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 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'
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 twisting the night away at a Paris night-club.
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
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
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
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
first two singles and eight of Frank's songs including all his American
hits to that
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
"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
the most valuable collector's items in modern recording history.
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 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.
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.
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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