By Ian Youngs
Music reporter, BBC News
Signed posters and set lists plaster the walls of Ray Morrissey's home
After more than 5,000 gigs over 35 years, rock fan Ray Morrissey can claim to be Britain's most prolific concert-goer.
On piles of notebook pages in Mr Morrissey's front room, thousands of gigs are listed, one per line, all with a mark out of 10 circled at the end.
And stacks of diaries have more details of the shows, three or four a week - what they were like, what they played, who was there.
It is a personal history of British music, documenting the hazy glory of rock 'n' roll superstars and long-forgotten bands alike in meticulous, matter-of-fact detail.
A few years ago, he spent six months putting most of the information onto his personal website.
The 49-year-old started going to gigs in 1973, when he would sneak into his local venue, the Hammersmith Odeon, now the Apollo, without paying.
His first gig there was Mott the Hoople, supported by an up-and-coming Queen. "I remember Freddie Mercury's big teeth more than anything," Mr Morrissey says.
Mr Morrissey (second left) filled in for John Lydon with The Sex Pistols
But he was hooked when punk came along. In 1976, hearing that two older boys from his school had formed a band, he went to check them out. They were called The Sex Pistols.
"It wasn't a gig as such, it was a nightclub and the band came on at midnight," he says of the show at the Sundown club, now the Astoria 2 (he gave it nine out of 10.)
"There were 200 or 300 in the nightclub, but once the band came on they all went to the toilet and went for a drink, and 20 people watched the band.
"The single God Save the Queen came out on my 18th birthday," he continues.
"Every gig was about jumping around down the front of the stage, falling over, and if you didn't come out covered with sweat, it weren't a gig."
The verdicts on his website are peppered with wry observations into stage moments ranging from the momentous to the bizarre.
"The greatest day in live music ever," he declared about Live Aid at Wembley Stadium in 1985 (10/10).
RAY'S TOP 10 LIVE BANDS
1. Sex Pistols
2. The Clash
6. David Bowie
7. The Rolling Stones
8. The Who
9. Thin Lizzy
10. Van Halen
"Noel stopped Wonderwall after two lines because he did not want any fans singing along to it," he wrote after seeing Oasis in Brighton in 2002 (9.5/10).
There were "shuttlecocks down pants" for Wham at Hammersmith Odeon in 1983 (8.5/10).
"A woman walked on to the stage and smacked Howard full in the face," was the entry after a Howard Jones gig at Camden's Jazz Café in 1995 (9/10).
"One of the greatest gigs of all time," he declared after seeing The Sex Pistols again at the Notre Dame Club off Leicester Square in November 1976 (10/10).
Snapshots from the front of that gig were featured on a poster for The Sex Pistols' Pretty Vacant single, which Mr Morrissey proudly displays.
In several of them, his sweaty, youthful face is frozen in time, mid-jump, mid-yelp.
It was on Raysgigs.com that he broke the news of a Faces reunion after talking to Rod Stewart at a party ("he was really nice").
AC/DC are to embark on their first UK tour for eight years
He has also met Mick Jagger and Madonna and was at AC/DC's second UK gig at the long-gone Nashville Rooms in Fulham in April 1976 (9.5/10) - the first of 36 times he has seen the band.
And the Australian rockers' return to the UK next April after eight years away is shaping up to be the highlight of 2009, he says.
"That's one ticket that I made sure I got tickets in advance," he says. "I've got my tickets for the O2 arena and I've already got my tickets to go to Paris for two shows. I will be seeing six shows, probably."
Getting into a gig without a ticket is rarely a problem, Mr Morrissey says, as he knows all of the touts and has honed the art of talking his way in.
"There's a fair amount of blagging goes on," he says. "There'll always be someone that I know. If you've got to get in you've got to get in. You've just got to get up there - you ain't going to get in if you're at home."
He made it into the hugely over-subscribed Led Zeppelin reunion at the O2 last year as a guest of one of the Sex Pistols, and is London correspondent for a Sex Pistols website.
So long as they've got quality gigs, I'll be making an effort - I don't like to miss out
That role led him to fulfil one of his lifelong dreams in 2002, when he was asked to fill in for John Lydon on vocals when the rest of the band rehearsed for a reunion show.
"I think the band were just saying thanks for all the help. We just had an afternoon there and messed around on vocals for a couple songs. It was an amazing experience.
"When I think about the Sex Pistols, I feel like I'm a 17-year-old again. It's weird."
Mr Morrissey worked in security at the Hammersmith Odeon in the 1980s when the bouncers got fed up with him bunking in, but has always been a fan first and foremost.
As his 50th birthday approaches, Mr Morrissey still jumps around at gigs ("a little bit, not so much") and is keen to keep up his concert schedule.
"Live music's bigger than ever - there's more bands, more festivals, more gigs generally," he says. "So long as they've got quality gigs, I'll be making an effort. I don't like to miss out."
We asked readers if they could beat Ray Morrissey's tally. Here is a selection of responses.
I think my average has to be of a similar number of gigs per week, but I've still a few years to go yet before I'm Ray's age. I remember the Oasis moment Wonderwall stopped - we mere mortals wanting to sing along... what were we thinking? I hope to continue the gig going way into my sixties - tickets are cheaper than ever now, which helps in these times of tight cash flow.
Lee, Cambridge, UK
What was the WORST gig Ray Morrissey attended?
Al, Enfield, London
Fair play, Ray! I am also somewhat of a self-confessed gigaholic. I have been gigging and festivalling since I was 15 (now 27) and I never tire of it. Week before last I saw 3 shows in the week; Rancid, Less Than Jake and Citizen Fish - all amazing gigs with some great support bands too. You have made me wish that I had employed a record system like your own though! All I have are a few tickets, set lists, and a blur of great memories and moments through my gigging history; I probably couldn't even hazard a guess at how many bands I have seen, but tonight when I get home I am going to try and find out! Long may we continue to support live music and encourage others to do it too, there is nothing else quite like it.
Becky, Bristol, UK
I started at about the same time as Ray ... seeing the Mott the Hoople and then later the Pistols, Clash etc
The DEVO gig I went to was the one that blew me away ..... Nils Lofgren was very good live as well.
A Kelly, UK
What a great [but very expensive] hobby.
Citing the 'Sex Pistols' as his best ever live band reflects the fact that the quality/calibre of the music at the gig is NOT the key concern - other factors such as ambience, vitality and personal emotional factors play an important role in one's opinion of a live act.
Rupert Peregrine-Thomas, London, UK
I went to see Hawkwind and the Pink Fairies in 1972 and I think I am still there.
Bill King, Cwmbran Wales
Still going to rock and metal gigs after 25 years, aged nearly 40, wife, kids and mortgage. Unlike a lot of other areas of life, as you get older at rock gigs, the young kids actually show respect to the older fans. There is nothing like that second when the house-lights go out and the intro starts, after 25 years of gigs, it still gives me goosebumps just thinking about it!
George Johnson, Hoddesdon, Herts
I'm known here at work as the Concert Queen! When friends need tickets for a show, they contact me to find out how and where to get them!I've been attending gigs since November 1972 at the age of 15 - Alice Cooper was my first and I just haven't stopped since then. I waited 31 years to see T. Rex and saw them 9 months before Micky Finn died, albeit without my hero Marc Bolan. Although I haven't been to as many as 5000, it must be around 1000 I reckon, perhaps even more. It's hard to judge over the years. I can top his record of the number of times for seeing the same band though - Status Quo, over 60 times!! Over the years, I too have spoken with several of the artists like Nazareth, Status Quo, Uriah Heep, Rod Stewart and been on stage with Iron Maiden here in Munich. I was at Elton John's Red Piano Tour on Saturday, going to see Stereo MC's tonight and Alice Cooper and Whitesnake on Wednesday!! My record is 5 in 10 days. Furthest I've travelled from Munich to see a band is!
London last year! Like Ray, I still bop around to many of them, especially Quo! I've had many, many brilliant experiences and memories over the years and like Ray, don't intend to give up! Keep on rockin'!!!
Moyra Conner, Munich, Germany
I get pretty obsessive about gigs, and every now and again I say to my long-suffering wife, "Right, I think I've seen everyone I've ever wanted to see", and then something else comes along. It never ends.
I also keep an online list of gigs I've been to, (for my own gratification, rather than anyone else's).
Steve Hurst, Wimborne
I started rather late in life, Pearl Jam was my first gig when I was 27, I managed to see 70 gigs two years after that. But I don't have Ray's stamina, I'm down to 3 or 4 a year now.
I think my favourite was Blues Explosion, Mule and Kepone at the Leadmill in Sheffield.
I started going to gigs in Leeds back in the 70s and still go these days though nowehere near as often. I can't rememeber what my first gig was!
best gig: sex pistols, I shall ignore that comment about the quality of the music, deary me. Awesome.
best fun: Terrorvision, excellent live performers, always worth the money
worst gig: by miles and miles, van morrison, dire beyond belief, like watching paint dry to a boring background warble.
gig I missed and regretted it: Queen at wembley, I was skint.
John Otway must have played nearly as many gigs by now ?
dave jones, Glos. UK
I wonder what his hearing is like..
Bill Johnson, Miami, USA
I can't quite match 5000, but I must have done well over a thousand over the years. I did manage gigs seven nights in a row once. Highlights include The Who, Johnnie Thunders, Pattie Smith, Joy Division, Springsteen and Sigur Ros.
I'm just completing a PhD in sociology exploring this topic - long-term music fans and the ways ageing shapes participation in music scenes and at gigs/clubs. There are lots of people across the country like Ray. Although not all of them document their gig experiences in such an explicit way, many older fans continue to attend gigs and being older can lead to a sense of distinction and empowerment. I wish I'd met Ray when I was doing my fieldwork - he'd have been a perfect respondent.
Lucy Gibson, Warrington, UK
I went to the Mott/Queen gig at Hammersmith Odeon in 1973, too. I remember that a big fight broke out at the end. Maybe that was Ray getting shoved out for sneaking in without a ticket?
Paul Clark, Montreal, Canada
Fisrt gig I saw was Cliff Richard in 1974 (although I dont usually count that one ;-)) Second gig was The Enid in 1976 (Thats the one I count). At age 48 I still go to on average 2 gigs per month (last two were Porcupine Tree and The Feeling) at home and on the continent.
Seen a lot of changes and a lot of bands go from nothing to the top and all the way back again. But there is still nothing like the live experience
Ian Oakley, Rayleigh UK
Unless you live in London/Manchester/Birmingham or Glasgow or you a multi-millionaire, cost is prohibitive.
I try to see as many gigs as I can, but the cost of the door tickets is a very small part of the overall cost, when you factor in travel and accomodation.
It's a shame so many bands can't be bothered to tour outside the big-four cities. If they did, perhaps I might be bothered to buy their albums.
Mark, Weymouth, UK
Well I'm a little older than Ray and have averaged around 50 gigs a year over the last few years. Next gig is Bon Iver at Victoria. Saw Leonard Cohen twice this year and other great gigs from this year include a spectacular Sigur Ros gig, Eddy Grant at the Jazz Cafe, Cure at Wembley Arena and Neil Young at the Hop Farm. My top ten only includes one of Ray's, which is The Who, I'll be watching them at the Indigo shortly. But I am just AMAZED that the best live act ever is not in Ray's Top Ten, that has to go to Bruce Springsteen, the maestro of live.
Dave Yeates, Bromley UK
I thought I'd seen a few in my time but Ray totally wipes my gig total off the map. I'm about to start my 30th year of gigs next month, hoping to nip along to a Pogues show to round off another good year and then next stop will be Leeds 2009 as funds are a bit tight!
Brian Hamilton, Dewsbury, West Yorkshire
Just had a look at Ray's website and although there's no disputing he's seen shedloads of bands, I think it's a bit of a cheat to count all the bands he saw while working as security at Hammersmith Odeon/Apollo. If you discount those that he's seen by default, I think that there are probably more than a few contenders for his crown (probably including my husband!)and all gigs paid for!
Audrey Eade, Leicester UK
Took my then 15 year old son to see Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, Motorhead and Alice Cooper last year. He loved them. Age is a state of mind!
My first gig was Pink Floyd at Wembley Empire Pool Nov 1974. Now 51, I have not stopped gigging since and at about or close to Ray's rate. I have a vast array of tickets hanging proudly on the wall at home and curse the day someone came up with paperless tickets! :) I cannot claim Ray's success at meeting the Bands but very much know the passion (not addiction) of attending a gig! I and some friends also had the idea of recording our gig comments online this year, which can be found at therockclubuk.com. Peter, Cambridge
That's impressive. Even in my most prolific gig going period (mid 80s to early 90s) I rarely managed more than one a week. I go to very few nowadays, only about one every couple of months.
Never saw anybody stopping a song because they didn't want the audience to sing along, butI do remember Pop Will Eat Itself stopping a song because the audience was out of key, they then started it again, but I don't think the audience were any more tuneful.
Chris Luxford, London
Nice to see Thin Lizzy in at number nine. When you've made eye contact with Phil Lynott at ten paces you can die happy.
simon, cockermouth, cumbria
Fair play Ray. I've been going to gigs for 26 years and I don't plan to stop anytime soon. I agree with George Johnson re goosebumps: whenever I catch a local band by chance, who are brilliant (but whom I did not know existed) the feeling I get is similar to an adrenaline rush - there's nothing like it. I signed up to Myspace only in March this year and it is absolutely brilliant for keeping up to date and communicating with my favourite bands. Being on Myspace means that I now get to see a lot more gigs that I would have missed otherwise.
Joe Deegan, Dublin, Ireland
First gig was Camel at Hammersmith Odeon 1977. 31 years later I'm crushed at the front of death metal band Opeth! You're never too old to rock'n'roll! Best gig? Devo at Sheperd's Bush 1990, followed by RUSH ... 37 times!
NR, Dublin, Ireland
I'm 34 and been going to gigs since i was 15. I think my first show was the Happy Mondays in 89 at the Manchester Gmex. Highlights have been Nirvana, Reading Festival 1992, Smashing Pumpkins, Leeds Town and Country Club 1993, and most recent Front 242 at Infest festival this year,
Stefan Davey, Bradford, UK
I bet "The Yeti" from Bristol could beat him! That guy is at 90% of gigs I attend.
Mike, Bristol, UK
He's not called "The Yeti" Mike, his name is ginger Geoff! And he's not the only one in Bristol obsessed with seeing live bands!! It's a good city for it.
Keely, Stockport, UK
I'm with Mike from Bristol on this one. Guess you're on about Jeff, he's at most of the gigs I go to in Bristol. It's not the same when he's not there, especially those gigs where about 4 people turn up to see the main act. He's always up there at the front dancing away - I tried to jump and dance around at a recent Cats in Paris gig with him and my legs were feeling it the next day. Jeff could even be beaten by someone I see him with at gigs, who travels around the country seeing bands most nights. These are the true gigaholics and not someone who spent 10 years working in security at the Hammersmith Apollo.
Mark, Yate, UK
Mike: That "yeti" goes by the name of Big Jeff. Local legend.
Yeti from Bristol must be up there,i've seen him in Cardiff and Bath aswell,unless that fella's got a doppleganger!
Best gigs i've been to:XTC in 1978,Magazine the same year.White Stripes seven years ago and Tinarawen this year.
Paul , Bristol,UK
'The Yeti' from Bristol is a guy called Jeff and is a totally consistent feature of the local live music scene. He has been at pretty much every gig I have been to in the area since moving here 3 years ago. Total legend. Always doing the same shuffle-dance. A programmed appreciator of music. I'm absolutely sure that by the time he has reached 50 he will be at the top of the table.
Ah .. but did he manage to blag his way into the Hammersmith Odeon one night in November 1975 for the most amazing live concert the place had ever hosted - Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band's first performance in the UK.
I'm 40 and been goin to gigs since I was 15, 1st gig was Girlschool at Preston Guild Hall. I've seen all the big rock rock bands and used to be a regular at Donington. Next year I've got Metallica, ACDC(5th time) n Take That (you gotta give in to the other half sometimes) so far and may go to Rammstein as they should be touring by the end of 2009. You can't beat live music.
Saw my first gig in the late 50's ( Cliff anf the Shadows , I'm afraid). Since then have seen everyone including Roy Orbison, Bobby Darin, Sam Cooke, Beatles, Stones etc, through to Leonard Cohen two weeks ago and Ryan Adams and the Cardinals last Saturday.
But has anyone, apart from me, ever seen Roy Rogers & Trigger live on stage?
Sister Flute, Bournemouth UK
I too have been to a fair few gigs, been going since I was 14 (The Levellers @ Guildford Civic with my Dad), the first gig I went to with just a bunch of Mates was Motorhead at the London Astoria in 2000. Brilliant. I now try to see at least two or three shows a month, be they local acts or big names in London.
Does anyone else from London way Know Hardcore Will? Always flyering for some club or other at gigs, long frizzy blonde hair....
Stavros the Viking, Woking
I'm 21, and I am in awe of someone going to so many gigs! Hopefully I can go to lots more in the future; as a skint student, I'm lucky to be able to afford one a month at the moment!
So far, I've seen about 100ish bands live (mainly at festivals as it means more bands for my money!) and the best are probably Iron Maiden and Metallica, although I've also seen newer bands like Wolfmother and Airbourne put on pretty impressive shows. The worst would probably be some local band that I can't remember the name of!
Well I'm only 23 but well on my way to being a gig-aholic. In the last two years I'd say I've been to around 100-150 gigs, I only keep a record of the signed bands that I see so I don't know for sure, I really need to start putting down all my gigs...
I've seen some of the classics, Deep Purple, Judas Priest, Motorhead, Kiss, but none of them beat Alice Cooper, his shows are just amazing!!!
As much as I love him though, at £35 a ticket, it limits the amount of times I can see him. It's the newer bands that get me travelling all around the county (and even abroad) to see them. Dragonforce I've seen 15 times, Turisas 12, Firewind 8... There's such raw power at their gigs that I really can't get enough of them. In sept/oct this year, between the Dragonforce/Turisas and the Firewind/Kiuas tours I went to 10 gigs, travelled over 2000 miles in 2 weeks and I had the time of my life! So much so I'm off to Paris in January to see Dragonforce and Turisas again. People say I'm mad, personally I'd much rather spend money on a gig and see some truly amazing bands than do what is considered 'normal' and go down to the local pub, see the same old people, get blind drunk and forget half the night....
Katie, Leeds, UK
Mr Morrissey worked at the security gate at Hammersmith Odeon in the Eighties; in which case, he missed/allowed some of us in the side entrance to see The Cure play in '83 .. Thank you !
Max, Newmarket, UK
First gig, Kinks Hinckley 1964
Most recent The Whip, Scala 19 Nov 2008.
Best recent The Libertines Rhythm Factory 15th April 2004
I try and go to as many gigs as I can, as the the 'feel good factor' of live music is pretty much unbeatable! I do - on average - 20/25 gigs a year and the comment about the costs involved is so very true, particularly if you are prepared to travel to see a band. The best band that I've ever seen - oh that's a tough one - I've seen some superb rock acts in the past - but I love Deep Purple (they need to get over into this country more often), Foreigner (also not here often enough), Styx and the ever touring Status Quo. As long as there are these classic rock bands touring, my credit card continues to get a battering to be honest and I love it!!!
Carol Hall, Woking, UK
I saw the Who when I was 12 in 1966 and have been rocking out ever since. I have see all manner of performers Bill Hayley at an Ice rink, Sh na na in a boxing stadium, and thousands of gigs over the years. I saw Queen the other week with Paul Rogers on vocal (saw him with Free in the early 70's) and have tickets for Metallica in February I have seen them lots of times. I work at Glastonbury every year so I get to see all kinds of wierd and wonderful stuff. Music is the essence of life.
Sile MacRaghnaill, Liverpool England
Keep music alive! I started out in the mid 70's. I lived in same flat as drummer with the Only Ones and that started me off. My taste is more Billy Joel, Eagles, Steely Dan and Peter Frampton. Been to about a couple of hundred gigs and at 50, now seeing the groups I missed when I had no money. I take great pleasure in my kids asking me to turn my music down.
Piddle, calne Wiltshire
Nearly 30 years for me and I'm 42. Still doing gigs and now taking my 10 year old son and 8 year old daughter(where I can). There's something very special about any gig (even the bad ones - seen a few of them!). I've done approx. 3000, and got most of the ticket stubs still to prove it. But it's not just about the main bands but also the support bands seen (Southern Death Cult supporting Bauhaus in the early 80s who became the cult) or in some cases missed (in my case The Killers, The Darkness and a few others!)My mate went to see the Buzzcocks once and really moaned about the support act who nobody had heard of at that time - Joy Division. I think Mr. Cowell and the X Factor people shoul;d learn that acts/bands only really gain followings by playing gigs, starting in pubs and working up to whatever level. Highlights for me Rammstein in Berlin, Floyd at London Arena, Numan, NIN anywhere, Fairport Convention at Cropredy festival. Low points the Cure (yawn - and I love the Cure!).
Going to see Slipknot and Machine Head next week with my 10 ear old so looking forward to that!
Keep on Rocking Ray - if I see you around I'll buy you a beer!
DOMINIC DUCKWORTH, BURTON ON TRENT, STAFFS, UK
Ive got a record of all the gigs ive been too. Of course being only 22, its nothing compared to Rays, but I don't think im too far off 1000 now, so who knows, give me a couple more decades.
MJ, Plymouth, Devon
Been a lifelong gigger myself, ever since my dad took me to see Hot Chocolate when I was very little. Lucky enough to see Led Zeppelin last year and looking forward to AC/DC in April. My teenage stepsons tell me off for saying "gig", apparently it's not cool anymore. I'm not sure what to say now!
Emma, Pontypridd, UK
Congratulations to Ray. Impressive dedication to the cause! Pretty much unbeatable, I should think.
However, do I take the record on here for the longest journey to see a gig? - July 2005, flew from Hong Kong to Amsterdam (via Shanghai and London) to see those newly reformed youngsters(?), Van de Graaf Generator, at the Melkweg. Excellent concert and totally worth it.
HG, Hong Kong
I have to agree with the comments about cost. I've been to 500-odd gigs in my lifetime and, looking at my old tickets, (now on my toilet wall!) my first gig (ELO at Wembley) cost £3.75. Even allowing for inflation I'm sure gigs are now really over-priced. As I said to a friend last year, for £50 I'd want Neil Young playing in my front room!
Jeremy Robertson, Bradford-on-Avon, UK
Long live rock. Well old friend. My first concert was U.F.O at the Hammy what a great night that was, the wierdist night was seeing Venom at Hammy as MY dearest friend supported them one "Dumpy's Rusty Nuts, thanks for bringing back such goodtimes to me.
P.S. Dumpy left me with the biggest bruise on my Bum after carrying me around the Odean on his shoulders well more than one bruise after all those smacks and bites too.
All the best to all who went to the, "Marquee Club" in Soho what a club it was.
Daniel Picard Also known as Malcolm Friend/Earl.
Daniel Picard, Basingstoke, Hampshire.
Living in the Philippines has limited the number of gigs I attended but I managed a number of bands and averaged a number of seven gigs a week for years. However for musicianship Toto were by far the best, Luke alone played on over 1000 albums. Yes I have flown from the Philippines to Rotterdam to see them and then to London. Japan were also good but right now U2 are top of my list... however I need to see Steve Lukather, worlds number one guitar player. When the Black Eye Peas covered the band I managed ASIN I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Long live the music.
last.fm is great for keeping a record of gigs you've attended. I've added every gig I've ever been to and I'm up to 156 since 1995.
Paul Jackson, London, UK
Just in case the rockers think they are the only ones ... Each year several hundred classical music fans pay £190 for a season ticket to 70-odd concerts (76 this year) in 58 days. Each year a very few go to all of them. Some have being going to most concerts each season for over 30 years. Check out bbc.co.uk/proms. Five gigs in ten days? You're not trying.
Philip, Winchester, UK
I'm perhaps not a "gigaholic", but I still enjoy going to live shows as often as possible. First gig was Gary Glitter (cringe) at the Flamingo Ballroom in Camborne, now a supermarket, probably in '73 at age 16, quickly followed by Queen and Nazareth in similarly small local venues. Lump in the throat moments include Bruce Springsteen starting his Born In The USA Wembley gig on 4th July '84(?) singing "Independance Day" unaccompanied, and Snow Patrol with my wife and 11 year old daughter at their gig at Eden last summer (a wonderful venue by the way). My daughter regularly comes with me to gigs now and together we've seen The Hamsters (many times) Wishbone Ash, Walter Trout, and the Raconteurs, amongst others. Gigs with her are always lively as we have to be at the barrier at the front! Best gig? Well Springsteen has got to be up there, together with the Who at Wembley in the late 70's with Bon Scott's AC/DC in support and Led Zep at the first Knebworth show, but recently, Joe Bonamassa was outstanding on two occasions at the Princess Pavilion in Falmouth.
Roger Green, Helston, Cornwall
First gig: Alice Cooper supported by Roxy Music. Best ever? Too many to choose - but maybe Ramones + Talking Heads? Patti Smith + The Stranglers? Most people dancing: Albion Dance Band. Worst experience: having my hearing wrecked for 3 days by Motorhead. Ah, happpy daze... People's comments have inspired me - haven't been to many gigs in the last few years, must start going again!
Richard, London, UK
My first gig was Jethro Tull at The Marquee in 1967 when I was 14 fast followed by the first of several free Hyde Park concerts with Pink Floyd and Tyrannosaurus Rex among the highlights. And I ain't stopped yet though I am far short of Ray's total. Have worked as steward at eight Glastonburies, WOMAD and four Beautiful Days - great to be involved and still see loads of bands. These days I often go to gigs with one or other of my two sons who are currently 30 and 28. For a while in the 1990s it semed there was only just one or two other 'grey-hairs' in the audience but nowadays there are loads of us at most gigs I go to. The punk generation really spawned long term commitment.
Great website and a great idea! Nothing beats the rush of live music! Loads of gigs I went to from 1985 onwards on the website and great to see the comments and who was support etc Well done!
Ray is obviously one of many Gig Junkies out there like me and everyone adding comments here! My first gig was Prince at Earlscourt when I was 12 and I was blown away, sadly I was not allowed to go to another gig until I was 15 and is was Prince again at Wembley, amazing! There is nothing like the experience of Live Music! Whether it be a new band getting experience down your local or The Rolling Stones proving their experience at Twickers! I wanted to document and share my gig experiences and let others do the same so I have started my own web stie. If you are reading these comments and don't get what all the fuss is about then get yourself to a gig ASAP! Become a Gig Junkie too!
Marc Bridgen, London, UK
Would be coming close to that tally. Travelled to Moscow, LA, New York, Vegas, and most European cities for gigs. Pink Floyd London, 7 nights in a row, Arrow Rock - Holland this summer with REO Speedwagon, Journey, Twisted Sister, Motorhead, Kiss, Whitesnake, Def Leppard are 2 of the highlights. Far too many others to mention but my hubby keeps a journal of dates/gigs/ticket stubs and marks out of ten!!!
Running our own gigs now so the number is rising quickly!! Seen 8 gigs in the last 10 days. Skint beyond skint but worth it.
fmf, BALLYMENA, NORTHERN IRELAND
Been going to gigs since 1973 and still loving them. Most recent was Friday - Mickey Finn's T.Rex in Barnsley! Picked my 19yr old son up in Leeds first, his girlfriend travelled up from London too. The best evening he ever spent with his mum; I took them back stage to meet the band and have photographs taken; the band ARE amazing. Gigging is timeless as Friday night proved. The only times I didnot pay my way, was when I was a guest of the band, not too many but very proud and honoured. Rock on, always.
Ruth, Alfreton, UK
It's a great achievement, but I totally agree with Audrey Eade that it's not fair to count all the bands that played while he was employed as security at Hammersmith Odeon/Apollo. I'm pretty sure he wouldn't have attended several gigs by Bros, Brother Beyond, Curiosity Killed The Cat, etc if he hadn't been working those nights.
Dom, Maidenhead, UK
My hobby is going to gigs, living in Glasgow I can nip along to gig nearly everynight if I want to. Generally a lot of new bands that nobodies heard of but a gig is a gig haha. First proper gig was The Wildhearts in the Barrowlands in 1995, last gig I went to was Airbourne/Stone Gods and next gig I've got is The Wildhearts in the Barrowlands 13 years later. Can't wait!!!!
Iain Smith, Glasgow
Living in North Wales, it's a real effort to get to gigs regularly, as we're a bit off the music map, but I managed 5 in 8 days just recently. These included 2 in Liverpool, 2 in Shropshire and 1 in Birmingham, but they were all worth the effort. I can't recall the first gig I went to back in the early 70s, but there were many highlights at the famed Eric's Club in Liverpool. Last gig was last week - Tommy Emmanuel and Philip Catherine in Antwerp, Belgium. Next up is Keith James in Ludlow, then Dreadzone in Shrewsbury. You gotta go where the music is!
Graham Kidd, Llanfairfechan, Wales
Have done a couple of hundred gigs over the last 7 or 8 years ... BEST GIG close call between Springsteen at Emirates Stadium this year, and The Eagles at Wembley in 96 ... WORST GIG Madness at Wembley Arena a few years ago. Loved them at the Albert Hall the year before, but on this night they forgot words, songs broke down and it was just awful.
You just cannot beat sitting (or standing) and having music played at you. It's just the best!!
Fantastic! It's great to see older people still going to and enjoying gigs. I still go to the odd concert where half the crowd is half my age, but I never let it put me off. As wee say in Belfast... Keep 'er lit big lawd!
Wayne Donaldson, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Have to salute Ray for his dedication. I've just seen Stone Gods at Norwich UEA. I know exactly what George means while your waiting for the band to appear. The lights go down, you can just make out some figures on stage in the darkness and then all hell lets loose...I can't wait to go again. Not sure how many more years I'll be able to cope with the mosh pit though ;-)
Paul Mealing, Felixstowe, England
I have been to many many gigs ranging from Shed Seven to Super Furry Animals, Crsoby Stills Nash, to Oasis to Roger Waters. have been to a lot of venues all over the U.K but yet to go one abroad which is my next target.
I'm 27 now and been going to gigs since I was 14 and keep all my tickets in a shoe box which hopefully one day I'll make into a nice framed collage of some description.
"Keep on rockin' in the free world"
Well done Ray!
I can't beat your frequency but maybe I can in longevity. I started with The Hollies and The Searchers at Paisley town hall in maybe 1963 or so and still love every minute of gig going, it just gets better and better. Stevie Wonder at Manchester was lifetimes ambition fulfilled.
Alan Mitchell, Elderslie, Scotland
First gig was The Ruts at Freshers week at Brighton Poly. Absolutely brilliant.
Worst band at a Gig, the Jam at Brighton Centre. Uninterested, self-indulgence from Weller just before he split the Jam.
Best time at a gig, Astoria earlier this year, crowd surfing at Megadeth. But no-one believes me, as I am 47.
The Booze Brothers at the Salutation pub in Protsmouth were brilliant. But that was 27 years ago.
Steve Tymms, Welwyn Garden City
I've been only been going to gigs for four years (I'm 18), but in that time i've seen Dream Theater 5 times (including 3 times last year), Joe Satriani 3 times, Steve Vai 3 times and Paul Gilbert 3 times; along with many other bands such as new found glory, death cab for cutie (x2), paramore, dashboard confessional, kanye west, enter shikari and others...
Well done, Ray. My first was UFO at Hammersmith in Jan 1980 aged 16. I was completely blown away by the live experience of a rock band and now, nearly 30 years later, I must have experienced 1,000+ concerts. Best - Springsteen of course, seen him 19 times and wish it were more. Loved Zeppelin last Dec. How lucky was that. I still get goose pimples when the lights dim and have my Metallica and AC/DC tickets in the bag for 2009. Sorry I never saw Nirvana or The Clash though.
Marcus, Chiswick, UK
I'm the same age as Ray and started going to gigs at the same time, but I've probably only been to a 10th of the number he has. My best ever gig was undoubtedly Kate Bush at the Sunderland Empire in April 1979, an evening of pure magic. We old timers are expected to moan about things were much better in the old days but there are still bands worth seeing live now like Flogging Molly, Zebrahead, Dropkick Murphys, etc.
Self confessed 45 yr old gigaholic too, first ever gig - Hawkwind - I was 10 years old, saw them at the local sports centre - Stacia danced at the gig. Mostly rock / punk gigs until i was 18 - Floyd, Zeppelin, motorhead, U2, Iron Maiden, Dr Feelgood, Stranglers, Jam, Specials (last ever gig at Bracknell sports centre due to moronic nazi skinheads fighting). Life / musical taste changing gig - Talking Heads at Wembley in 1982 - the first time i'd ever seen a conga / bongo / percussion solo done superbly by Steve Scales - this really turned me onto black music as well as staying with the post punk movement.
Smug moment - turning up at Ronnie Scotts to see 23 Skidoo having already got tickets and seeing the queue stretch down Frith Street. Bowie at Milton Keynes bowl (Lets Dance tour) - superb, New Order at the Royal Festival Hall, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Hugh Masekela, Roy Ayers. More recently - The Fence Collective - King Creosote, Pictish Trail, The Earlies, looking forward to Emiliana Torrini.
Mark Ramsay, Bracknell, UK
Wow, what a great story. I am a few years younger than Ray and reckon I must have been to close on a thousand gigs, including 39 times for AC/DC - although he may overtake that tally next year as I will probably only get to one or two of their shows.
Where I might beat Ray is that hundreds of my gigs were in locations around the globe (have seen AC/DC and the Rolling Stones on four continents each; followed Iron Maiden to Dubai a few years ago, where I also met Robert Plant and watched both acts from the side of stage; and have got backstage at Madison Square Gardens on many occasions!)
Was also interested in the story as I, too, saw both the Sex Pistols and AC/DC in 1976 (as well as the Stones at Knebworth!) and Ray's live top ten is more or less a list of my favourite bands ever (although, I'd have dropped Bowie for Led Zepp, and The Clash for Cheap Trick and put AC/DC and Van Halen at 1 and 2, respectively!)
You could add 500 concerts to my total, if you included jazz, classical and opera, but now living as a reclusive aspirant novellist in deepest, darkest Devon, I don't get to too many shows.
Indeed, my only gigs this year have been Velvet Revolver at Leeds University and Iron Maiden's Twickenham bash.
Worst 'professional' live act? A dead draw betwen Oasis and The Smiths... both absolute pants!
See you at the O2 in April, Ray!
David Rockfort, Kingsbridge, Devon
I think my record was three gigs in three nights earlier this year in Barcelona - Megadeth, Ojos de Brujo and The Mars Volta. I'm still getting over cotton-woll-ears after Motorhead and The Kills last week, and Airbourne tonight! Watch your hearing!
Ian Collier, Cambridge
That is some going! We manage about 2 or 3 a week. Mind you we have 3 gigs in 3 days in 3 cities (London, Manchester, Glasgow) from tomorrow!
I've been to over 100 gigs over the last 4 years and probably average a gig every 2 weeks. It's expensive, and I've reduced going slightly over the past year (I went to about 40 in 2007), but I think I'll probably still be going in 20 years time when I'm 40 odd as well!
Stanley Callaby, Ogmore Vale, Bridgend
From The Incredible String Band in 1969 to Wishbone Ash in October 2008 I have lost count of the number. Best gigs were the Doors, AC/DC and the Who.
Pooter, London, UK
The infamous Jim Ratail seemed to attend every small indie gig in the late 90s. You could often see him marching across Camden with his swinging 'rat' tail attached to his leather trousers. He published all his gig photos online and there are various tribute websites and Face Book groups devoted to him. He still be seen out and about, alas without the tail.
Gareth Davies, London, UK
My first gig was Michael Jackson in Leeds, 1992 and i have loved going to gigs ever since. Seen MJ again in 97 at Wembley and since i have seen most pop and r'n'b artists. Have to say my first gig was still my favourite it was magical!
Hazel Moore, Warrington, cheshire.
I've been to quite a few of the same gigs and keep a list myself, though since 1981 I've only managed a paltry 320 or so gigs. I think his marking system needs work though; nothing seems to get less than 7 out of 10 and there are loads of 9.5, 9.75, etc.
Ian, London, UK
Great achievement Ray! I wish I had chronicled all the gigs I have been to as well!
At age 25 have seen Metallica 6 times and hopefully a few more times yet, been to 7 Reading festivals and 2 Downloads - its a fair few bands all in all!
Totally disagree though that its getting cheaper, Iron Maiden and Metallica tickets were both £55+ and totally agree about locations. I am very fotunate to live in London and get to see these bands, as many people from out of town won't get the chance.
Pete R, London
I love live music, it's what our family spend the most money on after mortgage! Best gigs so far have to be Iron Maiden at Twickenham in July (and again at Wacken).
Been taking my 14 year old son to gigs since he was 10, even took him to Download at 11 and Wacken last year, he loves it.
Furthest places we have been for gigs/festivals- Wacken in Germany and to see Within Temptation in Glasgow last year for my 40th!
Jane, Wiltshire, UK
Well done,NR-Dublin. Age is not a barrier. My 1st gig was Be-Bop Deluxe '76 @ Hemel Hempstead Pav. and i'm seeing Pendulum at Sheffield on my 48th birthday. Highlights- any Killing Joke concert x41 from 1980-2008!
David Rees, Nottingham,UK
I don't go go to as many concerts as I once did unless I'm playing with my own group, but the first one was the most significant. At age 15 my first live concert was Jimi Hendrix and Heir Apparent in Stuttgart West Germany! To say that was a life changing experience just doesn't even come close. 40 years later and it is still so vivid!
Jim Mohr, Glen Allen, VA. USA
i will catch him quite quickly... went to been to 256 gigs this year, was at 271 last year... this has been pretty much the same since i was 16 and i am now 30
i keep all my gig tickets in a huge box ...
so many good memories
craig, glasgow, scotland
Does it still count as gig going when you are working there as a security guard? This chap has seen lots of bands, but classing him as a gigaholic when for 10 years he was paid to stand there and stop people crowdsurfing isn't exaclty rock'n'roll, now is it.
Still, he saw some classics before hand that's for sure!
Shaun, London, Uk
His average works out at 142 gigs a year. Mine is currently 154 gigs a year. Meaning that by the time I'm 50 I will have been to around 5,250 if I keep on at the same rate.
Wow, all those gigs.Very envious! I believe that a live gig is in the top two experiences known to man!! At 37 i've been gigging for well over 20 years.Though i've only got one band in Ray's top ten(U2)my best gig was when Michael Jackson played at 'Aintree' racecourse '91 to 125,000!When everyone clapped the atmoshere ACTUALLY warmed up! I know he's lost quite a bit of credibility these days but he really was a superb act.
Gary Moore got married in our village church with Phil Lynot being one of the guests!
Does anyone share my view that you go to a gig partly for that extra guitar rift/drum solo or just a 12" version of a song? Something that Noel & Liam DON'T do.(They didn't at Knebworth '96 or Wembley anyway.)
He is lucky he has the money. My latest was Dave Edmunds and Joe Brown but that was a few months ago - if I had the money I'd go more, provided I like the music.
Cathy Cave, Milton Keynes, England
As someone who is a bit younger (23), and as somebody who works in the music industry, I can only hope to see 5,000 gigs in my life. And if I did, I hope most of those shows were Iron Maiden. His Top Ten is a veritable who's who of Rock and Roll history. Stuff like that makes me so damn jealous, hah!
Cigar420, New York, United States
Good stuff and a nod to NR and camel - they were my first gig too in 1978 (Michael Chapman support). I'm going more than ever - The Fall last week, Nick Cave next week and, er, Hawkwind in the distance. But I think a key question for the long-term gig-goer is whether you just keep goign to the tried and trusted who are as old as you or you are willing to check out some of the newer bands - this year I've clocked British Sea Power, Les Savy Fav, Black Kids, Glasvegas (album of the year) and many others. There is the worry of looking like the dad of many of those there but just hold your nerve - and your pint!
Real commitment across the board by performer, organizer and crowd: TV Smith (ex-Adverts) in Southampton last Saturday. A 50+ year old punk who's been at it for 30+ years, playing a cheap non-commercial gig organized by the 20+ year old S.T.E. diy collective, with a 40+ year old dad & his 13 year old son, jumping around all excited with the rest of the crowd, in attendance at what turned out to be his first ever gig.
Some great comments, but just to stir it up a bit with the rockers.... I remember seeing ABBA at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester in 77, (and again at Wembley in 79) and that kick started my pop gig habit!!
Paul G, Manchester
I am 54 and still like to get to as many gigs as possible. Hawkwind, Eric Clapton and Glastonbury already booked. There is nothing better than live music. If you can't get to a load of gigs, a few festivals each year will bump up your average.
Best in the last year were Led Zeppelin at the O2 and Leonard Cohen at Glastonbury.
Bob Hughes, Deepest Wiltshire
As I know Ray, I can reply that his hearing is fine!! Just because he hasn't paid for some doesn't mean he shouldn't count them - its still a gig. I'm up to about 600 gigs since 1985, most of them since 1994 and you can't beat it. I'm glad to see there are lots of us out there because I get so much grief from people I work with for wanting to spend my holidays going to gigs. Long may we continue!!!
I saw the Beatles for 5 shillings and sixpence (27 1/2 pence) in December 1962, at Oasis, SouthStreet, Manchester.
Most recent gigs - Joe and Sam Brown ; and the Manfreds, Royal & Derngate, Northampton.
Bryn Pugh, Corby, Northants, UK
I went along to see Uriah Heep at the Wake Arms Club in Epping Essex on Sunday 23 May 1971, and last night 37 1/2 years later to the day I was at the Astoria London at yet another Uriah Heep concert!
Gary Hurley, Loughton Essex
I'm heading the same way as Ray Morrissey. I'm only 19 but in just under 10 years, i have been to a couple of hundred concerts ranging from modern bands like McFly and Razorlight to bands from the past like The Eagles and Bon Jovi. I am always up for attending a concert and haven't said no to one as of yet. Also tend to see the same tour more than once, in a variety of different locations- saw Take That's Beautiful World tour 5 times and have tickets for 2 dates on their new tour and am planning on buying more nearer to the time. Have been quite lucky getting tickets- was able to get tickets for the first concert at the O2 (Bon Jovi) and for The Concert For Diana. Also am quite lucky with where i am sat- usually near the front.
Becky Bartlett, Cardiff, Wales
The Alarm have plenty of rabid gig attendees, 50 gigs is nothing special for them. I've been to around 200 but I know of a few fans who have hit the 5-600 mark!
AndyG, Cambridge, UK
My wife and me still travel the world to see live bands and I am 50.
In my younger days I saw bands like The Who, Led Zep, ELP, Wishbone Ash, Rory Gallagher almost every week I was at a concert.
I see less concerts today but love metal bands like Nightwish, Sonata-Arctica, Kamalot etc.
Andy, Barnsley, South Yorkshire
As a roady back in the eighties for rock band, there used to be a character called "Jesus" who attended all our gigs. He was a total hippy but loved all music, ocassionally we let him on stage to shake his tambourine along with the music. Where is he now and who the hell was he?
Keep rocking people!
Chris Shaw, london
The title of this article was misleading. This man appears to be regular sized.