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It's now just two years shy of The Beatles’ first visit to Edinburgh in 1964, April 29 to be exact, when the only place to be for Capital Beatlemaniacs keen to indulge in a bit of Beatlemania was the ABC Cinema on Lothian Road or, failing that, outside the picture house as they waited to mob their heart-throbs on their arrival.
On that night, midway through the band’s 1964 Spring tour, the Fab Four played two concerts in the city before heading to Glasgow the following evening.
The first was at 6.30pm, the second at the later time of 8.50pm and in return for a fee reported to be £850, they played a 10 song set list featuring Twist And Shout, Money (That’s What I Want), Can’t Buy Me Love, Things We Said Today, I’m Happy Just To Dance With You, I Should Have Known Better, If I Fell, I Wanna Be Your Man, A Hard Day’s Night and Long Tall Sally at each gig.
Heading to Edinburgh off the back of a season of Christmas shows in London that were followed by concerts in Paris, New York, Washington and Miami, where they recorded their now famous appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show at the Deauville Hotel, The Beatles were, at the time, the hottest of properties on the music scene, selling millions of records across the globe.
There phenomenal rise to fame had begun in 1960 when they formed in Liverpool as the Quarrymen, with Edinburgh’s Stuart Sutcliffe on bass and a succession of drummers before Ringo Starr joined them in 1962. Under manager Brian Epstein, their first hit, Love Me Do came in 1962.
Following their debut album A Hard Day's Night (1964), Rubber Soul (1965), Revolver (1966) and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967), ‘The White Album (1968) and Abbey Road (1969) followed.
Back in Edinburgh in 1964, as the start time of the first gig approached, so did the screaming. Staff at the 2,769 seat ABC Cinema had never experienced anything like it, although a decade later the Odeon on Nicolson Street would be similarly mobbed by adolescent girls when the Bay City Rollers appeared there.On that night, however, the locals were were but a fledgling band although Alan Longmuir and John Lennon would later become good friends - the young Lennon often visited his auntie who lived in Ormidale Terrace, not far from where the home of the Longmuirs and the pair shared a loved of movie-going.
Newspaper reports from the time reveal that The Beatles' first visit to the Scottish Capital almost never happened. Having eschewed the city on previous tours of Scotland it was thanks to the efforts of a pair of 17-year old Beatles fans from the Sighthill, Eileen Oliver and Patricia Conner, that Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Starr came to the ABC. Oliver and Conner collected 8,000 signatures on a petition in hope that they might persuade the band to head to town.
Consequently, the 5,400 tickets that went on sale for the two concerts were quickly snapped up, fans taking part in the age-old pre-internet ritual of queuing overnight, sleeping bags, blankets and thermos flasks on hand to keep them warm as they waited through the dark hours for the box office to open on the first day of sale. So many were desperated to secure briefs for the gig that the queue snaked around the cinema, along Morrison Street and into Semple Street.
As Beatlemania descended on Lothian Road on the big day, the band, resplendent in slick suits, held a press conference in the foyer of the cinema to a soundtrack of hysterical scream screams from outside.Throughout the concerts, St John’s Ambulance nurses were kept busy ferrying a never ending of youngsters overcome by seeing their pop idols in the flesh to the relative safety of the cinema foyer where they could calm down.The Beatles had finally played the birthplace of original band member Sutcliffe who, word has it, was the one who suggested the name change from The Quarrymen to The Beatles.
Were you there that night? Are you in one of the photos? Or maybe you know someone who is. Let us know.