British beat tunes to celebrate Halloween

col29Cut&paste collages copyright DJ Dills –

Irish born Van Morrison was one of hundreds of beat bands who performed to delighted youth in the north of Scotland when he appeared with THEM. Here’s one of his early solo hits, “Moondance”[1970]  hal1.jpgGhostly_visitgirlinhall6

catatwindow6ballroomDonovan, ventured out from the north of England in ’65 to perform folk tunes in Glasgow halls where he spent much of his childhood. His agent sent photos and information to Elgin promoter, AA Bonici but nothing came of it. After a performance with Bob Dylan that year, he quickly became an international star hailed as the British answer to Bob Dylan.  Season Of The Witch Bio: col8

Halloween Edition British Pathe druidsdarkstill8

The British beat music was a creative renaissance in the ’60s early ’70s and much of it still holds up today and continues to be part of the cultural horizon in the 21st century.Presented here are some of the British beat tunes of the time selected to celebrate the Halloween season…

Apeman [The Kinks 1970]:

Spooky [Dusty Springfield] beckoning6

burial c.96 ddills

I Fell In Love [The Undertakers Glasgow, 1965] The_Undertakers_2

Above: Pop band The Undertakers hailed from Glasgow

Jack The Ripper [Screaming Lord Sutch and His Savages]

Shakin’ All Over [Johnny Kidd & The Pirates] 1st halloween 95 ccol11

I Put A Spell On You [Alan Price Set] performed at the Two Red Shoes and Elgin Town Hall [when Eric Burdon joined the band renamed “The Animals” though didn’t cover Screamin’ Jay Hawkins hit song until returning to the area in ’70 when Alan Price performed his 1966 cover tune in Aberdeen. “We played support to Alan Price in the Palace Ballroom on 23 April, 1970. He sang all lead vocals that night.” [Bill Cameron/My Dear Watson]

Jay Hawkins “Granddaddy of horror rock” first introduced it to the UK on tour when he was recorded on Granada Television in 1960, four years after writing the haunting song. Scottish vocalist Anne Lennox brought the tune to the attention of new audiences in 2014 when it was featured in “Fifty Shades Of Grey”

House Of The Rising Son [The Animals]  TheExitc96ddillslonelyroadcol16

Strange Brew [Cream] Oregon_territory_copyhalloweenthewell

Wild Thing [The Troggs] Tje

Electric Circus [pictured below]


Elenor Rigby [The Beatles] escalator3

bitten c.03 ddills



hall chaz

Copyright: Charles Addams/ Saturday Evening Post

All Cut&Paste photo-collage restricted Copyright: DJDills

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Posted in 1960's pop music

beat city Liverpool

love me do

disc for “Please, Please Me.” reprint Liverpool Echo, Tues Dec 9, 1980

paul macca casba “Originally a skiffle group, the band was formed by John Lennon in 1956, and some of his friends from Quarry Bank High. In October 1957 Paul McCartney came on board and a young George Harrison joined later, with the group finally moving away from skiffle, towards rock and roll and evolving into The Beatles in 1960.” When George and Paul co-wrote “In Spite of Danger” no one knew that their compositions would be celebrated world wide. beatles statue (2)

Macca Liverpool

Sir Paul McCartney in Liverpool Here’s a video of Paul touring Liverpool talking us through lyrics from songs written relating to childhood memories…   About Paul’s newest release:

Upon John Lennon’s death in 1980, John Chambers of Liverpool’s Beatles Monument Campaign, said that “the tragedy might at last force the city to recognise the value of the group.” In 2008, Liverpool was celebrated as “European City of Culture” and in 2014, it was reported that the city had a turnover of £81.9m  and 2,335 jobs related to the Beatles legacy alone. In 2015, a statue of the Beatles was donated to the city of Liverpool and placed at the pier head.

Whilst London is known for Tin Pan Alley and a host of recording and broadcasting studios launching careers for beat bands throughout the 1960’s, Liverpool celebrates it’s musical contributions from classical to popular musicians. Recently [May 2018] I had the opportunity of visiting Liverpool with band members and crew of Elgin, Scotland’s “Edgar Road” band and had a great time. The group was one of several groups performing at the Cavern Club and the Cavern Pub during a week of music from morning til after midnight.

mark 2

“It was fabulous and brought back loads of beautiful memories and reminded me of where we started” #PaulMcCartney

The Cavern was rebuilt with most of the original bricks in 1984 thanks to the great interest from Beatles fans who wanted to see where John, Paul, and George performed nearly 300 times before “The Beetles” with Ringo Starr began doing gigs in London [March 1962].  Dec 1981: “Plans were revealed to excavate the buried remains of the Cavern Club cellar. It would form part of a £7-million redevelopment project of the former warehouse site of 8-12 Mathew Street which had housed the Cavern Club up until its closure in 1973.”

The band’s popularity in Liverpool began before The Cavern Club gigs at Litherland Town Hall where they played 20 times beginning on December 27, 1960 after their first trip to Hamburg. The hall was refurbished because of it’s significance but blocked a Beatles plaque as “it could create too much public interest and attract visitors to the building other than the public requiring to use the health center” according to the local NHS.litherland-town-hall-health-centre-image-1-571479505

mark cavern 3

Edgar Road band was among many bands who performed recently at Cavern Club [May 15th] before a gig at the KOKO  London [June 2nd, 2018] Here’s a review from last year: Recordings:

Edgar Road videos:

mark cavern 5

Edgar Road band played two nights in Liverpool [Cavern Club and Cavern Pub] as part of the International Pop Overthrow featuring 130 bands as they celebrated their 16th year organizing the extravaganza [May 15 to May 22, 2018] ” Having won several Scottish Battle of the Band competitions, and having had many of their songs featured in the New Music Scottish Chart Top 40, Edgar Road bring their charismatic performance to IPO Liverpool! The depth of Edgar Road’s sound comes from the combination of keyboards, 2 electric guitars, drums, bass, vocals and backing vocals with the occasional use of acoustic guitars and samples, blended into melodic and anthemic songs with a feel good vibe that can be somewhat contagious! Check out their recently released Looking Glass EP and their IPO showcase to hear what we mean!”

Edgar Road guitarist, lyricist, and lead singer, Mark Conti, impressed the Cavern’s crowd with five of the group’s original songs with harmonies from keyboardist Magdalena Wellenger and bass player/vocalist Michael Byiers. The band were well received as they gained new fans. cavern

Touring Liverpool [May 2018]:

The Beatles Story : “Since it opened its doors on the Albert Dock in 1990, four million people have made a pilgrimage to the Fab Four attraction, injecting an estimated £300m into the Liverpool economy… Today the Albert Dock is one of Liverpool’s most important tourist attractions and a vital component of the city’s UNESCO world heritage Maritime Mercantile City. As well as being the number one tourist attraction in Liverpool, the Albert Dock is also the most visited multi-use attraction in the United Kingdom outside London, with in excess of four million visitors per year. Among the many attractions at the Albert Dock are the Merseyside Maritime Museum, the Beatles Story and the Tate Liverpool.”

Beatles history:

A few of us had a pleasant day out on a tour bus in Liverpool – May 2018 Visiting Beatles sites with part of Edgar Road crew [May 2018] Our tour guide, Damion, was a fun Liverpudlian with a good voice, as he sang bits of Beatles songs along the way besides recordings from Beatles tunes relating to their experiences in Liverpool. Penny Lane –


May 2018

Penny Lane there is a barber showing photographs
Of every head he’s had the pleasure to know
And all the people that come and go
Stop and say “Hello”
On the corner is a banker with a motorcar,
And little children laugh at him behind his back
And the banker never wears a mac
In the pouring rain, very strange
Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes
There beneath the blue suburban skies
I sit, and meanwhile back
In Penny Lane there is a fireman with an hourglass,
And in his pocket is a portrait of the Queen
He likes to keep his fire engine clean,
It’s a clean machine
Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes
A four of fish and finger pies
In summer. Meanwhile back
Behind the shelter in the middle of the roundabout
The pretty nurse is selling poppies from a tray

John Lennon: “His death robs the international music world of a great talent and a vibrant personality. Liverpool especially owes him a debt. Might it now be appropriate to provide a permanent tribute to him – and to the three of the Fab Four – by a memorial, perhaps not of stone but in some way marking those heady years of the sixties when it was all happening.” Liverpool Echo Comment 9 Dec 1080 “He was born in the back streets of Liverpool, the child of a split family, and grew up with his Aunty Mimi. At Quarry Band School he was known as one of the lads. He had a gang and was regarded by some as a bully. It was there that his restless spirit and desire for something different found an outlet in music. He formed The Quarrymen and met Paul McCartney and later George Harrison. He was born into the blitz bombing in Liverpool. His mother was killed when he was a boy and Lennon moved to live in Menlove Avenue.” Peter Trollope, Liverpool Echo, Tuesday Dec 9, 1980

Paul’s boyhood home was not far from John’s [shown here]. After meeting John in 1956, the two became friends besides playing music together and later left the Quarrymen skiffle band to form the Silver Beetles [having been fans of popular US band “The Crickets” who performed in Liverpool].


Strawberry Fields, Liverpool May 2018 Strawberry Fields, Liverpool May 2018 This is where John and Paul used to climb the fence and trees and play as lads.

Let me take you down
‘Cause I’m going to Strawberry Fields
Nothing is real
And nothing to get hung about
Strawberry Fields forever
Living is easy with eyes closed
Misunderstanding all you see
It’s getting hard to be someone
But it all works out
It doesn’t matter much to me
Let me take you down
‘Cause I’m going to Strawberry Fields
Nothing is real
And nothing to get hung about
Strawberry Fields forever
No one I think is in my tree
I mean it must be high or low
That is you can’t, you know, tune in
But it’s all right
That is, I think, it’s not too bad
Let me take you down
‘Cause I’m going to Strawberry Fields
Nothing is real
And nothing to get hung about
Strawberry Fields forever
Always, no, sometimes think it’s me
But you know I know when it’s a dream
I think, er, no, I mean, er, yes
But it’s all wrong
That is I think I disagree
Let me take you down
‘Cause I’m going to Strawberry Fields
Nothing is real
And nothing to get hung about
Strawberry Fields Forever lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Visiting Beatles Story cafe May 2018 [Maggie from Edgar Road band and David Dills roadie] Note: The original gate from Strawberry Fields girls orphanage is now located here

David Dills at Albert Dock

“Three Cool Cats” at Beatles Story Cafe Liverpool [ roadies Graeme, David, and Edgar Road’s Simon]

sight seeing Liverpool May 2018

sight seeing Liverpool May 2018

sight seeing Liverpool May 2018

Below: a few photos from hanging out on Mathews Street and Cavern Club [with two stages], Cavern Pub, and Sgt. Pepper’s across from the pub.


The statue of John Lennon [in front of Cavern pub where he frequented] was unveiled in 1997. Me with Edgar Road’s Maggie.


Mark Conti of Edgar Road band having thoughts of John Lennon… more about John at a visit to  exhibit:

lava25 The brick wall around the Cavern Pub lists popular bands who performed at the Cavern throughout the years.  “The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Kinks, the Who, the Yardbirds…back in the 1960s a music revolution was taking place, and Liverpool’s Cavern Club was at the centre of it. “The Best of Cellars” tells the story of the Cavern, beginning with its days as a great jazz club, before the Merseybeat explosion made it the most famous music venue in the world. The Beatles are of course central to the story but the book also features the other great names of the era, and later the likes of Elton John, Thin Lizzy and Queen. With reminiscences from some of the people involved and many wonderful photographs, this is a superb account of the ups and downs of the legendary club.” The Best of Cellars: The Story of the Cavern Club by Phil Thompson

Above photo of a few of the bands who played the Cavern on Mathews Street, Liverpool. The Copycats brick [misspelled Copy Cats] were on tour through the north of England on route to London when they played in Liverpool and Manchester January 1966. Two years earlier, in an arrangement between The Beatles manager Brian Epstein and Copycats manager/promoter, Albert Bonici, the band was prominent in the line-up for The Beatles Shows in Edinburgh and Glasgow in 1964.  Mr Bonici in turn, hosted several bands in Brian Epstein’s stable for Scottish tours.copycats rock

The Copycats are among several Scottish bands who performed at the Cavern on Mathews Street over the years though the structure was closed and reconstructed. They performed two gigs at the Cavern supported by the “Hideaways” [Jan/1966 evening and lunch sessions]. “In 1963, young local band The Hideaways were signed up to the newly founded Cavern Club agency and became the resident group.” Though by 1966, as the Cavern’s popularity was waning with larger venues opening, the group performed for an enthusiastic audience.* Bass player, Bill Cameron, related that soul music and the Motown sound were popular and thus covered songs like James Brown’s “Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag” and a few from The Impressions with a good falsetto by lead singer, John Stewart with harmonies from rest of the group. *According to TripAdvisor The Cavern Club is currently the 8th most popular attraction.


lava11DSCF1833Edgar Road and crew had a great time in Liverpool and felt very welcome by the citizens of a city proud of its heritage. Below is an article from Liverpool Echo [Tuesday 9 Dec, 1980] about the death of John Lennon. A statue commemorating the Beatles besides one of John Lennon [by Cavern Pub] was created as article suggests.

lennon1lava1lava2lava3 DSCF1800lava31lava32lava8lava7lava6lava4 Yellow Submarine:

In the town where I was born
Lived a man who sailed to sea
And he told us of his life
In the land of submarines
So we sailed up to the sun
Till we found a sea of green
And we lived beneath the waves
In our yellow submarine
We all live in a yellow submarine
Yellow submarine, yellow submarine
We all live in a yellow submarine
Yellow submarine, yellow submarine
And our friends are all aboard
Many more of them live next door
And the band begins to play
We all live in a yellow submarine
Yellow submarine, yellow submarine
We all live in a yellow submarine
Yellow submarine, yellow submarine
(Full speed ahead Mr. Boatswain, full speed ahead
Full speed ahead it is, Sergeant.
Cut the cable, drop the cable
Aye, Sir, aye
Captain, captain)
[The BeaTles]
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Posted in 1960's pop music

Leopards remember

l16.JPGRecently [28 April 18] the two remaining Leopards Jimmy and Fraser  met up in Elgin after having not seen each other since Eddie Le Pard decided to quit the band and work on writing music. Also, Fraser’s sister Alyson who recorded with one of the top jazz bands in the UK in the ’60’s, was also in town when the guys met up. Looking around the former Two Red Shoes Ballroom, Fraser remembered seeing the Beatles first gig in Scotland with Ringo Starr. “…the band who supported the Beatles at the Red Shoes on the 3rd January 1963 would have been the resident [house] band, The Alex Sutherland Band. Myself and some friends were in the Park Cafe that night just in for a coffee/coke when Albert himself came in and said ” Go up the back stage lads and have a listen to the group, see what you think!” He often said this to bands/people who worked for him as he knew they/we were always broke and wouldn’t pay to go see many artists he engaged!” Fraser was impressed with the Beatles performance and spoke about their harmonies and that he’d never seen a beat band with every member singing. “from backstage the Beatles harmonies did sound good but unusual for a beat group at this time”.

Fraser, about formation of Eddie Le Pard and The Leopards; “As for when/how the Leopards formed you have to go back earlier to a band called the Sabre’s. As far as I can remember they formed about 1958 by an Elgin piano player called Alister Gordon who sadly passed away about 2/3 years ago! Although I was a classical trained piano player myself, by the time I was 16 yrs old (1960) I was only interested in playing guitar and the Sabres were auditioning for another guitarist, I applied and got the job.

The band lineup at that time was Brian Weir guitar, me guitar, Alister Gordon (Boss) piano, Ronnie Watt bass, Robbie Munroe drums and Margaret? female vocalist, (girlfriend of Ronnie Watt).
After about a year of playing together I think dispute about money (as usual) blew up and Margaret, Ronnie and Brian left the band, Alister then engaged Alan (Rae) Rodgers on bass and a male vocalist called Billy ?[photo below of Sabres lineup; L to R Alister keys, myself guitar, Billy vocals, Alan bass, Robbie drums, taken at the rehearsal Red Shoes when Alan and Billy joined.

My sister Alyson also sang vocals around this time with the Sabres before she joined Alex Sutherland band but no photo and cant rem’r dates etc. I will chat with her and find out more!
Late 61′ I think, Alister engaged Eddie (real name Freddie) into the band so now Eddie and Billy now shared vocals! (not in harmony I may add!) Photo 0002 at Beach Ballroom Aberdeen with Eddie and Alan in band).  Another dispute blew up about who was getting to sing which song so you can imagine where this was leading!
It was then (1962 I think)  that Eddie decided he was wanting to form his own band so myself and Alan was invited to join him! By this time keyboards were beginning to feature in hit records so Eddie said he wanted me to play keyboards as he knew I was also a piano player! I wasn’t too keen at first but he convinced me to give it a try He didn’t rate himself as a great guitarist so he engaged a very good Elgin guitarist, (and footballer) Chick Ralph! The drummer engaged at this time was Sonny Johnstone from Keith, Eddies home town!

In 1964 there was much talk in the band about going full time pro so that we could expand our touring range, Sonny didn’t want to give up his job and Chick likewise, although Chick I think being a keen sportsman didn’t want to lose out an any games he would have been involved in! However thay left the band in spring 64′ (I think) and I felt saddened they had gone as they were both excellent musicians!
Auditions were arranged and the young drummer from Inverurie impressed us right away, he was of course the one and only Jimmy Skinner! Jimmy was always keen to overcome any challenge and some of the most complex patterns and timing he would practice over and over until he got it right!

We still hadn’t got a new lead guitarist so we started practicing with just a 4 piece and found that the vox continental (new keyboard at that time) could cover many of the guitar riffs and sounded reasonable enough so we decided to carry on with that lineup until we split up in 65′ ( cant rem’r date )

As far as i remember we all lived in Elgin from 62′ until 65′ except for Jimmy who used to commute back and forth but he may have stayed over with some of us sometimes!

Alyson Armstrong “Jewel in the crown” comment from Alex. Sutherland: This was after she left Alex’s band, maybe 1 -2 years I think, I often used to run into him post 65 in Elgin and also when I moved to Aberdeen in 1972. Alex used to say to me could I talk to her and see if she would be willing to came back. She also sang with The Jimmy Martin band in the Red Shoes after Alex left for Aberdeen.
Alex Sutherland’s short rehearsal time – Alex expected every member had to be able to read music, the arrangements were all written down and each member could practice at home and hone his part to perfection, all that was left was for the whole band to get together and ‘fine tune’ the whole arrangement! I played with his band and Jimmy Martins when I was free as I was interested in Jazz (and still am) where the sheet music would be dished out and you were expected to take it home and have honed your part for the following week!” see:


“Inside the Red Shoes the Sabre’s with Alan playing bass and Terry [Russell?] standing to the right of the stage. Albert was thinking of the new venue along the lines of the Red Shoes with a jazz biased resident band with visiting bands/artists.” Fraser Armstrong Note: Some of the acts who played at the Two Red Shoes didn’t think much of the small stage though many of the great British beat bands and vocalists performed the popular venue in Elgin, Scotland. The Pink Floyd decided that they would no longer perform in the small dance halls as they were unable to fit their equipment on stage. Eddie Le Pard and The Leopards photos are to be found at besides the following photos from the band on the road the mid 1960’s…

leop3leop6leop7leop2a bit of fun along the way… looks to be Eddie LePard with Leopard’s drummer Jim Skinner [pictured below on Elgin’s High Street]

David “scotbeat” Dills with Alyson Armstrong of Two Red Shoes fame and Jim Skinner, Leopard’s drummer in ’65

a Saturday on the High Street [near former Two Red Shoes hall] with siblings Alyson and Fraser Armstrong


The two remaining Leopards with Alyson by the door leading to stage of Two Red Shoes Ballroom. l11

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“It is with great sadness that last month I attended the funeral of Robert ( FLASH ) Longmore at Keith, McLean’s Chapel of Rest along with Fraser Armstrong , fellow Leopard and Fred ( Jeff ) Jeffries , loyal friend and avid follower of Eddie Leopard and the Leopards in the mid nineteen sixties . There was a large turnout at the service that day ! Flash was the Leopards’ roadie on our return from West Germany at the end of ’64 until the group disbanded in mid ’65 . It was only recently that we were reunited after more than half a century . He was always smiling and cheerful and had a great disposition ! I am very glad to have re-established contact with him before it was too late . He will be warmly remembered by all that knew him and greatly missed by his loving family. . This website is largely responsible for me regaining contact with him and I thank it’s author Mr David Dills for his sterling endeavors in this regard! R. I.P. Flash” Jim Skinner (ex Leopards’) drummer. October/2018

Jim, Am glad that you were able to meet up with Flash and fellow Leopards member Fraser this last year. Am sure that it was a special time for Flash that he was able to share and remember some of those great times had together. In 2007, when asking questions about the Beatles in Elgin, I was made aware of the “happy days” that happened in the north of Scotland and realized there wasn’t much in print. Beyond this research site, thanks goes to the clever “renaissance man” Albert Bonici who encouraged and supported many to achieve creative ambitions through music and various talents. I was bewildered that an important time in cultural history had not been noted previously and find it a worthy project. Cheers, David Dills

Well said Jim, it was a sad day indeed to say goodbye to our loyal roadie. I was glad we went to see him earlier in the year, until I met up with you again after 50+ years I didn’t realized Flash still lived in Keith, some body in the past (can’t remember who) said Flash had moved away down to Corby. He was an amazing roadie, he always seemed to want to shift the gear himself in/out of venues at lightening speed and if I lifted anything he would say ‘leave that I will get it myself’! Had I known he was still in Keith I would have made an effort to contact him long ago but thanks to your ‘Bobby tracking skills’ I finally met him earlier this year so many thanks to you Jim.
R.I.P. our old friend and roadie forever Flash!

Posted in 1960's pop music

Beat bands at Elgin Town Hall

elgin town hall“Designed by one of Scotland’s foremost 20th century architects, William Hardie Kininmonth, who was knighted for his services to architecture in 1972. eth ns

Articleelgin town hall inside



Besides dance, theater productions, orchestras, opera, Scottish folk, and popular jazz bands, The new Elgin Town Hall hosted several loved “beat” bands in the 1960s and ’70s including The Searchers, The Kinks, The Hollies, and The Small Faces. eth jazz 62

From The Courant, Elgin Scotland reporting on the Jazz Festival event 22 July 1962. It was the fourth consecutive Jazz competition held in Morayshire and planned by promoter Albert Bonici. Mr. B was hosting dozens of beat bands though thought that jazz bands were more popular in Scotland. After the Beatles arrived in January 1963, the beat scene was becoming more popular though the BBC wasn’t giving it as much airplay.

Like other communities across across the United Kingdom, Elgin and outlying communities in Moray-shire, town folk loved enjoyed community celebrations besides the theater productions, music, and the arts.  Though there have been outside events on High Street since the middle ages, a central meeting place for gathering and entertainment became a important aspect of the capital city of Moray, Scotland. To replace the original Elgin Town Hall [1858-1939] the Assembly Rooms were used until the new hall was built [1961] to replace one destroyed by fire. Though not ornate like the first town hall, the interior was designed well and continues to be a draw for Scots with it’s attractive design and good acoustics.

INTERIOR: central timber-lined hall with projecting balconies and canopies, and raked gallery to rear; low stage with angled acoustic board
above; original lighting fixtures. Entrance hall containing sculpted stone from previous town hall; timber-lined telephone kiosk; original signage to telephone and toilets; stairs up to supper room and balconies; glass globe lighting fixtures.
FORMER WATER FEATURE AND FLAGPOLES: set to NE of Town Hall; wall bearing town crest flanked by angels; brick troughs and planters. 2 flagpoles.”

“The new town hall was built to hold a capacity of 1000 people, and the supper room 300 people. The rooms and spaces are designed to flow into one another. Large north-facing windows give a bright and airy character to the entrance hall and supper room,  minimising the transition from the qualities of light and space outside the building. The hall itself is finely finished in boarded timber. Balconies and parapets produce a carefully controlled effect of solid and void, and light and dark”

In 2017, the Moray council began deliberating plans to transfer management of other entertainment halls including the Elgin Town Hall as they struggle to meet current budget restrictions. “The council has confirmed that halls across Moray will close in June should no credible community plan be in place to take them over.” [2018] [7April18] Current comments and updates:

Though continued maintenance is needed, the Elgin Town Hall continues to be an attractive meeting place and continues to host sold out events including NE Scotland groups like Sold on Soul Fusion and one of Scotland’s most popular pop bands, Edgar Road besides hosting a variety of popular touring groups and entertainers over the years. Currently, there is a movement to revitalize the Elgin Town Hall through the Lantern of the North Events working group who are seeking volunteers and staff with various expertise in moving forward.

Elgin is first documented in the Cartulary of Moray in 110 AD. It was created a Royal Burgh in the 12th century by King David I of Scotland and by that time had a castle on top of the present day Lady Hill to the west of the town. On 19 July 1224, the foundation stone of the new Elgin Cathedral was ceremoniously laid. The cathedral was completed sometime after 1242 but was completely destroyed by fire in 1270. In the 19th century the old medieval town of Elgin was swept away.

The first major addition to the town centre was the Assembly Rooms, built in 1821 by the Trinity Lodge of Freemasons, at the corner of High Street and North Street. In 1958, as Elgin was realising prosperity, the local council used public funds in the construction on a new civic centre known as Elgin Town Hall. In 1939, 80 years after it’s construction, the hall was partly destroyed by fire and the Assembly Rooms were used for various community clubs and activities.

Before completion of his Two Red Shoes Ballroom [1960], local promoter Albert Bonici, hosted dances at the Assembly Rooms and the Cooper Park drill hall [completed in 1908]. Both of the venues continued to be used for special events, though the new Elgin Town Hall [completed in 1961] was to become a popular venue within the community.  “Mr [Colin] Henderson remembers the house band providing support to the Hollies, the Animals, Freddie and the Dreamers, the Swinging Blue Jeans and Gerry and the Pacemakers at Elgin Town Hall, which brought a huge buzz to the area.”

From it’s opening day, the town hall was accommodating large entertainment venues with smaller rooms for social clubs and meetings as it does today. From it’s early days in the 1960s, Mr. Bonici was among local event coordinators who used the Elgin Town Hall. He booked beat and jazz bands who were popular enough to fill the hall’s main floor [twice the floor space of his dance hall]. Besides being more spacious, the Elgin Town Hall, with desirable acoustics, lighting, structure, and pleasing interior, attracted various music and musical theatre fans around the region and beyond.

elgin town hall 1883


First Elgin Town Hall: On the 10th of April, 1884 the foundation stone was laid by Lord Provost Black in a Masonic ceremony “to realize in some degree the benefits they will confer on successive generations of the inhabitants” when the Elgin Town Hall was completed and operational. The hall was formally opened on the 10th of October, 1885. Note: Lord Provost Black had also rallied for a new Elgin Academy which was also built that year.

“The Town Hall was opened by the Earl of Fife in 1885 when, in commemoration of the event, a medal waas presented to each school pupil in the burgh, some 1300 in all. Designed by A. Marshall Mackenzie, the tower was 125ft high and the projecting keystones over the windows bore the sculptured heads of Apollo, Vulcan, and Ceres. It was topped by the weathercock first erected in 1984 on the tower of the old Tolbooth, being removed when that building was demolished in 1943.

A fire in the afternoon of December 11th 1939 reduced the building to rubble in the space of a few hours, with a strong breeze, lack of water pressure and the varnished pitch pine interior proving too much for the fire-fighters. The roof of the main hall fell in within an hour with the massive tower following soon after…” [Elgin Past and Present – compiled by Mike Seton].

“OLD TOWN HALL designed by A. Marshall Mackenzie LL.D, A.R.S.A., in the style of Jacobean of Scottish character. The foundation stone was laid 10th April 1884 by Lord Provost Black with full masonic ceremonial, and was formally opened by the Earl of Fife on 10th October 1885 …A commemorative medal was presented to each of the 1300 children then attending various schools in the burgh.

The principle front of the building was on Moray St, projecting keystones bore sculptured heads of Apollo, Vulcan, Ceres; & the turrets terminated in statuettes of men in armour with spears. It had and open belfry with open dome and weathercock made of copper, 18ft high 3ft long, weighing 33lbs which was the work of Archibald Wilson, brass-founder, and was cast at Little Cross House which was at one time the foot of the close at 27 High St. In 1784 it was erected on the tower of the old Tolbooth. The fixing was at that time considered a feat of daring and James Sharp, the wright who did it, received a burgess ticket as well as fee. When the Tolbooth was demolished in 1843 the weathercock was placed in the Museum. After some years it was removed and placed on Beggs Buildings, later falling into the keeping of Baillie Nicol.

Keystone of the porch arch bore sculpture of Minerva, and over that the figure of St. Giles, this panel being the work of T. Goodwillie, sculptor, a son of Elgin. Inside the main corridor was 80’ long, …to the right was a small hall/supper room 60’ x 30’, and caretakers apartments….. to the left was the large hall, 127’ x 50’, 48’ high and with seating for 1000 On 11th December 1939 it was reduced to ashes in a few hours. Rumoured due to cigarette of soldier billeted there. Now the site is the Police Station

The silver trowel used for 1960 new Town Hall ceremony in museum = ELGNM 1989.10.1
Trowel silver used to lay foundation stone ETH 1960. Donor was Mrs Evelyn Munro, Abbeyside Nursing Home; widow of Wm Munro, Lord Provost of Elgin 1955-1961. Acc 1/1/1989. Location: “By public subscription” in People and Place. On display in front cabinet of 1st alcove on left in P and P.”

Photograph by Alexander Anderson of Elgin. ehall 2

eth oldeth groupeth 1885

The original Elgin town hall (MacKenzie & Matthews, 1884) on Moray Street was destroyed by fire in 1939* and wasn’t replaced until the early 1960’s when the new hall was built. “A fire started in the afternoon of 11 December 1939 and reduced it to rubble within a few hours.” According to local historian Jenny Main, the fire was blamed on a soldier with an unattended cigarette when Army were using the quarters during WWII. “The old town hall was a very grandiose affair – the turrets were topped statuettes of men with spears, and the projecting keystones bore the sculptured heads of Apollo, Vulcan, and Ceres. The keystone of the porch arch featured the figure of St Giles with the head of Minerva below it. The building was a hive of civic and cultural activity [dating back to the 1890’s]. Before other entertainments were developed, many dances, theater productions, festivals and concerts took place in the large hall, which could seat 1,000 people.” Jenny Main “Elgin From Old Photos”

elgin hall2elgin hall1 ehall8

elgin town hall fire

ehall5  [through Scotland Library] is a short film of the fire of ’39. The remains of the original Elgin Town Hall was located on Moray Street, Elgin [replaced by police department building] was eventually demolished [1960] as the new town hall was being built near the Copper Park. ehall9ehall11ehall12

The new Elgin Town Hall was a beautiful sight for “the residents of Moray-shire and featured a garden, fountain, and beautiful red curtains with picture windows. It was built to “hold a capacity of 1000 people, and the supper room 300 people.”

elgin new hall

elgin hall committee 1961

elgin 1961

eth 1960The article which appeared in the Northern Scot newspaper when the Elgin Town Hall opened states that the main hall comfortable seats 850 and was built at a cost of £100,000.

The hall opening ceremony was December 15, 1961 ‘ “In the evening was held its opening main event – a ball – which was followed by a “Teenagers Ball” the following evening. A concert held on Sunday and organized by the Lord Provost was a happy culmination to three historic days.”

Sunday, December 17th:

“First Concert in New Town Hall – The opening concert in Elgin’s new town hall on Sunday was most successful and attracted a large audience. Compere was Mr Bill Murray, and Elgin City Band played selections prior to the beginning of the show and during the interval. The programme was an interesting and varied one and the artists including Elgin Academy Senior Girls Choir (conductor Miss J.B. Smellie); dancers Miss Margaret Nicholson and Miss Doreen Legge; Miss Elizabeth Sutherland, soprano; dancing pupils of Miss Jean Matthews; Mr Peter Zandre, violinist; Miss Eleanor Young and Miss Linda Duncan, recitations; Mr Roy Gordon, baritone; Greyfriars Convent Musicmakers; and a play by the pupils of Mrs J.W. Evans. Accompanists were Mrs W. Gillan, Mrs E. Sutherland, Mrs J. Mavor, Miss M. Henderson, Miss M. Kessack and Mr W. Clelland.” Note: “Members of the public who were unable to inspect Elgin’s new town hall on opening day [15 December] will have an opportunity to do so on Wednesday (December 27), between 2 and 4 p.m. and 7 and 9 p.m. The hall is again being opened for inspection at the request of the public.” ‘

Besides a variety of regional groups,  local impresario and music promoter, Albert Bonici, saw the new Elgin Town Hall with a large dance floor as an opportunity to host popular music venues though mostly using his newly built, Two Red Shoes Ballroom to assure a full house in the smaller hall. The Elgin Town Hall quickly became a popular venue for theater productions, music venues, and variety shows besides many pop stars and beat bands. Several groups who were well received at the Two Red Shoes and other gigs in the north of Scotland, returned to perform to a larger audience at the Elgin Town Hall as their popularity grew. Graeme Nairn who was with the band who went on to fame as the “Average White Band” in the ’70s remembers supporting groups including the Kinks and the Small Faces:

“I think most of the local groups (as they were called in those days)
supported the big names when they came up here in the sixties and
early seventies and we, The Graeme Nairn Set, were no exception.
What startlingly originality in the choice of name, considering
the popularity of The Alan Price Set at the time…..ah! such innocence.
We comprised, as far as I can remember, the late Bill Thomson on
drums, and the late Alan Rogers on bass.  These two guys died shockinglyk
young. Fraser Armstrong, brother of Alison, who was singing with Alex
in the Two Red Shoes when I came up from Dundee to join the band in
the summer of 1965, was on organ/electric piano and on tenor sax we had
a guy from Croy near Inverness, Archie Livingstone. Deirdre was certainly with us but I don’t think Lorna was. I could be wrong there. Similarly, I have a feeling that
Terry had left by this time. Someone who might be able to corroborate
this might be Kenny MacDonald as he has mentioned to me on several
occasions that he thought our band was greatly superior the Small Faces.
….thanks Ken!
We were all very keen on the music of Georgie Fame at the
time and the lineup we had allowed us to indulge ourselves.
I distinctly remember supporting the Kinks, the Small Faces and perhaps
not quite so radical, Herman Hermits…”

Here are a few of the past posts from some of the popular beat groups who graced the Elgin Town Hall stage in the 1960s:

“Thanks David, great post. Hopefully the more people know about the history of the Hall, the more interested they’ll be in its future.” Ray McLean Conservative Councillor- Elgin City South

 “The Leopards as a group paid to see The Animals with Eric Burden and Alan Price there [Elgin Town Hall]. It was the week House of the Rising Sun went from No 5 to No 1 in the Hit Parade.

Eric was brought on as a vocalist with the Alan Price Set before the name was changed to The Animal. [photo: Eric Burden and Alan Price]

The new ETH featured hundreds of popular venues since opening in 1961. In the early 1960s, the Jazz Festival was a big draw in Elgin, Scotland

During a pause we spoke with Eric at the front of the stage telling him about our imminent upcoming tour of West Germany. He asked about our music and wished us the best of luck there. They were a great band as evidenced by their future musical achievements. Before we went to Germany we rehearsed our version of ‘Rising Sun ‘ and played it from then on wards . Fraser had the identical Vox Continental organ as Alan Price and he played it really well! We were often asked ” Play it Again ” [Drummer Jim Skinner]
“I went to see The Sweet in the Town Hall. It was the week they were at number 1 [single in UK pop charts]. They played up in the balcony.” Kate Reid
[Glam rockers Sweet, who had a number one hit with Blockbuster, were supported by Windy Miller when they gigged at Elgin Town Hall.]
Happy memories of Elgin Town Hall when myself and the other guys in Windy Miller played support to Marmalade, Mud and The Sweet when Blockbuster was no. 1.. Also remember going to see The Hollies , The Small Faces, Them who had Van Morrison as their lead singer. There were many more but cannot remember them at the moment.” Brian McDonald

1960’s Elgin Town Hall notes: Tommy Roe with Robb Charles Combo 24 Oct 1963; The Hollies 9 July 1964; Merseybeats 11 Feb 1965; The Searchers 27 May 1965; Herman and the Hermits 14 July 1965; Jerry and The Pacemakers 29 Dec 1965; Freddy and the Dreamers 2 June, 1966; Small Faces 2 June, 1966; Yardbirds 7 July 1966, Lulu and The Luvvers , besides a host of other popular performers. see

Further reading: Bits of history and happenings at Elgin Town Hall

Theatre performances at the Elgin Town Hall have done well over the years with an ample stage area with changing rooms, etc. “Also in 1961 a tremendous decision was taken to shift our production venue from the Holy Trinity Hall to the new Elgin Town Hall. This move was to have a great effect of the whole outlook of the Society – now they set out to create THEATRE. New flats had to be made, publicity was increased and a new feeling of expectancy and excitement lifted the Club to even greater endeavours.
Soon after, the Society took another important step – to stage a musical. Bernard & I had seen ‘Salad Days’ at the Perth Rep and Bernard was very keen for EADS to stage this musical. But, it took a lot of persuasive talk, not to mention playing a recording of the musical, to get the Committee to agree to the gamble! But it came off, the public loved it, the press praised it and the members had a whale of a time doing it. EADS was in the musical business.”

oliverThe Monkees’ Davy Jones performed as “Artful Dodger” in Oliver! with the Broadway cast on The Ed Sullivan Show the same night the Beatles debuted on an American TV in 1964. Twenty years later, Hollywood actor Kevin Kidd made his debut with a local cast of Oliver! performing at the Elgin Town Hall.

History of theatre at ETH:

Coming Events:

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Harry of Elgin

Alistair from the Northern Scot newspaper contacted me in December [2017] when gathering info regarding Harry Robinson [Robertson] who grew up in Elgin, Scotland and made his career in the entertainment biz.

Harry Robinson of Elgin [aka Robertson] is remembered in Scotland for his first big hit “Hoots Mon” when writing and composing pop tunes for his second gig as a music director on a TV program called Oh Boy! [1958] In ’60 he became manager for Tommy Steele and toured Australia and continued in television directing Around The Beatles, Shindig! [popular US music show, and various other productions.

Scottish prince of horror: His musical journey which began a teenager writing musicals at his mother’s home in Elgin which led to his jaunt as writer, composer, director, and producer in London after composing soundtracks for several Hammer horror films… Harry Robinson: Journey to the Unknown [1968] Twins Of Evil [1971], music from Fright [1971] Countess Dracula [1971], Demons of the Mind [1972], Lust For A Vampire [1971], The Vampire Lovers House In Nightmare Park [1973], Legend Of The Werewolf [1975] The Ghoul [1975]……
Jane and the Lost City [1987] was produced from a screenplay from Harry Robinson besides music composition, and a bit of acting. He had a long career that spanned 35 years though he struggled with heath problems throughout his life.…/harry-robinson-musicianco…/…/…/hoots-mon-harry-robinson/

Harry Robinson [NS]

Harry Robinson [NS] and

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Andi Lothian Beatlemania

Impresario Albert Bonici died in July 1990

Note: From Jim Wilkie’s interview with Albert Bonici: “I used to pay two shillings 6d a week [25 pence] to a Murphy’s pool agent, who filled out the coupon. One week, I won a few hundred pounds – which was quite a lot of money – and it made me feel uneasy. I decided to cancel the coupon and a young journalist named Henry Robertson who worked on the Elgin Courant got to hear of this. He was a good musician who had been to university [Aberdeen] but had developed TB and was writing newspaper articles while he recuperated in Elgin. We became good friends and to help him raise money to stage music shows which he put on in local church halls. I organised a Valentine’s Day dance.It made a fair bit of money [to support the local Cricket team]. My wife  and I were keen dancers but we had to travel to the Northern Meeting Rooms in Inverness to see the big bands, because they only did the major centres. The circuit was something like: Monday – Edinburgh Palais; Tuesday – Dundee Palais; Wednesday – Beach Ballroom, Aberdeen; Thursday – NMR Inverness; and Friday and Saturday – Green’s Playhouse in Glasgow. No one wanted to know about Elgin. My brother-in-law had connections with Tito Burns, the london agent who handled the Ray Ellington Quartet, and Burns said Ellington would come up if three venues could be found. There was still a great demand for dancing at this time so it was not a terribly great risk. The big bands toured once a month so I put the Ellington Quartet in between visits. They did the Beach Ballroom on a Wednesday, the Assembly Rooms, Elgin on a Thursday, and Forres on a Friday. It was a big success.” AA Bonici. 

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:
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]. 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.

“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” [1964]. 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].


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, 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.

Brian Epstein and promoter Albert Bonici, 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. Beatles


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.

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:

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: Beatles home movie: Dusty interviews Beatles:

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. Andy Lothian interviews: and
‘”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.”‘
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.  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:  The Copycats/Beatles:

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.

‘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]

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

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 [1962] 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 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, 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.

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 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:

From Fit Like New York – Peter Innes

[c.Bonici Archives]  rolling stones 64

[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 [1964]

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.  In 1965, Albert arranged a second [of several appearances] the Rolling Stones made to Aberdeen where they were well received.

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:

“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.

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
 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: 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 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” beat bbc

Brian and The Beatles first contract:

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Posted in 1960's pop music

The Beatles and The Who at Scotland’s Two Red Shoes

“It is where Keith Moon cleared a cafe with a stink bomb, Van Morrison lost his jewellery after being ‘captured’ by screaming fans and The Beatles launched their first UK tour on a freezing January night. The pleasantly sedate town of Elgin on the Moray coast, known for its ruined cathedral and expensive cashmere shops, may seem like an unlikely place for the rising pop and rock stars of the 1960s to gravitate. But the town, thanks to the efforts of local music promoter and cafe owner Albert Bonici, became a magnet for new musical talent trying to push their singles up the charts.”… “It was a life’s ambition of Bonici, who was born in Inverness, to work in the music industry with his LCB Agency forged through close contacts in London and an eagle eye on what music fans were buying. Bonici’s parents owned the Park Cafe in the town with the businessman to later model it on the 2i’s cafe in Soho where the impresario would return to time and time again to strike deals and secure bookings. Burgers were put on the menu at the Elgin joint, where his parents’ soft ice-cream was considered the best around, a small stage was built, vinyl booths were added – and the kids loved it. Bands, including The Beatles, would be fed here during the intervals of their shows at the Two Red Shoes Ballroom, which Bonici opened up next door in 1960. Elgin man David Dills has spent the past nine years researching the music scene in the north of Scotland and will present an exhibition of his work, published on his Scotbeat blog, in the town this weekend.” Notes: it was the late ’70s that the Two Red Shoes closed and “kidnapping” THEM [with Van Morrison] was agreed upon with Aberdeen Student Union who brought them to their Elgin office.

ns who's whoFriday, 15 December 2017 Northern-Scot, Elgin, Scotlandns who's who 2

scotbeat event1

The Beatles at the Two Red Shoes event was a success and featured some good music of the ’60s. I displayed four tables worth of materials from the ’60s in Elgin including the Norco Ltd. [first Scottish label] and the etched metal and plastic print blocks of the Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and several other bands including local favorites like My Dear Watson and Eddie Lepard and The Leopards featured on SCOTBEAT… For updates you can find me at

park cafeAbove is spouse Angela at the street level to the stage door at top of stairs where The Springfields, Beatles, Who, Lulu, Moody Blues, Yardbirds, Cream, and The Pink Floyd played in their early careers. As do young people living around Elgin in the ’60s, Angela remembers the heydays of the Two Red Shoes and the Park Cafe fondly.

trs flyer

THE BEATLES Jan 1963 ‘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 clamouring, “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.’ [ quotes from Albert Bonici]
When the Beatles performed in Elgin Scotland’s Two Red Shoes Ballroom, they were well received by band leader Alex Sutherland who reported back to impresario Albert Bonici who booked the band for their first tour of 1963. It was said that the “Love Me Do” boys [with song charting #17 on Luxembourg’s top 20] performed good arrangements of cover tunes besides their original compositions. However, it was a mixed reaction in the dance hall as not everyone was keen on the group’s first performance of 1963.
Not everyone who attended the infamous TRS Ballroom were into the new “beat” music though the shift from jazz was welcome with the Scottish youth though gained momentum by the end of ’62. Amongst the audience at the Two Red Shoes the night the Beatles performed was David Hay who wrote: “There was a poor turnout on the night about 70 max. [80 by house band leader Alex.Sutherland’s count and 200 strong after the bars closed at 10pm by a ticket taker’s testimony]. “We were students at Aberdeen Uni and were home for the Xmas holiday and during the some Beatles gig, my 4 pals and me retired to the bar [concessions area looking over the dance floor]. None of us were terribly impressed with the Beatles and thought they wouldn’t get anywhere. How wrong we were.” Though the house-band was impressed, another who attended that night, said that he didn’t feel that their first performance went that well. Though not everyone was impressed by their first week on the road, they were already gaining a following by the end of their short tour at Aberdeen’s Beach Ballroom. See and
When George Harrison “Scotland had been our first glimpse of show business, a faint hope.” he may have been speaking of the Silver Beetles Scottish tour as Johnny Gentle’s back up band, but could be applied to John, Paul, and George’s return to Scotland as the Beatles. Ringo Starr, who became the drummer for The Beatles six months earlier, complained that the hall was odd-shaped and that some were distractions in the audience who attended the gig on a rather cold winter evening on 3 January, 1963.

By the end of the five evenings of their first Scotland tour, they gained a following and promoter Bonici flew to Liverpool to meet with Beatles manager, Brian Epstein, to negotiate further tours.
Though some entertainers including the Pink Floyd complained about the small stage and the small dog-shaped dance floor, the Two Red Shoes was popular in Scotland and accommodated hundreds of new acts from jazz musicians to beat groups. Albert Bonici, whose biography is featured on brought music and cabaret acts throughout Scotland from Glasgow to Orkney Island though regularly booked the north of Scotland from Nairn to Aberdeen with the help of local promoters.
Besides featuring two guest bands on tour each week, their were dozens of local bands used to support the more known acts. He also managed several musicians and founded Norco Records Ltd, Scotland’s first independent record label which featured a variety of music styles.
Thanks for visiting SCOTBEAT and hope its a great 2018 to you! Here’s “supermash” Christmas and New Year’s wishes from The BEATles. Note: Use Scotbeat search engine for more blog posts on the Beetles and Beatles.

Posted in 1960's pop music