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The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today : Thursday, April 18, 1963

During the first half of 1963, the BBC presented and broadcast live, three concerts direct from this famous venue, each performed in front of an audience. The Beatles appeared on only this occasion, in a show titled "Swinging Sound '63", alongside a host of other artists, including Del Shannon, the Springfields, Lance Percival, Rolf Harris, the Vernons Girls, Kenny Lynch, Shane Fenton and the Fentones, and George Melly.

The concert was a fairly complicated affair, taking place in two distinct halves, 8:00 to 8:50 and 9:10 to 10:15 pm, with an interval in between. Only the second half was broadcast; the first was not even recorded, so in essence, this could be classified as a Beatles concert appearance and the sencond half a live radio appearance. Furthermore, the BBC's General Overseas Service beamed a simultaneous broadcast across much of the globe between 9:15 and 10:00 pm, which meant that overseas listeners missed out on the Beatles by seconds, since they did not play in the second half until 10:02 pm.

This was the Beatles first appearance at the Royal Albert Hall, a venue they would remember in their 1967 song "A Day In The Life", and they spent virtually the entire day there, mostly in the dressing room. They were called at 10:15 am for a 10:45 to 11:30 rehearsal, and again at 12:45 pm for a 1:00 to 1:30 rehearsal of the concert's finale.

Fellow Liverpulian, jazz singer and arts critic George Melly introduced the Beatles on stage during both halves of the concert. In the first, at around 8:40 pm, they played two songs, "Please Please Me" and "Misery", with only the briefest of pauses in between.

In the second half, broadcast live, the group sang "Twist and Shout", and "From Me To You", again segued. They had planned on opening with "Thank you Girl" released earlier, but switched it to the more upbeat "Twist and Shout" at the last moment, unbeknown to the BBC producers Terry Henebery and Ron Belchier. In the grand finale, all the acts on the bill, including the Beatles, crowded onto the stage for an instrumental blast of "Mack The Knife", which they played for over three minutes, until the "Light Programme" broadcast was faded down at 10:15. (Written in 1928 by Kurt Weill for "The Three Penny Opera", "Mack The Knife" has since been recorded by hundreds of artists.

After the broadcast Paul first met his fiancee-to-be, aspriring young actress and "teen" TV personality Jane Asher, who (earlier in the evening) had posed, screaming for the Beatles, for a photographer from "Radio Times", the BBC's weekly listings journal.

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