Tamworth Bands History : 1963
Well what a year! The music scene in Tamworth was so busy in 1963 that it has had to be divided into quarters - what a year!
|January - March||April - June|
|The Beatles play the Assembly Rooms 01/02/63||Gerry and the Pacemakers play Wilnecote Parish Hall 26/04/63|
|July - September||October - December|
|Brian Poole and The Tremeloes play the Assembly Rooms 02/09/63||The Rolling Stones play the Assembly Rooms 02/12/63|
The Winter of '63 saw Britain gripped in the 'Great Freeze' with the country brought to a stand-still with snow covered roads. Locally the music scene had been thriving through 1962 culminating in the New Years Eve Rock and Twistacular Ball at the Assembly Rooms, with El Riot and The Rebels and local Brummie rockers Gerry Levene and The Avengers.
But...early 1963 was to see the beginning of a dramatic change in musical entertainment available for your average Tamworth teenager. Entrepreneurial local promoter, Vince Baker, had a knack of spotting good new talent, and booking them just before they broke into the big time. He hit the jackpot to say the least when on Friday February 1st 1963 he had booked, none other than The Beatles to play the Assembly rooms. Here you can read a full account of this historic event but in summary - the band had played in Sutton Coldfield earlier in the evening and didn't go on stage until 11.45pm, much to the displeasure of a group of local teenagers who felt 'cheated' having paid 6s. 6d. (32.5p - Ed.) admission.
Throughout the months to follow, Vince Baker events at the Assembly Rooms became more and more regular, with shows almost every Friday and/or Saturday and often on a Monday throughout the year. In the early months of '63 Birmingham band Gerry Levene and the Avengers were regular visitors.
Local Tamworth bands making a name for themselves by supporting these 'bigger' acts included The Wanderers and The Three Spirits and of course The Rebels who were on the bill supporting The Beatles. (Although, by July '63 The Rebels had changed their name to The Chequers - possibly as a result of the increased popularity of El Riot and the Rebels, a popular Midlands group who, within a year, were to metamorphose into the Moody Blues!)
Other local bands regularly appearing at venues in and around Tamworth in 1963 included: The Blue Hawaiians, The Diamond Dave Rhythm Group, The Matadors, The Meteors and The Troubadors.
In the Tamworth Herald of 10th May 1963 under the headline 'Foot tapping Vicar and the Wanderers', we were told of "the vicar who's in step with the times…Rev. J.W. Bennett of Kingsbury, a rock and roll and twist fan will soon see the band he has helped to fame make their TV appearance." The Reverend Bennett had allowed local band The Wanderers to practice at his Church Hall and the band were to appear on ITVs "Up and Doing" on May 20th 1963 and performing three songs - Praise the Lord! - Ed.
The Assembly Rooms ('assems') wasn't the only venue hosting regular dances for the local teenagers. Atherstone Memorial Hall held a Beat Night every Saturday with well known artists appearing including Polly Perkins, Miss Jane and Mike Everest and the Alpines.
One event that was due to be held at the Assembly Rooms but had to be changed at the last minute, was the appearance of Gerry and the Pacemakers. The band had been booked to appear by Vince Baker in advance of their sudden increase in popularity but unfortunately Vince couldn't get the Assems for that particular night. The band honoured their booking, hence, Gerry and the Pacemakers played Wilnecote Parish Hall on 26th April 1963 supported by The Rebels.
Local music fans were spoilt for choice most nights of the week with a wide variety of musical tastes covered. In October, Tamworth Music Club announced Folk Singing, every Friday night at the Miners Welfare, Lichfield Street, The Troubadors were regular performers. A Modern Beat Club was held every Thursday at the Mile Oak Ballroom, Fazeley and The Jolly Sailor Twist Club opened on 3rd April.
Big name acts continued to appear at the Assembly Rooms at events promoted by Vince Baker. The Hollies (Parlophone recording artists "Just Like Me") played on the 28th June. Brian Poole and The Tremeloes (recorders of Twist & Shout) played on 2nd September supported by local band the Three Spirits.
The Bachelors appeared at the Assembly Rooms on 20th September, The Big Three ("Some Other Guy", "By The Way") on 4th October and Screaming Lord Sutch and the Savages appeared twice, firstly on 28th October and then again on 20th December.
The most successful event however, even more so than The Beatles' appearance in February was that of the Rolling Stones on Monday 2nd December 1963. To quote the Herald of that week:
"Five young lads with more hair hanging over their ears and around their shoulders than the Beatles ever had, produced the biggest audience appeal that has ever hit the Assembly Rooms and when you consider the talent which has stepped onto the same stage – The Beatles, The Big Three, The Bachelors, Screaming Lord Sutch, The Bruisers – you have an idea of the impact made by these five talented youngsters from down-south".
What an end to what a year. Local music fans had been spoilt for choice throughout the year. At least one, usually two and often three concerts each week all with 'big name' artists were on offer - if you could afford it of course, prices had gradually risen throughout the year from a typical 3/6 (17.5p - Ed.) to 7/6 (37.5p - Ed.) for the Rolling Stones at the end of the year - frightening when you think the average weekly wage at the time was 35/- (£1.75 - Ed.).
The Tamworth Herald in it's summary of what had been a monumental year locally and nationally in terms of popular music, came to its own 'interesting' conclusions...
Tamworth Herald - Record and Film Review – Friday December 27th 1963
THE BEATLES AND 1964
Beatlemania – a word unheard of in 1962, the talk of the town in 1963, but what of 1964?
Just how long will the Mersey sound and its chief disciples – The Beatles – last?
Anyone who knows the answer can cash in on a fortune, but all the signs are that the time is ripe for fresh ideas – Mersey-side will be a forgotten area again, long before next Christmas comes round.
By this time of course Ringo and Co. will have been to America and returned – doing in reverse what Bill Haley, Jerry Lee Lewis and other forgotten American stars have done before them – crossed the water at the cost of fame and fortune.
For if last Saturday's television performance ('Thank Your Lucky Stars' All-Liverpool edition – December 21st 1963, I Want To Hold Your Hand, All My Loving, Twist And Shout, She Loves You – Ed.) is anything to go by, they will not be a hit in America – and on this showing they will lose more fans than they make.
The Beatle craze has hit the climax – now for the testing time – will it last or will it die away like the first raging rock 'n' roll fever, like Teddy boy suits and winkle-pickers?
Interesting to see the prediction that the Mersey sound would be forgotten before Christmas '64, The Beatles would not be a hit in America (In 2001, they had been certified for album sales of 163.5 million in the US alone - Ed.) and that The Beatle craze had hit its climax. (Over forty years later, it doesn't appear that they have reached that climax just yet with all-time record sales estimated by EMI at over one billion discs and tapes to date - Ed.)