Part 3 – 1960
The transformation is complete: the five musicians have become Rory Storm and the Hurricanes and at the front of John Byrne’s diary in big letters, it says “This diary belongs to Johnny Guitar.”
Friday 1 January 1960
Cambridge Hall, Southport. Went by train. Played okay but hell of a fight there. Went to Mrs Best’s (Casbah). Got home about 4am.
Saturday 2 January 1960
Ormskirk. Took hours on the bus. Played okay. Row over the time of our sets as the last bus left at 10.45. Mr Martin took Ritchie to the station in his car.
Sunday 3 January 1960
Went to Holyoake Hall, then Cavern and back to Holyoake. Couldn’t play National Anthem.
Holyoake Hall in Smithdown Road, Wavertree was owned an old building owned by the Co-op with a ballroom on the first floor. This became a regular beat venue during 1961 and the Beatles played there, the closest they got to playing in Penny Lane itself. Not much trouble here because the bouncers stood for no nonsense and the manager wanted the National Anthem to round off the evening.
The Hurricanes also collected 15 photographs from the ‘Cavern photographer’ at a cost of 7/6d.
Tuesday 5 January 1960
Casbah, got the last bus back home. I sat in the stocks at West Derby. Nearly got caught by police.
Wednesday 6 January 1960
Jive Hive, played okay, but got there late because of fog. Doug Martin was going mad. Went with Sonia backstage.
Rory writes to the Entertainments Manager at Butlin’s, Pwllheli. He says that Rory Storm and the Hurricanes has residencies at the Cavern and the Jive Hive and plays five nights a week. They specialise in “big beat numbers, instrumentals and pop tunes.” They would like to do a summer season and “Clinton Ford is willing to vouch for us.”
Tuesday 12 January 1960
Got photos back from Jack Good. Went to Cavern, empty. Had a race in the rain. Jam session at Pack Of Cards till 3am.
Johnny Guitar’s brother, Pat Byrne: “The Pack of Cards was a derelict shop in Brownlow Hill that had a pack of cards dangling on a string in the window. The Catholic authorities were getting ready to build the Cathedral and so no one would want the shop as it was about to be demolished. In fact, the whole block came down.”
Thursday 14 January 1960
Al and I went to Cavern – modern jazz, terrible. Went to Pack Of Cards till midnight and then to Latin Quarter to see Cass and his Cassanovas. Not bad, but only a trio. Did a few numbers and walked home. Arrived at 4am.
The Cassanovas without Cass became the Big Three, but one of them was missing that night.
Monday 18 January 1960
Date at Freshfield station with Eileen. Got there at 8pm and stayed in the waiting room till 11.30pm talking to her and her friend. Nearly missed the last train back, but porter ran up to tell me.
Friday 22 January 1960
Write up in Prescot And Huyton Reporter. Buy 25 copies from Exchange Station. We got mobbed by nine girls in dressing-room at Southport.
This was an impressive article, profiling the members: “19-year-old drummer Ringo Starr is saving to get married, and his spare time is spent in making plans.” Little did he know what was round the corner. As with most regional newspapers of the time, the journalist can’t resist getting in a dig saying “To me. rock’n’roll is all the same.”
Sunday 24 January 1960
Played good at Casbah, over 200 people in. Recording taken at Cavern, not too bad.
Recording is presumed lost, but you never know. Look at 5 March 1960.
Monday 25 January 1960
Going steady with Eileen.
What? He’s settling down –surely not!
Wednesday 27 January 1960
Jive Hive, played okay, sold 10 ‘Prescot And Huyton Reporters’ and gave out 50 fan club forms. Was with Eileen but went home without her as I was fed up. Don’t know if I’ll ever see her again.
…and they said it wouldn’t last. I like the enterprise here. They want to start a fan club (but I don’t think it got off the ground) and are selling Prescot newspapers in Crosby.
Saturday 30 January 1960
Bought chocolates for Eileen, played good at Holyoake, got to Jive Hive 30 minutes late, lost £2, missed last 61 bus but a friend gave us a lift to Old Swan.
Wednesday 3 February 1960
Stayed in. Washed suede shoes and cleaned guitar. Went to bed early.
Wednesday 10 February 1960
Rory writes to a London agent, Herbert De Vere, who is representing his sister, Iris. He wants Mr De Vere to secure that summer residency at Butlin’s. He says that they have 60 rehearsed numbers. Their half hour sets consist of “four pop songs, three ballads and two instrumentals”. They subsequently turn down De Vere and he is “very annoyed.”
Thursday 11 February 1960
Went to bed at 10 as there was no fire and it was very cold.
No central heating back then.
Saturday 13 February 1960
Jive Hive, played okay. We told the group we were splitting if they did not come on Tuesday and in the end, they’ve decided to come. Practiced at Alan’s.
This was an audition for a summer season at Butlin’s. It would mean giving up the day jobs, which certainly didn’t bother Rory or Johnny.
Tuesday 16 February 1960
Think we passed audition for Butlin’s.
Tuesday 23 February 1960
Got Butlin’s job.
The agent, George Ganjou has been told that someone from Butlin’s has approved them and wants to know what their ‘minimum salary’ would be.
Neighbour Peter Alton: “I knew Alan Caldwell at primary school and subsequently we met occasionally. I can remember him being over the moon about getting a job at Butlin’s. My mother would talk to his mother a lot and I was always hearing stories about the Hurricanes.”
Saturday 27 February 1960
Had row with manager at Holyoake. Only played half a set for half the fee. Taxi to Jive Hive.
The local DJ, Bob Wooler, recalled: “The Holyoake was a Co-op Ballroom and the manager, John Guise, would play hell about the rock’n’roll dances. He would say over the mike, ‘Do you know how long it took to get all the chewing-gum off this floor last time? This place is used as a proper ballroom, it is not just for rock’n’roll.’ He might as well have been talking to the wall. He turned puce when Rory Storm jumped on his piano and he told him to get off. I thought of Irving Berlin, ‘That’s a fine way to treat a Steinway.’”
Wednesday 2 March 1960
Jive Hive. Don played as Ritchie had flu.
Friday 4 March 1960
Southport. We played £22.10s for tape recorder.
Saturday 5 March 1960
Two half-hours were taped by radio engineers at Jive Hive. Back with Eileen.
The sets from the Jive Hive has now been found – Iris had the tape but had never played it – and, now merged into one performance, this 15 song set is the backbone of Rockstar’s new release from Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. It is historically important as it is the first known live set from a Merseybeat group, but it is also musically sound. Okay, the playing isn’t great but it does show what a great live band they were.
We don’t know who recorded the band and why but I know it isn’t Lambda Records who had previously recorded Kingsize Taylor and the Dominoes at home in Crosby. The tape box yields no clues and the likelihood is that two radio engineers were learning their craft and offered to record the band just to see how it would go. It’s unfortunate that there is no microphone over the audience and so the band sound like deluded egomaniacs.
The one thing we don’t know for certain is whether this is an important piece of Beatle memorabilia, featuring Ringo Starr’s drumming two years earlier than any other examples. Stuart Colman, who produced Shakin’ Stevens, thinks not. Ringo was a very tight drummer, playing like a metronome, and this drumming is all over the place. On the other hand, it is possible that Ringo was wayward when he started or, indeed, still recovering from flu.
And if it is not Ringo at the Jive Hive, could it be the mysterious Don? Iris thinks it is Ringo as Rory would have thanked Don or whoever it was for helping out and there are no thanks on the tape. From a subsequent diary entry, we know he is Don L.
Ringo Starr has now heard some of the tracks on the CD and has issued this statement: “It’s not me, that was done after I’d left to join the Beatles. I don’t know who the drummer was but I hope that Rory fans enjoy it anyway. The only two tracks I was on were recorded while we were in Germany in 1960, when we made a two track acetate of ‘Mailman Bring Me No More Blues’, a Buddy Holly song sang by Lou Walters, and ‘Fever’, and I’d love to hear those tracks ’cause I don’t have a copy. Peace & Love, Ringo” Bit confusing, don’t you think? More about those other tracks, later.
Sunday 6 March 1960
Bought 1938 Jaguar. Late for Casbah. Mrs Best went mad.
Ringo was ill four days earlier but Iris tells us he was definitely fit today, her sixteenth birthday. She remembers the band including Ringo all singing ‘Sweet Little Sixteen’ to her.
Monday 7 March 1960
Al and I did the N.U.R. club for Winnie Mac, all old age pensioners, what a laugh. We deafened them and they had a fit when we jumped on the piano.
What? Both of them?
Tuesday 8 March 1960
Had a job getting car insurance.
Wednesday 9 March 1960
Got provisional licence and L plates. Couldn’t get car to start. Got made redundant.
Saturday 12 March 1960
Got car started. Late at Holyoake, fined £1 and then to Cavern. Playing tapes at Pack Of Cards till 4.30pm.
Bob Wooler: “Rory Storm was far more show than substance. He learnt his tricks from watching Elvis Presley and Gene Vincent. He had little originality but was a very good copycat. He would cock his leg over the mike like Gene Vincent and cover his songs like ‘Rocky Road Blues’. I will never forget him knocking the Reslo mike over at Holyoake: his foot hit the mike, which was the only one we had. I thought, ‘Oh god, I hope he hasn’t ruined it’, and, fortunately, he hadn’t. I told him that he must never do that when we are down to one mike. If you glanced at some of the early photographs of Rory Storm doing tricks with his mike stand, you might think it was a young Rod Stewart.”
Monday 14 March 1960
Went to Empire to see Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran, Joe Brown show. Good show, never spoke to Eileen at all. Went to Pier Head for pie and chips.
Thursday 17 March 1960
Jive Hive. Car ran out of petrol by Ritchie’s. Got home 1.45am.
Monday 20 March 1960
Went out in car with Eileen and drove myself. Crashed into petrol kiosk in Broadgreen on the way to Casbah. Took Eileen to the station by bus.
Pat Byrne: “Johnny had bought an old Jaguar with big wheels and if he had kept it, it would have been worth thousands now. It was much better than Rory’s first car, a Vauxhall Cresta, where the metal work was rotting after 18 months. Johnny took it to a petrol station on top of the hill at Broadgreen. It was only a wooden hut with petrol pumps on each side and he drove straight into the wooden hut. Luckily there was no one inside at the time. The insurance company wouldn’t pay up.”
Thursday 23 March 1960
Played good at Jive Hive. Eileen and I have finished over the car and I haven’t any money.
Thursday 25 March 1960
Southport. Charlie was in a fight so we left early.
Monday 29 March 1960
Went to Empire to see Bobby Darin, Duane Eddy, Clyde McPhatter and Emile Ford. Not a bad show.
Saturday 3 April 1960
Casbah, played okay. D.L. played as Ritchie’s girl was ill.
Tuesday 6 April 1960
Jive Hive, played in palm-tree shirts and sunglasses. Played some skiffle on washboard, it caused a sensation.
Great stuff! Note the washboard: the skiffle phase had passed and so it was a novelty item that the younger ones wouldn’t have seen.
Friday 9 April 1960
Cavern, played okay but we didn’t go down well, all squares.
Monday 12 April 1960
Went to Empire to see Johnny Preston and Wee Willie Harris.
Friday 16 April 1960
Bought silver bracelet for Eileen with my last £3 and had it engraved. Jive Hive, played good. Gave her bracelet, missed last bus and had to walk home with all the gear.
Monday 18 April 1960
Frank’s mother said he couldn’t come to Butlin’s.
Thursday 21 April 1960
Wally not going in army. Charlie and Ritchie want to go to Butlin’s.
They expected to lose Wally with the last call for conscription, offered Frank his place, his mum said no, but Wally was okay after all.
Monday 24 April 1960
Sell car for £25 to young chef. See Everly Brothers and Lance Fortune at Empire, good show.
Thursday 27 April 1960
Jive Hive, played good. Punched Mr Shodaces.
Friday 28 April 1960
Wally, Al and I bought shirts for the group. Bought mike stand and black trousers.
Preparing for Butlin’s.
Friday 29 April 1960
Cavern, played okay. Ted taped the show.
Another missing tape. Ted will be Kingsize Taylor.
Saturday 30 April 1960
Bought black jacket off Ritchie. Played okay at university, paid £10.
Tuesday 3 May 1960
Liverpool Stadium. Watched Julian X rehearsing. We did three numbers – ‘What’d I Say’, ‘Honey Don’t and (can’t read). Played okay. Al and I went to Jacaranda. Talked to Larry Parnes. Left about 3.15am. Got taxi home.
Allan Williams, the owner of the Jacaranda, had met Larry Parnes and arranged a special beat show featuring Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent and the Liverpool Stadium (normally used for boxing and managed by Pete Best’s father) was booked for May 3. Eddie died on April 17 and Gene Vincent flew home. Somehow, Parnes persuaded him to return a fortnight later and the posters were reprinted showing Vincent as the sole bill topper. It was advertised as “The greatest beat show to be staged in Britain” and alongside Vincent, were Davy Jones, Nero and the Gladiators and Lance Fortune. The bill included some local beat acts – Cass and his Cassanovas, Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, and Gerry and the Pacemakers. The Beatles were not considered good enough.
Bob Wooler: “Davy Jones was a Little Richard/Derry Wilkie type, very outgoing and bouncy, and he was into drugs. His big record was an oldie, ‘Amapola’, and its lyric about the ‘pretty little poppy’ must have appealed to him.”
Freddie Marsden, drummer with Gerry and the Pacemakers: “The stadium was a strange place to play. The sound got lost.”
Mick O’Toole recalls, “The Stadium show was a total madhouse. With its seating, the stadium wasn’t set out like the Empire and people were dashing about all over the place. There were no marshals or stewards and no discipline amongst the crowds. It was a very unsettled night. It was a difference in attitude. If you went to the Empire, you behaved yourself but this was a boxing stadium and it was a shambles.”
Wednesday 4 May 1960
Jive Hive, played okay but had a row with Eileen.
Tuesday 10 May 1960
Billy Fury came to see groups. Al and I went to watch. Good groups but no presentation. Went to see Emile Ford, good.
Larry Parnes and Billy Fury had come to the Wyvern, later the Blue Angel, to audition potential backing groups. Parnes signed up the Beatles to back Johnny Gentle in Scotland and also offered work to the Big Three and the Seniors. Rory Storm and the Hurricanes were already sorted out with Butlin’s so Rory and Johnny Guitar had just gone to see what was happening – and meet Billy Fury.
Bob Wooler: “Rory was the Golden Boy and he always looked fantastic. He never missed a trick and when he had his photo taken with Billy Fury at the Blue Angel, he looked as much a star as Billy. Most of the Liverpool singers fantasised to a certain extent, they loved looking at themselves in the mirror, but Rory Storm did it more than most. He would practise his movements in front of the mirror. There are parallels with Narcissus, who fell in love with his own reflection in the pool. Rory had a huge blond quiff and he would draw attention to it by combing it on stage. ‘Vanity, vanity, all is vanity’ but Rory Storm is not alone in that.”
Friday 13 May 1960
Played three hours at Grosvenor Ballroom
Preparation for Hamburg!
Saturday 14 May 1960
Wally and I met Ritchie in town. Ritchie says he’s not going to Butlin’s now, getting married next June. Had to take gear to Crosby as Alan was running.
Johnny Guitar recalled: “We were offered a contract with Butlin’s in Pwllheli and it was fantastic money, £25 a week each, which was a fortune in the Sixties. We had to decide whether we stayed at home with our routine jobs or whether we turned professional. Ringo was very much against it. He was serving an apprenticeship at Henry Hunt’s, making school climbing frames. We persuaded him when we mentioned that women were ‘available’.”
Rory’s sister, Iris: “Ringo was an apprentice, and Rory went round to his parents and told them that he had got this contract for Butlin’s and they wouldn’t let him go. They said it would ruin his career, and Rory was begging them on his knees to allow him to go. Ritchie did go to Butlin’s and his parents at the time hated Rory as they felt he was ruining their son’s life.”
Saturday 21 May 1960
Wally, Al, Pat and I drove to Butlin’s Pwllheli. There are digs for £1.11.0d a week, Stopped at stream on way back, and Al and I fell in. Good laugh. Jive Hive, played okay.
Sunday 22 May 1960
Babs and I went to see Conway Twitty at Empire, good.
Saturday 28 May 1960
Got grey suit (8 guineas) and took trousers back to be altered. Got Musicians’ Union forms filled in and money from group.
Among the addresses is the Musicians’ Union representative for the area and a note that the fee is 10/6 a year. The Beatles didn’t join the MU until the end of 1962 and this meant that, under union rules, Rory Storm and the Hurricanes should not appear below them in any billings, although they did on several occasions.
Saturday 4 June 1960
Butlin’s Holiday Camp, Pwllheli. Pat couldn’t get van but we were lucky enough to get another one. Went into town, got amp fixed. Arrived at Butlin’s at 6pm, left gear in Rock Ballroom and went to digs. I’m sleeping with Wally, Chas with Ringo, and Alan by himself.
Johnny Guitar: “Rory said we’d all have to have good stage names. He said, ‘You can be Ringo Starr’ and Ritchie said, ‘No, I like my own name.’ Rory insisted and said, ‘What can you sing?’ We had a spot called Ringo Starrtime. Ringo sang the Shirelles’ number, ‘Boys’. If Rory hadn’t twisted his arm, I don’t think he’d have done a lot of the things he did.” Ringo’s other numbers were ‘Alley Oop’ and the jazz standard ‘Big Noise From Winnetka’.
Sunday 5 June 1960
Had to walk to camp as I missed the hourly bus. We played at 8pm and 11pm. We played in grey suits and looked good.
Diary note: Diary discontinued as no time to write.
Wednesday 15 June 1960
The Sterling Boot Co (Liverpool) Ltd writes to “Johnny Guitar, Staff Letter Rack, Butlin’s Holiday Camp, Pwllheli” to say that his cowboy boots are now in stock.
Entry by 1 September 1960
Had a smashing time and we had our own show at the Gaiety Theatre. The Happy Wanderers were on with us. Met some nice girls and I went with Sandy (Controller’s daughter) and Yvonne (ice-cream girl). We went home to Liverpool a few time and once Ringo and I were two hours late getting back.
The Happy Wanderers were London buskers who were given a contract with Philips and had recorded with Frankie Vaughan.
Monday 4 September 1960
Came back from Butlin’s. Stayed home for a week.
Thursday 28 September 1960
Got band jackets from C&A. Went to Jive Hive, then Cavern.
Getting ready for Hamburg now, replacing the Liverpool band, Derry and the Seniors, at the Kaiserkeller. Further up the road were the Beatles at the Indra and both clubs were owned by Bruno Koschmider.
Friday 29 September 1960
Got train from Lime Street. Missed the other three and caught up with them on the boat train.
Saturday 30 September 1960
Arrived Holland, 6am. Caught the 7am express to Hamburg. Arrived in Hamburg about 5pm. Derry and the Seniors and the Beatles were there. Had to sleep rough.
Sunday 1 October 1960
Started work. We played six hours and finished at 6am. It was hard work. We slept like logs.
Monday 2 October 1960
Had to get up and start playing again. We finished at 5am.
Tuesday 3 October 1960
We only played four and a half hours. There was a talent contest and it was a farce. We couldn’t understand what anyone was singing.
Wednesday 4 October 1960
Indra closed down. Beatles move in with us. Rory, Ritchie and I staying at hotel, good one.
Monday 9 October 1960
We started at 3pm and finished at 3am.
Tuesday 10 October 1960
Willy called us, wanted us to sign extension contract, we refused. We sent 80 DM home.
Thursday 12 October 1960
Allan Williams came. The Beatles signed their contract and I doubt that we’ll get any more cash.
Clearly they are holding out for more money and they sign the contract to appear till the end of the year.
Friday 13 October 1960
Willy got mad with Rory for not being on stage. I’ve written about six letters and had one from Yvonne.
Saturday 14 October 1960
Wally and Beatles going to make a test recording tomorrow.
They take Ringo with them and leave Pete Best behind. The recordings have been lost but they may surface one day. They mark the first time that John, Paul, George and Ringo were recorded together, admittedly with Wally singing lead vocals. Songs are ‘Summertime’, ‘Fever’ and ‘September Song’.
Bob Wooler: “Lu Walters had a stronger, deeper voice than Rory, but he was a crooner of the old school. Quite by chance, this happens to be the first recording of the Beatles, as the world knows them, together. I did hear the recording, but I can’t remember it now, and no-one knows where the five acetates have gone. Allan Williams had one, but he left it in a pub in London! Whoever has it now has one of the most valuable records in the world.”
No more entries until Johnny Guitar writes a note to wrap up the year.
Kaiserkeller – at first hard going, and Rory given notice because he wouldn’t stay on stage. The Beatles and us wrecked the stage. Bruno sacked Rory, and Willy told him that he would have to pay 65DM damage.
Photographer Günter Zint: “Bruno Koschmider did not like to spend much money and the stage was very old. The microphone stands and the drums sometimes fell off the stage because it was so rotten. One night they said, ‘Now we make such hard music and we stamp with our feet on the stage and we will break it.’ They did that, and that, I think, was the night that the beat was born.”
Rory took our big poster and Bruno got the police onto him. Rory got a job in the Top Ten with Tony Sheridan, just working for his bed, then the Beatles got a job in the Top 10 for two weeks. They got deported within a day as they had burnt down the Kino.
Bruno gave me champagne for my twenty-first birthday. Gerry and the Pacemakers came over and we had a Christmas dinner in the Mambo. Rory has got us another job at the Thurshende when we finish at the Kaiserkeller, and it is a fab place. We went there but we had to quit because we had signed a contract not to play anywhere else with in six months
Paul McCartney and Pete Best were deported for starting a fire but the minimal damage was accidental.
Sunday 1 January 1961
Opened at Fkurhenke, fabulous. Bruno came to see boss.
Monday 2 January 1961
No point in staying, Bruno can stop us. Boys went home straight away.
Tuesday 3 January 1961
Met smashing girl on the way to pick up Ringo’s parcel.
Wednesday 4 January 1961
Rory and I caught the 3.30 train. Katrin and another girl saw me off. Had to carry our case at Hook of Holland. I was sick on the boat. Rory and I went to Litherland to see Beatles and Faron’s Flamingos. We bluffed our way home and Rory even got home for free. I was sick all over the floor on the boat. We picked up piles of souvenirs, mine were smashed, but Customs didn’t open our cases at all.