Love at Leeds
Interview with Mike Rigelsford 3 April 2005
On February 14 1970, one couple enjoyed a Valentine’s night they’ll never forget. The recording of The Who’s seminal album Live at Leeds, since dubbed the greatest live album of all time, was the setting for Mike and Brenda Rigelsford’s engagement celebration. Tickets had sold out in a flash, and fans had queued up all night to guarantee themselves a piece of the action. The night was hot, claustrophobic and unbelievably loud. Two thousand fans had packed into the refectory at Leeds University to rock the night away and unbeknown to them at the time, to watch history in the making.
Mike and Brenda had made their engagement official earlier that day, and had trawled around town all afternoon in search of the perfect ring. Finally at twenty past five, Brenda set eyes on ‘the one’ and Mike recalls spending all his petrol money in the jewellers instead of his car that day! Much to Brenda’s dismay the ring was far too big and the shop was closing, so there was to be no rock on her finger that night. Brenda remembers feeling ‘quite miffed all evening’ that she could not show off her new ring to her friends at the concert, especially as that was the one thing they all wanted to see when they heard the happy news.
Mike and Brenda met at the University of Leeds, where they were studying chemical engineering and languages respectively, during the late sixties. Mike originally dated Brenda’s room mate for a couple of weeks, and it was through this brief courtship that he met and fell for Brenda, his future bride. On Saturday nights Brenda and Mike regularly went to gigs at the refectory. Simon Brogan, the social secretary at the time was renowned for booking the biggest bands around, with the 1970 Who and Led Zeppelin concerts having since been labelled as ‘the zenith of Leeds University status’.
Mike, still an avid fan of The Who, remembers how the ‘boyish group’ drew a predominantly male crowd, but admits there were a number of enthusiastic female fans there, possibly due to the band’s ‘animal attraction for some of the girls!’ The Who’s untraditional rendition of ‘Tommy’ that night was described by Mike as outstanding, a notion shared by the entire crowd. The couple remember the event as one of the best evenings they shared at the refectory, not least because of the special significance it holds for them, as the anniversary of their engagement.