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Fights, spitting and a drummer setting fire to himself - tales of Norfolk venue which hosted T Rex

PUBLISHED: 16:01 05 August 2020 | UPDATED: 16:48 05 August 2020

T Rex play West Runton Pavilion in 1977. Picture: Deborah Loads

T Rex play West Runton Pavilion in 1977. Picture: Deborah Loads

Deborah Loads

The Clash, The Sex Pistols and Black Sabbath were among those to take the stage, the site of which is now marked by just a small plaque.

T Rex play West Runton Pavilion in 1977. Picture: Deborah LoadsT Rex play West Runton Pavilion in 1977. Picture: Deborah Loads

But arguably the venue’s most magical night came on March 19, 1977, when T Rex turned up for what was to be their third last show before Marc Bolan’s untimely death on September 16 that year.

Deborah Loads was in the front row that night and managed to capture stunning close-up photos of Bolan which have never been published until now.

Ms Loads, who went to every gig on the tour and met Bolan on several occasions, said the concert was up there with the band’s best, with the small venue giving great sound and “fantastic” views of the group.

She said: “Having gone to all the concerts they’ve sort of mingled into one, but I do remember being right at the front, that’s how I got the pictures because it was a small venue so I got a good view right at the front there.

T Rex play West Runton Pavilion in 1977. Picture: Deborah LoadsT Rex play West Runton Pavilion in 1977. Picture: Deborah Loads

“I was getting squashed at the front and I can remember Marc looking down at me and he mouthed ‘are you alright?’ and I said yeah. I felt really good after that, I felt that he cared because he could see I was getting quite squashed there, but I wouldn’t have moved from that spot no matter how squashed I was getting.

“It was great, with it being such a small venue, the sound was fantastic. I think it was probably one of the best concerts of the tour that I went to. London was good but this was so intimate.”

Linden Moore was also there. At the time he questioned whether Bolan would be able to follow an energetic performance from support act The Damned, which saw drummer Rat Scabies accidentally set fire to himself, but admitted that his doubts were misplaced as soon as T Rex hit the stage.

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He said: “The Damned came on first and Rat Scabies had a habit of pouring lighter fuel on his cymbals and then setting it alight, but this night he poured it on his cymbals and it ran down his arm and the security guards had to run on and put him out. I thought ‘this looks like an interesting night...’, and I thought, blimey, Bolan’s going to have to pull the cat out of the bag here to follow them.

“But I needn’t worry, they just pulled down the curtains and the crowd went mad. It was outrageous, from the time he started to the time he finished I just stood there with my mouth wide open, it was an unbelievable night.”

Not every act had the most pleasant experience however.

The Stranglers arrived in Norfolk at the peak of their fame in 1981, having just released Golden Brown, and they received a raucous reaction, as Stuart Harvey who was there that night recalls.

Pic for EDP - EDP Blue Plaque unveiling at the Village Inn, West Runton.  The plaque dedicated to West Runton Pavillion, venue for music acts like the Sex Pistols. 
Pic by Keiron Tovell
Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2004 
Tel. (01603) 772434Pic for EDP - EDP Blue Plaque unveiling at the Village Inn, West Runton. The plaque dedicated to West Runton Pavillion, venue for music acts like the Sex Pistols. Pic by Keiron Tovell Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2004 Tel. (01603) 772434

He said: “When punk first started there was a lot of spitting and throwing beer about going on, but that had faded out in most places by this time, but I can remember Hugh Cornwell [the Stranglers’ lead singer] had a towel constantly hanging from his guitar because people just kept spitting at him and JJ Burnel on the bass and in the end he had to tell them ‘stop spitting it’s not 1977 anymore’.

“Most people stopped but one person kept having a go at JJ Burnel and in the end he snapped and threw his bass down and jumped into the crowd after him and the bloke legged it out of the venue and down the road - and that was very funny.

“When he came back Hugh Cornwell said the bloke was ‘just swimming across to Norway’, it was really funny.”

Mr Harvey saw the band three times on their 1981 tour and paid just £2 to get in that night.

West Runton Pavillion, photographed from the air, before it's demolition.
4of6
Picture; Sam Robbins
Copy; Simon Dunford
©EDPpics2004West Runton Pavillion, photographed from the air, before it's demolition. 4of6 Picture; Sam Robbins Copy; Simon Dunford ©EDPpics2004

“Amazing times they really were, I’m so glad I was there to witness that,” he added.


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