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Shakin Stevens & The Band

The Shaky tour of the Eastern Bloc was very interesting, and cold!!!
We had to go to Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and finish in East Berlin (before the Wall came down!). We had been told that, on arrival in Warsaw, we would have a one hour flight to Gdansk (north--even colder!). However, in true rock‘n’roll tradition, there was no plane (thinking about it though, it didn’t do Buddy Holly much good did it?). So we were provided with a crap old bus for the 5 hour drive to Gdansk, in the dark, on treacherous roads! (ain’t it great being a rock‘n’roll star). There was ice, on the inside of the bus, and we arrived ‘frozen’. When we got there, Shaky (he’d been in Germany doing TV and had arrived earlier) or someone, had got the Hotel to keep some food for us all, and the beer was flowing (purely to warm us up of course). Shaky and I started to mess about with a bit of a tune then I realised this could be quite good and so  I went up to my room and got my Walkman’ and recorded what we were doing. I eventually took the song home and worked on it, and it eventually became “If I Can’t Have You Baby”, the b-side of  the song that brought to an end Shaky’s incredible run of hits “Feel The Need In Me”. Freya Miller told me that it would be on the flip side of ‘What Do You Wanna Make Those Eyes At Me For’ which had been the record before, and had been a big ‘hit’. She decided to put something else on that b-side, and the song Shaky and I had written, was scheduled for the next single! Just my luck. I was pleased though to have written one with Shaky and have it recorded. I‘d never got that lucky with Cliff, something always happened to prevent it!

One of the gigs in Poland took us to a few miles from the Russian border. This was cold!!! En route to the gig at Bialystok, we came across the equipment truck, frozen solid in the middle of the night.The driver had lit a fire under the truck to try to thaw out the diesel. It freezes at temperatures more than 15 degrees below, I think it was 25 below that night!

One of the gigs in East Germany was in a converted gymnasium, and the crush of people pushing the stage, made the stage begin to collapse while we were standing in the wings waiting to go on!! The show was delayed for quite a while, as the crew tried to wedge the stage together. You don’t get this excitement working in a bank, do you? I remember another of the gigs in an ‘ice-rink’ we all went on in our overcoats!! Now I’m an animal lover, but I even wore a fur hat in those temperatures!!

The tour eventually reached East Berlin, where we recorded a 'live' TV show, WHICH I HAVEN’T GOT, BUT WOULD LIKE A COPY OF!  The next day we headed for ‘Checkpoint Charlie’ and back into the West. We were so glad to get back to civilisation, the first stop we made was McDonalds! What does that tell you?


Photographs © copyright Tony Rivers
Leaving Gdansk in our ‘Luxury Coach’
Note the 3 ‘Shakettes’ in the distance.
This is a colour picture!

The ‘Biyalistok Hillbillies’ relaxing
in catering before the show!

Brandenburg Gate,East Berlin.
Before the ‘Wall’ came down.

"Vegegurger to go, bitte!"