FIFTY years ago this Thursday, the band Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames joined the first Tamla Motown tour of the UK at a one-night stand at the celebrated Globe Theatre in Stockton.

Others on the bill included The Supremes, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Martha and the Vandellas and the blind singer Little Stevie Wonder, of whose misadventures more shortly.

As usual, then as now, the local press turned up to photograph the wandering stars. Much more unusually, they weren’t allowed in.

Half a century later, Ian Wright recalls the story of an aristocratic groupie and of a subsequent scandal that was to enthral the nation.

So does Mary Wilson, of The Supremes. “I remember (at Stockton) that we had an invitation from the lady of some ancestral home or other. She was very young and beautiful and was back stage with some girl friends having a great time – larking abut, laughing, flirting, giggling and being very silly around the guys.”

On the night of April 2, 1965, however, none could have imagined where it was all leading.

IAN WRIGHT was a keen young Northern Echo photographer back then, accustomed to mixing with the celebrities of the swinging sixties and doing it at his long-time home in Las Vegas. Mary Wilson is a neighbour.

Such was the relationship with The Globe – the Echo’s need for pictures, the theatre’s for publicity – that photographers could just walk in through the stage door. Not on April 2, 1965, they couldn’t.

The doorman insisted that they go in through the front and report to theatre manager George Skelton’s office. “Inside,” recalls Ian in a forthcoming book, “a furious row was in full swing and had been for some time to judge by the full ashtrays, the empty bottle of Scotch and the coffee that had collided with a coral-coloured wall, splattering a trail of brown tentacles all down it.”

Skelton wanted the usual open access for the media. Dick Scott, the 6ft 7in disciplinarian who managed the tour, would have none of it. Arthur Howes, the show’s Cockney promoter, had lost his voice in vain protest.

“Everyone was aware that there was a more clandestine motive for what was going on,” Ian recalls. “Scott was covering up for something or someone.”

The following day’s Echo carried reports of the Women’s Institute drama festival at the Georgian Theatre in Richmond, of plans to increase the size of Guisborough by 50 per cent, of a life sentence for an 18-year-old zoology student who’d murdered a garage owner in Sherburn Hill and of the last day at East Tanfield pit, near Stanley.

Of the night that stars fell on Stockton, there wasn’t so much as a note.

NICOLETTE HARRISON was born in 1940, her father a wealthy Lloyd’s underwriter and her mother a Latvian baroness. In March 1958, Nico became one of the last debutantes to be presented to the Queen.

Two months later, still just 17 and fresh from finishing school, she married Alexander Vane-Tempest Stewart at a parish church in Wiltshire. He was a 20-year-old Old Etonian who two years earlier had become the 9th Marquess of Londonderry.

The papers called it the wedding of the season, though the Echo’s other chief concern the following day appeared to be the growing threat from the young tearaways known as teddy boys.

Soon there were two daughters. At the family seat at Wynyard Hall – described by Nikolas Pevsner as the finest 19th Century mansion house in the county and just a few miles from the Globe Theatre – the Londonderrys held a lavish court.

“Everything was well,” writes Ian, “in the fairyland of Camelot, County Durham.”

Clive Powell’s background was altogether humbler. Born and raised in the Lancashire cotton town of Leigh, he left secondary modern at 15, worked briefly in a mill, but was also an accomplished musician.

At his management’s insistence, he changed his name to Georgie Fame, had a No 1 hit with Yeh Yeh in January 1965 and was to become the only British performer whose three top ten entries all reached No 1.

He’d also been noticed by Lady Annabel, Nico’s sister-in-law, who rang Wynyard and told her to switch on Top of the Pops quickly.

Ian also recalls seeing Georgie Fame at Redcar Jazz Festival, on a bill with the likes of Mannfred Mann and Long John Baldry, but declining to be photographed. “He’s on the up with some real cool chick with a handle,” the others explained. “He doesn’t even come for a drink with us now.”

The real cool chick, it’s believed, was also backstage at the Globe 50 years ago on Thursday. “If we’d seen her,” says Ian, “it would have been all over page one.”

THWARTED, Ian turned up the following morning at the Billingham Arms Hotel as the troupe headed off for the next one-nighter, in Newcastle. Stevie Wonder had gone off with a fellow hotel guest to buy fruit at a market and had failed to return.

Scott called the constabulary: Ian insists it was a bobby on a bicycle.

“He’s black, 4ft 11in, wearing dark glasses, yellow jacket and white pants and shoes,” said Scott.

“Don’t worry, we’ll find him, sir,” says the resourceful polliss. “There aren’t many answering that description around here.”

In an interview with the ex-Echo man, Mary Wilson remembered it, too. “When Steve finally got back, Dick hugged him so hard, we expected that he’d break him.”

IN 1969 the Londonderrys had a son, who became Viscount Castlereagh. Soon afterwards, after a reported confrontation with his wife, the suspicious marquess was able to prove that the child’s real father was Georgie Fame.

They divorced in 1971, the former marchioness marrying Clive Powell at Marylebone register office the following year. Their son became plain Tristran Powell, his parents having a second son soon afterwards.

The 9th Marquess of Londonderry married Doreen Wells, the former principal dancer with the Royal Ballet and died, aged 74, in 2012.

Georgie Fame, now 73, still performs – often with his sons – and is an active fundraiser for several charities.

In August 1993, Nicolette Powell was seen to plunge 250ft from the central span of the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol after handing a note and her car keys to two girls who were admiring the view.

Georgie Fame said that they had stayed happily married because of his wife’s “charm, beauty, forbearance and understanding”.

The inquest heard that the depressed former marchioness felt that she “had no purpose in life” after her children left home. The coroner recorded a verdict of suicide.