The Beatles at the Grosvenor in 1963.
Friday, May 17, 1963 was the day Beatlemania came to the city, when John, Paul, George and Ringo performed at the old Grosvenor Rooms, in Prince of Wales Road, supported by local band Ricky Lee and the Hucklebucks.
At the time, The Beatles had made an album, released Please Please Me and were on their way to becoming a household name.
They were a definite hit with the Norwich gig-goers, with excited fans snapping up the tickets. The queue on the night to get into the Grosvenor Rooms stretched all the way back to the old ABC cinema further up the road.
Half a century on, the Grosvenor Rooms are no more – with a KFC fast food restaurant now on the site instead – but The Beatles’ music continues to be as popular as ever, and to mark the anniversary of their Norwich visit Mark Cousens, from Tasburgh, is organising a tribute night in the city.
He has already booked Them Beatles as the tribute act to the Fab Four, and is now looking for a local support act.
“I grew up listening to The Beatles because of my dad. It was the first music I can remember hearing,” said 29-year-old Mr Cousens.
“I just think they are timeless. Obviously I wasn’t there when they first came along, but they changed everything and inspired so many people to pick up the guitar and write music. I often wonder what things would have been like if they had not come along when they did.”
He said that over the years he had read a number of stories in the Evening News and EDP about the 1963 concert.
“I read about the original Norwich gig in 1963 and the date kept coming up in my mind,” he said.
“There’s been so many Beatles’ anniversary events going on recently and I thought it would be nice to do something to mark the anniversary of The Beatles coming to Norwich.” With the Grosvenor Rooms no longer there, Mr Cousens has picked The Studio at The Waterfront for the tribute night which will take place on Sunday, April 21.
Mr Cousens said: “After putting on a punk gig with a friend at The Waterfront’s upstairs room, The Studio, last year, with its capacity of 200 it seemed like the perfect place for a recreation of an early Beatles gig. It’s intimate and up close and personal.” He added that he had booked it as close as he was able to the actual anniversary.
Now he is looking for a support act.
“I am looking for someone who can play a lively 30-minute set, preferably older music in keeping with the time, although it does not have to be strictly 1960s,” he said, adding that he was encouraging people coming to the event to dress in 1960s attire.
Anybody interested in being the support act should contact Mr Cousens by the end of the week by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or finding him on Twitter at @VandelayPromo and @MarkEverclear.
The Beatles tribute night is at 7pm on on Sunday, April 21. Tickets cost £12 in advance and £14 on the door. To book visit www.ueaticketbookings.co.uk