MADAM: Reading “Juke Box” and “Hit Parade” reminds me of those heady days when Christchurch rocked. It wasn’t the rocking of the ground, as in recent years, but hundreds of excited footsteps making their way to the airport, hotels or theatres to catch a glimpse of the latest pop group in town.
My first job after leaving school was as a child minder/ housekeeper for a family who owned one of the few night clubs in the city. These people were friends with a well- known promoter who brought most of the international acts to the city. He would reserve a couple of rows of seats, near the front, for the resident band, staff, friends and family so we were very near the action which we loved.
Some of the shows I recall are: The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Sandie
Shaw, Dusty Springfield, Millie Small, The Searchers, Peter and Gordon, Eden Kane, Gerry and the Pacemakers, The Hollies, Billy J. Kramer and the Dave Clark Five.
I was always glad I didn’t pay to see The Beatles because it was impossible to hear anything above the hysteria. Whenever Paul McCartney shook his head a woman sitting in the row behind would start waving her handbag around, hitting the person next to me on the head. After a while he got fed up, reached back without turning around, grabbed the bag as it was about to hit again and tossed it into the theatre! Whether she got it back or not we will never know.
Our group arrived at The Rolling Stones concert early and found the place alive with police. We took our seats in the front row and a policeman stepped forward saying: “You look like sensible girls, you won’t give us any trouble will you?” We certainly didn’t give them any trouble, but when Mick Jagger sang “Walking the Dog” he turned his back to the audience, wiggled his bottom and the girl sitting next to me grabbed my sleeve getting tighter and tighter as the song and the wiggling progressed! At the end of the song and with the final wiggle she pulled so hard my sleeve ripped out! The police standing in front of us were smirking.
A huge bonus was meeting some of the stars after the shows. We didn’t get to meet The Rolling Stones or The Beatles as they were hurried off by their managers, but we did meet The Searchers. Chris Curtis, the drummer, was particularly nice. Soon after meeting the group I began their New Zealand fan club and to this day have the photograph they personally signed for me.
Millie Small was sweet but she found the cold in Christchurch a bit hard to deal with, plus she was very homesick. Conversations with performers were often brief, but what stays with me is that many of them were a little bewildered by their fame. Without doubt though, they all knew those euphoric
days wouldn’t last forever and were making the most of each opportunity.
A highlight of meeting celebrities unexpectedly in the late ’ 60s was when a girlfriend and I were taking a walk during our lunch break. Two shiny black cars came along the road and stopped outside the Winter Gardens. Much to our surprise who should alight from one but the Duke of Edinburgh! He turned to us and said, “Good afternoon ladies, enjoying your lunch break are you?” I think we stammered something like, “Yes, Your Highness.” Talk about going weak at the knees! — PARKLANDS, CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND. * What marvellous memories of a golden decade. You can read about Peter & Gordon on page 112 of this issue. — Ed.
A reader recalls British pop groups, including The Searchers, touring New Zealand in the Sixties. See this and previous page.
Woodhall Spa in Lincolnshire is a place of happy memories for one reader. See “Flicks in the Sticks!”