On The Beatle Trail in Lankyland..
1957 Onwards: The early Beatles were known as The Quarrymen, Johnny & The Moondogs and The Silver Beatles or even The Silver Beats and were a five or even six piece outfit. They played in Lankyland, but in comparison with Liverpool - very little time was spent in the sticks performing to us wooly-backs - as we are fondly known to all Liverpudlians.
Here are the lucky venues who - unknowingly and unwittingly at the time - subsequently booked the most important 1960's act on the planet Earth.
19/03/1961: The 'Devonshire' Labour Club
The Beatles played the ATC Club Southport earlier the same evening.
19/3/1961: The Air Training Corps Club - ATC
The Beatles played at Devonshire Road Labour Club later the same evening.
?/11/1961: The Glen Park Club
Just off the world famous Lord St, Southport. The Merseyside town hosts a daily population of both serial and casual shopper’s, day- trippers and locals and pitifully few of them are aware of its musically cosmic significance.
Litter-strewn, smelling of night-after-vomit and containing many other such unspeakables it is not a place for squeamish. Most of the time an uncompromising wind billows in from the Irish Sea and takes huge delight in howling down the tunnel scattering left-over chip papers, rubbish and half-empty drinks cans in its wake.
The public passage leading to a car park – what else? - could easily be just as famous as its better known thoroughfare if it really tried, but it isn’t. For the last fifty odd years it has languished well out of the so-called mock Parisian boulevards spot-light. This place however is just as deserving and ought to be awarded a unique plaque of British music’s historical locations, alongside a least nine other venues from around this classic resort.
These are the places The Beatles once played. Both post and prior their raunchy Hamburg days this is where they first gigged. The tiny room at the top end was the Glen Park Club, No 273 Lord Street is one and such. Entertaining and amusing the young and trendy elite of the day, the management often booked groups from Liverpool to do just that. This was of course the days of the Fab Four or Five - Stuart, Pete, John, Paul and George et al (Ringo played here with Rory Storm and the Hurricanes). In November 1961 the Beatles arrived with a van full of gear, crossed the wide open pavement and humped it up this alleyway.
Standing here for two minutes getting a picture of a piece of Beatle architecture drew many odd glances from the passers-by. Then I took the plunge. Taking a deep breath and holding my nose, I dived in. Arriving in seconds at the top of the poorly lit part-ceramic tiled tunnel and four dodgy up-steps - is a door to the left. It is clearly evident that it has been locked for many years and there are few signs of anyone around here would be caring enough to want it otherwise. It was deserted. Behind this paint peeled façade - is a small and insignificantly unused storage room which belongs to the shop facing Lord Street; a shoe shop according to Ray O’Brien, the author of 'There Are Places I’ll Remember – The Beatles Early Days' and published by Bluecoat Press. His book carefully chronicles many venues The Beatles played in Lankyland and Merseyside of the late 1950s, early 1960s. The book is full of both surprising and underwhelming details, it is a book for the Beatles connoisseur or the trail-tourists who have done the big UK venues like Abbey Road and The Cavern and is in dire need of a brand new adventure.
If I put you off a visit here - and I hope I haven't, the Local Council are supposedly on the case. Having served notice of late, that the passage it is to be gated; locked at night and only opened in day-time hours, you might be pleasantly surprised if you do make the trip – but please don’t take my word for it. There is nothing wrong with the place that a good detoxing, spruce-up and spring clean wouldn’t improve. What however is wrong here, is the people who systematically manage to abuse it.
Bill Hart: May 2009
From 1962 Onwards The Beatles were now officially established and began touring as..
22/1/1962: The Kingsway Club - Demolished
The Beatles played here a total of nine times. On the second gig on the 29 Jan 1962 Ringo Starr stood in for Pete Best who was taken ill. 23 July was their final appearance. Chris Rimmer & The Quiet Ones from Southport played several times on the same bill.
20/2/1962: The Floral Hall
They played at this popular venue four times all together.
15 October 1963 being their final appearance.
25/04/1962: Marine Hall
Just one appearance here.
25/06/1962: The Plaza Ballroom
Five appearance were made here the first of which was on 25 June 1962 and the last on the 4 March 1963. Brian Epstein got The beatles £25 for the the first gig and £100 for the last - their highest fee of their career so far.
20/07/1962: Bell Hall
One Apperance here. They played the Cavern earlier this same day.
26/07/1962: Cambridge Hall
Southport Arts Centre
Just once The Beatles played here. Top of the bill was Joe Brown & The Bruvvers who had a song called 'Picture of You' at No 3 in the Charts. Gerry & The Pacemakers, The Big 3, The 4 Jays and Stockports Pete McLaine & The Dakotas made for a considerable show.
9/08/1962: Floral Hall
This was The Beatles first of two performances at this venue on the Morecambe promenade. The final gig took place on 18 January 1963.
03/09/1962: Queen’s Hall
The first of five Beatles appearances. This was the after the sacking of Pete Best. On the same bill was Rory Storm & The Hurricanes - Ringo's former band. The following week 10 September was a repeat. On the 22 October they were supported by The Merseybeats and Lee Curtis & The All Stars who had Pete Best on drums. It was here that Pete was allegedly ignored by his former colleagues. Their final appearance was a sell-out-double-header on 18 Febuary 1963.
26/10/1962: Public Hall
After the second appearance on the 13 September 1963, Paul McCartney drove to the
Imperial Ballroom in Nelson, 25 miles from Preston, to be part of the judging panel for the 1963 Final of the Miss Imperial Contest.
30/11/1962: Town Hall
On the 30 November 1962 The Silver Beatles played here whilst on the same night the the well known singing star Frankie Vaughan officially opened the local Boys Club nearby. Elsie Tanner of Coronation Street fame (Pat Phoenix) opened the show for the boys whilst George Harrison left his two-tone Ford Consul outside a local fishing tackle shop. A lucky raffle winner in the Town Hall that night won the 1st prize of a Beatles record called 'Love Me do'.
06/12/1962: The Queens Hotel
Club Django was a jazz club on the gound floor of this hotel and on 6 December 1962 The Beatles went down well with the predominantly jazz audience.
25/01/1963: Co-oporative Hall - Demolished
The Beatles played this gig which was promoted by the local youth club of the Baptist Church. The bill also included The Electones, The Mike Taylor Combo and The Mustangs with Ricky Day. A branch of Iceland stands on this spot today.
28/01/1963: Casino Club
One appearance here. The Boys had 'Please Please Me' at No 3 in the charts.
08/02/1963: ABC Cinema
This was The Beatles first concert at this Carlisle venue. Their next show that year would be on 21 November. After the first show they went to a local hotel for a drink - The Crown & Mitre. A black-tie dinner dance was being held by the Carlisle Golf Club and somebody invited them to join in, where-in they tucked into the late-night buffet. An officious vice-chairman saw the boys wearing leather jackets and asked them to politely leave - much to the disappointment of the besotted young women partying there.
12/02/1963: Astoria Ballroom
The day after The Beatles recorded ten of the songs that would appear on their debut album Please Please Me is when John Lennon had all but destroyed his voice singing Twist And Shout in the studio. Still suffering from a heavy cold he could barely managed to sing much but the other two more than compensated for his temporary lapse.
01/03/1963: Odeon Cinema - Demolished
They Boys had a short one-week season at the Odean Cinema on Lord Street from
Monday 26 to Saturday 31 August 1963.
11/04/1963: Co-operative Hall
On the very day their third single From Me To You was released in the UK. Unusually they
played for more than an hour to 300 screaming fans. The usual show-sets being between seven and ten songs lasting no more than thirty minutes.
11/05/1963: Imperial Ballroom - Demolished
The first time they appeared they wore same suits as they did on the cover of the Please Please Me album. They wowed a 2000+ packed-to-the-rafters Nelson Imp' audience and then did a repeat on the 31 July 1963.
09/06/1963: King George's Hall,
This was the last date on the Roy Orbison tour and the one and only gig here.. The UK Tour began in Slough on 18 May 1963 and contained twenty-one dates.
07/07/1963 - 14/07/1963 - 25/08/1963 - 08/09/1963
Four shows here and together with The Queens Theatre appearances they would play six times in two months in this popular seaside resort.
The Queen’s Theatre
21/07/1963 - 04/08/1963
The second appearance here resulted in the Boys evading the mass of fans by entering the building via an adjacent builders yard and the Theatre's skylight.
27/09/1963: Little Theatre
Between the hours of 10am and 5:30pm on Tuesday 27 August 1963 the Fab Four were filmed for a BBC Documentary called 'The Mersey Sound'. The Undertakers and Group One bands were also involved. They took the time out from a weeks residency at the Odeon Cinema which was situated just around the corner on Lord Street.
13/10/1964: ABC Ritz Cinema - Demolished
Just the one appearance at The 'Ritz' in my home town - and I was there. Next to the back row in the 'gods' as they were called, my younger sister Elaine and I felt it we were an audience watching an audience watch a show - we were that far away from the stage. All my mates somehow got tickets to be close-up front in the stalls. The volume of the screams from the 2000 or so fans still resonates with me today. "It was a truly wonderful day in my life."
Bill Hart: November 2010
BEATLES SCRAP BOOK
ABC Ritz Cinema
13 October 1964
"I was a keen fan of The Beatles from being fourteen years old and I would cut out paper clippings from newspapers whenever I saw them. Sadly I never saw them play live, but I always followed what ever they were up to and used to buy The Beatles Monthly Magazine. My favourite LP was Revolver."
Alan Tickle: January 2014
?The Palace Hotel? - Demolished
Argument's have prevailed over the years and any verification of the early Beatles actually playing at The Palace Hotel is still yet to be established. This adds further to the fun, mistique and intrigue raised by an incredible phenomena created by a cracking little pop group called The Beatles.
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