Shortly after I started work at the Roundhouse, the Rolling Stones decided to put on a concert in Hyde Park which is in the centre of London for those of you who don’t know where that park is.
So as frequently happened, a lot of my guys at the Roundhouse were asked to work on this gig, variously as lighting, sound or security crews. My luck meant that I was asked to work on the security side of the concert, which chiefly meant standing at the entrance to the back stage area, with a list of people who had been given invitations to be there, and name tags to give them.
You would imagine that this job would be a real no brainer, on the list, let ’em in, not on the list, don’t let ’em in, simple eh? Well forget that idea. I very quickly discovered that no end of self-important people who felt they should be cluttering up the back and sides of the stage but had by some unbelievable oversight not been sent an invitation started to turn up, mostly with stunning looking girls, and demanded extremely aggressively to be allowed in, as obviously their names should have been on my list.
And of course it was totally my fault that they were not on my list (never understood that one).
There were actually two of us Roundhouse guys on that back stage entrance, myself and a huge Scot who looked a bit like Obelix, (he later had a son whom he saddled with the name Thor). So we were not actually very bothered about any physical attack from these gate crashers, but quickly became very angry with their verbal aggression and self-importance, and took to simply picking them up, carrying them a reasonable distance from the entrance, and sort of throwing them away…. Seemed to work. The girls on the other hand, who mostly were simply embarrassed by their escorts, we tended to allow into the sacred back stage area…..
All of this had the result you will see in any video of rock concerts, almost as many people on both sides and the back of the stage as out in front… Stupid, but it made them feel important, even if for the stage hands they were a real problem.
In the course of my work in those days, I came to discover that a lot of bands only felt happy if they could bring their entire court of sycophants with them whenever they played in public…. Others refused to issue any back stage passes to anyone except people who had a real reason to be there… we technicians vastly preferred that sort of group, as it meant that we had room on and around the stage to do our work in a reasonable fashion. Since once one of those courtiers had established themselves in a visible part of the stage, they were not about to move for anyone… Even a roadie struggling to reconnect a live 400 Amp cable where they were standing… Tricky at times.
To be honest, the concert itself was not particularly interesting, but it was very typical of such open air concerts in those days.. Not like Woodstock or the Glastonbury ones , which of course are much bigger, but for a one day event, they pulled respectable crowds.
Very noticeable in the video is the large group of Hell’s Angels, actually they were not real Angels, as they had no contact the Angels in the USA, but they were a nasty lot nonetheless, and came long after everyone else had settled down to enjoy the gig. I was watching them as they arrived, way back behind the mainly sitting audience. So they simply walked over everyone until they arrived at the front row, and sat themselves down and looked fierce. And I mean it literally about the walking over bit.. They really simply trampled on anyone who happened to be where their feet went down to the ground..
We were not responsible for security in the audience (I am happy to say), that was actually being looked after by the police. But surprisingly enough, though the cops saw this happening, they did nothing about it, nor did anyone in the crowd….. All very strange we felt.
In passing I would remark that Charlie Watts is a really nice, friendly and unassuming man.. The various times I came in contact with him over the years were all very pleasing and relaxed.. One very nice guy.
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