Tag Archives: Apollo

The Tale of Two Keiths and the No.64 Bus

Mark Arbuckle: Glasgow, May 2021

Inspired by the recent Apollo posts I’ve decided to share some of my own gig memories.

On 12th of May 1976 myself and my friend Peter attended The Rolling Stones concert at The Glasgow Apollo. 

I don’t remember too much about the gig but apparently it wasn’t their best as it was beset by sound problems all night.

It’s what happened after the gig that is etched on my mind however.

As we were leaving there was an altercation on the street right outside the main doors.
Peter and I decided to cut along Renfield Lane to avoid whatever was happening. Just as we got to the side door it burst open and a figure hurtled out, slipped on the cobbles and crashed to the ground. I reached down to help him to his feet.

‘Scrag-dab Groog Slubdabahoo!’ spluttered the man and I suddenly realised that the skinny figure I was propping up was a totally wasted Keith Richards!
Almost immediately a black limo screeched to a halt in front of us and a very large man jumped out, removed KR from my arms, opened the back door and threw him onto the back seat!
He grunted ‘Thanks man’ jumped into the car and sped off! The entire incident lasted about 40 seconds!

Peter and I just stared open mouthed at each other and then burst out laughing!

A few weeks later, on 5th June 1976 I was very fortunate to be asked to be part of the security team at ‘The Who Put The Boot In’ all day gig at Celtic Park.

My brother was friendly with a guy (MR) who booked all the bands for Glasgow Tech and he was asked to provide some bodies for the day.
MR was very well known in the UK music industry and even had Pans People at his 22nd birthday party at the old Albany Hotel, where I danced with my long time crush, the gorgeous Cherry Gillespie……but I digress.

My brother and I and 4 other friends duly turned up at Celtic Park at 8.00am and along with 60 other ‘security’ guards were given a briefing on our duties for the day.
We were issued with our yellow ‘Harvey Goldsmith’ security jackets and split up into teams of six.
We were then taken on a tour of the ground’s fire exits, toilets, catering and first aid points.
We were also shown the No Access areas and told that in no uncertain terms that the large, bulky figures sporting the blue ‘Rock Steady’ jackets were the REAL security and we were to assist them whenever asked to!

Our team of six was then told to report to the front of the stadium where the crowds had been gathering for the last few hours. We were to assist the Police confiscating the fans’ alcohol before they entered the stadium! ‘Either drink it where you stand or give it to us!’
We had to open and empty the beer cans and smash the glass bottles into large brick bins. The smell of alcohol was eye watering! People were attempting to consume their entire kerryoot there and then! Especially the ones at the back of the huge queues as the word quickly spread.

I watched a skinny wee guy down a bottle of vodka in the five minutes it took him to get to the turnstile!
I doubt if he saw much of the day’s entertainment!

Though I imagine quite a lot (hunners) of half and quarter bottles of alcohol were missed by our untrained searches and smuggled into the stadium.
(I’m also sure quite a few made it into Yella Jaikets’ zipped pokits!)
After about 2 hours confiscating booze, I was partnered with an older guy and sent to guard the pylon on the right side of the stage. 

We were there to prevent anybody trying to climb up it, but as you couldn’t see the stage from there, nobody did! After a boring half hour my partner announced that he was ‘Offski’ ‘F#€K This’ were his exact words.
I later found out that he was ejected for drinking. I lasted another 15 minutes then abandoned my post and decided to have a wander back stage. Little Feat were on stage and I was enjoying Lowell George’s superb slide guitar work.

Little Feat’s Lowell George

I was talking to a long haired denim clad guy next to me who turned out to be the bass player (Frank O’Keefe… I had to google him) of The Outlaws who had already played their set. 

The Outlaws, Frank O’Keefe second from right

A man approached us and said to Frank ‘Excuse me, this is Alan Longmuir of The Bay City Rollers….’Alan also plays bass’ Frank stared right through him, shrugged a ‘So what?’ and returned to talking to me! I felt really sorry for Alan Longmuir.

A Rock Steady Security Guy shouted ‘Right you! Follow me!’ So I did.

I followed him down a back staircase and emerged outside in a courtyard.

A few weeks before the gig a Sunday newspaper ran a competition to win a gig ticket and the chance to meet Keith Moon and help him smash up a replica of the organ used in Rock Opera, Tommy!

There stood Keith Moon dressed in a leather bikers jacket with tasseled sleeves and brandishing a sledgehammer!

Keith Moon

After posing for press photographs, cackling Keith dealt the first mighty blow to the poor keyboard sending black and white keys flying in all directions! Then he handed his sledgehammer to me and said ‘Your turn’ The competition winner and I then set about the helpless instrument with glee! After 15 minutes our ‘Appetite for Destruction’ waned and we put down our weapons. Keith reappeared and invited us onto The Who’s tour bus for a drink. We were greeted by a stunning 6′ 2″ woman dressed in a black leather basque, fishnet stockings and thigh length leather boots with 4″ stiletto heels! Oh and she was carrying a whip!
The bus had been converted into a fully functioning bar with beer pumps, spirit optics and high stools! We took our seats and Miss Whiplash served our drinks. I had an ice cold beer (very welcome after our exertions) and a Jack & Coke. I did feel a pang of guilt for all the poor sods that had had their carry outs destroyed earlier…but not for long.

Keith was laughing and talking nonstop and it was obvious that he was already quite drunk and had probably partaken of other various substances. It was around 4pm and The Who weren’t due on stage for at least another 5 hours!

Keith offered us a second round but I declined and said I’d better, very reluctantly, get back to work. The competition winner (we never did introduce ourselves) left the bus with me. We were both still on a high after this amazing encounter with one of the legends of rock!

I returned backstage and watched SAHB’s amazing set.
Nobody questioned why I was there and I had a brilliant view!
The crowd went wild at Alex Harvey’s mad antics and Zal and the rest of the band pounded out song after song!

SAHB’s elaborate Vambo set then had to be dismantled and The Who’s much heralded outdoor laser light show (the first in Scotland) was set up.

The crowd were getting a bit restless by the time The Who took the stage about 9.30pm but they played a magnificent set.

However the laser show didn’t really work as intended as it was still pretty light until around 10.30pm.
Then the show was over and I met up again with my brother and his pals as we queued up to be paid.
The deal was ‘Hand in your Yellow Jacket and get paid £1 per hour cash or keep the jacket and get zero. Now if I’d known then that eBay would exist in the future then I would’ve kept the jacket and sold it now for £500!

However I took my  £14.00  handed out by Harvey Goldsmith himself sitting in a little wooden booth. 

HG was beaming as he handed over the little bundles of cash obviously calculating the tens of thousands that he’d personally made from the tour!

I can’t even remember how we all got home from that exhausting but exhilarating day!

Now this last story may not be true…..It was told to me by an older guy who regularly attended gigs throughout 70’s

Fun and substance loving band Dr. Hook were partying hard with their crew and local security at The Central Hotel after their gig at The Apollo.

Dr Hook

One of the band overheard a local guy mentioning ‘Hocken-Shoe-Gal! 
and in their spaced out, inebriated state the sound of this, strange, mystical place must’ve appealed to them and they decided they must visit, so they enquired how to get there.
The local guy suggested a taxi but the band insisted on travelling ‘like the other pilgrims do’ 
‘Then get the No. 64 bus from under the bridge’ They were told, so off they went to Argyle St. and got on the No. 64 bus…. 

Unfortunately they boarded it on the wrong side of the road so instead of travelling east to the magical, mystical Auchenshuggle, they headed west through Finnieston, Partick, Whiteinch, Yoker, Clyebank and arrived at the large concrete terminus of Dalmuir West! 

The band were very confused and didn’t appreciate these surroundings at all! They clambered back on the bus for the return journey back to the city centre to continue their par-tay! Hahaha

True or Not… It’s a great story!! 

teenage kicks – Catriona Cook

April 2021:


Name: Catriona Macintyre (Macintyre-Beon, Cook)

Where did you live: Monreith Ave, Kilmardinny Cres – Bearsden;
Kings Park Rd – Kings Park, Glasgow

Secondary school: Bearsden Academy, Kingspark Secondary

Best mates at school: Sandra McGregor, Fiona McLeod

Funniest memory from school: The school going on fire and being off for several weeks.

First holiday with your mates: 1982, Palma Nova with Wendy a fellow nurse from my year group. I met Phil from Birmingham (who was my boyfriend for a couple of years), first time on a moped, lots of alcohol.

First job: Cut n Dried hairdressers Sauchiehall Street (Saturday job), NHS nurse, midwife, neonatal intensive care.


Musical hero in 70s: Bay City Rollers, David Cassidy, Leif Garret, Pink Floyd.

Favourite single: If you Leave Me Now – Chicago (reminds me of discos at Westerton Tennis Club)

Favourite album: Parallel lines – Blondie

First gig: Blondie or The Police at The Apollo

Most Disappointing Gig: Whitney Houston at SECC (Sound was terrible)

Favourite 70s movie:  Carrie (sneaked in aged 9) RIO cinema, Bearsden.
(Admin – Wow 😳 )

Rio Picture House, Canniesburn Toll, Bearsden

Who was on your wall in 70s: Bay City Rollers, Leif Garrett, David Cassidy

What do you miss most from the 70s: My big brother Graham

What advice would you give your 14yr old self: Go girl have some fun!

Fantasy 70s pub session: Centre Court in Glasgow with Pat Cash, Debbie Harry, Marc Bolan & David Bowie. 

No description available.
That’s me in the blue wellies

rory gallagher – a taste for the blues

(Post by Colin ‘Jackie’ Jackson, of Glasgow – February 2021)

Eleven vinyl LPs; one vinyl EP; two ‘box set’ CDs; one triple CD set; twenty-one CDs; five DVDs and four Taste CDs.

You’d be correct in assuming I like Rory Gallagher!

I recall the very first time I heard Rory’s music. It was sometime in 1972. I was playing Subbuteo at my pal’s house. I was Chile, that day – red shirt, blue shorts. I can’t remember what team Derek was, but it wouldn’t matter – he’d have whooped my ass anyway. I was rubbish.

Derek shared a large bedroom with his older brother who at that time was a long-haired, senior school student, about four years older than me. He’d been doing paper rounds for several years and so was ‘minted,’ as we’d say in Glasgow. And all his money it seemed, he spent on records, particularly the heavy end of the musical spectrum. Deep Purple and King Crimson I vividly remember being played. I know this because as a Slade, Sweet and John Kongos fan, (yes, John Kongos) I just couldn’t get into this new fangled ‘progressive’ music.

Anyway, as my Chilean right winger was about to take a corner, something new burst out the record player. It went on for ages, too. Wow!

“That’s ‘‘Catfish,’ my mate said. “By a band called Taste. Alan’s just bought it. Like it?”

‘Like it?’ That was me. Hook, line and sinker.

So – this is the Blues? A fourteen year old kid had just been enlightened.

The LP was ‘Taste. Live At The Isle Of Wight.’ With a little more prompting, I was told the band were no longer together, but the guitarist, Rory Gallagher, had embarked on a solo career. In fact, he’d already released three albums. Always late to the party, me.

A few weeks later, I’d saved enough from my paper round to send away, through a ‘small ad’ in the ‘Sounds’ paper, for a copy of Rory’s latest release, ‘Live in Europe.’ (Going to watch football on a Saturday normally accounted for most of my earnings.)

As it happens, I was fifty pence short in payment for the post and packing, but the nice record store still sent me the LP. They asked I just send a postal order for the shortfall, something I never got round to doing. I read a month or so later that the company had gone bust. I felt ever so guilty.

That was late 1972 and I still have that album. It remains my favourite of all my Rory recordings, although I have to say, the ‘Check Shirt Wizard – Live in ‘77’ triple album pushes it very close.

The next stage in my Gallagher development was to see him play live and that opportunity came in March the following year, when my parents finally acceded my pleas to be allowed to go to a concert. And so shortly after the release of his fourth solo album, ‘Blueprint‘ (my second favourite) I trooped up to Glasgow with a couple of pals to the Green’s Playhouse (later to become the world famous Apollo.)

My seat was about eight rows from the front, just left of centre. Perfect. Until Rory came on stage and everyone jumped to their feet. I was a short-arse then, still am, and suddenly I was struggling to see my musical hero.

But the bouncers at Green’s and even more so when it changed to The Apollo, had a fierce reputation. There was no nonsense. If you were told to sit down, you sat down. If not, you’d only be able to hear the gig from the alleyway at the back of the theatre. (This heavy handed approach always worked … until The Clash came to town on 4th July 1978. But that’s another story!)

The concert was everything I hoped it would be. And more. The relationship Rory had with the crowd was amazing. It was like a personal friend was putting on a show. There was no posturing. No garish showmanship. Just straight-up, blues infused rock ‘n’ roll with a tiny touch of folk influence.

Rory was dressed simply, in his trade-mark check style shirt and jeans, and although he wore a denim shirt on the cover of ‘Blueprint,’ I always associated him with the checks. It must be a ‘first impressions’ thing, for I don’t recall seeing him wear that again on any of the other four occasions I was lucky enough to see him.

In the early to mid-seventies, bands would generally only hit your town maybe once a year although I was fortunate in that Rory did return to Glasgow later in ’73, at the end of November. After that though, it was December only, and ’74, ’75 and 1976 were my last shows. It’s interesting to note that the most I paid for a ticket was the £2.50 in 1976.

I wonder how much you’d have to pay these days? I’m sure Rory would have done all in his power to keep prices at a sensible level, but what with ticketing agencies these days …. aargh! Don’t start me!

While my love of Rory Gallagher has been unflinching, I am not one of those fans who listens exclusively to their hero and that particular style of music.

Although I still rushed out to buy his immediate subsequent releases, ‘Photofinish,’ ‘Top Priority,’ and ‘Stage Struck,’ I was, from 1976 onward, more into the punk and second wave rockabilly scenes.

The only groups, however, that even then could come close in my overall ‘favourite band’ list were / still are, The Sensational Alex Harvey Band and The Rolling Stones. (Over forty albums of the latter in my collection.)

And of course, there is a close connection between all three bands with SAHB‘s late great Ted McKenna latterly taking over on drums for Rory, and Rory himself famously auditioning for The Stones back in 1975 when Mick Taylor left.

I must say, I’m so glad Rory decided not to hang around and wait for Mick and Keith to get back to him, and toured Japan as he had planned. I just couldn’t see Rory as anything other than a front man. Ronnie Wood is perfect for the role in appearance and style.

It doesn’t always follow that a group betters itself by absorbing ‘the best.’ Look at The Eagles. Did Joe Walsh really add to what was already one of the most popular bands in the world? Did Joe Walsh lose a bit of his identity by joining The Eagles?

‘No’ and ‘yes’ would be my two answers.

But back to Rory.

It pained me to see him on The Old Grey Whistle Test or wherever as the rather large and bloated musician he’d become by around 1990 as drink and various prescription medications, administered to deal with the rigours of life on the road, had prematurely and noticeably aged him.

In the end, 1995, he perhaps cut a sad image – the archetypal solo rock star, not necessarily fading as such, or clinging to past glories, but perhaps lonely and just sheer exhausted from all he gave.

And he gave so much. The vast majority of his fans, like me, never met him, but Rory came across on stage, and in media interviews, as a very personable and likable bloke. There were no frills. You got what you saw.

He was genius on guitar. He could literally turn his hand to make it gently weep; or laugh; or sing. He could make an audience dance – in an ugly, uncoordinated, shaking-head, rocker style, maybe, but it still counts.

Best guitarist in the world? Many of us would say so.

I guess it’s all a matter of Taste.

a packed lunch for a vampire and dennis neilson’s freezer – a who odyssey

(By Alan Fairley – Edinburgh)

To many people, going to a gig and ending up in hospital would be regarded as an occupational hazard but to go through that experience while carrying out the comparatively mundane and harmless act of purchasing a ticket has to be regarded as something of a rarity.

It was an adventure I experienced back in October 1971.

The Who had just announced that they would be returning to Glasgow for the first time in over a year to play a show at Greens Playhouse and interest in the gig was sky high, coming as it did on the back of the band’s highly successful and unique Rock Opera Tommy which had been kicking around for a couple of years.

On top of that, Who’s Next, which is widely regarded as the bands finest ever piece of work and which featured the anthemic single Won’t Get Fooled Again, had just been released

The announcement came that tickets would go on sale at 10am on the Sunday before the show and plans began to develop as to how these sought-after pieces of paper could fall into the hand of myself and my two fellow Who fans from school, Angus MacAulay and Nicky Mawbey (both now sadly deceased).

Long before the days of Ticketmaster and online/telephone booking, anyone looking to attend a gig would merely trot along to the House of Clydesdale electrical store in Sauchiehall Street and proceed to the oasis-like ticket desk which was crammed in between the fridge freezers and the twin tubs. 

With demand expected to be high the best option to guarantee success for a high profile show like The Who was to camp out on the pavement overnight which, bearing in mind the onset of a Glasgow winter would have been a course of action palatable only to the foolhardy and the supremely dedicated.

None of us fell into either of these categories (although we perhaps verged on the borderline of foolhardy) so we devised a plan to wake up early and rendezvous at 6am on the day of the sale prior to making the six mile journey into Sauchiehall Street.

What we didn’t allow for, however, was the non-availability of public transport at six o’clock on a Sunday morning so, with no buses or trains running at such an ungodly hour, we resorted to the noble art of hitch hiking.

It was an activity in which none of us had any prior experience and as a result, we stood by the road with thumbs outstretched hoping that some passing driver would be daft enough to pick up three long-haired, denim clad teenage boys.

After getting some strange looks from the occupants of the few vehicles who sped by, a car finally stopped and our spirits were lifted when the driver shouted “ur yees gaun intae toon for Who tickets, boys? In ye get.”

This kindred spirit kindly dropped us off in the city centre before looking for a parking space but when we we turned into Sauchiehall Street we were met by what only be described as a seething mass of humanity with a queue from Clydesdale, four deep on the pavement, snaking all the way round to Hope Street then into Renfrew Street.

The Famous Apollo Queue

We trudged gloomily in search of the end of the queue when an almighty scuffle broke out amongst those in line. Police were soon on the scene, manhandling everyone in the vicinity, the outcome being Angus, Nicky and myself being pushed into the queue by the said officers.

This episode of police-enforced queue jumping led to us gaining a foothold at least 100 yards further up the line from where we should have been and raised our expectations of a successful outcome to the trip. Every cloud and all that.

We then heard that, on police advice, the ticket desk was to open at 9am and it wasn’t long before we were slowly shuffling round with the Holy Grail of Clydesdale Electrical within our distant sights.

Then, disaster struck.

A rumour began circulating (allegedly by the police) that the tickets were almost sold out, panic set in and an almighty crush developed as the four-deep queue grew to six or seven-deep, with people desperate to move forward in what was now beginning to look like a forlorn quest of seeing Townshend, Daltrey and co in the flesh.

By this time, the three of us, along with many others were pushed up tight against the plate glass window of Graftons, a ladies clothes shop.

As the crush increased, there was no means of escape and the window began to creak with the weight of bodies trapped against it.

The scene of the incident but in gentler times!

Before long the inevitable sound of breaking glass became apparent as the window gave way and I found myself lying on the floor amongst the Graftons mannequins with deadly looking shards of glass raining down on my head.

The cops again appeared, hauling bodies out of the carnage and I recall one senior office shouting “get this dealt wi’, we don’t want another Ibrox”, a poignant nod to the Ibrox disaster which had claimed 66 lives earlier that year.

I was lucky… I only suffered a few minor scratches, as did Nicky but Angus wasn’t so fortunate. When we found him he was lying on the pavement with blood pouring from a wound in the back of his neck.

By this time a fleet of ambulances had arrived, and we hauled him over to the nearest one before we were all bundled in and carted off to the Royal Infirmary.

Glasgow’s Royal Infirmary – in all its Gothic glory

Now, on, say, a Friday or Saturday night, the emergency department of Glasgow’s Royal Infirmary is not a place for the faint hearted as the hard-pressed medics deal with the never-ending stream of drunken casualties but Sunday mornings? -that was time for the doctors and nurses to relax a bit and review the events of an eventful night shift over a well-earned coffee and a bacon roll.

Not this time. Their peace was shattered by the sight of several dozen blood-soaked rock fans coming through the doors for treatment. I actually felt quite embarrassed taking up a space in the waiting area with my puny little scratches while the guy beside me, a hippy dude called Stevie, held his kaftan tightly against his head to stem the blood from the area where an almighty shard of glass was embedded.

Stevie addressed the situation with the classic black humour for which Glaswegians are famed, uttering a line which has has stayed in my psyche until this day – I feel like I’m a packed lunch for a fuckin’ vampire.”

After several hours in casualty, Angus emerged with an impressive row of stitches in his neck and the three of us went home ticketless.

I did get to see The Who twice in the years that followed, firstly at Charlton Athletic Football Ground (The Valley) in 1974 and again at Celtic Park in 1976.

Moon & Harvey on the same bill? – Madness!

The Charlton gig, which I attended with my mate Mike Rooney from Temple, was an all-day event and featured a stellar supporting cast of Humble Pie, Lou Reed, Bad Company, Lindisfarne, Maggie Bell (who took great delight in informing the 60,000 crowd that Scotland had just beaten England 2-0 at Hampden) and Montrose.

The last-named band had been called in as last-minute replacements for The Sweet who had been scheduled to open the show but were forced to pull out after singer Brian Connolly had his head kicked in by some neds after a gig the previous night.

The show had its high points and low points. One of the high points was, when sitting in the blistering sunshine on the terracing steps, the bra-less girl beside me graciously decided to whip off her t-shirt and remain topless throughout Humble Pie’s set. That vision always returns to my mind when I dust off the cover of the Pie’s epic double album Eat It which was around at the time.

One of the highlights of the day…

The low point was the fact that The Who were 40 minutes late in taking the stage and it was inevitable that the show would continue beyond its 10pm curfew.

As the last train to Glasgow would be departing Euston Station at 11pm Mike and I made the reluctant decision to leave the gig early and, after negotiating the complex route across the capital from Charlton, we managed to jump on the train with seconds to spare.

In hindsight, it proved to be smart move. Had we stayed for the encores and missed the train, the alternative would have been to spend the night in that particular corner of hell known as the Euston concourse.

Reflecting on stories which have emerged since then regarding young lads who were in similar situations, who knows, it could well have been our lifeless, severed body parts which were found stashed in the dark recesses of Dennis Nilsen’s freezer.

In the words of Bob Dylan – ‘a simple twist of fate.’

My Top 5 Who songs

  1. Squeeze Box
  2. Won’t Get Fooled Again
  3. I Can’t Explain
  4. 5:15
  5. Baba O’Reilly

the big yin and me.

(Post by Paul Fitzpatrick, of London – February 2021)

I’ve always had a strange relationship with Billy Connolly.

Not that we’ve ever met.

I call it Christopher Columbus syndrome – You find an artist, hear a song or read a book that hardly anyone else knows about, you become an early adopter and spread the word, and before you know it everyone loves them – with people even asking you if you’ve heard of them!

It drives you mad because you feel like you’re the one that DISCOVERED THEM, and if it wasn’t for you unearthing their great talent and spreading the word, they’d be nowhere.

You even begin to resent their newfound fame – they’re being greedy or they’re overreaching or they’re forgetting where they come from, or some other daft notion.

Welcome to my relationship with Billy Connolly.

I’m pretty sure the first time I heard Connolly utter a word was on the Pavilion stage in February 1974.

There was a buzz as the relative unknown had sold out several nights at the Pavilion Theatre in Glasgow, something only Sydney Devine (Scotland’s answer to Elvis) could do back then.

Billy promoting his stint at The Pavilion.

My pal Barry suggested we get tickets to see him on a Friday night as we had no school the next day, we were both 15 at the time and part of the plan was to find a pub and go for the full Friday night Glasgow experience.

We duly found a wee working mans pub round the corner from the venue, and foraged for a seat out of view, it was tea-time on a Friday, so the pub was busy with artisans in their work clothes finishing their shifts for the weekend.

We must have stood out like sore thumbs.

I think Barry braved the first approach to the bar and I was amazed but delighted when he came back with 2 halves of lager and 2 vodka and oranges’ (non-diluted orange squash of course).

A half and a half back then was the working mans preferred tipple, so who were we to challenge the established order of things.

The drinks were downed pretty quickly, and we enjoyed a few more bevvy’s before floating off down the road to the Pavilion in good spirits.

Stand-up comedy in the 70’s was dominated by middle aged men who wore suits and bow ties and told corny jokes about their mother in laws or minorities or Germans bombing their chip shops.

This guy Connolly was different though he was younger, he looked like a welder on acid and he spoke our language.

A bit like listening to the opening 4 tracks of Led Zeppelin IV for the first time, Connolly literally took our breath away. I had never laughed so long or so hard before, and I’m pretty sure I haven’t since, although Jerry Sadowitz has come close a couple of times.

He was loud, gallus, hilarious and the audience loved him, his stories were relatable, and he was one of us.

I remember hearing the Crucifixion sketch for the first time that night, it was the funniest thing I’d ever heard, he was irreverent and didn’t give two hoots about poking fun at religion or sectarian taboos or bodily functions or the establishment, no topic was off limits to the Big Yin.

It was a memorable evening; from the nervous bus-journey into town wondering if we’d get served or huckled for being underage, to the journey home, fish supper in hand, trying to recount all the jokes and patter and remembering we had football for the school the following morning.

We were so smitten by Connolly that we spent the next couple of weeks spreading the gospel, telling everyone we knew how great he was, mostly to blank faces however, as no one had heard of him.

Billy takes over The Apollo.

His career really took off after a live album of the Pavilion material was released in May 1974, and the following year he finally came into the general public’s consciousness.

In 1975 Connolly sold out an unprecedented 12 nights at the Glasgow Apollo, as well as appearing on Parkinson for the first of his record breaking 15 appearances.

That year he also showed off his acting chops by appearing in a powerful Peter McDougall TV play called ‘Just Another Saturday’ which was about West of Scotland culture, beliefs, innocence and sectarianism.

If that wasn’t enough, he also headlined a London gig for the first time and even had a number one single, appearing on TOTP with a parody of Tammy Wynette’s Divorce. It was the archetypal rags to riches story; the guy had gone from zero to hero in the space of 18 months.

There’s a picture that was taken in 1975 by Ronnie Anderson, a newspaper colleague of one of our contributors George Cheyne, that is my favourite Connolly portrait.

The occasion was an after-party in The Dorchester for the first of Billy’s sell out shows at the London Palladium in 1975, and it features – Billy, Alex Harvey, Jimmy Reid the shop steward, Hamish Stuart from AWB, Frankie Miller and Jimmy Dewar (a musician from Stone the Crows and Robin Trower Band).

A motley crew of 6 Glaswegians toasting their mate’s success in a foreign land.

The Glasgow Mafia – 1975

If I’m being completely honest, the parody single was the point when I started to think the Big Yin was overreaching.

A parody single? That was for Benny Hill and Rolf Harris but not for the Big Yin!

I’d also noticed that his accent had started to soften a bit and he was definitely losing some of his tough Glasgow brogue.

Of course, I look back now and understand he was just reaching out to a wider audience, the guy was a welder turned folk singer turned comedian, he had no idea how long this gravy train was going to run for.

He was simply making the most of his opportunities

As Connolly got bigger so did his global reach, hanging out with Hollywood celebs and Royalty and appearing in big budget movies and hosting TV specials.

Billy, Robin Wlliams & Dudley Moore.

There was a point where he seemed to be everyone’s favourite comedian, but he probably wasn’t mine anymore.

I had discovered American stand-up, guys like Richard Pryor, Steve Martin and Bill Hicks, and I liked the cut of their jib.

Richard Pryor doing his thing.

I still liked Billy and I would go the odd gig, but for me comparing his newer, more mainstream material to his earlier stuff was like comparing Stevie Wonder’s I Just Called to Say I Love You to Superstition or Living for the City.

And I guess I’ve just addressed some of my issues right there!

If Stevie can’t maintain unrealistic artistic excellence, who can??

On a subconscious level I also think that for some absurd reason I thought he’d forsaken his Scottish roots, which is illogical, particularly as I moved away from Scotland myself in 1984.

There’s no doubt that Connolly has had a fantastic career, he’s adored by millions and he is and always has been a wonderful ambassador for Scotland.

As he’s got older, I think he’s got back to being a bit more irreverent and a bit more outspoken, and that’s the Billy I adore.

I’ve loved stand-up comedy since I was 15 thanks to the Big Yin, he was my first and he was one of the best.

When all’s said and done, I’m glad I got to discover the Big Yin in February 1974 and share him with the rest of the world.

You’re welcome!

a journey through life with mott the hoople.

(Post by Alan Fairley, of Edinburgh – February 2021)

There can’t be too many people who have set out planning to attend a T Rex concert only to have ended up at a Mott the Hoople gig but that particular quantum leap was one which I experienced as 1971 drew to a close, and one which, in musical terms, proved to be a seminal moment in my life.

Both myself and my long term school friend James Meldrum had recently scaled (metaphorically) the stifling walls of Bearsden Academy to embark on our respective career choices. James had headed off to Portsmouth to join the Royal Navy while I merely made the 15 minute walk over Pendicle Road to start my job in the less exotic environment of Bank of Scotland’s Bearsden Cross branch.

James and I had bonded over the years due to our communal interest in football and music and it was around this time that the latter was, within our respective psyches, beginning to vie for attention with the former. As James’ first shore leave approached, he called me and suggested getting tickets for the T Rex gig at Greens Playhouse which was coinciding with his period of leave. I dutifully hopped on to the No13 bus from Maxwell Avenue to Renfrew Street and legged it along Sauchiehall Street before heading to the oasis-like ticket desk which lurked in the dark corners of House of Clydesdale only to be told that T Rex was completely sold out. Deflated, but determined to avoid a wasted journey, I asked the salesgirl what other shows were on around that time. She handed me a list and three words jumped off the page –  Mott. The. Hoople.

I didn’t know much about them. I’d read in the Melody Maker that they did a great live show and I’d seen them once on Top of the Pops performing their spectacularly unsuccessful debut single Midnight Lady. I duly purchased the tickets and recall vividly the seat numbers -D7 and D8. Four rows from the front, the nearest I’d ever been to the gargantuan Playhouse stage.

The gig itself was amazing. We didn’t know any of the songs but they all sounded great, the fans rushed the stage toward the end and the cops were called in as the management clearly feared a riot. No Neanderthal Rock Steady stewards in these days as Glasgow’s finest restored order –  but only after the band had completed no less than three encores.

From then on, Mott became my favourite band and I saw them again a few months later at the Kelvin Hall. By this time I had acquired my first proper girlfriend, Marion, who I had met at the Christmas dance in Bearsden Burgh Hall (no disco thankfully, just a couple of great live bands one of which featured recently departed Marmalade guitarist Hughie Nicholson).

Pretty, intelligent, sensible and a lover of classical music, Marion, a former Hillhead H.S. pupil was the polar opposite of me and it was probably a serious error of judgement on my part by taking her along to the Kelvin Hall show.  Our contrasting reactions to the entertainment on offer merely accentuated the vast cultural chasm which existed between us and it was no real surprise when she gave me the Spanish Archer not long afterwards.

I addressed the disappointment of being issued with the Red Card from Marion by immersing myself further in music, forsaking the questionable delights of following Partick Thistle by spending my Saturday afternoons browsing through, and usually purchasing, albums from the city centre record shops such as Listen, Bruce’s and 23rd Precinct. I also became a regular patron of Greens Playhouse, checking out any acts I thought would be worth listening to and I scoured the music papers diligently every week to check when my favourite band would again be touring.

Thankfully their next visit to Glasgow coincided with James’ shore leave and this time we had front row tickets – a first for us both. The fourth Mott gig I attended occurred after Greens had morphed into the Apollo following a major aesthetic overhaul, something which had also happened to the band itself. Gone were the five working class lads from Hereford, a quintet to whom their fan base could easily identify. Instead  there was glitter, peroxide, suits and platform boots as the long waited Bowie-influenced chart success of All the Young Dudes had propelled the band into the Glam Rock genre.

(Speaking of genre propulsion, the support act on that occasion was a relatively unknown outfit called Queen who, at the end of the tour, released their debut single Seven Seas of Rye. To quote Charlie Nicholas, ‘the rest is geography.’)

Mott split up shortly after that gig, around the time that I moved to Edinburgh and met the girl of my dreams, rapidly finding myself struck by the triple whammy of marriage, mortgage and children  resulting in my  obsession with music soon giving way to the new responsibilities which altered my outlook on life.

Mott’s lead singer Ian Hunter toured extensively thereafter but I was in my 40s by the time I saw him on stage again. The venue was for the gig was…er…’The Venue’, an imaginatively named building tucked away in a cobbled street within the dark confines of Edinburgh’s Old Town. After the show I hung around, along with a few other ageing fans, at the stage door hoping for a glimpse of, or even a chat with, the man himself.

A burly roadie then appeared and announced that Ian wouldn’t be seeing anyone.

My subsequent anger, fuelled by the casual dismissiveness of my own loyalty, exploded as I responded with-

‘Tell him if it wasn’t for us, he’d be working in a f***ing factory’.

I only realised the misguided nature of my knee jerk reaction when this behemoth of a roadie advanced angrily in my direction but the situation was resolved when Hunter quickly appeared, shaking hands and signing autographs for his small band of admirers.

I saw him in concert maybe a dozen times, in three different countries, after that, the two most memorable being when I was reunited with my old pal James (after a gap of almost 40 years) at Londons’ Shepherds Bush Empire and another in the picturesque enclave of San Juan Capistrano, California, the last gig I attended with my wife Pamela, who passed away three months later.

The subsequent Mott the Hoople reunion shows came and went amidst much hype. I attended the London and Glasgow events but by then they had become akin to a tribute band and I realised that the magic of 1971 had gone forever.

The band, and its members, provided me with some great memories over a period of almost 50 years —-and all because T Rex had been sold out.

As they say in France, ‘je ne regret rien’

no apologies – apollo’s the best.

(Post by Colin ‘Jackie’ Jackson, of Glasgow – February 2021)

Every city in the UK, every city in the world for that matter, will lay claim to having had the best, the most iconic ‘live’ venue of The Seventies.

Every city in the world, except one, however, will be wrong. And that’s because the most revered, the most venerated theatre to play was right here in Glasgow – The Apollo. End of.

Opened in 1927 as the equally famous, Green’s Playhouse it could initially accommodate ten thousand people between the cinema complex and the dancehall which was situated above. From the ‘40s through to the ‘60s the biggest dance / jazz bands around, such as The Joe Loss Orchestra and Ronnie Scott’s Big Band sought bookings there.

As the music scene took on a more rebellious nature with the advent of rock ‘n’ roll, subsequently spawning The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, there was no shortage of controversy. Kids who had been jitterbugging and lindyhopping to their hearts’ content some years ago, were now parents of their own teenagers, and absolutely disapproving of the long haired, dope-smoking,  dishevelled looking ‘stars’ of the day.

The Green’s had played host to most of them by 1972, of course – even Jimi Hendrix had appeared there five years earlier. But the polemic of decency was raised yet another notch in November 1972 when the already notorious Alice Cooper, rocked up for a one-off show.

I was not longed turned fourteen but was already a big fan of the band – ‘Love it to Death’ was the second album I’d ever bought, money being no object now I had a paper round.

This would be my first ever gig. Or rather ‘concert’ as they were quaintly called back then.

Unfortunately, the band’s reputation had made national news in UK and my parents got wind of this ‘perverted, twisted, sick drunkard.’ (I always think Vince Furnier would have been quite chuffed at that description.) Not only was I banned from going to the show, I was put on lockdown for the evening of 10th November.

It was so unfair!

My friend Callum however, had somehow managed to smuggle a small tape recorder into the concert and a couple days later let me borrow the recording. The sound quality was totally pants, but at least I felt in some small way, that I’d experienced the show.

It would be another four months before I was allowed to my first gig. Rory Gallagher. He seemed like a nice Irish lad and didn’t chop off dolls heads and dance with pythons, so my folks were ok with that.

I just had to hope my ticket allocation was successful. Having seen the concert advertised in in Sounds music paper, I hand wrote my letter to the Box Office of Green’s, asked my Dad to write a cheque for£3.30, the cost of three tickets (additional ones for pals) and bought two first class stamps – one for the required S.A.E. (stamped addressed envelope) which would ultimately spill forth the requested tickets or my Dad’s uncashed cheque.

(Ya dancer! I was successful as it happens.)

Of course there was always an alternative to the hassle of a postal application – you could turn up in person at the theatre and pay cash. Dependent on the band you wanted to see, this could be quite straightforward. But for the likes of The Faces, Status Quo  and The Stones, the queue would start at least the day before the Box Office opened and wind its way down Renfield Street and through the lane.

There was no shelter either. If it rained, you got soaked. And I can tell you, there’s nothing more uncomfortable than walking around in loons that have initially become wet at the bottom hem, but the damp patches permeate the denim material, working its way up to your knees, and beyond.

Queuing though was an experience you really had to, erm, experience. Nobody had smart phones to occupy them of course, and so many friendships were formed and dates arranged. Most folk brought a wee ‘kerry-oot,’ and the beers and fortified wine were liberally shared around; which then inevitably led to the question of toilets, or lack of, and ultimately the occasional fight.

Yup – a microcosm of Glasgow life, right there. In one street.

So why do I steadfastly maintain the Apollo (it changed hands from the Green’s in September 1973) was THE best venue of the decade? Well, the glowing feedback from the bands and artists themselves cannot be ignored – if you were liked, you were LOVED. If you sucked, you’d best keep the tour bus engine running. You knew where you stood with a Glasgow audience!

(I only saw one band get real pelters from the crowd. Rather surprisingly, it was Badfinger. I still like the band’s music to this day, but the night of The Apollo, I think the gods were against them as well as the crowd. The sound was poor; their voices decidedly ropey and just the ‘feel’ of their set was sub standard. They took a good deal of abuse, it has to be said and I truly felt for them.)

Some of the tickets I managed to retain.

Other aspects to relish of this incredible venue were the distinctive aroma (!!) the battered seats; the bouncers, who by their reputation alone generally kept everyone safe – though I think they met their match the night The Clash played in July 1978 …. and apparently when an army of teenybop David Soul fans got hold of them!

There was the famous bouncy balcony (actually built that way intentionally, I believe) which I witnessed first hand, being in the front row for a legendary Christmas show in 1975 by The Sensational Alex Harvey Band. If I was scared witless in the balcony, I wonder how the poor souls in the stalls below felt?

And then there was the incredibly high stage area. This was terrific for wee short-arses like myself in the Stalls. For although the bouncers were quick to enforce the ‘no standing’ rule on those by the aisles, they couldn’t reach those in the centre so easily. They escaped a battering and felt empowered to stand on the seats as they pleased. But due to the stage height, my view was not much impaired.

However, the experienced Apollo gig goer soon realised that it was best NOT to get seats in the first few rows if you wanted to see not only the band frontman, but the band itself, who were set further  back and consequently out of sight.

Artists such as, Status Quo; AC/DC; Rush; Roxy Music and King Crimson are amongst the many that recorded ‘live’ albums at The Apollo They were quick to realise that such enthusiastic crowds on their records could only further enhance their reputation as live acts. They could have chosen any theatre in any country, but they chose Glasgow.

Why? Because our mantra is ‘People Make Glasgow.’

People made The Apollo, too.

And my top three Apollo shows? I’d be tempted to say three of the five Rory Gallagher gigs I attended. But I’ll go for:
1) Rory Gallagher – March 1973 – my first gig.
2) SAHB – December 1975 – widely acknowledged as one of the band’s
best ever shows.
3) I should say Queen – but Lynyrd Skynyrd tips it just for the incredible
atmosphere and the fact they had Steve Gibbons Band supporting.

If you’d like to share accounts of your favourite Apollo shows, either leave a Comment below, or contact us at submissions70s@gmail.com