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The Silver Beetles live: Town Hall, Alloa, Scotland

The Silver Beetles’ seven-date tour of Scotland, backing singer Johnny Gentle, began on this day with a performance at the Town Hall in Alloa, Clackmannanshire.

The tour had been arranged by London-based promoter Larry Parnes – known in the industry as ‘Parnes, Shillings and Pence’ – following an audition in Liverpool on 10 May 1960.

They were never billed as The Silver Beetles on the tour; all posters gave the billing as “Johnny Gentle and his group”. However, they decided to adopt stage names.

Now we were truly professional, we could do something we had been toying with for a long time, which was to change our names to real showbiz names. I became Paul Ramon, which I thought was suitably exotic. I remember the Scottish girls saying, ‘Is that his real name? That’s great.’ It’s French, Ramon. Ra-mon, that’s how you pronounce it. Stuart became Stuart de Staël after the painter. George became Carl Harrison after Carl Perkins (our big idol, who had written ‘Blue Suede Shoes’). John was Long John. People have since said, ‘Ah, John didn’t change his name, that was very suave.’ Let me tell you: he was Long John. There was none of that ‘he didn’t change his name’: we all changed our names.

So here we were, suddenly with the first of Larry’s untempestuous acts and a tour of Scotland, when I should have been doing my GCE exams. A lot of my parents’ hopes were going up the spout because I was off with these naughty boys who weren’t doing GCEs at all.

George Harrison on stage with Johnny Gentle, 20 May 1960

The repertoire throughout the Scottish tour was: Buddy Holly’s It Doesn’t Matter Anymore and Raining In My Heart, Elvis Presley’s I Need Your Love Tonight, Ricky Nelson’s Poor Little Fool, Clarence Frogman Henry’s I Don’t Know Why I Love You But I Do, Eddie Cochran’s Come On Everybody and Jim Reeves’ He’ll Have To Go.

Johnny Gentle first met The Silver Beetles half an hour before they went onstage in Alloa, and they had just 20 minutes of rehearsal. Gentle gave Harrison a black shirt to wear on stage, to match those worn by Lennon and McCartney.

This first night was somewhat ragged, but they improved over the following six days. This was the only date of the tour not to take place on Scotland’s north east coast; the others were all around the coast in the Highlands.

Last updated: 24 January 2024
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