Before we celebrate the 60th anniversary of The Beatles rocking Woolwich in 1963 with our headline show by The Mersey Beatles, we thought we’d take a closer look at that legendary night.
The Beatles performed at the Granada Cinema in Woolwich on 3 June 1963. Originally a theatre built in the 1930s, it had a capacity of nearly 2,500 seats
The tour had been planned 3 months previously and was originally booked with Roy Orbison as the headliner, with the relatively unknown Beatles and Gerry & The Pacemakers as the support acts. However, the first six months of 1963 saw both support acts have number one hits, with The Beatles going to number one with Please Please Me and From Me To You, and Gerry & The Pacemakers with How Do You Do It and I Like It. The tour also featured The Terry Young Six, Erkey Grant, Ian Crawford, David Macbeth and Louise Cordet.
Fans queued along the street in order to get tickets. Some local schoolchildren risked taking a day off school in order to queue up for tickets. Luckily for local Janis Hider her mother worked at Royal Arsenal Co-operative Society and she was able to go out during her lunch hour and buy tickets. The cheaper tickets cost less than £5 in today’s money, with the more expensive circle tickets costing less than £10. Other artists such as Gerry and the Pacemakers had the audience singing along to their songs. But The Beatles just had screaming!
By June 1963 Beatlemania was just beginning. Screaming fans would often throw items on stage as gifts, including teddy bears, cigarettes and jelly babies. The Beatles’ set list was the same as the other shows on the tour: Some Other Guy, Do You Want To Know A Secret, Love Me Do, From Me To You, Please Please Me, I Saw Her Standing There and of course Twist And Shout.
A crowd blocked the street outside the Granada theatre after the show, as fans stayed to catch a glimpse of their idols. Both Roy Orbison and The Beatles opened their dressing room window and waved to crowds outside.
Within two years, the Beatles were performing at Shea Stadium in New York City. With more than 55,000 audience members they needed 2,000 security personnel to deal with crowd control, and the band had to be brought to the stadium in an armoured van. By 1966 they decided to end touring altogether.