As an alternative to my usual wittering, I’m handing over this column to Matt Allan, one of the many readers who were moved to write in response to our recent cover story on The Byrds, a band for whom Uncut readers clearly have an uncommon affection.
Every other email I’ve received over the last few weeks seems to have been about them, how great they were and what their music has meant to you over the years. The following letter arrived from Matt a little too late for inclusion in this month’s Feedback, but Matt had such a good story to tell, I thought I’d let him tell it here.
Take it away, Matt.
“I have been a Byrds fan since I was 14, discovered them in 1967 and have loved them ever since. I was born and brought up in Grangemouth, a grey, little industrial town in central Scotland and had never been to a ‘proper’ gig before when The Byrds announced a tour of Britain in 1971. The nearest they were coming to me was Newcastle City Hall, on May 7, 1971. That will do for me, I thought, and my mate and I got tickets and set off on a big adventure. We arrived in Newcastle at around lunchtime and quickly found the City Hall venue.
“As we arrived, we found the roadies taking all the gear in the stage door and asked if they wanted a hand. To our delight they said yes and we started lugging the gear in. Once it was all in, we hung around and no-one told us to leave. A short while later, The Byrds arrived – Roger McGuinn, Clarence White, Gene Parsons and Skip Battin.
“I was absolutely gobsmacked. There was my favourite band right in front of me. We watched as they ran through a quick soundcheck and then disappeared backstage. I plucked up the courage to ask someone where they were and was directed to the dressing rooms, where I got all four Byrds to sign my programme.
“Eventually someone said we could sit on the stage behind the band and watch the show. There were various other friends and hangers-on there also. It was amazing watching the show from this vantage point. Rita Coolidge was the support act, I remember, and I loved the show, I felt like I was part of the live side of (Untitled), as that was the set they were doing at that time – fantastic memory.
“I’ve still got the signed programme in a frame on my wall together with the unused ticket for the show!
“We missed the last train back to Scotland and ended up sleeping on the platform at Newcastle station but I didn’t care. In July of that year I moved to London and have been here ever since. I have since seen McGuinn and Gene Parsons solo and also attended the McGuinn, Hillman & Clark show at Hammersmith (where I, and many others, got a full refund as the show was so short and not very good!) but nothing will top Newcastle 1971.”
Enjoy the issue!
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