The Story of how The Beatles played The Kinema (OK, ... almost played).
On Friday 3rd August 1963, The Beatles played for the last time at The Cavern Club Liverpool and nine weeks and a day later, on Sunday 6th October 1963, they played two 30 minute shows (6:30pm and 9pm) at The Carlton Theatre, Sinclairtown in Kirkcaldy with 'in support.
This wasn't the original plan though. Andy Lothian Promotions in connection with Albert Bonici began negotiations to bring the fab four to Scotland and approached Cecil Hunter ('Mr. Kinema Ballroom') amongst others in Dundee and Glasgow ... and Cecil turned them down! Popular local legend has it that Cecil's decision was a purely financial one, however around the same time it seems, the Fab's manager, Brian Epstein, had ruled that due to the growing hysteria shown at their performances, the group would no longer play ballrooms and dance halls and would only play all-seated venues such as theatres or cinemas. (Ref: Mark Lewisohn's book 'The Beatles Live!').
So then, which story is true?
Basically both stories are true ... but one after the other ...
Firstly I have it on the best of authority (direct from Cecil Hunter's son, John) that Cecil did turn down their original booking enquiry to play The Kinema Ballroom. However the decision was not made on the basis of finance at that time, because their fee was only £40 per night. The simple fact of the matter is that Cecil's wife, Sally, saw them on TV on in a paper "she did not like the look of them". It was that simple. A case of early Girl-Power surely! I can further substantiate this story with an actual quote from Cecil himself who said in an interview with The Dunfermline Press "The wife had seen them on the telly and she did not like the look of them, so when they first came to Scotland I cancelled their booking - but they proved me wrong" admitted Mr Hunter. (I understand that Sally Hunter was a formidable character!).
The facts are that The Beatles suddenly became HUGE and they out-grew 250 capacity venues like the Kinema, almost overnight. (The Kinema's rebirth with the extension to a 1000+ venue did not occur until more than one year later on November 30th 1964). Consequently Brian Epstein's £40 a night fee for The Beatles became £500 a night ... in one step.
Subsequently The Beatles were successfully booked to play 'The Raith Ballroom' on 'The Prom' in Kirkcaldy before they were moved to the much larger 1500-seater Carlton Theatre in Park Road (netting Andy Lothian & Albert Bonici £100 profit!). Tickets cost 15/- and songs performed included 'Do You Want to Know a Secret', 'I Saw Her Standing There', 'Love Me Do', 'From Me to You', 'Please Please Me' and 'Twist and Shout'. This venue swap helps to substantiate the Epstein 'theatres not ballrooms' ruling. The Carlton (opened in 1937) later became a bingo hall and was sadly burned-down in 1972.
So Cecil booked 'Horace Demarco & The Kool Beats' for The Kinema instead that night and exactly seven days later, fifteen million people watched 'The Fab Four' perform on 'Sunday Night At The London Palladium' and Beatlemania was born. In March of 2006 a handbill advertising the Kirkcaldy Carlton gig above was advertised for sale on eBay for $3,500! (though did not sell) and a fully signed programme recently sold for £6000!
Incidentally, the band was photographed with winners of a Daily Record competition to meet The Beatles backstage at their gig in the Carlton cinema in Kirkcaldy and two of the the six girls were fifers (Lily Thomson, 17 from Methil and Valerie Hunter, 18 from Rosyth). The girls found George & especially John to be very friendly and chatty but Ringo & Paul in particular was a bit "stand-off ish".
But the smiles in the picture hid a row - Beatles manager Brian Epstein initially refused to allow the girls backstage, as his group were "too big for that sort of thing" He was only slightly premature ... very soon they would be!