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The Beatles First UK Tour: Before They Were Headliners

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Before The Beatles became strictly a studio band late in 1966, the Fab Four were a tried and true touring band. But until they we able to headline massive European and US tours, The Beatles had to earn their chops opening for other artists. Their first was 50 years ago during the Winter 1963 Tour with Helen Shapiro.

Pete Best had been ousted from the band and Ringo Starr had only been in the drummer’s seat for roughly six months when they began their Winter tour with headliner Helen Shapiro on February 2, 1963. In fact, John, Paul, George and Ringo preceded several acts on that tour. The lineup for that tour went as follows:

BeatlesShapiro

Shapiro was a teenage pop star with chart topping UK hits like “You Don’t Know” and “Walkin’ Back to Happiness.” She had three more songs reach the top ten with “Don’t Treat Me Like a Child,” “Tell Me What He Said” and “Little Miss Lonely.” In addition to those hits in the UK, Shapiro was also named Britain’s “Top Female Singer”… all before the age of 17.

But The Beatles would have their first hit single when “Please Please Me” went to number one during that tour. The boys from Liverpool began receiving as much, if not more, attention than the headliner Shapiro. George Harrison would recall, “All the people coming to the show were just waiting for The Beatles… It was embarrassing, because she was a very nice person.”

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Shapiro wouldn’t have another song reach the top ten in the UK while The Beatles would continue their ascent to stardom and become one of the most influential bands in music history.


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