The Tower Ballroom


Mersey Beat advertisementDuring the days of the burgeoning Liverpool Sound the venue began to be used for a series of spectacular dance promotions, the first beginning on 10 November 1961 under the name 'Operation Big Beat.'

The show opened at 7.30pm and the Beatles appeared at 8pm. They then fulfilled another engagement at Knotty Ash Village Hall before returning for their second Tower appearance that evening at 11.30pm. Tickets for the event had been sold for weeks in advance at NEMS Whitechapel store, which was managed by Brian Epstein. Epstein had been aware of their existence for months and this was yet another example to disprove his disingenuous claim that he only heard about them when a boy walked into his store on 28 October.

The first Operation Big Beat event drew an audience of 3,000 people. The groups appearing were the Beatles, Rory Storm & the Hurricanes, Gerry & the Pacemakers, the Remo Four, Earl Preston & the Tempest Tornadoes and Faron's Flamingos.

Late night transport had to be arranged with the various local authorities as the event took place between 7.30pm and 2.00am. Tickets cost 6/- (30p).

An added treat for the audience was the appearance of Emile Ford, who'd had several hits, including 'What Do You Want To Make Those Eyes At Me For?' and 'Slow Boat to China.' He got up on stage and sang with Rory Storm & the Hurricanes while American singer Davy Jones joined the Beatles on stage and sang two numbers with them.

The Beatles returned to top the bill again on 1 December 1961 at a six-group extravaganza which attracted 2,000 people.

The next Tower promotion took place on 8 December 1961 and featured South African singer Danny Williams whose current hit 'Moon River' was No. 4 in the British charts. Once again the headliner was Davy Jones, backed by the Beatles, who had also provided backing for him earlier that day at the Cavern.

On 15 December five bands were featured on a five-and-a-half hour show. The Beatles topped the bill. The event also saw the appearance, for one night only, of former top Liverpool band Cass & the Cassanovas. When Brian Casser had originally left the group (did he go or was he pushed?), the remaining three members continued as the Big Three. On this evening's bill Casser joined the Big Three under the old name for a special one-off reunion performance.

Saturday 3 December featured the Beetles (that was how the posters advertised them), Rory Storm and Tony Osbourne and his Band.

The first bill of the New Year was on Friday 12 January 1962 on an extravaganza called 'Twist Around The Tower', advertised as: 'The Greatest Show on Merseyside. Starring that horrible hairy Monster Screaming Lord Sutch (X certificate) and his horde of Savages, with Philips recording artists Mel (King of Twist) Turner and the Bandits. Also Mersey Beat Poll Winners the Beatles (after 11.30pm), Rory Storm & the Hurricanes, the Strangers. We introduced the Twist to Merseyside, now we present another lead -a sensation Twist exhibition team, Mr Twist & the Twistettes.'

Bill toppers Screaming Lord Sutch & the Savages failed to turn up.

The Beatles' next Tower appearance took place on Friday 19 January, followed by a special pre-Panto Ball on Thursday 15 February. Panto Day was an annual event in Liverpool, organized by students at Liverpool University. They would parade around the city on huge decorated floats, dressed in costumes, collecting for local charities. On the Panto Day evening, all students who had taken part in the event were invited to a special Panto Day Ball.

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