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The Day we met The Beatles


Page 1


From the moment he saw them on ‘Thank Your Lucky Stars’ Dick HaIl knew he’d become a Beatles fan. He was besotted with them and knew they were no flash-in-the-pan group. No, they weren’t here today gone tomorrow, they had something different. They had a magic all of their own.


So it wasn’t surprising that Dick, and his wife Maureen should one-day get to meet his heroes. This is their story.


The year was 1966, the month was June, and it was Saturday 25th. The Fab Four were due to perform at the Grugahalle in Essen in Germany. Maureen and I had tickets and so we set out from our home for the long drive from Hildesheim to Essen.


We left home at about 6:00am in our Simca 1000 with a selection of Beatles tapes and a few sandwiches for the journey. It turned out to be a memorable journey and a fantastic day and night.


We arrived in Essen around 2:00pm and made our way to the Grugahalle. At the hall we were met by hordes of Beatle fans; many with tickets and many many more with no tickets at all. Most hoping to get a ticket on the black market, and failing that, perhaps a glimpse of The Beatles as they entered the hall.


There were kids of all ages, ranging from 13 - 50 and even some in their 60s. The Beatles crossed all barriers - age, sex, nationality and language.


I must describe the Grugahalle for you. It is massive in size as Tennis tournaments are held there. If you could imagine Croke Park with a roof on it you would be near to getting the picture. We approached the entrance door and Maureen would not present the tickets until she was 100% positive that the doorman was genuine. But no tickets were handed over, and we were directed into this absolutely enormous hall. Before we went to our seats we were invited to leave our coats in the cloakroom and were given tickets for retention.


We would be seated about 100 - 150 feet from the stage and we would be looking at the stage from an angle. When we looked at the size of the hall and saw where some of the audience would be sitting Maureen said "Aren’t we lucky" and I guess we too.


The hall at first was slow to fill up. We saw one couple who were handcuffed together, and in a seat behind us sat a woman who was over 70 years of age and she looked as young as any of the teenagers in the hall.


Once in the hall we were free to move about and this we did. We went right down to the stage, which was fronted with large metal barriers beyond which were a number of burly security men. I approached the metal barrier and made an attempt to get over it; it was only about 4 feet high. Looking at me was a security man, or should I say a security giant, for he was about 6.4" and about the same in width. He asked "Ausweisse bitte", which is German for ‘Pass Please’. I didn’t have a pass and so I said "No". His voice went up about five decibels and he bellowed "Raus", which is polite for "Go Away", and so I did.


Maureen met me and said "Let’s go back to our seats, we can see them from there". I didn’t want to see them from there, I want to meet them, and I want to touch them, I want to be at the stage. I want.... I want.... I want. Talk about a spoiled brat.


At the sides of the stage were some steps leading down to under the stage. We went down there and up the far side and now re-entered the hall opposite to where we should be sitting. The same barrier was present here and when I approached it, there on the opposite side was a clone of the security guard I had met previously with the exact same command of the German language ‘AUSWEISSE BITTE’ - No - RAUS.


Back we went under the stage; l was cursing like mad. Not only did I have to question the parenthood of the security men - I voiced out loud that I was sure their mothers didn’t know who their fathers were, never mind them themselves knowing.


Maureen was saying "Don’t get upset Dick, come and we’ll go up and sit down and watch the show. The show would consist of support acts including Peter and Gordon (World without love); a German group called the Rattles (a German version of the Monkees) - a bad one I might add.


Also on the bill at Essen that day was Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers (Got to get you into my life), so it would be some time before the Fab Four would grace the stage.


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