‘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.’ [Albert Bonici, Promoter/entrepreneur] https://bonici.wordpress.com/ Here are photos of the various Scottish halls the Beatles played in: http://harveystevens.com/BeatlesGigs1963.html
Signed Scottish Beatles Show program from 1963 sold at auction: http://www.deadlinenews.co.uk/2012/05/31/signed-kirkcaldy-beatles-concert-programme-expected-to-fetch-6000/
Advert appeared in Courant News Jan/1964 [Elgin, Scotland]
“Gladys and I were at a Saturday night dance in the Fisherman’s Hall in Buckie in winter 1964, and they announced a spot dance. So someone on the stage turns their back on the audience, and a chap on the floor carries out the steps as instructed. So he called out something like 4 steps forward, and this was just past us, and the next instruction was – The couple BEHIND you and that was us. Trip to see the Beatles at ABC in Edinburgh as per attached. So we were taken from Cullen by Taxi to Buckie, on to a bus picking up others on route to Inverness, down A9 and back through the night on same bus.” Dennis Paterson [beat fan]
Surrounded by small towns and villages in rural Scotland, Albert Bonici began promoting live dances in the area in the early 1950s. By the mid 1950s, he was organizing dances and music venues in Elgin and throughout the north of Scotland. Initially, he built a small stage in the family owned “Park Cafe”  followed by a dance hall around the corner. “Two Red Shoes Ballroom”  held up to 500 occupants (less by today’s safety standards). He also rented other venues around the area and eventually bought the “Ballerina Ballroom” in Nairn with more floor space. Though the Lido was local competition for throwing dances in Elgin, Albert’s LCB Agency faced their biggest challenge in 1962 from a London promotion agency who opened an office in Dundee . That was the year Albert Bonici out maneuvered his competition to present most of the popular British bands to the north of Scotland and certainly in the north-east as he worked with localized promoters to offer full tours. Malcolm Nixon Agency of London proceeded to book entertainment in Edinburgh, Glasgow, and some of the northern regions of Scotland though Nixon rubbed some of the locals the wrong way. This did not escape the attention of Mr. Bonici who watched the market to find and secure the best acts available for LCB Agency. Towards the end of 1962, he included an exclusive rights clause and in November 1962, Brian Epstein agreed to allow AA Bonici the option to host all future Beatles concerts in Scotland [which was dropped in a later negotiation]. Also, in order to stave off competition with the Nixon Agency, he began offering ten-day tours in Scotland rather than five in 1963.
According to personal communications between Cana Variety’s Jack Fallon and Albert Bonici, it was noted on a few occasions that Malcolm Nixon put off some of the localized promoters in Scotland which gave Mr. Bonici an advantage. However, Nixon hired young agents to man the new Dundee office including Andy Lothian Jr, who had run shows for Albert and eventually started his own promotions known as ALP [Andy Lothian Promotions]. According to Andy, he also accompanied Albert Bonici on his first trip to see Brian Epstein. The intent of the visit was to negotiate tours featuring the Beatles besides co-hosting other bands. In 1964, Lothian was editor for “The Scottish Beat” for Malcolm Nixon in Dundee. Albert who did a joint show with Andy in Dundee that summer, advertised in the periodical. Editor Lothian listed Malcolm Nixon Agency and Albert Bonici as the two largest promotion agencies in Scotland. By the end of 1962, Albert Bonici through his London booking connection Cana Variety Agency, 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.
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.
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, returning to Scotland early on the morning of the 3rd in time to get to the Elgin gig. “So it was that on 2 January 1963 the Beatles flew north from London to Scotland. The had been due to land at Edinburgh where faithful roadie Neil Aspinall… was waiting with the band’s battered van, loaded with their guitars and tiny amps, to ferry them north. But Scotland was shivering in the grip of a crippling arctic winter, sub-zero temperatures carpeting the whole country in a blanket of snow and frost. The plane was diverted to Aberdeen, which suited the band but left Aspinall having to make the long journey north alone on twisty, ice roads. The weather had already taken its toll on the concert arrangements: the first show, scheduled for Keith, where the band played two years before as the Silver Beetles, was scrapped as hugh snowdrifts blocked roads, making travelling impossible. Rather than hang around for a day, John Lennon used the unexpected break to fly back down to Liverpool to see his by now pregnant girlfriend Cynthia. Lennon promised to be bak in time for the band’s first gig at the Two Red Shoes the next night. Typically, though, he was racing against the clock and only made it to the venue with a little over an hour to spare…” The Beatles in Scotland: Ken McNab https://delanceyplace.com/view-archives.php?p=2800
John, Paul, and George had a bit of history with NE Scotland as they had backed Johnny Gentle in 1960 when they were under financed. The Beatles understood that touring as nearly unknowns meant they’d need to budget themselves, if not “tightening their belts” along the way.https://scotbeat.wordpress.com/2016/09/09/beatles-tour-scotland/https://scotbeat.wordpress.com/2014/05/26/the-silver-beetles-in-fraserburgh/ https://scotbeat.wordpress.com/2014/03/10/the-silver-beetles-1960-part-1/ https://scotbeat.wordpress.com/2014/03/10/silver-beetles-part-2/
Jimmy Russell’s account of the Beatles appearance in Elgin is that his daughter was working in the sweetie shop and had called her dad when the Beatles arrived. Besides letting him know they were at the hall, she mentioned that the guys bathed in a nearby river and had the odor of weeds. The story goes that Albert had Jimmy take them over to his house for a proper bath before they performed and again the next day before they went on to Dingwall for their second performances. After they had showered, shaved, and settled in [John and George in a local hotel], John came by the room Paul and Ringo shared, and whilst positioned by a window, seeing a young nurse boarding and the McBean’s B&B, reportedly commented, “Wow, wouldn’t you like to come over and take my temperature?” Recalling the night of the third, he said that whilst there were only a few dozen in the beginning of the Beatles performance, there were about 200 by the end of the night. This was actually a good night for the small dance hall especially considering the cold weather and in the middle of the week. By cover band leader Alex Sutherland’s account there were about 80 there, but Jimmy was taking tickets. Boots often had larger crowds since kids came from surrounding towns but it was decent considering the weather. The Dingwall gig was said to have a poor showing of less than 20 but the booking was in conflict with a traditional Irish band and it was a smaller hall. After the performance in Elgin, Jimmy sat with the Beatles for an hour or so whilst they were treated with food and coffee. Bonici looked after the guest acts this way. From what Jimmy could remember, they were dressed in black that night and were friendly young men though he didn’t think to get an autograph. Though ‘Love Me Do’ was just hitting the pop charts, most people didn’t suspect that they’d have two singles by the end of the month.
Note: Whilst interesting antidotes, the above account needs to be confirmed with either of the remaining Beatles. It was said that the Beatles who were traveling in a van, must have taken a dip in a river before showing up at the Park Cafe to meet with promoter, Bonici.
The former Park Cafe is the floor painted in red. The yellow door was used to transport equipment to the Two Red Shoes stage.
Northern-Scot 14 Nov 08: ‘Mr [Stan] Williams has spoken to some of the people who were at the Two Red Shoes about their memories, including the late band leader Alex Sutherland. He said: “Alex remembered Paul McCartney playing so well and singing ‘Till There Was You’. At the interval, they were taken down into the cafe for something to eat. “Albert Bonici, the owner, had a complaint from one of the diners that the noise coming from The Two Red Shoes was too loud. He tried to speak to them, but when he asked Lennon if he could have a quick word, Lennon said, ‘velocity’.”
I have heard about some interesting encounters with the Beatles during their tours in Scotland, including that of Adam Stewart who helped them at a petrol station in Forres the day after they performed in Elgin. He related how they chatted over a cup of coffee at the Oakwood Motel and enjoyed the conversation, especially George who led the conversation. It reminded me of Bill Cameron’s account when they were sharing the bill with the Beatles as George seemed to be anything but the “quiet Beatle” that the press described him as. “In the afternoon of their first show, The Beatles watched the teenage group from Buckie before they exchanged thoughts with the Copycats about guitars and music. Bill said that George [with ciggy in mouth] seemed nervous at their first encounter, though realized why later in the evening when hoards of screaming fans, some throwing “jelly babies”, made it hard for The Beatles to hear themselves playing. The second night, they showed up again as the Copycats were doing their sound checks. This time George came up with his guitar to jam with them, followed by Paul on drums, John exchanging vocals, and Ringo with a tambourine. When 17 year old Bill Cameron watched the Beatles from the wing of the stage, it was “like a dream” when the lights came up on the Beatles from complete darkness on stage. It was a memorizing experience for him, having been a fan since first hearing, “Love Me Do” on Dutch radio. Unfortunately for the Beatles, it was difficult hearing themselves sing at some of their concerts as girls screamed whilst the odd “jelly babies” were thrown on stage. One of the funny moments was when Peter Jay [Jaywalkers] shook a broom handle out the window to get the Beatles fans going from the street…”
Another of the more interesting encounters from the Beatles first mini-tour of Scotland, was Malcolm Strachan’s account which was recently related to Richard Houghton for “The Beatles I Was There” https://www.amazon.co.uk/Beatles-there-first-hand-accounts-people/dp/190595994X https://scotbeat.wordpress.com/2016/02/16/scottish-beat-bands/
‘ “On Sunday 6th January 1963 at the age of 15 Malcolm Strachan and two friends met The Beatles at Aberdeen’s Beach Ballroom. The band’s first single “Love Me Do” had entered the pop charts peaking at number 17. While no one could have imagined the incredible success the band would go on to achieve, Malcolm remembers a friendly encounter with a group who went on to change the course of musical history.
Malcolm was first aware of this new band, The Beatles, on a tea time show from Granada Television and was immediately intrigued .They were very different to other groups around in those days, no lead singer for a start. Then it was advertised that The Beatles were due to appear at The Beach Ballroom in January, price three shillings. The boys bought their tickets, little knowing that this was going to be a concert they would remember forever. As a fledgling bass player in a local band The Playboys, evenings at The Beach Ballroom provided a critical education for Malcolm and his friends. Every aspect of the musicianship and performance were absorbed, Johnny Kidd and The Pirates, Shane Fenton and The Fentones, Mike Berry and The Outlaws to name a few.
When the friends arrived that Sunday evening, they were early, also there was no dancing on a Sunday night and all the audience were seated. This was because The Beach Ballroom was run by the Town Council and therefore there was no drinks licence or dancing. The dance floor had a tarpaulin laid across it and chairs were laid out,in theory it was a concert.The boys then headed upstairs to a coffee bar area and to their amazement there were John,Paul,George and Ringo in a corner sitting having a cup of tea and smoking endless cigarettes. The boys thought nothing of going up and saying hello,they were smartly dressed in suits with a velvet collar and white shirts and ties and the cuban heeled boots. They chatted about how the tour had been going and about the music that people in Aberdeen liked,also they were interested to hear the type of material our band were playing.Their was definitely an aura about them,a confidence that they knew where they were going. Paul was the spokesman of the band even then, they were all pleased when we said we had seen them on television.Malcolm said he was the victim of John Lennon;s famously quick wit, at one point,when he asked about playing at The Star Club in Hamburg, quick as a flash John replied that is was like playing in a converted gas chamber.It took a minute or two to realise he was pulling my leg.
Below are memorabilia from the Beatles performance at the Beach Ballroom in January 1963 including an autograph [provided by Malcolm Strachan].
Cana Variety Agency [Jack Fallon] was Albert Bonici’s representative in London. Below is the contract with Brian Epstein to book the Beatles first tour. Because of weather issues in NE Scotland, the New Year’s dance in Buckie didn’t happen. The brief tour commenced in at Elgin’s Two Red Shoes, 3 Jan 1963.
Above is a reproduction of the first contract signed by Brian Epstein and Albert Bonici  and advert [Northern-Scot circa 12-12-62] 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 ’50s.
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. He also added a clause that gave him rights to represent return acts in Scotland which included The Beatles to the chagrin of his rivals. However, in the course of renegotiating the Beatles return to Scotland, Albert agreed to dismiss the clause after Brian Epstein agreed to having Mr. Bonici’s young band, The Copycats, on the bill for The Beatles Show. Brian continued to let Albert oversee the Beatles gigs in Scotland.
The first Beatles mini tour of Scotland was to begin in Keith and finish in Aberdeen but didn’t happen as planned as the snow delayed them and they first played at the Two Red Shoes, Elgin. The Keith gig, billed as a New Year’s Dance [2 Jan 63] with The Beatles and Johnny and The Copycats, went on minus the “Love Me Do” boys. The tour which began on the 3rd in Elgin was originally billed as a “pop package” [Northern Scot -1Dec62] was planned as The Beatles with the Dale Sisters. Instead, the show went on with the Alex. Sutherland sextet [Two Red Shoes house-band] and the Beatles did two sets. (The Dale Sisters trio performed on the 2nd in nearby Forres and at the Two Red Shoes the following week).
Beginning with the 3 Jan ’63 performance in Elgin, the group toured extensively and appeared on several UK television programs in that year. By 1964, they gained international success after agreeing to perform on The Ed Sullivan Show in New York. Here they are live at the Cavern Club singing Beautiful Dreamer with Ringo on the drums http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_md_z_g8sk Long time business associate, Jack Fallon, acted as a go between to book acts for Albert from his London office.
Joe, editor of the exhaustive Beatles site, http://www.beatlesbible.com/ wrote: “Jack Fallon was (with Bill Reid) one half of Jaybee, which ran a number of clubs across Britain in the early 60s. The Beatles played at a number of their venues. Fallon also played fiddle on Don’t Pass Me By on the White Album.” “Fallon was also involved in the industry as a booker/promoter, having established the booking agency Cana Variety in 1952. Cana booked primarily jazz artists in its early stages but expanded to rock acts in the 1960s, including the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Perhaps it was because of a long association during their early years of gigging, Fallon was asked by the Beatles to play fiddle on the song “Don’t Pass Me By”. Fallon continued to play jazz locally in London and in the studios into the 1990s. He published a memoir entitled From the Top in 2005, and died the following year at age 90.” After the first and second contracts were signed between AA Bonici and Brian Epstein, the two men brought several acts into Scotland and held mutual respect for each other. They both acted in a professional manner as Brian and Albert worked together to give several musicians an opportunity to build a fan base in Scotland. The tour was to commence with a New Year’s Dance in Longmore Hall, Keith with The Beatles and The Copycats sharing a bill 2Jan63. The Copycats who were already fans when Liverpool lads began charting with Love Me Do, were disappointed when it was a no show for the Beatles because of snowy conditions. However, Mr. Bonici made it up to the teenaged Johnny and The Copycats when they shared a bill the following year.
Above: This Beatles photo was the first that most booking agents and promoters saw. Photos had to be in by August 1962 for distribution and book would have hit the market by November when Bonici sought to book them through Cana Variety – London.
The Beatles were dubbed “Love Me Do boys” by AA Bonici in December 1962 as the song got into Luxembourg Radio’s top 20 just before their 1963 touring began. During their January tour of Scotland, Aberdeen beat fans took notice of them around town in their collarless suits before their performance. They had charisma and a smart look besides dynamic arrangements of cover tunes and a few compositions of their own in their performances.
The Beatles were meant to start a five day tour in Keith where they had played as a back-up band before reforming the group with Ringo Starr under Brian Epstein’s guidance. Because of snow conditions, their New Year’s show was canceled and they played their first performance at Elgin’s Two Red Shoes on the 3rd of January, 1963. A original band member from Alex Sutherland’s group, told me that they were impressed with their take on popular covers of the time. Though it was the dead of winter, their thursday night performance attracted 200 according to one of the ticket takers. Promoter Albert Bonici dubbed them, “Love Me Do boys” as Love Me Do was their first song which entered the charts, though Please, Please, Me soon took the number one stop on Luxembourg radio.
Fit Like, New York?: An Irreverent History of Rock Music in Aberdeen and North East Scotland [written by Peter Innes/published by Aberdeen Journals, 1997] is an interesting read and includes this bit about Aberdeen promoter Gordon Hardie and The Beatles first tour that finished with a performance at Aberdeen’s Beach Ballroom. Ten years after the book was written, Gordon told me that he worked for Albert Bonici on several occasion and that it was Albert who brought the Beatles to Scotland besides many other musicians.
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 though document below eludes to Brian Epstein asking for £200. According to co-promoter Andy Lothian who announced the Beatles in Dundee said Albert Bonici paid £500 for shows [unverified]. In any case, Albert Bonici [with an exclusive contract later renegotiated] stepped up to the plate to sponsor the Beatles mini-tours in Scotland. Though a large sum in those days, it was a calculated risk as he wanted exclusive rights whenever the Beatles played in Scotland. 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. 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].
Tommy Roe and the Tremors were one of few American “beat” bands to play north-east Scotland in the early ’60s. They performed at Elgin Town Hall in October 1963. Elgin, the largest population in Morayshire [county] had a population of 17,000 [currently over 23,000].
Tommy Roe medley: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWorrmfbuJ0 Beatles in Manchester ’63 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Suf7Wa2keQ
The Beatles were the opening act for Tommy Roe when they went on tour together in March 1963 though they changed the line up to closing act. American performer, Tommy had a hit with Sheila but The Beatles were gaining popularity. “Americans Tommy Roe and Chris Montez headlined the tour but after the first performance realized it was impossible to follow The Beatles. Roe said, “It was complete mayhem at the theatre with hundreds of screaming girls rushing the stage like lemmings. They were completely out of control, with only a few theatre staff and usherettes trying to keep some sort of order. How could you possibly follow that?” Subsequently, Roe and Montez agreed to drop down the bill, letting The Beatles close out the shows. The same fate would happen to Roy Orbison on his May 1963 tour when the Big “O,” with great dignity, also dropped down the bill. I spoke with Tommy recently at his home in Los Angeles when he recounted, “I got on very well with The Beatles. Every day began with nonstop questions about everything American. Evidently, their biggest goal was to go to the States.” – http://www.goldminemag.com/article/snapshots-tommy-roe-upstaged-in-u-k-by-the-beatles#sthash.cRDsjsEZ.dpuf
This is part of a brochure with descriptions of groups that Bonici and Epstein agreed upon as the featured acts at “The Beatles Show” which took place on the 29 and 30th of April ’64 in Edinburgh and Glasgow. There were four shows in this last Beatles tour of Scotland. There was a 6 PM and a 8:30 PM on both nights. The Copycats opened the shows and Charlie Simm was the announcer who told jokes between acts… According to the Copycats “potted history”, Mr. B agreed to strike exclusive rights to promote Beatles tours in Scotland [Nov/62 contract] to get the Copycats on the bill.
Brian Epstein and Albert Bonici promoted The Beatles return to Scotland on STV 29 April ’64 the day after another television appearance https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kB4DLj1_1c4. Also, “In their dressing room at the ABC, The Beatles gave an interview to BBC Scotland radio reporter Bill Aitkenhead, which was broadcast this same evening on the Scottish Home Service News.” Note: Their first appearance on STV was 8 January ’63 (Tuesday) when the Beatles appeared on “Round-Up” a children’s show on Scottish Television (STV) in Glasgow. http://www.love-the-beatles.com/book/index.php?option=com_books&view=page&id=7444&tmpl=component
Bill Cameron of The Copycats has memories of jamming with The Beatles during a sound check on the final night of The Beatles Show. Bill described it as “a highlight in his music career” with the Copycats. Originally, they were to have done a gig with The Beatles on January 2, 1963 as Love Me Do hit number 17 on Luxembourg’s top 20. The Beatles missed the gig because of ice and snow on the roads into Keith and the newly formed Johnny and The Copycats did the show alone. They got their chance to share a bill with the Liverpool group, the following year, just weeks after The Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show in New York and whilst they were working on the last scenes for their first feature film, A Hard Day’s Night [Walter Shenson production].
In the afternoon of their first show, The Beatles watched the teenage group from Buckie before they exchanged thoughts with the Copycats about guitars and music. Bill said that George [with ciggy in mouth] seemed nervous at their first encounter, though realized why later in the evening when hoards of screaming fans, some throwing “jelly babies”, made it hard for The Beatles to hear themselves playing. The second night, they showed up again as the Copycats were doing their sound checks. This time George came up with his guitar to jam with them, followed by Paul on drums, John exchanging vocals, and Ringo with a tambourine. When 17 year old Bill Cameron watched the Beatles from the wing of the stage, it was “like a dream” when the lights came up on the Beatles from complete darkness on stage. It was a memorizing experience for him, having been a fan since first hearing, “Love Me Do” on Dutch radio. Unfortunately for the Beatles, it was difficult hearing themselves sing at some of their concerts as girls screamed whilst the odd “jelly babies” were thrown on stage. One of the funny moments was when Peter Jay [Jaywalkers] shook a broom handle out the window to get the Beatles fans going from the street…
Bill still has a signed copy of the flyer from each of the Beatles though his sister tore off Paul’s signature and sold it as a child. Fortunately, part of Paul’s signature, “Pau” is above Ringo’s photo as Bill had pointed out that he was signing the wrong photograph. Here’s a snippet from the flyer.
The McKinleys, “… started a new career, singing with the leading Scottish bands, which has taken them to the top of the booming beat scene north of the border.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UY29MmNUswE
“Johnny and the Copy Cats are probably the youngest fully professional rock group in the country, their average aage being somewhere between 16 and 16 and a half years of age. They have been playing together now for approximately two years and have been professional for the last four months.” Here they are, fifty years later… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mim6BmmfnjE
Two of Brian’s acts who played on the 29th and 30th were The Remo Four and Tommy Quickly https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sGu3y3MNGJk&feature=youtu.be who Bonici booked in north of Scotland the week before [April 23rd]. In 1963, Mr. B was booking several acts managed by Brian Epstein.
It is presumed that Brian Epstein and Albert Bonici first met in January 1963 in Mr. Epstein’s office in Liverpool to hash out the terms for following engagements in Scotland. We know that the two had a strong business relationship and mutual respect that resulted in several of Brian Epstein’s acts to the Two Red Shoes and the north of Scotland. Brian understood that his groups would be looked after on the road. Besides those who Albert hired to perform various tasks, bands were often invited to a meal prepared by Betty Bonici in the Park Café, after a performance at the TRS Ballroom.
The first performance of the Beatles was originally planned for the 2nd of January to share a New Year’s Dance billing with Johnny and The Copycats, a young “beat” band managed by Mr. Bonici….
John Stewart from an interview on Keith Community Radio:
The CopyCats/[aka My Dear Watson] “shared the bill with many of the great groups of the 60’s, including The Beatles, The Hollies, The Kinks and Billy J. Kramer. The band – all the members came from Buckie – started in 1962 and turned professional a year later. They toured Germany – where Mr Stewart met his wife Gudrun in Munich – for five years and also played in France.The band appeared twice on the same bill as The Beatles – at Green’s Playhouse in Edinburgh in 1963 when Beatlemania had just taken off.Mr Stewart recalls the Fab Four saying “They were just ordinary guys, I remember meeting The Beatles and when we were introduced to them, Paul McCartney was playing Ringo’s drums and George was wandering about speaking to people”.“John was a bit stand-off-ish but they all spoke to us”.“I remember at the end of the tour we got a letter from Paul McCartney thanking us for appearing on the same bill!”But the band was due to appear on the same bill as The Beatles, a year earlier – at KEITH!Mr Stewart said: “We got on the bill first of all because our agent, Albert Bonici, held the rights of all the bookings in Scotland for The Beatles”.“We were due to appear with them on Hogmany night in Keith but they got stuck in the snow and didn’t make it and all the bookings they were supposed to do in the North of Scotland were scrapped.”
“Modern Dancing Enterprises presents the boys of ‘Love Me Do’ fame “The Beatles” in a Special New Year’s Dance in the Longmore Hall, Keith on Wednesday 2 January 1963 from 9pm until 1am. Tickets cost 5/- A bus will leave Buckie at 8pm going via the coast to Cullen and Deskford, another bus will run from Huntly via Dufftown”. The Banffshire Advertiser Dec 27 1962 http://www.multiplusbooks.com/630102.html [photo of hall]
“In the winter of 1962/63 The Copycats were due to appear at Keith Longmoor Hall with an upcoming band from Liverpool, The Beatles, who were promoting their new single “Love Me Do” in the north east of Scotland. In those days the far north had a climate that was quite predictable, winters were cold and summers were warm, on this occasion the wintry weather was against both the lads from the Pool and the Buckie Boys.
An audience of 300 packed into the hall only to be told the news that the Beatles were not going to make the gig, the wild conditions had claimed their victims, alas the only act appearing on that night were “The Cats”, who, put on a great gig (at no extra cost) and ensured that the crowd left satisfied, In those days it was just the done thing. Despite the Beatles not making it to Keith the story did not end there, the paths of both bands were soon to cross again…
A year or so later and into 1964, The Beatles were a household name, their music style was engrossing the nation and whilst still in their very early days they had already topped the charts with several tunes, the momentum of the Beatles was growing, not only in the U.K. but further afield in Europe and the united States. At the time, Albert Bonici, the Cats booking agent, held the exclusive rights to all the work the Beatles were to undertake in Scotland, an agreement that was not popular with Brian Epstein, the new Beatles manager. Naturally, Mr Epstein needed to manage this situation as the fab four from Merseyside were gathering momentum on a weekly basis, and so contact was made with Albert Bonici with a view to “buying” the Beatles out of the exclusive right agreement that was agreed in the years prior.
After several negotiations a deal was struck, the deal being that the Beatles were no longer contracted to Albert in Scotland, provided his young and upcoming band, (The Copycats) were included as a support act when the Beatles next appeared in Scotland. As a result, The Copycats were fortunate enough to appear with the “Fab Four” during sellout concerts in Glasgow and Edinburgh. With thousands of screaming fans, the hype and hysteria was unprecedented, and being part of this phenomena, the experience was truly mind-blowing, something that the five young lads fae Buckie would never forget. During the tour the band personally met George, Ringo, Paul and John, a memory that will last forever.” [from interview with John Stewart – Keith Community Radio]
Note: Harry Robinson who helped Albert Bonici with his first promotion in the north of Scotland  worked with The Beatles in November 1964 as Music Associate for “Around The Beatles” having already worked with many pop musicians in the early 1960s. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Around_the_Beatles https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x3r3t00
Across the street from the former offices of Albert Bonici’s LCB Agency, is the Elgin Museum where Bonici And The BEATSCENE is currently on display. More articles and photos can be found through the pages of https://scotbeat.wordpress.com
Early Beatles in Scotland posts: https://scotbeat.wordpress.com/2014/05/07/fallonbonici/ https://scotbeat.wordpress.com/2014/02/13/albert-bonici-promotes-the-beatles/ https://scotbeat.wordpress.com/2014/06/03/roy-orbison-the-beatles-and-the-pacemakers/ https://scotbeat.wordpress.com/2014/05/21/beatles-tour-contract-nov63/ https://scotbeat.wordpress.com/2014/05/10/scottish-beatles-tour-1963/ https://scotbeat.wordpress.com/2014/04/16/tommy-roe-with-the-beatles-circa-march1963/ https://scotbeat.wordpress.com/2014/04/03/the-beatles-1963-advert/ https://scotbeat.wordpress.com/2014/03/19/the-beatles-rolling-stones-and-arthur-alexander/ https://scotbeat.wordpress.com/2014/03/10/the-beatles-first-visit-to-scotland/ https://scotbeat.wordpress.com/2014/02/27/the-beatles-show/ https://scotbeat.wordpress.com/2014/03/10/the-silver-beetles-1960-part-1/ https://scotbeat.wordpress.com/2014/03/10/silver-beetles-part-2/ https://scotbeat.wordpress.com/2014/02/21/johnny-gentle-and-the-silver-beetles/ https://scotbeat.wordpress.com/2014/05/26/the-silver-beetles-in-fraserburgh/