In the period up to the 50th anniversary in November of the Starlight Rooms opening at the Gliderdrome Dave Peatling looks at some of the top names who have appeared at the venue...
Arguably the show which drew most fans was the second visit of Marc Bolan and T-Rex on February 24, 1973.
Coaches arrived from all over the country and ATV cameras were also there, in addition to no fewer than 29 reporters from various papers. A crowd estimated at just over 4,000 was said to have crammed into the venue and Sydney Malkinson commented it was “one of the biggest nights we’ve ever had.”
It was the band’s first British gig for several months and Bolan told The Standard they chose the Glider because they enjoyed their first visit a year earlier and it was big enough for the TV cameras.
The show drew the attention of national pop magazines; one of them claimed 6,500 had attended the Otis Redding show, 5,000 had been to see Stevie Wonder and 6,000 for this T-Rex gig.
Within a month local magistrates had put a ceiling of 3,100 fans at any show in the future but later reports stated these attendances were ‘complete guesswork,’ although it was admitted just over 5,000 were at the T-Rex show. Incidentally the first T-Rex appearance cost 50p admittance although the price went up to 60p for the second!
It seems impossible these days to imagine the huge crowds the venue attracted in its glory days but many people will remember the Market Place being full of buses and cars from all over the country for many of the bigger names.
Some of the acts attracted fans from as far away as Bristol and Newcastle and it was not unusual to see people from Nottingham and Leicester on a regular basis.