Did you see legendary rock band The Who play The Top Hat Ballroom in Lisburn in 1966?
If so, a Manchester-based author who is writing a book about the group would like to hear from you.
The Who – Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, John Entwistle and Keith Moon – were famed for smashing guitars and drum kits and for headline grabbing off stage antics that included wrecking hotel rooms and crashing a Rolls Royce into a swimming pool.
And Richard Houghton is trying to trace fans that may have witnessed their show at Bow Street’s ‘ballroom of romance’ - Lisburn’s top entertainment venue until it was destroyed by a terrorist bomb in the early 1970s - in 1966 to help him write a ‘people’s history’ of the group.
Richard said: “The Who have been performing for over 50 years and lots of books have been written about them. But I want to tell their story in the words of the people who saw The Who when they were starting out and use those teenage memories to help me capture a little piece of music history.”
The 56-year-old, who has already written books about The Beatles and the Rolling Stones, continued: “The Who played The Top Hat in May 1966, when they had had four hit singles and were well established as a ‘must see’ live act, famed for smashing their instruments on stage, the number of loudspeakers they used and the volume of their performances.
“When they played the Top Hat, The Who were just emerging from a legal dispute about who had the right to put out their records. The frustration at not being able to release records for much of 1966 meant that their already incendiary live performances were even more explosive, as performing on stage was their only creative outlet at the time.
“Whilst this might have been their only appearance in Lisburn, fans who witnessed that show can say that they saw one of the biggest live draws in the world at the height of their powers as, less than 12 months later, they were playing the Monterey Festival.”
The Who started out as a gritty R&B band from London but have evolved into one of the most enduring live acts in the world thanks to their famed rock opera Tommy, about a deaf, dumb and blind boy who is cured of his ailments by playing pinball, and hits such as My Generation, Won’t Get Fooled Again and Pinball Wizard.
They have performed more than 1,000 shows and Richard is calling on fans of the band to help him build up a picture of the group’s evolution as a live act.
He added: “I’m hoping some Ulster Star readers may have witnessed one or more of these shows or another concert by The Who and, if they did, I’m really interested to hear from them. People who were teenagers in the ‘60s will have some great memories of these evenings which I’d like to capture in order to preserve the history of a golden age of pop.”
Richard can be contacted via email - firstname.lastname@example.org - or by writing to: 1 Totnes Road, Manchester, M21 8XF.