The Tower Ballroom


Bruce Channel/Beatles posterLocal promoter Sam Leach capitalized on the publicity by putting this bill on the eve of Panto Day, with Terry Lightfoot & his New Orleans Jazz Band, co-headlining with the Beatles. It drew an audience of 3,500 people. The Beatles then appeared at the ballroom twice, initially at 9pm, followed by a set at 10.45pm.

On 2 March they appeared at another Tower event, billed as the 'Mad March Rock Ball.'

The Beatles appearance on Friday 6 April was their last Tower appearance prior to their season at Hamburg's Star Club. The two headliners were Emile Ford & the Checkmates and the Beatles. The other bands were Gerry & the Pacemakers, Howie Casey & the Seniors, Rory Storm & the Hurricanes and the Big Three. Adding some novelty were the Original Kingtwisters.

There were plenty of activities at the Tower, apart from the major promotions. Friday 1 June was 'Big Beat Night' starring Rory Storm & the Hurricanes, the Kansas City Five and Lee Curtis & the Detours. Every Monday there was a 'Teenagers Disc Night', with a 1/6d entrance fee. Commencing Thursday 7 June with a 'Pick The Pops', a competition with various cash prizes. Every Saturday was 'Twist 'N' Trad Night' with Les Osbourne & his City Slickers Jazz Band, the Swinging Bluegenes 'plus Top Rock and Trad guest groups', with an admission charge of 5/-

The next Beatles appearance there was on a promotion financed by Brian Epstein and organized and compered by Bob Wooler. It was the first of a series of planned prestige gigs by Epstein to place the Beatles on a bill with name artists. For his appearance on Tuesday 21 June 1962, the bill was topped by Bruce Channel. Channel had enjoyed a massive hit with 'Hey Baby' and he was backed by harmonica player Delbert McLinton and the Barons. The Beatles were advertised as 'Parlophone recording artistes and stars of the BBC's 'Teenager's Turn.'" Bolton group the Statesmen were next on the bill, followed by Mersey groups the Big Three and the Four Jays.

Operation Big BeatIncidentally, it's interesting how people's memories recall events. Decades later Delbert McLinton, in an interview, was to comment on the event, "The Beatles were the opening act on about four of the shows we did...we were in New Brighton the first night we played with them, at a place called the Castle. It was an old castle, if I remember right, because when you looked out of the dressing room window it was a sheer drop to the ocean."

As we know, the Beatles only appeared on one show with Channel and McLlinton, the Tower was not called the Castle and it overlooked the River Mersey, not the ocean.

However, during the evening John Lennon chatted with McLinton, who showed him how to play the harmonica passage from 'Hey Baby.' When the Beatles came to record 'Love Me Do', John used the style McLinton had taught him.

The next Operation Big Beat promotion took place on 29 June with the Beatles topping the bill. Ten local groups were featured in a five-and-a-half hour spectacular.

Brian Epstein's next presentation at the Tower featured Joe Brown & the Bruvvers headlining over the Beatles on 27 July. The other acts on the bill were the Statesmen, the Big Three, Steve Day & the Drifters and the Four Jays.

Operation Big Beat IV took place on Friday 3 August but the Beatles were appearing at the Grafton Ballroom that night. The bill that evening comprised Lee Curtis & the All Stars, Billy Kramer & the Coasters, The 4 Jays, Faron & the Flamingos, The Mersey Beats, Kansas City 5 with Freddy Fowell, Earl Preston & the TT's, Gus Travis & the Midnighters, Clay Ellis & the Raiders and Sonny Kaye & the Reds.

For their appearance at the venue on 17 August the Beatles had drummer Johnny Hutchinson sitting in with them as Pete Best had been ignominiously sacked a few days previously.

Operation Big Beat V on Friday 14 September was another five-and-a-half hour marathon featuring six local groups headed by the Beatles. Later the same month the Beatles appeared at the Tower on 21 September. The occasion was advertised as 'Rory Storm's Birthday Night' and apart from the Beatles and the Hurricanes, the other bands were Billy Kramer & the Coasters, the Big Three and Buddy Dean & the Teachers.

The next event was another five-and-a-half hour extravaganza promoted by Brian Epstein and starring Little Richard and twelve local acts on Friday 12 October. The NEMS Enterprises presentation was another Bob Wooler production and, apart from the Beatles, Lee Curtis & the all Stars appeared with their new drummer Pete Best.

Other acts on the bill were the Big Three, Billy Kramer with the Coasters, the Dakotas with Pete MacLaine, the Four Jays, the Merseybeats, Rory Storm & the Hurricanes and the Undertakers.

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