Tony’s ready to rock again with Frecheville reunion

dimon1'Tony Smith, outside the former home of the 1960's R & B club at Frecheville Community Centre, Churchdale Road, Frecheville, Sheffield. Thursday 07 February 2002.

dimon1'Tony Smith, outside the former home of the 1960's R & B club at Frecheville Community Centre, Churchdale Road, Frecheville, Sheffield. Thursday 07 February 2002.

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He’ll probably always be known as the man who turned down The Beatles but Tony Smith brought plenty more stars to Frecheville in the 1960s.

He’s back there this month with a reunion event.

Pete Best with The Beatles

Pete Best with The Beatles

As a teenager, Tony found himself booking bands and playing records at Frecheville Community Centre.

Tony, who now lives in Kimberworth, Rotherham, originally came from Frecheville and lived in Thornbridge Drive.

He ran a rock club on Tuesday and Saturday nights from 1962 to 67.

He remembers: “We had all the big groups. It was done in 1962 to raise money for the old people in Frecheville Community Centre.

“We just started doing discos, then we formed a committee and I was the chairman.

“All of a sudden we found a couple of groups from Merseyside and we went and started to book The Merseybeats, Wayne Fontana and all the groups.”

Tony, who at one time worked at Sexy Rexy’s boutique, said that he and a friend used to go to Liverpool to scout out new bands.

“We went to The Cavern at dinnertime, where they had some groups on, then up to the Mardi Gras at night.

“We saw all the lot, including The Beatles when Cilla Black was working in the cloakroom.

“It really was magical. I still love it and still do it and want to do it. It’s great to do that at our age. I’m 71.

“Most that come came to the dances in the 60s.”

Tony said: “I turned The Beatles down for £65 in 1963 and Peter Stringfellow booked them for the Black Cat a fortnight later.

“The first time I had Rod Stewart was as part of Long John Baldry and his Hoochie Coochie Men.

“He asked, ‘is it okay if this guy sings?’ and I said, ‘yes, if he’s alright’.

“Then we had Rod Stewarts and the Secret Agents twice for £50.

“We also had the Spencer Davis Group with Steve Winwood as a 16-year-old and The Birds with Ronnie Wood in June 1965.

“The advert in The Star misspelled their name as The Byrds and Pete Fella came up to the door and said, ‘how the hell have you got The Byrds?’ It was quite funny.”

Other bands that Tony booked included Dave Berry and Joe Cocker 12 times each, The Hollies, Shane Fenton and the Fentones, fronted by the singer who later became Alvin Stardust, the Rocking Berries, Rory Storm and the Hurricanes with Ringo Starr, Pete Best and the All-Stars and Nashville Teens.

One night Screaming Lord Sutch, always a handful, nearly set fire to the curtains.

Tony said: “We had some great times. Terry Sylvester from The Hollies used to go out the back serenading girls around the Frecheville pond!”

Tony has run many other reunions over the years, starting in 2000 in the original venue with Dave Berry and the Cruisers. Then he moved to slightly bigger venues nearby and now is back at the community centre where it all began.

The event takes place at the centre on Churchdale Road, Frecheville on Saturday, November 14 from 7.30pm to 11.30pm. Appearing on the night are the Mersey Legends, formerly known as the Merseybeat Legends, and Barnsley band Three Chord Trick.

Tickets are £12 each and they are available from Tony by calling 01709 556159.

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