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.


My research began in 2007 as a visitor to the north of Scotland. With a fascination for the beat music era that took place throughout the UK, my research investigates the late '50s through early 1970s. Relying on interviews, the Albert Bonici archives, and other resources, I continue to gather materials to tell the story of a special time in music in the mid 20th century. Scottish promoter, Albert Bonici, brought many of the top beat music acts to Scotland which delighted music lovers during the early days of the beat music era. SCOTBEAT was created to share a bit of history about the BEAT years in Scotland and remembers the contributions of promoter, Albert Bonici, a man with a vision who, with the help of his family and staff, created a happening that is still fondly remembered by those who attended dances and concerts. Recently, I worked with a BBC crew on the first of the Rip It Up: The Story of Scottish Pp series and hope to help with another project. Here are a few local articles related to my recent research: Besides other local resources and interviews, SCOTBEAT presents exclusive photos, adverts, and documents from the A Bonici Archives [circa 1960s]. Unless otherwise agreed, materials are not to be used for financial gain and ask that you respect the terms below. Materials presented are not to be used for financial gain without consent. © 2014-2019 All rights reserved. No part of this web site may be copied, redistributed, broadcast or published in any form without crediting this blog and/or copyright websites mentioned. All correspondence, flyers, programs, and photos from the Bonici Archives are not to appear in print other than through the propietor of SCOTBEAT. Use of the site signifies your agreement to all of these terms without condition. Please reference when sharing materials found here as the site is continuously updated to present the subject matter accurately and as a historical resource. Thank you.

Posted in 1960's pop music
2 comments on “The Beatles and The Who at Scotland’s Two Red Shoes
  1. Dorothy DeMond says:

    So incredibly fascinating! It is a great thing that you’re doing to keep the the musically Rich period Alive! Keep up the great work! We’re all so very thankful

    • scotbeat says:

      Thanks Dorothy… really appreciate your comment and glad that you’re enjoying the blog. It’s been an exciting journey for me looking into a special time in the Scotland’s musical history…

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