Len With The Beatles

As four musicians prepares to recreate a famous 1963 Beatles gig, one Comet country drummer knows what it was like first time round - as he was on the bill.

On Friday tribute band The Upbeat Beatles will bring the excitement of seeing the Fab Four on the verge of Beatlemania to the Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage. But for Letchworth’s Len Crawley he only has to close his eyes and it is like Yesterday.

Len of Wilbury Road was a 21-year-old drummer with Stevenage band Linda Laine and The Sinners when they were asked to play in support of a little-known band at The State Ballroom in Kilburn.

“We did a residency at the ballroom and we were asked a few months before the gig if we would like to support The Beatles,” he said. “As we had hardly heard of them we weren’t particularly bothered but we accepted the offer and afterwards we were glad we did.

“They had released Love Me Do which was hovering in the charts, but by the time it got to the gig Please Please Me was about seven in the charts.”

Len who went on with The Sinners to secure a two-year contract with EMI and now plays keyboard with The Barron Knights said the gig was unlike any other.

“We got there in the afternoon and The Beatles arrived about five or six o’clock. John Lennon walked in and he said ‘look lads they’ve got a bird with them’.

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“We shared the same dressing room. George Harrison borrowed a guitar string from our guitarist because he hadn’t got any with him in exchange for two Peter Stuyvesant cigarettes. I remember Paul McCartney did our singer’s dress up.

“They were a great laugh. I asked Ringo to move his drums before I went on because there wasn’t enough room. He said ‘we’ve got a roadie for that’.

“We went on before. We were just a pop covers band really. They came on and were completely different.

“They sounded great. They really did. A lot of backbeat. It was the real deal.

“The place went crazy. The fans just went mad. There were bouncers everywhere. I’ve never seen anything like that.

“They went off out the back door. They wouldn’t have even got out the dressing room door otherwise.”

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