The small town of Pembroke, tucked away in West Wales in the UK, has been kicking itself for forty years, having missed out on a Rolling Stones concert over fears for health and safety.
But all is not lost: a tribute concert is to be held in the town today to try to make up for that lost opportunity back in September 1973. But it won’t be the Stones.
The 1973 concert would have been held before 12,000 fans at historic Pembroke Castle – birthplace of Edward VII – but the borough council, branded “old fogeys” by fans at the time, put the kibosh on the gig by raising fears for health and safety.
Pembroke town – close to the west coast of the UK – is located at the bottom of a small valley, and is flanked on all sides by arable farmland and woodland.
The legendary Stones – still gigging after all these years – were planning a European tour and had been given the opportunity to fill a gap.
Over the years since the Stones would have played new housing estates have sprung up. Yet the population is still only around 7,500.
The BBC quotes DJ BB Skone – a.k.a. Malcolm Cawley, who was 24 at the time – as saying: “Pembroke Castle had hosted Hot Chocolate, and other venues had regularly hosted chart acts, but nobody had at that stage had anyone near the Stones.”
‘Inundated by hippies’
But the local council didn’t grant permission. Ann Dureau, who, then in her 30s, was a councillor on the borough authority at the time, tells the BBC: “The response was utter horror. The councillors said it would mean closing the whole of the main street and shop windows would have to be battened down.
“They were saying things like ‘we’ll be inundated by hippies and wild people’.
“There was a meeting and it was thumbs down completely when it came to the vote, although I voted for it.
“Young people couldn’t believe that we’d lost such an opportunity, and, in retrospect, it was a bold plan and it was a pity we didn’t grab a chance to see what would happen.”
The tribute band putting on the gig are called the Counterfeit Stones – but the venue can now accommodate only 2,700.
The Counterfeit Stones were aware of the cancelled concert in 1973, and their lead singer Steve Elson – a.k.a. Nick Dagger – told the BBC: “It’s a beautiful place and it would probably have been one of their most memorable gigs from that period.”
According toPembrokeshire Best magazine, the gig is to be called Rock the Castle, “and if
Pembroke Castle, where the Stones would have performed but for health-and-safety concerns
successful it could become an annual fixture in Pembrokeshire’s most famous landmark. It is the brainchild of Castle Manager Jon Williams who thought of staging the event after learning of the 1973 rolling stones concert that ‘nearly’ happened at Pembroke Castle.”
The online magazine says of the tribute act: “The Counterfeit Stones are widely regarded as the closest a lot of people will come to watching the original band, and the band has even been endorsed by Mick Jagger, who regards the Counterfeits’ ‘Nick Dagger’ as his best impersonator and describes the band as ‘the most famous Stones band in England’.
“Although they have played all over the world the band were really excited to be asked to play Pembroke Castle because they had heard all about the cancelled concert, and love the idea of finally getting the stones hits to reverberate around the Castle’s ancient walls.”