Seaside Special Fabs

The following article appeared in New Musical Express on July 26, 1963, page 3

Instead of playing the season at one resort, all the Liverpop groups seem to be racing up and down the country this summer as though it were mid-December! writes Mike Butcher. However, this month counted as an exception, both for the fabulous Beatles and the similarly chart-topping Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas.
They found themselves stacked together as the main bullion in a 22-carat, six-day package show at Margate's Winter Gardens-a handsomely appointing, if somewhat aging, cliff-top, or, rather, cliff-side theatre, with its stage door seemily hallowed out of the rock face itself; so my first thought upon arriving to spend the day with them on Friday was: "The fan problem is likely to be enormous, what with the fellows stuck in town for a whole week, and everybody knowing it!"
But funnily enough, the problem was proving to be no trouble at all by day-although, at night, the autograph hounds tended to eat into the Winter Gardens premises like persistent termites-so much so that it would have been virtually impossible to gain access to the backstage area noticed but unchallenged, without a doughty Beatle or Dakota to take one's hand and lead the way.
"We picked a remote hotel, far outside the centre of town to get a measure of real peace and quiet in the morning and afternoon," John Lennon and Paul McCartney explained as they greeted me in the lounge, perhaps with less of a ready smile than usual, because both of them had just returned from a somewhat chilling appointment at the neighborhood's dentist's.
"Nevertheless, we are having a ball. And you must come swimming with us after lunch!" The swimming party eventually turned out to be more of a million-dollar affair then one might have expected.
Billy J. and all The Dakotas, whom I had arranged to meet elsewhere later in the day, suddenly turned up at the hotel pool, and there was so much good-natured rough-housing that yours truly ended up looking like a propaganda poster for the R.S.P.C.C.
But after tea and sandwiches in the lounge (with the hotel's resident colonels and wives treating their unlikely show-biz companions as real and welcome friends) we all managed to reach the Winter Gardens without further incident. Therefore, I did get backstage with The Beatles, The Dakotas and Billy J. eventually, just as the Editor told me to-even though their performances were so good that I stayed out front for most of the first house, watching the show and realising what a pleasure it must have been for R. Foster (our Margate correspondent, whose first name no one seems to know) to review it in a recent NME.
The actual backstage facilities at the Winter Garden ran to the provisions of a tasty hot supper for those who wanted it, and when George Harrison wasn't practising Bach on his (unamplified) guitar, the record player took over with authentic r-and-b LPs by The Miracles or Mary Wells.
(There can be no doubt at all that the Liverpool lads definitely rate as full-time r-and-b fans when off duty, whether or not you are one of those who considers that their own music-making generally comes into this particular, off-pop category.
I left Margate with the feeling that a first-rate pop-orientated programme has a last become as strong a proposition for the more conservative South Coast seaside resorts as it long ago proved to be in Blackpool, and Great Yarmouth.
Obviously, The Beatles, Billy J. And The Dakotas could have packed the Winter Gardens from June to September if asked-and I rather think they wish they had been asked, judging by the fun to be had on the day I spent with them by (but, alas, never in) the sea!

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