The Beatles Before Hamburg and the Disastrous Scottish Tour, 1960
According their anthology, there two ways the band got their name. According to Paul and George, their name, The Beatles was thought of after John and Stuart had seen the film, The Wild One, one of Marlon Brando's great early films about a motorcycle gang. In it, Lee Marvin says: " Johnny, we've been looking for you, the beetles have been missing you". The term "beetles" refers to the women of the gang, motorcycle chicks. It was in April, 1960, when John made the official announcement but changed the spelling to Beatles because they were a rock band.
Promoters did not like the name and preferred names like, The Silver Beetles" or " Long John and Silver Beatles". When John would say. "We're The Beatles", a common response was,"what does that mean"? To that, John had no answer, so right away, promoters insisted of altering the name.
In May, 1960, Larry Parnes, a big promoter in Liverpool, was auditioning groups. He was a big London agent. Also there was Alan Williams, another promotor, also looking for bands. He had two clubs, the Blue Angel and Jacaranda. The Beatles auditioned dressed in black with two-tone shoes, none of them had much money. Their drummer failed to show, so they used a drummer from a competitor band. Stu had learned how to play bass very well, so his back was to the audience. According George, the auditioned was joke on them, They all felt dismal about the lousy performance and Larry Parnes did not say anything afterwards.
Days passed and then John gets a call, "You want to tour in Scotland". Duh! As George recounted in great detail, we thought we were big time, professional, on our way to fame. But, as we shall see, The Beatles were being played as fools.
The band was advertised as, The SIlver Beatles. Their first gig was in North Scotland around Inverness, it was a series of small town halls where the band played for no more than five pubbers half drunk. The Beatles were totally unprepared to play much. Everything was a mess, their shoes had holes in them, the pants were dirty, mismatched. As George recalled, "we were horrible, an embarrassment. We had no amps". During the Scottish tour, they were paid the bottom scale, all money paid for food or splurge for hotel rooms. If money was tight, the band slept in the van. For five guys, space inside the van was fought over. Even John admits, "We were terrible". Larry also dragged his feet about even paying the dirt wages The Beatles desperately needed. They were calling him all the time, "Where is our money"?
The hardest asset the band lacked was a drummer with a kit. The band used whatever drummer was available.Their drummer, Tommy Moore, was not dedicated. He did it as a hobby and during this tour, many times, he simply did not show up for the gig. At one point, one drummer had left leaving his kit, so Paul took his place.
By far, the worst gig played on the tour was at Grosvenor Hall in Wallasey. Basically, the band played in what would become a gang fight between the men of Wallasey and those of Seacombe. One minute, it was a normal dance concert, the next, the two gangs exploded on each other, which spread quickly to the stage. Paul tried to save is new amp when one guy grabbed him and said, "Don't move, or you're bloody dead". As Paul notes, "I was scared for my life". Yet, seconds later the man saw a more juicy target than a kid. Paul was let go.
The Beatles still had no taste of fame. Only disillusionment ignored by their passion for music. Remember, their goal was to be "bigger than Elvis".
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