Saturday, July 10, 2010

Lord Woodbine and Janice

July, 1960

Two more colorful bit players enter the Beatles story during this time frame.  The actual dates are lost in the mists of time, as the history of most such "underground" activities are.  By their nature, they are designed to slip in under the radar of polite, law abiding and civilized society.  These events are interspersed with their last few gigs at the Institute at Neston and the Grosvenor Ballroom.

Lord Woodbine was the nom de guerre belonging to a shadowy east Indian man of Allan Williams acquaintance.  He got this name by virtue of his never being seen without his trademark Woodbine cigarette dangling from a lower lip.  (For a few good laughs, don't miss that preceding link!)

Lord Woodbine and Williams decided at this point in time to try out a new idea in entertainment that was sweeping Europe, the strip club.  Williams christened his (no blasphemy intended) the New Cabaret Artists Club.  A young well endowed lady, known today as Janice, was hired to perform.  Unfortunately for the frugal proprietors, Janice refused to work without live music.  Records were simply too cheap for her to ply her trade with.

The idea entered Williams head that the Beatles were always hanging around and pestering him for work.  Why not kill two birds with one stone and get them to play the musical accompaniment?  Negotiations with the musicians resulted in their agreeing to play a number of gigs behind the featured ecdysiast. At their first rehearsal, Janice handed them musical scores for appropriate classical pieces like Ritual Fire Dance.  The boys hadn't taken the time to learn to read music.  It wasn't really required to produce great rock music.  So, she had to be satisfied with some of the more sedate numbers from their repertoire, like Moonglow and Besame Mucho.

The seedy bar was a low point for them, but fortunately, the club didn't last very long and the Beatles were soon on their way to (somewhat) better things.

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