Saturday, June 25, 2011

Beatle Supporter Spotlight: Allan Williams

First it was Mona Best's turn to be in the spotlight; now it's Allan Williams's turn! When you think about the people who managed the Beatles, you probably think of Brian Epstein first and foremost. If you know a bit more about the group, Neil Aspinall, Mal Evans, and maybe even Derek Taylor come to mind. But let's not forget the kind Welsh bloke named Allan Williams who acted as the group's very first manager.

Allan owned a bar called the Jacaranda (or the Jac, as the cool kids called it) that was adjacent to both the Liverpool Institute (where George and Paul went to school) and the Art College (where John made trouble and Stu tried to become an artist). The boys asked Allan for the chance to play at the Jac, but he instead employed them as redecorators until they scored (pun intended) a gig backing a stripper there.

At that point, the group did not have a regular drummer (finding someone with a kit was tough in late-50s Liverpool!), but when they obtained a drummer in Pete Best in order to fulfill the German club owners' request for Allan to send a 5-piece band to Hamburg, Allan made the decision that would leave an indelible mark on the group's history. He sent them to Hamburg in the summer of 1960. As you might know, the 12-hour sets the group played in Hamburg are generally cited as the reason why they went from a fairly average band among many in Liverpool to a truly stand-out group of performers.

They brought the energy that they learned to generate in Hamburg back to the Cavern Club in Liverpool. It was that energy and raw youthfulness that led Brian Epstein to see potential in them. As they say, the rest is not only history, but an unprecedented musical output in the subsequent 8 years, not only in quantity, but in quality. And Allan Williams, a short, soft-spoken Welsh bloke who turned a watch-repair shop into a coffee bar, was responsible for starting it all.

You can still visit the Jac today, as it's still a working club! Here it is today:

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