Sunday 8 August 2021

The Beatles Live! (Liverpool 1962) (part one)


It was a choice of making it or still eating chicken on stage 

The year begins, as it does with alarming regularity, on January 1, where we find the Beatles auditioning in the West Hampstead studios of Decca Records in London. 

Brian would go from Liverpool to London. And he came back and said, 'I've got you an audition.' 

We were all excited: it was Decca. He'd met this Mike Smith guy and we were to go down there. John LennonAnthology

I remember we had to drive down to London on New Year's Eve 1961, because of The Beatles' audition for Decca Records. (We got lost somewhere in the Midlands.) That New Year's Eve was our first in London. Neil Aspinall, Anthology

It was snowing and I remember going into the Decca studios. We just went in, set up our amps and played. George HarrisonAnthology

So, we went down, and we did all these numbers; terrified and nervous, you can hear it. We didn't sound natural. Paul sang 'Till There Was You' and he sounded like a woman.  I sang 'Money' and I sounded like a madman. It starts off terrified and gradually we settle down. By the time we made our demos of 'Hello Little Girl' and 'Love of the Loved' we were ok, I think. We recorded 'To Know her Is To Love Her', the Phil Spector song, and a couple of our own; we virtually recorded our Cavern stage show, with a few omissions - around twenty songs. John LennonAnthology

In those days a lot of the rock'n'roll songs were actually old tunes from the Forties, Fifties or whenever, which people had rocked up. That was the thing to do if you didn't have a tune: just rock up an oldie. Joe Brown had recorded a rock'n'roll version of 'The Sheik Of Araby'. He was really popular on the Saturday TV show Six-Five Special and Oh Boy! I did the Joe Brown records, so I sang 'Sheik Of Araby'. Paul sang 'September In The Rain'. We each chose a number we wanted to do. It was unusual at that time to have a group where everybody did the singing. In those days it was all Cliff and the Shadows, a lead guy out the front; the whole band in suits, matching ties and handkerchiefs, all with regular movements, and one guy at the front who sang.

The audition lasted for a couple of hours and that was it. We left and went back to our hotel. George HarrisonAnthology

Recording 15 songs and reasonably confident of being offered a recording contract they return to Liverpool.   

Their confidence must have been boosted further when Mersey Beat hit the newsstands three days later.

'Where are we going Johnny?'

Mersey Beat, Vol. 1 No. 13, January 4-18, 1962 (c) Bill Harry

As history now tells us, Decca decided to pass on the Beatles....

As for Decca's response, we didn't hear anything for ages, though Brian kept bugging them to find out; and in the end they turned us down. The funny thing is that it was by someone from one of those 'dum de dum' bands, Tony Meehan, a drummer who had become big-time as the A&R man for Decca. 

There's a famous story that Brian Epstein was trying to get him to say whether he liked us, whether we'd got the job or not. He replied, 'I'm a busy man, Mr Epstein,' and he was just a kid!   George HarrisonAnthology

Arguably the Beatle with the most self-belief, George held a deep-seated grudge against Meehan for being 'really cocky' and young (!), so much so that when he finally cornered him in 1968, six years after the audition, he didn't throw any punches telling Meehan exactly what he thought of him.[1]

We went back and we waited and waited, and then we found out that they hadn't accepted it; we really thought that was it then, that was the end.

When you hear the tape, it's pretty good. It's not great, but it's good and it's certainly good for then, when you consider that all that was going on was The Shadows - especially in England. But they were so dumb, when they listened to these audition tapes they were listening for The Shadows. So they were not listening to it at all - they're listening like they do now - you know how these people are - for what's already gone down. They can't hear anything new. 

It was pretty shaky then, because there's nowhere else to go if you don't get the records. We didn't think we were going to make it at all. It was only Brian telling us we were going to make it, and George. Brian Epstein and George Harrison.  John LennonAnthology

It's said that nobody thought to break the bad news about Decca to Pete until March. When he asked why they'd waited to tell him they said, 'they didn't want to dishearten him.' 

While we are on the subject of disheartened drummers, what was Ringo up to in January 1962?

Bored with Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, Ringo had taken up the offer to join Tony Sheridan and a new line up of the Beat Brothers in Hamburg. 
From 1 January 1962 the group had a residency at the Top Ten club where the Beatles had played six months earlier. 
Asked about his time there Ringo remembered that ‘we were in the middle of the craziness, you know, the Reeperbahn. It was all exciting. People would be cleaning their guns and they’d come up and say, ‘spielen ‘What’d I Say!' So we’d just play ‘What’d I Say’ because there’d be a lot of toughness. It was gangster’s heaven. It was amazing for me’. Ringo Starr, interview with Horst Konigstein, 29 September 1976. 

It was amazing, even for someone who'd learned to live on his wits in the hard streets of the Dingle, and it wasn't just the patrons of the Top Ten you'd be watching out for. On stage there were issues with Sheridan, who Ringo would remember as 'really volatile.'  Ringo admired him as a player but was frustrated by Sheridan's penchant for performing songs he had not rehearsed with the band, as well as his appetite for jumping off the stage, mid-number and getting into fistfights with anybody showing an interest in his lady. Ringo and the rest of the group would keep on jamming until Sheridan returned, 'covered in blood if he'd lost.'[2]

Aintree Institute: 27 January 1962.

The Beatles' 31st and final appearance at Aintree Institute, scene of many memorable nights in 1961.  This was also the last time that the group played for promoter Brian "Beekay" Kelly. Brian Epstein was insulted when Kelly paid the group their £15 fee in loose change and declared that they would never work for him again. He was still going on about this perceived slight in 1964:

On one occasion I recall being paid in coins – £15 in sixpences and florins and even half-pennies and I kicked up an awful fuss, not because £15 isn’t £15 in any currency, but because I thought it was disrespectful to the Beatles. I felt that if one was to be a manager then one should fight for absolute courtesy towards one’s artistes.

I didn’t get the £15 in notes, by the way, but I had made my point and I and the Beatles felt far better for itBrian Epstein, A Cellarful Of Noise, 1964

Three days earlier the Beatles signed their management contract with Brian Epstein, to take effect from 1 February 1962.

St. Paul's Church, Tranmere, Wirral: 10 February 1962

This silent, colour Super 8mm film was discovered in 1973 by the son of the person who made it. It was auctioned at Sotheby's in 1996. 

The complete film, which is now owned by the Best family, also contains non-Beatles images shot in various clubs. It shows people drinking, playing snooker and watching the band. The Beatles are seen in two separate segments running in total for about 30 seconds, which capture two different songs being performed. 

In the first segment, George is seen singing, thought to be 'Dream', the lead song on what was then the latest EP by Cliff Richard and the Shadows. 

In the second segment, Paul is singing Gene Vincent's 'Dance In The Street' which the Beatles amended to 'Twist In The Street' to appeal to the latest dance craze. John chews gum throughout while Pete is unfortunately obscured in the shadows and can't be seen at all.

Remarkably these colour stills (taken from individual frames of the film) are the first colour images we have of The Beatles.  Only Mike McCartney's two colour photos of the Quarry Men from 1958 pre-date them.

The venue and date have caused endless debate among Beatle scholars.

The Beatles are wearing leather trousers, George is playing his Duo Jet and Paul his Hofner bass, all indications that this show was after the Beatles returned from Hamburg in July 1961. They stopped wearing leather outfits in late March- early April 1962, so the film must date from before then.

There are a number of red hearts suspended behind the band and at least one looks to have the message Valentine's Day (February 14).

14 February 1962 was a Wednesday.  Let's have a look at the known Beatles' gigs from around that time, most of which took place on the Wirral:

09 February - Technical College, Birkenhead
10 February - St. Paul's Presbyterian Youth Club, Tranmere, Birkenhead
15 February - Tower Ballroom, New Brighton
16 February - Technical College, Birkenhead (not played - Paul 'wasn't ready') / 
                         Tower Ballroom, New Brighton
20 February - Floral Hall, Southport.

We can rule out the Tower Ballroom as we have plenty of photos of that venue to compare with the venue on this film. Similarly, the Floral Hall in Southport has a large stage with tiered seating. This doesn't match what we're seeing in the film. 

Therefore, it must be from either the first appearance at Birkenhead Technical College on Friday 9 February, or the following evening in Tranmere. Pete Best believes it to be the latter and I have to agree, it does make sense to hold a dance for Valentine's Day on the preceding Saturday rather than on the actual mid-week date. 

A clip was included in the Pete Best documentary DVD, Best of The Beatles.  You can watch the clip here or by visiting the Liverpool Beatles Museum in Mathew Street.

Tower Ballroom, New Brighton: January - March 1962 (photo(s) by Mike McCartney)

Another mystery photograph - a double exposure, which has been separated below for study purposes. One image shows John, Brian Epstein and Pete Best, the other is an on-stage shot from the Tower Ballroom.

Brian's presence and the Beatles leather gear on stage help date these images to the first three months of 1962. The Beatles performed at the Tower on 12, 19, 26 January, 15, 16, 23 February and 2 March.

One observation I've made organising all of these images: When the Beatles played at venues other than the Cavern, Paul seems to have worn his leather trousers on stage more frequently than the others (at least from the photos we have). This is surprising given the often-repeated story that of the Beatles, Paul was the one most keen to go along with Brian's preference that they wore suits on stage, whereas John was more reluctant.

I think John in later years liked to feel that he was the rebel and I somehow tried to straighten him up - but that's bullshit. We all changed to the straight image. I didn't cut his hair for him; I didn't care if his tie was straight, or his button done up. Check the pictures - John's not scowling in all of them!  Paul McCartneyAnthology

People thought we looked undesirable, I suppose. Even nowadays kids with leather jackets and long hair are seen as apprentice hooligans, but they are just kids; that's the fashion they like - leathers. And it was like that with us. With black T-shirts, black leather gear and sweaty, we did look like hooligans.   John LennonAnthology

Brian Epstein said, 'Look, if you really want to get in these bigger places, you're going to have to change - stop eating on stage, stop swearing, stop smoking...' 

He wasn't trying to clean our image up: he said our look wasn't right, we'd never get past the door at a good place. We used to dress how we liked, on and off stage. He'd tell us that jeans were not particularly smart, and could we possibly manage to wear proper trousers, but he didn't want us suddenly looking square. He let us have our own sense of individuality.  

To us, Brian was the expert. I mean, originally, he had the shop. Anybody who's got a shop must be all right. And a car, and a big house... Fuckin' hell, you don't care if it's all his dad's or not, we thought he was it. 

It was a choice of making it or still eating chicken on stage. We respected his views. We stopped champing at cheese rolls and jam butties; we paid a lot more attention to what we were doing, did our best to be on time and we smartened up. John LennonAnthology

The Cavern Club: c. March 1962

Paul, John "cripping", Ray McFall and Cynthia Powell (A Mike McCartney photograph)

For want of having no real way of identifying a date or venue, and frankly nowhere else to put them, here are two 'bonus' pictures of John c.1961-62.

The first picture appears in Sam Leach's book and is captioned Aldershot, December 1961.  I disagree. The background doesn't match what's visible on the other 15 or so photographs of the Beatles at the Palais Ballroom and neither does John's hair or clothes. (There are other photos in Sam's book attributed to the wrong date or venue which we'll get to later).

Who is the other person in the photo? I've always thought the man in the second image pulling a 'crip' was Bob Wooler but studying it again he looks a bit young. Another mystery to be solved!

The Cavern Club: c. March 1962

Two Cavern performances from early 1962, with the first two photos coming from the same day. Once again Paul's his own man, flouting what appears to be the new dress code and simultaneously making himself the centre of attention. Tank / vest tops would continue to be worn on stage, at least at the Cavern, through to the autumn of 1962. 

We started to get a lot of respect. A lot of our tracks may not have been 'cool'. (I think if we'd just been cool, we wouldn't have made it how we did.) But that was a great aspect of us. John would do 'A Shot Of Rhythm And Blues' or 'You Really Got A Hold On Me' - you could call that cool. But then we'd have something like 'If You Gotta Make A Fool Of Somebody' - which was actually more cool, because it was probably the first R&B waltz that anyone did.

Guys would ask where we'd got a song like 'If You Gotta Make A Fool Of Somebody' from - we'd explain it was on a James Ray album. The Hollies came to see us once and came back two weeks later looking like us! We were in black turtleneck sweaters and John had his harmonica and we were doing our R&B material. The next week, The Hollies had turtleneck sweaters and a harmonica in their act. This is what had started to happen. We would come back to Liverpool and Freddie and the Dreamers would be doing 'If You Gotta Make A Fool Of Somebody' as their hit number. (Freddie Garrity saw us playing that song in the Oasis Club in Manchester and took it.)

So, we were a big influence on those people. We had too much material anyway. We couldn't record it all when we did get a deal, so other groups took songs from our act and made hits out of them - like The Swinging Blue Jeans with 'The Hippy Hippy Shake', which was one of my big numbers. Paul McCartney, Anthology

The photo below appears in Mike McCartney's new book 'Early Liverpool' which suggests that he also took the photo above as the Beatles are in the same clothes.

Included because it appears to show George, top right.

St. John's Hall, Bootle: 2 March 1962 (photos by Dave Forshaw)

St John's Hall was situated on Oriel Road opposite Bootle Town Hall.  The Beatles were booked by local teenage promoter Dave Forshaw for five engagements between 6 January 1961 and 30 July 1962. 

Both of these photographs appear in a Beatles' book dated as Friday 6 January 1961.  With George's Duo Jet guitar (July 1961) and their post-Paris trip haircuts (October 1961) visible in the photos, they can only have been taken at one of the final two bookings - 2 March or 30 July 1962. I favour the earlier of the two because they're not yet wearing suits on stage.

Although we don't have a clear photo of John from this evening it appears that the Beatles' stage wear for this booking was a leather jacket over a dark v-neck sweater (or tank top/vest) over a white shirt. No wonder they sweated!  Hopefully they had something fresh to change into because later that same evening they were over on the Wirral, performing at Sam Leach's Mad March Rock Bill held at New Brighton's Tower Ballroom.

I first encouraged them to get out of leather jackets and I wouldn't allow them to appear in jeans after a short time. After that I got them to wear sweaters on stage and eventually, very reluctantly, suits. Brian EpsteinA Cellarful Of Noise, 1964

I've placed this stray photo of Pete here. There's very little to go on here, other than the curtains. I checked with German Beatles' expert Thorsten Knublauch who confirmed it wasn't taken in Hamburg. It may date from a 1961 performance at Litherland Town Hall.

The Casbah:  January - April 1962 (photo by Mike McCartney)

During 1962 the Beatles appeared at the Casbah every Sunday night in January, February and March, and 1,7 and 8 April. We have photographs of their final appearance on 24 June 1962, and we can discount 8 April because we know George didn't perform that evening, so this photo must date from one of the other nights.  

Liverpool has always been awash with comedians, so the art of handling hecklers was something all the groups had to learn. John usually did it in shorthand – he’d say, ‘Shut up!’ – though, on occasion, he could be more direct still. One night at the Casbah (Brian was happy for the Beatles to play here most weeks in the absence of other Sunday-night opportunities) a young boy of about 10 stood in front of John Lennon, hands on hips, legs apart, studying him hard. At the end he told John he was ‘rubbish’ and couldn’t play the guitar, so John cuffed him and said, ‘You’re rubbish as well.’ Mostly, though, John defused any possible dissent by getting his riposte in first – he acknowledged audience applause, no matter its intensity, by rubbing his hands together like Uriah Heep and smarming ‘Thank you folks, you’re too kind’ – and he said it time after time after time after time, until most of the audience was shouting it with him and laughing. Mark Lewisohn, Tune In

Playhouse Theatre, Hulme, Manchester: 7 March 1962
Recording BBC Radio Light Programme 'Here We Go' br. 8 March 1962

On the evening of 8 February, the Beatles travelled to Hulme, south Manchester, to audition for BBC Radio producer Peter Pilbean at the Playhouse Theatre.

Perhaps unwisely, they performed four of the same songs they'd played for Decca - two originals; 'Like Dreamers Do' and 'Hello Little Girl', plus ''Till There Was You' and 'Memphis, Tennessee'.

In his post audition report, he wrote 'an unusual group, not as 'rocky' as most, more C&W with a tendency to play music.' The last part, according to Peter Pilbeam, refers to the fact that the large majority of groups who came to him for auditions at the time "just made a noise!'  Assessing their vocal talents, he wrote a "Yes" alongside John Lennon's name but a "No" next to Paul's which suggests that for the second time at an audition McCartney's nerves had got the better of him and he'd bottled it on 'Till There Was You'.

However, Pilbean clearly heard something that Meehan hadn't.  Unlike Decca the BBC wasted no time in letting the Beatles know the outcome of their audition. Within 48 hours they'd been offered a radio session, to take place the following month.

The Beatles had auditioned for the BBC in their leather gear and managed not to put Pilbeam off. When he next saw them at the Playhouse, they had a new look.

On 6 March the Beatles collected their new suits from Beno Dorm's tailoring shop on Grange Road West in Birkenhead.

We all went quite happily over the water to Wirral, to Beno Dorn, a little tailor who made mohair suits. That started to change the image.  Paul McCartney, Anthology

The following day this new image was unveiled in front of an audience of 250 who watched the Beatles perform 'Hello Little Girl', 'Dream Baby', 'Memphis. Tennessee' and 'Please Mr. Postman', the latter track reportedly the first time a Motown song was ever heard on BBC radio.  With Roy Orbison's 'Dream Baby' only entering the charts in the week after the BBC broadcast it's highly likely that the Playhouse audience were as unfamiliar with the Beatles three chosen covers as they were with 'Hello Little Girl', which was ultimately cut from the programme when it was broadcast the following evening. 

Or at least one would assume so. The Playhouse usually had an audience comprising of 250 local (Mancunian) teenagers who'd been given free tickets. However, listening to the uproarious reaction to each of the Beatles' songs on this first broadcast, you have to wonder whether they'd brought fans over with them from Liverpool.

When I originally posted this blog, I suggested that one or more of Mike McCartney's photos of the Beatles 'at the Beeb' may have been taken during this first radio appearance. However, his new book 'Early Liverpool' dates them all from 11 June 1962 so I have moved them to that entry.   

John and Paul listened to the 5pm broadcast the following afternoon at Pete's house in Hayman's Green, his mother Mona owning a much superior radiogram to anything in the Smith or McCartney households. Reportedly they danced a conga during the final number. 

Knotty Ash Village Hall, Knotty Ash and 42 Aylton Road,Huyton:
17 March 1962 (?) (photos by Mike McCartney and Dick Matthews + Sam Leach?)

According to local promoter Sam Leach, this show, billed as a “St Patrick’s Night Rock Gala” [3] was a one-off, set up primarily to pay for his own engagement party, which took place immediately afterwards at his fiancé's house in Huyton, east Liverpool.  With only two days advertising Leach managed to fill the hall with 'almost three hundred rabid beat fans.'

The Beatles headlined, with support from Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. 

Knotty Ash is only a mile or so from Broad Green, where most of the Hurricanes lived and consequently, they had a lot of local support this evening. Spurred on by his friends and family Rory gave what Leach would later describe as 'probably the best performance of his life, driving the audience absolutely wild' 

Watching Rory cavort around the stage 'like a man possessed' was George Harrison who recognised that the Beatles would be playing to the Hurricanes' crowd and feared they would be booed off. 

It took a strong pep talk from Leach - 'You are the BEATLES!' -to convince them to play hell for leather, in leather, for an hour and a half, the thunderous applause ringing in their ears as they left the stage.

At the end Leach brought both groups back on stage for a joint performance of 'What'd I Say?'  He would later describe the evening as unbelievable night which produced the best 'Battle of the Bands' he ever witnessed.

Extant photographs show that members of both groups attended the engagement party at Dolly McEvoy's house which, in true Liverpudlian tradition, went on until the following afternoon.
Dolly McEvoy (known informally as Dolly Mac) was the mother of Sam's fiancé' Joan. Also present was Mike McCartney, Paul's girlfriend Dorothy 'Dot' Rhone, Brian Epstein, Bob Wooler and Ted 'Kingsize' Taylor, among others. Although all four Beatles attended, the extant photos don't show every member of the Hurricanes so we can't be sure that they were all present. 

Hurricane Johnny 'Guitar' Byrne certainly was. His diary entry for 1962 mentions the party:

Bought Zodiac. Knotty Ash, Orrell, then Sam Leach's engagement party. Had row with Eileen. Got home 6.

And this is where Sam Leach's account of what must have been a notable milestone in his personal life gets thrown into question, because according to Byrne's diary, the date of Sam's party was 17 FEBRUARY 1962, exactly one month earlier. 

On that particular night the Beatles were playing at the Cavern, while the Hurricanes had a double booking, the Village Hall in Knotty Ash, followed by the Orrell Park Ballroom in north Liverpool.  

It was not unusual for members of both groups to meet up after finishing their respective engagements. As we saw in the 1961 post, Joe's Café in the city centre was a popular late night-early morning hangout, as was Rory Storm's family home in Broad Green. It's not unreasonable therefore to assume that on 17 February they all travelled back through Liverpool to attend Sam's party in Huyton.

In his book Sam Leach has a distinct memory of 'a gang of us' (presumably including Beatles and Hurricanes) travelling to the party from Knotty Ash in a van. Their driver (not Neil Aspinall) pulled out from the Village Hall into the path of a speeding articulated lorry which seemed to have appeared from nowhere. Everyone braced themselves for the inevitable impact but miraculously the lorry, its brakes screeching hysterically, managed to stop less than a foot from the side of the van. Shocked, stunned, shaken and stirred, everyone in the van travelled the 1.5 miles to the party in complete silence. 

You'd think Johnny Guitar might have mentioned this near-death experience but then, according to his diary entry, the Hurricanes would have been travelling to the party from Orrell Park.

Paul, George, Joan McEvoy, John, Pete and Rory with two unidentified ladies at the engagement party.

George always fancied Joan and when I began dating her, he asked her to let him know when she finished seeing me. 'But don't tell Sam', he added. 'He’d batter me!' Today she probably feels like battering me for spoiling her chances. Sam Leach, The Rocking City

As we can see in the above photo, Pete Best, who, you might have read, never socialised with the other Beatles after a gig, was at the party, socialising with the other Beatles, after a gig. Various sources report that Pete normally went home to West Derby with Neil Aspinall in the Beatles' own van. There are no photos of Neil at the party. Of course, that's not proof that he wasn't there, but we know Neil had other things on his mind at this time so he may have dropped the Beatles off at the party after their Cavern engagement (if this was 17th February) and then retired to West Derby, leaving the Beatles to make their own way home. You could also make the argument that they all expected to have plenty to drink so used taxis or public transport that night. [4]

Referencing the St Patrick's Night Rock Gala in Tune In, author Mark Lewisohn mentions that the Hurricanes were still without Ringo. 

If Johnny Guitar's diary entry is correct, and the party took place on 17 February, then Ringo would not have been able to attend because he was still in Germany with Tony Sheridan. Co-incidentally, the night of 16-17 February saw Hamburg devastated by flooding which effectively brought Ringo's two-month contract at the Top Ten club to an end. Buildings collapsed, 20,000 people were made homeless and 343 died. The Reeperbahn escaped the water because it was uphill but there were power failures and the Top Ten shut for a few days. 

With the club closed there was no point in hanging around Hamburg and Ringo made his way back to Liverpool soon afterwards.  

Lewisohn says Ringo was in no immediate hurry to re-join the Hurricanes. He signed back on the dole, went for long drives on his own and mourned his beloved Nana Starkey who'd passed on 7 February while he was still in Hamburg. Perhaps this latter event is why the usually gregarious drummer was feeling unsociable. He was back with the Hurricanes by 31 March when they set off for France having secured a gig playing American air bases.

To summarise:

17 February 1962 (Johnny Guitar's date)

  • The Beatles play the Cavern Club in the evening then make their way to Sam's party. 
  • Rory Storm and the Hurricanes play Knotty Ash Village Hall and the Orrell Park Ballroom before Rory and Johnny (at least) attend the party.
  • Ringo is not present because he is still in Hamburg.
17 March 1962 (Sam Leach's date)

  • The Beatles and Rory Storm and the Hurricanes play Knotty Ash Village Hall before going on to the party.
  • Ringo is back in Liverpool but does not attend because he is mourning his grandmother and considering his future.
  • (OR) Ringo is back in Liverpool and does attend, but there are no photos of him.
It's an odd one this. When Sam Leach wrote about his engagement party in The Rocking City, he remembered he'd arranged a gig to pay for it. Did he conflate the two events into one night? On the other hand, with this being a special moment in his life, is he likely to have forgotten it?  Perhaps more importantly, is Joan likely to have let him? 

So why would Johnny write in his diary that he'd been to Sam's engagement party on 17 February if he hadn't? Perhaps he'd simply opened his diary on the wrong month and made the entry thinking he was in March? Look again at the other details - Bought Zodiac. Knotty Ash, Orrell, then Sam Leach's engagement party. Had row with Eileen. Got home 6.

I don't know long after the event Johnny normally left it before filling in his diary, but suppose he made this entry shortly after he got home, at 6am, his head spinning from all the drink and another row with his girlfriend, or maybe later still, after a few hours kip and with his hangover in full swing. You can see how he might make the mistake.

I do accept that following the joint gig in Knotty Ash the Hurricanes headed north to Orrell Park for their second engagement and re-joined the Beatles later at the party. I think Sam's memory is slightly off on that point.

Any road, shall we get back to that party?

Later in the evening, Joan had a headache and said she was going upstairs for a lie down. I went to fetch a couple of aspirins from the kitchen and said I'd follow her. Bob Wooler then made a typically cheap remark about pre-marital sex. Before I had a chance to sort him out, Paul and George grabbed him and made him personally apologise to Joan. Sam Leach, The Rocking City

The boot belongs to Rory Storm, who wanted to be in the photo but was too drunk to stand, so Paul obligingly helped him out.

"I am the eggman". "No, you're not" said Mrs McEvoy.

The night rolled on and I found Lennon, completely sloshed, sitting in the kitchen rolling raw eggs down Ann Barton's birds-nest hairstyle. Each time one broke, he gave a gasp of astonishment at the gooey yellow mess spreading across the tiled floor. Dolly found out and gave him a severe rollicking, which sobered him up enough to utter a sincere, 'Sorry, Mrs Mac'. Everyone liked and respected Dolly McEvoy and that was the only time I ever saw Lennon genuinely humbled. He disappeared for a while after that and was found later fast asleep in the bath. [5]

When he finally came downstairs, he once again started to apologise. Dolly had forgotten all about it, but he was still apologising as he left at nine the next morning. As we stood outside, he shook my hand gravely. 'That was the very best party I've ever been to . . . honest,' he croaked. I was pleased everyone had enjoyed themselves, but when John started thanking me for a third time, I put him in a taxi and packed him off home. As he left, I slipped an egg into his pocket. He never did tell me how that hatched out. Sam Leach, The Rocking City

John, Paul and Dot Rhone in the kitchen. Spot the Sugar Puffs.

Paul and Dot Rhone had met at the Casbah towards the end of 1959. Dot was a shy, quiet, and innocent 16-year-old, so naturally John Lennon nicknamed her 'Bubbles'.
She went out with Paul, on and off, until July 1962, around the same time that Cynthia Powell discovered she was pregnant.

From Sam's book. Pete is wearing his leather jacket here, not visible in any of the other photos...

'Hurricaneville', 54 Broad Green Road, L13: Late 1961 - March 1962 (photos by Mike McCartney)

Rory Storm (Alan Caldwell) with his girlfriend, Johnny 'Guitar' Byrne with his girlfriend (possibly Eileen, but if you 've read his diaries you'll be aware that he seems to have had a different girl every night), Vi Caldwell (Rory's Mum), Paul and his girlfriend Dorothy 'Dot' Rhone.

I've placed the photo here for no other reason than it is sometimes grouped in with the Sam Leach party photos. With Vi Caldwell in the photo and knowing that the groups often socialised at Rory's house at 54 Broad Green Road, I thought the best person to ask about it was his sister, Iris Caldwell.

Iris replied saying the photo with her Mum may have been taken in their house, but there was nothing in the photo to conclusively prove it. She said the Hurricanes and Beatles would also hang out in Johnny's house and sometimes her Mum would go with them, so it may have been taken there.

So, then I sent her this one, clearly taken on the same day. The photographer is Mike McCartney and shows, amongst others Dot Rhone, Iris herself, her Mum and Dad, Paul, Johnny Guitar, Rory and Sam Leach. She was delighted with it because not only has she not seen it before, but because Mike has managed to capture her whole family in the picture. Spot all of Rory's running trophies on the pelmet. She said it brought back some great memories and would love to frame it. Maybe Mike could send her a print? And incidentally, how great does Iris look here?

From April 1962 the Hurricanes were out of Liverpool more often than not, right through to the end of August.

Rory's house at 54 Broad Green Road (the white house on the extreme right) and Johnny's house at 37 Oakhill Park (the yellow house on the extreme left).

Harry Watmough Studio, 24 Moorfields: Late March 1962

Towards the end of March, Brian had the group photographed in their new suits by Harry Watmough at his studio in Moorfields. Six images from this session exist, three of which Brian selected to be printed as 'throwaway' cards which, starting from around May, the Beatles would take to every gig, giving them away to fans and offering to sign them.

The photo above was considered one of the best shots, even though George looks like he's just spotted Tony Meehan. Perhaps in recognition of this, some primitive photoshopping looks to have been undertaken on the example below. I've yet to find another copy of this card to establish whether this was a one off, perhaps done by a fan, or a professional attempt to improve the image before printing. If it was the latter, George must have been absolutely thrilled with the results.[6]

When we met Brian Epstein, we were still into the leather. But when we had photos taken people started saying, 'Maybe the leather is too hard an image.' And agents would agree. Somehow Brian persuaded us to get suits. He quite wisely said, 'If I get a huge offer, they won't take you in leather,' and I didn't think it was a bad idea because it fitted with my 'Gateshead group' philosophy that you should look similar, and because we got mohair suits it was a bit like the black acts.

It was later put around that I had betrayed our leather image but, as I recall, I didn't actually have to drag anyone to the tailors. We all went quite happily over the water to Wirral, to Beno Dorn, a little tailor who made mohair suits. That started to change the image and, though we would still wear leather occasionally, for the posh do's we'd put on suits. It was suits for a cabaret gig. We were still on the edge of breaking in a big way and cabaret was well paid. So that was something of an end to the Hamburg era. Paul McCartneyAnthology

Heswall Jazz Club, Barnston Women's Institute, Heswall, Wirral: 24 March 1962


Just three weeks after recording their initial BBC radio session, the ladies of the Barnston Women's Institute were the second audience to be treated to a preview of the Beatles' new stage suits, ahead of the grand unveiling Epstein had planned for fan club night. (see 5 April 1962)

Two years later Paul McCartney would buy a house for his dad in Heswall, less than two miles from the institute.

Apollo Roller Rink, Moreton, Wirral: 26 March 1962

Two days after rocking the W.I. the Beatles were back on the Wirral, rolling at the Apollo in a booking not mentioned in any of Mark Lewisohn's books. I was hoping it might warrant a mention in Tune In but alas not. It would be interesting to know whether this evening saw another outing for the new suits, ahead of the official unveiling Epstein had planned for 5 April.  

The event was staged by Tony Booth, who designed many concert posters during the Mersey Beat era and produced many reproductions in his later years.  

Like the majority of the Wirral venues the Apollo Roller Rink has a plaque commemorating the Beatles' appearance there.

The Odd Spot, Bold Street: 29 March 1962 (photos by Alan Swerdlow)

For the first time The Beatles perform in their new suits in front of a Liverpool audience. Brian Epstein had his friend Alan Swerdlow photograph the event. 

A selection of the 24 photographs taken on this night are posted below. All will feature in a forthcoming blog.  

Of the 24 photographs, 6 were portraits of Pete Best. The Odd Spot today (below)

Mersey Beat (C) Bill Harry

The Odd Spot quickly gained a reputation for being one of the the best clubs in town.  Other acts who performed in its narrow basement included Derry and the Seniors (with Freddie Fowler/Starr), Johnny Sandon and the Searchers, and the Dee Valley Jazzmen.

The Cavern Club: 5 April 1962 (photos by Brian Farrell, Lou Steen and Mike McCartney) 

The Beatles' fan club night, hosted by their 'favourite compere' Bob Wooler, with the Four Jays (later The Fourmost) chosen as their guest act. This was the first Thursday night opening since the demise of the Cavern's modern jazz session.

Ticket holders were invited to free membership of the Beatles' new fan club. The application form was printed on the reverse of the ticket and upon entry everyone was given a free glossy photo of the Beatles in their leathers, with best wishes from John, Paul, George and Pete printed on the back, the font small enough to leave ample space for their autographs. Over the years many of the photos signed on this evening have reached the auction houses.

A signed handbill from the evening.

Bob Wooler: “Brian Epstein hired the Cavern on a Thursday night in April 1962, and it was for the Beatles to thank their fans and they had the Four Jays as their guests.

Billy Hatton of the Four Jays (later The Foumost): This was one of the most fulfilling nights we did at the Cavern. We were chuffed about it: it was the Beatles fan club night, and the only bands were the Beatles and the Four Jays.

As soon as the Four Jays opened proceedings, the Beatles opened a show of their own in the minuscule dressing-room. The Cavern was ‘dry’ but they’d smuggled down some booze and were getting stuck in. Mark Lewisohn, Tune In

Bob Wooler: Because it was a special night, they asked me to sing with them and I said no. On the other hand, Ray McFall did two songs with them – the Elvis song, ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’, and the title song of the film Tender Is The Night, which had been recorded by Vic Damone. The Beatles played a few chords behind him and the audience dutifully applauded. He had a good voice, and he did well.”

Ray McFall on the Cavern mic. (Note: Not from 5 April 1962) (C) Cavern Club

Spencer Leigh asked Ray McFall about this: “It was good fun but I should have stuck to the one song that they knew. The second song was an unwise choice, but how could they refuse me? I owned the club.” Spencer Leigh, The Best of Fellas

This was a very exciting evening for us. The fans were wonderful, and this was a very special evening for them. The photograph on the posters [handbills] was misleading in that we had long abandoned our leathers in favour of suits Brian bought to present us with a more clean image.

But we had a surprise in store for the fans that they were not prepared for. The old Cavern crowd had made us what we were, and they were not too keen on our new suit image. So, on fan night we came out in our leathers to wild cheers from our fan club girls. Pete Best, How They Became The Beatles, Gareth L. Pawlowski

You can see how Pete's memory is slightly off here. From February there had been a gradual transition away from wearing the full leather suits they'd thrilled Cavern audiences with since July 1961. The Beatles were now regularly seen on stage in jumpers and tank tops, jeans or smart trousers but often still with their leather jackets. To date they'd only worn their suits on a couple of occasions.

With it being a special night a couple of fans brought cameras. Five of these images were taken by Brian Farrell, the brother of Bernadette, who would soon be George's girlfriend.

The Beatles peeled off their leathers during the interval and Bob Wooler prefaced their return to the stage with a big announcement: ‘The Beatles will be appearing in their NEW SUITS!’ This was the moment of change. Four months earlier, John and Paul had dared play their self-written songs to the Cavern crowd, knowing they’d find the softest landing here, and now came another test of favour from the faithful. Some six hundred and fifty witnessed it, subsequently explaining their thoughts as if they were felt universally. Mark Lewisohn, Tune In

And with that, the leather-clad Beatles were no more.

Barbara Houghton: ‘When they appeared in the suits everybody screamed because they looked so handsome. I still liked them in the leathers, but the suits were good.’

Bernadette Farrell: ‘It was a surprise, to say the least – they didn’t seem to feel right in them, and everybody thought “They look smart but it’s not our Beatles.”’

Not even the Beatles could please all the people all the time – but this was their special audience, and their special audience wasn’t rushing for the exit. Lou Steen had brought a camera from home and took the first Cavern photos of the new apparel… as well as capturing the instant when Pete Best fell in love.

Back in January, when the Beatles played Aintree Institute for the last time, Pete met Walton girl Catherine (Kathy) Johnson. Kathy was one of the Kingtwisters, a group of dancers organised and encouraged by Bob Wooler, She went regularly to the local venues, but while her friend had a great affection for Paul McCartney, Kathy thought the Beatles a bunch of bigheads. She met Pete again soon afterwards at the bowling alley and they became better acquainted, but here in the Cavern, on Fan Club night, she joined Pete on the tiny stage to the Beatles’ accompaniment and started a lasting relationship. [7]

Brian said Pete should sing on the fans’ special night, so the Beatles treated the audience to an extended version of Joey Dee and the Starliters' ‘Peppermint Twist’.

Paul got on Pete's drums while George tried to play Paul’s left-handed Hofner bass, right-handed. It was a cabaret moment.

One of the throng, Sandra Marshall, recorded the scene in her 1962 diary: ‘Everyone was squashed to death and standing up except for the front three rows – everyone was screaming and singing!’

The Beatles logo only seems to have been used this one night. Where is it now?

'Peppermint Twist' went 'round and 'round and up and down, long enough for Paul remove his suit jacket while they extended the middle-eight to a middle-eighty and Pete and Kathy twisted themselves in love. It was Pete’s happiest night in the Beatles, and Lou Steen’s camera snapped him, microphone in hand. Lou also photographed her heartthrob on the drums – Paul, blurred in the background, his hair plastered down by sweat, jacket off, tie pulled loose, top shirt-button undone… and grinning from ear to ear because he was having such a fantastic time and because it was his little friend Louey taking the photo. She froze a turning-point in Paul McCartney’s life – in a suit in the Cavern for the first time, things really happening for him now. [7]

Hindsight is a wonderful thing but perhaps they could have brought Ringo in and kept Pete as a 'Bez' like figure?

Then the Four Jays came back on stage wearing the Beatles' leather jackets and joined them for a finale jam.

Billy Hatton, Mike Millward, George 'Noel Coward' Harrison, and Brian O'Hara

Billy Hatton of the Four Jays (later The Foumost): I remember doing ‘Mama Don’t Allow’ with the Beatles.

Depending on the retelling John alternated between guitar, harmonica and Jew's harp (on which he took a solo), George found an old trumpet and blew on that while dressed as Noël Coward in a silk dressing-gown and Christmas-cracker hat, Paul was on guitar and then piano, Pete played drums together with Dave Lovelady, the Four Jays’ drummer, Billy Hatton was on guitar while Brian O'Hara brought out an old violin.

It ran fully twenty minutes, everyone making up the words and taking turns to do a solo.

Billy Hatton of the Four Jays (later The Foumost): It sounds good, but it was ten minutes worth of crap.

He forgot to mention that John and Paul were both dressed as Father Christmas, in April, on a Thursday!

It was an incredible night, and when it was all over, and everyone was put in mind of catching the last bus home, the Beatles quietened the audience for a special parting message, one they’d considered in advance and were keen to transmit: ‘Don’t forget us.’ This was their penultimate Cavern show before leaving and they’d be gone within a week, not returning until June. Nothing fazed the Beatles, people said, but there was always a certain vulnerability. They worried the avalanche of goodwill they’d amassed since July 1961 might melt in their absence.

I like the inscription from Paul on this one: Auntie May, See you when we get back from Germany in about 7 weeks' time, Ta-ra, Paul xxx

Lindy Ness: They said, ‘We’re going to play seven weeks in Hamburg and we don’t want you to forget us while we’re away. It’ll be nice if you write to us.’ And they gave out the address of the club. They thought we’d forget them and move to some other group!

My friends and I split the Beatles between us: Suzy wrote to George, Louey wrote to Paul and I wrote one letter to George and many to John, and we all got letters back.

Then the Beatles stepped down from the stage and this fantastic night – arguably their best of the year, written up in the next Mersey Beat as their ‘greatest-ever performance’ – ended in a mass scrum. They were engulfed, swarmed over for kisses and backslaps and autographs, every inch the phenomenon people described.
Mark Lewisohn, Tune In

I think if I had the opportunity to travel back in time to one Cavern Club performance, I'd choose this one.

Note that some sources claim that the Beatles played their own ‘Pinwheel Twist’ (rather than 'Peppermint Twist') on fan club night. Spearheaded by Chubby Checker, the Twist craze was currently sweeping Britain, so Paul decided to write a twist song so that the Beatles had its exclusive use. Unfortunately, there are no known recordings but according to witnesses the lyrics were along the lines of:
Pinwheel Twist going round and round / Pinwheel Twist going round and round / Pinwheel Twist going round and round / Hey, Pinwheel Twist! / We’ll twist, we’ll pinwheel / Do the spin wheel / Right away, night and day, two-three [Paul said this] / Well come on everybody and do the shimmy-shimmy / While you’re dancing to and fro – like this! / Everybody’s doing the Pinwheel Twist.’ [8]

Earl Preston: When the twist came out, there was an Italian/American from New York called Peppy who came to the Cavern to demonstrate how to do the dance. He was on for half an hour and he was very good as I’d never seen anyone demonstrate a dance before. The twist was unheard of in Liverpool as everybody was jiving. The Beatles wrote a song called ‘Pinwheel Twist’ and it was brilliant. It was a twist song with a great arrangement.

Dave Dover: Shortly after Peppy and the New York Twisters did their set, the Beatles came on and said that they had written a song in the band room called ‘The Pinwheel Twist’. It was one four five, C-F-G song, not much more than ‘Come on, do the pinwheel twist’. It wasn’t a brilliant song but it showed that they had kept their ear to what was going on and I’d never heard anybody say before that they had written a song during the break. I liked the spontaneity of it all and it was another first for the Beatles.

Not everyone would recall it with fondness, though.

Pinwheel Twist' was a fucking awful song – it had a waltz middle-eight when the song suddenly dragged. It really didn’t work. I hated it. Neil AspinallAnthology

The Cavern Club (?): 7 April 1962 (photos by Lou Steen)

Members of my Facebook group will know that this photo of George and Paul has given me all sorts of headaches. Where and at what point in 1962 was it taken? I think I've made some progress in solving the mystery. Sort of.

Lindy Ness was one of a small group of fans that the Beatles befriended and allowed into their homes. The photo appears in Mark Lewisohn's Tune In captioned 'John and Lindy Ness outside the Cavern, 7 April 1962. Photo by Lindy's schoolfriend and big Paul fan, Lou Steen.'  I'm guessing Lou would want a picture of Paul, and George too.

However, the big sticking point with this is that on the eve of their departure for another season in Hamburg George Harrison, somewhat ironically, came down with German measles. Brian Epstein decided to stop George from performing on this night, and the following evening at the Casbah to try and ensure he was well enough to travel. 

Secondly, it's long been confirmed that the leather coats Paul and George are wearing were bought in Hamburg on this same trip - you can see them later in the year in the photos where they're posing with George's Ford Anglia - which would date their photo later than April 1962.

Lewisohn writes that Lindy, Lou and their friend Susan Wooley were all in attendance at the Beatles' Welcome Home show at the Cavern on 9 June 1962. In the bandroom  the girls presented the group with various gifts including a home-baked sponge cake which delighted John. Afterwards the girls went back with John and Paul to Forthlin Road and spent the night watching the pair work on a new song, 'Please, Please Me' at Jim McCartneys upright piano.

As Paul and George would own their leather coats by then, could both photos date from 9 June? Lindy's photo was printed in Tune In, and she may well have written the date and location on the back of it which would kill this theory, but if not, could she be mis-rembering the night of the show before they left for Hamburg instead of the night after their return? 

Coats in June? The weather in June 1962 is recorded as very dry with cold nights. July was noted to be a 'very disappointing summer month'.

Or possibly not, because I've also found this photo of Paul with a camera-shy companion, who I'm guessing is big Paul fan Lou Steen.  The person taking the photo was stood practically on the same spot as in the John and Lindy picture. Perhaps each girl asked the other to take a picture stood with their favourite Beatle and then teenage embarrassment got the better of both of them. 

Note: Since writing the above, I've attended Mark Lewisohn's Evolver '62 show during which he discusses these pictures. The above photo shows a not-at-all embarrassed Lou Steen, who was simply brushing the hair out of her face when Lindy prematurely took the shot.

As Paul's clothing is similar to John's (heavy coat, scarf) I'm now inclined to accept that they both date from 7 April 1962, while the photo with George was taken on a different night.

One final thing. I've studied every external photo of the Cavern I can get my hands on and at no point in Mathew Street is there a building with this sort of brickwork, even on contemporary photographs. In theory I suppose it could have been taken in Harrington Street which runs behind the Cavern Club, and this section might have disappeared when the club was demolished (I don't think the Cavern had a rear exit in 1962, though that's not a reason for them not to be there). However, there ARE a number of streets running off Dale Street with similar yellow brickwork. 

So in summary the three photos are from the same location in 1962 but beyond that.... 

Where are you Lindy, Lou and Susan? 

In April 1962, Stuart Sutcliffe died. He had already left the band. Not long before he died, he showed up in Liverpool (in the Pierre Cardin jacket with no collar; he had one before we did) and he went round and hung out with us - almost as if he'd had a premonition that he wasn't going to see us again. He came to visit me at my house quite apart from when I saw him with the others and it was a very good feeling I got from him.

I didn't know Stuart was ill, but he was trying to give up smoking. He'd cut his cigarettes up into little bits and every time he fancied a cigarette he'd smoke a little piece, like a dog-end. All the stories make out that somebody kicked him in the head and he died of a haemorrhage, and I do remember him getting beaten up after a gig once in Liverpool (just because he was in a band), but that was a couple of years before. There was something really warm about his return, and in retrospect I believe he was finishing something; because he went back to Hamburg and suffered a brain haemorrhage and died soon after, only a day before we were due to fly back there. I had German measles so I went a day later than the other guys, on a plane with Brian Epstein. That was the first time I'd been in an aeroplane.

We didn't go to the funeral. That was it: as the man said, 'He not busy being born is busy dying.' But we all felt really sad and I remember feeling worst for Astrid. She was still coming to the shows and sitting there. I think it made her feel a bit better, at least, to hang out with us.  George HarrisonAnthology

I looked up to Stu. I depended on him to tell me the truth. Stu would tell me if something was good and I'd believe him. We were awful to him sometimes. Especially Paul, always picking on him. I used to explain afterwards that we didn't dislike him, really.  John LennonAnthology

Sometimes in the van, with all the stress we were under, a little bitching went on and Paul and he used to punch each other out a bit. I remember the two of them wrestling one time - Paul thought he'd win easily because Stuart was such a little bloke, but Stuart suddenly got this amazing strength that Paul hadn't bargained for.  I once had a bit of a fight with Stuart as well, but we were very friendly other than that - certainly by the end. George HarrisonAnthology

Not many of our contemporaries had died; we were all too young. It was older people that died, so Stuart's dying was a real shock. And for me there was a little guilt tinged with it, because I'd not been his best friend at times. We ended up good friends, but we'd had a few ding-dongs, partly out of jealousy for John's relationship. We all rather competed for John's friendship, and Stuart, being his mate from art school, had a lot of his time and we were jealous of that. Also, I was keen to see the group be as good as it could be, so I would make the odd remark: 'Oh, you didn't play that right.' But Stuart's death was terrible, because if nothing else he should have been a great painter - you can see that from his sketchbooks. The rest of us weren't as close to Stu as John was - they'd been to college together and shared a flat - but we were still close. Everyone was very sad, though the blow was softened by the fact that he'd stayed in Hamburg and we'd got used to not being with him.  Paul McCartneyAnthology

The Beatles on stage at the Star Club, Hamburg. Photo taken by Manfred Weissleder between 13 April and 31 May 1962. It later appeared on the front cover of Bill Harry's Mersey Beat paper, 12-26 March 1964 headlined 'First Beatles Colourpic'.

The Cavern Club: 3 June 1962 (photos by Mike McCartney + George Harrison) 

They had been rejected by almost every record label. Finally, Brian sent the guys a telegram to Hamburg: 'EMI request recording session. Please rehearse new material.' Brian told them it was a record contract. It wasn't really; it was just an audition with a producer, George Martin. Neil AspinallAnthology

The Parlophone audition was in June 1962. It went not too badly. I think George Martin felt we were raw and rough but that we had some quality that was interesting. We did 'Love Me Do', 'PS I Love You', 'Ask Me Why', 'Besame Mucho' and 'Your Feet's Too Big', among others. ('Your Feet's Too Big' was Fats Waller. That was Paul's dad's influence.) George HarrisonAnthology

Note: A study of the EMI paperwork since the release of the Beatles' Anthology reveals the 6 June session was a recording session, not an audition. 

The Beatles spent the afternoon of Sunday 3 June and the evening of Monday 4 in rehearsal ahead of their recording session at EMI Studios, London on 6 June. By the end of these rehearsals Brian Epstein was able to assemble a list of 33 titles with which they hoped to impress George Martin. Mike McCartney was on hand to capture the rehearsals on camera (and to be captured himself, while striking a slightly surrealist pose, by George Harrison using Mike's camera).

It might not have been on this particular occasion but Cavern DJ Bob Wooler would always remember one Beatles' rehearsal where 'Paul was showing Pete how he wanted the drums to be played for a certain tune and I thought, "That's pushing it a bit."

As a consequence of the audition, the Beatles' 'Welcome Home' from Hamburg show planned for the evening of 6th June was postponed until the 9th. 

The Cavern Club: 9 June 1962

The Beatles’ rearranged 'Welcome Home' show, and they are supported by the Red River Jazzmen, Vic and the Spidermen, the Four Jays and Ken Dallas and the Silhouettes. To watch the four and a half hours of entertainment Cavern members pay 6s 6d and non-members 7s 6d, if any of the latter manage to get in.

Attendance on this evening tops an astonishing 900, though those who were there say it felt more like a thousand. Don't forget this was a warehouse cellar with only one entrance, and no fire escape. It must have been sweltering. Anyone who fainted was passed over the heads of the crowd to the back where they could be taken upstairs into the Mathew Street air and hopefully revived.

Bob Wooler: I thought they might have been tired after the travelling and their strenuous sessions in Hamburg, but not a bit of it. This was one of their finest performances.

Brian Epstein had copies of the Beatles' new publicity photos framed and placed on the stage. Having rested the new suits during their Hamburg engagement, they wore them again on stage at the Cavern this evening and this led to an awkward moment.

At some point after the Beatles rehearsals on 3-4 June, Ray McFall, the Cavern's owner had decided to paint the brickwork surrounding the stage with white emulsion, obliterating the coloured squares on the back wall where a number of singers and groups had written their names. The photo above showing Paul and Pete drumming is a good example of this with The Beatles clearly visible on the wall between them. 

Unfortunately the condensation generated by the 900 strong audience made the emulsion drip from the ceiling, all over the Beatles new suits. Predictably, Brian was furious. Luckily, as it was emulsion, the paint didn't stain them. 

This photo of John and Pete was taken by Lou Steen, a Cavern regular and friend of the Beatles. 

This is an unidentified, undated photo of Paul and Pete with fans taken somewhere in Merseyside circa March- August 1962, reportedly by Ted 'Kingsize' Taylor.  The girl on the left has one of those wicker handbags that were popular in Liverpool at that time (you can see more on the 19 February 1963 photos by Michael Ward).

The Beatles and Kingsize Taylor and the Dominoes were both on at the Cavern on the night of Wednesday 20 June.  Unless somebody in the photo comes forward and provides more information we'll have to file this one in the 'Not a clue' pile.  

Lime Street Station, Liverpool: c. June - July 1962 (photo by Mike McCartney)

I've placed this photo here based solely on the railway poster. 3 June fell on a Sunday in 1962. Mike goes with a similar dating in his new 'Early Liverpool' book. By accident or design, the low angle of Mike's photo cleverly disguises the significant height difference of his two subjects.  In reality the 6ft 7 in Baldry towered over Paul.

Just out of shot to the right was the Punch and Judy café, where John and Paul would wait for Brian to return from London and hope he was bringing news of a record deal.

In Mike's new book he writes that Baldry would come up by train 'and would sometimes give our kid blues records and Paul would do the same.' This may well have been the case later on, but in 1962, Paul was relatively unknown outside of Hamburg and Liverpool. Baldry had appeared at the Cavern on a couple of occasions as the featured vocalist with the Ken Simms - Ian Wheeler Jazz Band. 

It's said that Paul and Baldry became friendly after a show at the Cavern. The only date I can trace when both definitely appeared on the same bill was an all-nighter on Saturday 24 February 1962 with the Beatles, Red River Jazzmen, Tony Smith's Jazz Band, Ken Sim's Vintage Jazz Band, Gerry and the Pacemakers, and Ken Dallas and the Silhouettes.

There was clearly some friendship there, leading to an invitation to sing on the Beatles' 1964 TV Special Around The Beatles. Baldry performed 'Got My Mojo Workin'' and a medley of songs with Liverpool's own Vernons Girls.

Playhouse Theatre, Hulme, Manchester: 11 June 1962
Recording BBC Radio Light Programme ''Here We Go' br. 15 June 1962
(photos by Mike McCartney)

On Monday 11 June 1962 Brian Epstein hired a coach and took around 50 members of the official fan club to see the Beatles record their second BBC radio appearance for the show Teenager's Turn - Here We Go, at the Playhouse in Manchester.  

People tuning in to the Light Programme between 5-5.30pm the following Friday heard the Beatles perform 'Ask Me Why', 'Besame Mucho', and 'A Picture of You'.

Mike McCartney was on hand to take photos of the session.

The two photographs above come from the 4pm rehearsal. Note that the three front-men are wearing the new leather jackets acquired on their most recent trip to Hamburg.

For the actual broadcast the Beatles changed into their new Beno Dorm suits (remember this is for a radio programme). So as not to distract them while they were recording, or perhaps just hoping for a different vantage point, Mike moved upstairs to a position directly above the stage capturing two images of the Beatles getting ready to play, the first just as the host Ray Peters introduces them to the audience. 

Jim McCartney was also present, and was reportedly involved in an uncomfortable exchange with Pete Best. After the show the first signs of Beatle hysteria outside of Liverpool were experienced, and in the melee Pete was encircled by fans as they left the theatre, separating him from his three bandmates. Pete would later write that Jim took a dim view of the situation, accusing him of selfishly bringing all the attention on himself, and for not calling the other lads back to share in the adoration. 

Tower Ballroom, New Brighton: 21 June 1962 (photos Mike McCartney)

This show was promoted by Brian Epstein's NEMS, presented by Bob Wooler and headlined by Bruce Channel of 'Hey! Baby' fame. 

There were lots of kids there, a whole sea of people, and I said to Delbert (McLinton), ‘They can’t all have come to see us,’ and we soon found out that The Beatles were very popular. Delbert was in the dressing room with John Lennon who was very interested in his harp. Delbert played something for him and evidently John kept the idea and used it for the sound on Love Me Do.  We had heard the harmonica on blues records by Jimmy Reed and people like that, and that influenced Hey! Baby. It’s a great thrill to know that our record influenced The Beatles and that our music was appreciated by a group of that stature. Bruce Channel, Spencer Leigh

Note: The Beatles had recorded the first version of 'Love Me Do' on 6 June 1962, before meeting Channel and McLinton. The harmonica was already present.

The Beatles backstage with Delbert McLinton and Bruce Channel. Note how Paul's fringe looks to be different lengths in each of the three photographs. And what is that naughty bee-hived lady's shoe doing between Mr McLinton's legs?


[1] An example of the pot calling the kettle black, if ever there was one.
[2] Ringo's quote from Anthology. I once saw Tony Sheridan perform at the Beatles Convention at the Adelphi Hotel, Liverpool in 1989. He was backed by, I think, Mojo Filter, a young band who I'd previously seen play a setlist of songs covered by the Beatles in Hamburg and on their BBC radio sessions. You'd think they'd be a perfect match for Sheridan. They probably thought they were too, until Sheridan opened the set with Leonard Cohen's 'First We Take Manhattan'. I'm not sure they'd even heard the song before, never mind played it.
[3] St. Paddy's day is a big celebration in Liverpool, much more so than St. George's day. Everyone suddenly remembers they might have Irish roots and acknowledges this by drinking Guinness and getting pissed, just like all real Irish people do. The crowd attending the village hall this night were probably well up for it. By 'pissed' I mean drunk, not angry. I've no idea if either meaning of the word applies to the good people of Ireland.
[4] Neil Aspinall lived with the Best family at 8 Hayman's Green. He was having a relationship with Pete's mother, Mona, who discovered she was pregnant around this time. For Pete it was just under a 3 mile walk home from the party, for John, Paul and George, it was even more. They may have had a lift home in Epstein's car.
[5] Ann Barton was all over the Merseybeat scene, on first name terms with most of the groups, would look after the money taken on the door at the Cassanova and Iron Door clubs, and according to Leach, was a 'world class ticket seller'. I've no idea if that's Ann in the photo with a leery John, but wouldn't it be great if it was?
[6] Unless that's just a repair done by a fan to that individual card.
[7] Adapted from Tune In, by Mark Lewisohn.
[8] Pinwheel is another word for the spinning Catherine Wheel firework.


  • Anthology (The Beatles)
  • Beatle! The Pete Best Story (Pete Best & Patrick Doncaster)
  • Bob Wooler, The Best of Fellas (Spencer Leigh)
  • How They Became The Beatles: A Definitive History of the Early Years, 1960-1964 (Gareth L. Pawlowski)
  • Mike McCartney's Early Liverpool (Genesis, 2022)
  • MMLL - Mike McCartney's Liverpool Life: Sixties Black and Whites (2003)
  • The Cavern Club: The Rise of The Beatles and Merseybeat (Spencer Leigh)
  • The Rocking City (Sam Leach)
  • Tune In (Mark Lewisohn)
  • Various issues of Mersey Beat (Bill Harry) (author's own collection)

Thanks to Ant Hogan and Iris Caldwell. - The Savage Young Beatles (Chazz Avery)
This is a great source of rare Beatles images throughout their career: Frank Seltier

(C) Mark Ashworth, August 2021.  Updated May 2022


  1. Yet another fascinating and brilliantly researched and presented post. As usual, a few comments from me.

    I am really impressed with the detective work that identifies the date of Paul meeting John Baldry. Anyone who has tried to date family photos, etc, will understand the importance of any form of evidence. However, it still leaves the mystery of when Macca and Baldry first met, and what he was doing in Liverpool that summer.

    It seems inconceivable that Lewisohn would not have details of the Apollo Roller Rink gig on the 26th of February. I note that in the Chronicle text (1993), which added extra research to his first main text, Beatles Live, he records the Beatles performing at the Kingsway Club in Southport. It is possible that the Southport gig was earlier or later than 7.30pm, but this is quite a distance to cover and I think it more likely that they were double booked and that Mark has gone for the date that he has firmer evidence for.

    To my knowledge, the first time Mark got hold of the Parlophone paperwork which demonstrated that the June trip was a recording session and not an audition was in the late 1980s and included in the Recording Sessions book (1988). He presented the evidence to George Martin who seemed to be genuinely perplexed. Of course, in Tune In Mark presents a convincing case for what really happened and my George Martin may have wanted to keep the truth quiet.

    1. Thanks James. The Apollo Roller Ring gig was supposedly 26 MARCH 1962. ;)

    2. RE. the John Baldry photo, the only other possible Sunday in June with a 3 was 23 June 1963 (if the "2" on the post is missing or defaced). This is intriguing because we know the Beatles were home for Paul's 18th birthday party on 18 June 1963 and travelled to London the next day for a BBC radio show. Paul and Baldry might be more familiar with each other 12 months on. Was Baldry at the 21st? (30 June 1963 was also a Sunday but that doesn't fit the poster).

    3. The image of Paul and John Baldry is included in Mike McCartney's new book. It reveals more of the top of the railway poster. It shows times for trains on "Whit Sunday" & "Whit Monday". A quick google search and both fell on the 3rd & 4th June 1962. The following year 1963 they fell on the 2nd & 3rd of June. So can only be 1962.

    4. Apologies for such a silly mistake - and I thought I checked carefully! Chronicle has a lunchtime date for the Cavern on the 26th of March, so they could easily have made the Wirral for 7.30.
      Just out of interest, during the first lockdown I listened to all Mark Lewisohn interviews posted on YouTube, and there are a lot. Most I had heard before, but it was fascinating listening to them in a concentrated way. One thing he mentioned more than once was that he will not list a gig unless he has documentary evidence. The best example is probably Bernard Manning's frequent claim that the Beatles played in his north Manchester club. Mark must know about the Apollo gig given the advertising and plaque, but I suspect the information came too late for the Chronicle book, which is now almost 30 years old, and not all gigs made it into Tune In. In some of the interviews he mentioned making revisions to Tune In due to new information, but I guess we are all keen for him to complete the remaining books before revising the first one!

  2. What an absolute fantastic piece of writing and research. I can hardly wait for Part 2.
    The 1961 feature was also top notch.

    Love all info on the Beatles early days and their evolution.

    Wouldn't it be great if there was a book available chronicling these early years?
    Maybe the size of the Thorsten Knublauch book "Mach Shau in Hamburg".

    Go on, you can do it. I'll send my pre-order payment right now.

    1. Thanks Wizz.

      I have thought about / am considering it, but you're right, it would have to be the size of Thorsten's book to do it justice.

  3. I echo Wizz's comment about a book. It was something I was going to suggest...

  4. I can only agree with the comments above! Your collection of pictures, followed by interesting facts makes for such an interesting reading. Best wishes from Sweden!