Orby and Gerry

From spring to summer in 1963 either The Beatles or Gerry & the Pacemakers were at number one in the charts. Merseyside’s finest dominated the charts for 14 weeks but neither were the official bill toppers of a tour that commenced at the Slough Adelphi on Saturday May 18 and finished, among excited scenes, at King George’s Hall in Blackburn on Sunday June 9.

Texan star Roy Orbison was to head the posters – but bowing to the obvious, the great man stepped aside to let The Beatles close the show each night.

He contented himself with enchanting the fans from town to town – receiving prolonged applause and any amount of encores, while nervous Beatles waited to follow the ultimate performer.

Their nerves would evaporate the moment the curtains parted for them. The screams had risen another notch since the spring and they faced a battle to get over the screams by this time.

Joining the stars on this tour of all the talents were four singers – David Macbeth, Erkey Grant, Ian Crawford and Louise Cordet. Backing them were the Terry Young Six who had appeared on the earlier Roe/Montez tour. The compere was Tony Marsh.

Many eye witnesses spill the beans on this tour when the throwing of Jelly Babies was to become the unofficial teenage pastime. Among those interviewed in Beatlemania! are Terry Young guitarist Bruce Baxter, plus Bobby Goldsboro – Orbison’s guitarist at the time – David Macbeth, Erkey Grant and Louise Cordet. Pacemaker Les Maguire is another to recall memories of an unforgettable tour which caused wild scenes among the teenage population, while their parents were wrapped up in the Profumo scandal that was gripping the nation.

The Beatles are pictured here on stage at the Pavilion Gardens Ballroom in Buxton on October 19, 1963, a few months after the Orby tour and shortly before their fourth tour of 1963.

Autumn 1963

The excitement on the May/June 1963 tour with Roy Orbison and Gerry & the Pacemakers built up town by town, climaxing with two blockbuster nights at Glasgow and Blackburn.

But the scenes of teenage chaos in the summer were nothing compared with what happened on The Beatles’ fourth and final tour of 1963. The astonishing impact of the group’s fourth single – She Loves You – and the amazing scenes on the night of their first performance on the bill at the Sunday Night at the London Palladium on October 13 sparked full-on Beatlemania up and down the UK.

By this time the group could barely hear themselves on stage above the non-stop screaming as hordes of teenagers descended night after night to turn towns and cities into battlegrounds.

The days of travelling with the other performers on the coach were already consigned to history. The Beatles were now being smuggled into and out of venues with police enlisted in cloak-and-dagger operations involving decoy vehicles and top-secret meeting points.

And just when they thought it couldn’t get any more manic… along they came with I Want To Hold Your Hand to drive the frenzy up still further.

There are a host of memories from all sorts of people in this chapter – including Peter Jay of Peter Jay & the Jaywalkers who enjoyed being in the eye of the Beatle storm – and Kestrels Roger Greenaway and Geoff Williams who had other memories. They had the tough job of preceding The Beatles. The toughest job in show business.

A Vernons Girl gives her thoughts on the tour – including the birthday present that never was…

The Brook Brothers and The Rhythm & Blues Quartet were also on the bill and the compere was Frank Berry.