The Apollo’s Opening Announced in the New Musical Express

NME report opening of the Apollo

The Apollo’s Opening Announced in the New Musical Express

It’s interesting to look back at how the Apollo was represented in the prevailing music press.  At the time the venue opened there were five music weeklies, with the top two titles, the New Musical Express and Melody Maker, having a combined weekly circulation in the region of 400,000 copies in mid-1973; a figure that would be inconceivable today.  These figures would no doubt have benefitted from the distinct lack of music represented on television (no MTV, just the Old Grey Whistle Test and Top of the Pops) and limited exposure to rock music on Radio 1, at least during the daytime.

Here’s how Andy Ross of the NME (25 August 1973) reported on the venue’s imminent opening:

It used to be called Green’s Playhouse – the Wembley Stadium or Hampden Park of dance halls (sic).  Now it’s the Apollo, refurbished and all set to house the biggest names in the business. Director Max Langdon and booker Eddie Tobin have come with an impressive programme for starters 

 Johnny Cash – 5th September

Rolling Stones – 16th and 17th September

Lou Reed – 24th September

Family – 26th September

Status Quo – 28th September

Diana Ross – 29th September

Argent – 30th September

Unicorn’s man in Glasgow & Edinburgh Jim Roulston said,  “These are just the first of a whole string of internationally known names lined up for the Apollo between now and the end of the year.  We’ve got a 3,000 capacity and basically the Apollo will be a concert and cinema venue.  The reaction to our Stones concerts was fantastic. We opened the booking office at two in the morning because of the wind and rain to cater for the people who’d travelled fantastic distances in ridiculous conditions to be sure of tickets.  The concerts are a sell out, it should go without saying.

There are a few errors within the short article, the most obvious being that Green’s Playhouse had been a cinema, not a dance hall, and the confusion perhaps originates from the presence of the upstairs ballroom.

Also, the article fails to mention Ronnie Simpson who acted as the venue’s booker alongside Eddie Tobin.  It’s important to recognise that Ronnie and Eddie can be regarded as key figures behind the Apollo’s initial success.  Before joining Unicorn, Ronnie, along with his partner Alex Scott, had ran the Music and Cabaret (MAC) Agency based in Glasgow.  MAC, which included The Bo Weavles’ Manager Eddie Tobin among the staff, became the most successful agency in Scotland, and one of the biggest in the UK, before both Ronnie and Eddie moved to the Apollo.

Ronnie went onto utilise his vast experience and contacts to book artists of the calibre of Diana Ross, and a range of other international artists, many of who would have been performing in Glasgow for the first time

I’m nit picking here, but Johnny Cash performed over two nights (5th-6th September), although the second night was probably added after the article was published.

The article also quotes the Unicorn spokesman Jim Roulston. I’m now something like eighteen months into the research project and have uncovered quite a range of information about the venue so far, but this is the first and only mention I have seen of Jim. I wonder, like many of the staff involved with the Apollo, if he is still working in live music/entertainment somewhere in the UK.  If anyone is aware of Jim’s whereabouts, I would be glad to hear from them. This applies to anyone who worked at, or was involved with the Apollo. Email me at k.forbes.1@research.gla.ac.uk

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