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The Glasgow Empire

PostPosted: Mon Sep 20, 2010 7:21 am
by Dexter St. Clair
I suppose we must suspect entertainers' biographies as to their veracity but there are enough stories to unerline the claim that the Glasgow Empire was a tough place to play.

John L Williams: Miss Shirley Bassey (Quercus)
as reviewed by Brian Beacom in The Herald
Bassey’s drive to become famous was clearly matched by her libido. She had an affair with her first showbiz manager, the married Mike Sullivan, but what she also had was the guts and talent to survive theatre circuses such as The Glasgow Empire.

“It was like a bear pit,” she remembered fifty years later. “I stood in the wings and heard the audience boo the acrobats when they all but lost their balance and boo the comedians when their jokes weren’t funny enough. When I walked on, they began hooting and hollering and telling me to get my clothes off.”

Any more biographical descriptions?
Bassey simply waited and then appealed to the crowd for the chance to sing. The ploy worked. From now on, any screaming and hollering would be down to her.

Re: The Glasgow Empire

PostPosted: Tue Sep 21, 2010 7:07 am
by Dexter St. Clair
Tales from the Empire

Showbiz veteran Johnny Beattie said when he played the infamous Empire Theatre, he made his roots clear.
He said: "I was there in 1957 but then I'm no daft. I put a kilt on. I wanted them to know 'I'm one of you'."
The theatre was notorious as the "graveyard of comics", particularly English ones. The city's Pavilion could also be a tough gig but it was the Empire which cemented Glasgow's unforgiving reputation.
Johnny said: "It was the place where no turn was unstoned. Actually, if they had talent, they got by. I remember seeing an unknown Max Bygraves and they loved him. They recognised talent.

Annie Brown Daily Record

I'd say that was the Empire audience's tough reputation shot to bits.

Re: The Glasgow Empire

PostPosted: Tue Sep 21, 2010 7:23 am
by dimairt
Bobby Darrin played the Empire in 1960, headlining a bill that included Duane Eddy and Clyde McPhater.
Darin upset some of his fans when he started to sing his Sinatra-style numbers - they wanted Splish Splash, Queen of the Hop and let him know it.
Darin asked the band to stop playing,walked to the front of the stage and told the audience that if they didn't "wise up", the show was over. They "wised up" and he went on to do a great show with the audience behind him all the way.

Le durachd,


Re: The Glasgow Empire

PostPosted: Tue Sep 21, 2010 11:16 am
by gap74
Worth mentioning Bob Bain's Empire website at this stage (geddit?) here:

Nice pic in there of a young Albert Finney swinging the hammer on stage to mark the start of the demolition.

Bob is Secretary of the Scottish Music Hall & Variety Theatre Society:

I'm not a member (probably should be, seeing my cinema and theatre interests and the fact that Bob was, like me, a Stage Doorkeeper!) but I do have a fair pile of the society's magazines someone gifted to me.

Re: The Glasgow Empire

PostPosted: Tue Sep 21, 2010 8:49 pm
by robertpool
just bought this one today from 1961


and here is some more








That's all folks