ALDERSHOT 

30 miles from London

"The Battle of The Bands"

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(NOT) THE PALAIS BALLROOM* | QUEENS RD. | ALDERSHOT | BUT 330 YARDS DOWN THE ROAD FROM IT | AS DEVOID OF PEOPLE AS IT WAS ON SATURDAY 9 DECEMBER 1961
Sam Leach's marvellously inventive idea was to get The Beatles to play in front of some of London's top impresarios, so that they could see for themselves the scenes of frenzy the band were generating, nightly, on Merseyside. After another massive turn out for the group at the Tower Ballroom, New Brighton, on the Friday night, Sam hired a specially equipped van—with seats for everyone—and a driver.
    The next day The Beatles were driven down to London for their debut. Almost. The venue—the Palais Ballroom—turned out to be in a country town—better known for the huge army camp on its outskirts. A town situated more than thirty miles from the show business capital—the West End of London.
 
 
    Worse, the full-page ad for the venue—Presenting a "Battle of the Bands"—Liverpool V London—7-30 p.m. to 11.30 p.m.—Bar—Buffet—Admission 5/-—Everyone Welcome—Tell Your Friends—hadn't even appeared in the local newspaper, as the cheque Sam had used as payment the previous week had yet to clear.
    So nobody knew The Beatles were coming to town.
    Even worse—Sam failed to mention that the big London impresario—Tito Burns—that everybody hoped to meet had already declined the invitation to come be impressed by The Beatles or anybody else. And so, after scurrying around the town—trying to drum up interest—and even giving away free tickets to the show—The Beatles managed to attract no more than 18 people. Even so, they put on a show as wildly rockin' as any they'd ever performed at the Cavern or the Tower.
 
 
    The amazing photographs were taken by Dick Matthews, a friend of Sam Leach's, and were sourced from the amazing website The Savage Young Beatles.
    I've always wondered what happened to Ivor Jay & The Jaywalkers—and the 'Two Other Star Groups'—who were advertised would be doing battle with The Beatles, but never showed up. Just their presence alone would have all but doubled the size of the audience that night.

Photographs by Dick Matthews. Source: BeatlesSource | The Savage Young Beatles

 

*The Palais Ballroom was on the corner of Queens Road and Perowne Street | some 330 yards up the road from The Havelock Arms—demolished 1979—on the corner of Victoria Road and Cross Street | just before Victoria Road becomes Queens Road.

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