Memories of a Plaistow music legend
PUBLISHED: 12:00 14 January 2017
After wowing his adoring fans for decades, Plaistow-born pop legend David Essex hung up his microphone at the end of last year with a farewell tour taking in venues up and down the country.
But in the early days of his singing career, the son of a docker and Irish traveller drew huge crowds to a venue better known for showing the latest films.
At one of his first gigs more than 40 years ago, Essex appeared at the Granada cinema in Barking Road, East Ham, on Saturday, November 2, 1974 – drawing hordes of screaming girls.
For one fan, the memories of that night remain as vivid as if they were just yesterday.
Mother-of-three Julia Green, 58, told how, as a 14-year-old, she shouted outside the dressing room window keen to get a glimpse of her blue-eyed idol.
“David Essex had been an apprentice window cleaner with my best friend Debbie’s father, Ron Beaton,” she explained.
“I went round to the side and kept shouting to get him to the window. I pretended to be Ron’s daughter.”
But after the performer came to the window and started asking how Ron was, Julia came a bit unstuck.
“I got myself in a right old pickle,” she said. “I was saying what happened to so and so and I was absolutely blagging everything.”
“Isn’t that terrible? He said, ‘Send my regards to your dad’.”
Once inside, Julia, who lived with her parents in Tyrone Road and went to Langdon Comprehensive, remembers a speaker falling off the stage and not being able to hear hits like Rock On and Gonna Make You a Star because of all the screaming.
“When I left, my little gran was standing there in her dark blue raincoat. I said, “What are you doing here, Nan?” and she said she’d come to walk me home.
“I was mortified,” she recalled. “I only lived down the road. She said she heard David singing. Secretly, she probably wanted to go in.”
It was not long after that Julia admitted the ruse to her friend, Ron’s real daughter, Debbie.
“She just laughed and asked if I could blag a way in for her to meet Donny Osmond,” she added.
Fellow fan Sue Roberts, 58, who grew up in Plaistow, recalls the excitement before going to the concert with her friend Amanda.
“It was the first time I’d seen someone famous. We were quite excited about it.
“I remember singing along. It was mad with screaming girls upstairs and downstairs.
“We were far back in the stalls. We were bobbing up and down to try and see him so we stood on our seats and they told us to get down.”
David’s appeal for Sue, who is now a grandmother living in Norfolk, lay in his boyish good looks and deep, blue eyes.
“They grab you, don’t they?” she said.
For Julia and Sue, memories of David’s Granada concert are ones they treasure.
“All these things happened when I was a child. I want to relive it all and have the memories fresh in my mind again,” Julia said.
“They were magical and happy times.”