Sunday, March 6, 2011

Relying on Sam Leach's Memory

March 6-8, 1961

Memory, as anyone knows who tries to write history, is a tricky thing.  Very often the way people remember the "facts" are highly conditioned by his or her own point of view.  I think this phenomenon is especially pronounced in the stories of early '60s Liverpool told by Sam Leach in his book "The Birth of the Beatles".  But, to tell the truth, I wouldn't change a thing about his literary style.  He seems to exemplify so well the rough and tumble world of a Liverpool promoter of that time, even if he does use a bit of literary license at times.

You've met him before on this blog.  He's the guy who was the victim of a practical joke ginned up by perennial adversary and Beatles quasi-manager Alan Williams.  That story involved scantily clad dancing girls on stage at a show of his attended by his mom and members of the local constabulary.  This time he's mixing it up with Ray McFall, the owner and manager of the Cavern Club.

Competition among promoters for the Beatles, as well as other bands, each with their own following of fans, is becoming fierce.  Leach has decided to cash in on the popularity of the groups by opening another club in central Liverpool just a few steps away from the Cavern.  The venue he chooses is officially named the Liverpool Jazz Society, but is always known to locals as the Iron Door, based on its street-facing portal.

Sam decides to open the club with a bang, advertising heavily in the local press and creating as much buzz as he can through his extensive contacts.  He also schedules as many of the popular bands as he can manage both during lunch and in the evening sessions.  This on a Monday, traditionally a slow day for entertainment.  The Beatles were booked to play the evening.

The day was a huge success for Sam.  Both sessions had to turn fans away for lack of space to put them.  Ray McFall has finally seen the rock and roll light and, naturally, is not amused.  These upstart shows will definitely cut into his profits   Here's how Sam Leach puts it in his book, "Ray McFall, like King Canute, had begun to realize you cannot turn back the tide."  lol

The Beatles play the next day at Sam's Cassanova Club.  Then, the story really starts to get murky.  According to Sam, he has also booked them on Wednesday the 8th, ostensibly after they are done with their lunch time Cavern session.  McFall is understandably upset at this turn of events, so Sam sends an assistant over to try to negotiate with him but without entertaining much hope that this would succeed.  I'll let Sam take it from there.

"Half an hour later, I was apologizing profusely to the assembled Beatle fans when a grinning John Lennon came ambling into the club, carrying his guitar over his shoulder.  Not far behind came the others, laughing between themselves.  John smirked.  'You get worse, Leachy', he chuckled and disappeared toward the stage to a great roar from the fans I'd let in for free to ease their disappointment.  Cheerfully, Paul gave me a wink.  'McFall's gonna sue you!', he said.

"Open mouthed and worried what mischief Terry [the assistant] had gotten up to, I collared George and asked him what happened.  'Somebody lobbed a load of stink-bombs around the Cavern and he's had to close down for the day.  Rather than pay us for not playing, he said we could come here, just  this once.'  I was amazed that anyone would notice the smell in that dungeon of a place.  To this day Terry denies having anything to do with it, but I have my doubts."

Apocryphal?  Perhaps.  But not less amusing because of it.

Mark Lewisohn, a far more reliable source, has them later that evening at the Aintree Institute and Hambleton Hall.

Photo from website - Sam is at the right

1 comment:

  1. omg, thanks for telling me the news!!! congrats!!! thats so cute! thanks for giving me the link! God bless you, my friend!