Did you see Beatles play in town?
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