MANY of my happiest memories as a teenager were spent at the Gaumont in Bradford. Leading bands and singers touring the country performed there. In the early sixties my favourites were the Everly Brothers, Del Shannon, and Billy Fury. I saw them all at the Gaumont.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Dave's signed photo of Billy Fury Dave's signed photo of Billy Fury

Every week I would buy the NME (New Musical Express) and bring it to school (Ilkley Secondary Modern). I’d spread it out on a desk at dinner time and scour the pages looking to see who was touring and if they were coming to the Gaumont, or the Odeon in Leeds. I’d sometimes organise the purchase of tickets for me and my school pals. Often I went with my girlfriend, Jen Oliver - the Gaumont was a great venue for courting couples.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: A Gaumont poster. The Everly Brothers were among Dave's favourites A Gaumont poster. The Everly Brothers were among Dave's favourites

I first saw Billy Fury in Great Yarmouth in the summer of 1962. I had gone on holiday with John Ellis and his family, I knew from reading the NME that Billy Fury and Marty Wilde were playing the Windmill Theatre for the season. We longed to see the show, and we booked, four times. We’d sit in the coffee bar next to the theatre during the day and look on in awe at the Tornadoes chatting and planning their set. They backed Billy Fury. Peter Jay and the Jaywalkers supported the other singers, and they often popped in. We made contacts which resulted in us meeting Billy Fury. He was very shy for such a famous pop singer, and very handsome with his distinctive hairstyle. We had a chat and he signed autographs. The theatre manager even invited us to Billy’s party, but John’s dad wouldn’t let us go, because he said there would be “funny goings on”. And there were, because Karl Denver was badly hurt in a car crash coming away from the party. We regretted not being there but looking back Mr Ellis was right.

When we saw Billy Fury was coming to the Gaumont on October 23, 1962, we were so excited. I still have the programme to go with the memories. Also on the bill were Marty Wilde, Jimmy Justice, Mark Wynter, Karl Denver, Joe Brown, Mike Sarne, the Tornados, and Peter Jay and the Jaywalkers. I was saddened when Billy died. If ever I’m in Liverpool I visit his memorial statue and think back to the times I saw him. It’s a reminder that there was talent coming out of Liverpool before the Beatles.

The same year I saw the Everly Brothers at the Gaumont. I still remember how brilliant they were, how their close harmonies sent tingles up the spine. On the same bill were Bo Diddley and Little Richard. Both had a profound influence on sixties bands but were in the twilight of their careers. I remember Little Richard taking off his sweaty shirt and throwing it into the audience. I think it was still lying in the aisles at the end of the show.

At the bottom of the bill was a band I’d never heard of, but I said at school next day, if they ever came around again, I’d go and see them, and encouraged others to do likewise. They played was a Chuck Berry song, Come On, which they were to record as their first single. Some journalists gave them two years at the most, but I thought they were great. The Rolling Stones are about to celebrate 60 years in showbusiness, and I saw them first at the Gaumont. I saw them several times after that.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Dave saw the Rolling Stones at the Gaumont - and raved about them at school next day Dave saw the Rolling Stones at the Gaumont - and raved about them at school next day

The first record I bought was Runaway by Del Shannon. I’d heard it on Radio Luxembourg. I went to Vallances in Otley, and carefully looked after it on the Ledgards bus back home to Burley. The only problem was I didn’t have a record player, so I took it round to friends’ houses, to play it on theirs. I persuaded my mum and dad to buy a record player which my brother and I gazed at in Sonny Slater’s electrical shop window. It was an AER Monarch, red and cream and cost 21 guineas on hire purchase. And so Runaway was played endlessly and drove my dad up the wall. It remained the only record we had until it was joined by the Everly Brothers’ Temptation and John Leyton’s Johnny Remember Me.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Dave saw John Leyton who had a hit with Johnny Remember Me Dave saw John Leyton who had a hit with Johnny Remember Me

I saw Del Shannon five times, including the show at Victoria Theatre, Halifax, which turned out to be one of his last in England. A few weeks later he died by suicide. In that same show was Gerry and the Pacemakers, who coincidentally were on the bill at the Gaumont show. I went to see John Leyton who had a No.1 hit with Johnny Remember Me. Mike Sarne was supposed to be in the show, but had been taken ill, the announcer said disappointed fans could go to the box office and get their money back. Nobody moved, especially when it was announced that he’d be replaced for three nights by the Four Seasons. What an incredible replacement. The audience was overjoyed!

Other memorable shows were Dion and Del Shannon in 1962 with the Allisons and Joe Brown; Bobby Vee and the Crickets, November 7, 1962; Cliff and the Shadows, December 15, 1962; Brian Hyland and Little Eva, March 2, 1963; Roy Orbison, April 8, 1966. Package tours were popular. Larry Parnes was organiser of some of the best. On March 22, 1963, his Lucky Stars show came to the Gaumont. On the bill were Daryl Quist, Rolf Harris, Susan Maughan, Shane Fenton and the Fentones, Jess Conrad, Eden Kane, the Tornados, Peter Jay and the Jaywalkers, and Joe Brown.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Programme with line-up including Joe Brown and the BruvversProgramme with line-up including Joe Brown and the Bruvvers

The Beatles appeared in one of their first tours at the Gaumont, with Helen Shapiro on February 2, 1963. It’s another reminder of the Gaumont’s reputation for giving an opportunity to rising stars, as well as established, international performers. Like many theatres in the early sixties, it gave a chance for teenagers to watch a Package Show and see their favourite recording artists.

l People with memories, photographs and memorabilia from Bradford’s former Odeon building are invited to contribute to the Bringing the Beat Back to Bradford exhibition at the Impressions Gallery in City Park opening on July 23 this summer.

To get involved go to impressions-gallery. com/ BringingTheBeatBack, or email