Retro: Rare photo discovered of Small Faces at Royal Hall, Harrogate

A rare photograph of The Small Faces backstage at the Royal Hall in Harrogate in 1966 with support band The Vikings' manager. (Picture courtesy of Mike Hine)
A rare photograph of The Small Faces backstage at the Royal Hall in Harrogate in 1966 with support band The Vikings' manager. (Picture courtesy of Mike Hine)

In response to the Harrogate Advertiser's recent Retro feature, we received an unpublished photo of The Small Faces backstage at the Royal Hall in Harrogate in 1966.

At the moment in this series of nostalgia articles we are focussing on the history of rock n roll in the Harrogate area - and it’s a bigger history than many people might think.

The Small Faces were by no means the only classic 60s rock band to play Harrogate's hallowed Royal Hall.

When local promoter Derek Arnold booked a little known band called The Beatles in December 1962 for a dance night at the Royal Hall in Harrogate the following year he can have had little idea what was coming.

By the time John, Paul, George and Ringo stepped on stage on Friday, March 8, 1963 they’d already hit number one in the charts with Please Please me and were shortly to release their second number one, From Me To You.

As well as performing two sets of 30-40 minutes each; one of the band’s longer times on stage during the early era of Beatlemania, it was also rumoured The Fab Four stayed over night in a Harrogate hotel after the gig.

That myth was only put to bed 40 years later when the Harrogate support band on that night told their story.

Some said they slept in the Old Swan, others the St George, some even claim the band about to conquer the world were turned away from several hotels because they were wearing leather jackets.

Bob Mason, lead guitarist in one of the support bands, Ricky Fenton and the Apaches, said:

“We were 18 at the time, we were only young lads. The Beatles were different to anyone we’d ever heard before.

“They were into hard rock n roll and r n b. They had a sharp and exciting sound.

“But I think it’s one of those urban myths that they stayed in Harrogate. They told us they needed to get off because they had a gig down south the next day.”

Other local outfits lucky enough to support The Beatles that eventful night in 1963 included Barry Corbett and the Mustangs and the all-girl group The Chincillas.

A few excitable girl fans even sneaked into The Beatles’ dressing room to chat to their pop idols and get the Fab Four’s autographs at the start of their fame.

In future weeks, we will be moving on to other topics and will be searching through the Harrogate Advertier archives.

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

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