The Beatles had two important engagements on this day. The first was a lunchtime show at the Cavern Club, followed by an event that evening at the Tower Ballroom in New Brighton, Wallasey.
Local promoter Sam Leach had booked rock ‘n’ roll singer Davy Jones to perform at the Tower Ballroom, and Ray McFall also booked him for the lunchtime Cavern show. The Beatles backed him on both occasions, in addition to performing their own sets.
The day’s first show was The Beatles’ 62nd lunchtime performance at the Cavern Club. Overall this was their 93rd appearance at the Mathew Street cellar club, including their late-night shows.
It is possible that the group had their first encounter with cocaine on this day. Far from widespread in England in 1961, the drug was nevertheless used recreationally by small numbers of people.
One person who unwittingly partook was Bob Wooler, the Cavern’s DJ. It was not a pleasant experience for him.
We didn’t have a strong drug scene by any means. Originally, it was just purple hearts, amphetamines, speed or whatever you want to call it. When The Beatles went down south, they sometimes brought back cannabis and gradually the drug scene developed in Liverpool. There was a rare instance of cocaine when Davy Jones, a black rock ‘n’ roll singer who’d been with The Beatles in Hamburg, appeared at the Cavern. He was a Little Richard/Derry Wilkie type, very outgoing and bouncy. His big record was an oldie, Amapola, and its lyric about the ‘pretty little poppy’ must have appealed to him.
Alan Ross, who was a local compère, brought Davy down to the Cavern, and that was when I had cocaine for the first and only time in my life. I told Davy Jones about my sinuses, and he said, ‘This’ll clear it.’ Alan Ross gave me a smile of approval, I tried it… and nearly hit the roof. There was laughter galore, and I rushed out into Mathew Street, trying to breathe the effects out. I remember Pat Delaney saying, ‘What’s wrong, Robert?’ and I said, ‘Nothing, I’m just a bit giddy.’ The Beatles welcomed Davy Jones with open arms, so I’m sure the drug-taking didn’t stop with me. That is the common factor with The Beatles – whatever was going, they wanted to be a part of it.
The Cavern, Spencer Leigh
Also on this day...
- 2010: Tributes held worldwide to mark 30 years of John Lennon’s passing
- 1980: John Lennon dies
- 1969: Recording: Octopus’s Garden
- 1967: UK EP release: Magical Mystery Tour
- 1966: Recording, editing: When I’m Sixty-Four, Strawberry Fields Forever
- 1965: Live: Gaumont Cinema, Sheffield
- 1964: George Harrison visits Ringo Starr in hospital
- 1963: Live: Odeon Cinema, Lewisham
- 1962: Live: Oasis Club, Manchester
- 1961: Live: Tower Ballroom, New Brighton, Wallasey
Want more? Visit the Beatles history section.