When people think of the most rock ‘n’ roll towns in the world, they rarely look to LS29. London, Manchester, Liverpool, New York and LA may take the usual plaudits, but people might have overlooked another contender. Yes, Menston deserves to be up there too. Well, at the very least it has a claim for the most rock ‘n’ roll place in the Ilkley area, having inspired two double platinum indie-pop albums in the last decade.
Menston’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Heritage
It is already accepted fact that Menston boasts the world’s most rock ‘n’ roll road sign, but it can also lay claim to producing one of the biggest British bands of recent years.
Three of the founding Kaiser Chiefs – Nick Hodgson, Nick Baines and Simon Rix – met at St Mary’s School in Menston, whilst Ilkley-raised lead singer Ricky Wilson attended Ghyll Royd in Burley-in-Wharfedale. Their 2005 debut album, Employment, propelled them to stardom, thanks to massive hits such as I Predict a Riot and Oh My God. It went on to sell three million copies and helped the band win three Brit Awards.
The follow-up, Yours Truly, Angry Mob came out in 2007 and featured a track called Highroyds. High Royds, of course, is the former psychiatric hospital directly opposite St Mary’s in Menston. The hospital shut in 2003 and is now a housing development:
I remember nights out when we were young
They weren’t very good they were rubbish
Running round Highroyds isn’t fun
Just teenagers testing their courage
Got news from Uncle Hew
Through a second cousin once removed
Too late there’s a housing estate
It’s called Highroyds
…as well as…
Got keys to a car
Picked up a girl from Boston Spa
…which doesn’t have anything to do with LS29, it’s just funny to hear Boston Spa mentioned in a song.
The album went on to sell more than a million copies and achieve double platinum status. However, Menston wasn’t done with spawning monster indie hits.
Leicester rockers Kasabian found fame around the same time as the Kaiser Chiefs were hitting the headlines in the mid-2000s. Following two very well-received albums, they set to work on their third LP in 2009 and songwriter Sergio Pizzorno found inspiration in the same little corner of LS29 as the Kaisers.
He cites a documentary about the West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum, of which High Royds was a part, as being the inspiration for the record, from which the anthem Fire was the standout track. The band mis-named their album West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum for reasons known only to themselves, and it went on to hit number one, be named Best Album at the Q Awards, be nominated for the Mercury Awards and hit double platinum, pushing a million sales.
Wikipedia helpfully points out…
…so now you know.
Other Rock ‘n’ Roll Contenders in LS29
Ilkley has a good claim for Menston’s crown, with Jimi Hendrix having appeared at the Troutbeck Hotel in 1967. The exact details are unclear, but it appears the gig was cut very short by police officers concerned about overcrowding.
Where do you think the most rock ‘n’ roll place is in this area? Did AC/DC stop off for a pie at the Red Lion in Burley-in-Wharfedale once? Did Rod Stewart have a kickabout on the sloping football pitch at Addingham? Leave a comment below.