Search

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

12:21 20 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 RomfordGirls' 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: TracksHandbill 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: TracksThe 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

0 comments

Latest News Stories

Yesterday, 15:02
Damyns Hall Aerodrome in Upminster have agreed to demolish one of their hangers to build a new one futher away from the road.

The destruction of an aircraft hanger that has been the subject of a High Court battle appears to be imminent.

Yesterday, 15:00
Havering Council has invited us to visit Crowlands Primary School - an already expanded school - to see the benefits of larger schools.

Claims by a teaching union that expansions are turning schools into “factories” have been rejected by education chiefs who say big doesn’t have to mean bad.

Yesterday, 12:00
Dycorts School pupils Harley Frakes, seven, Jacqueline Fosu,  11, Trinity Brown, seven, and Ellie Tear, 11, with actors from the Queen's Theatre production of Little Red Riding Hood

A classic fairy tale which has captured the imagination of children for generations has been given a new spin to entertain youngsters this Easter.

Yesterday, 09:00
Actress and Comedian Meera Syal at the launch of the new Life Study Centre in King George Hospital, Goodmayes

The centre of a new study, tracking the progress of more than 80,000 babies born to mothers in Redbridge and Havering, opened last week in Goodmayes.

Most read news

News from your area

WW100

Click on the banner above for full coverage of the centenary commemorations of the outbreak of the First World War.

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Romford Recorder e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24


Our trusted business finder

The lights went off and the cameras came out.

Call it the X Factor, star quality, even ‘something’ but whatever ‘it’ is Ed’s not got it, says the PM.

The Ukip leader doesn’t want to be too scripted for the seven-way televised encounter.