I attended my first gig on March 3, 1974, when my brother took me to The Winter Gardens in Blackpool to see some new "glam rock" band called Queen. He had paid £1 per ticket and it was my first big boy's night out. I drank two pints of cider and felt ill for a week, but saw a band that would be come iconic, and who would stay with me for life. I retained the ticket stub and stored it away in my mum's old cabinet, and forgot about it, for decades.

From 1976 onwards I was sold on punk and never looked back. I "managed" a record shop near Blackpool and introduced a punk section, going to Eric's club in Liverpool every weekend, and seeing everyone. It's a shame I didn't think to keep hold of the ticket stubs - I would now have an envious collection, and could retire.

It was only about 2002 I decided to start actually keeping hold of these tickets, if only as a memento. I now have two lever arch files full of old tickets including some iconic ones from the 70s, 80s and 90s that I rediscovered.

Recently, I was showing a mate at work my ticket to see The Smiths at Manchester Free Trade Hall on March 13, 1984 when a colleague asked, "what is that scrap of old paper?" Even when I explained its significance she was less than impressed. I described it as priceless relic from a time that will never return but failed to impress upon her the significance of my beautiful possession. She was a Take That fan!

Anyone looking on eBay for old concert tickets will find a buoyant market in such items, with prices ranging from £1 to more than £500. It is an interesting exercise to narrow down the search to concerts you actually attended years ago but didn't think to retain the stub. On January 31, 1974, I took a school trip to Hardrock in Stretford, Manchester (a venue that closed in about 1979 and is now a B&Q), to see the Dutch band Focus. A low-interest gig, you would think, but I recently saw someone in San Diego selling a ticket for that very gig for $50. As a matter of research, I bid him £10 but was instantly rejected. The ticket was eventually withdrawn unsold, to be auctioned another day. I'm sure I'm the only person in the world who might want it.

On June 3, 1976, "the gig that changed the world" took place at The Lesser Free Trade Hall in Manchester. It was promoted by two students from Oldham called Pete Shelley and Howard Devoto, who had booked a rough bunch of louts from London who called themselves The Sex Pistols. The crowd was about 30 people although thousands subsequently claimed to have been there. For sure, the gig was attended by Morrissey, Mick Hucknall and four lads who would become Joy Division. I should make it clear that I was not among the crowd.

The £1 tickets themselves were a scrap of paper with "Sex Pistols" written by hand and the date rubber-stamped. One was on eBay as I wrote this for £395, but it looked a bit iffy. Later this month Peter Hook has recently auctioned hundreds of lots of his old memorabilia, including his own ticket for that gig which sold for £3.600. A must read for any fan of this era is 'I Swear I was There' by David Nolan, a whole book about that gig and the follow-up a month later.

In the 60s, 70s and 80s the premier concert hall in Manchester was The Free Trade Hall. All the big names appeared there but in about 1997 it closed down and a few years later reopened at the Radisson Hotel. During that time the building was being developed, some lucky person found a room full of unused concert tickets, mainly from the punk era, which now appear on eBay regularly.

The price asked for these old tickets varies but as a general rule, if the artist is dead, the prices jump. Tickets for Queen, Bowie, T-Rex and Nirvana can be like the Holy Grail. If you are in the market, beware of copies and forgeries.

Old tickets are big business and accessible to most. As far as I am concerned a ticket collection is not only the music fan's stamp collection, but of a far more intrinsic value because each ticket represents a cherished unrepeatable memory of a brilliant gig. Today's tickets tend to be computer print outs and a little boring, but the old ones are beautiful.













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