beat scene scotland


Kinks documentary

Most town folk in the north of Scotland tend to be unimpressed with celebrity status though appreciate music and entertainment. Even today, artist and entertainers who live in rural parts of the country, enjoy privacy as they move freely in a perspective town or village. Of course, during the BEAT era if you were a singer/musician that a teenager could relate to, the repercussions could be a nuisance as it was for the Kinks. Of course, there were opportunities to appreciate the countryside as bands did Mr. Bonici’s circuit between Nairn and Aberdeen.

1960s in the north of Scotland were innocent times though not without incident. When Gene Vincent performed at a venue in NE Scotland, a crowd of “rockers” created a riot which wrecked furnishings in one of the dance halls. Promoter Albert Bonici was clued up on the importance of security at his events especially after Gene Vincent’s tours of Scotland – 1960 through ’61 including a gig at Two Red Shoes that November.  The singer was promoted by Larry Parnes.

When American rock-n-roll star made appearances in Scotland and a riot occurred.  Note: Vincent UK tours were riddled with problems including a car crash that killed Eddie Cochran. [from:
In May 1967, British magazine Nova, wrote an article about re-channeling violence and sited a photograph of The Move “smashing things” [both they and The Who destroyed their instruments on stage]The Move 05-1967 The Move [1967] who performed a handful of gigs in Scotland in ’67-69, performed at University of Aberdeen January 20, 1967.

I Can Hear The Grass Grow [1967}
Most incidences were caused by teenagers stopping off at a local pub before attending a dance or music event, being unruly and put out though the ticket takers screened those wanting entry. Those  disruptive were ejected by the bouncers and it would sometimes end in a fist fight in the street between a couple of boys when there was a girl involved.

Though promoter Bonici booked hundreds of beat, jazz, soul, and folk acts in Scotland throughout the ’60s and ’70s, incidents were minimal when popular musicians and entertainers came to town. Besides gang violence that usually entailed a fist fight outside the halls, there was only one serious stabbing that took place during a show over the years [which happened outside of Nairn’s Ballerina Ballroom].

Many performers like Dusty Springfield, The Moody Blues, and The Hollies appreciated their reception in Elgin and the other halls in north-east Scotland, however, it wasn’t always to the expectation of visiting bands.

In Elgin’s Two Red Shoes, most dissatisfaction from beat performers was because of the size of the hall as young people squeezed in to see local and touring musicians perform. The hall which had to accommodate an alley “closie” between structures made for an odd-shaped dance floor with the stage obstructed by a section of the hall. Ringo Starr complained of the odd-shaped dance floor at the popular TRS ballroom nick-named “boots” by the locals. “It was an L-shaped room and we were at the wrong end”. He was also bothered by young people laughing and speaking during the show. Ringo [aka Rich Starkey] described them as country folk in wellies.  Former colleague with  LCB Agency, John Ruggeri, wrote: “The hall was not L shaped but had a slightly longer wall on one side, you could see the stage in all areas although you may not have been able to see the whole stage if you were standing in the far left hand corner when facing the stage, the “bar” which we called the buffet was upstairs, I think Ringo’s memory is somewhat blurred or mixing the shoes up with another venue they played, as I don’t think anyone was wearing wellies.” Note: Some came in with wellies with snow on the ground, but there was a dress code that included neat shoes and guys wearing ties [though many would take them off once on the dance floor].

According to a couple of stories related to the tour, the lads came into town looking “scruffy” being unshaven with hair styles town folk weren’t accustomed to. I am told that when they arrived for their very first gig with Ringo, they sat in a corner “snug” of the Central cafe in Elgin [now called “Midas”] drinking water and juice for a couple of hours before being asked to leave.  The story goes that the manager decided that they looked like homosexuals [which was taboo back then] and threw them out of the establishment. I doubt that it would have deterred or discouraged the Liverpool lads who keep their wits and a sense of humour about them. The band had encountered mixed reaction from the locals over a course of the Beatles 5 day tour in January 1963. In a small venue in Dingwall the attendance was poor though they gained fans and had made an impression with the last gig in Aberdeen. Malcolm Strachan who had watched The Beatles on “a tea time show from Granada Television” described his encounter with the band at the Aberdeen concert for a new Beatles book and featured at Another related post:

There was also the time when those who came to see the band “THEM” got carried away when Van Morrison impressed the audience. Though he lost cufflinks in an incident at the Two Red Shoes, he remembers his early tour that ended in Aberdeen fondly:

The Kinks were unhappy after they were rushed at Elgin’s Town Hall complaining about having to stay inside their hotel room:

The Who’s drummer 86ed: One who was a teenager hanging out in the Park Cafe before their gig remembers when they walked through the door of the popular hang out. “Keith Moon came over and sat on my knee”. The presence of the boys made for good laughs in the cafe until Keith pulled a “stick bomb” from his pocket and tossed it. He may have been the only musician thrown out of the Park Cafe.

Eric Clapton left the Yardbirds in July 1967 after a bad night at the Two Red Shoes Ballroom. Eric Clapton said that their Elgin gig was the “last time I played with the Yardbirds and it was rough. They just came to fight… not to watch us and they’d boo you off stage. It upsets me very much when you get that kind of audience.”

Pink Floyd  reception in Elgin was mixed. There style was new to the northern parts of the UK and certainly in the north of Scotland:Terrible stage – we’re going to give up ballroom gigs… We’ve never played on a smaller stage” but they also conceded that “some actually danced while we played”. “The audience was very cool to us”… “hey, what was that guy saying, ‘do ye ken I could sing better in ma wee bath'”.

Another blogger notes on the beat scene in the north of Scotland




My research began in 2007 as a visitor to the north of Scotland. Growing up a few miles from San Francisco, I would frequent the active music scene on weekends besides being a fan of British BEAT music and never missing Shindig! on television. When first visiting the small community of Elgin in 2007, I was surprise to learn how the Beatles and many other vocalist and musicians came to perform during the early days of their careers. In the early 1950s, Albert Bonici began promoting dances though it had been an ambition since his teenage years. When he and Henry Robertson co-organized a string of jazz dances in the north Scotland, they could not have predicted the enormous success of the venture. Albert Bonici became one of the most respected promoters in the UK having arranged a high volumn of music venues throughout the north of Scotland which delighted music lovers during the height of the jazz and beat music era. Whilst known for booking the Beatles at the beginning of their 1963 tours, Albert Bonici brought most of the top British acts to north-east Scotland besides working with Scottish musicians to boost their careers. SCOTBEAT was created to share a bit of history about the BEAT years in Scotland and also a tribute to a man with a vision who, with the help of his family and staff, created a happening that is still fondly remembered by those who attended dances and concerts. Albert A Bonici hosted many up and coming bands who went on to gain international acclaim for their contributions. Besides other local resources and interviews, SCOTBEAT presents exclusive photos, adverts, and documents from the A Bonici Archives [circa 1960s]. Unless otherwise agreed, materials are not to be used for financial gain and ask that you respect the terms below. Materials presented are not to be used for financial gain without consent. © 2014-2019 All rights reserved. No part of this web site may be copied, redistributed, broadcast or published in any form without crediting this blog and/or copyright websites mentioned. All correspondence, flyers, programs, and photos from the Bonici Archives are not to appear in print other than through the propietor of SCOTBEAT. Use of the site signifies your agreement to all of these terms without condition. Please reference when sharing materials found here as the site is continuously updated to present the subject matter accurately and as a historical resource. Thank you.

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in 1960's pop music

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: