As a music loving young schoolgirl growing up in Northampton in the 1960s, Angie Marriott spent many a happy evening watching live bands at what was then The ABC – the iconic town centre building previously The Savoy, now hosting The Deco Theatre, and about to be relaunched as The Old Savoy.
When The Deco opened up the building to visitors during the recent Heritage Weekend, Angie decided it was time for a trip down Memory Lane, and was among those who joined the guided tours.
And she was in for a pleasant surprise. As she walked through the bar area, towards the main auditorium, she did a double take at a framed photograph hanging from the wall. To her astonishment, Angie realised she was in that photo, which was taken when The Beatles played at The ABC in November 1963.
“I’d known the picture existed, but it was still a shock to see it framed on the wall, and it immediately brought back so many memories,” Angie told us. Now 69, she was just 13 years old when that photo (she’s on the left) was taken, and it was the second time that year she’d seen the Fab Four at The ABC. “They first played Northampton on March 27th, 1963, the day after their second LP, ‘Please, Please, Me’ was released.
“In March they were actually the supporting act to Chris Montez and Tommy Roe would you believe – but things had changed when they came back on November 6th,” she said. “By this time they had really hit the big time; they were topping the bill by then, and it was at this concert where the picture was taken.
“Yes, I was screaming, as were most of the other female teenagers in the audience that night, but I also loved their music too – I’ve been a Beatles fan since they first burst on the scene, and I’m so proud and lucky to say I was able to see them play live, twice.”
Name some of the other biggest acts in the UK rock and pop world in the early 60s, and there’s a chance that Angie saw them at The ABC. “The Rolling Stones came here in 1965 and I was there then,” she remembered. “Del Shannon, Billy Fury, The Yardbirds with the very young Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton, Gerry and The Pacemakers, Gene Pitney, Manfred Mann, and many more; and among the comperes in those days were Jimmy Tarbuck, Dave Allen and Helen Shapiro!”
In those days, Angie lived in Kingsthorpe, and was a pupil at Notre Dame School in Northampton town centre. She would rush home from school, change, and then head into town on the bus to meet up with friends, who went to the concert with her.
“There were two older ones – Roy and Sandy – who we got to know: they would queue up all night to make sure we got the best tickets, and we were very lucky, we were always at the front thanks to them, and I have such happy memories of great times with lovely friends,” she said.
Of all the acts she saw at The ABC between 1963 and 1967, The Beatles made the most impact. Now, 56 years on, she loves their music as much she ever has. “Their appeal was that they were four very talented individuals who blended perfectly together, created a beautiful sound, and wrote many of the greatest songs ever,” said Angie. “I was so disappointed when they split up in 1970, but we could all see it coming; I then followed their individual careers.”
Angie is delighted the building that was The ABC in her youth, having opened in 1936 as The Savoy, is now being re-branded as The Old Savoy, and becoming not just an entertainment venue, but a community hub for everyone to use.
“It’s wonderful news, absolutely fantastic, and it’s going to make such a big difference to the town centre,” she said. “For many people in the town it is a venue that gave them so many happy memories, and I’m sure it is going to make memories for many other people in the years ahead.”