Pan’s People Sunderland Locarno 1973?

imageTop of the Pops (TOTP) was a big deal when we were kids. We would gather around the television every Thursday night, waiting to see our favourites bands, the latest chart hits and the familiar faces of the DJs. And one very important part of Top of the Pops was Pan’s People. In a world with no MTV and no pop videos, Pan’s People danced to hits when the group or singer was not available to perform on the show. Pan’s People were every young boy’s dream dancing in skimpy outfits and hot pants to the latest chart sounds. Pan’s People joined TOTP in May 1968. By 1970 they became a weekly feature. The original Pan’s People line-up consisted of Louise Clark, Flick Colby, “Babs” Lord, Ruth Pearson, Andi Rutherford and Dee Dee Wilde. Flick Colby stood down from dancing in 1971 to concentrate on choreographing their routines. Andi was replaced by Cherry Gillespie in 1972.
One night, I think it was in 1973 or 1974, Pan’s People paid a visit to Sunderland. It was a midnight to 4am show, and the girls shared the bill with local chart heroes Geordie. I’d been out for a drink with friends and turned up at the Locarno after closing time, around 11pm. We joined a massive queue and waited for the venue to open. I think Geordie were on stage first, but can’t be sure. I also seem to recall that there was a guest Radio 1 DJ, but don’t remember who it was. Pan’s People performed in the early hours of the morning, doing a series of dance routines on the ballroom floor to chart hits of the time. The Mecca was crammed, full of drunken guys cheering at the girls. My memory of the evening is very faint, but I’m sure it wasn’t a dream and that I did really see Pan’s People.
Dee Dee Wilde, dancer: “We got our big break after a couple of us passed auditions for the Go-Jos – Top of the Pops’ original group of dancers. We couldn’t think of a name, but Flick said, “Well, Pan is the god of music and fertility and he has six handmaidens …” So at 4am and bleary-eyed after several bottles of wine we became Pan’s People…..In the glam-rock era, we wore every outfit from beautiful to dreadful….Our sexuality was very tongue-in-cheek – girls next door being a little bit sexy – and people loved that. At the time, we were the most famous group of girls in Britain, the Spice Girls and Girls Aloud rolled into one.”
Babs Powell: “If one or two of the routines were raunchy or teasing, it was because the music suggested it. Mary Whitehouse hated us and later on we had one or two women’s lib protests. We did loads of TV shows, from Frankie Howerd to Happening For Lulu, and gigs all over the country. We did one in Cheshire once on a Thursday night and someone said: “‘Ere! How can you be the real Pan’s People that we’ve just paid to see when you’re on Top of the Pops right now?” Then a big fight broke out at the back of the stage. They hadn’t realised that the programme was filmed on Wednesdays.”
(Pan’s People – Our Story, Signum Books, 2012).

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Neil Thompson on March 29, 2015 at 3:37 pm

    This gig is listed in Geoff Docherty’s book (a promoter’s tale) – it was 20th April 1973 – Pans People, Geordie and Medicine Head

    Reply

    • Posted by vintagerock on March 29, 2015 at 3:40 pm

      Thanks Neil I have Geoff’s book and should have checked. I can’t remember Medicine Head being on (but saw them several times, and always enjoyed them so I’m surprised I forgot them…just shows that my memory is going) Cheers Peter

      Reply

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