I never dreamed I would meet the pop stars I used to dance to

Hello again and I hope you are surviving the heat. I am afraid it is too much of a good thing although I still sit in my garden wearing my pith helmet and with a refreshing vodka and slimline tonic.

I was sad to read the death of 1960s pop star Wayne Fontana, who I saw in concert several times and who in later life was a character. I especially liked his 1967 hit Pamela Pamela.

I love the reunion concerts that tour around with the original 1960s pop stars who once could fill a stadium . Okay the audiences usually comprise of, shall we say, mature-aged people like myself but we know how to have a good time rocking or in my case swaying in the aisles.

Gone are the days when we would rip up cinema seats to the beat of Rock Around The Clock or head off to Brighton on our motor bikes or scooters for a rumble. To think today the teenagers think they are hip to the beat wearing hoodies whereas their grandad might have sported winkle pickers, brothel creepers or a sharp suit. When you look at an older person, remember: they were your age once.

I have met many pop stars of yesteryear over the decades. Sadly, some have now gone, like Billy Fury and Adam Faith. When I chatted to Adam he told me that he held onto his film union ticket after he had his first hit in case it only lasted a couple of years. He started off working in a Borehamwood film studio.

Cliff Richard got his first big break appearing in a drama movie called Serious Charge in the late 1950s where he got the chance to sing what would become his first big hit. Again it was in Borehamwood, at the old MGM Studios.

I remember watching his Elstree Studios films like Summer Holiday and The Young Ones, never dreaming that one day I would be hosting and interviewing Cliff at his plaque unveiling at the Studio in 2008. What were the odds of that happening!

I also recall going to get the autographs of the Baron Knights when they opened our local record store. In recent years I have been a friend of Jess Conrad, who never ages and likes a mention.

In 1963 the Beatles came to Borehamwood to guest star in a Morecambe and Wise show recorded at ATV in Borehamwood. I was there to get their autographs. Fast forward about 20 years and I heard that Paul McCartney was making a movie called Give My Regards To Broad Street, or something like that.

At the time we had a young acting group called The Elstree Youth Theatre, run wonderfully by Alan Stronach and Brian Burton. The former was a very popular teacher at Hillside School and the latter a press officer for the likes of Rank and Disney. They were staging a musical called John, Paul, George, Ringo… and Bert.

Anyway I contacted the producer of the film. Let us just say it took a bit of effort but I was allowed to take the four lads playing the Beatles to meet Paul and Linda in his dressing room. What a lovely guy. Photos were taken and I had to return the next day to see what shots he approved, but only on the condition they could only appear in the then Borehamwood Times. We all had to sign the agreement. Alas I cannot remember where the photo is in my archive or I would share it with you.

I last met Paul when he was rehearsing a world tour gig on the soon to be demolished stage six at Elstree. Well, that is far too much name dropping this week but for us old timers let us twist again or at least do the mashed potato to show we know be there or be square.

  • Paul Welsh MBE is a Borehamwood writer and historian of Elstree Studios

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