As the world marks the 10th anniversary of Michael Jackson's death, do you remember the time the star performed in Wakefield?
In July 2009, your Express reported that the King of Pop had performed in Wakefield Theatre Club in 1979, as part of the Jacksons' Destiny World Tour.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
THE rumours are true – the King of Pop Michael Jackson did perform in Wakefield for one night only.
On February, 2, 1979 fans packed into Wakefield Theatre Club to see the newly-renamed Jacksons perform on their Destiny tour.
The club was in its heyday in the 70s and would attract big-name stars from all across the country, but the 20-year-old Michael, in his pre-Thriller days, has to be one of the most famous.
Derek Smith, who at the time worked at the club's bitter rival Batley Variety Club, snuck in to see the band perform.
He told the Express: "He was one of the biggest stars in the world, even back then – and I didn't even pay to get in. They were all there on stage, performing all the hits. Their outfits were brilliant. To me, Michael Jackson was the most dynamic, brilliant performer and he showed signs of it back then in Wakefield."
The Jackson 5 had become the Jacksons a year earlier and moved from the prestigious Motown records to a new record deal with Epic.
Michael and his brothers were now joined by younger brother Randy, and Michael was set to release his breakthrough solo album Off the Wall.
The Destiny tour took the brothers to 80 cities across the world, including Wakefield.
Classic songs performed in the Theatre Club were Blame it on the Boogie, Shake Your Body Down and Destiny.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
THIS grainy 30-year-old photograph shows the King of Pop Michael Jackson on stage at an iconic Wakefield club.
Last week the Express reported how the Jacksons performed at Wakefield Theatre Club on February 2, 1979, as part of the Destiny world tour.
Since then, we have been inundated with telephone calls and e-mails from music fans who were at the show, and some who remember it differently.
Hazel Rylatt, of Church Lane, Altofts, who took the photograph, said: “It is a bit worse for wear after all this time, but now I’m glad I’ve hung on to it. They told us not to take any photos at the Theatre Club but we were only sat about three rows back so we took a few.
“I can remember Michael trying to get a girl to go onstage with them and she was shouting ‘no, no’. I bet she wishes she did now.”
June Harrison, 58, of Thornes, was a regular at the club in the late 60s and 70s said: “I seem to recall that the tickets cost £10, which was a lot of money then.
“I saw Michael Jackson many years later at Roundhay Park but it was not as exciting to watch as that night in Wakefield.”
Mark Redfern, 51, of Thirlmere Road, only went to the gig after he was offered tickets while in the pub.
He said: “We had a great time. When he sang Ben all the mill lasses at the front were screaming and crying. “I was over the moon when I read the Express story. Over the years I’ve told people but always got the same response, ‘Michael Jackson in Wakefield, yeah whatever’.”
And though some fans claim the Jacksons also performed in the early 1970s, the Express can’t find any confirmation of this gig.
Session musician Steve Green played in the club’s house band in the 70s.
Mr Green, of Liverpool, said: “Michael was only young, maybe 14 or 15. We spent the afternoon recording with the band and the evening playing.
We knew at the time he had something special. The boys were all perfectly mannered and a pleasure to work with.”
Sandra Hartley also remembers seeing a younger band at the club. She said: “I saw them perform at Wakefield Theatre Club but I am almost certain it was in the early 70s.
It was a Saturday afternoon concert and I am sure Michael was only between 10 and 15, he certainly was not 19 or 20.”
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