Aldershot News & Mail : 2020-07-08

8 : 8 : 8


8 NEWS & MAIL WEDNESDAY, JULY 8, 2020 News The night The Beatles played Aldershot’s Palais Ballroom AND THE CONNECTION WITH A POLITICAL PARTY LEADER From the top: photograph­er from the night Dick Matthews, John Lennon, George Harrison, and promoter Sam Leach By STEPHEN LLOYD Paul McCartney singing while drummer Pete Best struggles to hide his boredom @FleetNandM OFFICIAL Monster Raving Loony Party leader Alan ‘Howling Laud’ Hope has finally revealed his part in the fateful night The Beatles played to just a handful of people in Aldershot. The Fleet resident reveals all in his eagerly-awaited autobiogra­phy The Great White Hope: The Life and Times of Alan ‘Howling Laud’ Hope. Mr Hope, who grew up in Cove, went to school in Farnboroug­h and was a pub landlord in Yateley, was just 19 when the Beatles were booked to play at the Aldershot Palais in December 1961. “Like lots of other people of my age I was chasing my big break whilst regularly performing as Kerry Rapid, the lead singer, with my group the Blue Stars every week,” he recalls. Mr Hope said he was “particular­ly upset” when he first saw The Beatles’ Aldershot Palais poster and his band had not been asked to be one of the supporting groups at their favourite local venue. “At the time I remember I was angry that this group who I had never heard of from Liverpool were coming onto my patch and throwing all of my plans and bookings up in the air,” he recalled. However, Mr Hope found an alternativ­e venue to play – the Central Ballroom in Short Street, Aldershot. He said he was determined that Kerry Rapid and the Blue Stars would come out on top and worked hard on promotion in the weeks before with his local fan base and connection­s. “I even convinced myself that Kerry Rapid and the Blue Stars were a better act than The Beatles back in December 1961,” Mr Hope recalls. The word soon got around and his event was a complete sell-out, attracting more than 300 people for the whole night. During an interval break at the Central Ballroom, Mr Hope said he decided to get some fresh air and walked the short distance over to the Aldershot Palais to see what was going on. He added he was “very surprised” to see there were only about 12 people at The Beatles event. And to make matters worse the London group advertised on the poster for the night never turned up! Mr Hope recalls: “The Beatles were messing about and joking and clowning around on stage with People dance to The Beatles at the Palais Ballroom on December 9, 1961 each other; two were not even on stage when I was there and it all seemed to be a laugh to them, but certainly not to any of the customers who were there that night.” Mr Hope said it proved that during the month of December 1961, Kerry Rapid and the Blue Stars proved to be more popular in Aldershot than The Beatles were. He added: “The shambolic Aldershot event can now perhaps be seen as the single most important event that gave The Beatles the big break they had been waiting for, because this directly resulted in them appointing Brian Epstein as their manager and as they say, ‘the rest is history’.” Less than a year later, The Beatles had their first Top 20 UK single and reached number 4 in the USA charts, going on to become the most influentia­l band in history. The Great White Hope: The Life and Times of Alan ‘Howling Laud’ Hope is available on Amazon, both as a Kindle e-book and a paperback. n An 18-year-old Kerry Rapid at Aldershot Palais in 1960 – Kerry Rapid was the stage name of Alan Hope George and John dancing the foxtrot PRINTED AND DISTRIBUTE­D BY PRESSREADE­R PressReade­ +1 604 278 4604 . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY ORIGINAL COPY COPYRIGHT AND PROTECTED BY APPLICABLE LAW

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