1963 : The Beatles
|Tamworth Assembly Rooms - venue for The Beatles performance on the night of Friday 1st February 1963
The end of January, early February 1963 saw Britain hit by the 'Great Freeze'. It had started at Christmas time and lasted through to early March, with record low temperatures at night, regular snowfalls and the country brought to a standstill. But...on the night of Friday February 1st 1963 something happened in Tamworth to get all teenagers in the area sweating with excitement - The Beatles appeared at the Assembly Rooms.
To set the scene, The Beatles, although a big act, at this point were not yet the houseold name that we know today. Three weeks earlier, on 11th January 1963, 'Please, Please Me' The Beatles second 45rpm single had been released, entering the charts on 17th January 1963, it reached No. 2 and spent 18 Weeks in the charts.
Best selling records in Tamworth available this week at local record shops: Crowhurst, Greens and Weavers, were:
1. Diamonds (Jet Harris and Tony Meehan)
2. Little Town Flirt (Del Shannon)
3. Bachelor Boy (Cliff Richard)
An advert first appeared in the Herald on 18th January (take a look at a selection of Press Cuttings), enticing local youngsters with the line 'Stars of T.V., Radio and Stage - The Beatles'. The advert appeared again a week later on the 25th: 'Three Groups - Rock and Twist Sensational Dance and Show to Stars of T.V., Radio and Stage - The Beatles'. And then finally, on the night of the gig the Herald carried the advert showing the full line-up for the show: 'The Beatles plus the Midlands top professional group 'Gerry Levene and the Avengers ' (from Birmingham including Roy Wood on guitar - Ed.) also full supporting group The Rebels (local lads from Tamworth - Ed.).
In the Tamworth Herald article 'Record Spin' the following preview was published:
Tamworth Herald – Friday February 1st 1963
BEATLES HERE TO MAKE IT A HAT-TRICK
Television and radio performances last week-end behind them, four lads from Liverpool who rejoice in the unlikely name of the Beatles, make a public appearance at Tamworth's Assembly Rooms to-night (Friday).
This is a rare treat for local pop fans, for as a follow-up to their big selling record debut 'Love love me do'[sic] the lads make a very strong bid for Top Ten honours with 'Please, Please, Me' (Parlophone 45-R4983)
Each of the quartet has a distinctive fringe hair-style and they explain their odd name in an odd way: 'It came to us in a meat pie,'…which being translated means – a dream.
Tamworth fans love the personal approach, witness the reception they gave Shane Fenton last year and Kenny Lynch not long ago.
Both of these artistes are now making a big national impression with current hits 'I ain't got Nobody' and 'Up on the Roof' respectively…could be that the Beatles make it a happy hat-trick and tempt more stars to come to Tamworth to launch their records.
The concert itself had been a roaring success as reported in the Herald of the following week, Friday February 8th 1963 - although as you'll read later, the Beatles only played for 30 minutes not taking to the stage until 11.45pm:
Tamworth Herald - Keep an Eye on What's On – Friday February 8th 1963
'We'll be back'
What a crush! - Tamworth Assembly Rooms was packed on Friday last, when the local teenagers gave hit recording group The Beatles a rip-roaring welcome.
Doors were shut before 9.30pm and hundreds of fans turned away, including several coach loads from Sutton and Birmingham.
Such was the reception that they got that The Beatles have promised to return-real soon, probably in June, but it all depends on their recording and T.V. dates.
Sadly they didn't return to the town, no surprise considering the speed with which their career took off and their popularity grew. By 2nd May 1963 they had had their first No. 1 'From Me To You' and 'She Loves You' was at number 1 for 4 weeks from 12th September 1963. And then on Thursday 31st October 1963, 'Beatlemania' was born! as The Beatles were seen on their frantic arrival at London airport, from Sweden.
For an indication of just how popular the band were becoming around this time, take a look at the full list of Beatles concerts from 1963.
The Tamworth performance was however, not without it's controversy. On the front-page of the Herald, the week after the concert, local teenagers complained that they hadn't really received value for money. The concert had cost all of 6s. 6d. (32.5p) and the band had only appeared for 30 minutes having played at St. Peter's Church Hall (Maney Hall) in Maney, Sutton Coldfield earlier in the evening.
Tamworth Herald – Front Page – Friday February 8th 1963
We did not get our money's worth, say disappointed teenagers
Many Tamworth teenagers feel they were unfairly treated at a 'rock and twist sensational dance' that featured rising stars The Beatles at the Assembly Rooms on Friday.
They claim they paid 6s. 6d….because they had been led to believe that the Beatles would be performing for most of the night, but in fact the group only played for half-an-hour from 11.45pm to 12.15am
On the same night, the Beatles and another group billed to take part in the Tamworth dance, Gerry Levene and the Avengers were appearing at Sutton Coldfield until 11 p.m.
This week seven teenagers complained to the 'Herald' that they had been badly treated.
Their spokesman, 17-year old Frances Brewer, of Wyndhams, Deer Park, Fazeley: 'The hall was full and I think everyone was disappointed'. 'Certainly all my friends had gone under the impression that the Beatles would be appearing for a considerable part of the dance. That is why we went along. 'What we saw of the Beatles we thoroughly enjoyed but I don't think we got our money's worth for a half-an-hour appearance. By the time they did appear, many youngsters had gone home' added Frances.
Frances and her friends claim they should have been told the two dance groups were appearing at Sutton before they came to Tamworth.
They say: 'Being teenagers we regularly attend these dances and over the past six months we have noticed the continual rise in the price of admission. We appreciate the fact that the expense of running dances at the Assembly Rooms may be on the increase, but nevertheless we feel there must be a limit somewhere',
Dance promoter Mr. Vince Baker, of Tamworth, who arranged for the appearance of the Beatles, was in London this week and unable to comment, but another promoter said: 'A top group will be very much in demand and might have to make several appearances in one night.'
The teenagers with a grumble are Carol Cordell, S. Evans, Maureen Davies, C.M. Pearce, Maureen Court and Hazel Brewer.
Not all teenagers attending the concert were disappointed, the following week's Herald carried a letter from a local youngster expressing clearly how he and his friends had enjoyed the concert.
Tamworth Herald - Record and Film Review – Friday February 15th 1963
'We liked The Beatles'
Sir - May I through the 'Herald' defend The Beatles and congratulate Mr. Vince Baker on bringing to Tamworth a great dance.
What Miss Cordell and her friends said in the 'Herald' last week was, I think, unfair.
The Beatles are one of Britain's top instrumental vocal groups and I, for one, was very grateful seeing them at Tamworth.
I did not mind paying 6s 6d (32.5p) admission, and I thought The Beatles were on quite a while and at a suitable time.
Friends agreeing with me on this point include Mr. Philip Allsop, of Kettlebrook, Mr. Tony Hanson, of Fazeley, Mr. James Bristoll, of Leyfields, Mr. Robert Hudson Mr. Nigel Pearn of Two Gates.
As we all attended the dance, we thought it only right to congratulate all persons involved with the dance. – TONY McDONALD, 87, Dormer Avenue, Bolehall.
That was it, the band soon to become what is now widely regarded as the most influential muscial phenomenon of all time had played little-old Tamworth.
Ten days after they played in Tamworth, on Monday 11th February 1963 The Beatles started recording the 'Please, Please Me' album in EMI Studio #2. It was recorded in 585 minutes. As mentioned earlier, by May, they had had their first No. 1 'From Me To You' and 'She Loves You' was at number 1 for 4 weeks in September 1963.
I wonder if Tamworth teenagers Frances Brewer, Carol Cordell, S. Evans, Maureen Davies, C.M. Pearce, Maureen Court and Hazel Brewer, if they are still with us, still feel cheated by the Beatles only appearing for 30 minutes at a cost of 6s. 6d.? And do local lads, Tony McDonald, Mr. Philip Allsop, Mr. Tony Hanson, Mr. James Bristoll, of Leyfields, Mr. Robert Hudson Mr. Nigel Pearn again if they are still with us, tell their grand children of that cold, wintry night in February 1963 when they were so excited to see 'one of Britain's top instrumental vocal groups' - The Beatles as they played Tamworth Arts Centre.
Were you there? Are you one of the local teenagers mentioned above? Were you a member of local band The Rebels and have you spent the last half century telling everyone of the night you supported The Beatles (I would wouldn't you? - Ed.) If so, let TamworthBands.com have your memories of this very, very special night in the history of Tamworth bands and the Tamworth music scene. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org