Amazingly, I was able to track down someone who was at Woolton Village Fete when Paul McCartney and John Lennon met for the very first time as well as stories from people who saw The Beatles’ last paid performance at Candlestick Park in San Francisco in 1966.
So “The Beatles – I Was There” tells the Beatles’ story from beginning to end in the words of people who were there at the time.’
The book includes memories of the Fab Four’s appearance at Preston’s Public Hall in October 1962, when Love Me Do had been released but Beatlemania was yet to grip the nation.
Alan Parkinson was at that gig and spoke to drummer Ringo Starr, who he had seen working at Butlins.
“Only about 100 people were there” recalls Alan. “We recognised the drummer who was at Butlins with Rory Storm and The Hurricanes. Of course that was Ringo. And my cheeky mate said, ‘Remember us from Butlins?’. To which he said, ‘Yes’. I’m not sure he did.”
A 14-year-old Pete Morris was also at that Preston show. He says: “To me as a young teenager, it seemed that they had arrived from another planet. I remember leaning up against the front of the stage when they played their first spot and the dance floor was almost empty.
“John Lennon was holding his hand over his eyes, looking out and saying ‘Good evening, everybody, wherever you are’.”
Pete went backstage into the dressing room The Beatles were sharing with other acts performing that day.
He recalls: “Paul was very chatty and Ringo was quite loud and funny. Every time someone offered Ringo a ciggie, he would take the whole packet off them and offer everyone else one.”
Pete also recalls a unique performance by Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr at the home of David John ‘Miffy’ Smith in Deepdale in January 1963, when the pair made an unscheduled visit after a gig at Morecambe’s Floral Hall.
Pete says: “A group called the Thunderbeats supported The Beatles. The Thunderbeats’ van’s lights stopped working and Paul suggested that they follow close behind him and Ringo on the way back to Preston.
“This done, Paul and Ringo stopped off at Miffy’s house in Skeffington Road for a fry-up. My brother ended up at Miffy’s too. After the meal, Paul got on the old upright piano, with Ringo banging rhythms out on an old armchair. They played about for hours.
“My brother remembers Paul playing loads of rock n roll, and ‘I Saw Her Standing There’, which seemed to be a new song he was still working on.”
Alan Wright was in a band called The Trespassers, who were big in their hometown of Fleetwood, the night The Beatles played at the Marine Hall, in August 1962.
He says, “I stood in the wings watching The Beatles literally die on stage that night. We played the Marine Hall quite a few times before and after and had a loyal following in the area.
“Having done our set we were approached by an associate of The Beatles who offered a ‘well done, lads’ and then told us that if we were interested he could arrange for us to get work in Hamburg.
“I often wonder how different our lives might have been if we had taken up the offer.”
Steve Gomersall was just 14 and obsessed with the Fab Four when he saw them at one of their Blackpool shows at the Queen’s Theatre in August 1963.
He says, “The first opportunity I got to go and seem them I did. There were four of us went and unfortunately, like a lot of people, we didn’t hear much of the band because of the screaming and the poor amplification.
“It was an incredible atmosphere and when it finished there were girls that were like vultures swooping around the place trying to get a view of them, wondering whether they were going to come out and try to escape.
“I don’t know how they got out of the building because the girls were circling the building. So we put our collars up at the back and ran down this back alley. And the girls started following us because they didn’t know who the hell we were.
We went around a couple of corners and we eventually stopped and turned around and started laughing. And the vitriol that came out of their ,mouths when they found we weren’t their treasured boys. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear, they didn’t like that at all!”
Richard’s Beatles book follows hot on the heels of a similar book he wrote about the Rolling Stones published last year.
Richard saw The Beatles himself, although he admits he does not remember anything about it.
He says, “I was taken to the Beatles Christmas Show 1964 at London’s Hammersmith Odeon.
“I was four years old, and the only memory I have is of going to see a department store Santa that afternoon and opening my Christmas present while we were waiting for the Beatles to come on stage.”
* The Beatles – I Was There by Richard Houghton is published by Red Planet Books priced £15.99.