Retro: Yes, Judas Priest, Jethro Tull & the days of hard rock in Harrogate

Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull at Harrogate's Royal Hall in 2012. (Picture by Stuart Rhodes)
Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull at Harrogate's Royal Hall in 2012. (Picture by Stuart Rhodes)

As part of the Harrogate Advertiser's new ‘Retro’ series of nostalgia articles we're delved into the world of hard rock.

Whisper it, there is actually a big audience in the Harrogate district for classic rock, prog rock and the blues .

Hard rock legends Deep Purple filled the Harrogate International Centre in 2002 with an ever-changing line-up which included Ian Gillan on lead vocals with keyboard player Jon Lord, bassist Roger Glover, drummer Ian Paice guitarist Steve Morse.

One reviewer at the time, Meurig Thomas, described the Harrogate concert as “a good solid show which the sold out crowd absolutely loved.”

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, a member of legendary Harrogate band Wally, Paul Gerrett launched his short-lived lived music club in Harrogate.

Called PGS and located on Beulah Street, the late musician brought a whole series of metal names to town with great success such as David Coverdale of Whitesnake.

He also briefly presented bands at the Royal Hall including Judas Priest and Heavy Metal Kids.

Judas Priest were, reportedly, thrown out of the Majestic Hotel and barred from ever returning after, allegedly, excessive partying and trashing their hotel rooms.

The late 60s and early 1970s had seen the crossover between prog and jazz and folk result in appearances at the Royal Hall from the likes of Pentangle with Bert Jansch in 1969, The Nice in 1970, featuring the late Keith Emerson, Family in 1970 fronted by Roger Chapman, Magna Carta in 1971 and, most famously, Yes on March 25, 1971, The Yes Album with a line-up including Jon Anderson, Steve Howe and Rick Wakeman who played a solo show at Harrogate Theatre in 2011.

Recent years have shown Harrogate hasn’t lost touch with its prog roots with concerts at the Royal Hall by rock supergroup Asia featuring guitarist Steve Howe of Yes in 2009, flute-playing Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull in 2012 and prog rock legends Camel in 2013.

Keighley-based English rock band Terrorvision played the now long-gone Harrogate Arms on Crag Lane at the height of their fame in the 1990s when they enjoyed a string of top 30 hits such as Oblivion, Pretend Best Friend, Celebrity Hit List and Tequila.

Leading blues and soul acts have been successful at Ripley Town Hall thanks to the hard work and good taste of local promoter Andy Herrington for more than ten years, from Georgie Fame and Steve Cropper to Nine Below Zero and Dr Feelgood.

Frazer Theatre in Knaresborough has been welcoming famous rock acts of the 1970s to the present day for just as long, including The Quire Boys and The Rutles’ Neil Innes.

It may not be the biggest venue on the planet, but the Blues Bar on Harrogate’s Montpellier Hill deserves a chapter in itself for its services to live music.

It has put on live music seven days a week for nearly two decades without fail.

In terms of famous names, it has batted way above its tiny weight.

There was the night Duran Duran bass player John Taylor guested with local singer-songwriter Jason Feddy.

KT Tunstall once performed on its tiny stage - as a support act to someone else.

Academy Award-winning scar actor Glenn Hansard has played with his band The Frames twice while American soul-rock legend Gary US Bonds played at the Blues Bar’s jam night when he was in town playing with

ex-Rolling Stones members Bill Wyman.

Get in touch

In future weeks, we will be moving onto other nostalgia topics.

And we also welcome readers’ own memories and photos of life in the district and wider North Yorkshire.

If you’ve got an old picture of your younger self at school or with work colleagues at an early job or at a local event of the past, please don’t hesitate to email graham.chalmers@jpress.co.uk