Today, Wednesday 18 September 2019, acclaimed singer, Dame Shirley Bassey, unveiled her handprints in the form of a bronze plaque in Wembley Park’s ‘Square of Fame’ at The SSE Arena, Wembley. The star first performed at the venue 60 years ago in a legendary performance that inaugurated The SSE Arena, Wembley, as a music and entertainment venue, and began its reputation as one of the world’s most iconic concert venues. The unveiling marks 60 momentous years of The SSE Arena, Wembley in Wembley Park, North West London’s world-famous, dynamic cultural neighbourhood.
Dame Shirley’s plaque, imprinted with her name and handprints, joins so many other music legends in the ‘Square of Fame’ such as Madonna, Alice Cooper, Kylie Minogue, Lionel Richie, Bryan Adams and George Michael.
In 1959, Dame Shirley Bassey performed to a crowd of 9,000 people in the first ever concert to take place at the Empire Pool, Wembley (now The SSE Arena, Wembley). The significant concert was Dame Vera Lynn’s Record Star Show, a charity fundraiser also featuring Petula Clark, Max Bygraves, Lonnie Donegan and Humphrey Lytlleton. This single performance was the start of something remarkable and initiated thousands of ‘Hello Wembley!’ moments in one of the world’s leading cities in music. Demonstrating the success of Wembley Park and The SSE Arena, Wembley, to date the number of visitors welcomed by The SSE Arena, Wembley is roughly equivalent to the total population of the United Kingdom (67.5 million).
Bassey began her career in the 1950s and soared to success with her powerhouse vocals. She also received widespread recognition for her work on the theme songs for the James Bond movies Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever and Moonraker.
Of this acknowledgement, Dame Shirley Bassey states, “I am honoured to have been asked back to The SSE Arena, Wembley, after 60 years to unveil my handprints in Wembley Park’s iconic ‘Square of Fame’. It is incredible how much Wembley Park has transformed over the years and I am delighted that my bronze plaque will forever be included in one of the UK’s largest collection of handprints next to so many iconic artists.”
James Saunders, Chief Operating Officer of Wembley Park, explained, “As we continue with our transformation of Wembley Park, we are thrilled to have Dame Shirley back at The SSE Arena,
Wembley, after 60 years. We are honoured to have the Dame unveil her handprints at Wembley Park to help us celebrate our proud musical heritage.
“Internationally known for its breadth of music and sporting events, Wembley Park is fast becoming London’s go-to neighbourhood for shopping, dining, culture and entertainment with community at its heart and we encourage anyone who has not visited recently to come and see the transformation first hand.”
John Drury, Vice President and General Manager of The SSE Arena, Wembley, commented, “We are so honoured to have Dame Shirley Bassey revisit The SSE Arena, Wembley, unveiling her handprints to celebrate a momentous 60 years of entertainment - it’s a nostalgic reminder of the amazing artists we have had perform here and how many are still to come. The Dame’s performance was such a significant occasion for The SSE Arena, Wembley, entertaining thousands of guests - we look forward to entertaining many thousands more over the next 60 years!”
Like its first performer, the venue has an illustrious record and has hosted the world’s biggest names over the past six decades. The famous stage has been graced by the likes of Madonna, David Bowie,
Queen, The Who, Dolly Parton, Stevie Wonder, Prince, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and even The Beatles and Rolling Stones who shared the same bill at the 1966 NME Poll Winners Party at what turned out to be The Beatles’ last UK concert. Plus, in the last 12 months alone, The SSE Arena, Wembley has seen its debut performances from leading artists of the 21st century - Kacey Musgraves, George Ezra, Janelle Monae and Carrie Underwood, and even hosted its first-ever film World Premiere for the Oscar-winning Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody.
The breadth of shows that The SSE Arena, Wembley hosts is immense – from music, comedy, film sport and beyond. It has even ventured into the equally captivating world of E Sports, having hosted FaceIt's ECS Season Finals every year since 2016, the FaceIt Majors in 2018 and League of Legends events. As well as its extraordinary legacy, The SSE Arena, Wembley is always looking to the future of music and outside of the conventional concert market. 2019 sees the venue host a record 4 major K-Pop shows; Blackpink, NCT127, Monsta X and GOT7.
Building on the legendary musical reputation of the area, the last 60 years celebrates the incredible transformation of Wembley Park. In 2006 a £26 million investment saw a major refurbishment take place which included a £10 million new public square – Arena Square – creating a focal point for the area, as well as the relocation of the main entrance to what used to be the back door. This transformation is key to making Wembley Park the perfect place to live, work and visit, with culture and entertainment at its heart.