Legendary Lancaster boy band who performed on same stage as The Who and Status Quo to perform reunion gig

A Sixties schoolboy band who performed in Lancaster and Morecambe on the same stage as the likes of The Who and Status Quo play a reunion gig this month.

The Bootlacers, who were known as the youngest band around the area during the 1960s, will perform again on September 15 to celebrate their 60th anniversary.

The band was formed in December 1963, mainly by four boys living on Lancaster’s Ridge estate, influenced by the music of Buddy Holly.

Lead guitarist Michael Wilding’s parents ran a tobacconist in Ridge Square while the parents of bassist Mick Woods ran a bakery there. Drummer Brian Holmes lived in Patterdale Road and rhythm guitarist Melvyn Williams lived in Kentmere Road.

But they needed a singer so Graham Davies, who lived in Whalley Road and knew one of the guitarists from school, auditioned and the rest is local music history.

The Bootlacers practised in an attic in Slyne Road and within a few days, they were playing their first gig.

“Mel’s mum was the cook at Marks & Spencer so we performed at their annual dinner dance at the Elms Hotel in Morecambe,” remembered Graham.

“We were a good vocal harmony group and played cover versions of songs by The Beatles, The Who, The Stones and the Kinks, mainly to a teenage audience.”

By 1964, the band were playing at Skerton Methodist Hall and at the Priory Ball. They also performed on New Year’s Eve at Morecambe’s Floral Hall with The Reverend Black and The Rocking Vicars who had signed to Decca Records, the company which famously rejected The Beatles.

The Floral Hall went on to be one of The Bootlacers’ regular venues as did Morecambe’s Central Pier where they appeared on the same bill as bands including The Who, Manfred Man, the Moody Blues, The Animals, The Move and Status Quo.

The band finally laced up their boots in August 1968 and lost touch until 2007 when they first reunited and they’ve since played again annually. Sadly, Mel Williams had died, aged 48, so the line-up now includes Mark Boulton on keyboards.

To mark The Bootlacers’ 60th anniversary, they will perform a special concert at the Vale of Lune Rugby Club with proceeds to CancerCare. The gig starts around 7.45pm on September 15 and tickets are available on the door.