The Beatles In
Reviewing the City Hall concert for the local press was 18-year-old Anthea Linacre, a former head girl of Dore and Totley High School in Sheffield, who was training to be a journalist. In her lengthy review, she made some personal assessments of the individual performances: "The image of the Beatles as an exciting, pulse-raising musical group was redeemed only by angelic-looking, curly-eyelashed Paul McCartney, who was delightful. It was he who won the hearts of the audience with his cheeky smile and boyish appeal.
Ringo Starr, the drummer, who, physically, has to take a back seat anyway, was truly the team's anchor. Pleasant and efficient with few frills, he was what we expected.
But George Harrison, the youngest Beatle, his head held low, hiding his lean good looks, was for the most part unanimated. True, he mustered the occasional smile and a shake of his silky brown hair to set his fans swooning.
John Lennon might have been a guard on Buckingham Palace duty for all the movement we received from him. Not an expression crossed his face except when a straw boater floated on to the stage and he had the inspiration to put it on for a
The Beatles rushed off the stage at the end of the show and, escorted by the police and still in their stage clothes they piled out of a side door, into a waiting car and were off to a hotel in Doncaster. Fans spilled out of the hall quickly, hoping to see their idols, and they refused to budge, even when a police message was put over the loud speakers that the Beatles were already out of the city.
At midnight there were still over 250 fans milling outside the stage door, convinced that the group hadn't left the venue.
The Beatles were the headliners when they appeared at the City Hall on November 2 1963.
Their final appearance at the City Hall took place on 9 November 1964, probably due to the fact that Peter and Jeff Stringfellow dropped in to see Epstein at his London office to petition him to ensure that Sheffield was on the itinerary of their next concert tour. The brothers impressed Brian and he not only agreed to the gig, but offered the brothers the opportunity of compering the City Hall concerts that evening instead of the tour compere Bob Bain.
There was one unfortunate muddle that evening. The Sheffield Star had a pop music supplement called Top Stars Special and its editor Roy Shepherd had spent weeks arranging with Brian for the Beatles to meet up with Sheila Parkin, the Olympic long jumper, between shows. Sheila was to present the group with their Top Stars Popularity Poll Award. Derek Taylor had phoned Neil Aspinall at 7.30 to let him know about the arrangement, but Sheila was told she wouldn't be able to see them, that they were too tired to meet anyone. She left the Hall disappointed and furious at the snub. Derek Taylor commented, "I can't understand why it happened. The Beatles knew of the arrangements and had agreed to them.
"All I can say is that this has been a desperate year for them. The night before they came to Sheffield, they played in Liverpool and, after their shows, were surrounded by strange faces."
When he heard what had happened, Brian personally invited her to meet them in London on an expenses-paid trip where she could make a proper presentation - and Sheila agreed.
The Beatles stayed overnight at the Park Hall Residential Country Club in Spinhill, near Sheffield, having landed on the lawn in front of the building by helicopter. The club later became the Parkhall Hotel and Restaurant.
Their final Sheffield appearance took place at the Gaumont, Barker's Pool. It was their one and only appearance at this cinema was one of the very last concert dates the group performed in Britain. 'The Beatles Show' was presented at the Gaumont on Wednesday 8 December 1965 during their final British concert tour.
Manager Harry Murray decided on a simple trick to get the Beatles into the theatre. They'd phoned him five minutes before they were due to arrive and he told them to come straight to the front entrance. While police and security men were gathered at the stage door, the Beatles car arrived at the front of the cinema and they walked straight in, in sight of the large queues, before anyone could realise what was happening.
Ringo commented: "It was unusual for us. Normally we have to hide in vans or go in through back entrances. They did not realise outside what was going on."
The group was provided with a TV set in their dressing room where they watched the programme 'No Hiding Place.'
During the show the usual missiles were hurled at the stage and a pear drop caught Paul in his left eye, causing him to blink throughout the rest of the performance. Ringo said, "Another half inch and would Paul have been blinded for life."
Compering the show was a local lad, Jerry Stevens of Seagrave Avenue, Gleadless. He said, "It is a big experience working with the Beatles and I have learned a lot. I said before I met them I thought they were the greatest. Now I think they are even better than I thought they were."
During the show Jerry presented them with two Top Stars Special awards. The first was for being voted the most popular group by the Sheffield readers of the paper, the second was for 'Help!' voted the most popular single of the year.
Following the show the Beatles stayed at the Park Hall Residential Country Club, Spinkhill, near Sheffield before moving on to their next venue in Birmingham. They stayed overnight on November 9/10 1964 and landed on the lawn in front of the building by helicopter. The building is now the Parkhill Hotel and Restaurant.
©Text Bill Harry. Photographs courtesy Mark Bowers.
Editor's note: Some years ago I had a regular column called 'The Beatles Detective' in a fanzine called Beatles Now. I encouraged readers to help me track down information on the Beatles and built up a following of fellow 'Beatles Detectives.' One of them was Mark Bowers of Sheffield, who sent me Photostats of clippings of the Beatles appearances in the city, together with photographs he took of the places they appeared in or stayed at.
I'm considering reviving The Beatles Detectives on the Mersey Beat site. If you would like to trace the activities of the Beatles in your city, send me an e-mail).
Text © Bill Harry. Photographs courtesy Mark Bowers.