12.9.15

BEATLEMANIA! - A second helping.

Another extract from Beatlemania!: The Real story of The Beatles UK Tours 1963-1965 by Martin Creasy, published by Omnibus Press in April 2011, this one taken from the chapter about their fifth tour that took place between October 9 – John’s 24th birthday – and November 10, 1964, opening at the Gaumont in Bradford.


The action got started with two houses at The Gaumont Cinema in Bradford on Friday, October 9. Friday was a great night to start a tour with the weekend beginning and fans in good spirits, though it hardly made much difference to the touring party. Heavy traffic meant the Fabs arrived at the Gaumont later than planned and they made their way in through the crowds, John in his dark glasses, but they got down to some important work that evening. Anyone around the Bradford cinema on that opening evening may have heard a nice bonus… four Beatles playing a song they would soon be recording. ‘I Feel Fine’ was to hit the shops six weeks later, and they worked on it in what privacy they could, with all doors and entrances firmly locked!
         Covering the show for NME was Gordon Sampson, and he was quickly able to dispel any rumours that The Beatles were losing their touch. Just to underline the point his review was headed Beatles Still Tops and he wrote of fantastic scenes, of banner-waving fans trying to break through police barriers and all sorts of objects being lobbed towards the stage, including a giant teddy for John, who was celebrating his 24th birthday.
         The Beatles, in their smart, black suits, opened with a short burst of ‘Twist And Shout’ and then launched straight into ‘Money’. Paul then somehow managed to make himself heard over the screams as he gave his traditional audience welcome of: “Ta. Thank you very much and good evening. How are you, all right?” before launching into ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’, the first of five songs from A Hard Day’s Night. He slowed the pace with ‘Things We Said Today’ and then George fans had a treat as he took the spotlight for ‘I’m Happy Just To Dance With You’. Then John belted out ‘I Should Have Known Better’. He accompanied himself on harmonica as well as guitar, and George was on his 12-string Rickenbacker. Then John was joined by Paul for their duet ‘If I Fell’.
         Ringo, as ever, was given his number. He didn’t have a song on A Hard Day’s Night so it was back to 1963 as he launched into ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’ with gusto, supported by the others on the chorus. According to Disc, Ringo’s song earned the biggest screams. The paper also complimented John on his harmonica work. John introduced ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ to send the screams even higher and then Paul hit them with ‘Long Tall Sally’ for a full-tilt finale. The curtains came down while an instrumental version of ‘Twist And Shout’ was played over the speakers. These 10 songs were the group’s basic setlist for the tour. The opening night, as you might expect, was to set a pattern for the rest.
         Sampson had covered the Helen show at the Gaumont for the NME in February, 1963. Looking back, he considered the difference between the two: “The screaming of course. And the fact that you couldn’t get a seat this night. I was covering the show for the NME and the best the manager could do for me was standing up under an alcove to the side, near the front.
         “It was where you were put if all the seats had gone. It was one of the best views in the house, but it was difficult to make out many of the words. It was a complete madhouse, but it was just exuberance. It wasn’t like the early rock’n’roll tours when they were ripping the seats up. This was just kids getting excited. The atmosphere was electric. It was unprecedented really.”
         Russell Manning, who at seven had seen The Beatles in Leeds on the Orbison tour, was in the front row of the circle this night with five or six relatives and he enjoyed the experience much more this time around. “We had such a great view and you could see everything on the stage. I remember the whole thing being not quite as manic or as intimidating this time. We went to see my aunt in Pudsey first and seeing The Beatles on television in her house in an early evening news programme before leaving for the concert. It was exciting to watch them on television and know I was going off to see them.”
         Even an artist as talented as Mary Wells struggled with an audience that had really only come to see The Beatles. She closed the first half, wearing a pink dress for the first house and a black for the second, but the reception was the same… lukewarm. ‘My Guy’ went down well, but ‘What’s So Easy For Two Is So Hard For One’, ‘Time After Time’ and ‘Two Lovers’ went over quite a few teeny heads. Sounds Incorporated, who had backed Mary, tried hard in their own slot, with ‘Spanish Harlem’ followed by ‘Maria’ from West Side Story.
         Tommy Quickly had the slot before The Beatles and he fared a bit better. He looked quite a sight decked out in a bowler hat, with an umbrella in one hand and a toy dog in the other for ‘Walkin’ The Dog’. The knockabout theme continued with ‘Humpty Dumpty’ and he got his biggest cheer for his single, and the nearest he ever came to a hit, ‘Wild Side Of Life’.
         He was backed by The Remo Four, but it had proved tough going for them, The Rustiks and Michael Haslam. They performed well enough but fans weren’t there to see them, and reporters weren’t there to write about them. The two houses done, it was time for the quick getaway. Fans waiting outside Bradford’s swankiest hotels after the show hoping for a glimpse of The Beatles were to be sadly disappointed. The Fabs had kept one step ahead by finding somewhere nice to stay… in Halifax.
         It was wrongly presumed that The Beatles stayed at The Raggalds Inn in Queensbury this night (the confusion may have come about because the police set up a road block just before Raggalds), but they carried on along the same road to where they were booked – an imposing Jacobean mansion called The Cavalier Country Club which in reality was a private dining club and not a hotel. This meant that owners Freddie and Rita Pearson relinquished their comfortable beds for the night so that Beatles George and Paul could get their heads down, while their daughters Gail (14) and Kim (8) gave up their shared bedroom for John and Ringo. Brian Epstein was also present, but he was obliged to bed down on a put-me-up bed in the room where they dined.
         The stay was so top secret that Freddie and Rita didn’t even tell their daughters. Gail, all grown up in 2010, says: “I can’t believe that they would conspire to keep the news from us and there was never a chance they would let me go to the concert either. In the end my father relented and told me about a week before, but I was sworn to secrecy. In fact, I told one friend but luckily she could be trusted - she went on to be head girl at school. I had made a wise choice. My mother had been terrified that our home and gardens would be trampled so they weren’t particularly looking forward to it and certainly didn’t want the news to get out.”
         Gail was in bed by the time The Beatles arrived that night but she made it her business to find out every juicy detail. “I wasn’t allowed anywhere near them. I didn’t see them at all that night. But the (club) members were amazed of course when The Beatles strolled into the bar. They stayed up late and John was very funny, putting on a Yorkshire accent. It was said that they had visited a wool mill in the past few days. They went upstairs to have their dinner in a private room. It was brought up to them by our chef, Pepe Palomar.”
         Pepe originated from northern Spain, near Barcelona, but there ends the comparison with Manuel from Fawlty Towers. The Beatles’ meals that night were by no means typical of the general diet in 1964. Pepe said: “I remember what they ate, of course I do. They had prawn cocktail, melon, turtle soup, fillet steak, monkey gland steak (a flattened fillet steak), and cold duckling,” he recalls. “And I remember specifically what Paul McCartney ate because he wanted to eat it his in room. We sent in smoked trout and steak Diane on a tray.”
         After dinner it was back down to the bar, and surprisingly it was birthday boy Lennon who was first to retire. “John had toothache, apparently, and so went to bed before the others,” says Gail.
         Having missed out that night Gail was hoping The Beatles would at least have their breakfast in the dining room the next morning. She was inconsolable when they didn’t appear but instead ordered a meal in their rooms for 10.30am. “I was crying my eyes out and my mum finally said this is ridiculous and she went up to Paul and George’s room knocked on the door and when they answered said that I’d been waiting all that time to see them and thrust me into the room. Of course I was struck dumb but they were very nice and chatted to me. Paul said what a wonderful place we had. He had been reading this book we had about Ibiza and said that it looked great and he fancied going there. He even offered me a ciggie, but I refused of course.
         “Then my sister, who was very shy, was brought in and John and Ringo came in. Dad took two pictures of us with them. They had to be taken by the window because his camera didn’t have flash. Mine never came out, but Kim’s did. As for my parents, they thought The Beatles were terrific. They were probably a bit wary of how pop stars could be, but The Beatles were so well behaved.”
         Some more precious photos were taken outside before The Beatles headed out of Yorkshire to Leicester and their two Saturday night shows at the de Montfort Hall. The Beatles’ hotel bill was settled a few days later - with a cheque for £42 13s 6d, courtesy of The Beatles Ltd.
         “My father asked the bank manager if we could have a copy of it - you could do that back then - and he was duly given a photocopy,” said Gail. “It’s not worth as much as the Bayeux Tapestry, but it means a lot to us.” The Cavalier Country Club still stands proudly, although it has long since been called Holdsworth House and is now a popular hotel, very proud of its link with The Beatles and a few other high profile guests down the years. Gail (now Gail Moss) and sister Kim are joint owners.
         Gail says: “The room where The Beatles dined that night is just as it was back then, right down to the beautiful Edwardian chairs they sat in.”


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