Live: Plaza, Handsworth

The Beatles played two shows on this date. This first show at the Plaza Ballroom in Handsworth, Birmingham was followed by another at the Plaza in Old Hill.

The venues, along with the Ritz in King's Heath and the Brum Kavern in Birmingham, were run by Mary 'Ma' Regan and her husband. Ma Regan was a former schoolteacher who became something of a local celebrity in the 1960s after bringing a series of top musical acts to the area. She also managed a number of Birmingham groups.

The Plaza in Handsworth stood at 189 Rookery Road, and had previously been the Rookery Picture House cinema. It became a dance hall and live music venue before being converted to the Gurdwara Bebe Nanaki Ji temple in the 1980s.

On this date the venue hosted The Beatles, who were topping the charts with their debut album Please Please Me. Tickets cost 7/6d (37½ pence), sold on a first-come-first-served basis. Many disappointed fans were turned away from the venue.

The support acts were The Cheetahs and The Redcaps.

The Beatles were late for their second show in Old Hill, for which they were supported by local group Denny and the Diplomats. The group's drummer later recalled how they coped with the delay.

Firstly they were booked to appear at the Regans’ other Plaza in Handsworth. Unsurprisingly, they ran late and our scheduled half-hour spot became an hour or more. Usually we would perform several Beatle songs in our set, but obviously we had to drop those from our repertoire.

Truth was, we were running out of songs to play and reverted to a couple of ambitious instrumentals. We included Hava Nagila (which had Denny playing lead guitar behind his back ) and the Dave Brubeck Quartet classic jazz piece Take Five, which featured me playing a drum solo in 5/4 time.

We realised The Beatles had finally arrived and we could hear them talking backstage. Then we saw them all watching us from the side of the stage. We finished our set, the curtains closed, the crowd now in a state of nervous, near hysterical anticipation.

Also on this day...

Want more? Visit the Beatles history section.

2 responses on “Live: Plaza, Handsworth

  1. Euan Rose

    The information given above for the supporting bands for The Beatles at the Plaza Ballroom Handsworth on Friday July 5th 1963 is incorrect! I know because I was the drummer in The Cheetahs – one of the two supporting bands that night, the other band was The Redcaps. I had taken delivery of the first kit of gold Ludwig drums in Birmingham that week and Ringo was so taken with them that he asked to use them that night. We all shared one dressing room and I still have the personally signed photograph given to me by The Beatles to this day.
    Incidentally ,The Cheetahs were the only group personally managed by Mary Regan and were resident at both the Plaza Handsworth and the Ritz in Kings Heath for most of that year – I have never heard of The Blue Stars

    1. Joe Post author

      Thanks for the info Euan. The Blue Stars were definitely around at the time. They were mentioned in connection with this show in this article.

      I’ve changed the page to mention The Cheetahs and The Redcaps. If you have any more memories of playing with The Beatles please feel free to share!

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