LIVERPOOL

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"I JUST WANNA DANCE WITH YOU ALL NIGHT"

“…and it's going on everywhere: town halls, church halls, ballrooms, ice-rinks, clubs, cellars, coffee bars…even cinemas and swimming baths. One local promoter, Allan Williams, even hired Liverpool Stadium to put on a rock ‘n’ roll show.” 

 

          — Bill Harry of MERSEY BEAT telling Brian Epstein about the explosion of entertainment happening all over Merseyside

Liverpool Venues

LITHERLAND TOWN HALL | HATTON HILL ROAD |

LIVERPOOL 21

'Always a Lively Time Here at the Litherland Town Hall' read the ads (typographic alliteration courtesy of Bob Wooler). And every Thursday they made good on their promise. It was here that The Beatles played the 'legendary' Liverpool gig—on 27 December 1960—that's said to have started it all—the band having not long returned from their first 16-week stint in Hamburg. Local promoter Brian Kelly booked The Beatles 'Direct from Hamburg' at the suggestion of Bob Wooler. Everyone thought that John, Paul, George, Pete…with Chas Newby on bass…must be a German group, their hard-rocking sound was so new, so raw, so very different. It blew everyone in the audience away—including a young Neil Aspinall. And then had every promoter in Liverpool scrambling to book the group to do more gigs. 

KNOTTY ASH VILLAGE HALL  |  EAST PRESCOTT ROAD |

WEST DERBY | 

Knotty Ash. Small village, just south of West Derby. The Beatles played here a half dozen times—mostly for Mo Best (Pete Best's mum) who held the regular Friday-night concession on the hall. Although, probably the most legendary event to take place at the hall was when The Beatles went head-to-head with Rory Storm and The Hurricanes in a hard-fought 'Battle of The Bands' at Sam Leach's engagement party. Sam Leach took over the hall from Mo after Pete Best left The Beatles, and he himself had severed all ties with the Tower Ballroom, New Brighton.

HAMBLETON HALL | PAGE MOSS | HUYTON

The Beatles played this small suburban hall, on St Davids Road—10 miles east of the city centre—ten times in 1961. One of the main characters in The One After 9:09, Raymond ‘Spike’ Jones, lived near by and would have definitely seen the band on their first gig there on 20th January 1961. It’s also highly likely he saw them perform their eleventh and final gig there on the 13th January 1962—there are even rumours that Spike played bass for one of the support bands. Small world.

THE GRAFTON/LOCARNO BALLROOMS | WEST DERBY ROAD

Two very popular ‘palais de dance’ venues—from pre-war days—that stood side-by-side. Known locally as “Da Gravvie” and “Da Loc”, they were favourite places for Merseyside groups to play, as the acoustics were pretty good and, more importantly, they were well policed by teams of bouncers. A double win. The Beatles played both ballrooms numerous times in the early Sixties.

THE RIALTO BALLROOM  | STANHOPE STREET | LIVERPOOL 8

Leach Entertainements presented 'The Beatles Show' at the Rialto Ballroom on Thursday, September 6th, 1962. Billed as The North’s Top ‘Rock’ Combo—The Beatles were joined by Rory Storm and The 'All Star' Hurricanes—The Big Three—The Mersey Beats. From 7:30–Midnight. All for five shillings. Sam Leach, again, determined to give the fans great value. Only trouble was—it was in Toxteth—and "They never mess around in Toxteth…they're as hard as effin' nails."  The Beatles played the venue again on October 11th. This time, the event, billed as being a 'Rock 'n' Twist Carnival', was organised by none other than the students at Liverpool University. The name for the event shows how much they still had to learn—but I'd still have given my eye-teeth to have been there. Word is The Quarrymen performed at a number of skiffle contests at the ballroom—in the late 1950s—but all to no avail.

THE ' CASSANOVA CLUB'  | 

SAMPSON AND BARLOW'S BALLROOM  |

LONDON ROAD  | OPPOSITE THE ODEON CINEMA

February 14th 1961. Sam Leach re-opened the club—above a parade of shops—in Sampson and Barlow’s Ballroom—having had to vacate the previous Cassanova Club premises due to a vicious gang fight that’d broken out in the ‘club’ upstairs.

    A club’s reputation depended as much on its promoter, as its location and Sam Leach was determined to get it right this time, which he did with yet another rockin' Leach Entertainments extravaganza. 4 Rompin Stompin Bands! Tickets just 4 shillings-and-sixpence! The Beatles were the closing act at the 'Cass' that night—having played earlier the same evening at Litherland Town Hall.

    The Sensational Beatles were credited on posters for the event as 'The Originators of 'The Atom Beat'—Pete Best's unrelenting, full-on, four/four to the bar, pounding beat! 

    The Beatles played the club on seven different occasions.

    The Valentine's Night Rock Ball poster, like so many other rockin' posters stuck up on brick walls and in shop windows all around Merseyside by the talented-beyond-measure, local artist Tony Booth.

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