December 9, 1961: the day when 18 people came to the Beatles concertBy Pictolic https://pictolic.com/en/article/december-9-1961-the-day-when-18-people-came-to-the-beatles-concert
The Liverpool foursome had to play for an audience that barely outnumbered them.
In December 1961, Sam Leach arranged for his fellow musicians from Liverpool to perform in Aldershot, Hampshire. It was the first concert in the south of England for Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Pete Best, who called themselves The Beatles.
The organizer hoped that the concert would attract the attention of the heads of London record companies, but, unfortunately, Leach did not realize that Aldershot was just a military town 60 kilometers from London.
In addition, the advertisement in the local press, which was paid for by Leach, was never published because he paid by cheque instead of cash and did not provide the editors with contact information.
The concert was conceived as a battle between The Beatles from Liverpool and London's Ivor Jay & the Jaywalkers. The opponents did not appear.
When the Beatles got to Aldershot after a nine-hour trip from Liverpool with Leach's friend Terry McCann, there were no posters of the band anywhere, so the musicians had to wait until they were allowed to the venue.
That same evening, the Beatles played their usual cover versions of Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis songs for 18 bored people.
"We went in, unloaded our stuff, the guys tuned up their amps and waited for the crowd to flock — and waited, and waited, and waited" — Terry McCann.
"[Sam Leach] stopped any passerby to tell him about the concert. Of course, they would come in, take a quick look and, saying, "Boring," get out" - Terry McCann.
"In the middle of one of the songs, George and Paul put on their coats and went to dance a foxtrot with the audience, while the remaining musicians struggled to play for them and a handful of the audience. We were fooling around the whole second half of the performance. John and Paul intentionally played the wrong chords and notes, and also added words to songs that were never in the original lyrics." - Pete Best.
"Can you imagine what it was like for The Beatles to watch about four people dancing and six pathetic faces standing along the edge… They did their best, but it was useless. They packed up around 9:30 p.m. Then Sam put the beer down, and bingo balls were on the floor under his feet: Liverpool versus Aldershot" - Terry McCann.
"I often wonder what happens when these young people now talk about the evening when The Beatles came to Aldershot and almost no one came to see them. All I can hear is, 'Oh, we were there, all 18 people, watching The Beatles on stage... and we were calling them for an encore.'" - Sam Leach.