Apr 25, 2016

Candid Photos from the Time the Beatles Played to a Crowd of 18 People

 

The date was December 9, 1961. Having packed bars and clubs in Liverpool, the group made the 9 hour journey south to the Palais Ballroom in Aldershot, Hampshire. Their manager, Sam Leach was hoping the gigs would catch the attention of London music executives and get the band their big break.

 

Candid Photos from the Time the Beatles Played to a Crowd of 18 People (11)

 

Unfortunately Leach did not realize that Aldershot was a military town some 65 km outside London. He also didn’t realize that the ad he paid to have placed in the local newspaper was never published. So when Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Pete Best showed up, nobody was there to welcome the lads from Liverpool.

 

Candid Photos from the Time the Beatles Played to a Crowd of 18 People (1)

Photograph by Dick Matthews

 

Candid Photos from the Time the Beatles Played to a Crowd of 18 People (2)

Photograph by Dick Matthews

 

 

The band did put on a show for the 18 guests in attendance, and made the best of a disappointing evening with dancing, drinks and jokes with mates.

 

Candid Photos from the Time the Beatles Played to a Crowd of 18 People (3)

Photograph by Dick Matthews

 

Candid Photos from the Time the Beatles Played to a Crowd of 18 People (4)

Photograph by Dick Matthews

 

Candid Photos from the Time the Beatles Played to a Crowd of 18 People (5)

Photograph by Dick Matthews

 

 

“Halfway through one number, George and Paul put on their overcoats and took to the floor to dance a foxtrot together, while the rest of us struggled along, making enough music for them and the handful of spectators. We clowned our way through the whole of the second half. John and Paul deliberately played wrong chords and notes and added words to the songs that were never in the original lyrics.” – Pete Best

 

Candid Photos from the Time the Beatles Played to a Crowd of 18 People (7)

Photograph by Dick Matthews

 

Candid Photos from the Time the Beatles Played to a Crowd of 18 People (8)

Photograph by Dick Matthews

 

 

“You can imagine what it was like for the Beatles with about four people dancing and six miserable faces standing around the edge looking on. They did their best, but it was no use. They packed up at about 9:30 pm. Then Sam produced the beer, and the bingo balls started getting kicked around the floor: Liverpool versus Aldershot.” – Terry McCann

 

Candid Photos from the Time the Beatles Played to a Crowd of 18 People (6)

Photograph by Dick Matthews

 

Candid Photos from the Time the Beatles Played to a Crowd of 18 People (9)

Photograph by Dick Matthews

 

 

Sources

Mashable/The Retronaut Dec. 9, 1961 The Beatles in Aldershot
Beatles Source: 9 December 1961 – Saturday The Palais Ballroom
Beatles Bible: Live: Palais Ballroom, Aldershot

 

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