Search

50 years ago today The Beatles played Romford gig just before hitting big time

PUBLISHED: 12:21 20 March 2013 | UPDATED: 12:45 21 March 2013

The Beatles in June 1963

The Beatles in June 1963

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Forget pop star of the moment Justin and his hysterical Beliebers; five decades earlier it was all about one band: The Beatles.

Girls' lipstick smeared the Beatles van in Romford Girls' lipstick smeared the Beatles van in Romford

The Fab Four were the original swoon-inducing boyband with flapping followers and delirious devotees trailing their every move.

But just days before the group’s popularity skyrocketed, the Liverpudlian foursome performed in a little-known concert in the now-defunct ABC Cinema, in South Street, Romford.

Today is the fiftieth anniversary of that gig which saw them playing second fiddle to Tommy Roe and Chris Montez.

The concert drew little publicity; only brief adverts: one in the Recorder and another in the Romford Times.

The Beatles concert ticket from June 16. The Beatles concert ticket from June 16.

Just a couple of minutes walk round the corner, in George Street, lived drummer Ringo Starr’s step-grandparents, James and Louisa Graves, who, according to rumours, the band visited after their gig.

The Beatles performed a six-song setlist on that Wednesday night: Love Me Do, Misery, A Taste Of Honey, Do You Want To Know A Secret, and I Saw Her Standing There.

They also played the catchy Please, Please Me, released three months earlier, and which had crept up the charts before finally reaching number one at the beginning of March.

The hype was just beginning to build and the group’s management, realising they had struck gold, rushed out the Beatles’ debut album, also called Please, Please Me, two days after the Romford gig, The rest is history.

Handbill from The Beatles concert on June 16. Picture: Tracks Handbill from The Beatles concert on June 16. Picture: Tracks

When The Beatles returned to Romford three months later, this time playing the Odeon Cinema, in South Street, on June 16 - Paul McCartney’s birthday - it was a different story.

Beatlemania had swept the town (although not the Recorder offices it seems, with the paper wrongly naming McCartney “Paul McKenzie”).

Thousands queued for advance tickets and some even camped out overnight before the show.

Former Recorder photographer, John Hercock, was just 15 at the time and was taking pictures in the crowd for photo agency. Central Press.

The Beatles autographs from the June concertPicture: Tracks The Beatles autographs from the June concertPicture: Tracks

“It wasn’t just the girls who were screaming,” he said, “it was the boys too! “The atmosphere was mad; it was a full house, people had been queued around the block to get in.

“I don’t think anyone could quite believe the Beatles were in Romford; you only saw bands like that on Top of the Pops.”

Again the Beatles dropped in on James and Louisa after their gig.

This time a “mob-proof van” was used to transport the young pop stars through the town - the windows of which, the Recorder reported, were “smeared in lipstick” from adoring girls.

A year later James made his only-ever public comment about the Beatles, telling a newspaper: “I think they are a wonderful bunch of boys, not at all big-headed about their success.”

To mark the this week’s anniversary, Tracks, experts in Beatles memorabilia, is inviting residents get in touch for a free valuation of any items they may have.

Signatures could be worth thousands of pounds.

Contact the company on 01257 269726 or e-mail sales@tracks.co.uk

Were you there and do you have any pictures from either of the gigs?

Contact the news desk on 020 8477 3878 or email news.desk@romfordrecorder.co.uk

Comments have been disabled on this article.

Latest Romford News Stories

Two men were shot and one stabbed at a private party in Romford in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Judges from the prestigious annual London in Bloom competition have paid a visit to Havering.

The borough’s most gifted young people were recognised for their hard work and talent with certificates and awards last week.

Yesterday, 15:00

A mum-of-two has launched an online campaign to promote the borough and its family-friendly activities.

Yesterday, 10:00

If you’re wondering what the weather has in store for us this weekend why not watch our three-minute Met Office update on whether we’re getting rain or sunshine?

Fri, 12:20

A charming musical about life, love – and tradition – in a Russian Jewish community wowed on its opening night.

Fri, 10:39

England 400-plus years ago was not keen on free speech, as Prof Ged Martin explains

Fri, 09:40

An entrepreneur who secured an exclusive top prize at last year’s Thames Gateway Business Awards has spoken of the “amazing” effect it has had on his charity.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read news

Show Job Lists

News from your area

Competitions

Having a brand new kitchen is something that lots of people want but can only dream of. Sadly keeping up to date and making our living spaces as nice as they can be is a costly and incredibly stressful business. Even a fresh coat of paint makes all the difference but isn’t easy or quick.

Who wouldn’t love the chance to go on a shopping spree. Imagine being able to walk into a shop and choose whatever your heart desires without having to worry about how much it costs.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Romford Recorder
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now