He’s interviewed The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Hollies in Huddersfield and even had Dusty Springfield round for tea.
And now you can listen to Huddersfield music journalist Laurie Stead’s interview with The Beatles from 60 years ago.
This year is the Kirklees Year of Music and, as part of that, 12 podcasts called TOWNSOUNDS have been released which explore Kirklees’ rich musical heritage.
They are hosted by community songwriter and historian Sam Hodgson and uncover previously untold stories through interviews with local musicians. The music ranges from folk and choral to Bhangra.
In the episode called Roll the Rock Home: 70 years of rock and roll in Kirklees, Sam uncovers the little-told story of the Kirklees rock and roll scene in the 50s, 60s and 70s and features The Beatles interview clip recorded by Laurie and not heard for decades.
But how did Laurie manage to organise the interview with the Fab Four on his home Huddersfield stomping ground?
In the late 1950s a very young Laurie Stead joined hospital radio in Huddersfield when the station broadcast to 14 hospitals and welfare homes including one just for blind people.
Within a few years he was interviewing some of music’s biggest stars because at that time Huddersfield was well and truly on the music circuit with both The Beatles and The Rolling Stones playing the ABC cinema in the town centre along with a host of other stars he met.
These included The Hollies, The Animals, Dionne Warwick, Cat Stevens, Gene Pitney, Joan Baez, Del Shannon, Gerry and The Pacemakers, Freddie and the Dreamers, Helen Shapiro, Elkie Brooks and Ken Dodd.
The ABC cinema was regularly transformed into a live music venue as was the Tudor Cinema on Zetland Street which was later renamed the Essoldo.
Laurie was big friends with Gorden Kaye who later became one of the best-known faces on British TV in sitcoms such as Allo Allo, Are You Being Served?, Porridge, Minder and Coronation Street.
Laurie, of Grange Moor, said: “Life was very different back then and we learned as we went along although, in our case, it was while speaking to some of the massive stars of the day. The first one we did was Billy Fury.
“The Beatles were right at their peak when they came to the ABC and, like everywhere else, you couldn’t hear them playing for the girls screaming.”
Usually there were four local lads who did the interviews – Laurie, Gorden, photographer Brian Lawton who was a postman during the day and someone from Huddersfield Tape Recording Society so they could actually record it for the radio. This was usually David Whiteley who later became Head of Sound at Yorkshire TV.
The quartet normally got backstage at all the gigs without a problem although Laurie suspected The Beatles one might be different so wrote to their manager, Brian Epstein, who replied, saying: “I have made a note to advise the group that they will be involved in an interview on that day.”
And they honoured it although only Gorden and Laurie were allowed backstage from his gang of four.
John, Paul, Ringo and George answered his questions, but had knockabout fun doing it.
When Gorden said he understood they’d all met on the upstairs of buses, Ringo said it must have been downstairs as it was too tiring for him to climb the stairs.
John said the Huddersfield show was “one of the best receptions we’ve had.”
When asked what his favourite film was he said it was the 1962 film The Trial directed by Orson Welles about an unassuming office worker who is arrested and stands trial but is never told what crime he’s accused of committing.
He said he loved listening to American groups and if he could go anywhere without being followed by screaming hordes of fans where would he go?
“I’d go to see my dad,” said John. “He’s still in Liverpool and he’s a good lad.”
Gorden even asked the Beatles what they’d do when all the euphoria ended and their music career was over, thinking it would only last a few years.
George, who revealed he read Tolstoy in his spare time, said his ultimate ambition was to join the Royal Navy and be a Lieutenant Commander on the HMS Queen Victoria. He claimed his favourite place to visit was Hull and he loved traditional jazz, especially Kenny Ball.
When asked if he thought fans were paying too much for their tickets, George replied: “Only those they buy on the black market. I don’t like them as they’re making money which should be ours.”
One of the band members then claimed: “George is going solo” before another hit back with “so low we can’t see him.”
Ringo – apparently so named because of all the rings he wore – quipped: “I’ve never bought a ring in my life. They’re all presents.”
Days before the show fans queued all night to buy tickets with some willing to pay the top price of 10 shillings and sixpence.
When Laurie asked one girl what she’d do if she met The Beatles, she replied: “I’d talk to them, then I’d faint.”
Huddersfield Round Table and Huddersfield Ladies Circle turned up in a van to serve 1,786 cups of Bovril to keep the queuing crowds warm.
Dusty Springfield played Huddersfield on a Wednesday but the only problem was the town shut down at 1pm as it was half-day closing.
She was peckish and wanted a cup of tea so Laurie took her to his parents’ – James and Kathleen – home on Zetland Street in the town centre, chased by loads of kids desperate for her autograph.
“She even took her shoes off before she went inside, “ said Laurie. “Mum then made her a sandwich and a cup of tea and Dusty spotted I had the latest Joan Baez album and asked me to play a track from it. She was lovely.”
By this time there was a huge crowd outside the house but the Steads lived next to the Irish League Club so they took Dusty through the club and Huddersfield Polytechnic students formed a guard of honour from the club across the street to the Tudor where she was playing so she could get there safely.
Laurie did an interview with The Rolling Stones in around 1963 which was recorded on acetape but is now very fragile and he’s not been able to afford to get it transferred onto compact disc.
Laurie, who was jazz correspondent at The Huddersfield Examiner for many years, loves cabaret music, especially the cabaret scenes in the USA and London. He does a monthly podcast called The Cabaret Room where people will hear singers they’ll have never heard before.
Each podcast is 50 minutes and you can hear it on Laurie’s website The Cabaret Room (https://www.thecabaretroom.co.uk/), Apple Podcasts or the Amazon-owned Audible platform.
For more about the TOWNSOUNDS project and to listen to the interview with The Beatles go to https://www.musicinkirklees.co.uk/en-UK/topic/63bef44790a31c514f73cf5f and scroll down to Episode 3.
Scroll through this incredible gallery of images by BRIAN LAWTON below
Written by ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR (https://ah-pr.com/) specialising in press releases, blogging, website content and copywriting.