Mega Groups Playing In A Market Town - a Memory of Whitchurch.

Firstly let be be clear I've never visited Whitchurch Shropshire. I was party to a phenomenon which took place there in the 1960s/70s.
As a young journalist on several Popular Music Magazines, I became aware of major Agents in New York, Detroit and London making great efforts to ensure their artists appeared at Whitchurch Town Hall, later known as Civic Centre. I marvelled at how a small town Council could possibly organise such events in a community of 7,000, that Cities such as Birmingham, Bristol, Nottingham, couldn't conceive of. A list of artists appearing at Whitchurch reads more like Los Vegas today, than a small town in England's least populous County. Only going to your local newspaper list can one possibly understand the scale that a Local Council operated at.Obviously the Beatles & most of the Liverpool giants appeared there, also the Manchester mega groups including the Hollies, cities in proximity to Whitchurch, That doesn't account for Bill Haley & the Comets, Chuck Berry Buddy Holly. The WHO, FleetwoodMac, Status Quo & almost every major British Group. Of all the surprises were major Soul Bands, I believe every single Motown artist without exception, from the Four Tops to Jimmy Ruffin, The Supremes to Edwin Star. Also Soul icons such as the Drifters, Sam & Dave, Little Richard, Sam Cook to name a few. In fact one wag once said the only Big Star not to play Whitchucrh was Elvis & had he ever toured the UK, he too would have had to play Whitchurch to ensure he had really done Britain. I plan to visit Whitchurch Heritage Centre, its on my bucket list, maybe see ephemera, not available elsewhere, of this phenomena in the UK, possible unique anywhere in the world.
I've spoken to someone from Whitchurch connected with Canal Boats, she knew nothing of the big groups, all she knew of were Northern Soul all-nighter's that followed the Whitchurch Halcyon Days. I appreciate the Polytechnic culture of Northern soul, that was promoted in village halls as well as many market Towns from Wigan to Hanley. The phenomenon of Whitchurch was entirely different.

Mel Coombs MBA, BSc Hons

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