I Remember Me - The First 25 years - Frank Ifield Autobiography Volume One
AUTOBIOGRAPHY VOL. 1
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Frank Ifield and The Beatles

I Remember You, Wack!

by Bob Howe ©1996 (revised 2002)


It was at the end of October 1962 when British promoter Arthur Howes received an unsolicited phone call at home from Brian Epstein. Brian was managing a group called The Beatles whose first single Love Me Do was slowly climbing the charts (it would peak at number 17), and would Arthur be interested in booking them for one of his touring package shows? Arthur agreed straight away to book the group on a Helen (Walking Back to Happiness) Shapiro tour the following February, offering them 80 pounds a week to be shared between them. Even with his enormous faith in his boys, Brian must have been surprised and delighted, and in return offered Arthur the option on all The Beatles' future British tours. Arthur made only one condition...

Frank Ifield - early 60s

Frank had met Brian Epstein while he was working at the Liverpool Empire. He played their record Love Me Do and Frank was quite impressed. It was not too dissimilar from his own style, utilising the mouth harp (which reminded him of Bruce Chanel's Hey Baby, although on seeing a photograph of the band he did think their hair was a bit long! It was Frank's recommendation that Brian should call Arthur Howes. On December 2, 1962 The Beatles were booked to appear on Frank's show at the Embassy Cinema in of Peterborough. Arthur's condition was that the group appear free of charge for ten minutes on each of the two houses, so he could appraise them for himself. They had to miss their show at the Liverpool Cavern Club that night. Frank thought their act was very good in spite of the volume, and their personal charm was infectious. Unfortunately, at this particular time they didn't seem to manage to convey that charisma to the crowd and as the local paper's Lyndon Whittaker reported in his review entitled:

"I'll Remember Frank Ifield"

"...'The exciting Beatles' rock group quite frankly failed to excite me. The drummer apparently thought that his job was to lead, not to provide rhythm. He made far too much noise and in their final number 'Twist and Shout' it sounded as if everyone was trying to make more noise than the others. In a more mellow mood, their 'A Taste of Honey' was much better and 'Love Me Do' was tolerable..."

Concert Programme

 

Arthur Howes' junior secretary at the time was SUSAN FULLER, who recently recalled the concert: "...I found all this very exciting ... the audience were booing and yelling 'get off, rubbish' etc, but Arthur and I thought they were great and we were knocked out with them."

Despite the lack of audience reaction, Arthur could indeed see their potential on a more suitably matched bill and confirmed their spot on a tour with sixteen-year-old Helen Shapiro and later that week added them to the bill of a March tour to be headlined by American stars Tommy Roe and Chris Montez. By then their popularity had risen to the point where they had to assume top-of-the-bill status during the tour by audience demand! Their second single Please Please Me sailed up the charts, at one point sharing the number one position with Frank's own Wayward Wind. Before that however The Beatles had made their last trip to Hamburg, Germany for the Star-Club and their last show was captured on a portable tape recorder. Many years later when that tape was released Frank was amused to hear they had added his biggest hit I Remember You to their repertoire with Paul McCartney imitating his falsetto style and John Lennon raucously playing the mouth harp figures. He also discovered later that on their first date Ringo Starr took Maureen Cox to a Frank Ifield show in England!
Helen Shapiro and Frank Ifield
Helen Shapiro and Frank Ifield twisting the night away at a Paris night-club.

Arthur Howes presents The Beatles

In America The Beatles recording success got off to something of a false start. Their first two US single releases on the Vee-Jay label, Please Please Me and From Me To You and the subsequent album Introducing The Beatles met with little response. By contrast Frank's record successes in Britain were repeated in the USA, which was unusual, for up until then, with the exception of David Whitfield's 1954 hit Cara Mia and Lonnie Donegan's 1956 smash Rock Island Line, British artists had experienced little success in penetrating the American record market. Frank's records were released initially on Capitol but his producer Norrie Paramor became none too pleased with their promotion and thought that they would be better off being with a smaller, but more active label. Vee-Jay released the LP Meet Frank Ifield and it was a great success.


Early in 1964 Capitol Records in the US released Meet The Beatles containing I Want To Hold Your Hand and their success was assured. When Vee-Jay realised that they had lost a successful act they quickly made several attempts to maximise the money-making potential of the tracks they still had the rights to. The first of these was released in February 1964 under the title of Jolly What! The Beatles and Frank Ifield On Stage. The most curious aspect of the title was that none of the tracks were live recordings. In fact, it consisted of the four sides that made up The Beatles first two singles and eight of Frank's songs including all his American hits to that date.

LP cover


The cover featured an artist's impression of an English gentleman complete with handlebar moustache, apparently wearing a Beatle wig and the latest in 'fab gear'. The sleeve notes were no less unusual. After announcing that;

"Without question the Beatles and Frank Ifield are the most popular recording stars in Europe", it goes on to say with rather an unusual turn of phrase "... it is with a good deal of pride and pleasure that this COPULATION has been presented".


It was re-released later that year, for a short time with a drawing of the Beatles on the cover and these pressings, have since become prized as one of the most valuable collector's items in modern recording history.

LP cover LP label


Top 30 - 20/02/63

 

For a time it had seemed that Please Please Me was going to keep The Wayward Wind from the top of the UK charts but when it eventually acquiesced, FRANK IFIELD became the first artist to ever have three consecutive number one hits in Britain and also be awarded three gold discs in the space of a year!



SOURCES:- The Beatles Live! by Mark Lewisohn (Pavilion Books)
The Love You Make by Peter Brown and Steven Gaines (Pan Books)
New Musical Express, and of course...Frank Ifield !

Special thanks to Mitch McGeary for the Beatle-pic cover and label images.

Bob Howe and Frank Ifield with the Jolly What! LP

 

BOB HOWE was Frank's musical director from 1984, and played Paul McCartney in the Australian stage production of LENNON - The Musical of the Legend. Bob is also The Webmaster of this site.

Songs, Pictures and Stories of The Beatles logo Visit Mitch McGeary's Songs, Pictures and Stories of The Beatles Website and read how THREE sealed stereo copies of The Beatles & Frank Ifield were found.

Read more on-line about the Vee Jay label.

Vee-Jay book

 

Recommended Reading:
Songs, Pictures And Stories of The Fabulous Beatles Records On Vee-Jay
Compiled By Bruce Spizer, Forward by Perry Cox, 1998
242 glossy pages - Hardbound - Over 600 Illustrations!
CLICK HERE for more...

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