It’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll But It’s Expensive

The U.K. summer festival season couldn’t slip quietly away without throwing up at least one yarn about rock ‘n’ roll disasters.

This year’s most spectacular effort came courtesy of three Yorkshire promoters who appear to have either lost or gone to ground with more than £100,000 of gate money.

Among the creditors drawing a blank when they try to contact Adrian Allen, Andy Roberts or John Cooper are virtually every band on the September 17th Scarborough Castle bill, most of the service and production companies that were hired to help produce the event, and English Heritage, which rented out the 900-year-old landmark site.

All seem confused as to whether the show made or lost money, although crowd estimates suggest somewhere between 3,500 and 5,000 bought £29 tickets. But the creditors are united in their dismay that very few acts and suppliers have been paid.

“They told us that they couldn’t pay and offered us £3,000 cash, so we took that on account and we’ve now issued a court order for the remaining £9,000,” said Rebecca Nutter of North Yorkshire-based Acorn Scaffolding, which provided £12,000 worth of temporary access to the site.

Jamie Marshall of English Heritage said the organisation, which is the government’s statutory adviser on the historic environment, has banked two cheques for the deposit and balance on the site hire but it’s too soon to say if they’ll clear through the bank.

“Part of our agreement with the promoters was that they could have future use of the site for rock shows on an exclusive basis but, as the first event has turned out the way it has, we’ve withdrawn that permission,” he explained.

Although many creditors are complaining that the directors are no longer contactable, Cooper did call Pollstar in a bid to shine some light on the matter. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out to be a very bright one.

“The event lost money, but I can’t say how much because I don’t have the figures,” Cooper said.

“We were going down the route of honouring our debts and moving the company forward, but now we’ve lost future contracts that won’t be easy.”

He insisted that the directors hadn’t taken the money but was at a loss to say what happened to it, refused to comment on whether it had filed for administration or receivership and said some creditors had been reported to the police for demanding money with menaces.

North Yorkshire Police confirmed they received a complaint from a scaffolding company about not being paid for its work, and a counterclaim from one of the promoters alleging he’s been put under extreme pressure to settle the bills.

Barry Sugden from Andrassy Marquees, which supplied eight tents to the site and is owed £11,600, said he had been arrested for allegedly throwing a brick through the window of Roberts’ Filey home, but was released when he proved he was somewhere else at the time and the car he was reported to have driven to the scene could be shown to be in a garage undergoing repair.

“I went to Barclays Bank in Filey to pick up a bank draft the promoters had promised me, then I got pulled by a plainclothes police officer,” Sugden said.

“I was held until others arrived, then put in a van and taken to Scarborough Police station. They let me go when I proved that neither me nor the car had been anywhere near Roberts’ house at the time the incident was supposed to have happened.”

Nutter said the promoters called the police when she tried to collect the money owed to Acorn, and told Pollstar, “I didn’t think it was unreasonable to go and ask for the money, particularly when we’re owed that much.”

The police arrived at the site but, after a brief discussion with Nutter and the promoters, took no further action.

Sugden said he’s now trying to rally as many creditors as possible under one flag, hoping a combined effort may prove more fruitful than each of the individual creditors pursuing their own courses.

Allen has also come forward and said that, while he had set up a “shell company” for Rock In The Castle Ltd, he’d only done it as a favour and resigned when Cooper and Roberts’ directorships had come through.

He said the fact that Scarborough Evening News and BBC’s North Yorkshire news service had both quoted him as a festival director when running previews of the event was because his words had been lifted from an old press release that was issued while he was still involved.

Allen said he resigned and handed over the company in July, although a search of the Companies House Web site shows his resignation wasn’t received and noted until September 20th.

Joining the creditors are at least a dozen acts including The Wildhearts, Terrorvision, Hanoi Rocks, Inme, The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster, Tokyo Dragons, The Glitterati, Johnny Panic, and Hurricane Party.

John Gammon