenter, Jimmy Savile, from before. Jim was great. Around the same time, we were opening a shop in Bolton with Jim, and there were all these kids in the shop. They had trapped us up against the shelves which looked like they were going to fall down. Jim said "Bob! This way!" We went out the back and he had a b Rolls- Royce w i t chauffeur, and we got away.
Johnnie Stewart, the producer was a lovely man, but he didn't give us a briefing, it was all very casual. The floor manager was a man called Cecil Korer. He was a likeable chap, but he didn't have much hair. He seemed old at the time, but he was probably only in his mid-thirties. Anyway, when he was mingling with the crowd, Johnnie made him wear a toup, so that he wouldn't stand out as being the wrong generation, and his head wouldn't shine in the lights.
The Beatles had the No 1 that week, but they only appeared at the end of the show. All the rest of us mimed to the track, sang along to the record, as you did on all the shows those days. It was quite fun making it look convincing. When I played the drums, I had a trick of hitting just the rims, but it looked as if I was hitting the actual drum. I quite enjoyed trying to look like I was playing the record.
All us bands knew each other, but out of that TOTP line-up, we knew the Stones best. We were both coming out of the period when we were just travelling in a van. We had both had a couple of hits, and we had graduated to having a van and a car - getting a roadie to drive our gear in the van, and a personal roadie to drive all of us in the car.
But you knew everybody. As everybody was queuing up for a cup of tea you'd swap stories. I think, at some stage, the Blue Jeans got into some sort of kerfuffle with the Stones in the canteen. Apparently, some sort of argument over a ball-point pen.
And Dusty Springfield was there, too, obviously. She was a very sweet lady, pretty shy, but you could talk to her fine. At the end of the show, I didn't go out - I just went home to my parents' house just outside of Manchester.
Now I look back on that show, which is a part of broadcasting history, with a lot of pride. But at the time I thought it was a stupid name for a programme, and I didn't think it would last.
We were on that show so many times during the Sixties and and my only regret is that some clever old soul om the BBC wiped all …
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Publication information: Article title: THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH ; Music on the Box in the Days When a Three-Minute Single Had the Power to Rock the World, 'Top of the Pops' Was Essential Viewing for Millions. as the Show Finally Bows out Tomorrow, Bobby Elliot of the Hollies - Who Performed in the First Ever Programme - Remembers How It All Began. and Ed Caesar Checks out the Original All-Star Line- Up. Contributors: BobElliot - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: July 22, 2006. Page number: 12. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.