Sunday night at the London Palladium tape emerges

This audio tape supposedly holds a recording of The Beatles’ performance on “Sunday night at the London Palladium”. Photo via Ebay.

One of the early highlights for The Beatles in 1963 was their performance at the televised “Sunday night at the London Palladium” show, which brought them into British homes for real. Unlike their previous TV performances, this was a show that everyone was watching back then. Originally produced by ATV for the ITV network from 1955 to 1969, the show went by its original name “Sunday Night at the London Palladium” from 25 September 1955 until the name was changed to “The London Palladium Show” from 1966 to 2 February 1969.

After family fun and games in the first part of the show, the second part was where the big stars came on. It featured many top people over the years, including Bill Haley rocking around the clock, Chubby Checker who introduced the new dance “the Twist” to the country with a whole stage full of people dancing “the Twist”. Other star guests included: Sammy Davis Jr, Judy Garland, Bob Hope, Johnnie Ray, Liberace, Petula Clark, the Seekers and the Rolling Stones. On March 2nd 1958, Buddy Holly and the Crickets appeared on the show – and became a big influence on young people in Great Britain, including John, Paul, George and Ringo, who were all glued to the TV that night!

The programme was one of ITV’s most watched, reaching its biggest audience in January 1960 while Bruce Forsyth was the host, in an edition featuring Cliff Richard and the Shadows, watched by more than 20 million people. Forsyth was also hosting the programme when the Beatles appeared, on 13 October 1963, and as a result, Beatlemania took off in the UK. This according to the band’s publicist, Tony Barrow.

Ticket for the show

The Beatles performed their previous hit single “From Me To You”, followed it with their latest B- and A-sides, released 23 August 1963, “I’ll Get You” (audio from this performance available on “Anthology Vol. 1”) and “She Loves You” (at no. 3 in the charts that week, on it’s way down from the top) and for the final, the title track from their first EP, “Twist And Shout”, which at the time was topping the UK EP chart.

Fiona Adams took the photo of the jumping Beatles which was used on the cover of their “Twist and Shout” EP.

The Beatles’ appearance featured on the ITN news, complete with footage from the group’s dressing room. The following day, meanwhile, newspaper reporters wrote breathless front-page stories about the screaming fans. The group’s status as a new phenomenon was confirmed, with Beatlemania dominating the airwaves and press for years to come.

Sadly, this is one of the TV appearances of The Beatles which was not preserved for the future. But it seems someone who taped the show’s audio when it was on, has preserved his recording and is offering it on Ebay. “I recorded it on my tape recorder by the way of sellotaping the microphone to (the) TV Speaker, just the sound”, he says in the description of the recording.

Although not part of the lot, the seller also included photos of the tape recorded he used to record the Beatles part of the programme with. Photo via Ebay.

The bidding starts at GBP 490.00 and so far, no bids on this auction which ends Tuesday, May 25th.

Back in 2010, Paul Griggs published an extract from his book, “Diary of a musician” on The Beatles Bible page for this show:

Sunday 13th October 1963
Beatlemania was officially born on Sunday 13th October 1963 when the Beatles appeared on the top variety show of the time, “Sunday Night at The London Palladium” which was introduced by Bruce Forsyth. The show normally opened with a dance group called the Tiller Girls, but on this night, the curtains opened and there were the Beatles singing just the opening verse of “Please Please Me”. The audience went wild with girls screaming at the tops of their voices. The curtains closed and for the next forty odd minutes Bruce Forsyth had a tough job trying to keep the audience from screaming during the other acts which consisted of a singer called Brook Benton and Des O’Connor.

Finally Bruce appeared on stage dressed in a “Beatles” collarless suit and a wig and said “I thought I’d be a dead ringer for Ringo,— are you ready—are you steady— 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, the Beatles”. Cue for pandemonium as they sang “From Me To You”, “I’ll Get You”, “She Loves You” and finally “Twist and Shout”. The papers the following day reported the scenes of screaming fans inside and outside The Palladium and one of the papers coined the phrase, “Beatlemania”. I still have my original reel to reel tape of the show, recorded with a microphone in front of the TV. It was just a year since the release of their first record “Love Me Do” (5/10/1962) and yet with only eighteen songs commercially available the Beatles were already the biggest pop act this country had ever seen, and nobody, and I’m sure, not even the Beatles themselves realised that the best was yet to come.

One thing the Beatles suffered from this evening was something that would often occur when they performed live on television, and that was bad sound balancing. Whoever was balancing the sound would often assume that there had to be a lead singer which wasn’t always the case. The Beatles would use only two microphones on stage and when they sang songs like “From Me to You”, and “She Loves You”, John and Paul used separate mikes but would both be singing the lead line and occasionally breaking off into a harmony, sometimes with George joining them. At the beginning of their first number “From Me to You”, Paul’s microphone was hardly on so the sound was a bit odd. What should have happened was the two mikes should have been left at the same volume leaving the Beatles to balance themselves vocally, which is what they had been used to doing after playing up to six hours a night in German clubs.

So we would not be surprised if it turns out that Griggs is the seller behind this Ebay auction.


Ebay auction
The Beatles Bible

6 Responses

  1. Paul Griggs says:

    I still have my tape of the Palladium show and this is not me. It’s been freely available for some time on YouTube only without the opening of the show “Please please me” which I was able to recently send to Mark Lewison who had never heard it.

    • Dave Derby says:

      Hi Paul. It is hard to find the truth about this subject. A few have claimed to have taped it over the years and trying to sell the tape on eBay of all places! My mother was in the audience that night and I have researched all I can build a picture of that night, she only really remembers their main act at the end of the show, and the aftermath. From photos I am guessing they wore two different suits that night? Looks like they wore the collarless ones at the opening, and brand new blue suits for their main act. Could we correspond about this? I have a feeling you may have very valuable and interesting info about this event!

  2. Paul Griggs says:

    Forgot to mention that I have an audiobook on audible called “The Beatles in my life which has all my Beatles stories.

  3. Blakey says:

    Does the Stones infamous appearance on the Palladium exist? In 1999, Charlie Watts was doing an interview about Brian Jones (MOJO July 1999), and Charlie did say’ You can see how out there he (Brian) was on that bloody Palladium tape’. I noticed Watts said Jones could be ‘seen’ on the Palladium. But this tape (TV footage) has never surfaced since then. I dare say it will never be seen and there is even less chance of the Beatles appearance on video turning up. A shame.

  4. Keith Neil Bratley says:

    That information about the first verse of Please, Please Me is totally new to me.
    60 years old, been a fanatic as long as I can remember and still learning new things about them.
    Hope to hear that opening one day.

  5. bernard forkin says:

    I saw that show. Yes…apparently the Beatles did open the show with Please Please Me…but only apparently because after 10 seconds the lights went up to reveal it was Bruce Forsyth and three stagehands ‘playing’ mops and brooms and a ‘drum kit’ made of buckets.

    A very good joke that deserves to be remembered. The Beatles were in on it and very amused.

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