The Beatles played two shows at the Cavern Club on this day; one at lunchtime, the other at night. The date would not be notable but for the attendance of Mike Smith, an A&R assistant at the Decca label, at this later show.
Smith’s presence came about through Brian Epstein‘s connections to Tony Barrow, a London-based Liverpudlian who wrote record reviews for the Liverpool Evening Echo under the pseudonym Disker.
Epstein had asked Barrow if he would mention The Beatles in his column, but Barrow declined as the group had yet to release any music – the German My Bonnie single notwithstanding. He did, however, offer to mention The Beatles and Epstein to the A&R department at Decca, where Barrow was also employed writing sleeve notes for albums.
Although The Beatles and Epstein were largely unknown in London, the retail clout of NEMS meant that the label was receptive to them. Dick Rowe, Decca’s head of A&R send Smith to Liverpool. Following dinner with Brian Epstein, he was taken to the Cavern to see the group’s second set of the day.
Although The Beatles were not considered impressive enough to be signed on that day, Smith did arrange a formal audition in London, to take place on new year’s day 1962.
The Beatles were the only act to perform at the earlier lunchtime show. For this evening performance they shared a bill with Gerry and the Pacemakers, and The Four Jays.
This was The Beatles’ 32nd evening performance at the Cavern. This was also the 14th occasion on which they performed both lunchtime and evening shows at the venue, and the final such occurrence in 1961.
Although the precise number of their Cavern performances is not known, The Beatles played at least 155 lunchtime and 125 evening shows at the Mathew Street venue between 9 February 1961 and 3 August 1963.