Lincolnshire

Boston Gliderdrome: Music venue marks 50 years

Marc Bolan on stage at the Gliderdrome Image copyright Gliderdrome
Image caption It is thought about 5,000 people watched Marc Bolan and T-Rex at the Starlight Rooms

A music venue which hosted Elton John, Stevie Wonder, T-Rex and Jimi Hendrix is celebrating 50 years.

The Boston Gliderdrome in Lincolnshire started life as a roller skating rink, but began to attract musical acts in the 1950s.

The venue's golden age came after it was rebuilt in 1964 following a fire.

The rink remained but the Starlight Rooms opened and the biggest names in pop headed to the east of England.

Steve Greenhough, 62, who is now a compere at the venue, said: "When I was growing up everyone in the charts you saw at the Glider - The Kinks, Small Faces, Jimi Hendrix, the list goes on and on.

Image copyright Gliderdrome
Image caption Elton John and Bernie Taupin chat in the star dressing room of the Starlight Rooms

"To see these massive names play here in your home town was brilliant. I was here for Stevie Wonder, when he came out it was just fantastic."

Dave Peatling, who has written a book about the venue, said the queues to see the American singer-songwriter stretched a few miles into Boston town centre.

He said "bus loads" of people came in because the artist was only doing private shows at air bases at the time.

It was British rock band T-Rex that broke box office records at the Starlight Rooms.

Mr Peatling said: "[For T-Rex] if you can imagine all the balconies [people] were stood on tables and chairs, and everything, some of them were sitting on the balconies with their legs overhanging.

Image copyright Google
Image caption The unassuming frontage of the Gliderdrome hides a rich musical heritage

"There was a mass of people... You couldn't have had a dance if you wanted to."

Mr Greenhough said: "It was like a football match, all crammed in. It was rumoured [there were] about 5,000 people."

When the venue closed down not long after Elton John's show in May, 1973, the site was used for a bingo hall.

Nick Thompson, 62, who worked at the Starlight Rooms, blamed "unruly youth" and said much of his time was spent making repairs after gigs.

He said: "It just ran out of steam. Society changed, bands changed."

In recent years the venue, now known simply as the Gliderdrome, has undergone a rebirth according to owner Andy Malkinson who said the music side of the business has "taken off" again.

The 49-year-old said as many as four generations now visit for special rock and Motown nights, as well tribute acts, including one, ironically for T-Rex's Marc Bolan.

Image copyright Gliderdrome
Image caption People still pack out the venue to see tribute acts

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