From the archives: When David Bowie came to Preston Guild Hall

Fulwood's Mick Sheridan who has now sadly passed away, shared his memories of visiting and working at Preston Guild Hall with Sarah Hodgson for Lancashire Evening Post back in April 2013.

Monday, 11th January 2016, 2:25 pm
Updated Monday, 11th January 2016, 2:29 pm
David Bowie

Preston Guild Hall and Charter Theatre has been the city’s premier entertainment venue since it opened.

Its glory years were without a doubt the seventies and early eighties - with national and international performers including Bing Crosby, Shirley Bassey, David Bowie and Queen topping the bill.

Rock music fan Mick Sheridan, 54, today shares his memories of the many famous faces to pass through the hall’s doors.

Mick Sheridan

Mick was just 14 years old when the Guild Hall opened but remembers it vividly.

He said: "I remember going to the town hall to see what bands were playing back in 1973, and it was David Bowie’s name that excited me the most."

Bowie came to the Guild Hall in June 1973 as part of his Ziggy Stardust tour.

Mick recalls standing outside the hall with friends trying to get a ticket to the sold-out show.

Tickets from the gig in the 70s

He said: "We actually tried to sneak in but a guy came up to me and my mates and gave us a ticket.

"We were all really into Bowie so because we all couldn’t get in we decided to sell the ticket and we all bought a bag of chips each with the money."

Mick says that the first band he ever saw at the hall was Nazareth, in November 1973.

He recalls: "They were such a big band at the time and I was only a kid, but it was absolutely amazing, it was crazy."

Mick Sheridan

Mick thinks that over the years he has probably seen every rock band that has ever played at the Guild Hall.

In fact he has seen so many different band he has trouble remembering them all, just some of the bands that Mick have seen at the hall include Status Quo, The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, Deep Purple, Thin Lizzy, Gillan, and Roxy Music.

Mick says that often he and his friends would go to see bands that were unheard of, he remembers going to see Supertramp before they became famous.

He said: "When they came they were brilliant but the room was empty as nobody had ever heard of them."

Tickets from the gig in the 70s

However, sometimes the risk of buying tickets for an unknown band did not always pay off.

Mick said: "Once I went to see Gong who were a French band, it was only about a quid to get in so even though we had never heard of them before we went anyway - but we were bored stiff!"

Mick says that the Guild Hall was the place to be in the seventies and eighties, and that all the big bands of the day wanted to play there.

One of the gigs that Mick remembers the most is when Black Sabbath played in 1978.

He said: "Back then there used to be seats right near the stage, but everyone would rush to the front and send the seats flying everywhere.

"Me and my mates got right to the front of the crush, it was dangerous really, absolutely wild - there were kids and rockers everywhere.

"At one point Black Sabbath actually walked off the stage and Ozzy Osbourne said, If you don’t move back we aren’t going to play anymore’."

In 1999, Mick was a full-time student studying English Literature and was thrilled to get a casual job at the Guild Hall and Charter Theatre.

Mick worked front of house collecting tickets for six years.

He said: "I loved every minute of working there - I got to see so much like snooker, indoor bowling and performers like Russell Watson."

Mick had a keen interest in entertainment so took it on board to try to meet the famous faces playing at the Hall.

He claims that he has met all sorts of people through his work, especially snooker players.

He says: "We weren’t allowed in the dressing rooms but I did occasionally nip into the players lounge which I shouldn’t have been in just to say hello to people like Jimmy White and Ronnie O’Sullivan."

It wasn’t just customers that Mick had to help though.

He remembers being on shift one evening and meeting the late jazz musician, George Melly.

Mick says: "Melly came up the steps of the Charter Theatre into the bar area one night, he appeared rather drunk and asked me where the stage door was, so I escorted him to it and asked for his autograph to give to my Dad."

Mick says that another perk of working at the venue was he was often given free tickets to shows that he wanted to see, whether it be music concerts, sport or plays in the Charter Theatre.

However, he remembers one incident when he didn’t feel so lucky.

He said: "One Christmas I signed up to work the panto on Boxing Day, but when I turned up I was the only member of staff on and it was a full house of 800.

"In the end my boss had to help me collect tickets and run things as it was so busy and kids were running around everywhere."

The Guild Hall and Charter Theatre has been very popular with children over the year and Mick remembers taking his own daughter, Francesca to many shows over the years.

Mick said: "Any show that Francesca wanted to go to we went, I remember one time she was actually on stage in a charity gig run by the Carol May School of Dance and she was dressed up as a little rabbit."

Mick feels that the hall has played a big part in his life and it was a dream to eventually work there.

He said: "I loved it so much I think I would have actually worked there for nothing and you can’t say that about many jobs.