Sunday, August 5, 2012

40 Year Itch: The London Rock N Roll Show

This week Wembley Stadium is the site of  Olympic soccer action but 40 years ago the former Wembley Stadium played host to its first ever concert, The London Rock N Roll Show.

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   The concert featured some of the greatest rock n roll acts of the 1950's: Bo Diddley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Bill Haley and the Comets and Chuck Berry. They were celebrating a revival in interest that began with their 1969 Madison Square Garden concert

The Teddy Boys were out in abundance with their slicked back hair and colorful suits. The rockers showed up in black leathers. They were there to see the old timers and booed the other acts like Screaming Lord Sutch ( written about last week), The MC5, Gary Glitter and Roy Wood's brand new band Wizzard.

Rolling Stone's Julian Moseley reported The MC5 were met with "a hail of Coke cans and wine bottles from the crowd of 50,000. Real 1957 stuff. With Teds and Rockers you either play it their way or not at all".

Also there, future rock impresario Malcolm McLaren seen in the above clip trying to sell clothes and Mick Jagger who did not perform but always offered kind words about idols like Little Richard:

"I had heard so much about the audience reaction that I thought there must be some exaggeration. But it was all true. He drove the whole house into a complete frenzy. There's no single phrase to describe his hold on the audience. I couldn't believe the power of Little Richard on stage. He was amazing. Chuck Berry is my favorite, along with Bo (Diddley), but nobody could beat Little Richard's stage act. Little Richard is the originator and my first idol."

Although the concert, four years in the planning, did not do as well as promoters hoped, Wembley Stadium would host many more concerts in the years to come-- by artists like Pink Floyd, Michael Jackson (15 times) and the entire British leg of Live Aid in 1985.

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