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23. November 2003  
The man who gave The Beatles away

Click to enlargeSaturday afternoon I was lucky enough to enjoy a couple of hours at Atlantis Pub here in Oslo listening to The Beatles' first manager Allan Williams. Allan Williams is also known as the man who gave The Beatles away (to Brian Epstein) and is also in the top 5 list of the worst business decisions ever made.

Allan was managing The Beatles from 1959 to 1961, when they were just a group begging to play at different venues in and around Liverpool. Later they left for Germany, where they played at the Star Club in Hamburg. The great Liverpool bands in those days were Rory Storm and the Hurricanes and Gerry and the Pacemakers. The Hurricanes drummer, Richard Starkey, (a.k.a. Ringo Starr) later left the Hurricanes and joined The Beatles and the rest we all know.

We all tend to think that it was Liverpool that shaped and formed The Beatles and their sound. Not at all, says Allan Williams. The Beatles became what they were because of their playing in Hamburg.

You'll find a few pictures from the happening here. And while you are at it, take a look at Rune Lund's collection of Beatles mementos.

"Listen", Allan says. "They played every night for 7 - 8 hours the entire week for 6 months! And in addition they practised during the daytime. Obviously they were talented, but with all that energy put into playing and songwriting you're bound to be good."

If he's a bitter man? No, he claims. "But I can't stop thinking what would have happened if I didn't have had that quarrel with John Lennon about the money they owed me!" (Actually Allan claimed that The Beatles owed him 30 which they denied they did. And he wrote them a letter saying he should make sure they would never ever work again!)

"Guess who didn't work" Allan says with a smile.

Allan still lives in Liverpool and is 73. He's the co-author of two books:

"The man who gave The Beatles away" (with William Marshall) (1975) and "The fool on the hill" (with Lew Baxter) (2003). Read them, they give a fascinating picture of the music scene in Liverpool and Hamburg in those early days of Beatlemania.

"The man who gave The Beatles away" is going to be made into a TV-series or a TV movie.


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