In 1960 Parnes co-promoted an event with Liverpool coffee bar owner Allan Williams at Liverpool Stadium. Initially it was to have a bill topped by Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent, but Cochran was killed in a road accident.
With Vincent now topping the bill, Williams also featured local bands Cass & The Cassanovas, Rory Storm & the Hurricanes and Gerry & the Pacemakers.
The event took place on 3 May and Parnes saw the potential of the Liverpool bands and thought it might be a good idea to use one of them as a backing band for Fury and find others to back Duffy Power and Johnny Gentle on tours.
An audition was held at the Wyvern Club in Liverpool on 10 May which resulted in the Silver Beatles being selected to back Johnny on his Scottish tour. Their fee was £120, which was to include their fares from Liverpool. At the time the group comprised John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Stuart Sutcliffe and Tommy Moore.
Gentle, then twenty years old, has been quoted as saying, “When I first saw them I wondered what on earth Parnes had sent me.” But he was later to deny he’d said this, claiming that he immediately liked their youth and enthusiasm.
The tour began on 20 May 1960 at the Town Hall, Alloa, Clackmannashire. Other gigs were on 21 May at the Northern Meeting Ballroom, Church Street, Inverness; on 23 May at the Dalrymple Hall, Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire; on 25 May at St Thomas’s Hall, Keith, Banffshire; on 26 May at the Town Hall, Forres, Morayshire; on 27 May at the Regal Ballroom, Leopold Street, Nairn, Nairnshire and on 28 May at the Rescue Hall, Peterhead, Aberdeenshire.
The group name was never actually used in the promotion of the tour, as the billing read ‘Johnny Gentle and his group’. However, three members of the band decided to use stage names. Paul used the name Paul Ramon, George adopted the name Carl Harrison and Stuart called himself Stuart de Stael. It has been suggested that John called himself Johnny Silver, but he denied this.
Johnny first met the group half an hour before they were due to go on stage together and they had time for only twenty minutes of rehearsals before their performance. Duncan McKinnon wasn’t impressed with the show but Johnny explained that they needed rehearsal time together and, after practicing the next day, the stage show improved.
McKinnon had also complained about their stage gear, so Johnny gave George a black shirt to wear, as Paul and John were wearing black shirts. It was the nearest they got to a uniform appearance on stage.
Johnny says, “Duncan was more like a farmer than a man who put on shows in dance halls. The repertoire for the Scottish tour was: ‘It Doesn’t Matter Anymore’, Buddy Holly’s ‘Raining in My Heart’, Presley’s ‘I Need Your Love Tonight’, Ricky Nelson’s ‘Poor Little Fool’, Clarence Frogman Henry’s ‘I Don’t Know Why I Love You But I Do’, Eddie Cochran’s ‘Come On Everybody’ and Jim Reeves’ ‘He’ll Have To Go.’