Friday, January 7, 2011

Two Gigs in a Day

January 7, 1961

Today is Saturday. For an ambitious Liverpool beat group, that means the opportunity to play two gigs on the same day, one in the afternoon, one in the evening. Today, the Beatles play two of Brian Kelly's jobs, the first at the Aintree Institute. This was yet another local dance hall, where jive shows are featured. (The picture of Brian Kelly in a previous post was taken on the stage there.)  One is constantly struck by the number and diversity of local events that provided the opportunity for up-and-coming musicians in Liverpool of the '60s to hone their skills. That cultural environment is a very important element, often overlooked, in the development of the Beatles.  Rock music in the north of England at this time is not the mass quasi-religious experience of today, but very much a grass-roots thing.

The second is held at Lathom Hall, the place where the Silver Beatles, a much less accomplished band, played its first gig back in May of 1960. That was before the hot fires of Hamburg transmuted that silver into pure gold.

By now, it is becoming clear that something will have to be done to facilitate all of this travel. Schlepping guitars and amplifiers, to say nothing of a full drum kit, onto Liverpool buses is becoming a bit of a disagreeable chore.

Also at this time, it has become clear that the only viable solution to finding a bottom end for the group is to look within its ranks. Couldn't be John with his brand new Rickenbacker. George's reaction is, "I'm not doing it." The only logical choice is Paul McCartney. ("I was lumbered with it, really.") At first, Paul takes some scissors under the hood of an unlucky piano, and strings his cheap, upside-down Solid 7 guitar with them. Problem solved (temporarily).

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