The Night Stardust Fell on Kivvy Pit, & Presley Rocked Our Recca’!

STARS (shooting variety) toyed gloriously with the unfathomable infinities of space dwarfing the puny outlines of Kiveton Park Recreation Ground (our Recca’), while comets spewed shimmering clouds of heavenly dust over our pitiful two-million-ton Pit Tip, as weary miners, freshly hoisted from deep in the bosom of Mother Earth cheered aloud when greeted by a showering storm stardust. All this came to pass the night Elvis The Pelvis stole the show at Kivvy Feast Week. At least that’s how it seemed to me.
I am prepared to swear that the earth moved for this fifteen-year-old Yorkshire lad that night in 1957 as I perched on the steps of The Waltzer, centre of attraction in the travelling fair that parked his ancient carcass on the village Recreation Ground, while The King of Rock delivered his astounding rendition of “Big Hunk O’Love” over the ear-busting Tannoy speakers.
This annual ‘festival’ may not have been up to much, viewed through the eyes of a Townie, yet for kids in this one-horse pit village, which didn’t even boast a set of traffic lights to liven up long winter nights, antiquated penny-in-the-slot machines plying their seamy trade were magnets of the highest calibre. Youthful muscles eagerly bulged in feeble attempts to smash a soggy drop-down leather punch ball into the middle of next week; no-one despaired when the coconuts fought shy of puny wooden missiles; and I’m pretty sure it made not a blind bit of difference if our blue suede ’brothel creepers’ with thick crepe soles were caked in mud that spattered fluorescent green socks, peeping out from 12 inch-bottomed drainpipe trews.
Very soon The King was “All Shuck Up”, and so was I, dizzied into submission by the spinning Waltzer ride, and now squashed flat against the wooden boarding by the immensity of rock ‘n roll. Out of this dross of cheap-tack fairground paraphernalia shone the blinding light that was Presley. Rock had rolled into town big time, and nothing was ever the same again. It is not possible to overstate the impact on a whole teenage generation generated by this new wave of brash, loud, sexy music. Among all the wonders that have been visited upon young minds in the ensuing half century, there is nothing that stands comparison, so starkly did rock rebel against all that went before.
We didn’t live in a city’s suburban hub, bright lights and media on our doorstep. Kiveton was our oasis surrounded by an unfamiliar desert that began at Killamarsh at one end, Dinnington at t’other.
My record collection up until this time included a worn 78 rpm copy of “The Anvil Chorus” (on brittle shellac, not vinyl), another 78 “And The Angels Sing”, by Deanna Durbin (an old-style trilling soprano), Bing Crosby crooning “I’ve Got The World on a String”, and Louis Armstrong Satchmo-ing in his way along the grooves of another disk featuring a Bible-punching jazz classic “Shadrack, Meshach, Abednigo”.
Tune in to Radio 1? Not exactly: the Light Programme’s Children’s Favourites, presented by Uncle Mack, spun such studio delights as “Sparky’s Magic Piano”, “They’re Changing Guard At Buckingham Palace”, and “The Runaway Train Came Over the Hill And She Blew”. ‘Nuf sed’!
Let there be Elvis! First in 1956 with chart-topping “Heartbreak Hotel” pursued by “Hound Dog (you ain’t nuthin’ but a….)”! New-fangled juke boxes invaded coffer bars and pubs. Ancient 78s were rapidly heated in the Yorkshire Range, then moulded into plant pots. Vinyl 45s took over.
Bill Haley, Buddy Holly, Little Richard, the Everly Brothers, Eddie Cochran, Jerry Lee Lewis, Tommy Steel, Cliff Richard, Adam Faith, Lord Rockingham’s XI, fuelled the flames. Another bunch of rockers I saw performing live on a cinema stage in Worksop included Billy Fury (I noted ‘rubbish’ in the programme margin), Marty Wilde, a bloke called Cuddly Dudley, and the John Barry Seven, led by the guy (John) who went on to compose the music for the Bond Films and Midnight Cowboy.
Early TV shows include Six Five Special and Oh Boy, where pubescent Cliff Richard strutted his mock-Elvis stuff. And I recall deciding, earnestly, that the old world had been torn to shreds with an impact not short of a Third World War, shrugging off all the ancient stuff, including religion.
Nothing that has happened to subsequent teenage generations can match the impact of Rock ‘N Roll, musically and socially. Sure, the Internet had punched a hole in the present world’s fabric, but we had already been so much softened up by so much hi-tech progress that we took it in our stride, and eventually, for granted.
Not so rock. It lives on, still the most vibrant of musical forms. Still, it is a fact that no performer today, or since, can move the earth and shower us with stardust as did The King of Kiveton Feast Week, Elvis.


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