7 December 1963 was a busy day in Liverpool for The Beatles. In the afternoon they filmed a special edition of the BBC television show Juke Box Jury, before performing for 2,500 hometown fans. In the evening they played another two shows at the nearby Odeon Cinema.
The Beatles taped the episode of Juke Box Jury at the Empire Theatre between 2.30pm and 3.15pm. Juke Box Jury was a popular show hosted by David Jacobs in which panelists voted on whether forthcoming singles would be hits or misses.
In the audience were members of The Beatles’ Northern Area Fan Club. Juke Box Jury was broadcast later that evening between 6.05pm and 6.35pm, and was watched by an estimated 23 million people.
The first song to be judged was I Could Write A Book by Liverpool group The Chants.
The Beatles unanimously voted the single a hit. Next up was Elvis Presley’s Kiss Me Quick.
Paul: What I don’t like about Elvis are his songs. I like his voice. This song reminds me of Blackpool on a sunny day.
Ringo: Last two years Elvis has been going down the nick.
George: If he’s going back to old tracks, why not release My Baby Left Me? It’d be a number one. Elvis is great, his songs are rubbish.
John: It’ll be a hit. I like those hats with ‘Kiss Me Quick’ on.
Again the group voted it a unanimous hit. The third song was The Hippy Hippy Shake by The Swinging Blue Jeans.
Ringo: Good, but not as good as the original by Chan Romero.
George: It’s a popular song around Liverpool. We used to do it. Could be a hit.
John: The boys nearly made it before. I like Bill Harry’s version as well!
Paul: Doesn’t matter about Chan Romero’s disc. Nobody remembers. It’s as good as a new song.
Once more it was unanimously voted a hit. Paul Anka’s song Did You Have A Happy Birthday? was the fourth song.
George: Yes I did, thank you.
Paul: I don’t like people with a crack in their voice.
John: It’s in his head.
Unfortunately for Anka the single was a unanimous miss. Faring no better was The Nitty Gritty Song by Shirley Ellis.
John: I like it.
Paul: I like this kind of record, but it doesn’t say anything.
Ringo: We all like this sort of thing but it won’t be a hit.
George: Won’t be a hit in England. We haven’t got around to that sort of thing yet.
David Jacobs: You mean British teenagers are behind the Americans?
George: We’ve liked this type of thing for years but it hasn’t really caught on.
Despite their positive comments, the single was a unanimous miss. Next up was Steve and Eydie’s I Can’t Stop Talking About You. All The Beatles apart from John Lennon voted it a hit.
Paul: People will whistle this one.
Ringo: She carries him, actually!
George: It could easily make the twenty. So relaxed.
John: They’re relaxed because they’re getting on a bit. I don’t like it.
The next single to be scrutinised was Billy Fury’s Do You Really Love Me?
Ringo: Not for me. I’ve never bought one of his records.
George: Okay, but I wouldn’t buy it. Guitar phrasing is like that on Cliff’s latest.
John: Tune’s not bad, but I don’t like gallop tunes.
Paul: I quite liked it.
The answer to Fury’s question was, unanimously, no. Bobby Vinton was up next, with There! I’ve Said It Again.
George: Quite nice, but I don’t think the public will buy it.
John: Get an old song and everybody does it again at the same time.
Paul: Secretly, teenagers don’t want old songs brought back.
Ringo: Nice and smooth, ‘specially if you’re sitting in one night – and not alone.
Another unanimous miss. The ninth single was Love Hit Me by The Orchids.
John: Just a big con – a pinch from The Crystals and Ronettes.
Paul: It’s good for a British record.
Ringo: It’ll sell a few, but not many.
George: I’d rather have British groups pinch from The Crystals than the other stuff.
The Beatles voted The Orchids a three to one miss. It was then revealed that The Orchids were there in the audience, which was described by Lennon as “a lousy trick”.
There was no time to discuss The Merseybeats’ I Think Of You, so it went straight to the vote. This was unanimously favourable. Three more songs – Broken Home by Shirley Jackson, Where Have You Been All My Life by Gene Vincent, and Long Time Ago by The Bachelors – were omitted from the broadcast, although The Beatles judged each of them to be hits.
Also on this day...
- 1969: Television: John Lennon and Yoko Ono on The Question Why
- 1969: George Harrison live: Fairfield Hall, Croydon with Delaney & Bonnie
- 1967: The Apple Boutique opens
- 1965: Live: ABC Cinema, Manchester
- 1964: George Harrison’s Mornyork Ltd becomes Harrisongs Ltd
- 1963: Live: Odeon Cinema, Liverpool
- 1963: Live, television: It’s The Beatles
- 1962: Live: Tower Ballroom, New Brighton, Wallasey
- 1962: Live: Cavern Club, Liverpool (lunchtime)
- 1957: Live: Wilson Hall, Liverpool
Want more? Visit the Beatles history section.
I was there! A lucky, fifteen year old Fan Club member that received a ticket to the Juke Box Jury session followed by a Beatles performance at the Liverpool Empire. Then it was back on the train to Leeds to watch it on television. Shame footage has been lost.