Starting with the fifties, the season celebrates the history of pop music through the decades. Over four special weekends across the year, pop stars and music fans alike will give their own perspectives in this major season of tailored programming and content across the BBC. The stars at the centre of the pop scene and the people who loved the music will celebrate a given decade, with BBC Two focusing on the musicians’ reminiscences of the time and BBC Four telling the stories of those years through the fans’ experiences and memories in the ‘People’s History of Pop’.
We’ve interviewed those who have uploaded their stuff to the online People’s History of Pop project to make a film telling the fans’ stories from the decade 1955-1965.
Episode one will be presented by Sixties fashion icon Twiggy (to be broadcast on Friday 15 April). The programme will celebrate the decade in which we created our very own pop culture. It hears from skiffle players, fans of The Shadows, Liverpudlians who frequented the Cavern at the height of Merseybeat, Beatles devotees, dancers on Ready, Steady, Go!, mods, lovers of ska, bluebeat and Millie Small, and fans of The Rolling Stones.
Twiggy says: “I’m so excited to be taking part in the People’s History of Pop and telling the story of all that pop music meant to us in the Fifties and Sixties. This series is seen through the eyes of music fans, from lovers of skiffle to rock ‘n’ roll, pop to ska, and rhythm and blues to folk… it’s the precious music we all cherished, danced to and went giddy over. And music can evoke such strong memories. In fact, I can remember like it was yesterday, being one of those screaming girls at a Beatles concert. At age 13, I went with a friend to see them at Finsbury Park Astoria. My lovely Dad was going to pick us up afterwards, but at the end of the show we went to the stage door to try and see the group and so I wasn’t where I said I would be, and Dad couldn’t find us. He was frantic with worry but eventually found us and drove us safely home. It was a night I will never forget.”
Stories uncovered in episode one include a young Lonnie Donegan fan asking Lonnie back to his mate’s parents’ house so they could have an impromptu skiffle jam – and he said yes; what it was like to go to a recording of legendary music show Ready, Steady, Go!; and a schoolgirl’s dream comes true when The Beatles turn up at the pub where her mum was a waitress – but will her mum drag her out of school to meet her heroes?
Unearthed pop treasures include a recording of John Lennon’s first-ever recorded performance with his band The Quarrymen, at a fete in Liverpool on the day he met Paul McCartney for the first time – which viewers will see Twiggy listening to at the legendary Abbey Road studios; rare acetates of Merseyside musicians recorded by Percy Phillips (who also first recorded The Quarrymen once Paul and George Harrison had joined) in his living room in Liverpool; and Please Please Me in stereo – from a very rare pressing uploaded by a contributor.