Sunday, May 30, 2010

The first Jacaranda appearance

May 30, 1960

As mentioned earlier, Allan Williams, who was sort-of managing the Beatles at this time, ran a coffee bar, very near the Liverpool Art College and the Liverpool Institute next door, called the Jacaranda.  It was a popular place for students to hang out.  Most days, live entertainment was provided by a Caribbean steel drum band, but Monday was their night off.  Careful note of the steel drum band should be taken, as they are to play an important part in the story.

On this day, the Beatles played the "Jac" for the first time.  (They had earlier been enlisted by Alan to paint the basement rooms for a bit of "walking around" money.)

Friday, May 28, 2010

The End of the Beginning

May 28, 1960

Saturday.  The last night of the Johnny Gentle Scotland tour.  Rescue Hall, Peterhead.

Rumor has it that Paul McCartney first played an electric guitar at this gig.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

On to Nairn

May 27,1960

The Silver Beatles made the journey to Nairn and played the Regal Ballroom on a Friday night.  By now, money was getting really tight.  The tour was only partially expenses paid.  In fact the Beatles slipped out of Forres this morning without settling their hotel bill. A rock-and-roller does what a rock-and-roller has to do, I guess.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Another day in Scotland

May 26, 1960

Except for the first date in Alloa, all of the dates on this tour were along the southern shore of the Moray Firth, the large bay along the east coast of Scotland.  Today the Silver Beatles moved to Chapel St Keith and played St Thomas Hall.  (Must be a pretty holy place with all those saints littering up the landscape!)

Sunday, May 23, 2010


May 23, 1960

Singer Johnny Gentle was driving the Beatles van when he encountered another vehicle rather violently.  The only injury was to drummer Tommy Moore who's face got in the way of a flying guitar case.  He was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was stitched up.  (He permanently lost a couple of teeth in the accident.)  Later that evening, John Lennon accompanied by the manager of today's venue convinced a groggy Tommy that he should check himself out of the hospital in the interest of show business.

The full band (including drummer) played the gig at Dalrymple Hall in Fraserburg, Aberdeenshire.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Excitment of Touring

May 21,1960

Today the group drove 150 miles north to Inverness, in the middle of Scotland.  They had no room, nor money for roadies and so had to shift their luggage and equipment for themselves.  I'm sure by now they were getting an idea of how glamorous and exciting life on the road was - NOT.  They played in the upstairs room of the Northern Meeting Ballroom, while the "real" band played "Old Tyme Dance" music in the main room downstairs.

Today was they day the blew off the gig they had agreed to play at Lathom Hall. Liverpool.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Gently to Scotland

May 20, 1960

A very big day for the Silver Beatles as they play their first date on their first tour.  It took place in a town called Alloa in south Scotland.  They arrived early for the gig with front man Johnny Gentle so that they could rehearse for 30 minutes before the Friday evening show.

Google Earth Image of Alloa Town Hall

Odd fact:  Alloa is about 30 miles west of Kirkcaldy.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A tour! A tour!

May 18, 1960

Although the (Silver) Beatles were rejected earlier as a backing band for Billy Fury, Larry Parnes thought he might have a place for them with one of his lesser "artists".  He contacted Allan Williams on this day with an offer for the Beatles to accompany a singer called Johnny Gentle.  (Paul McCartney recalls being vaguely disappointed by the rather mild stage name.)  The tour would visit seven venues "up north" in Scotland.  The tour was to commence two days later.  Of course, they accepted enthusiastically.

Getting into the spirit of the thing, the Beatles adopted stage names of their own, Paul Ramon, Carl Harrison (after rock hero Carl Perkins) and Stuart de Stael (after russian artist Nicholas de Stael).

Monday, May 17, 2010

Silver Beats

May 14th, 1960

Brian Kelly was a rock show promoter who used venues in North Liverpool to put on shows for the fans of the emerging local beat music scene.  At a show he sponsored at Lathom Hall, he allowed the "Silver Beats" to  audition for him during a break.  They must have done pretty well, as he booked them for a show the following weekend.  That turned out to be a show which the Silver Beatles decided to miss without notifying the promoter when a better opportunity presented itself.  What a lot of cheek!

Monday, May 10, 2010

An audition

May 10, 1960

A key person in the development of the Beatles was a guy named Alan Williams, their first quasi-manager.  He was a small time Liverpool impresario, of Welsh extraction, always on the lookout for ways to make a few bob from the entertainment business.  One of his ventures was the Jacaranda club near the Liverpool Art College which was a popular hangout for students.  That was originally how John Lennon and Stu Sutcliffe came into his orbit.  His book called "The Man Who Gave the Beatles Away" is a very fanciful and engaging telling of the early Beatles history.  When the Beatles were (as usual) looking for a drummer, Alan Williams had hooked them up with a rather older musician named Tommy Moore, a guy with a wife and kids and a job at the Garston Bottle Works.  Ah well, any port in a storm!  The "Jac" became their practice space during the day with Williams promising work for them after they improved their musical skills.

After the Empire Theatre rock show of March 1960, starring Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran, Williams had contacted Larry Parnes to offer his talent for any of Parnes' extravaganzas.  Larry Parnes happened to be in need of a backing group for his star attraction, Billy Fury.  An audition session was hastily arranged to take place on this day at a venue that Williams was just opening a lease on.  A place later to be called the "Blue Angel".  The Beatles played, but did not "pass the audition".

Monday, May 3, 2010

Liverpool Stadium - Bixteth Street show

May 3, 1960

The Beatles (spelled Beatals) didn't play at it but they did sit in the audience of a show produced by Larry Parnes that included many rock and roll acts from both sides of the Atlantic on this day.  After the show, Parnes told Alan Williams (of Jacaranda fame) that he needed some Liverpool talent to back up his local hearthrobs, like Billy Fury and Tommy Steele.  Parnes agreed to return in a week to audition some musicians.

(P.S.  This post was composed and posted from Florence, Italy.  I'm here on vacation.  The Brunelleschi Dome is magnificient!)