Scotland’s first-ever pop stars tell their story in official book, including their rise to fame, working with David Bowie, the Kinks and others, and how they managed to stay friends as the music industry tried to crush them.
By band members David Lennox (vocals), Alan Mair (bass), Ronnie Smith (guitar), Eddie Campbell (keyboards) and Jeff Allen (drums) with award-nominated rock journalist, author and band manager Martin Kielty.
• Limited-edition hardback and paperback published April 12, 2018
• Launch event at The Clutha, Glasgow, 7.30pm
FRIDAY, June 11, 1965: Screaming teenagers swarmed onto the bandstand in George Square, Glasgow, today, and mobbed local beat group the Beatstalkers. Mounted police had to be called in as hundreds of screaming girls chased their idols into the City Chambers. The surging mass of fans forced their way past attendants, councillors and staff and began kissing and cuddling the group. A councillor later said: “I was shocked – it was hysteria. Something must be done about the Beatstalkers.”
David Lennox, Alan Mair, Ronnie Smith, Eddie Campbell and Tudge Williamson – soon to be replaced by Jeff Allen – had already made a mark in their home city, and most of the towns of Scotland. They could even sell out ballrooms by sending cardboard cutouts instead of themselves. While England had Beatlemania, Beatstalkermania was bigger in Scotland. But they were nowhere near finished. Their dramatic story was to include more scenes of hysteria, a stream of groundbreaking musical moves, scrapes with senior stardom including a stint of working with David Bowie as their songwriter, and a legacy of unforgettable live shows.
By the mid-1960s they’d become one of a handful of Scottish artists to appear on TV’s Ready Steady Go, sold out 14 nights in the iconic Barrowland Ballroom, played a six-week residency in London’s legendary Marquee Club, released seven singles – including three tracks written by Bowie – and experienced the rock’n’roll lifestyle just as it was becoming a desired way of life..
The Beatstalkers’ story came to a crushing and sudden end in London just a few years after the dramatic events of the George Square Riot. By that time they’d blazed a trail that every single Scottish band has followed ever since. And most importantly, they retained their friendship through thick and thin, high and low – and to highlight their impact, they played a sold-out reunion show at the Barrowland Ballroom in 2005.
As Eddie Tobin – manager of rival band The Bo-Weavles, and later Billy Connolly and the Glasgow Apollo venue – says: “They were the first, and they were the greatest.”
Bassist Alan Mair (who went on to join The Only Ones) says: “It’s been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster ride and a lot of fun recalling those heady days back in the sixties, when we were in the Beatstalkers. It’s taken us all on quite a journey, and we hope it takes our fans on the same journey, because it was as much of a shared experience as a band and fans could have.
“The one thing we always had was great belief in ourselves, which never waned. Along with a little bit of luck – every success needs a bit of luck – and, of course, some talent, we realised our dreams and became Scotland’s top band.
“We hope our story inspires young bands out there today to believe in themselves, never lose focus on what they want to achieve, and eventually find success.”
Author Martin Kielty said: “The story of the Beatstalkers is one I’ve wanted to help tell for a long time. It’s the definitive rock’n’roll experience that every band who came after them lived through, whether they won or lost. Even though so many years have passed, anyone who’s tried to make it through their music will recognise some life-changing moments they’ve dealt with themselves. To me, the band’s biggest success is that, despite it all, they remain close friends to this very day. That’s heroic. I’m proud that such an iconic story is finally recorded for posterity.”
Martin Kielty is a Scottish rock journalist and author, with three books in the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame Permanent Collection. His titles include Apollo Memories, SAHB Story: The Tale of the Sensational Alex Harvey Band, Are Ye Dancin’? and Big Noise: The Sound of Scotland. He’s former manager of iconic Scottish artists The Sensational Alex Harvey Band and The Rezillos. He’s a regular contributor to the biggest rock magazines in the UK and to the leading rock websites in the US. The Beatstalkers is his 17th book.
TItle: The Beatstalkers
Subtitle: Scotland’s Number 1 Beat Group
Authors: David Lennox, Alan Mair, Ronnie Smith, Eddie Campbell and Jeff Allen with Martin Kielty
Formats: Limited-edition hardback (152x228mm) and paperback (156x234mm), published by Noisewave
Extent: 144pp with over 80 images
Limited-edition hardback ISBN: 978-0-244-94907-5
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-244-07281-0