- Photo taken during a Melotones rehearsal in Dingwall Town Hall, Ross-shire in 1962.
- Left, Johnny Fisher, Tenor Saxophone
- Second Left (at back)..Bert MacKay, guitarist.
- Third from left (facing front)…Ronnie Reid Tenor Saxophone.
- Fourth from left (at back), Dodo Ross, drummer and accordionist.
- Fifth from back (standing) Willie Wilson, bass and vocalist
- Second from right (facing) Jimmy Stewart, Alto Saxophone.
- Extreme right, Tam Wilson Keyboard and piano.
The Melotones [not to be confused with the “doo-wop” Mello-tones] were a performing band [1950’s-’60 popular music] among several musicians around Scotland who were not represented by a recording company. They were popular with those out for music and dancing and were playing to a large crowd “well over 1,000” at the Strathpeffer Ballroom when “the Beatles show was nearly empty so it closed early”. Bert Mackay [quote from “Are Ye’ Dancin” Eddie Tobin]: ” I saw them waiting on the steps for their gear to arrive… They wound up coming to the Strath and a lot of my friends saw them, but I didn’t”
Bert Mackay: ” I was born north of Inverness as was my wife and as part of younger years played skiffle/bluegrass and in 1959 joined the Melotones, a 8 to 9 piece band from Dingwall that played both dance classics Sinatra and Bennett style as well as current top forty 50s and 60s music.
Bert Mackay [third from left] with The Zodiac [circa 1963]
THE BEATLES: Those who listened to the top 20 song chart from Amsterdam had already heard The Beatles tune, “Love Me Do” which had hit number 17. Johnny and The Copycats, a teenage beat band from Buckie, were disappointed that The Beatles were unable to do their first gig in Keith. The following night at Elgin’s Two Red Shoes, 80 young people showed up on unusually snowy January evening to see the band. According to a ticket taker, there were 200 attendees for the second half as they rocked the house with their original tunes and thoughtful arrangements of popular songs. However, the next night didn’t go well for the band as the Scottish group, The Melotones, were playing four miles down the road to a packed house. The Beatles didn’t do their second set in Dingwall though they finished their four day tour in Scotland to a welcoming audience in Aberdeen.
Here’s another account about the Beatles coming to Dingwall:
Original Beatles Fans enjoy Dingwall Reunion Gig [by Jackie MacKenzie]
FIFTEEN of the “Dingwall 19” the meagre group of fans who turned out to hear The Beatles play the Town Hall in 1963 were reunited last Friday night at a concert in the same venue. But this time round it was a Beatles tribute band who were on the stage, The Upbeat Beatles, an event organised by the Dingwall Business Association to help promote the town as a shopping and visitor centre.The association tracked down 15 of the original 19 folk who turned out to hear the little-known Beatles on January 4 1963 while over 1,000 local lads and lasses were dancing to popular local band The Melotones just up the road in Strathpeffer. Just 10 days later The Beatles’ first No 1 hit was released, Please Please Me, and their careers went stratospheric and Dingwall’s snubbing of the biggest band of all time has become the stuff of local legend.
Business association member Billy Shanks, who traced the few fans who did attend the 1963 gig, said: “It was a great reunion and we tried to get all the people who attended the original gig sitting down the left hand side of the hall so they could all chat. What stories they had of back in the day, and then we got them all on the stage. “It was a great get-together and there was a lot of swapping of email addresses and phone numbers so it’s put a lot of local people back in touch which each other which is nice. “The concert itself was super you forget just how many good songs The Beatles had and there wasn’t a seat left in the hall. It was so encouraging to see such a good response from Dingwall folk and everybody had a terrific night.”Highland Councillor Margaret Paterson, whose idea it was to bring the Upbeat Beatles to Dingwall, said: “It was a fantastic concert and it was attended by more people than was at the original Beatles concert in 1963! “The tribute band was superb and had the whole place rocking. It was like a step back in time. People travelled long distances for the gig and it was tremendous for Dingwall.” Among the Dingwall 19 who got in touch with Billy following his appeal were Ian MacKenzie, now in New Zealand, and Stanley Ferguson who lives in South Africa.
A special plaque is now proudly installed on the wall of the Town Hall, telling of the venue’s association with the “Fab Four”. http://www.north-star-news.co.uk/News/Original-Beatles-fans-enjoy-Dingwall-reunion-gig-6774674.htm
“I remember The Beatles were late in arriving and when they came on stage one by one they were wearing three-quarter-length leather jackets, long scarves – one was trailing his on the ground behind him – and winkle pickers” Olive Lees, 64, was among the 19 audience members and stayed to the end of the gig even though her father Jimmy Stewart was band leader of the Melotones at the time. She said: “My father told me the mini bus to the Strath was full so I’d have to go to the town hall. I wasn’t bothered because the Melotones would come round to our house and play in the sitting room… I remember The Beatles were late in arriving and when they came on stage one by one they were wearing three-quarter-length leather jackets, long scarves – one was trailing his on the ground behind him – and winkle pickers.” Olive Lees One of the Dingwall 19 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-13004514
Mr Shanks, of Dingwall Business Association, said eight of the 19 had been traced so far. He told the BBC Good Morning Scotland programme a performance by local band, the Melotones, in nearby Strathpeffer had been a bigger attraction on the night. Mr Shanks said: “The Wilson brothers, who were the Melotones, were a big band here at the time.”People had heard there was this new band visiting, but they thought their music was rubbish and went away up to Strathpeffer to watch the Melotones. “They say The Beatles later packed it up and went to Strathpeffer to listen to the Melotones.” Mr Shanks went to the town hall himself to look in on The Beatles, but had second thoughts after doorman David Murray told him the music was not good. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-12757896
“Olive Lees, 64, was among the 19 audience members and stayed to the end of the gig even though her father Jimmy Stewart was band leader of the Melotones at the time.
She said: “My father told me the mini bus to the Strath was full so I’d have to go to the town hall.
“I wasn’t bothered because the Melotones would come round to our house and play in the sitting room.
“I remember The Beatles were late in arriving and when they came on stage one by one they were wearing three-quarter-length leather jackets, long scarves – one was trailing his on the ground behind him – and winkle pickers.”Everyone was laughing at them.”But they were brilliant and they chatted with the audience between songs.”http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-13004514
Olive Lees One of the Dingwall 19