This week it will be 60 years since The Beatles first played in Croydon. To commemorate the occasion Tracks, the Lancashire based Beatles and music memorabilia specialists, are holding a valuation day at Fairfield Halls, Croydon on Sunday the 23rd April between 10:00am and 4.00pm (John Whitgift Community Cube – to the left of the Main Entrance and free admission). You are invited to bring any rare item of music memorabilia for a free valuation.
The market for Beatles and music related memorabilia which began in the eighties has since grown exponentially in size and significance. It is a market worth millions now and the scope is becoming increasingly wide in terms of the artists it includes.
In the world of music memorabilia, the artists and bands whose ephemera attract the highest prices are: The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Queen, Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie, The Who, Pink Floyd, Bob Marley, Led Zeppelin, Madonna, Prince, Michael Jackson and Nirvana/Kurt Cobain.
Much of this interest in pop memorabilia emanates from the fact that rock ‘n’ roll music, artists and bands have played a significant part in many people’s lives both during their teenage and adult years. For many people, collecting memorabilia is a way of preserving memories of concerts and remembering their idols. In addition, many of the pop posters from the 60’s and 70’s are now seen to have considerable artistic merit.
Autographs and written material are of great interest to collectors. The signatures of The Beatles have always brought the most money. A good clean set of autographs can be £4,000 upwards and a set from 1967 can be in excess of £5,000. Album sleeves autographed by The Beatles can bring £15,000 to £20,000 and even more if signed on one of the later releases. An album signed on the front cover by Led Zeppelin or Jimi Hendrix can realise over £10,000.
Concert memorabilia is another strong area of interest. Vintage concert posters from the 1960s relating to the Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix or a poster from the 1970s relating to Led Zeppelin can bring around £10,000.
Punk memorabilia relating to the Sex Pistols and the Clash and other groups of that era have become highly sought after as of late. Posters from the Sex Pistols tour of 1976 when most of the concerts were cancelled can bring £2000 to £3000 if in excellent condition. A good peak period poster from a Clash concert from 1976 or 1977 could bring around £2000. A cult has grown up around the Manchester band Joy Division and associated memorabilia has risen in price recently. For example, a letter written by their deceased lead vocalist Ian Curtis could raise around £2000 to £3000. Artifacts relating to The Smiths are always in constant demand also.
Material relating to the 80s icons Madonna, Prince and Michael Jackson can bring stratospheric prices. For example, a Madonna worn dress can fetch around £15,000, a Prince owned or used guitar can fetch around £235,000 and a Michael Jackson performance jacket can fetch around £20,000.
In addition to the above, handwritten lyrics, stage used or personally worn clothing, instruments, awards, personal effects and record company promotional items from any major group or artist are the types of items which Tracks are interested in appraising and evaluating.
Tracks are not only offering free advice and valuations but are also interested in buying items relating to any major artist or band on the day - immediate payment can be made by bank transfer.
Beatles Concerts In Croydon
Fairfield Hall was opened on the 2nd November 1962 by Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. There was seating for between 1,500 and 2,000 people. The Beatles played here three times in 1963. First as part of the Chris Montez and Tommy Roe tour in March. Then on the 25th April as part of the Merseybeat Showcase which was described in the following terms by a local reporter from the Croydon Advertiser: ‘Last weeks show was not entertainment, unless you entertained by one helluva din, and the hand clapping and foot stomping of hysterically screaming youngsters.’. The final appearance by the group that year was on the 7th September, by then Beatlemania had taken root. The hall’s reputation continued to grow throughout the sixties with appearances from the Rolling Stones, Yardbirds, Animals, Ray Charles, Roy Orbison, The Kinks, The Hollies, a plethora of jazz acts including Ornette Coleman, Spencer Davis and Otis Redding, Pink Floyd and The Who. When The Who performed their rock opera ‘Tommy’ at Fairfield Hall, Pete Townshend remarked in an interview with ZigZag magazine that: ‘The best performance of all was at Croydon, Fairfield Hall. It was the first time we played it including ‘Sally Simpson’ and a few other things we did specially. The sound in that place – oh, Croydon. I could bloody play there all night… it is just a good acoustic. It’s as though the whole place was designed so that you could hear the conductor banging on his rostrum and not the orchestra. It’s a freak, but it’s great for rock.’. The halls were chosen to host a series of package shows known as the American Folk and Blues Festival which were held annually between 1963 and 1970. Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Howlin’ Wolf, Sonny Boy Williamson and Willie Dixon were just some of the great bluesmen that appeared at these shows.
Other Notable Concerts In Croydon
Fairfield Hall continued to attract some of the most prestigious names in the fields of rock, pop, folk and jazz through the seventies. But it was the opening of the Greyhound right opposite Fairfield Hall that began to give the older more established venue a run for its money. The Greyhound opened on the 23rd November 1969 as the Croydon Blues Club. Whilst Fairfield Hall continued the policy of booking mainstream acts through the seventies, the Greyhound adopted a strategy of promoting the new progressive groups and blues and metal bands that began to emerge at the start of the decade. Colosseum, Quintessence, Caravan, Pink Fairies, Groundhogs, Camel, Thin Lizzy and many others.
In early 1977 Fox Leisure began putting on regular concerts at the Red Deer, a new venue they had taken over on Brighton Road, South Croydon. Together with the Greyhound, the Red Deer seized the mantle by championing the new punk rock movement which was emerging in London and its suburbs. On successive weeks in the winter of 1977, you could have seen Slaughter and The Dogs, The Stranglers, The Vibrators and The Heartbreakers perform at the Red Deer. The Greyhound was a little slower to pick up the thread but by mid-1977 it was promoting The Ramones, The Saints, The Jam, The Buzzcocks and all the other top line punk and new wave acts. This despite the fact that when the Adverts appeared at the venue on the 26th February 1978 their fans were banned from pogoing! Punk rock was dominating the music scene in the late seventies but diversity was also a strong feature of live music in Croydon. Chris Groom in his seminal work, ‘Rockin’ and around Croydon’ asks with some justification: ‘Where else but in Croydon cold you find such a ridiculously diverse set of artistes appearing in the same month? Take April, for example, where you could have enjoyed The Damned, Bobby Crush, Stephane Grappelli, Ralph McTell and Burl Ives, all within a hectic twenty day burst.’.
With the Fairfield Hall, the Greyhound and the Red Deer all putting on regular concerts of top name acts drawn from all the different fields of popular music – pop, rock, middle of the road, jazz, progressive, blues, punk, new wave – the seventies must undoubtedly rank as the golden age of live music entertainment in Croydon.
Text and images provide by tracks.co.uk