Scotsman 200: A nation of music lovers

Music and beer lovers enjoy the first ever 'T in the Park' festival, at Strathclyde Country Park, Glasgow, August 1994.'''Picture: The Library for Edinburgh Eye.
Music and beer lovers enjoy the first ever 'T in the Park' festival, at Strathclyde Country Park, Glasgow, August 1994.'''Picture: The Library for Edinburgh Eye.
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To mark the 200th anniversary of The Scotsman, we are dipping into our archives to bring you a selection of some of the biggest stories of the last two centuries. This month we have recalled Scotland’s arts scene, reproducing The Scotsman’s original coverage of many of the most memorable events from the stage and screen to exhibitions, concerts and Edinburgh’s festivals. Today pop and jazz music takes centre stage as we look back at some of the highlights from the Beatles in Edinburgh and Glasgow to the first T in the Park festival in 1994.

3 March, 1960

Screaming teenagers welcome Presley

Screaming teenagers last night welcomed American rock ‘n’ roll singer, Elvis Presley, at the United States Air Force base at Prestwick, when the plane taking him from Germany to Newfoundland made a refuelling stop. Presley has completed a two-year spell of military duty with the U.S. Army.

Tuesday, 4 September, 1962

Jazz outdoes folk song

Odd mixture at ice-rink

“Plain song and all that Jazz” survived a tepid opening at the Murrayfield Ice Rink last night to meet the approval of a large audience which responded rightly to a programme of sophisticated jazz music and lusty singing of folk-song.

At first the programme seemed likely to sink through its contradictions – intimate folk-singing in the great areas of the ice rink, combined with a programme of jazz.

While the cool, clear folk-singing of Carolyn Hester made a highly favourable impression, it was not until the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem set about a number of folk ballads in a driving, robust style and strong volume that the lighter side of the programme made its mark.

The jazz from the Al Fairweather-Sandy Brown All Stars, which had seemed somewhat sophisticated and academic, really began to catch hold with “Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting.”

Possibly the least successful of all the performers were Rory and Alex McEwen themselves. Their numbers were distinctly night-club rather than folk song. Beginning with something about “belly to belly, back to back,” they went on to sing in a cheerful, tuneful way about the loss of life at the Titanic’s sinking and ended with a number about a chastity belt.

Tony Coe and George Melly added their individualistic talents. By the end the jazz, the singing and the guitar tunes had jelled into an entertaining musical evening with a fast beat and an agreeable approach. – D.L.

Thursday, 30 April, 1964

Everyone on the Beatle-waggon

Edinburgh capitulated last night – to the Beatles. Glasgow is expected to fall today. The Liverpool sound shook the A.B.C. Regal Cinema in Lothian Road twice in four hours, and 5600 near-hysterical teenagers proclaimed their idols by squealing, gyrating and dancing on the seats.

Outside, part of Lothian Road was sealed off to traffic for 15 minutes, girls mobbed the roadway, hoping for a glimpse of the Beatles between shows.

At the end of it all, 250 policemen formed a line 100 yards long to keep back fans who thronged a back entrance to the cinema.

Meanwhile first-aid was given to girls who were still in the throes of hysterics. One sobbed: “I’ll never see them again.”

Another was carried away by stretcher into an ambulance. Others, in tears, were led away by friends.

The Beatles played the grand finale of both performances of a two-hour “big beat show.” Other acts whipped the audiences, which included many girls barely in their teens, into a frenzy of tension. Drum and guitar provoked screams.

Pop vocalist Tommy Quickly, who obviously had a following of his own, raised the decibel level with a torrid, hip-swivelling performance.

Pandemonium erupted as the curtain rose on the Beatles. Their 30-minute, non-stop act had the girls raising arms to the heavens, dancing and swaying on seats and in the aisles, making vain bids to climb on to the stage, and firing several rounds of jelly babies – reputedly the Beatles’ favourite sweet.

Outside, all was teenage tribulation as the screaming girls fought to see their idols. Inside, guitars throbbed as supporting acts rehearsed for their unenviable roles of props to the Beatles.

“Just like America,” said John L as he took his place in the middle of the group and faced up to questions and flashlights.

Sipping cokes, which they diversely claimed were laced with rum and whisky, the Beatles prepared to meet the representatives of their public.

John, who has relatives in Edinburgh, and who confesses to having visited “one or two Festivals,” is obviously the verbal mainspring of the group.

Paul McCartney was gentle mannered, courteous to his interrogators, and quietly humorous.

Ringo Starr seemed a mite bored with it all, and George Harrison played his bespoke role as the quiet man of the group.

The twinkling lights of a chain of office announced the arrival of the Lord Provost. Paul eyed the emblem and asked: “Have you got one for Ringo?”

Having been persuaded to sit down in the centre of the group, Mr Weatherstone declared that he wished it to be known that it was not the case that he was wearing Beatle shoes; the Beatles, he claimed, were wearing his shoes.

Monday, 4 June, 1990

A pure dead brilliant day for the city of culture

It was billed as Glasgow’s one-off answer to the Mardi Gras, Notting Hill Carnival and Woodstock rolled into one – and the Big Day lived up to all expectations for more than 300,000 people who attended the event and millions more in Europe, the US and Australia who watched the festivities on TV.

For one day, just over halfway through Glasgow’s reign as European City of Culture, the opera and theatre buffs with their dinner jackets and tiaras made way for the denim brigade, who rocked away in George Square, Customhouse Quay and Glasgow Green.

And the street entertainers made certain there was plenty of fun for mums and dads and the children with their jaunty music and hilarious antics.

As Pat Kane, the lead singer in Hue and Cry, shouted to 60,000 fans in Glasgow Green: “Glasgow has certainly put on a good show for the rest of the world today!”

Even the ubiquitous Glasgow drunks got in on the act when they burst into an unscheduled rendition of that infamous pub anthem Crystal Chandeliers in Clyde Street.

The recently married Ricky and Lorraine Ross of Deacon Blue were so impressed by what they saw on TV that they arrived at Glasgow Green eight hours before they were due to appear. “It just look so fabulous on TV,” said Lorraine. “You are used to seeing places in Europe looking great on television for some big event, but this is Glasgow! I said to Ricky: ‘We just have to get down there.”

The reggae band Aswad, veterans of free festivals the world over, enjoyed their set at Glasgow Green so much that they hopped across town to George Square to join Wet, Wet, Wet on stage.

Monday 1 August, 1994Thirsty thousands almost drink T in the Park dry

By Graeme Wilson

The T-shirt seller’s accent was straight from the streets of Toxteth, but he was in Strathclyde Park this weekend to sell his wares. His business sense proved astute as more than 40,000 potential customers descended on the swathe of parkland near Hamilton on Saturday and Sunday to sample the first T in the Park music festival.

They found an impressive scene.
An area which could hold nearly 30 football pitches had been transformed over the last two weeks to offer two separate stages for bands, a comedy tent, multi-national fast food and, not surprisingly for an event sponsored by the brewers Tennents, much beer.

A funfair provided more traditional entertainment for the assembled throng and there was also a full body piercing service for those so inclined – a festival must.

The weather particularly on Saturday was better than even the most optimistic concert promoter could have hoped for.

Indeed the only person looking displeased on the first day was the tradesman standing hopefully behind a neat line of golf umbrellas, though the rain did make an appearance yesterday.

Heat, of course, brings thirst and the demand for beer surprised even Tennents who were forced to ship in an extra container-load midway through the first day. Over the weekend they expect to sell as much as an average sized Glasgow pub would shift in a year.

The feeling was that the selection of bands was generally good – from the Los Angeles rap band Rage Against The Machine to the Saw Doctors from the heart of rural Ireland as well as a bevvy of local talent such as the Teenage Fan Club Gun and Del Amitri.

“We’ve had events like U2 and guests or Prince and guests in the past but here we wanted people to come for the Festival itself as opposed to one big name act,” said Stuart Clumpus, the managing director of DF Concerts which organised the event.

Though he expects to be slightly down in monetary terms after all the figures for the £1 million event are toted up, he is still hopeful that T in the Park will become an annual event. It is hoped it might eventually evolve into part of the well-established European festival circuit as opposed to becoming a Scottish competitor to the big events south of the Border.

Its chances of success appear good.

In spite of minor gripes over the long queues for the night buses back to Glasgow, the atmosphere was friendly.

Organisers and the police were also keen to stress that it had been free of any real trouble.

If they can organise the weather as well next year there’s little doubt that thousands of people – and no doubt a few Liverpudlian T-shirt sellers – will be keen for another taste of T in the Park.

For more from our archives, visit The Scotsman Digital Archive.