Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Lewisham Odeon 1963: The Beatles (twice) and Ray Charles

Fifty years ago, on March 29 1963,The Beatles played at Lewisham Odeon. They were on tour with Chris Montez and Tommy Roe - in fact they weren't even mentioned on the ticket. Their setlist on this tour contained six songs: Love Me Do, Misery, A Taste Of Honey, Do You Want To Know A Secret, Please Please Me and I Saw Her Standing There.

Being interviewed back stage at Lewisham, March 1963

By the time they returned on 8 December 1963, Beatlemania was in full swing. In fact when tickets for the show went on sale a couple of weeks before, police had to hold back the crowd (picture below - guy in the front seems pretty pleased to get a ticket!).

This time there was no doubt whose name was on the ticket.

According to 'The Beatles' London' by Piet Schreuders et al, the band were driven to the venue from Ladywell police station in a police van (The Beatlespictured below in Lewisham Odeon, December 1963).

Beatles autographs collected at Lewisham Odeon December 1963

Crime writer John Harvey, who was at Goldsmiths at the time, recalls at his blog Mellotone70up:

'Love Me Do...'The Beatles’ first Parlophone single. October, 1962. Nothing astounding, then, but somehow I remember the where and when. John Phillips and I had been round the corner from Goldsmiths’, a café [caff, properly] on New Cross Road, mostly likely listening to the juke box – Roy Orbison, something about dreams – and from there we went up to Ann’s and Kelly’s flat nearby. Maybe ‘Sid’ James joined us and we went with him, that would make a kind of sense. Anyway, when we got there someone – one of the women, I imagine – said, ‘You’ve got to listen to this,’ and put it on...

...when the Beatles came to Lewisham Odeon, just down the road, which they did twice in 63, it never occurred to me to go. For one thing, by then the screaming was such no one could properly hear what they played or sang, and for another, well, it wouldn’t have been very cool. Not that that stopped me going to see Del Shannon...  midway up [or down] a bill he shared with Gerry and the Pacemakers, Duffy Power and Cilla Black. And fun as it was to hear ‘Runaway’ and ‘Little Town Flirt’ in person, for me the big Lewisham Odeon event of the year was Ray Charles, complete with his full orchestra and, of course, the Raeletes. If I close my eyes, I can still picture him swaying side to side at the keyboard, still hear that incomparable voice singing ‘Georgia On My Mind’

The Odeon on Loampit Vale was originally opened as the Gaumont Palace cinema in 1932. It closed in 1981 and was demolished ten years later.
The Gaumont Palace (later Lewisham Odeon) in 1932 - lots more pictures of it on Flickr

Paul McCartney sang again at the Lewisham Odeon in 1974 - with Rod Stewart


Anonymous said...

Miles Davis played lewisham once as well I think . . .

no hope of a return to those days, when lewisham didn't need 'regenerating', whatever that means

Anonymous said...

Emerson Lake and Palmer and the who pre 1981
The rolling Stones and support acts such as Charlie and inez foxx and Mike berry and the innocents

Unknown said...

Just found the site and what do I see, but a picture of me at the Lewisham Odeon. I had queued all night to get a ticket so I was indeed very happy.

Anonymous said...


Maureen said...

My best friend and I were there in 63 right at the front 4 shillings. We saw everybody there, The Who, Kinks, Yardbirds, Animals, Manfred Mann, Tina Turner, Merseybeats, Long John Baldrey, Walker Brothers, far too many to mention. Fantastic memories of those times.

Unknown said...

I saw The Four Tops and then The Supremes(sadly Diana Ross had left by then). then years later Ian Dury and the Blockheads, 2 times.

Anonymous said...

What year did Bobby Womack play there please? I know it was October 21st as he sang me 'Happy Birthday'... but I don't recall the year.

Unknown said...

My mum was 13 when she queued by all night to buy tickets to see The Beatles there ! She said the tickets were 75 pence

Anonymous said...

My!!! dad took the day off work to buy me a ticket for the beatles and the bloke in front of him bought the last 10 tickets !!!
Shortly after as 2nd choice I went to see the stones glad I did.
My big brother and his wife offered me a ticket to go and see ray Charles with them but as a 14 year old beatles fan I regrettably said no thanks. Stupid !!!