GLASGOW’S answer to The Beatles created bedlam in the city whenever they played.

The Beatstalkers might not have hit the heady heights of global fame enjoyed by the Fab Four but for a spell in the 60s, they created the same kind of mania.

On June 11, 1965, a lunchtime concert in George Square got way out of hand when the band took to the stage.


Our newspaper reported that police reinforcements had to be called in to deal with screaming teenagers, arriving to ‘clear the struggling, hysterical girls sufficiently to rescue the group.’

It was so bad at one point - at least 5000 revellers had invaded the square and destroyed the stage – the band (frontman Davie Lennox, bassist Alan Mair, keyboardist Eddie Campbell, guitarist Ronnie Smith and drummer Tudge Williamson) had to flee to the City Chambers for protection.

Glasgow Times: A young fan is rescued from the crush, 1965

The fans followed however, swarming over flowerbeds, climbing the monuments and Cenotaph and forcing their way in the front doors of the Chambers.

Eventually, Chief Constable James Robertson, assisted by councillors, ejected the fans from the Chambers. The doors were locked, but the fans milled outside, chanting “We want the Beatstalkers!” and forcing their way through police cordons.

Some fans ran to a side-door in the hope of catching another glimpse of the band, who were eventually smuggled out in a van after being led through basement corridors.

After having formed as a school band, The Beatstalkers reinvented themselves by performing American R&B music with a Scottish twist, and built up their reputation in the cafes, clubs and ballrooms of Scotland.

In scenes that could rival Beatlemania, hordes of young fans regularly followed the band in the wake of the George Square fiasco, mobbing airports and clamouring for attention from their heroes at home and abroad.

In January 1966, chaos ensued when the Beatstalkers arrived to open a new shop in Kinning Park.

“Stramash!” summed up our headline. “Hundreds of screaming fans ran wild this afternoon when the Beatstalkers, Glasgow’s home-grown pop group arrived….to open the Modrock Shop, styled as the first London-type boutique for boys and girls, in Lambhill Street. It happened at lunchtime and the moment the famous five appeared on the scene the fans surged forward. Girls SCREAMED as the group struggled to get from their car to the shop. POLICEMEN linked arms to form a barrier but they were swept aside. Some had their caps knocked off and others were even thrust up against the still-wet white paint of the shop’s exterior.”

A number of determined fans did manage to get inside the shop, we reported, and “the group were showered with kisses.”

Having taken Scotland by storm (they also did a record 14-night residency at the Barrowland Ballroom) the band headed south, selling out London’s iconic Marquee Club two weeks running.

By 1966 they were managed by Ken Pitt, who also managed David Bowie, and Bowie went on to write three singles for them. (The legendary star can be heard singing backing vocals and playing guitar on Silver Tree Top School For Boys, When I’m Five and Everything Is You.)

Problems with chart return figures – only two shops in Scotland registered sales for the official hit parade – meant their debut single Everybody’s Talking ‘Bout My Baby reached number 37 with 5000 purchases, when in fact it should have been in the top five with real sales of 80,000.

The Beatstalkers ‘retired’ in 1969, when they were in their early 20s but their fans never forgot them and reunion gigs in 2005 and 2013 sold out the Barrowland and Arches respectively.

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Author Martin Kielty, in his biography of the band, said: “Eddie Tobin, former manager of the Sensational Alex Harvey Band, Nazareth, the Glasgow Apollo and countless other successes, told me: ‘The Beatstalkers ARE the history of Scottish music. They were the first, and they were the greatest.’”

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