The Beatles' Strangest Gig

Neatorama presents a guest post from actor, comedian, and voiceover artist Eddie Deezen. Visit Eddie at his website.

John, George, Pete Best, Paul, and Stu Sutcliffe in 1960

As we all know, there is a time in every performer's career where they are "complete unknowns." Yes, there was a time, really not so long ago, when no one knew or had ever even heard of Frank Sinatra or Woody Allen or Meryl Streep. And so it was with the greatest, most famous, most deified show biz act of the 20th century: The Beatles.

In the summer of 1960, none of the usually-employed Beatles even had a day job. And like us all, the boys wanted to make some money. The then-foursome consisting of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Stuart Sutcliffe played the oddest gig in the Beatles' long and storied history.

In those days, the Beatles were such a small-time act, they didn't even have a drummer: Tommy Moore left the group in May after a traffic accident, and Pete Best joined in August. John, Paul, and George would play guitar and Stu Sutcliffe was the band's pretty mediocre bass player.

Allan Williams

The Beatles, in those days, had a semi-manager named Allan Williams. Williams was one of those "on the fringe" show business figures we're all so familiar with- the guy who was always trying to hustle up a "deal," the guy with the "big dreams," the poor chap who never really got a break.

Anyway, in that summer (July is usually considered the exact time) of 1960, Williams had just opened up a new club called "The New Cabaret Artistes Club." This was what we now refer to as "a gentleman's club," i.e. a high class strip joint. Williams had hired an entertainer for the man, a stripper, to perform that July week. Her name was Janice. She was a stripper from Manchester (in some accounts, her name is given as Shirley).

Allan Williams approached the four "layabouts" and asked if they'd play backing music all week for Janice the stripper. After some initial resistance, the four Beatles had haggled out an equitable financial deal. Supposedly, Sutcliffe was the tough negotiator and got them a fairly decent fee. "Why so much?" Williams had asked them during the negotiations.

Paul had replied, "For the indignity. The bloody indignity of it all!"

A fee of 50p (about two dollars) per night was agreed upon for each musician. That came to 250p for the week per man, i.e. around ten dollars.

Janice the stripper wanted the Beatles to play her usual selected repertoire and handed them the sheet music. That was pointless, as none of the Beatles could read music. It was reputed that during the engagement they played such songs as "Moonglow" and "The Harry Lime Theme" from the movie The Third Man.

Janice was a bit of a tease (being a stripper, of course). After each number, she would bow to the crowd, then she would turn around and bow facing the four teenage boys -stark naked. According to Paul: "She would turn around -completely starkers. We were just lads. We didn't know where to put ourselves."

Not that I know anything about strip clubs (ahem!) but it must have been an incredibly surreal sight in that incredibly surreal week, seeing a smoke-filled club filled with lonely, sex-starved men, in front to them on stage a sexy stripper and standing a few feet behind her, four teenagers who were, in a few short years, to become the most famous and influential human beings on the planet.

Stu Sutcliffe

The week's series of gigs backing Janice went on without a hitch, and the Beatles wrapped up what was -undoubtedly- the strangest gig of their career. The very unusual week was hardly ever mentioned in the countless later interviews given by John, Paul, or George. (As a sad sidebar, Stu Sutcliffe died tragically young in 1962, at the age of 21.)

One wonders whatever became of Janice (or possibly Shirley). Maybe she is still alive. But we can safely assume one thing: Wherever she went, wherever she performed, as long as she lived and breathed, every friend, relative, and acquaintance of Janice heard her stories regaling and boasting about the week she was backed up as a stripper by The Beatles.

Stu, John, Paul, guest drummer Johnny Hutchinson, and George in May 1960

A lot of this information is trivial however. Note that it is common to dwell on the background of the people we idolize, it is enjoyable to learn about the roots of the people we love. But what about the people we hate?

Let's clap our hands for the president and Jesus Christ and did I mention Charlie Manson and everybody else, who was nice.
- Daron Malakian, System of a Down
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"...and standing a few feet behind her, four teenagers who were, in a few short years, to become the most famous and influential human beings on the planet."

Well, three of the four anyway.
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In the last picture, that's Pete Best at the drums, not Tommy Moore. I've read a lot of Beatle books and I don't recall ever seeing a photo of Moore. The stripper story was accounted in at least one book, but I couldn't tell you which. Thank you for sharing this great bit of history.
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I agree, Durango, I don't think I've ever seen an actual photo of Tommy Moore. But it is not Pete Best in that picture. I believe the drummer that day was a fill-in (note his different outfit) because the Beatles had no drummer. His name was Johnny Hutchinson. If he looks bored and distracted, that's because he was. At the time of that photo, the Beatles were a small-time band. Johnny's actual band was Cass and the Cassanovas, a bigger name band. This is a photo of the Beatles auditioning for a tour of Scotland. This photo is May of 1960 and Pete didn't join the band until August.
And Miss Cellania, thank you for the great pictures you added!!!
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So you are saying that you seek pleasure, and no doubt economic gain through your ventures here on Neatorama and elsewhere to the exclusion of measures of importance and superficiality and possibly ethics? Just wondering if it's all about personal satisfaction or if there is any notion of duty or a higher-purpose.
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I don't know, I send you links to stuff that appears to be neat like Lev Yilmaz's Tales of Mere Existence or the TEDx talk on Emotional Equations. You don't ever post them, maybe you don't want to give me credit and have to put "Thanks Ryan S" which is fine, just leave me out of it.

You know George Harrison was a very enlightened man who's private work reflects his depth of philosophy, the few songs he wrote for the Beatles also reflect this philosophy, such as; I, Me, Mine, Here Comes the Sun, Think for Yourself, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, All Things Must Pass and The Inner Light. One of my personal favorites was his solo track "My Sweet Lord".

You know, nobody talks about this part of the Beatles. They don't talk about how "Hello, Goodbye" is an artistic statement of non-duality, a la, the Hindu religion which Harrison was steeped in.

"Hare Krishna, Hare Rama" - My Sweet Lord, George Harrison.

I guess it really does depend on what tickles your fancy. I'm pretty sure for Harrison, Hinduism was more important than the Beatles.
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The biggest break in my career was getting into the Beatles in 1962. The second biggest break since then is getting out of them.
-George Harrison

The world used us as an excuse to go mad.
-George Harrison

We were talking about the space between us all and the people who hide themselves behind a wall of illusion. Never glimpse the truth - then it's far too late when they pass away.
-George Harrison

When you've seen beyond yourself, then you may find, peace of mind is waiting there.
-George Harrison

"From the Hindu point of view each soul is divine. All religions are branches of one big tree. It doesn't matter what you call Him just as long as you call. Just as cinematic images appear to be real but are only combinations of light and shade, so is the universal variety a delusion. The planetary spheres, with their countless forms of life, are naught but figures in a cosmic motion picture. One's values are profoundly changed when he is finally convinced that creation is only a vast motion picture and that not in, but beyond, lies his own ultimate reality."
- George Harrison
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My dream is to get to reboot The Fantastic Four. The story begins when Reed, Sue, Johnny, Ben, Stu and Pete steal a rocket and fly to space where they are hit by cosmic rays. Stu and Pete jump in an escape pod and avoid the mutations experienced by the other four. Unfortunately, the escape pod hurtles to earth with no parachute and lands on some dude named Ryan S.
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Might I suggest to Ryan S to chill...and then go start his own blog somewhere else where he can become a master-de-bater by himself... Thanks for the stories are doing a fine job.
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