Remembering when first major rock and roll tour came to Sheffield

A show that re-wrote music history at Sheffield Gaumont at the dawn of the sixties is brought back to life next month.

Friday, 12th November 2021, 12:45 pm
Updated Friday, 12th November 2021, 12:45 pm

Vince Eager – the UK-born star that performed on the bill with Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent on what’s now seen as the country’s first ever rock’n’roll package tour – is the star guest for the launch party of a book that chronicles the show like never before.

‘Eddie Cochran: A Fast Moving Beat Show – The Story of the Final, Fatal UK Tour’ was launched in lockdown to huge critical acclaim and on Thursday, December 2nd, it finally gets its launch party.

Many people say it took the rise of the Beatles to put the ‘swinging’ into the sixties.

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Meeting fans.

But Adrian McKenna, with the help of the book’s co-author John Firminger, would argue the genie was out of the bottle years before the Fab Four took the decade by storm.

They’d suggest things were already well and truly swinging by the spring of 1960 when the ‘Fast Moving Beat Show’ arrived to a sold-out Sheffield Gaumont on February 7th.

If you’d have taken any notice of the British press reviews you’d have thought the tour was a total disaster. But the British youth knew better than to take any notice of reports compiled by writers totally out of step with what was going on.

The tour headlined by Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent was a rare chance for British audiences to get up close and personal with major Stateside names.

Adrian McKenna and John Firminger signing copies of their book about roll n role star Eddie Cochran, Sheffield, United Kingdom, 30th May 2021. Photo by Glenn Ashley.

Though the rock’n’roll sounds on offer were born out of the fifties – the promoters were confident that the headliners and an ever changing roster of support acts had the pulling power to make the tour a success.

The British press weren’t quite so sure though. Yorkshire Post described the tour Cochran/Vincent tour as "a prolonged assault on the eardrums". The Leicester Mercury wasn’t much better and said: " Why do these idiotic teenagers behave in such a ridiculous fashion?"

Whilst the critics were very much at odds with the performances the fans lapped it up

Adrian McKenna said: “This was the first all-rock n roll package tour in the UK. Previous visiting rock acts like the Crickets were headliners on bills with comedians, crooners and big bands and were basically novelty billing on a tour of variety acts.

Eddie Cochran (front right) meets fans from The Star’s Teenage Club with Gene Vincent (front middle) and Vince Eager (front left).

“The Sheffield Gaumont date had the biggest cast of stars on any of the one-night shows. Sheffield was absolutely unique in that it was a one-off show with the large cast and the Wildcats as backing musicians.”

A special afternoon party was held by The Star's Teenage Club so the fans could meet Eddie, Gene, Vince and other stars on the show.

John Firminger said the Gaumont performance confirmed who was the star of the event: “The feedback from fans who saw the show was that Eddie's performance which was truly dynamic with his great guitar playing and he also introduced the music of Ray Charles to Britain with a couple of the songs he performed, ‘What'd I Say’ and ‘Hallelujah I Love Her So’.”

Within a few weeks it was all over. Eddie Cochran tragically died in a car crash after the last date of the tour.

Poster for next month’s book launch event.

The driver lost control in Chippenham and the American star died a few hours later of his injuries.

The launch event for ‘Eddie Cochran: A Fast Moving Beat Show – The Story of the Final, Fatal UK Tour’ is set to be held at Hilltop Sports and Social Club, Dronfield S18 1UQ. The event includes live band ‘Something Else’ performing rock’n’roll classics, Vince Eager and other guests. Admission is £4 guests/ £3 club members. Tables can be reserved by calling 0777 933 0825.

Advert for the show.
Vince Eager – star guest at the book launch next month in Dronfield.