THE CATACOMBS CLUB
Allan repeated his previous offer of a partnership with me if I find a suitable type of cellar, preferably like the Cavern Club, which had just opened in Liverpool. The Cavern Club was in the cellars of a fruit warehouse and the ceilings were large round red brick arches, rather like high dungeons. It was later to become the legendary home of the 'Merseysound'.
As the Cavern & Jacaranda were beginning to compete with each other for business, I decided to return to Blackpool for that special cellar. I soon realised that there were no building, which had cellars of that kind in Blackpool. This was because it was a coastal town susceptible to flooding so there was no reason for cellars to be built. I decided to look further afield. The next big town was Preston about 14 miles away so I decided to take a look there. It took me about three months to find a suitable place.
The snow was now lying on the ground. Preston was an old town so it had to have the right sort of cellars somewhere. I made a point of drinking in every pub in and around the town centre. Everybody knew that I was trying to find a large underground labyrinth. During a conversation one night in the 'Derby Arms', the landlord told me that Lord Derby himself had lived in a mansion which had been replaced by that pub. He went on to say that during the building of the pub, they had found some underground tunnels but they had since been filled in. He went on to say that the stables of the mansion had been on the other side of the road, which was in those times just a pathway. The next day found me up bright and early and in Preston library researching all the old maps of the area. I found what I was looking for, the old plan of the Derby estate.
These plans led me to Derby Street, which was just a normal type of Preston street, rows and rows of semi-detached houses each side of the street. About halfway down on the right hand side, were two large wooden doors wide enough apart for two cars to enter side by side. I entered through a small wicket gate door to find myself in a cinder-floored yard surrounded by the backs of the houses and shops, which had their respective fronts on the roads around. Facing me across the yard was a newish building with a sign over the door, which read 'Derby Yard Whist Club'. At the side of the building I noticed a black square patch where the snow had fallen on water. I took a closer look. The wooden trapdoor, which had once covered the hole, was now hanging inside almost rotted away to nothing.
I felt a tingle of excitement. Somehow it felt right. All I could see in the hole was water and so I enquired at the club above as to what was below. The old man who was in charge of the club told me that it was the remains of the old Derby mansion cellars but that the drains had collapsed. He went on to tell me that the owner was a local market trader who sold vegetables and that several years before, he had used the cellars as a warehouse to store his produce. He gave me the name and address of the owner and I wasted no time.
The owner was a wealthy old man who said he had only one son about the same age as me, who was studying to be a lawyer. He showed me some old photographs of his warehouse that he had taken many years before. It was perfect, exactly what I was looking for. It consisted of seven arches side by side, rather like an old brick bridge. He agreed to rent the property to me for a period of three years at only 30 bob [£1.50] a week. That was incredible. It was for free! I agreed and the papers were drawn up the next day.
I hired an industrial water pump and set about pumping the cellar dry. A couple of days later, torch in hand, I dropped down into the mud and slime to investigate my empire. It was going to be a fantastic place. I could see it immediately, all I had to do was dry the place out, put in new drains, remove the six walls between the arches, build toilets, build an entrance and fire exit, lay a floor suitable for dancing, build a stage, a bar, tables and chairs then paint and seal the walls. At all costs I had to preserve its original brick appearance.
I decided that I must get the place dried out and cleaned up before I called Allan for I was not sure that he had the imagination I had or the need. I hired a van and bought seven 50-gallon oil-drums from the local scrap-yard. I also ordered 2 tons of low combustion coke from the coal-yard. I set up a drum in each archway, perforated each one with a pick-axe beforehand and then set about lighting seven fires. I then rented a small apartment not too far away so that I could tend to the fires.
The next month was spent in looking after my fires. I used a long fire hose to help me breathe. Twice a day I had to refuel my barrels, the heat down there was intense but I managed to keep them all alight until the place was completely dry.
The walls were about two feet thick, so they took a long time to dry. Once dry I set about concreting a 2-foot border around the building to prevent future flooding problems. I then gave the place a clean out. It took several truck loads to remove the debris which I had thrown out with nothing more than a spade.
I had only £200 left and so I called Allan and told him to come fast as I had found another Cavern. He was there the next day and on seeing the premises, was so impressed that he whisked me off to his solicitor's office to draw up a partnership agreement. It was agreed that we were to be equal partners on a 50%-50% basis. I was to organise the conversion and to manage the club on completion. Any money that he put into the venture was to be taken out of the profits first. When he was paid back, we agreed that I would then also draw a management salary as well as my 50%.
We then drew up rough plans as to how we would decorate the club. Allan suggested that we call the club the Jac 2, but for the first time of what would become a normal occurrence, I disagreed with him. "Okay then," he said, “we'll call it ‘The Preston Cavern Club’." Once again I disagreed. He replied, "what do you suggest?" I thought for a while and the name 'Catacombs' came to mind. I suggested the name to him and his eyes lit up with delight. "Yes," he said, "that's a great name." That night Allan and I went out on the town. We went to the sleaziest pub in town, known to be frequented by the lowest class of townspeople. Allan pointed out to me that it was imperative to the success of the club for me to get to know all the hard cases and prostitutes in town. When the club was open we would know who not to let in.
After a few Bacardi & Cokes, Allan was on the microphone singing his heart out. Everybody was amazed he was so good. It was not until later that he told me that he had been trained as an opera singer. The locals and the prostitutes were all over us. The word was out all over Preston and within an hour the pub was packed to the doors. Allan's voice, personality, black mohair suit, not to mention his 3.8 Jaguar car parked at the front door, impressed those people so much that they thought that he must be an international star en-route to a flash venue in Blackpool.
As the night wore on, Allan suggested that we now go and visit the local 'plush' nightclub 'The Flamingo'. The owner knew Allan, as he was a member of Allan's new plush nightclub in Liverpool, 'The Blue Angel'. We were treated like VIPs as we drank free champagne and were introduced to the girls of the high-class night scene. One girl in particular, Nicky Mulvey, agreed to help us organise our future club. She was to be a big help as she was the unspoken leader of the female social set. I now had an 'in' and Nicky was always there ready to help me.
The next day, Allan and I opened a joint bank account in the name of "The Catacombs Club". Allan deposited £1000 to open the account, then departed for Liverpool saying that he would send me 'two men and a van' in the next few days. The men arrived a few days later and the conversion got underway. I soon found that if I paid the workers in a lump sum at the end of the week, they would not return to work until they had drunk every penny away. I would spend useless days on end, searching for them in the pubs and shebeens. I decided that it might be a better idea to pay them on a daily basis: that way they could get a little drunk every night but not paralytic.
Three months passed by, and the conversions were almost completed. Allan came for another visit and we made our opening night plans along with Nicky. It was agreed that we would form our own steel band in Preston, as there was a large West Indian community. For the first few weeks Allan would lend us Woodbine's Royal Caribbean All Steel Band, who would also train the new band in Preston.
The band arrived a couple of days before we were due to open, as they had to make the musical instruments for the new band. The 'pans' as they were called, were nothing more than old fifty-gallon oil drums, similar to the ones that I had used to dry out the 'Catacombs'. Five drums were needed to make the 'pans'. There were two bass, a cello, middle and lead pan. 3 drums were cut to varying lengths then all 5 drums were heated over a big wood fire that they had built in the middle of the yard.. The notes for the various instruments were chiselled into the top of the varying length drums. We then bought a second hand piano, which they required to tune the drums so that the exact notes would match. The lead pan, when finished, looked like a cartwheel, each of the 22 notes being the spaces in between the spokes. The other drums had less notes, but when all five were played in unison, they made a good sound.
Everett, Otto, Bones & Slim as the band were called, did a good job. The instruments were now ready, as was the club. Nicky and I were busy handing out the introduction leaflets. Our main targets for members were the local students and nurses. We handed out five thousand of these flyers.
The opening night was a success beyond our wildest imaginations. We officially opened by 6pm and by midnight we had 600 people pass through the door each paying 10/- membership fee plus 5/- entrance fee. That's £450.
We had about ten fights at the door but with Tommy, Woodbine and cutlass plus Allan and I on the door, the fights were short and sweet. We had already anticipated these squabbles in advance and were well aware that there would always be trouble on the door of such a club. The first couple of weeks were always the worst as one sorts out the chaff from the grain. The 'Educational Period' as we called it.
The mentality of the people of the Northern working class was that, if a place didn't look like a plush joint, then any yobbo should be allowed in, in any state. We had to teach them that appearances were not always the deciding factor. We had opened a door to each club for people to enjoy others company and good music, not just another dance hall where one went to get drunk and have a punch up. The problem of the door that bothered me most was that Preston, unlike Liverpool, had a colour problem. The white population did not mind the blacks if they were entertainers but on a social level it was obviously strained. We had to be very careful about how we controlled the membership with regard to the blacks otherwise we may have ended up with an all-black club and they never lasted long because of their liking for marijuana.
I decided to control the situation by insisting that all black people, if they could not prove that they were students, nurses or entertainers, would not be allowed in unless accompanied by a member.
On the first few nights I saw Allan's reasons for getting to know all the prostitutes because they all tried to get in, were refused and returned on many occasions under many different disguises. Rosy had the most famous boobs in town; she was a real tryer. Allan told her, "Come on Rosy love, this is not your type of place. You're better off in a man's place, not here this place is for students". She left in a rather disgruntled manner, trying to look elegant as her high heels slipped on the cobblestone yard and he red knickers showed beneath a mini skirt which was far too short even in those times. F
That night she was back. This time her blonde hair was down on her shoulders and the sloppy sweater she had donned over jeans almost hid those two huge mounds of bulging flesh beneath. This time I was alone on the door and I felt sorry and embarrassed to recognise her and refuse her entry again, especially as she had tried so hard to get into the feel of the thing. I told her straight, that we were running a club where we wanted young girls to feel confident enough to come alone and that if ever we allowed known hookers through the door, then those young girls would not come any more as they would be afraid that the boys might think that they may be 'professionals' as well. I think she understood because she left sobbing to herself. I remember thinking then, how nasty we were to each other but that's life. If I let one in, then I must allow all.
The first night of the 'Catacombs' was a raving success. We had to send everybody home at 7:30 in the morning. They didn't want to leave as they loved the place so much. Allan and I stuffed the first nights takings into a brown paper bag and returned to my newly acquired apartment to count the loot. We had taken £800 in total, £600 in membership and entrance fees and £200 in bar money. We had only spent £200 to open the place and so we were well and truly chuffed. I was on my way to becoming rich and only nineteen. If only my old schoolmasters could see me now, they would have to swallow their words.
The next night, Woody told me that he had an old friend of his in town that could play the lead pan very well. His name was Errol Daniels. We went to visit Errol at his home, which was just around the corner from the 'Cats'. He was a very impressive West Indian and on first meeting him, I felt like he was born to be a Zulu chief. Woody told him that we wanted to form an all-steel band for the club. He said he had just the people, as he himself played lead pan and sang. He knew all the other capable musicians in town. We left it to him. The next day, "Errol Daniels and the Lions" started to rehearse.
Errol and I became very good friends over the years but one day he disappeared and I have never seen him to this day. I would hope that if he ever reads this that he would contact me.
The first couple of weeks The 'Cats' had many turns and a few days later Allan arrived with two fruit machines and a jukebox. They would not interfere with the band as the stage that they played on was divided from the coffee bar area. Allan had made a deal with the company that owned the machines. We would pay them 50% of the takings and we would empty them together each week. We earned about another £200 per week from the three machines: great - money for nothing!!
I soon bought myself a large car, which I used to run the girls home in. I had three girls working for me, two in the bar plus one in the cloakroom. They were very pretty and extremely popular with the boys. They became known as the 3 M's due to their names all beginning with the letter M, Meryl, Maureen and Margaret.
The first few weeks passed and as Woody's band loaded into Allan's car, Woody gave me his cutlass and told me that I needed it more than he. Now I was on my own for Tommy also returned to Liverpool but before he left he told me that he was returning to Liverpool to form a sort of Doorman / Bouncers' Union. He said that if ever I needed any help all I had to do was to give him a call and he would have 30 Bouncers in Preston within the hour. I must admit that it gave me a great deal of confidence to know that I had someone to call in dire emergency.
By now Errol's band was becoming popular amongst the members and I had also found a local Rock & Roll band which called themselves the 'Bobcats'. They used to play on the lunchtime sessions, which we had between 12 and 2:30pm. This was very popular with the younger set who worked as secretaries & shopkeepers.
I was later told by Bill Harry, the editor of that music paper called Mersey Beat, that the owner of the Cavern Club in Liverpool, Ray Macfall, had seen how successful my lunch time ‘Lunchtime Music ‘n Coffee’ sessions were, so he copied them in the Liverpool Cavern. Then my old friend from years before in Blackpool, Brian Epstein now had the courage to go and see those Fab Four playing during the day, As Brian was a gay and a Jewish boy, he would never ever go out at night to such a crowded dirty stinky noisy place like the Liverpool Cavern Club. (This can be read in his book ‘A Cellar Full of Noise’.) I guess it could therefore be said that because of my lunchtime sessions being copied the Beatles became what they are today because of Brian finding them at midday.
I put out the word that I needed a local doorman, a few of the local hardcases applied but they were all brutes, so ugly that they would succeed in frightening away most of the members. One night I was introduced to a very tall and strong looking boy of about nineteen years of age. He was the son of the town grammar school headmaster; therefore his intellect was exceptionally high. His hands were much bigger than normal and he was able to punch the wall in a frightening way without hurting himself. His tactic was to threaten the yobs without having to actually hit the troublemakers.
He was a strange sort of character, spoke five languages and had passed out of grammar school with the reputation of being the cleverest student they had ever had. The night that I met him, he was dressed in a very loose-fitting black suit accompanied by a collar and tie. Unusual attire for this kind of club but Paddy felt more at ease dressed like this than any other way. I was later to realise that he always wore a suit in those days even when the 'Cats' was so full that the sweat was running down the brick walls to form puddles on the concrete floor.
Paddy at 6'3" was a formidable looking character and perfect for the 'Cats'. He started the next day as a general help which also included cleaning the men's toilets, such a stinky place when below ground level with no ventilation. Often it would flood out onto the dance floor. Paddy would soon be on the scene with his mop and bucket, a funny sight in that suit but Paddy could not be embarrassed, he was far above it.
About once a week Alan would book a top artiste to appear, first in Liverpool and then at the 'Cats' in Preston. One day he phoned to tell me that he had arranged for 'Screaming Lord Sutch' to appear. Now Sutch was famous for creating publicity wherever he appeared. He arrived as arranged at mid-day but took us all by surprise as he arrived with his band 'The Savages'. They had on the costumes of cavemen and had left their van on the other side of town to walk across the town centre. In Woolworth's store, Sutch had run amok, scaring the assistants so much that one had to be taken to hospital with nervous hysteria. The story hit the headlines in the evening paper and the 'Cats' was packed to the doors.
Sutch closed his show that night with the number called "Goodness Gracious, Great Balls of Fire" but his idea to accidentally set the club on fire went disastrously wrong. Before the show he prepared a metal bucket with petrol and rags. The idea was to throw a match into the bucket during his act and then the band would play music to the sound of a fire engine. One of the group dressed in the uniform of a fireman would close the show by dousing the fire. Unfortunately, Paddy unknowingly poured the contents into another bigger bucket as he needed a small bucket to clean the toilets. The trouble was that the bucket that he emptied the petrol soaked rags into was made of black rubber. When Sutch threw the match into the bucket it burnt the bucket as well sending clouds of acrid smelling black smoke into the club. Everyone went stampeding to the exit and the man who was meant to douse the fire could not get through the frenzied crowd. Consequently, the fire got out of hand and the real fire brigade had to be called. They saved the day and we got even more free publicity than we could ever have hoped for. Luckily, nobody was hurt.
The next act that Alan sent was a little more respectable. An artiste that currently had a number one in the top ten charts with a song entitled "Tell Laura I Love Her". His name, Ricky Valence. He went down well but the regular appearances of the Liverpool groups went down even better, for the 'Liverpool Sound' was growing out of its infancy and being recognised as the latest thing. The writing was on the wall so to speak and the London talent scouts and agents were becoming a common sight to us in those days.
Our most popular Liverpool groups in the following order were:- The Big Three, Rory Storm & the Hurricanes, The MoJos, The Beatles, Gerry & the Pacemakers, The Searchers, Cass & the Casanovas, Freddy Starr and Derrie Wilkie & the Seniors. Most of these groups would regularly appear at the 'Cats'.
My favourite groups were the Big Three, and Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. Rory Storm, The King Of Liverpool UK. Yes KING of The Pool was he. Nobody even came near to Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, featuring Ringo Starr on drums, and Jonny Guitar. In the 50s,and 60s, Butlins Holiday Camps were all the rave. Working class heroes were in abundance at Butlins, and Rory Storm topped the bill as the master showman of the North. Unfortunately Rory had a stammer, he could not converse. He once told me, with the help of his mouthpiece Ringo Starr, that a bomb had dropped too close to his mother during the last war whilst he was still in her womb.
I arrived in Liverpool, Rory was definitely the cat's whiskers.
His was the top act in the Pool. And he lived that image to the full, with his great big winged open topped white car, and his white suit and shoes, his bleached hair in its own unique style of one big wave, flying across his thin faced high forehead. A fine face to behold. His energy on stage was unequalled, he was a great ball of fire.
I often booked Rory Storm and the Hurricanes to open my new venues. He and Ringo were such good guys, that they sometimes even helped me decorate the clubs. In fact it was them that taught me how to make paper mâché for the cavernous effect of the Witches Cauldron Club in New Brighton. Rory needed Ringo as his alter ego, that is to say, both on and off stage. On stage it was Ringo's prominent confident beat that pushed Rory through the stammer barrier. Rory's stammer only returned after the shows, when the time came for him to talk. But Ringo was always there. That is until Brian Epstein came out of his closet, and appeared.
Eppy, the new music manager, took over the Beatles from my partner Allan Williams. Now Eppy really could not fail in his promises to Ringo, as he had the backing of his parents' string of music shops called North East Music, NEMS for short. Ringo, Rory's voice, took the bait to become the world’s topermost popper most drummer. This left the King without his stimulus. Brian then took over all the other talented musicians in Liverpool. But he left Rory to stew in his abandonment. As time passed, all the top groups left for London, following Brian and The Beatles. Rory was now once again alone with his extremely limiting stammer.
One day I received the news that Rory Storm and his mother had committed suicide. Rory was really my mate, so was Ringo. I miss you both ohhhh so much now. Ohhhh did I tell you Rory was also boyfriend of my girlfriend Moe. And he used to bring her to visit me in prison in his big white Rorymobile.
In those days the groups used pills, uppers, downers and rounders. Rory and the Big Three always brought me a few when they came to play, so I could always get high with them. I used to like to sing too. I used to enjoy showing off in the microphone, but I had to be stoned, and looking back now, I realise that most of the groups also had to be stoned. That was the only way they could possibly continue night after night playing sometimes eight hour sessions in smoky, unventilated sweaty damp cellars, their only sustenance being booze, pills and bacon butties.
Obviously many fell down on the way. The drugs became stronger as their bodies became weaker. It was an everyday occurrence to hear someone telling you of so-and-so of such a group had just O.D.'d or so-and-so had just died, which is a way of saying overdosed. Unfortunately, Rory Storm was to be one of those that departed the business at an early age.
The violence at the door at the club was never to cease. One night I was forced to invent a system that helped me a great deal, even though the fights didn't cease, we just managed to dispose of the enemies faster. I found one of those huge lights that are used often to light up the front of hotels and I fixed it on the wall, at eye level, over the club door. Also, I fixed a hosepipe, which also pointed in the direction of the light. The other end of the hose was connected to a large high-pressure CO2 bottle. The type normally used to put the gas into the Coca-Cola or other gaseous drinks.
The yard that the club entrance was in was normally dimly lit and our normal entrance light was only a single amber bulb across a dark yard. When a troublemaker or somebody previously barred became violent, I would simply press a switch. This would turn on that powerful light behind me; also open the CO2 tank, letting forth such a squeal at the same time, filling the area with a fog. The bright lights as well as totally blinding the unsuspecting yobbo, would light up the fog, creating such a terrifying spectacle l would then simply step in, step to one side to allow even more light and compressed air to hit them. It was then an easy task to finish them off. I usually did this with a quick header to the nose. One night I was forced to call the Liverpool team over. We had refused entry to some army boys and they planned to return the following night with the whole squad. They did - and the army leaders of Preston will surely remember the battle that ensued for a long time. The injured, of the army boys that is, frightened the Colonels so much, that for the next few months we constantly had a lorry full load of Military Police parked in the yard.
Maureen, one of the girls who worked in the club, got thrown out of her home by her father and so she came to stay with me at my flat. Her ex-boyfriend decided to get me for it. He was a local hardcase and even though he had never tried to get in the club, his reputation around the town created fear for many of Mo's would be suitors. One night Mo decided to go home early to my flat and when she arrived, Ricky had broken the window and was waiting inside for us. Pills & booze had pushed him just that little bit too far. He made a lunge for Mo when she entered the dark flat. He gave her a terrible beating before raping her. She phoned me after he had finally left and she said ‘he's now looking for you and he's got a knife’. Ricky used to be Maureen's boyfriend, and Maureen was now my girlfriend, so that was the reason. I didn't have any option. Even though he was the ex-middleweight champion boxer of Preston, I had to face him man to man.
I sent Paddy out in my car with instructions to find Ricky and take him to the park so that we could fight it out fairly. I also told Paddy to tell him to leave his knife in the car or else Paddy would hit him with a club. I made my way to the park all alone and waited. It was three o'clock in the morning. I was tempted to hide as the car headlights cut through the night and the mist, which thinly blanketed the grass, but I had to stay and fight, otherwise my reputation would be finished, and thereafter I would be the target of any up-and-coming hardcase.
The car rolled to a gentle stop, its headlights remaining on to light up the battleground. Ricky cautiously slid out. He came forward. As he saw me waiting under the tree - he said, "OK Kelly, you bastard, I've been looking forward to this for a long time, you stole my chick, now I'm going to kill you." At this he took on a professional boxer's pose and then started dancing around trying to hit me. I knew I didn't stand a chance. I wasn't a boxer. So I made-a dive for his feet. He fell to the ground and I got him in a headlock. With my free hand I pounded his face to a pulp. He fell unconscious. Paddy and I then loaded him into the car and delivered him to the hospital. The last I heard of Ricky was that he died some years later with a brain tumour.
There was another boy who caused problems at the club. We first began to notice him when on several occasions the girls found him in the ladies toilet. I was told how he would wait for the girls on their way home. This sort of thing was a hassle for me and it made the girls afraid to go home alone. I had to teach this guy a lesson. Mo and I devised a plan. She made friends with him knowing that he would not stop at just friendship. As expected, he waited for Mo to leave the club. She made a feeble attempt to get rid of him but he persisted in trying to put his arm around her as she walked back to the flat. On arrival at the flat, she invited him in. That was all he needed, once inside he was all over her. She was very cool as she told him "Okay then let's do it but let's do it properly without clothes." This straightforward approach put him off balance but Mo soon got him interested again. As she slipped her blouse off, he stripped as far as he could. As he dropped his underpants, I blinded him with the flash from my camera. I had been waiting, hidden behind the dressing table.
I now had him on film - naked. I had previously filled the bath with cold water and Potassium Permanganate, which is a chemical used for dyeing leather. A quick dip leaves the skin purple in colour. I put my camera aside and then putting his arm behind his back I led him to the bath. SPLASH, in he went. I held him there just long enough for his skin to take on a delicate shade of purple then I told him to get the hell out of my house. I gave him the boot up his backside and propelled him out onto the street still totally naked. I then jumped into my car and chased after him all the while taking photos of him. He was so afraid by now that he climbed a roadside tree and I took a last photo of the Purple Man up a Tree and then drove away laughing to myself, leaving him to his own devices. The photos were put on display at the club and after that episode we never had any trouble from any sexpots.
As time went by, the 'Cats' developed a special group of friends, both boys and girls. One of the boys was a driver for a furniture removal company and so he had the use of one of those enormous pantechnicons, a removal truck big enough to fit a whole house full of furniture in the back. Some nights, we would close the club early and 30 or 40 of us would load into the back of the wagon to go ghost hunting around the local graveyard. This was great fun. The girls would become terrified with our tricks but once we went too far I'm afraid to say. One of the boys decided to pretend to hang himself from one of the trees. As we all approached there was the frightening scene of Joe hanging above the tombstones with the moonlight silhouetting his rigid body gently swinging in the breeze. The girls became so hysterical that one of them had to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital. She never really recovered from the shock. The local papers got hold of the story and headlined us as 'The Black Mass Gang'.
One day Paddy decided to increase the take in the fruit machines and so he borrowed a local builder's wheelbarrow and loaded the two one-armed bandits, then wheeled his barrow round town inviting all interested parties to try their luck. The police soon arrested him and the machines and he was charged with illegal gambling. The machines were confiscated but we were making so much money that we just bought two new machines. The write-up in the newspaper attracted even more clientele to the club. The club was packed to the doors most nights and so Allan and I decided to promote a dance at the local town hall.
Chubby Checker had just reached number one in the charts and everyone was learning the new dance called 'The Twist' and so we decided to call the show the 'Twisterrific Ball'. We would feature the 'King Twisters', who were a couple from Liverpool who had won a twist contest at the Jacaranda the week before. We billed them in such a way that anyone reading the posters would think they were the originators of the new craze, which was sweeping the Western World. There was also a black singer from Liverpool whose name was Peter Checker. He was a good impersonator and so we booked him to top the bill as 'C. Checker'. We also billed other top artistes like Freddie Starr, Davy Jones and Rory Storm & The Hurricanes. The Twisterrific Ball was a sell-out one week in advance. On the night of the dance Allan and I got drunk and had a great time. We spent most of the evening cheerleading the groups.
As time passed by in the 'Cats', Paddy became more and more responsible and so I decided to leave him to manage the club as I wanted to open another one closer to Liverpool. Birkenhead sounded like a good plan, as there was nothing there for the youngsters and yet it was so close to Liverpool, in fact just on the other side of the Mersey Tunnel. I found a shop with a large cellar, which with a bit of work would be quite suitable. The ground floor I would use during the day as a café and then at night, shutter up the windows to make another type of Jacaranda Club.