In the days of Beatlemania we lived in an avenue in Manchester, North of England, just 33 miles from the Beatles hometown of Liverpool but in the early sixties it seemed like a World away. The nearest I ever got to Mathew Street in the 60's was my first trip to Goodison Park to watch Everton v Manchester City in 1966. It was a 10 minute drive away but of course I didn't realise that at the time.
When I say we lived in an 'Avenue' it wasn't the size of Fifth Avenue in the USA, this was a small cul-de-sac, a street or passage closed at one end. containing just 14 houses. Everybody knew and looked after each other. If somebody was home, front or back doors would be open and you would run into the house to see if a friend was coming out to play.
The music in my life stemmed from my gran, an uncle and auntie and crucially my mother.
The only records in our house in the late 50's were amongst others, Al Jolson and Perry Como 78's played on my gran's wind up record player, that was until an unnamed person sat on them when they were left lying around under a armchair cushion .
Uncle Bill & Auntie Marleen gave us a Dansette record player and a bunch of 45's including the Shadows, Adam Faith, Tommy Bruce and Charlie Drake, most of them were released around 1960 but we were ever so grateful as it meant the sound of music echoed throughout the house once more.
As well as the wind up and Dansette record players we also acquired a Gramophone player, a huge piece of furniture, there was nothing portable about it like the Dansette but it promptly found a home in our front parlour, the best room in the house, you could only go in their on a Sunday, when we had visitors or in our case taping music off the TV and Radio!
My mother was the 'musical' parent,, she didn't play an instrument but liked the music of the day. It was cool to me and it meant she took me to the local Co-op to go record shopping. Of course, time takes its toll but how I remember it was each time we went 'record shopping' I'd be able to pick a record I wanted to buy, even though I didn't have any money of my own.
Now here's the trick of the mind. I remember seeing the Beatles on television, hearing the single releases and the Beatlemania of She Loves You and I Want To Hold Your Hand. I remember hearing 'Can't Buy Me Love' hit the top of the charts listening with friends on the radio at the bottom of the avenue as we gathered under a lamp post each Sunday to listen to Alan Freeman's chart run down on BBC Radio, but, I don't remember buying any of those records. The first single I purchased, again with no money, was Nobody I Know by Peter and Gordon in May 1964 but I can assure you this wasn't influenced by it being written by Lennon & McCartney. I wasn't that aware, a month short of my 9th birthday!
I have many memories of the early-mid sixties including local Droylsden band 'The Factotums' doing a signing session on the steps of the Top 20 club for their first single 'In My Lonely Room'. The Top 20 was our local beat club that played host to the top bands of the day including the Kinks & Herman's Hermits.
Although too young for 'clubbing' I'd obtain the odd autograph with Wayne Fontana & Susan Maughan signing my autograph book.
Norman Taylor autograph
One vivid memory is a Sherpa van pulling up on Craven Street, adjacent to the club with Herman's Hermits literally scratched on the side of the van. A guy got out and signed my autograph book, it read Norman Taylor, 'Road manager'.
Being a Beatles fan in the 70's was mostly a lonely place with less people interested in the solo Beatles careers than as a band. Getting somebody to go to the gigs and discussing Paul McCartney's latest hit single was fine but a mention of the latest George Harrison or Ringo Starr record and to a lesser extent the latest John Lennon release and the conversation would swiftly move on.
In the 70's I was like a cat with three not nine lives, collecting Beatles/solo records mostly on the day of release as I had a job by that time. Going to discotheques in Ashton Under Lyne & Manchester and attending rock concerts. ,
If Status Quo were in town I was there, loved Quo, Uriah Heep, Groundhogs, Stray, Montrose, Mountain, Greenslade and a few others were seen at the Free Trade Hall, the Apollo Theatre, while Eric 'I Shot the Sheriff' Clapton and 'Show Me the Way' Peter Frampton rocked the King's Hall, Belle Vue
Yes, I also managed to get to the 1973, 1975 and two 1979 Paul McCartney concerts in Manchester but unlike today when we'd hang around before and after the concerts, as soon as the gig ended it was off to the discotheques. I even wore a blue velvet jacket with a white shirt and trendy long collar outside the jacket at the Wings 1975 concert at the Free Trade Hall, but I digress.
Early 1981, I used to go out with a mate for a pint on Friday night, well actually at least five nights a week. He worked in a local factory and it seemed every Friday night we used to bump into a mate from his works along with his brother in law.
One particular Friday I wore a Wings'79 sweatshirt, Phil the brother in law commented on it and asked 'are you a Beatles fan? It was then I noticed he was wearing a couple of small Beatles badges on his jacket.
Over the coming weeks Friday night changed from talking football night to talking Beatles night and eventually the two workmates called off their Friday night out with us!
One of the first Beatles events I went to with Phil was the Beatles at Abbey Road Show in September 1983, the first time fans had been let into Abbey Road and the Beatles famous Studio 2.
It was an amazing experience as we roamed around Studio 2, playing the original keyboard used on 'We Can Work It Out., sat at a replica Beatles drum kit, did backing vocals into microphones actually used by the Beatles themselves.
The highlight though was two 45 minute films packed with unreleased Beatles songs never heard in public and here we were in the Beatles Studio 2 with a huge bank of speakers playing these future classics.
The highlight was undoubtedly the premier of the acoustic version of 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps', you could hear a pin drop in there. Remember this was 1983, it wouldn't be officially released until 1996 on Anthology Vol.3.
This was the first of many Beatles adventures with Phil including Beatles Days, Conventions in Liverpool, Beatles Fanzines and gigs.... but Abbey Road Show will always be a highlight for me but little did I know that the following year we went to an event that changed my Beatles life...