Camping out for the Rocket Man

Elton John fans queuing overnight for his Preston Guild Hall concert in 1976
Elton John fans queuing overnight for his Preston Guild Hall concert in 1976
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Cameron Charters recalls the night Sir Elton John came to town

It was one of the coldest nights of the year on February 14 1976 but that did not stop a group of 100 Elton John fans spending the night in sleeping bags outside Preston’s Guild Hall.

They were there to grab tickets for their hero’s concert ten weeks later.

During the night Alan Baker, the operations manager for Preston Guild Hall, stood watch and commended the queuing fans saying, “The way the fans have behaved is a credit to Preston”.

When morning arrived and the box office opened 2,000 people were in line eagerly queuing for their tickets.

By 11am the tickets were all gone.

Successful Elton John fans with their tickets for  his Preston Guild Hall concert in 1976

Successful Elton John fans with their tickets for his Preston Guild Hall concert in 1976

The faithful had endured sub-zero temperatures and an uncomfortable night but they left happy.

Keith Johnson, 17, at the time and from Cumberland House, Preston, said: “It’s all been worthwhile,” as he waved his ticket enthusiastically.

This was to be Elton John’s second concert in Preston, he had appeared before in 1973 and would appear for a final time in March 1979.

The ‘Louder Than

Elton John fans on stage at Preston Guild Hall concert in May 1976

Elton John fans on stage at Preston Guild Hall concert in May 1976

Concorde But Not Quite As Pretty’ toured rolled into town one May 2, the fourth stop on the star’s nationwide tour.

The set-list for the tour included classics such as Rocket Man, Grow Some Funk Of Your Own, Island Girl and The Beatles’ Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds.

The Lancashire Evening Post reported that the noise rivalled the choirs of Wembley.

The fans threw gifts for their hero and a golden top hat landed at Elton’s feet, while a football scarf looped around the singer’s neck.

Elton John entertains the fans at Preston Guild Hall concert in May 1976

Elton John entertains the fans at Preston Guild Hall concert in May 1976

He played for two hours and the Post reported: “The Pied Piper of Pop has played to bigger audiences than that at Preston last night- but never to one more enthralled and devoted.

“From the moment Elton’s sequined piano was uncovered the chanting and thunderous foot stamping started. The rock ace, reported to earn £2m a year, had them reeling as he switched on a super show.

“For Elton and his thousands of Preston admirers it was a night to remember.”

Elton John takes a drink on stage at Preston Guild Hall concert in May 1976

Elton John takes a drink on stage at Preston Guild Hall concert in May 1976