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Lathom Hall is a former cinema and music venue in Seaforth, Liverpool, England. Built in 1884, the venue became synonymous with Merseybeat in the 1960s. […]
On 14 May 1960, the Silver Beats auditioned at the hall during the interval of a performance by Cliff Roberts and the Rockers, Dick Dale and the Deltones, and King Size Taylor and the Dominoes. One report suggests that the venue’s promoter, Bill Kelly, curtailed the group’s set after just two songs they performed so badly. Conversely, the Bootle Times reported that the group were “sensational”. After the performances, a fight broke out backstage after bassist Stuart Sutcliffe was told to “cut [his] hair” as he looked like a girl. Despite this and their group’s performance, Kelly booked the group for the following weekend’s dance, promoting them as “Silver Beetles” in the headline slot. The group later failed to notify Kelly that they could not play at the performance, having received an offer to tour Scotland with Johnny Gentle, leaving him to explain to the audience why the advertised act would not appear.
Nevertheless, the group were booked for a number of subsequent concerts in early 1961, by which time they had changed their name to The Beatles. Kelly paid the group an average of £8 0s 10d per concert, equivalent to approximately £120 in 2005. The group’s final appearance at the hall was on 25 February, George Harrison’s 18th birthday.
Stuart Sutcliffe, who was the band’s bassist at this time, would go on to die of a brain aneurysm 16 months later in Hamburg. A definitive cause is unknown, but it has been linked to the traumatic head injury he received during a fight outside Lathom Hall following one of the Beatles’ performances in January 1961. According to former manager Allan Williams, Sutcliffe was either kicked in the head or thrown head first against a brick wall. Lennon and Best went to his aid fighting off his attackers before dragging him to safety. Sutcliffe had a fractured skull, and Lennon broke his little finger. Sutcliffe refused medical attention at the time and failed to keep an X-ray appointment at Sefton General Hospital.
[…] Under the name the Silver Beats, the group who were later to become the Beatles auditioned for Kelly at Lathom Hall during the interval on Saturday 14 May 1960 on a bill which included established Liverpool bands Kingsize Taylor & the Dominoes, Cliff Roberts & the Rockers and the Deltones. As a result of their brief performance, Kelly booked them for the following week, on Saturday 21 May. He advertised the event, which was the first time the group had officially appeared in an advertisement. Despite the fact that they’d only auditioned, the advertisement billed: “Silver Beats, Dominoes, Deltones.”
In spite of the top billing they didn’t turn up for the gig. Instead they left on a tour of Scotland backing Johnny Gentle without informing Kelly who, as a result, didn’t book them again for several months until Bob Wooler talked him into it.
Drummer Cliff Roberts recalled the Silver Beats’ appearance that first night on 14 May and said they were a scruffy bunch whose drummer hadn’t even brought his kit and asked if he could borrow Cliff’s. Roberts had a brand new Olympic kit that he hadn’t even used on stage himself, so he naturally refused. However, he agreed to play with the Silver Beats and they performed six numbers together: “four rock ‘n’ roll standards that all of the groups played, and two originals that they had to teach me.” He says that the group then disappeared and he didn’t see them until eight months later when they appeared on the bill at the Alexandra Hall, Crosby on Thursday 19 January 1961, where, says Roberts, “They wore black leather, had brand new instruments and played brilliantly.” […]
Last updated on February 23, 2020