Black History Month: October 1962 – The Beatles back The Shades/ The Chants. Part 2

The Chants as featured in Mersey Beat
The Chants as featured in Mersey Beat

The beatles back the shades at the cavern

Having been invited down to The Cavern by John and Paul (see Part 1), the boys went to Mathew Street. They couldn’t get in to The Cavern!

“We went down there the following day and they wouldn’t let us in while they (The Beatles) were on,” said Joe Ankrah from the group. “Five black guys, standing outside The Cavern, which would have looked suspicious. So after they’d finished and everyone was coming out, they said we could come in then. The saving grace for us was that as we walked in, Paul remembered my name and said; ‘Joe, how are you?’ I told him I’d brought the band, and he was great. It was a really nice atmosphere.

“It was dark, the stage was lit and people were clearing up around us. He asked us to sing, so we started to sing ‘Duke Of Earl’. They were absolutely knocked dead, which was a buzz for us, because we’d been doing all of this rehearsing for twelve months and getting everything sharp without performing anywhere. It was refreshing to see people responding to what we were doing.

go and get brian Epstein!

“Bob Wooler, the Cavern compere, was there and he heard us and said; ‘I must go and get Brian. So he ran down Mathew Street to NEMS to see Eppy, and then came back to us. Brian can’t come down now, but tell the boys not to speak to anyone or sign anything, and we were just bemused. The Beatles picked up their instruments and started playing. We were just happy to be playing with a band, as we were used to just singing together. I would start us off with the pitch and away we’d go.”  

There was, however, one problem, and that was Brian Epstein. When Epstein arrived at The Cavern that night, he hadn’t realised that The Shades didn’t have musicians and objected to The Beatles providing the backing.  However, after intervention from John and Paul, he was overruled and The Beatles backed The Shades.  

john and paul introduced us

The Shades, who became The Chants at The Cavern
The Shades, who became The Chants at The Cavern

“We found ourselves appearing at The Cavern that night and we turned up with these smart black shirts and suits. John or Paul said, ‘I’d like to introduce you all to some friends of ours, The Shades’, and then we walked on, wearing our dark glasses, our shades, being cool, all dressed in black, and we started singing. The place was in an uproar. We only had two microphones, with the lead singer on one, and the other four gathered around the second microphone, and doing our thing, and it was great. That’s where it all started.”

The Shades performed four songs that night: “Duke of Earl”, “A Thousand Stars”, “16 Candles” and “Come Go With Me”.

paul mccartney played piano

“I can remember going up to the Blue Angel after The Cavern”, Joe said, “and we did a few numbers with Paul playing the piano for us for Allan Williams.”  

“After appearing with The Beatles, I signed with Eppy on behalf of the band, which didn’t mean much really, as we were under 21. But at least if people asked us to do anything, we could say no, because we were under contract.

played with the beatles

“We played with The Beatles then a couple more times–once at The Majestic Ballroom in Birkenhead on 15 October ‘62, and then La Scala in Runcorn on 16 October ‘62, which I remember because we went over the bridge to this little cinema. Then we played another couple of times with them.                  

“Lots of our friends were starting up groups, but we were ahead of them, and had worked so hard on our stage presence. We were rough, but I had to tell the others that we can’t be swearing on stage, and getting into arguments with them, but we had to watch what we said, how we said it. We once had a complaint from a member of the audience at the Playboy Club in London because one of us was sweating, and another one had different coloured socks than the others!”

inspiration?

There weren’t many black groups around in the UK at the time, so where did they get their inspiration? Joe explained: “I watched a group called the Deep River Boys, who did all the moves on stage, dancing around the microphone and maybe a little more cabaret than us. We were a bit snobby about cabaret because we didn’t want to do that. However, artists like Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, or the original Drifters, were a great inspiration to us. Furthermore, I would say all the black American vocal groups like The Marcels, the Del-Vikings, Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin and so many more. They were all fantastic.”

The Chants with The Beatles at Liverpool Town Hall on 10th July 1964
The Chants with The Beatles at Liverpool Town Hall on 10th July 1964

With their career under the guidance of Brian Epstein, they should have had success, but it wasn’t to be. “We didn’t do much with Epstein really, because he was busy with The Beatles, Gerry and Cilla,” said Joe. They didn’t see them again until after they had come back from America in 1964, because they had this civic reception at the Town Hall. We were invited, and we were the only other band there. I’ve got the picture from the day to prove it, but the photo has never really been seen, maybe because it had black guys in it. It is hard to believe that it was happening back then, but we just accepted that was the way it was.

juke box jury

The Beatles taped the episode of Juke Box Jury at the Empire Theatre between 2.30pm and 3.15pm on December 7, 1963. Juke Box Jury was a popular show hosted by David Jacobs in which panellists voted on whether forthcoming singles would be hits or misses. In the audience were members of The Beatles’ Northern Area Fan Club members. 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 The Chants, and this is how The Beatles rated it:

John: “It’s gear. Fabulous. Fab. It’s it.”

Paul: “I talked to The Chants recently about the disc. They said it’s powerful. It is.”

Ringo: “I’ll buy it.”

George: “It’s great. Enough plugs and they’ve got a hit.”

David Jacobs: “Are they being too generous?”

the beatles voted it a hit

The Beatles unanimously voted the single a hit, but sadly, despite their support, it failed to achieve chart status. None of the group’s other records fared any better: their debut single, “I Don’t Care”, released in September 1963; “She’s Mine”, released in June 1964; and their last single with Pye, “Sweet Was The Wine”, from September 1964. Commenting on their period with Pye Records, Eddie Amoo commented, “They had no idea what to do with a black doo wop group. They just had no idea.”

The group never found record success despite further releases with Fontana, Page One, Decca and RCA. They toured with box office stars like Helen Shapiro, Bobby Rydell and The Searchers and went to Hamburg and played at the famous Star Club, where they were very popular. “All we had to do,” recalled Joe, “was play two sets of twenty minutes, whereas the other groups were playing three or four hours each night. We had a great time there and Manfred Weissleder was very good to us.”

the real thing

 The Real Thing
The Real Thing

After they disbanded in 1975, Joey and Edmund Ankrah formed another group, OFANCHI, and enjoyed a degree of success on the television show New Faces. Eddie Amoo joined the Liverpool soul band The Real Thing, whose lineup included his brother Chris Amoo. They found UK chart success in June 1976 with “You To Me Are Everything”, which reached number 1 in the UK and number 28 on Billboard’s R&B Singles chart. Their follow-up UK hit, “Can’t Get By Without You”, reached number 2. They released a number of successful albums, including one named after the Toxteth area of Liverpool, their home turf.

The Chants were a fantastic group who should have made it big, especially with the help of The Beatles. Look them up on YouTube and listen to them. Fantastic!

Fab one hundred and Four: The Evolution of The Beatles
Fab one hundred and Four: The Evolution of The Beatles

This is an excerpt from “The Black Roots of The Beatles” in my book.

They are among the “Fab 104” people who featured in my second book, “The Fab one hundred and Four: The Evolution of The Beatles”.

Get your copy here.

David Bedford

Please follow and like us:
error

Black History Month: October 1962 – The Beatles back The Shades/ The Chants. Part 1

The Chants pose outside Liverpool Cathedral
The Chants pose outside Liverpool Cathedral

13th October 1962: The Beatles and The Shades/ Chants – Joe Ankrah, Eddie Ankrah, Edmund Amoo, Nat Smeda, Alan Harding

One of The Beatles’ favourite Liverpool bands was the all-vocal black harmony group, The Shades, who later became The Chants. The Beatles would, in fact, back them on three occasions in 1962. The group originated in the Liverpool 8 area. I met founding member Joe Ankrah, who told me how it began. (Featured in my book The Fab One Hundred and Four: The Evolution of The Beatles)

Joe Ankrah, founder member of The Chants
Joe Ankrah, founder member of The Chants

“My father was the organist and choir master at the African Churches Mission. My brother Edmund and I were in the choir there.  A lot of my upbringing with my dad and the church, I did want to make something of myself.”

Joe attended Upper Park Street Primary School and then went on to Wellington Road Secondary Modern. “When I left school, I wanted to be an artist, as I was quite good at art,” Joe said. “There was a huge gap in opportunities between black people and white people. My dad was good at drawing, and when he was in the army, he was a draughtsman. He did all kinds of rubbish jobs, and ended up as a ship’s fitter over at Cammell Laird.  

“Doing our moves”

“So I left school and suddenly, there were no friends and nothing to do. I decided that there was no way I was going to work in a chippy or something like that. So I put my portfolio together and headed for town and tried to get a job as an artist. It was possible back then, because posters and advertising hoardings were all painted by hand. However, of course, that kind of artwork was dying out and being replaced by photography and new ways of printing. So I found myself out of work, and bumming around.    

“One of our enjoyments was going to the Rialto, which was a cinema.It also had a ballroom where we used to go and listen to music and dance. So we would head down there on a Monday night, all dressed up, stand around the ballroom, doing our moves.

rock around the clock

There was a movie coming on called Rock Around The Clock. We watched this and I was impressed with them, even though it was really about Bill Haley. I just realised that I wanted to start a group, and particularly a vocal-harmony group. My brother Edmund and I were bumming around. Because my dad had been a choirmaster at the church, I knew about harmony.”

Apart for singing in their cellar, they had performed a few times at Stanley House. This was especially when his mother grew sick of them! There was a gang culture developing in Toxteth, as Joe explained: “There was the J’s and the Shines. The J’s were the John Bull’s (John Bull was a political character who symbolised British culture), the white guys. We were the Shines, because our skin was shiny.

cellars and American g.i.S

Joe continued: “I told them we were going to form a group and we started to practice in our cellar. I knew all the harmonies off by heart and that’s how we evolved. People used to come around to the house and we would be singing on the corner. And even when we would be rehearsing, there would be big crowds standing outside the house listening. Several American singers influenced us, and here we had an advantage. I have three aunties–Grace, Adah and Uzor–who were courting American GIs stationed at Burtonwood, just outside of Liverpool. They would bring their records down to my grandmother’s house and we would listen to them.

“We were bored with it eventually. What were we doing? Where were we going? All we seemed to do was rehearse. During one of those periods where we weren’t singing or performing, I found out that Little Richard was visiting Liverpool.”

“we didn’t know about the cavern”

Joe made an interesting observation about the music scene in Liverpool. This showed how the black and white communities were still segregated in the Sixties. “We didn’t know that there was a live music scene in Liverpool,” observed Joe. “We didn’t know about the Cavern and clubs like that. I wouldn’t have known how to get into the clubs and you wouldn’t see a black person in town then. I had no reason to go into town, so I didn’t know what was going on there.

little richard

“I was a big fan of Little Richard and I had some communication with him. He told me he was staying at the Adelphi and to come and meet him. I went down and he spoke to me. ‘Hey man, I’m doing a thing at the Tower, a Mersey show’, so I went to see him live.”

The show was on 12th October 1962 at the Tower Ballroom, New Brighton. One of Brian Epstein’s marketing ideas was to have The Beatles playing second to some of the biggest names around.  

the beatles

“I was backstage most of the time because I came with Little Richard,” recalled Joe. The Beatles were on and Little Richard was doing his famous walking around the balcony, singing all of his songs. So we were back by his dressing room and everyone was around Little Richard. I was just standing there, not trying to get near him. These two guys were there and asked me what I was doing there. So I told them I was there to see Little Richard. I asked them what they were doing there, and they told me they’d be on stage.”

Little Richard with The Beatles, The Chants and Derry Wilkie at New Brighton's Tower Ballroom
Little Richard with The Beatles, The Chants and Derry Wilkie at New Brighton’s Tower Ballroom

Without realising it, Joe was talking to John Lennon and Paul McCartney. They were also queuing up to meet their hero. Joe didn’t know most of the groups, or even their names. For that reason, he hadn’t recognised John and Paul.  

 “I suppose I may have vaguely heard of the Cavern,” Joe said. “But even if we went into town at night time and tried to get into any of the clubs, we were turned away. We just accepted it back then.  That was how it was, and it was the way it was. We had our photograph taken with Little Richard and The Beatles, plus Derry Wilkie and Sugar Dean.

“come down to the cavern”

“I told John and Paul that I was in a band and they laughed and asked what we played. I told them we don’t, we just sing. They couldn’t quite grasp it. ‘Why don’t you come down to one of the afternoon sessions at The Cavern, and we’ll listen to your band.

And so they did..………… Part 2 coming next

Fab one hundred and Four: The Evolution of The Beatles
Fab one hundred and Four: The Evolution of The Beatles

This is an excerpt from my second book, “The Fab One Hundred and Four: The Evolution of The Beatles”.

David Bedford

Please follow and like us:
error

18th October 1957: Paul McCartney’s debut with The Quarrymen (or was it?)

The Quarrymen performing at New Clubmoor Hall
The Quarrymen performing at New Clubmoor Hall

Was This Paul McCartney’s Debut with The Quarrymen? Colin Hanton says No!

For years we have accepted that Paul made his debut at New Clubmoor Hall on 18th October 1957. However, I spoke to Quarrymen drummer Colin Hanton who says that can’t be right.

“All I knew was that one day Paul turned up, and Rod had left by then. His parents were giving him some grief about homework and not messing about with these silly boys and the music.”

Charlie McBain and Wilson hall

“I have my doubts about Paul’s debut being at Clubmoor,” said Colin. “It was Wilson Hall before Clubmoor, which was run by the same guy Charlie McBain. We did a paid gig at Wilson Hall after Clubmoor, but we appeared before it too.”

st. peter’s church hall

St Peter's Church Hall, where The Quarrymen played with Paul McCartney
St Peter’s Church Hall, where The Quarrymen played with Paul McCartney (copyright David Bedford)

Colin says that after John and Paul met, they played at the hall regularly. This was before playing Wilson Hall or New Clubmoor Hall. “After the summer fete in July ‘57, we used to play a lot at St. Peters church hall on a Saturday night. The guy had no microphone for us, and we kept asking for one. The Saturday dance became very big and they were getting all of their friends from school to come.”

A memory then springs to Colin’s mind. “I’ve just remembered: Paul was there. He said to John, there was no mic and he had been promised there would be a microphone. We got there late afternoon to set up, and John was looking round and there was no mic. The guy said he couldn’t get one. John argued with the guy who said he hadn’t been able to get a microphone.

paul mccartney

“Paul said, ‘He’s rattled now, because he’s whistling’ and so that was that. John decided we were not playing and we walked out, which was a bit of a mistake. I went home with my drums, and then back to the hall to look for the others. I got to the door and asked if John and the lads were there. The guy said, ‘no, and he’ll never get back in here!’

“This was soon after the fete and we used to rehearse there too. They had a dance evening with a record player there by the stage, which was cranked up to full volume. Then they danced the usual three waltzes and three quick steps and then The Quarrymen would play.”

From St. Peter’s Church Hall, the next step was to Wilson Hall, Garston.

Wilson hall

“This is how we got into Wilson Hall. Charlie McBain had a good system whereby he had a 6-piece dance band/ orchestra who would play and then want a 45-minute break to go to the pub. In the past he put the record player on, but he decided to have a skiffle contest. All he needed were 5 or 6 groups.

“You needed to pay two shillings and sixpence to get in. At 4 or 5 people a group, and 5 or 6 groups: a great idea and he was quids in. John said, ‘I’m not paying that, we’re here for the competition’. Paul said, ‘the prize is £1, so just pay the money then we’ll split the winnings’. We didn’t win!” However, it worked as an audition.

“McBain must have seen something, even though we didn’t win and that’s how we got our bookings with him. Nigel Walley was a bit of a manager and he got us 5 ten-shilling notes – £2.50 – for playing.

how they got to new clubmoor hall

New Clubmoor Hall, where The Quarrymen played on 18th October 1957
New Clubmoor Hall, where The Quarrymen played on 18th October 1957 (copyright David Bedford)

“We definitely did Wilson Hall before Clubmoor, and that’s how we got it, from the competition. That’s how we also then got up to Clubmoor. We were just desperate to get onstage. We got on at the Cavern – Paul wasn’t there because he was with scouts. It was Open Mic night which was how we got down there, and then we got paid for it. There was no way Paul joined in July and did not play until October at Clubmoor. We rehearsed and played in St. Peter’s Hall, and then appeared at the contest at Wilson Hall.

the locarno

“We also went to the Locarno, another of the endless round of talent contests. There was a poster at the back for the following week for singers only, so Paul said to John, ‘why don’t we go in for it’, but John said, ‘no we’re a group’. John wasn’t interested in getting up on his own, just for the group. I think John would have been happy to keep doing what we were doing.”

Playing at New Clubmoor Hall, and the famous photograph showed how having Paul in the group had changed the balance.

mccartney gets john lennon into a suit

How New Clubmoor Hall celebrated John and Paul playing there in 1957
How New Clubmoor Hall celebrated John and Paul playing there in 1957 (copyright David Bedford)

“Paul never challenged John’s authority, but he was very diplomatic, very subtle. He always got his own way, but with subtle means. I remember at the start Paul wanted to smarten the Quarrymen up. He never said let’s get jackets, he just said to John, ‘I’m going to wear a jacket’. He didn’t say that we should wear one – it was sort of oatmeal colour. So, of course, John went out and got one too. So Paul got John dressed up without having a row or telling him to do it. And that was for the Wilson Hall gig, before the Clubmoor one. So it certainly wasn’t the first time Paul played with us. Maybe the first time in those jackets, so again, we played Wilson Hall before Clubmoor.”

Conclusion? Paul’s appearance at New Clubmoor Hall was probably the first time Paul played and The Quarrymen were paid! It was certainly not the first time he played with them.

Liddypool: Birthplace of The Beatles by David Bedford
Liddypool: Birthplace of The Beatles by David Bedford

Taken from my interview with Colin Hanton for Liddypool (now in its third edition)

Colin still plays drums with The Quarrymen (photographed in St Peter's Church Hall)
Colin still plays drums with The Quarrymen (photographed in St Peter’s Church Hall)

Colin Hanton has a new book out called “Pre:Fab“, which is a great read, and being turned into a documentary.

David Bedford

Please follow and like us:
error

Hey Jude! Celebrating John Lennon’s Birthday – with Jude Kessler

John Lennon with his mother Julia
John Lennon with his mother Julia

We celebrate what would have been John Lennon’s 79th birthday. Join your Liddypod podcast team of David Bedford and Paul Beesley in conversation with author Jude Kessler. Jude, whose John Lennon Series is now in its fifth book, talks all things Lennon and Liverpool. David has even given her the title of “honorary Scouser”.

Two of Jude's books; Shoulda Been There and Shivering Inside
Two of Jude’s books; Shoulda Been There and Shivering Inside

What drives a lady from the deep south to cross the Atlantic several times to Liverpool, before “google” and the internet, to interview those who knew John the best?

Listen now, and subscribe to, Liddypod: Beatles Banter with Bedford and Beesley.

David Bedford

Please follow and like us:
error

5th October 1962 in Beatles History: “Love Me Do” is Released

The Fab Four - George, John, Ringo and Paul
The Fab Four – George, John, Ringo and Paul

The Beatles first single is issued in the uk

After the first session with George Martin on 4th September 1962, Martin decided to bring in a session drummer. Andy White was recruited for the second session a week later.

“Ringo Didn’t Drum on the First Single”

Paul was convinced that Ringo didn’t play drums on the group’s first Parlophone single, “Love Me Do” – and Ringo agreed. Yet history has shown that he was indeed on the UK single release. Considering that Andy White was hired to drum on the recording, there are questions. Was Ringo’s version mistakenly released on the UK single? After all, the White version of “Love Me Do” appeared on The Beatles’ debut studio album Please Please Me, the UK EP release The Beatles’ Hits, and also on their U.S. single release.

"Love Me Do" The Beatles' first single released on 5th October 1962
“Love Me Do” The Beatles’ first single released on 5th October 1962

Was it released by mistake? Any evidence?

If the Ringo version wasn’t considered good enough after 4th September, why release that first version? Neither George Martin nor Ron Richards were sure if it was selected intentionally or not.

Releases of “Love Me Do” issued after The Beatles’ Hits on 21st September 1963 contained Andy White’s version. Why? The original master recording of Ringo’s version of “Love Me Do” destroyed or recorded over. EMI only had Andy White’s 11th September recording to use. It was the only remaining – and arguably the superior – version. When “Love Me Do” was released in the U.S. in April 1964, it was Andy White’s version that was used.

McArtney not mccartney!

A further mistake was made when 250 promo discs of “Love Me Do” were released, misspelling Paul’s name as McArtney; something he was used to in Mersey Beat. One of these discs was sold in October 2017 for $14,757, the ost expensive 7-inch single ever sold.

50th anniversary mistake

In a twist of fate – or was it an inside joke – when Apple decided to reissue “Love Me Do” on the 50th anniversary, they initially used Andy White’s version. They then had to quickly recall those records, so that Ringo’s version could be issued.

The final piece of evidence is one of omission. With the group’s popularity increasing, why did they not ask Ringo to re-record “Love Me Do” for the album? The conclusion is that Ringo’ version was most likely released by accident. That is not uncommon in the recording industry, even today. Nothing else really makes sense.  

REVIEW OF THE BEATLES’ FIRST PARLOPHONE SINGLE

Specially written for this Press Release By Tony Barrow. His weekly column OFF THE RECORD by “DISKER” appears each Saturday in THE LIVERPOOL ECHO AND EVENING EXPRESS

For many years the Tennessee town of Nashville has been known as the golden capital of America’s Country & Western music industry. In its own way, I guess, Liverpool has become the British beat equivalent to Nashville for the city, deep in the heart of Z Cars country, boasts an almost incredible array of thriving rock ‘n’ roll beat groups.

WHINING HARMONICA

The most popular of these is THE BEATLES a group which deserves the nationwide following which its Parlophone recordings will surely bring. On the evidence of “LOVE ME DO” nobody can claim that THE BEATLES are a carbon of The Everlys, The Brooks, The Allisons, The Shadows or any other existing outfit. Theirs is a thoroughly distinctive vocal sound backed by the semi-plaintive, semi-impatient rasp and whine of John Lennon’s remarkably expressive harmonica plus a stout guitar and solid drum beat.

SIMPLY INFECTIOUS

The lyrics of this infectious, medium-paced ballad are simple and it is in this easy-to-remember simplicity that THE BEATLES can pin their well-founded hopes of hit parade headlines for their very first Parlophone outing.

ANOTHER PUNCHY VOCAL

The under-deck carries something much more than the traditional (albeit ungenerous) B side padding. “P.S. I LOVE YOU” is a bright, up-tempo ditty with another punchy John Lennon/Paul McCartney vocal and a smart, rhythmic backdrop which has a colourful Latin tint to it.    

IF YOU CAN’T BEET ‘EM……………..

Beetles did you say, George? Course I’ve heard of them. Your Grandfather (may he rest in peace) used to put down some powdery stuff to stop them coming in the house.”

“No, Grandma. BEATLES. With ‘A’ before the ‘T’”.

“Hay? No, I’m sure it was powdery stuff. And who ever heard of beetles supping tea?”

“BEATLES, Grandma. It’s a group………………..there are four of them……………..and they’re on Parlophone”.

“We haven’t got a phone in the parlour, George. Anyway I don’t want hear any more about them. They give me the creeps. Nasty big black things”.

“But they’re not black, Grandma………… They’re white …………. And they’re British!…..”

Finding the Fourth Beatle the story of the 23 drummers who put the beat into The Beatles
Finding the Fourth Beatle the story of the 23 drummers who put the beat into The Beatles

Find out more in Finding the Fourth Beatle

David Bedford

Please follow and like us:
error