My research of Scotland’s beat era is based on personal interest besides wanting to provide an accurate account of events surrounding popular music in Scotland circa 1960’s. Because of a recent broadcast from the BBC’s Beatlemania in Scotland program, it is my intent to separate fact from fiction. Apparently, the BBC’s contention that Andi Lothian was “the man who brought the Beatles to Scotland” was based on an earlier interview with the Dundee Courier: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJUk_PSgWNU
Mr. Lothian implies that he instructed promoter Albert Bonici to sign the Beatles for a small tour in January 1963 after hearing The Beatles first record in October 1962 [Love Me Do was released in June]. According to reporter/author Ken McNab’s account in Beatles In Scotland, Albert Bonici and Brian Epstein had already agreed to a Beatles tour in September through booking agent Jack Fallon. “On 31 December 1962 the band left the sweat-drenched walls of Hamburg’s Star Club behind for the last time, bringing the final curtains down on an apprenticeship that honed their musical abilities and left them as tight as a band could possibly be. Two nights later they would be swapping the sounds of a German beer cellar, full of juiced-up sailors, pimps and transvestites, for Elgin’s Two Red Shoes ballroom, playing to a small audience of teenage girls and young farmers.
How they got there was largely down to the entrepreneurial courage shown by two men – Brian Epstein, the Beatles’ new manager and Svengali, and Albert Bonici, a silver-tongued, silver-haired, second-generation Scottish-Italian who had established himself as Scotland’s principal pop promoter. Bonici and his associate Jack Fallon had used their contacts to approach Epstein in September 1962, to book the Beatles for a routine five-day, five-gig tour of the north of Scotland in the first week of the new year. Word had already travelled north of the impact that they were making in their own hinterland in the ballrooms of Merseyside and, in particular, a jazz club called the Cavern.
The deal was agreed, amid much haggling (which would have reprecussions later), on 9 September, a month prior to the release of the band’s first single, ‘Love Me Do’, on Friday 5 October, four days before Lennon’s 22nd birthday” [The Concerts page 68-9 The Beatles In Scotland by Ken McNab].
In interviews, Andi Lothian repeats that he lost money on the Beatles during the course of their January tour. Gordon Hardie who managed the Beatles gig in Aberdeen besides co-managing the Bridge of Allan show with Andy Lothian Jr, stated that Albert Bonici sold him the booking at Aberdeen’s Beach Ballroom which enabled him keep any earnings [though he sold ticket sales on to the hall’s management for £2]. Promoters risked not earning a commission off poorly attended gigs though Mr. Bonici often passed bookings off at cost. While employing local promoters, he also organized venues with his hourly staff including his three buildings [Two Red Shoes, Eight Acres Hotel, and Ballerina Ballroom, Nairn].
During our meeting in 2007, Mr. Hardie also related that Albert had the organization [LCB Agency] and he and Dundee promoter Lothian worked for him on various occasions. Gordon who was a jazz enthusiast, thought that the Beatles were too loud [though was impressed with Mike Jagger of the Rolling Stones when they performed in Aberdeen].
https://scotbeat.wordpress.com/2014/05/13/scottish-beat-feb64/ The Scottish Beat was published by The Macolm Nixon Agency and edited by Andy Lothian Jr. In 1964, Albert Bonici had continued to represent The Beatles in Scotland though in 1963 he agreed to relinquish a contraction clause to soul representation for Beatles performances in the country. Though the Dundee Beatles show of 1963 was presented by “Albert Bonici and Andy Lothian Jr”, Mr. Lothian purportedly negotiated for the Beatles Shows in Dundee when accompanying promoter Bonici to meet with Brian Epstein to secure further engagements after the Beatles in January. Though Andi Lothian has been called “the man who brought the Beatles to Scotland”, it was Elgin promoter Albert Bonici through Jack Fallon of Cana Variety Agency who brought the Beatles to Scotland besides a stable of musician, out for limited tour. https://bonici.wordpress.com/2014/04/05/albert-a-bonici/
“In the early 1960’s I had the good fortune to promote, and tour with the Beatles in clubs and concerts, which effectively launched my theatrical agency.” [Andi Lothian]
Malcolm Nixon who had offices in London opened an office in Dundee, hiring agents including Andy Lothian Jr, who became editor of music magazine, “Scottish Beat” . Besides a tenure with Malcolm Nixon Agency, Lothian was given the opportunity to co-manage some venues for Mr. Bonici and eventually started his own promotions known as ALP [Andy Lothian Promotions].
BEATLEMANIA in Dundee : http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p05rtcp4
According to Mr. Lothian, he negotiated with Beatles manager Brian Epstein to get the Beatles back to Scotland in October 1963 besides paying £500 per night [the fee was £300 per night according to Peter Innes “Fit Like New York” based on Evening News clippings and interviews].
Though in some interviews Lothian refers to Mr. Bonici as the businessman who accompanied him to meet with Brian Epstein*, Bonici was excluded in “Scotland’s Big Night Out” and Mr. Lothian took credit for January 1963 Beatles tour in Scotland besides the Dundee shows. Though documents and adverts to prove otherwise, it’s interesting that Andi Lothian said that he lost money on the Beatles first gig in Elgin, Scotland 1963. According to staff and beat fans who attended the performance repeated that Albert Bonici organized and presented the show though used local promoters to manage other venues.*
Without mentioning those early gigs of 1963, BBC producer contends that “it was he [Andi Lothian] not Bonici, who agreed the details of the deal with Brian Epstein for the successful October 1963 tour” and gave Lothian credit for bringing the Beatles to Scotland.
*It was promoter Bonici who invited Lothian to tag along to help shore up a Beatles Show in Dundee [besides Glasgow and Edinburgh]
In another interview, Andi Lothian states that he first heard The Beatles’ “Love Me Do” in June 1962, just after it’s release. At the time, Tony Calder, of Decca Records, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-42564203 told the BBC that he was responsible to promote the record as it wasn’t getting airplay in the first week. Speaking of the Beatles, “Love Me Do”, Calder told BBC Radio 1 “It was not getting radio play and after the first week they were in panic,” so he sent out free copies to discotheques around the UK. By October, ’62, the song was climbing the charts and catching the attention of promoters and youthful around the United Kingdom as many heard the Beatles on Luxembourg Radio’s top 20 or pirate radio. https://www.beatlesbible.com/1962/09/04/recording-how-do-you-do-it-love-me-do/
Brian Epstein and promoter Albert Bonici https://bonici.wordpress.com/, signed a contract for the January ’63 tour in Scotland [through Jack Fallon of Cana Variety/London] having agreed to the tour year on 9 September 1962, [according to Ken McNab – The Beatles In Scotland]. Final details were sorted out in early November Bonici began advertising the “Love Me Do Boys” on the 12th though no know one could have predicted weather conditions that kept the band catching their flight to Aberdeen Airport [Dyce] that kept them from their first engagement on the 2nd of January 1963. https://scotbeat.wordpress.com/2014/02/21/beatles-ad-12-12-62/ Beatles https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1LHtidTwjJ4
Whilst some of the correspondence is missing from the Bonici Archives, contracts, memos, and adverts indicate that it was Albert Bonici who booked many bands through Cana Variety, brought the Beatles, and other popular British entertainers to the north of Scotland in the 1960s through his well organised business, LCB Agency. Besides long hours in his Elgin office, Mr. B frequented the Park Cafe where he met with various bands at table one [at the bottom/left hand side]. Albert, who usually spent a dozen or so hours attending to business, was said to have had a knack for introducing most of the best new British talent to Scotland. Much of his success was paying attention to feedback from colleagues, musicians, and the young patrons who attended dances and shows. Besides getting regular reports from Alex. Sutherland [who became music director for Grampian Television] he encouraged young music fans to suggest groups and vocalists they would like to see. On occasions, he flew to London and attended clubs and small music venues including 2 ii’s Coffee Bar which inspired him to redecorate the Bonici family’s Park Café with vinyl seats, juke box, and small stage in 1956. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_2i%27s_Coffee_Bar
When I first began collecting information about Bonici’s LCB Agency, I met with Aberdeen promoter, Gordon Hardie, and asked about their working relationship and that of colleague Andy Lothian as they worked some of the venues. Mr. Hardie related that both were brought on board to manage some of the bookings arranged through Albert’s agency. They were expected to pay the basic cost of a gig besides hall fees from ticket sales. In Elgin, Mr. B had a full time staff to perform various tasks of operating his Two Red Shoes Ballroom. Bonici did much of his negotiating over the phone [sometimes one on each ear], and dictating letters to his secretary. He met daily with his brother-in-law and concessions manager, Ugo Ruggeri, and made sure that arrangements went as planned including having musicians call in on Thursday to begin their respective tours. Besides his operating plan with Mr. Hardie and Mr. Lothian, Albert Bonici engaged with other promoters in Scotland with similar agreements though used staff members to run shows in Elgin and Nairn. Neil Patterson was the promoter managing programs at his Two Red Shoes Hall.
Scotland’s Big Night Out: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p05rtcp4
The presenter reports that Lothian “pulled off a greater feat” than a Twist marathon in Dundee in 1962 when he signed the Beatles to play in Scotland. Andi Lothian: “I brought the Beatles to Scotland in 1963 and lost money on it… the Beatles arrived and nobody noticed”. The Beatles bookings in Scotland were paid for by Albert Bonici who recovered the basic amount he paid per show from those who managed the shows. The presenter said that Mr. Lothian “lost a mint in Elgin”. Albert Bonici owned the Two Red Shoes Ballroom [300 floor capacity and concession area] and though only 80 tickets sold in the first half according to TRS band leader Alex.Sutherland, a ticket taker told me that their were near 200 after the nearby tavern closed on an unusually cold winter’s night. Though promoter Bonici had to pay the house-band, he made money on concessions besides tickets sold.
Beatles in Glasgow: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wdftSAnH8dw Beatles home movie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzcJpcIpYTo Dusty interviews Beatles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Vl1OH2dXwg
Andy Lothian Jr. appeared a as “Andy Lothian and his The East Coast Jazzmen with Sheila on vocal” at Albert Bonici’s Two Red Shoes Ballroom on 15 June 1961. The band didn’t gain notoriety though Andy Lothian was hired by Albert Bonici to help manage some of his bookings. There were local promoters throughout Scotland that Mr. Bonici worked with to maintain and develop this business [LCB Agency]. He had promoters sell tickets and manage programs and subtracted the basic cost of a single gig. This usually worked out for colleagues, though they didn’t always make money off the deal. When The Beatles booked for a “New Years Dance” in Keith followed by four more shows, no one knew that it would be one of the coldest Scotish winters with snow storms and ice.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOb7aSy0jDU Andy Lothian interviews: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17rmIWXViFE and https://vimeo.com/84891860
‘”The first time Scottish concert promoter Andi Lothian booked the Beatles, in the frozen January of 1963, only 15 people showed up. The next time he brought them north of the border, to Glasgow Odeon on 5 October, they had scored a No 1 album and three No 1 singles, and it was as if a hurricane had blown into town. The night almost unraveled when nervous local police insisted Lothian bring the Beatles on early to satisfy rowdily impatient fans, even though his bouncers were still in the pub. “The girls were beginning to overwhelm us,” remembers Lothian, now 73 and a business consultant. “I saw one of them almost getting to Ringo’s drumkit and then I saw 40 drunk bouncers tearing down the aisles. It was like the Relief of Mafeking! It was absolute pandemonium. Girls fainting, screaming, wet seats. The whole hall went into some kind of state, almost like collective hypnotism. I’d never seen anything like it.” A Radio Scotland reporter turned to Lothian and gasped, “For God’s sake Andi, what’s happening?” Thinking on his feet, the promoter replied, “Don’t worry, it’s only… Beatlemania.” The coinage is usually attributed to a Daily Mirror story about the Beatles’ London Palladium concert eight days later but Lothian insists it came from him, via Radio Scotland. Either way, the phenomenon predated the label. Throughout 1963 there had been reports of teenage girls screaming, crying, fainting and chasing the band down the street; police escorts were already required. But catchy new words have a magical power in the media. Once it caught on, it seemed to cement the phenomenon in the collective imagination.”‘ https://www.theguardian.com/music/2013/sep/29/beatlemania-screamers-fandom-teenagers-hysteria
Whilst Andi Lothian claims that he the one who brought the Beatles to Scotland and lost money on the deal, it was Albert Bonici who arranged the booking through friend and associate, Jack Fallon: “6 February, 1963: Dear Albert, This is just a recap letter on some of the points we are discussing. “THE BEETLES. As you will see by the charts, this group are in the charts in three places, jumping in at number 9 with their latest record. He [Brian Epstein] is asking £100 for a period in April, £150 for a period in May, available May 11th – 15th; let me know.” Note: Brian Epstein replied to Albert’s response through Jack at Cana Variety 6 March 1963
Often pairing up pop groups, Albert arranged for The Copycats to share the bill with The Beatles for a New Year’s Dance in Keith [2 Nov 1963]. Unfortunately, the newly formed Scottish band were disappointed that the Liverpool group “Love Me Do Boys” had to cancel because of road conditions. However, The Beatles fulfilled the rest of their first tour in Scotland, commencing with Albert’s dance hall, The Two Red Shoes, Elgin with the Alex. Sutherland house-band supporting them. The Copycats share memories of The Beatles coming to hear them rehearse when Mr. Bonici billed them for The Beatles Shows in Glasgow and Edinburgh. https://scotbeat.wordpress.com/2014/02/27/the-beatles-show/ In communications between Cana Variety’s Jack Fallon and Albert Bonici , it was noted that Malcolm Nixon’s demeanour was off putting to some of the local promoters in the north of Scotland which gave Mr. Bonici an advantage in bringing many top bands to the north. Bonici/Fallon: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Fallon The Copycats/Beatles: https://bonici.wordpress.com/2014/04/05/albert-a-bonici/
According to Andi, he accompanied Albert Bonici on his first trip to see Brian Epstein. The intent of the visit was to negotiate a tour featuring the Beatles. By the end of 1962, Albert Bonici, was posed to bring many of the emerging jazz and beat bands into Scotland which included a new group to hit Luxembourg radio’s top 20, The Beatles. https://www.pressreader.com/uk/evergreen/20170906/281595240667105
‘I was a jazz man and didn’t really listen to the pop groups much. On the Monday, I travelled to Aberdeen Station and was picked up by my associate, Gordon Hardie. We went as usual to Chivas Restaurant in Union Street, only this time we were surrounded by waitresses clambering, “Who are these Beatles?” The group had apparently visited the restaurant earlier in the day and made a great impression. I don’t know if it was their personalities or the smart blue suits and rain coats into which the name “Beatle” was sewn, but they had certainly impressed the girls, and that made an impression on me.’ [Albert Bonici, Promoter/entrepreneur] https://bonici.wordpress.com/
Securing the Beatles for Scotland gigs:
Jack Fallon – 6 February, 1963: Dear Albert, This is just a recap letter on some of the points we are discussing. “THE BEETLES. As you will see by the charts, this group are in the charts in three places, jumping in at number 9 with their latest record. He [Brian Epstein] is asking £100 for a period in April, £150 for a period in May, available May 11th – 15th; let me know.” Note: Brian Epstein replied to Albert’s response through Jack at Cana Variety 6 March. Mr. Epstein’s correspondence is currently missing from the Bonici Archives. However, based on Andi Lothian’s testimony and cooberation, BBC ascertains that it was Andi Lothian who negotiated the three October 1963 Beatles programs in Scotland when he and Albert Bonici flew to London to meet with Beatles manager, Brian Epstein.
Albert Bonici layed out the Beatles shows including the three October 1963 presentations. The BBC states that promoter Lothian negotiated the shows though financier Bonici saw to details including ordering metal etched print blocks and laying out the program https://scotbeat.wordpress.com/2014/05/10/scottish-beatles-tour-1963/
By the start of 1962, the Two Red Shoes Ballroom had become a popular place to go for top entertainment in the north of Scotland. Ron Murray, a regular to the hall, was aged 33 when he and his wife went to the Beatles performance at “boots”. “We [the attendees] liked the Beatles… they were fun to listen to. They looked smart [smartly dressed] with matching navy blue suits, “winkle pickers” [pointed toed shoes], and smart-looking hair cuts.” By then, music fans were regularly lining up around the hall for venues though their January appearance was during one of the coldest winters in Scotland. Here’s a bit of my notes regarding the early days of the Beatles when they started touring here in Scotland…
“a five night trip around various Scottish towns” thanks to a contract signed between Brian Epstein and Albert Bonici through Jack Fallon’s Cana Variety Agency in November of 1962. The original advert [12 Dec 62] billed the Beatles with the Dave Sisters [Dale] but they took another date. By the end of the month, the Beatles song “Love Me Do” was becoming popular and Bonici then coined, “Love Me Do boys” to promote the band in Scotland. John took the opportunity to fly back to Liverpool for a few hours, returning to Scotland early on the morning of the 3rd in time to get to the Elgin gig.
Albert Bonici would have likely seen the Photo-Cast advert to book the Beatles in November 1962 as the 1963 Edition was released early [the acts had until August ’62 to get their photos to press]. Jack Fallon of Cana Variety, London also advised Albert about new acts and had already booked the Beatles into his dance halls.
Bonici – Fallon correspondence
Above is a reproduction of the first contract signed between Brian Epstein and Albert Bonici  as The Beatles [with Ringo Starr] were to embark on their first tour of Scotland. The booking was handled through Jack Fallon at Cana Variety Agency in London. Albert Bonici who began promoting bands with London contact Tito Burns, had been working with Jack Fallon since the late 1950s.
Albert Bonici who originally hailed from Inverness, Scotland began promoting musicians and vocalists regularly in the mid ’50s though did a charity event with friend Henry Roberson [aka producer Harry Robinson] in 1952. He built a stage in the family owned cafe, the Park Cafe where Harry Robinson performed piano recitals and musicals. The modest stage was also frequented by various local talent including jazz entertainer Alex. Sutherland who became the first band leader of The Two Red Shoes which opened in the summer of 1960 in Elgin, Scotland.
In 1962, Albert was concerned about a rival agency Malcolm Nixon who had begun pushing acts into the north of Scotland. He wrote to Jack that he may have to offer 10 day tours instead of 5 which became the case in 1963 after the Beatles did their short tour. He had already added a clause that gave him rights to represent return acts in Scotland which included The Beatles to the chagrin of his rivals. However, in the course of renegotiating the Beatles return to Scotland, Albert agreed to dismiss the clause after Brian Epstein agreed to having Mr. Bonici’s young band, The Copycats, on the bill for The Beatles Show. Brian continued to let Albert oversee the Beatles gigs in Scotland.
The first Beatles mini tour of Scotland was to begin in Keith and finish in Aberdeen but didn’t happen as planned as the snow delayed them and they first played at the Two Red Shoes, Elgin. The Keith gig, billed as a New Year’s Dance [2 Jan 63] with The Beatles and Johnny and The Copycats, went on minus the “Love Me Do” boys. The tour which began on the 3rd in Elgin was originally billed as a “pop package” [Northern Scot -1Dec62] was planned as The Beatles with the Dale Sisters. Instead, the show went on with the Alex. Sutherland sextet [Two Red Shoes house-band] and the Beatles did two sets. (The Dale Sisters trio performed on the 2nd in nearby Forres and at the Two Red Shoes the following week).
Beginning with the 3 Jan ’63 performance in Elgin, the group toured extensively and appeared on several UK television programs in that year. By 1964, they gained international success after agreeing to perform on The Ed Sullivan Show in New York. Here they are live at the Cavern Club singing Beautiful Dreamer with Ringo on the drums http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_md_z_g8sk Long time business associate, Jack Fallon, acted as a go between to book acts for Albert from his London office.
Joe, editor of the exhaustive Beatles site, http://www.beatlesbible.com/ wrote: “Jack Fallon was (with Bill Reid) one half of Jaybee, which ran a number of clubs across Britain in the early 60s. The Beatles played at a number of their venues. Fallon also played fiddle on Don’t Pass Me By on the White Album.” “Fallon was also involved in the industry as a booker/promoter, having established the booking agency Cana Variety in 1952. Cana booked primarily jazz artists in its early stages but expanded to rock acts in the 1960s, including the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Perhaps it was because of a long association during their early years of gigging, Fallon was asked by the Beatles to play fiddle on the song “Don’t Pass Me By”. Fallon continued to play jazz locally in London and in the studios into the 1990s. He published a memoir entitled From the Top in 2005, and died the following year at age 90.” After the first and second contracts were signed between AA Bonici and Brian Epstein, the two men brought several acts into Scotland and held mutual respect for each other. They both acted in a professional manner as Brian and Albert worked together to give several musicians an opportunity to build a fan base in Scotland. The tour was to commence with a New Year’s Dance in Longmore Hall, Keith with The Beatles and The Copycats sharing a bill 2Jan63. The Copycats who were already fans when Liverpool lads began charting with Love Me Do, were disappointed when it was a no show for the Beatles because of snowy conditions. However, Mr. Bonici made it up to the teenaged Johnny and The Copycats when they shared a bill the following year.
Above: This Beatles photo was the first that most booking agents and promoters saw. Photos had to be in by August 1962 for distribution and book would have hit the market by November when Bonici sought to book them through Cana Variety – London.
The Beatles were dubbed “Love Me Do boys” by AA Bonici in December 1962 as the song got into Luxembourg Radio’s top 20 just before their 1963 touring began. During their January tour of Scotland, Aberdeen beat fans took notice of them around town in their collarless suits before their performance. They had charisma and a smart look besides dynamic arrangements of cover tunes and a few compositions of their own in their performances.
The Beatles were meant to start a five day tour in Keith where they had played as a back-up band before reforming the group with Ringo Starr under Brian Epstein’s guidance. Because of snow conditions, their New Year’s show was canceled and they played their first performance at Elgin’s Two Red Shoes on the 3rd of January, 1963. A original band member from Alex Sutherland’s group, told me that they were impressed with their take on popular covers of the time. Though it was the dead of winter, their thursday night performance attracted 200 according to one of the ticket takers. Promoter Albert Bonici dubbed them, “Love Me Do boys” as Love Me Do was their first song which entered the charts, though Please, Please, Me soon took the number one stop on Luxembourg radio.
Fit Like, New York?: An Irreverent History of Rock Music in Aberdeen and North East Scotland [written by Peter Innes/published by Aberdeen Journals, 1997] is an interesting read and includes this bit about Aberdeen promoter Gordon Hardie and The Beatles first tour that finished with a performance at Aberdeen’s Beach Ballroom. Ten years after the book was written, Gordon told me that he worked for Albert Bonici on several occasion and that it was Albert who brought the Beatles to Scotland besides many other musicians. https://scotbeat.wordpress.com/2016/09/09/beatles-tour-scotland/
In an interview with Jim Wilke [published in Blue Suede Brogans] Mr. Bonici said that The Beatles were paid £300 per night for shows in 1963 and £1000 per night in 1964 which doesn’t match up with Beatles fan Lothian who negotiated the Dundee tour dates. According to co-promoter Andy Lothian who announced the Beatles in Dundee said Albert Bonici paid £500 for shows. “…Glasgow, Kirkaldy, and Dundee – 5th, 6th and 7th October 1963. I was co-promoter with Albert on all three occasions and it was myself who negotiated the October tour in Brian’s office the day after the earlier January trip finished… I MC’d all three events. Albert and I paid the band £40 a night for the short Scottish tour in January, (which is currently the subject of much BBC interest) and £500 a night for each of the three October events.” Andi Lothian comment https://www.beatlesbible.com/1963/10/05/live-concert-hall-glasgow/ Though a large sum in those days, it was a calculated risk that paid off for the promoters. Unfortunately for fans, Albert was not confident that young beat music fans would be willing to pay a large ticket price in the north of Scotland so the group didn’t make a second appearance in Aberdeen though had considered it – tour dates were crossed out in co-promoter Gordon Hardie’s date book. Note: The Beatles were paid £42 a night in the January tour and the Aberdeen Beatles appearance cost 6 shillings a ticket during that first tour of Scotland 1963 [less than £1].
*Elgin 3 Jan 1963: Several gave glowing reviews of the Beatles that night saying that their arrangement and harmonies were good. Fraser Armstrong [Eddie Le Pard and the Leopards] said that he enjoyed their harmonies and was surprised by a beat band with all four band members singing [a rarity at the time].
promotion photo from 1962 was seen by promoter Albert Bonici and booked them in November and promoted the show as “Love Me Do Boys” when their first song climbed the charts on Luxembourg radio
Nov/62 contract: https://scotbeat.wordpress.com/2014/05/21/beatles-tour-contract-nov63/
From Fit Like New York – Peter Innes
[C. Bonici Archives] Over the course of my research, two of the promoters who worked at LCB Agency, Elgin, expressed that it was difficult working with some of the agencies down south including Malcolm Nixon Agency, a London based group who had an office in Dundee. In a correspondence between Albert Bonici and Jack Fallon, Mr. Bonici comments that Mr. Nixon wasn’t as successful in working with other promoters in the north of Scotland because of his demeanour. Also, the agency didn’t like the fact that Albert had exclusive rights to the Beatles in Scotland besides hosting several other top acts like The Hollies and The Rolling Stones. A former promoter/agent who wrote “Are Ye Dancin’?” describes Albert Bonici as a “wide boy” and sites a fine for not declaring watches at the border. He may have also used the term to insult Mr. Bonici as he was of Italian decent and a rather large man. I have not found anything within his personal affects that indicate improprieties in business dealings or otherwise. People who worked closely with him, describe him as an intelligent person who thought “outside the box” regularly coming up business innovations. He was loved and respected by many and did much to help people within his community and supported several starting businesses and careers.
By, 1963, in an effort to keep his business viable against competitor Malcolm Nixon Agency [London and Dundee], Albert Bonici began signing groups for up to 10 day tours [8 evening of work] in 1962 though only signed signed The Beatles for 5 days of work.
The Beatles returned to Scotland for gigs in 1963 and 1964. Though Albert Bonici agreed to drop his “exclusive rights” clause concerning the Beatles shows in Scotland during negotiations, Brian Epstein continued to accept Mr. Bonici’s terms concerning the Beatles and other acts from Liverpool.
- Promoter Gordon Hardie kept diaries of groups booked through LCB Agency which included The Springfields, The Beatles, and the Rolling Stones. He and Andy Lothian Jr were promoters who worked with Mr. Bonici though Gordon had his own promotion business [Stag] and Andy who was associated on with a Malcolm Nixon agency [Dundee] started his own business in 1964
Beatles reflect on Edinburgh performance  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CB0xqtSQjWg
After managing a successful Beatles performance in Dundee, Andy Lothian Jr. gained recognition as a pop promoter for his association with Scotland’s premiere promoter/impresario Albert Bonici. However, there is no evidence in the Bonici archives that suggests that a Bonici/Lothian agency in Glasgow came about or that the two worked together after 1964. Besides the Beatles Show in Dundee, one of the other popular venues Mr. Bonici shared with Andy Lothian was the first appearance of The Rolling Stones in Aberdeen when Albert designed another “pop package” of bands and vocalist after the Beatles shows. https://scotbeat.wordpress.com/2014/02/21/rolling-stone-1964/ In 1965, Albert arranged a second [of several appearances] the Rolling Stones made to Aberdeen where they were well received. https://scotbeat.wordpress.com/2014/03/09/stones-in-aberdeen/
Comments: “It looks like Andy Lothian has completely forgotten who Albert Bonici was. How very sad that someone who helped Lothian get established should be conveniently passed over… Albert [Bonici] was definitely instrumental in bringing the Beatles to Scotland as he did long before they were famous. Brian Epstein… wanted to buy out the contract from Albert who held all the rights to all the work the Beatles did in Scotland. That was the reason we [Johnny and The Copycats] got the gig with the Beatles in Glasgow & Edinburgh. The business of buying out the contract & us performing on the same bill as the famous 4 was done over a telephone conversation with Albert & Brian Epstein. Albert had many booking agent friends throughout Scotland of which Andy Lothian was 1 & shared artists depending which part of Scotland they happened to operate in.” Johnny Stewart – Johnny and The Copycats [AKA My Dear Watson] Beatles: http://www.copycats62.co.uk/page3.html
“Very disappointed with BBC Scotland programme and Andy Lothian’s claims. Albert Bonici was not mentioned even once. I was a member of Johnny & the Copycats & that was NOT the way we remember the Beatles in Scotland. Albert took many big names to the North of Scotland, not only the Beatles but names such as Pink Floyd, Moody Blues, Kinks, Johnny Kidd & the Pirates, Billy J. Kramer & the Dakotas, Hollies, Manfred Mann, Sandy Shaw, Herman’s Hermits, Slade, Small Faces, Status Quo, Troggs, Tremoloes, and these are only some of the acts that we played support for. There were many other acts he booked that we heard about but we were probably away playing in Germany or England at the time, Cream, Who, Fleetwood Mac are just 3 that come to mind, I’m sure NE folk will remember this better than us. Maybe if the BBC researchers were to read David Dills’ Scotbeat they could come up with a much more accurate documentary.” Bill Cameron.
“Quite good. Fully informative and most of all your facts are mostly backed up.Hope some media music company will take you and your history of Scots music scene and do a programme.” David Lamb
“Your website about music artists who performed at the Two Red Shoes has truly been a revelation about that aspect of Elgin’s history which I really should have known about long ago! I simply had no idea that so many other acts, who would go on to be massive, had come to Elgin in that period. It’s as if the appearance of the Beatles, the biggest of all, just blotted out all the others. So it has taken your research to enlighten me, and I am sure I will not be alone in this regard.
Whatever the number of acts who came here, it was a hugely enterprising achievement on the part of Albert Bonici. Elgin is far removed from the hub of the music industry, then and now, and there surely cannot have been many towns like it in the whole of the UK which attracted performers of the calibre that came here because of the good work of Mr Bonici.
And so we are now in the year that marks the 50th anniversary of the amazing 1968. For me, ’68 was the year when music radio really came into being. It is easy for me to forget, and I am sure impossible for you to imagine, how meagre that medium was in north Scotland until then. We were way out of range of the pirate ships, and apart from Radio Luxembourg with its sporadic reception, all we had was the BBC Light Programme, that I can’t be bothered to describe.” Stewart F.
“Great research from you again David. Thoroughly enjoyed reading your posts and totally agree with your comments regarding the misinformation from Andy Lothian. It will be interesting to see if the BBC contacts you.” Alistair [Northern-Scot journalist]
“A bit strange that he claims to have paid them £500 a night whereas in the book Fit Like New York they are said to have paid £300 per night for their October shows… Keenan Ruggeri
Mr Lothian seems to think he can say what he likes as all the people involved apart from him are now dead,
However, as Albert Bonici was my Uncle, I have the Copy of the contract that he had framed in his office, the contract was signed by him and Brian Epstein, not a mention of Lothian anywhere, I rest my case. John Ruggeri
BBC: Full Complaint: The BBC presenter states that Andi Lothian is a legend for bringing The Beatles to Scotland in 1963 when in fact, it was Scotland’s top promoter Albert Bonici who employed the young promoter to sell tickets and help manage some of the Beatles venues. In the north of Scotland the facts are commonly know amongst those who attended dances and music programs at the time. Though many of the generation do not go online, I have heard several complaints over the broadcast. https://scotbeat.wordpress.com/2018/01/03/andi-lothian-beatlemania/
BBC answer: ‘Thank you for getting in touch about Scotland’s Big Night Out broadcast on 31 December 2017. Your comments were passed to the Executive Producer, who has asked that I forward her response as follows: “The programme was an overview of 50 years of The Big Night Out in Scotland and we had to keep the section on the Beatles brief. Our interview with Andi Lothian was a first-hand witness with a sharp recall of events and his version of both coining the phrase “Beatlemania” and bringing the Beatles to Scotland is confirmed by other sources.
Andi Lothian coined the phrase Beatlemania on the October 1963 Beatles Tour in Dundee. It first appeared in print in the Daily Mirror on 2nd November 1963. I do appreciate that Albert Bonici was also involved in bringing the Beatles to Scotland, but Andi Lothian was the key contact for the Beatles and according to his testimony it was he, not Bonici, who agreed the details of the deal with Brian Epstein for the successful October 1963 tour. I am sure that in a longer form documentary it would be possible to also reflect the role on Bonici as an important musical entrepreneur, but our programme, as transmitted, was factually accurate.” ‘ James [BBC complaints]
I received the above email on 5 Feb 2018 and wrote a further correspondence though not able to reply per email sent… Dear James, Thank you for clarifying your position that Andi Lothian came up with the phrase “Beatlemania” that was repeated in various news releases. Also, I except your conclusion that Mr. Lothian negotiated the October dates in Scotland since it was in his territory and that two of his acts were included in the Dundee programs. However, in an interview with another co-promoter, Gordon Hardie, I was informed that Albert booked the January shows featuring the Beatles and hired he and Andy Lothian to manage Bridge of Allan [near Stirling] where they saw the Beatles for the first time.
According to written documentation and Hardie interview, it was promoter Bonici who orchestrated and paid Brian Epstein to bring The Beatles to Scotland in January 1963. Albert Bonici proudly displayed the first reproduction of the November 1962 contract on his wall and continued to contact Brian Epstein to book his acts besides The Beatles shows in April 1964. He also developed programs and flyers with several Beatles print blocks [metal etched photos] used to promote them. Whilst appreciating that your team were time limited when creating your presentation several who are familiar with the subject matter, found the Beatles segment misleading considering the role that Mr. Bonici played in bringing The Beatles to Scotland. If there is interest in airing the music phenomenon that took place around Elgin and the north of Scotland in the 1960s, I invite the BBC research team to visit my detailed blog https://scotbeat.wordpress.com
Mark Aldridge, who wrote to the BBC concerning the “Beatlemania” segment of
“Scotland’s Big Night Out” documentary, also took the BBC to task for reporting unfounded claims from former promoter, Andi Lothian:
‘” The feature about The Beatles visits to Scotland from 1963 was built around interviews with Andi Lothian who was billed as “the man who took the Beatles to Scotland”. This unfortunately seems to have been based purely on Mr Lothian’s claims, rather than the facts and evidence of the situation. Although Lothian did have some involvement with the Beatles visits to Scotland, it was as primarily as an agent to Albert Bonici, the man who actually brought The Beatles to Scotland. Andi Lothian was involved, but not to the degree he claims and that he failed to even mention Bonici, is a disgrace.
Albert Bonici was a forward thinking businessman and entrepreneur based in Elgin, in the North East of Scotland, who ran a club in the town called “The 2 Red Shoes” and contracted bands to play there. He was also an artist manager and had his own independent record label called Norco.
I will start with the most obvious fact which disproves Lothian’s claims, the initial contract (and subsequent contacts), were between Brian Epstein and Albert Bonici for the first Beatles tour in January 1963: https://scotbeat.wordpress. com/2014/02/21/earliest- beatles-tour-contract/ If Mr Lothian had brought the Beatles to Scotland, then why is his name not on the contracts?
In Ken McNabb’s “Beatles in Scotland” book Andi Lothian and Gordon Hardie (another agent for Bonici) are described as “point men” during the January Tour. Lothian himself states in the book that it’s Bonici who had the contract and negotiated with Epstein. It was from this first contract that Albert Bonici secured the rights to promote the next appearances of The Beatles in Scotland, when the band was at the height of Beatlemania (Note: another dubious claim Lothian made during the program was that he coined the phrase “Beatlemania”, this is normally attributed to the London press).
Lothian also stated in the BBC program that he lost money on The Beatles January tour of early 1963 but it was Albert Bonici who paid the band (£42 a night), not Andi Lothian. For the later tours Mr. Bonici said that The Beatles were paid £300 per night for shows in 1963 and £1000 per night in 1964.
Apart from Ken McNabb’s book there are lots of references to Bonici’s contracts with The Beatles in books on the band, indeed the foremost respected authority on The Beatles, Mark Lewisohn mentions him in his book “The Beatles: All These Years, Volume One – Tune In”. And here’s a link to The Beatles Bible site again stating it was Bonici who was the main contact: https://www.beatlesbible.com/ 1963/01/03/live-two-red-shoes- ballroom-elgin-scotland/
I am a 2nd generation Beatles fan of many years’ from Elgin, my cousin played in the Alex Sutherland Band which supported to The Beatles at the 2 Red Shoes on 3rd of January 1963. I also know members of Johnny and the Copycats who were managed by Bonici and supported The Beatles at Dundee and Glasgow so have gained a lot of insight into The Beatles connections with Moray and Albert Bonici.
I find the misrepresentation of the facts in a BBC documentary frustrating and rather disappointing, especially when you seem to have just accepted one man’s word rather than fact check the information. I would appreciate if you look at the evidence I have provided against Lothian’s claims.
A documentary on Bonici would be a very worthy outcome, as his story is quite amazing given his forward thinking and achievements from setting up an independent record company (Norco), artist management etc., let alone The Beatles connection. He also booked the likes of The Springfields, The Kinks, The Pink Floyd, Cream to play in Elgin and The Rolling Stones for their gig in Aberdeen.”‘ Mark Aldridge
BBC response: ” Thank you for taking the time to contact us again. We appreciate that you feel strongly about this matter and are sorry to learn that you were not satisfied with our earlier response.
We had raised your original concerns with the Executive Producer before replying, and have now asked them to consider your further points but they feel they have already explained the position to you as fully as they can at this first stage of the complaints service. For this reason I’m afraid we cannot correspond with you further at this first stage of the complaints process. If however you are still dissatisfied, you can contact the BBC’s Executive Complaints Unit (ECU). The ECU is stage 2 of the BBC’s complaints process. Details of the BBC complaints process are available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/ complaints/handle-complaint/ where you can read the BBC’s full complaints framework.” James Kelly – BBC Complaints Team
“Simple fact which is conveniently ignored by the response from the BBC….if Lothian brought the Beatles to Scotland why is his name not on the contracts?
Answer because he didn’t, it was the named person Albert Bonici.
I wouldn’t accept their response and ask them to explain this “anomaly” .
I also don’t accept Lothian coined the phrase “Beatlemania”. Tony Barrow stated it was the press, how would Lothian get the word into the press? If his other claims lack credibility and evidence then why take his word for that either?
If the BBC hold their line with this I would take it to the national press as an example of Central Belt bias and a lack of fact checking. Indeed is this not an example of “fake news” and therefore a challenge to their processes and integrity?”
Note: In the BBC report Mr. Lothian also claims to have lost £3000 [in today’s money] on the first tour dates though it was clearly Albert who negotiated and financed the Beatles appearances from Elgin to Aberdeen. In other interviews, Lothian’s account varies and I noticed that in the book, Take it to the Bridge: Dundee’s Rock and Pop History, he said that upon hearing them sing three songs [two of which hadn’t been written yet] he told Albert to fly him London to meet Brian Epstein.
“Andi Lothian has a very selective memory about the first Scotland tour, especially when it comes to the evening of 5th January 1963 at Bridge of Allan, when he first saw the Beatles, and after reading all he has had to say about the evening, if I hadn’t seen him hanging around the door to back stage, I wouldn’t have believed he had been there. Fights and ‘She Love You’ being sung, my backside!” Stewart Donaldson [see reader comments for further responses]
Fortunately, some of my research has been used by another BBC production crew who worked on a new series called “Rip it Up: The Story of Scottish Pop”
Brian and The Beatles first contract: http://ultimateclassicrock.com/beatles-contract-brian-epstein/ https://scotbeat.wordpress.com/2014/04/03/the-beatles-1963-advert/https://scotbeat.wordpress.com/2014/05/07/scottish-beat-february-1964/ https://scotbeat.wordpress.com/2014/05/26/the-silver-beetles-in-fraserburgh/ https://scotbeat.wordpress.com/2014/03/10/the-silver-beetles-1960-part-1/ https://scotbeat.wordpress.com/2014/03/10/silver-beetles-part-2/ https://scotbeat.wordpress.com/2014/02/21/johnny-gentle-and-the-silver-beetles/