60 years since The Beatles came to Sunderland, sharing the bill with these stars
They were the smartly suited men who hoped for success in the charts.
John, Paul, George and Ringo were still making a name for themselves when they first came to Sunderland 60 years ago this year.
The Beatles remain one of the biggest bands in history but Sunderland can boast that it hosted them three times in one year.
That was in 1963 and Carol Roberton, 18 at the time, was the Echo reporter who reported on them. It was her first ever review for the paper.
She reflected on that day and told us: “I just thought they were four canny lads from Liverpool.”
But they were four canny lads who you couldn’t hear because the audience was full of adoring female fans.
Bashed for laughing at the Beatles gig
"It was the first time I had been to a proper concert and I got a fit of the giggles,” said Carol. “The Beatles were gyrating and mouthing words on stage but I couldn’t hear them for all the screaming.
"I got bashed on the back by a girl who was two rows behind me. She said ‘what are you laughing at’.
Carol’s newspaper report ended with a summary of the Fab Four. It said: “Their instrumental qualifications did not measure up to the high standard of The Red Band".
The Red Band was the Empire’s in-house band at the time.
Carol told us today: “If I had been able to hear them, I would probably have thought they were quite good.”
Carol is not the only one with Beatles memories. Here’s what Echo readers had to say when they shared their recollections in the past.
More than 16,000 people followed a previous online story about the Beatles in Sunderland. One fan said: “I was at the front. You could almost touch them
…I remember they had quite a lot of stage make-up on.”
Another said his girlfriend was at the second Empire gig but ‘never heard anything for the screaming.”
Supporting act to Helen Shapiro
The Beatles were not top of the bill when they appeared at the Empire in early 1963. That honour went to 16-year-old Helen Shapiro, who had already had a number one with her song Walkin Back To Happiness.
Fellow stars Kenny Lynch and Danny Williams also had hits at that time, with Up On The Roof and Moon River respectively. They were also in a star-studded line-up which had Dave Allen as the compere.
The Beatles meanwhile were on the rise with their first chart entries of Please Please Me and Love Me Do.
Retro at The Rink
That was in February 1963 and they were back again in May to perform at The Rink.
And by the time they made their third appearance – back at the Empire – in December 1963, they were household names.
They performed numbers such as Till I Saw Her Standing There, From Me To You, and All My Loving.
Did you see them? Could you hear them? And what do you remember of the Fab Four in Sunderland.
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