The fourth Mersey Beat Showcase event, starring artists from Brian Epstein‘s management stable, took place on this evening at the Fairfield Hall ballroom in Croydon, Surrey.
The event was organised by promoter John Smith in January 1963. As neither The Beatles nor support acts Gerry and the Pacemakers, Billy J Kramer or The Big Three had enjoyed major chart success at that time, Smith arranged for singer John Leyton to headline the concert.
On the day, however, Leyton was ill and cancelled his appearance, leaving The Beatles in their rightful place at the top of the bill.
Local resident Andy Wright, then a 15-year-old pupil at Woodcote secondary school, was given backstage access through his father, a steward at The Fairfield Halls.
I was allowed to wait backstage. They had just come off so they were probably a bit shattered. We turned over a couple of theatre seats and took a couple of quick photographs.
I think they just wanted to get to the dressing room. If you think about it now you’d have an army of security guards with earpieces. Completely different.
I only had 12 pictures on my roll of film. Film was expensive back then. The picture of all four of them backstage, potentially the most financially lucrative, was taken with the last shot I had.
I still have the Rollei camera I took pictures with.
Wright, who later became a freelance photographer, rediscovered the photographs in his attic, and donated them to the Fairfield At 50 website.
I met up with an old friend and he said he worked with the Fairfield Halls. I said I took photographs of the Beatles there, and he couldn’t believe it and told me about their anniversary archive.
You know how it is, you just have boxes of rubbish in the attic so I was delighted I still had them.
The Beatles performed at Croydon’s Fairfield Hall on one other occasion, 7 September 1963.