Pic: Tony Booth/Thebeatlesposters.com
Sixty years ago this week The Beatles played a series of shows in Liverpool after several months away in Hamburg. The 27 December 1960 performance at Litherland Town Hall was a breakthrough – with over 1500 tickets sold – and cemented their name as Liverpool’s top live draw.
Just as sensational as the performance is this wonderful hand-drawn poster for the gig. The exuberant lettering for this and many other of their Liverpool concerts was done by a very talented signwriter, Tony Booth. The one above has been recreated from the original posters he did at the time for Brian Epstein. Booth’s story was told in a 2016 documentary for local BBC TV, which unfortunately I haven’t seen in full. It is previewed in this clip for BBC News, where you get a glimpse of Booth at work. Sadly, he died less than a year later, as this further clip tells us. His work lives on at this website, where you can buy the modern reproductions.
Tony Booth was just one of the many hundreds of poster artists (or poster writers, as they seem to have sometimes been called) who plied their trade in the first four-fifths of the twentieth century. Cinemas and department stores were major users of their work, but because of its nature very few examples seem to have survived. I would love to find out more about how these skilled tradesmen were trained and where they worked.
The Searchers of course had a number of national hits, but among the other support bands for The Beatles at Litherland Town Hall were The Deltones. It’s not clear whether this was the same Deltones as the band from Croydon which had Jeff Beck in their line-up although, according to this page, they had also played in Hamburg. The name seemed popular enough at about this time – there was another group called The Deltones in the US and a band called the Delltones in Australia. And of course later in the 1980s there was a British ska/reggae group with the same name. The other support act, The Delrenas (sometimes called The Del Renas) were another popular Merseybeat band, and some of their members had also played in Hamburg. It was obviously a popular career move at the time.