Henri Henroid: A Tribute

(cont.)
By Bill Harry  

One of the photos I commissioned Manfred to take, used as the cover of Mersey Beat issue 69And I went on to book all the big names and Manfred (the club’s owner) asked me to run the club with him. I resigned my position with Don Arden and went out there to help run the club.

“I saw the Beatles at the Cavern with Gene Vincent. We booked so many bands from Liverpool I can’t remember their names.”

Henri also recalled the time the Beatles nearly got sacked from the Star Club.

“John Lennon had gone up and down the stage – I wasn’t present when it took place – and said Manfred Weissleder was a Nazi and killed all the Jews, or something.”

Bettina the bierfrau from the Star Club pounded on Henri’s door at 4 o’ clock in the morning and said the Beatles were in trouble and waiting to see him at a café on the Reperbahn.

He got dressed and went down to meet them.

“They said they were all skint and told the girl at the café that I would pay the bill. 

“They told me that if they were fired the band would break up and that would be the end of the Beatles.”

Henri went to see Manfred to plead their case, but Manfred told him he’d just intended to scare them – but it they did anything like that again, he’d definitely sack them.

Henry brought the Hamburg group the Rattles to Merseyside. One of the bookings he obtained was at the Kraal Club, New Brighton. Bob Wooler was compering that night. and although he knew Henri well, when Virginia and I arrived with Henri, Bob tried to prevent him coming into the club. Henri, a former boxer, was furious and looked as if he was going to lay one on Bob. Bob just raised his hand and said, ‘Remember who you are, Henri. Act with decorum.”

This was typical of some of Bob’s actions and people seem to forget that he was often mischievous and relished making remarks that could antagonize people, delighting in their anger or frustration. The most obvious example is when he approached John Lennon at Paul’s 21st party and said, “How was the honeymoon, John?” referring to John’s brief holiday in Barcelona with Brian Epstein. On that occasion John did stick one on him.

Henri only ever did me one disservice. Manfred Weissleder had asked Virginia and me if we would give up Mersey Beat and come to live in Hamburg and launch Germany’s first rock music paper. We turned down the offer of a house and car and decided to stay in Liverpool with Mersey Beat. However, I offered to write for the publication, which he was to call Star Club News – and never charged him. Instead, I asked him to take photographs of the Beatles for me which I could use in Mersey Beat.

Manfred sent me over a small box of transparencies of the Beatles on stage at the Star Club, one of which I used on the front cover of issue number 69.

I kept the transparencies for many years, then one day I mentioned them to Henri and he asked if he could borrow them as he was in touch with Manfred and Manfred wanted to have a look at them. I lent him the transparencies and never saw them again.

Several years also passed before I saw Henri again and when I pressed him about my transparencies, he said he couldn’t remember what he’d done with them as he had been suffering from alcoholism at the time. I later found that he’d put my transparencies up for auction!

Despite that, we’d always been good friends and he and I, in the mid-1990s teamed up to try to establish an arena and Mersey Beat Village in Liverpool. Henri was a partner in Park Arenas, a company he, Chas. Chandler and Nigel Stanger had set up when they launched the Newcastle Arena. All of them have now passed away.

Sadly, Henri died while we were still knocking our heads against the wall trying to get these music attractions established in the city.

Henri was born on 13 July 1936 and died on 27 March 1998.

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