In the summer of 1962, the management of the Academy cinema on Oxford Street in London thought it wise to warn patrons that the film they were about to see, the big-screen adaptation of John Wyndham's novel about killer plants, The Day of the Triffids, "contained graphic horror" and "might prove disturbing to those of a nervous disposition". Today, Wyndham's mutant shrubs look blandly innocuous. But on the night of Thursday 12 July, in a basement club called the Marquee, just a few feet below the cinema where the Triffids was screening, something much more unsettling was about to get under way.
A sober-suited crowd of about 80 men and 30 women were on hand to witness the Rolling Stones' first gig. There was a taste among both sexes for shapeless, utility-style clothes, stout shoes and goofy square glasses. (It's remarkable how many young men seemed to resemble Buddy Holly.) Based on the number of goatees in the photographs, many were also diehard jazz fans; those who were there report that the audience took some time to warm up to the Stones' 50-minute blast of American rhythm and blues.