Live: Tower Ballroom, New Brighton, Wallasey

This was The Beatles’ 23rd show at the Tower Ballroom in New Brighton, Wallasey.

The show was promoted by Brian Epstein‘s NEMS company. It featured 12 acts, and was headlined by the US rock ‘n’ roll legend Little Richard, whom The Beatles knew from Hamburg.

The Beatles with Little Richard, Tower Ballroom, New Brighton, 12 October 1962

A total of 12 acts performed on this night, and the event lasted for five and a half hours. Among the bands was Lee Curtis and the All-Stars, whose drummer was Pete Best; the former Beatles drummer had an awkward encounter with his old band backstage.

We had been to see Little Richard at the Tower and we got to meet him. The Beatles were there, whom we had never heard of, and Paul invited us to one of the lunchtime sessions. We didn’t play instruments and so The Beatles played for us while we sang. We heard that Brian Epstein wasn’t happy about them doing this but they liked our style. Brian Epstein signed us for about a year but he was too busy with The Beatles to bother with us. We often played the Cavern and we were backed by the Remo Four, the Undertakers and the Big Three.
Joe Ankrah, The Chants
The Cavern, Spencer Leigh

The Beatles with Little Richard, Tower Ballroom, New Brighton, 12 October 1962

This show was most notable for being the first occasion on which John Lennon played his newly-painted Rickenbacker 325 in public. The guitar, bought by Lennon in Hamburg in 1960, had been spray-painted jet black by a coach painter in Birkenhead.

I don’t know how it came up in conversation, but John wanted his guitar painted black, and I offered to get it sprayed for him. I worked for my father who had a meat haulage business in Birkenhead, with plenty of lorries. So we got Charles Bantam, who coach-painted my father’s wagons, to spray the guitar. The Rickenbacker was natural-wood coloured, and had a gold control panel which we left alone. When I took it back I’d put the control panel back the wrong way and he made a bit of a fuss about that. But John didn’t pay me, it wasn’t necessary to pay me, it was done as a favour. Bantam was a perfectionist. He used Tekaloid black coach paint, and did the job at his garage in Birkenhead. IT took about three days because we had to let the paint dry.
Chris Whorton, Liverpool DJ
The Beatles’ Gear, Andy Babiuk

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; 21 and 29 June; 13, 21 and 27 July; 17 August; 14 and 21 September; 23 November; 1 and 7 December 1962; and 14 June 1963.

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