Live: Tower Ballroom, New Brighton, Wallasey

This was The Beatles’ 15th show at the Tower Ballroom in New Brighton, Wallasey.

The show was promoted by Brian Epstein‘s NEMS company, and featured Bruce Channel as headliner. Channel’s hit Hey! Baby had recently been a top 10 hit, and he was backed by The Barons and Delbert McLinton on harmonica.

There were lots of kids there, a whole sea of people, and I said to Delbert, ‘They can’t all have come to see us,’ and we soon found out that The Beatles were very popular. Delbert was in the [Cavern] dressing room with John Lennon who was very interested in his harp. Delbert played something for him and evidently John kept the idea and used it for the sound on Love Me Do. We had heard the harmonica on blues records by Jimmy Reed and people like that, and that influenced Hey! Baby. It’s a great thrill to know that our record influenced The Beatles and that our music was appreciated by a group of that stature.
Bruce Channel
The Cavern, Spencer Leigh

Despite Bruce Channel’s claims, The Beatles couldn’t have been influenced by Hey! Baby when recording Love Me Do. They had already recorded the song for EMI on 6 June 1962 and, although they subsequently re-recorded it, the outtake was eventually issued on Anthology 1.

Lennon’s harmonica part from that first session is broadly similar to the single and album versions, suggesting that, although Delbert McClinton may have taught Lennon some musical licks at the Cavern, any similarity between Love Me Do and Hey! Baby is just coincidental.

We were touring in an old ambulance from the war. I had to find somewhere to shave as I was looking dishevelled. I couldn’t get my electric razor to work and I didn’t know that you needed a special adaptor to make it work. I remember going in early to the Cavern [at lunchtime] and having to shave in cold water.

Nearly every one of the Liverpool bands asked me to show them something [musical], so John Lennon was doing nothing unusual. We hung about a couple of days and I did show him some things. I never saw him again and I’ve never thought too much about it. But everybody sees a similarity between Hey! Baby and Love Me Do.

Delbert McClinton
The Cavern, Spencer Leigh

Also on the bill were The Big Three, The Statesmen and The Four Jays.

Tower Ballroom was on the New Brighton promenade, and was capable of holding up to 5,000 people. The New Brighton Tower opened in 1900, and at 567ft was taller than Blackpool Tower. A 1,000 tonne lattice-steel observation tower overlooking the Wirral Peninsula, it was the tallest building in Britain when it was completed.

It was short-lived, however. Following closure during World War One, its structure began to decay and the tower was dismantled between 1919 and 1921.

The ballroom underneath fared better, however, and was used for nearly 50 years. However, the building was destroyed by fire in 1969. The area was later redeveloped as River View Park.

The Beatles played at the Tower Ballroom on 27 occasions. The other dates were 10 and 24 November; 1, 8, 15 and 26 December 1961; 12, 19 and 26 January; 15, 16 and 23 February; 2 March; 6 April; 29 June; 13, 21 and 27 July; 17 August; 14 and 21 September; 12 October; 23 November; 1 and 7 December 1962; and 14 June 1963.

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