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1978 - Back From The Brink

ac dc whilst 1978 was a brilliant year for music at the apollo, the real story was to unfold when the venue's owner, mecca, announced plans to convert the auditorium into a bingo hall.russell leadbetter captures the feeling of the public and the performers:"tears were shed ...Whilst 1978 was a brilliant year for music at the Apollo, the real story was to unfold when the venue's owner, Mecca, announced plans to convert the auditorium into a bingo hall.

Russell Leadbetter captures the feeling of the public and the performers:

"Tears were shed for what looked like being the Apollo's swansong. But a big campaign got underway immediately. Petitions were drawn up. Debates were carried on through council chambers and newspaper columns usually reserved for weightier issues. Councillors joined with Scots rock emigres. Radio 1 DJs and even the Church of Scotland Presbytery to save what was seen as a valuable cultural asset in the West of Scotland".

There are various references to the bingo plan in Russell Gilchrist's autograph book. 'Last time at the Apollo - what a drag'! wrote Black Sabbath. Lindisfarne's Ray Jackson chipped in with 'Fat bingo stinks'!

But it was The Boomtown Rats who best summed up the wellspring of public feeling for the venue. Johnnie Fingers said the Apollo was the 'best gig in Europe'.

Head Rat Bob Geldof pulled no punches with his contribution: 'The only thing that should happen to the Apollo is that it be torn down by rock fans brick by brick while a rock band play 'Scotland the Brave' at 50,000 watts', he wrote. 'Fuck bingo, long live rock'.

That was on 23 June 1978. Just over a fortnight later, on 6 July, Christian played the Apollo's 'final' gig. This gig was also the only concert ever to be licensed to sell alcohol at the Apollo. The golden tickets issued for the gig are much sought after.

Fortunately for music fans, the public campaign lead by 2 fans, Christine Oliver and Valerie Paul, was successful and Mecca's plan did not come to fruition. 1978 was to become one of the best years in the Apollo's history. Tom Robinson and SLF reopened the Apollo on 29 Sept.

On the 17 January, reggae stars Steel Pulse played the Satellite City Disco above the Apollo. Support group was the the newly formed Simple Minds playing their first ever gig.

Scottish music critic Billy Sloan reported: "....I covered a seminal punk gig at Satellite City Disco, above the legendary Apollo Theatre, the former Green's Playhouse.

Headliners were reggae stars Steel Pulse. The support was superb, too. First on were The Nu Sonics. Their blond vocalist was Edwyn Collins and the band evolved into Orange Juice.

Next up were a rather arty-looking bunch, whose charismatic frontman had a pudding bowl haircut and wore a long priest's frock coat. He performed a song called Pablo Picasso, with lyrics which went: "Pablo Picasso/All the girls think you're an asshole."

There was something about him. He looked like a star. After their set, I knocked on the band's dressing room door to ask his name for my review. He was called Jim Kerr - and his band Simple Minds would go on to become Scotland's most successful rock act."

1978 also saw one of the most famous concerts performed by AC/DC. The bands performance on the 30 April was to become the bulk of the album "If You Want Blood (You've got it)" remembered by many fans for Bon Scott's "Any virgins in Glasgow"? during a classic version of "The Jack".

This concert is also remembered for the encore when AC/DC recalled their Scottish roots by coming on stage dressed in the Scottish Football strip. The reception they received was typical of the Glasgow choir.

lizzyAnother band who knew how to get the crowd on side was Thin Lizzy, who funnily enough wore Scotland tops that year too when they appeared on the mighty stage.

In Green and Barker's "A Riot of Our Own" about the Clash's tour in 78, the band tell how they had been told that their show was to be the last at the Apollo. Rumor was that, "...the black-suited, red-necked Clydeside bouncers...." were going to get revenge on the Glasgow crowd for making their life hell over the years.

The Clash played in a very tense atmosphere and found themselves asking the crowd and the bouncers to stop fighting on numerous occations.

Subsequently, Jo Strummer and Paul Simonon were arrested for being drunk and disorderly after a gig, and both are later fined.

It is also said that an impromptu version of the band's "The Prisoner" was sang by the imprisoned Clash boys and fans in the police cells. One fan claimed that this is a rock 'n' roll myth when writing in the NME:

SO THERE were 50 or 60 Clash fans outside the Apollo eh? (NME 15. 7. 78) ... Bollocks - more like 300. I was there, where I was thrown to the ground by one of the local constabulary, cut all my face and hands and was later arrested for breach of the peace. In the cells a chorus of “The Prisoner” was sung once, by myself and about two others and that was that.

When chatting to Joe and Paul they were really alright, but fuck, they can walk out the court laughing, I can’t. when I appear in court in a month or so I’ll probably get about both their fines joined together (if I don’t go down). No joke when you’re on the dole.

The Clash gig won’t even come into it, just another Glasgow kid drunk causing trouble. So Joe, when my fine comes up and I can’t pay it (I don’t wanna be the prisoner, maaan) I’ll send you a letter and you can help me out".

The incident ended in suitable style when the band met Lionel Blair in the lobby of their hotel. He apparently smiled at them and said, "Well, that's show business".

click the links to see video from The Clash's Rude Boy movie Part 1 and Part 2

Apollomemories story about the Black Sabbath/Van Halen gig at the Apollo appeared as "Stage left" in the Herald:

".....when Black Sabbath were supported by Van Halen. The tour was famous for its backstage partying, especially involving Ozzy Osbourne and Dave Lee Roth. Says Scott: "Presumably in an attempt to get to his drinking buddy, or to avoid yet another Eddie Van Halen guitar solo, diamond Dave exited stage right.

To his surprise, he found himself standing in the middle of Renfrew Lane. On turning around to run back into the theatre, he was confronted by one of the infamous Apollo bouncers. 'You'll need a backstage pass if you think yir cumin in here pal.' 'But I'm in the band,' Dave responded. 'Aye, right. On yir bike, pal. You look nothing like Ozzy.' No-one knows if he ever made it back to the stage."

Scottish punk band The Rezillos played their farewell gig on the 23 December, and the set was later to be released with the rather prophetic title of "Mission Accomplished". The band ended what was a classic year for music in Glasgow.
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