A “tiny terraced house” behind West Hartlepool’s gas works became a secret hideout for a pop idol in March 1964 - as revealed by the Mail.
Rock and roll singer Joe Brown sought refuge from fans and fame at the Dyke Street home of his 20-year-old fan club manager Stan Laundon during a tour of the region.
“I think the North East is marvellous, but the teenagers are a bit wild,” Joe told the Mail. “It was great when Stan invited us here, but for the sake of his family we thought we’d better keep it quiet.”
Hartlepool-born Stan had originally worked as an apprentice factory turner after leaving school, but hated the job and “could not wait to get out”.
A life-long love of music saw him volunteer to run a fan club for Joe from his mother’s home in 1959 and, three years later, the post was made permanent.
“Thank God for Joe Brown, because it was all down to him that I managed to get that lucky break in the first place,” said Stan.
I think the North East is marvellous, but the teenagers are a bit wild. It was great when Stan invited us here, but for the sake of his family we thought we’d better keep it quiet.Rock and Roll singer Joe Brown in March 1964.
“When Joe had his number one hit with A Picture Of You in May 1962, that’s when I finally made the break and left the factory behind.
“It was also the time that I started a new and exciting career working with Joe in London on a full time basis - a period which lasted four wonderful years!”
Stan was two years into his job when Joe started a tour of the North East in March 1964. The shows proved sell-outs - and the fans wild.
As screaming teenagers tried to shadow his every move, Joe was left with the problem on finding somewhere quiet for rehearsals - which was when Stan stepped in to help.
“The beat of guitars all afternoon, and a green sports car parked outside, have been the only clues that the group were there,” revealed the Mail.
“But apart from a few inquisitive children, no-one knew what was going on. Behind the scenes it has been a hectic couple of days of rehearsals.”
Even Stan’s mother, Ethel, got in on the act - helping to keep the rehearsals secret, as well as supplying the boys with an endless stream of snacks and beverages.
“I’m one of Joe’s greatest fans,” she told the Mail. “He is one of the nicest lads I have ever met. I hope he comes back more often.”
Stan spent a further two “very happy and informative” years with Joe, before deciding to quit towards the end of 1966 and search for a new career.
“It took a little while for that other lucky break to come along, but in 1970 I was fortunate to join BBC Radio Teesside, later known as BBC Radio Cleveland, where I spent 23 very happy years!” he said.
“But I still feel that I owe a lot to Joe for the knowledge and outlook on life he gave me.”