2nd October – CHARLES AZNAVOUR
On the stage – for one night – Charles Aznavour – a 43 year old French-Armenian singer, lyricist, actor and diplomat. Aznavour was known for his distinctive tenor voice: clear and ringing in its upper reaches, with gravelly and profound low notes. In a career as a composer, singer and songwriter, he recorded songs interpreted in 9 languages. Moreover, he wrote or co-wrote more songs for himself and others. E would become one of France’s most popular and enduring singers and one of the best-selling music artists of all time. He was dubbed France’s Frank Sinatra and was arguably the most famous Armenian of his time. Jean Cocteau had said: “Before Aznavour despair was unpopular”.
4th October –
10th October – THE FOUR TOPS
Live – for one day – THE FOUR TOPS – an American vocal quartet from Detroit, Michigan who helped to define the city’s Motown sound of the 1960s. The group’s repertoire has included soul music, R&B, disco, adult contemporary, doo-wop, jazz, and show tunes. Founded as the Four Aims, lead singer Levi Stubbs, Abdul “Duke” Fakir, Renaldo “Obie” Benson and Lawrence Payton remained together performing from 1953 without a change in personnel. The Four Tops were among a number of groups, including the Miracles, the Marvelettes, Martha and the Vandellas, the Temptations, and the Supremes, who established the Motown Sound heard around the world during the 1960s. They were notable for having Stubbs, a baritone, as their lead singer, whereas most other male and mixed vocal groups of the time were fronted by tenors.The group was the main male vocal group for the highly successful songwriting and production team of Holland–Dozier–Holland, who crafted a stream of hit singles for Motown. These included two Billboard Hot 100 number-one hits for the Tops: “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)” in 1965 and “Reach Out I’ll Be There” in 1966.
By now, the Tops were the most successful male Motown act in the United Kingdom (in the United States, they were second to the Temptations), and began experimenting with more mainstream pop hits. They scored hits with their versions of Tim Hardin’s “If I Were a Carpenter” in late 1967 (mid-1968 in the U.S.) and the Left Banke’s “Walk Away Renée” in early 1968. These singles and the original “I’m in a Different World” were their last hits produced by Holland-Dozier-Holland, who left Motown in 1967 after disputes with Berry Gordy, Jr. over royalties and ownership of company shares.
Without Holland-Dozier-Holland, the hits became less frequent. The group worked with a wide array of Motown producers during the late 1960s, including Ivy Jo Hunter, Nickolas Ashford & Valerie Simpson, Norman Whitfield and Johnny Bristol, without significant chart success. Their first major hit in a long time came in the form of 1970’s “It’s All in the Game”, a pop Top 30 hit produced by Frank Wilson. It was on the back of this renewed success that they headlined this concert at the Gaumont.
In support was comedienne Faith Brown along with band The Shade and singer/comedian Mike Felix.
11th October –
19th October – OKLAHOMA!
On the stage – for six days – OKLAHOMA – Southampton Musical Society mounted a lavish production of Rodgers & Hammerstin‘s milestone musical, Oklahoma! It was the first time since 1957 that they put on this show and this was the first time at the Gaumont, marking the 10th anniversary of the partnership between the amateur company and the South‘s largest theatre.
25th October –
1st November –
2nd November – WELSH NATIONAL OPERA
On the stage – for six days – WELSH NATIONAL OPERA – In 1970 WNO stopped using the Bournemouth Symphony and other orchestras and established its own, known at first as the Welsh Philharmonia. They expanded their touring operation and for the first time included Southampton on their small list of destinations.
The highlight of the week was the inclusion in their programme of Verdi‘s opera Aida, this was the first time that such a large scale opera had been seen on the professional stage in Southampton. The Company was augmented by members of Southampton University Choral Society and the Southampton Philarmonic Society.
8th November –
15th November –
22nd November –
23rd November – THE BEACH BOYS
Live – for one day – THE BEACH BOYS – Gaumont – are an American rock band formed in Hawthorne, California, in 1961. One of the first self-contained rock groups, the Beach Boys began as a garage band led by Brian Wilson and managed by the Wilsons’ father Murray. In 1963, the group gained national prominence with a string of top-ten singles reflecting a southern California youth culture of surfing, cars, and romance, dubbed the “California sound”. They were one of the few American rock bands to sustain their commercial standing during the British Invasion. From 1965, they abandoned beachgoing themes for more personal lyrics and ambitious orchestrations. In 1966, the Pet Sounds album and “Good Vibrations” single raised the group’s prestige as rock innovators. After scrapping the unfinished album Smile in 1967, Brian Wilson’s contributions diminished due to his mental health issues.
After recording over 30 different songs and going through several album titles, their first LP for Reprise, Sunflower, was released on August 31, 1970. Sunflower featured a strong group presence with significant writing contributions from all band members. Brian was active during this period, writing or co-writing seven of Sunflower’s 12 songs and performing at half of the band’s domestic concerts in 1970. The album received critical acclaim in both the US and the UK, partly promoted by this tour. The group’s lineup for the evening’s two concerts consisted of brothers Dennis and Carl Wilson, their cousin Mike Love, friend Al Jardine and recent addition Bruce Johnston.
Support was South African band The Flames whose 1970 self-titled album was produced by Beach Boys member Carl Wilson.