On the day that their debut EMI single ‘Love Me Do’ was released, The Beatles performed at the ballroom of the Co-operative Hall in Nuneaton, Warwickshire.
The show was headlined by in-house group Buddy Brittain and the Regents. Also appearing were local singer Tanya Day and the Vampires, and Rugby group The Mighty Avengers.
Earlier in the day, after The Beatles had set up their equipment, an impromptu jam session took place with members of the group and the Regents. Ringo Starr and Regents drummer Barney Peacock played two drum kits side-by-side, and John Lennon played guitar alongside Buddy Brittain with Pete Mist on bass.
I remember the night we worked there a lot as a support band. The main group had arrived in a brown Bedford Dormobile type van parked outside.
We walked in with our gear to find a jam session going on with Ringo and Barney Peacock on drums, Lennon and Buddy Brittain on guitars with Pete Mist on bass. George Harrison was upstairs in the dressing room playing his big acoustic Gibson. I asked Pete Mist later who the band was, and he said The Beatles.
I said ‘Who?’, and Pete told me that they had worked with them at the Star-Club in Hamburg, and that they were the greatest rhythm and blues band he had seen. That was a compliment coming from Pete because he had been professional himself for a long time, and played in one of the best bands I knew at that time, Buddy Brittain & The Regents. They were one of the house bands run by Reg Calvert along with Danny Storm & the Strollers.
The Beatles sent the Nuneaton audience wild with versions of What’d I Say, ‘Money’ and other songs I had never heard before, including of course their new record.
You must remember that this was the era of the Shadows, and most of the groups were either adjusting their echo units or falling down tripping over guitar leads trying to do the Shadows’ walk.
The Beatles were different, exciting, loud (no echo), and raw, with great voices and harmonies, as well as looking good. They had dark colour suits I seem to remember, but it was before the ‘haircuts’.
I always remember standing with Pete in the wings and him pointing to John Lennon’s toe curling up boots, as he rocked on, with a high-strung Rickenbacker.
They were so professional and even then knew how to bow to an audience, very foreign to most of us. We learnt much later the value of rehearsal and presentation. My late father always said that the following morning I was raving about a silly named band that I would have put money on being big, I didn’t realise just how big.
Coventry Telegraph, 2012
The Nuneaton show was not widely known about for many years, and didn’t appear in Beatles reference books. Its existence was confirmed by local writer Pete Chambers in his 2006 book The Beatles – Sent To Coventry.
The art-deco Co-operative Hall was situated on Queen’s Road, and was a popular venue for touring bands in the early 1960s. It was demolished in November 2008.
Also on this day...
- 2014: Ringo Starr live at CenturyLink Center, Omaha, Nebraska
- 2012: Love Me Do at 50: Beatles fans break world singing record in Liverpool
- 1969: Recording, mixing: Cold Turkey, Don’t Worry Kyoko (Mummy’s Only Looking For Her Hand In The Snow) by Plastic Ono Band
- 1968: Recording, mixing: Savoy Truffle, Martha My Dear, Honey Pie, Dear Prudence
- 1963: Live: Concert Hall, Glasgow
- 1962: UK single release: Love Me Do
- 1960: Live: Kaiserkeller, Hamburg
Want more? Visit the Beatles history section.