Wirral Beat Cat's nostalgia

Wirral Beat Cat's nostalgia

The Beatles

Poster for the gig

Invoice for the gig

First published in News by , Geoff Barnes

BEATLE-era musician Billy May is still suffering hard day's nights over giving away the guitar strap he loaned to John Lennon during a shared gig in Birkenhead in 1962.

Memories of that night were stirred by this week's Globe story of a 50-year-old invoice, recording a payment of £30 to the Beatles, being found in a waste bin at Birkenhead YMCA.

Billy and his band The Beat Cats shared the bill with the Fab Four on September 8 – a matter of months before the Beatles-led Mersey Sound started to reverberate around the world.

Birkenhead-born Billy  recalled: "I always remember them because John Lennon has just acquired his jumbo Gibson acoustic guitar that was featured in the A Hard Day’s Night film. It was so new he did not have a strap for it and he borrowed mine.

"John did give me the strap back, but I gave it away with my guitar when I sold it on.

"Of course I wish I had it now."

Billy remembered how his band shared their equipment with The Beatles.

He said: "It was very primitive – I still can't believe they used it.

"It consisted of mic stands that were hand-made at Cammell Lairds and a snare drum from the local Boys Brigade.

"Our makeshift PA system was an old tape recorder microphone plugged into a radio speaker.

"Three different instruments were being fed through this tiny box.

"The Beatles just plugged in and rocked the room."

Billy confided: "They were way ahead musically of anyone else and all the girls were screaming for Pete (Best) with very little interest in the other three.

"When it came to our time to play I did a song I had written and John and Paul sat at the back of the hall and listened.

"When we finished they were the only people that applauded and that was such a compliment."

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