When Beatlemania hit Scotland: Your memories of the Fab Four

The Beatles (left - right) John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney and George Harrison (PA Photos)

THE recent release of The Beatles documentary, Eight Days A Week –­ The Touring Years, showed what life was like for the Fab Four at the height of their popularity.

Now a new book, The Beatles – I Was There, uncovers the stories of the fans who saw the band live.

Author Richard Houghton spoke to more than 400 people lucky enough to see the group between 1957 and 1966 to record their memories.

The Beatles made several trips to Scotland during that period and the book features tales of Scots who saw John, Paul, Ringo and George as they went from unknowns to the biggest stars in the world.

 

Two Red Shoes, Elgin, January 3 1963

Arthur McKerron used to go to the back café of the Two Red Shoes for a meal. He asked the owner’s wife who was performing in the dance hall that night and she replied it was “some group called The Beatles”.

“The place was deserted,” Arthur recalled. “One couple were more or less just walking or jiving around the hall and three or four couples were sitting at tables.”

The next day student nurse Adeline Reid and her friend were leaving their boarding house to go to the local hospital when she saw The Beatles hanging out a window of the boarding house next door.

“They shouted at me,” Adeline recalled. “John asked me to take his pulse. My face went the colour of a tomato.

“Our landlady proceeded to reprimand them for their cheek. She did not approve of them talking to her girls in such a shocking manner!”

 

Town Hall, Dingwall, January 4 1963

The Beatles were in direct competition to the weekly dance in the Pavilion in Strathpeffer. There was only going to be one winner – and it wasn’t the Fab Four!

“The few that were there, including my crowd, all shared a taxi and headed to the Strath,” said Doreen Douglas.

Billy Shanks, then 17, recalled: “The funny thing is that when I went in, the doorman said, ‘Before you pay, go up and have a listen’.

“They played Love Me Do when I looked in the door and I thought, ‘No, no, it’s not my type of music’ and went to the local village hall five miles away to hear The Melotones.”

Margaret Paterson was 17 and going on her first date with her late husband Tommy.

“I thought he had stood me up,” she said. “It was almost over when Tommy’s friend remembered to tell me to go to the Strathpeffer gig and Tommy would meet me there.

“I sat on the stage all night chatting to The Beatles and Paul in particular, who told me not to be upset as there were more fish in the sea than ever came out of it.”

The Beatles in Dundee (DC Thomson)
The Beatles in Dundee (DC Thomson)

 

Museum Hall, Bridge of Allan, January 5 1963

Andi Lothian was the promoter for the concert, which had a crowd consisting of “96 drunk young farmers and four women”.

“The place was just a rammie,” Andi said. “I was quite despondent as we had lost money on the event.”

 

Beach Ballroom, Aberdeen, January 6 1963

Bill Cowie, 15 at the time, and his brother Mike turned up early, so knocked on the stage door and were invited in to meet them.

“They were tuning their guitars and discussing their playlist,” Bill recalled.

He requested Chuck Berry’s Sweet Little Sixteen, which John later dedicated to the “lads in the front row”. After the first set, Bill and Mike went back to the dressing room and Paul offered them a cup of tea.

Afterwards, Kathleen Donald, 15, and her friend Pat Masson knocked on the dressing room door for autographs.

“When I got married and left my parents’ home, my mum had a clear-out and threw away the autographs,” Kathleen said. “Can you imagine? When I tackled her about it, she said ‘Oh, it was just a few names on a bit of paper’.”

 

Carlton Theatre, Kirkcaldy, October 6 1963

The day after the Aberdeen show, Andi Lothian and Albert Bonici turned up unannounced at Brian Epstein’s London office and said they wanted to book the band again, but would only pay them £30 a night rather than £40 like the last time.

Epstein said they could have the band, but the fee would be £500 per night. Knowing they were going to be massive, they agreed. By the time the Fab Four arrived in Kirkcaldy, they already had two number ones. Alan Forrester, 14 at the time, can recall his excitement at getting tickets. He said: “I came into school waving these two tickets, saying ‘I’ve got them! I’ve got them! Seven and six!’

“I was in the gods. You could hardly hear the band for the shrieking and you think, ‘We paid that money and we never heard it.’ But we were there!”

The Beatles in Dundee (DC Thomson)
The Beatles in Dundee (DC Thomson)

Caird Hall, Dundee, October 7 1963

“I worked for Dundee District Council for 35 years and early in my career our office was situated behind the Caird Hall stage, with a door accessing the stage,” Daniel Ferguson said.

“When The Beatles came to Dundee we were able to hear them practising from the office.

“Later in the afternoon came a knock on the common door and who should come into our office but Paul. He asked us if he could use our phone and sat for quite a while chatting away. We could hardly believe it!”

The show was 15-year-old Morag Thompson’s first concert. Her pal worked next to the box office, so was able to get them front-row tickets.

“We came out in a daze and our ears ringing,” Morag said.

“Next morning there were photos of the audience in The Courier and the girl sitting next to me was screaming her head off. My parents were horrified but I didn’t let on that I was next to her and in a similar state.”

 

ABC Cinema, Edinburgh, April 29 1964

The only way to be sure of getting a ticket was to camp out overnight so 13-year-old Moira Morris and her pal were allowed to wait with hundreds of other girls. The police told the cinema to sell the tickets 12 hours early, but Moira’s mum had said she would come up the next day and give her the money in the queue, so she didn’t have any cash.

“I burst into tears but a policeman said not to worry and I would get a ticket. They would keep it for me for a day.”

 

Caird Hall, Dundee, October 20 1964

Donald Stuart said: “My group, Tommy Dene and The Tremors, supported The Beatles and, after playing, we had to act as stewards at the foot of the stage. I was in front of John Lennon and I heard their playing, despite the screaming!”

 

The Beatles – I Was There, by Richard Houghton, is out now from Red Planet Publishing.


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