Did you see Bea­tles play in town?

Midweek Visiter - - Front Page -

THIS week, we go back in time to the Swing­ing Six­ties here in South­port, to ex­am­ine the links be­tween our town, and ar­guably the most fa­mous beat band in the world - The Bea­tles.

John, Paul, Ge­orge and Ringo played in the town on nu­mer­ous oc­ca­sions, many of which were ad­ver­tised here in The Visiter.

As you read on, I won­der did any of you at­tend these iconic con­certs or venues?

At five is The Queen’s Ho­tel, on the Prom­e­nade.

Like many places across the town cen­tre, this has now been con­verted into flats, but back in the day it was a pop­u­lar ho­tel.

Club Django was a live mu­sic venue on the ground floor.

Usu­ally, it was only ever jazz groups who were booked, but the man­age­ment knew The Bea­tles were be­com­ing pop­u­lar.

It was their only gig at the Django, they were sup­ported by a lo­cal act The Diplo­mats.

At four, it’s The Kingsway Club on the prom­e­nade.

This is sig­nif­i­cant in that it was here, in Jan­uary, 1962, that a young Ringo Starr stood in for an ill Pete Best. Lit­tle did Pete re­alise, that his re­place­ment, while he was on his sickbed, would per­ma­nently take his place in the band that would go on to con­quer Eng­land, Amer­ica and the World.

It’s been ru­moured that John wanted him out as he was too good look­ing!

At three is the Odeon Cin­ema, on Lord Street (now Sains­bury’s). The Bea­tles met adopted Ains­dale lass He­len Shapiro here: a lit­tle-known fact is that the star of Walkin’ Back to Hap­pi­ness did ac­tu­ally live in the town, af­ter mar­ry­ing a Sand­grounder.

The year was 1963 and the Fab Four un­der­took a six-night res­i­dency at the pop­u­lar picture house.

They had per­formed at the venue once be­fore, ear­lier that year dur­ing the He­len Shapiro tour.

There were two shows a night, and their set con­tained 10 songs.

At two is The Lit­tle Theatre, Hoghton Street.

Dur­ing their Odeon gigs, the Bea­tles recorded a se­cret gig for the BBC in South­port.

Speak­ing to An­drew Slo­man, from The Visiter’s Life At The Lit­tle col­umn, Sir Ron Wat­son re­called: “Very few mem­bers of South­port Dra­matic So­ci­ety were aware that the Theatre was to be used.

“The scenic artist Arthur Nu­gent acted as floor man­ager and my­self as his as­sis­tant.

“We set the stage with a grey velour cur­tain, with a small low ros­trum for Ringo Starr’s drums up­stage left”.

At num­ber one in our Bea­tles count­down is their last-ever South­port gig. They last played here in Oc­to­ber, 1963, at the Flo­ral Hall – my favourite venue in South­port.

When host­ing shows and events, I’ve of­ten stood in the wings, wait­ing to go on stage, think­ing about the four lads who shook the world.

So, there you have it, my South­port Top 5 Bea­tles gigs – but do you agree?

You can fol­low me on Twit­ter @pre­sen­terneil and watch me on Sky TV chan­nel 688 – Cruise 1st TV. An­other South­port Top 5 next week.

Bea­tles mem­o­ries: from left, The Bea­tles sup­ported Joe Brown and his Bruvvers at Cam­bridge Hall, in 1962; a pro­gramme for the Bea­tles show at South­port Odeon, in Au­gust, 1963; and singer He­len Shapiro, who lived in Ains­dale, and met The Bea­tles at an Odeon show

The old Kingsway night­club – Ringo Starr stood in for Pete Best on the drums, when The Bea­tles played there in Jan­uary, 1962

His­toric venue – The Lit­tle Theatre, Hoghton Street, South­port

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