I met East 17 and Robbie Williams – but didn’t realize it

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I’ve always been hooked to the beat and knew number one charts in the 1960s. I still have a collection of 45rpm records and even a few 78rpm records that I stacked on my radiogram and made. the twist, mashed potatoes and other rebellious dances at home. I was too sick to pass my over 11 exam so I was sent to a modern high school where we had formal dance lessons. I am still the master of the waltz but I usually resort to something that looks like a man receiving an electric shock.

Over the decades I have met many pop stars, starting with The Beatles at ATV Studios in Borehamwood in 1963 when they were invited to The show of Morecambe and sage. I met Paul again at the Elstree Studios 20 years later, but I told this story. Paul kindly signed a photo for me when we last met around 1988, rehearsing for his world tour on the huge Star Wars stage just before it was demolished. For several years, Paul rented the old Stage Five for rehearsals with his band Wings. It served as a deposit in the On the buses films and for The Avengers TV shows. Alas, they were all demolished to make way for Tesco.

I already told you about my meeting with Cliff Richard and why I ignored Michael Jackson when he visited Elstree studios. I’m not sure I told you about a few mistakes I made. I was introduced to a band called Garbage but I thought they were called Cabbage or vice versa. Then I ran into East Seven or something similar at the Studio and when they asked for directions I assumed they were helping to clear the underground parking lot as they rehearsed on a soundstage.

Read more: The day that John, Paul, George, Ringo, Bert and I met Paul McCartney

Adam Faith was a pleasure to meet him at one of my studio events at the BBC Elstree Center. I was surprised how nervous he was when I asked him to say a few improvised words in front of the audience. He remembered when he worked in the post-production department at that studio in the 1950s and was reluctant to quit when he had his first number one in case he turned out to be a successful wonder. He was a lovely guy,

In the early 90s, the mayor of the city asked me if I could get his young daughter to meet Take That. At that time Top of the pop was filmed at the BBC Elstree Center and they were going to appear there. I was able to arrange for her to attend the dress rehearsal with the mayor. At one point I was alone and this young man stood next to me as Wet Wet Wet rehearsed their number one. He asked me why I was there and I explained that I was waiting to see something called Take That but knew very little about them. He told me they suck and can’t dance, which I found a bit hard for a BBC employee, even though I knew my mate, who was the facility manager, berated the boys for kicking a soccer ball in a hallway.

A little later the tannoy said ‘Take this on stage please for a rehearsal’. The guys walked past me and one of them winked and it turned out to be Robbie Williams, who must have thought I was so square. I walked out of the studio past some girl fans waiting in my old Mini and rolled down the window to listen to “who is this star?” Instead, all I heard was someone commenting, “Is that Mr. Bean?” They had obviously never seen my birdie dance!

  • Paul Welsh MBE is a writer and historian from Borehamwood of Elstree Studios


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