Ipswich: It was 50 years ago today... The Beatles’ first visit to Ipswich remembered

The Beatles meeting fans backstage at the Gaumont Theatre, Ipswich, in 1963.

The Beatles meeting fans backstage at the Gaumont Theatre, Ipswich, in 1963.

It was just another Day in the Life of the nation’s hottest new pop group but for hundreds of people the arrival of The Beatles in Ipswich 50 years ago today was an event they would never forget.

The Beatles first visited the Ipswich Gaumont in May 1963 with Roy Orbison

The Beatles first visited the Ipswich Gaumont in May 1963 with Roy Orbison - Credit: Archant

John, Paul, George and Ringo arrived in Suffolk on the back of a rare one day break in their hectic touring schedule that saw them play relentlessly around the UK throughout 1963.

They were on the road with Roy Orbison, who they had bumped off the top of the bill due to their soaring popularity.

The visit from the “hit parade musical group”, as they were described by the Evening Star the following day, was tucked away on page 13, meriting only a picture and not even a review. By the time they returned 17 months later for their second and final date in the town they were well and truly front page news.

With the release of From Me to You on April 11, 1963 the band would secure the first of what would become an unprecedented run of chart success.


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The track, backed by B-side Thank You Girl, climbed to the top spot on May 2 and led the charts for seven weeks in total, knocked off by tour-mates Gerry and the Pacemakers with I Like It on June 22.

Gerry and the Pacemakers were on the bill in Ipswich on May 22, along with Roy Orbison, David Macbeth, Louise Cordet, Tony Marsh, Terry Young Six, Erkey Grant and Ian Crawford.

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Orbison, known as The Big O, was riding on a wave of success following hits including Only the Lonely and Dream Baby, Running Scared and In Dreams.

The Fab Four took to the stage at The Gaumont, now known as the Regent, which held more than 1,500 fans, and played two sets of seven songs on the night.

Tickets for the shows were priced at between 10s 6d or 52 1/2 pence – about £8 in today’s prices – and 5s 6d or 27 1/2 pence – about £4.20 now.

Former East Anglian Daily Times and Star photographer Dave Kindred had joined the company only a few weeks before and recalls how the visit from The Beatles was far from the talk of the office.

Mr Kindred, who was just 18 at the time and was able to take pictures of the band when they returned the following year, said: “They had just about surfaced then so the story is bigger now than it was in 1963.

“People who were over about 20 were not interested in The Beatles –they were probably more into Elvis Presley still. In ’63 British pop music was really new. Before The Beatles there was Cliff Richard and Billy Fury, the imitation Elvises were the best British pop had offered.

“They had had their early two hits (but) I don’t think anyone could foresee that anyone would be talking about it now, 50 years on. It’s extraordinary really, the impact that they did have but it grew and grew and got bigger by the week.”

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