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The man credited with discovering the Beatles and who became the band's first manager has died at the age of 86. Allan Williams was also the original owner of Liverpool's Jacaranda Club. The Jacaranda tweeted: "Today our founder and the man who discovered the Beatles passed away. Allan Williams, you will be missed."

Williams worked with The Beatles from 1960 to 1961, getting the band gigs in Britain, and in Hamburg where their future development was shaped. Born in Bootle, Williams opened Jacaranda on Slater Street as a coffee bar in 1957 and it became a popular meeting place for many of the young musicians who were soon to make Merseybeat a worldwide phenomenon.

Paul McCartney, John Lennon and Lennon's fellow art school student Stuart Sutcliffe were among the customers and they asked Williams if they could play at the club. Initially, he asked them to work on decorating the venue before allowing them on stage. After helping to secure the band gigs at other venues, Williams personally drove the van to take the Beatles to Hamburg in 1960. But he parted company with John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Pete Best and Stuart Sutcliffe in 1961. The following January, the band - minus Sutcliffe - signed a fiv details

George Michael bought the piano on which John Lennon composed the classic hit song Imagine so it would not end up in storage and could be 'seen by the people'.

The Wham! frontman anonymously paid £1.67 million for the upright historic Steinway formerly owned by the ex-Beatle at a pop memorabilia auction in 2000.

Purchasing it so it would stay in the country, Michael was later revealed as the owner of the instrument and announced he was going to hand it over to the Beatles Story museum in Liverpool. 

Before the auction, the piano had been loaned to the museum by a private collector who bought it in 1992, but when the collector decided to sell it there were fears it would be lost to wealthy Beatles fans in Japan or the US.

In an interview around the time of the purchase Michael said it was 'worth every penny' as he confirmed it would be returning to the city. 'Having paid one and a half million pounds for it I'd really like to play something on it and stick it on my next record,' Michael added. 'So as I'm recording right now I think I'll hold on to it for a couple of months and see if I can get it on to my new record and then it's going back to the museum in Liverpool where I think it ri details

Sam played a key role in the early years of the Fab Four.

A key figure in the early years of The Beatles has died, it was announced today.

Former concert promoter Sam Leach had been suffering from cancer and died at his Liverpool home early this morning, just days after his 81st birthday.

He was famous in the Liverpool area in the early 1960s for his concert promotions at venues such as New Brighton’s Tower Ballroom, where he put on shows including such rock ‘n’ roll giants as Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard.

Sam was once touted as a possible manager for the group before Brian Epstein took over the role. The concert promoter staged more than 40 Beatles gigs in 1961 and ‘62. Famously, he organised one in the Hampshire town of Aldershot to which only 18 people turned up after a newspaper advert failed to appear.

After The Beatles rose to fame, Sam continued to devote his life to Merseybeat history and toured the world lecturing on his former proteges. He was a regular sight at The Grapes pub in Mathew Street , where he signed copies of his book, and entertained tourists with tales of his days with the Fab Four. He kept in regular touch with Sir Paul McCartney and details

Day I cut John Lennon's first record - Sunday, December 25, 2016

Sam Wright looks back at the Lancashire music maker who turned down The Beatles

“Just a bunch of youngsters, banging away on guitars, hoping to get somewhere.”

One Oscar, 10 Grammys and more than 1bn album sales later, Derek Marsh may have revised his first impression of The Beatles.

At the height of the post-war entertainment boom, Marsh and his record label, Deroy Studios, existed as a minor Mecca for ageing crooners and ambitious upstarts in the mid-20th Century.

It all began in 1947, when a young Derek Marsh ended his days with the RAF by handling Voice of the Forces, a small, war time recording service in India. Air force personnel, unable to get home for a family occasion or special celebration, would transmit their respective greetings and messages on six-inch records courtesy of both the War Department and Marsh’s technical expertise.

The service coupled primitive recording equipment with fervent enthusiasm, becoming a forces’ favourite in the process. With this post war gratuity, and passion for contemporary music, Marsh returned to his family’s private hotel in Riding Street, Southport, infused by the spirit of invention he had kindled in details

WHENEVER Lady Catherine Mancham hears The Beatles’ I Want to Hold Your Hand, she thinks of Paul McCartney — with good reason.

He once held her hand in a suite at Melbourne’s Southern Cross Hotel.

Back then, Lady Mancham was Catherine Olsen, a young reporter with The Sun, and she had talked her way into a private audience with the Fab Four at the height of Beatlemania, just hours after they touched down in Melbourne on June 14, 1964 for a series of concerts at Festival Hall as part of their world tour.

Like any great reporter, she came to work on her day off on the off chance she might get the story of the day.

“I think we were all fans of The Beatles. I wasn’t a crazy fan of The Beatles but I thought that they were great, and I wanted to get the story because I was a keen young journalist and I thought it would be a feather in my cap,” Lady Mancham said.

“So I just hung around, met the manager and he got me inside the hotel. He plied me with drinks, he drank a lot himself, but I tipped my drinks into the pot plant and eventually I said, “’Right, where are The Beatles’, and he took me up there.”

More than 50 years la details

In 1963, The Beatles began a festive residency of Finsbury Park. We found it was an era when all the best bands played in Seven Sisters Road.

Every town or city where The Beatles played one of their early shows likes to claim the same thing: “Beatlemania started here.” There is Liverpool and Hamburg, of course. Hell, even some people in Romford claim Beatlemania started there after a couple of shows in 1963. In that case, we might as well add Finsbury Park to the list.

This week 53 years ago, Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Starr began “The Beatles Christmas Show” – their residency of Finsbury Park Astoria in Seven Sisters Road.

Rick Burton, an expert on the theatre’s history, insists: “That was the start of Beatlemania. The shows were from Christmas Eve 1963 until January 11, but sold out instantly.

“The audience screamed when they walked out, and didn’t stop screaming. George Harrison said they were the best shows they ever did, and said Finsbury Park Astoria had the best audience.” The Beatles had only released two albums by this point, which meant they were not above doing silly sketches (described by one onlooker as “so bad&rd details

We’re closing 2016 by republishing our ten most-read articles of the year. Here’s No. 9: James Woodall on celebrating the musical contribution made by the forgotten Beatle: Ringo Starr

‘He was the most influential Beatle,’ Yoko Ono recently claimed. When Paul and John first spotted him out in Hamburg, in his suit and beard, sitting ‘drinking bourbon and seven’, they were amazed. ‘This was, like, a grown-up musician,’ thought Paul. One night Ringo sat in for their drummer Pete Best. ‘I remember the moment,’ said Paul, ‘standing there and looking at John and then looking at George, and the look on our faces was like …what is this? And that was the moment, that was the beginning, really, of the Beatles.’

I think Ringo Starr was a genius. The world seems to be coming around to the idea. Two months ago, he was finally accepted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — the last Beatle to be inducted. About time too. On 7 July he turns 75.

Some might now plead, enough. Ringo should surely just be celebrated for being Ringo: daffy, doleful, odd. Ousting for good in mid-1962 the gloweringly sexy, Mersey-fan-adored Best, Ringo chanced details

This wasn’t the first time we’d shared a bill with the Beatles. A few years earlier, they were our warm-up band, when we headlined the Cavern in Liverpool. We really admired them.

I was the trombonist in the Mike Cotton Sound, a footnote to the 1960s music scene. On this occasion, we were their support band; we are pictured here at the press call for Another Beatles Christmas Show, a follow-up to their successful production a year earlier.

The show opened on Christmas Eve and ran until 16 January, and consisted of variety performances, with sketches and comedy that seemed anachronistic even then. Produced by a friend of Brian Epstein, it was lavish, with cascading waterfalls that flooded the stage. We started the night on a revolving podium and the leads kept getting tangled up. Jimmy Savile was compere; none of us liked him. He was an awful show-off.

At the press call, John Lennon knew all the photographers and journalists, and called out to them: “How do, Daily Express? How’s it going, Sunday Times?” So we called out, too, reflecting our lowly status: “Hello there, Willesden Chronicle!”

I’m standing next to the singer Elkie Brooks, apparently with details

As has already become clear during Wonder Week, Stevie Wonder is pretty much better than all other pop musicians at all the stuff that pop musicians do. Concept albums? Stevie did ‘em the best. Funky jams and schmaltzy love songs? Yeah, he nailed ‘em both. Oh, you thought it’d be fun to dabble in drumming? Self-taught Stevie only became, like, the best drummer on Earth.

And, of course, everyone covers the Beatles. Everyone. But it’s notoriously hard to cover the Fab Four, because they tended to perform definitive, unimprovable versions of their own tunes. The only exception? Stevie Wonder and his cover of “We Can Work It Out,” not only the best Beatles cover of all time but the only one that is definitively better than the Beatles’ original.

Like many Motown artists, Stevie Wonder was a Beatles fan—of sorts. “Stevie loved the Beatles, mostly Lennon and McCartney for their writing,” Wonder’s childhood best friend John Glover says in Mark Ribowsky’s Stevie biography Signed, Sealed, and Delivered. “That was where he saw their genius, not their performing—in fact, he didn’t think they performed some of their songs as well as he details

Sir Paul McCartney and wife Nancy Shevell supported his son-in-law on Monday in New York City. The 74-year-old rock legend and Nancy, 57, attended a screening of the upcoming British romantic drama This Beautiful Fantastic written and directed by Simon Aboud. Simon and Paul's daughter Mary McCartney, 47, married in June 2010.

The Beatles singer and songwriter kept it casual with a white shirt under black denim jacket and black trousers for the event at Park Hyatt. Nancy went with the casual chic look in a long-sleeved white blouse with gold trim. 

Simon, 51, looked sharp in a crisp white shirt, black jacket and black trousers. Paul earlier this year joined daughter Mary and her sister Stella, 45, for a screening of the film in London. The BAFTA screening in February also drew Noel Gallagher, Chrissie Hynde and former Dr Who star Andrew Scott. 

This Beautiful Fantastic was written and directed by Simon and is due out in the US in early 2017. The British romantic drama follows a young woman Bella Brown, played by Downton Abbey star Jessica Brown Findlay, who dreams of writing children's books. She lives next to a curmudgeonly old widower Alfie Stephenson, played by Tom Wilkinson, and they strike details

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