Research into the Winter Gardens’ illustrious past by local historian Ted Lightbown has revealed a spectacular billing, underlining Blackpool’s reputation as the entertainment capital of the world.
Some of Hollywood’s most famous names have appeared at the venue but didn’t make it on to the prestigious Roll of Honour displayed in the Church Street entrance.
This was in part due to the fact that some US stars, such as Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland, performed at the Winter Gardens when their careers were on the wane. Nevertheless they received a very warm welcome in the resort, and then afterwards at the London Palladium.
Some of the greatest bands of all time have rocked the Winter Gardens, although groups haven't featured on the Roll of Honour to date. The Beatles made two appearances at the Opera House in the summer of 1964. The first was in July, and the second in August when they shared the bill with The Kinks and The High Numbers - later renamed The Who. Those at the concert will no doubt recall straining to hear The Beatles over screams from excited fans. Others remain in awe of this huge triple billing, including a member of the History of Blackpool Facebook Group, who said: “Wow, The Beatles, The Who, and The Kinks playing on the same bill? What I would do to find a time machine to get to this gig!”
Another distinguished British name on the extended Roll of Honour is Sir Cliff Richard, who performed with The Shadows at the Opera House in July 1960. 'The Peter Pan of Pop' is set to return to the Winter Gardens an incredible 60 years later for The Great 80 Tour on 27th September 2020.
Another revered octagenarian, Dame Julie Andrews, appeared at the Winter Gardens as a teenager with her parents in the 50s. A child star, she was already well-known, having performed for King George VI and Queen Elizabeth at the London Palladium aged just 13, and also starred alongside Josef Locke in Coconut Grove at Blackpool's Hippodrome the year after.
In 1954 jazz legend Nat King Cole graced the Opera House stage, the same year he re-released his 10-inch compilation Unforgettable as a 12-inch LP. His co-performers for the Sunday night concert were Ronald Chesney, Jack Simpson and The Stargazers.
From rock stars to members of the Rat Pack, the Winter Gardens has hosted some of the biggest names in showbiz. Over the decades greats including The Andrews Sisters, Marlene Dietrich and Bob Hope have trodden the same boards as superstars such as Rod Stewart, Elton John, Tom Jones and many more...
The extended list of unforgettable acts the Winter Gardens has been honoured to welcome are as follows:
Sammy Davies Jnr
Photographs of The Beatles are from a series taken by the late Peter Emmett, the esteemed Blackpool Gazette photographer known as “Mr Blackpool”.