A Harborough concert promoter has announced that he is calling it a day due to spiralling costs and other commitments.
It means the Counterfeit Stones gig at Harborough Leisure Centre on December 21 will be the swan song for Dave Allen, of Mad Hatter Concerts, after 26 years of organising gigs in town.
He said: “Due to spiralling costs in almost every area over the last few years, shows have become incredibly expensive to organise.
“It was always my intention to keep tickets at a reasonable price but to keep up with inflation we would have to charge considerably more to be cost-effective.”
Dave, of Nelson Street, started promoting events in 1987 after going to a Fog Horn Leg Horn show in Northamptonshire and realising how little opportunity there was to see live bands in Harborough.
His fledgling gigs were held at The Grove Hotel in Northampton Road, more recently known as The Copperfield Hotel. As things grew, shows moved to the Assembly Rooms at Welland Park College and then in the early 90s to the leisure centre.
Dave said: “It was always my wish to do something for the town and despite requests from other venues to take shows elsewhere I was keen to keep them in Harborough.”
The Mad Hatter name was chosen because he is a collector of hats and headgear, mostly military items. In the first few years Dave promoted under the title Black Cat Music.
Over the years he was able to secure some of the best names in rock including Sir Bob Geldof, Bill Wyman, Roy Wood, Georgie Fame, 10CC, The Zombies, Spencer Davis, Duane Eddy and even US movie star Steven Segal with his blues band.
Fans came to Harborough from Russia, Sweden, France, Italy, Germany and America.
Dave said: “Many of the acts have become great friends and have been back to play but getting a call out of the blue from the management of Led Zeppelin rock god Robert Plant topped it all.
“The one stipulation was that we weren’t allowed to say who it was appearing and it became the much-fabled ‘secret gig’. However details spilled out to his fan club and the whole thing sold out in just hours with people travelling from across Europe to attend.”
Dave added: “Without the help of our team of very loyal volunteers we just couldn’t have managed. Some of them have been working for us for pretty much most of that time.
“Our main aim was always to place Harborough on the map and have people come here instead of having to travel to see top-quality events.”
Despite his love for music Dave jokes that the music gene passed him by. His elder brother Peter plays solo cornet for Kibworth Band and his late father was a drummer in The New Georgians Dance Band in the 50s/60s, but Dave himself was never a musician.
He is now wishing to concentrate on other projects and he is involved with the Harborough heritage group organising events to mark next year’s centenary of the outbreak of the First World War and in June will be organising a 1940s dance featuring Glenn Miller’s nephew John with his orchestra in full period uniform.