SPAN GET DROP ON FANS (8½ GRAND?)
By HUGH FIELDER
4 Dec 1976
So there I was, sitting like a good reviewer, notebook on my knee as Steeleye Span cavorted through their encores at Hammersmith Odeon on Wednesday, when all of a sudden these pound notes start falling from the ceiling.
In an unbridled fit of generosity, Steeleye had decided to send their fee for the evening - all £8½ grand of it - fluttering down through three specially drilled holes in the ceiling.
At first the audience sat dis-believingly as the greenies floated down, probably thinking that the notes would bear a picture of Maddy Prior where the Queen should be and that it was just another slick publicity stunt. Once the realisation that they were in fact genuine crinklies dawned the audience were up on their feet snatching at them as they hovered in the air.
The photographers at the front of the stage were having a field day snapping the antics of the crowd, Me? Well, I decided that a picture in the national newspapers the following day of a SOUNDS journalist clambering on the shoulders of the fans in an attempt to gather the pecuniary harvest might damage the image of this highly respected organ so I sat quietly where I was.
Which turned out to be the best place to be. You see it's a lot harder than you think to catch a falling pound note and a large number made their way unhindered to the floor. When I reached down to add another phrase in my notebook I suddenly discovered that I was writing on a pound note and there were a couple more nestling quietly in my lap.
Then I suddenly noticed this guy making lecherous advances at my wife, looking lasciviously at her er...protruberence. Just as I was about to invite the gentleman concerned to step out for a meaningful discussion I saw three pound notes er . . . intimately . . . attached to my wife' s personage. I plucked them from her with a skill born of years of practise (Who are you trying to kid? - Ed) and smiled sweetly at the aforementioned gentleman who no longer seemed to find her so attractive.
The idea of this free handout came from Steeleye Span themselves, helped by their manager Tony Secunda a gentleman who is no stranger to original publicity stunts (older readers may recall his days as manager of the Move when he publicised a single with a cartoon of a nude Harold Wilson and was promptly sued by that august prime minister the matter was settled out of court).
Steeleye didn't do so bad out of Mr Secunda's stunt - a long story and picture in the Daily Express, a short but inaccurate piece in the Daily Mirror (which managed to confuse the manager of the Hammersmith Odeon with the manager of Steeleye Span) and a story in the more upmarket Guardian. All of which must have helped sell tickets for the next evening's performance.
When the manager of the Hammersmith Odeon, Phil Leivers, was told of the group's plan he was a bit worried that it might cause a riot. It didn't; there was some good natured jostling but most people were remarkably amicable about the whole thing, probably because it was so unexpected. If the crowd had known it was going to happen in advance there could well have been trouble.
As it was, the following night's concert passed off without any monetary shareout, All those guys who turned up carrying suitcases, upturned umbrellas and crash helmets must have been disappointed, The reason was a short sharp phone call from the Greater London Council to the Hammersmith Odeon.