The Beatles in Kirkcaldy: memorabilia and memories 60 years on from Fife gig

This week in 1963 The Beatles came to Kirkcaldy for two shows at the Carlton in Park Road. Sixty years on, several events and exhibitions around town will celebrate this anniversary – and rightly so.

In John Lennon’s words they had already peaked as the two-hour shows they once did was now reduced to 20 minutes or guest slots like the London Palladium which they indeed did play just seven days later to an audience of 20 million on live TV. This was when the term Beatlemania was first coined.

Their first album was number one, and their third single, She Loves You was still topping the chart after a six-week run at the top.

Hamish Stuart later of Average White Band, aged 14 won a competition in Glasgow’s Evening Citizen to see the group play Glasgow, it was his first concert, and he would later tour with the Ringo Starr All Starr Band.

Kirkcaldy boy John Stevenson won tickets from a newspaper by writing a poem and he would go on to form soul band Gaels Blue whose reunion shows still sell out today. Kirkcaldy teenager Jennifer Anderson won tickets and met The Beatles in the Carlton and had the insight to have her programme signed by all four, an item worth £10,000 today.

1963 was the Beatles breakthrough year, and Scottish author Ken McNab has chronicled each and every step in his new book Shake It Up Baby (Polygon, £22.00). He tells of how a Dundee promotor; Andy Lothian and his partner Albert Bonici from Elgin had booked the group back in January before the mayhem as they both had witnessed a less successful Scottish tour when Love Me Do was released but saw the potential as they had closed the show with Please Please Me.

What comes over is how much hard work the boys put in under the direction of manager Brian Epstein. To give an example, in January 1963 within the coldest snowbound month on record they were still travelling from Liverpool to London in an old Commer van. On January 21st they performed on Radio Luxembourg Friday Spectacular then next day it was BBC Light Programme Pop Inn then taped an insert for Brian Matthew’s Saturday Club and in between were interviewed for Scene magazine. By the end of 1963 they were unstoppable and in just a few weeks America was waiting.

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