Rolling Stones rocked caves

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ROCK legends The Rolling Stones played one of their earliest gigs right here in Hastings.

However, it was not as you might expect in the pier’s ballroom or the now closed Crypt. Oh no, perhaps the biggest band to ever play in 1066 Country made their bow on stage at a debutante’s ball in the depths of the town’s network of caves.

Wildman guitarist Keith Richards has recently released an autobiography in which the iconic axeman reveals the band visited Hastings back in July 1963 for a gig in what is now Smugglers’ Adventure.

This would have been less than a year after the band’s first concert and just weeks after they were signed by their now infamous long-time manager Andrew Loog Oldham.

News of the subterranean performance came as a complete shock to the caves’ current custodian Trevor White, who is manager of The Smugglers’ Adventure.

He told the Observer: “We knew the caves had been used for a variety of musical performances over the centuries ranging from dances in the 18th century to regular jazz evenings in the fifties and sixties

“However, none of us realised that the great Rolling Stones had played here and now we’re desperately trying to find out more about it and see if we can trace anyone who may have been here to watch them play.

“The details are a little sketchy, and Keith may not have the best of memories for everything that happened to him in the sixties, but there’s definitely enough information in the book to prove that it did take place.”

In fact, any memories Richards does have of the event are far from glowing. In his book the guitarist - famed for his hedonistic rock and roll lifestyle, says the gig had taken place the night before a performance at the Wisbech Corn Exchange in Cambridgeshire.

He wrote: “By the greatest contrast known to rock-and-roll audiences, the previous night we’d played a debutante’s ball at Hastings caves, for somebody called Lady Lampson, all via Andrew Oldham, an awfully super-duper, upper crusty affair doing a lowlife bash in Hastings caves, which are quite big.”

And, according to his book, Life, the concert didn’t end well after someone asked the former Stones’ keyboardist, Ian Stewart, to play Moon River and a fight broke out.

“It’s extraordinary to think that one of the biggest bands in the world played here in Hastings and none of us were aware of it,” said Mr White - who was delighted with the revelation despite the less than glowing reference Richards gave the town.

“I’ve been working in the caves for more than 10 years now and I’m always discovering fascinating new information about them.”

n Did you attend Lady Lampson’s ball? Perhaps you saw another top band play in a strange local location? Email richard.morris@jpress.co.uk