The Bournemouth tape

Programme for the Bournemouth residency in August 1963.

Back in 1998, a tape containing a concert recording of The Beatles performing a set at the Gaumont Theatre in Bournemouth in August 1963 was auctioned off to what was then reported as “a private collector“.

Poster for the Beatles’ six night residency at the Gaumont Theatre in Bournemouth.

Irene was a teenage girl whose father Tom Mellor was chief technician at the Gaumont Theatre in Westover Road, Bournemouth. The theatre was known for having “acoustics that were second to none”, due to its domed ceiling.

August 1963, at the Bank Holiday weekend, Mr Mellor had worked through the night setting up for the Beatles’ six-night residency at the theatre. The Beatles topped a bill that included Billy J Kramer with the Dakotas, Tommy Quickly, Gary and Lee, The Sons of the Piltdown Men, compere Billy Baxter and light entertainers the Glamorous Lanas and Tommy Wallis & Beryl.

The Beatles and Billy J Kramer backstage at the Gaumont Theatre in Bournemouth, celebrating Billy’s 20th birthday.

Irene went to all the shows, twice nightly, courtesy of her father. She said in an interview with the BBC in 2012 that her father recorded all the groups who played at the theatre onto high-quality tape. During one of the 21 August concerts, her father recorded the band’s 10-song set, capturing the Beatles’ jokey repartee with the audience.

“It’s pre-Beatlemania, you can hear everything,” Irene said. “Paul did a lot of the talking and John was just a clown, he clowned around on stage, he was so funny.”

The tape, as presented at the auction.

Her father took the tape home and it never went back to the theatre. It was put away in a biscuit tin and forgotten about. In 1994 her father found the tape again and played it to Irene over the phone.

Recalling its contents, she said: “Paul introduced their new song, She Loves You. We heard it on the Wednesday and it was released on the Friday.”

After fruitless attempts to make contact with Apple’s Neil Aspinall, the family decided to auction the tape at Christies in London.

“I got a telephone call from Neil Aspinall the day before the auction,” said Irene. “Ringo had seen me being interviewed on Sky TV. I had to explain what I was doing was on my dad’s behalf.”

“Neil said, ‘I’m just going to have to send someone round to the auction room’.”

The tape sold in December 1998 for £25,300 to an anonymous buyer – believed to be Apple.

“From then on my greatest hope and desire was please, please, please… release it,” said Irene to the BBC in 2012. But the precious recording still remains unreleased to this day.

The set list for the August 1963 shows, and likely the songs on the tape:

  1. Roll Over Beethoven (Chuck Berry)
  2. Thank You Girl (John Lennon & Paul McCartney)
  3. Chains (Gerry Goffin & Carole King)
  4. From Me To You (John Lennon & Paul McCartney)
  5. A Taste of Honey (Bobby Scott & Ric Marlow)
  6. I Saw Her Standing There (John Lennon & Paul McCartney)
  7. Baby It’s You (Burt Bacharach & Luther Dixon & Mack David)
  8. Boys (Luther Dixon & Wes Farrell)
  9. She Loves You (John Lennon & Paul McCartney)
  10. Twist and Shout (Phil Medley & Bert Berns)

On YouTube there’s a sample and a review of the taped concert. For the sixtieth anniversary coming up, wouldn’t it make sense to release that concert tape of this Beatles concert? Perhaps as bonus tracks in a Deluxe “Please Please Me”/”With The Beatles” package?

The Beatles in Bournemouth

It was during their time in Bournemouth that the “With The Beatles” / “Meet The Beatles” cover photo was taken. It was also where Klas Burling from Swedish Radio interviewed the group and set the ball rolling for what became their first tour abroad, the Sweden tour in October 1963. And The Beatles Monthly Book conducted its first extensive interviews and photo shoots with the band in Bournemouth. Launced that August, the magazine was published monthly throughout the sixties, and was revived in the seventies, continuing monthly publication until 2003. Whilst in Bournemouth, George Harrison composed his first song, “Don’t Bother Me”.

There’s a book about The Beatles in Bournemouth.

The Beatles played more concerts in Bournemouth than anywhere else, outside of London. And there are more connections to the place to warrant Nick Churchill‘s book “Yeah Yeah Yeah The Beatles and Bournemouth”, from 2011 – now a collector’s item.


The Beatles’ Bible
BBC News 1998
BBC interview with Irene Draper 2012
Dorset Life – Nick Churchill 2011
Beatlesource about the concert tape
Bournemouth Beat Boom

11 Responses

  1. Egil says:

    WITH the Dacotas

  2. Joe says:

    Great article, but this bit isn’t true: “The Beatles played more concerts in Bournemouth than anywhere else, outside of London” – Liverpool and Hamburg definitely saw more shows than Bournemouth.

    • admin says:

      That’s true, but as a show band rather than a bar band it holds up.

      • Joe says:

        It really doesn’t though. They played more than twice as many dates in Paris (January-February 1964; 18 dates, two shows per day) as they did in Bournemouth. And a similar number at the Tower Ballroom in New Brighton (hardly a bar). The August 1963 residency in Bournemouth was the same length as those in Margate, Weston-Super-Mare, and Llandudno (six nights).

        • Shad Radna says:

          I think the full source of the relevant statistic is “In just 14 months from August 1963 to October 1964 The Beatles played more shows at the Bournemouth Gaumont than any other concert venue in the UK outside London.” Apparently they did 18 shows there, making more than one visit.

    • maxwilbury says:

      Isn’t it Paris (France), the one ?
      Not sure but just asking.

  3. Uwe says:

    There is a report including some snippets on youtube, the quality is amazing

    By using the latest technology apple could create a stunning concert recording.
    Hard to believe the owners did not make a private copy for themselves to keep

  4. Jim says:

    Did she make a copy of the tape before she gave it away or not? It would be stupid not to.

  5. Melvin Schofield says:

    Absolutely agree with the suggestion that this should be released as part of a box set of the Please Please Me and With the Beatles lps. It should also contain a DVD of the Bournemouth concert footage. What a package that would be!

  6. Rickenbacker325 says:

    If Apple was in fact the buyer…which we all can say beyond a reasonable doubt did buy it…you can forget ever seeing a release and if they did(they won’t) they’d probably put the commercial versions under the live music to “beef it ip”

  7. Keith Collins says:

    Well I was there, and I couldn’t hear a bloody note, so The Lord only knows how they recorded it ?
    No mixing desk feed in those days I imagine ?

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