On August 3, 1963, The Beatles played their last ever show at The Cavern. It was a bittersweet watershed…
Among the astonishing 250-plus shows that The Beatles played in 1963, a couple were especially poignant. On April 8, The Beatles were entertaining the Swimming Baths in Leyton, east London, while Cynthia Lennon was alone in Sefton General Hospital, Liverpool, giving birth to Julian. It was not yet necessarily the custom for fathers to attend births in 1963, but even so, Lennon would not have a moment to meet his first-born until April 11, squeezed between shows in Birkenhead and Middleton.
We all felt it was their swansong.
Another significant gig was the August 3 booking at their former proving ground, The Cavern. Since the most recent of their 280-plus previous engagements at the Mathew St cellar on April 12, the tenor of the fans had changed. Quoted in Spencer Leigh’s book, The Cavern, club doorman Paddy Delaney recalled, “The crowds outside were going mad. By the time John Lennon had got through the cordon of girls, his mohair jacket had lost a sleeve. I grabbed it to stop a girl getting away with a souvenir. John stitched it back on.”
Cavern DJ Bob Wooler told Leigh that The Beatles, sharing the bill with The Escorts, The Merseybeats, The Road Runners, Johnny Ringo & The Colts, and Faron’s Flamingos, were paid £300 – "quite a bit of money then" – which meant the club, charging 10 shillings for 500 tickets, made a loss. Tony Crane of The Merseybeats sensed a certain sniffiness on Lennon’s behalf regarding the venue’s customary slick of condensation and primitive facilities – The Beatles had already got used to better – but the band’s actual performance was familiarly peppy, with an impromptu acoustic When I’m 64 filling in during a short power cut.
"The Beatles were very professional,” noted Wooler, before acknowledging the end of an era. “We all felt it was their swansong and that we would never have them at The Cavern again."
And, with The Beatles still allegedly owing six dates on a Cavern contract they would never ultimately honour, such proved to be the case.
“The fans gave, record companies gave, the media gave, but we gave our nervous systems…” Read MOJO’s in-depth feature on the year everything changed for The Beatles, and the world, in full!