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Richard Houghton talks about Britain around the time The Rolling Stones emerged, which he wants to hear stories about, from people who attended the concerts of the Stones from 1962-66...

READERSVOICE.COM: How many newspapers, and in what towns and countries, have you contacted seeking people’s stories for your book?

RICHARD HOUGHTON: I’ve contacted over 100 newspapers around the UK but also in Ireland and Australia and New Zealand. The Stones played almost 1,000 concerts between 1962 and 1966, with over 300 shows in each of 1963 and 1964, and visited some towns and cities very regularly in this period. For example, they played in Manchester or its suburbs 18 times in a three year period and cumulatively will have performed to over 30,000 people in that one city alone.

RV: The book you’re working on is focusing on the social history at the time, 1962-66, in the wake of the post-WW2 austerity years, as well as stories about the Stones. What sorts of things would you like to hear about?

RH: Britain was still emerging from the aftermath of the Second World War and teenagers hadn’t really been invented. Boys wore a collar and tie and cut their hair short, and that’s part of why the Stones were considered so revolutionary – they didn’t wear ties and they grew their hair long. Girls were also expected to dress very formally. As one woman I’ve interviewed for the book said to me, there weren’t really fashions aimed at younger women. Girls bought the same clothes as their mother would buy and then altered them to make the skirts shorter. It was a time of only three channels on television, with no colour TV broadcasts and obviously no Internet or mobile phones. It’s difficult I think for teenagers today to imagine what it was like because it really was a different world. Britain was also a much less affluent society than, say, the USA. Not everyone had a car. The class system in Britain – where you grew up doing the same job as your father did and you didn’t go to university unless your parents did – was still very much in place. The differences between those two countries are much less now than they were back then.

RV: I saw one photo of you standing in front of a book shelf. What are some of the books you have there?

RH: They are all books about the Rolling Stones. I’ve got over 200 of them, although that includes some duplicates. I can’t resist browsing in secondhand bookshops and I’ll pick up a spare copy of something I’ve already got if the price is right. You never know when it might come in handy.

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-copyright Simon Sandall