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Bill Harry's Mersey Beat Days

Paddy Delaney on the Door, Ted Knibbs Gives It All Away

Many of my good friends from the early Mersey scene have passed away, leaving bittersweet memories.

 

Paddy Delaney - The Cavern's Doorman, Bouncer and Great Guy

 

Sadly, Pat Delaney died in rather tragic circumstances. I was told he was found in his home, after collapsing over a stove which hadn't been turned off.

 

Bill Harry, Les Chadwick and PaddyPatrick, more familiarly known as Paddy, was a former member of the Guards and then joined the Parks Police. He later became a doorman at the Locarno and Grafton Ballrooms in West Derby Road.

 

In 1959 he was asked if he would work on the Cavern door one night. Believing it to be a proper club he turned up in a dinner-suit with matching tie and cummerbund. He then became a regular doorman at the Cavern until the venue closed, spending a total of seven years working for the club.

 

The picture shows Bill on the left next to Les Chadwick who was  Photographer for MerseyBeat Magazine and Paddy on the right.

 

When Ray McFall originally engaged him he told Paddy that there were fights going on almost every night as a group of hooligans had virtually taken control of the club. Paddy agreed to take on the job for one pound per night if he could have some other men to help him. He soon cleaned up the place.

 

Paddy became a friend of the Beatles and often chatted with them at the door, following a few incidents in which he initially almost stopped them from entering because of their appearance. For some time he also worked for me at Mersey Beat, helping to deliver copies and I also had him write theatre reviews for me.

 

His memories of the years he served at the Cavern were committed to a manuscript called 'The Best of Cellars' (Many years before the Phil Thompson book of that name). He did show me a copy of the text, which had a number of inaccuracies, but was a worthwhile memoir from a popular member of the local scene. I wonder what happened to the mss.

 

Paddy was born on 5 October 1931 and died on 7 February this year at the age of 77. His wife Margaret died of cancer several years previously. The couple had four daughters and two sons.

 

Virginia and I occasionally visited Pat and Margaret at their home and Margaret was a wonderful person. I believe she became Lady Mayoress of Liverpool.

 

Pat was also a great fan of Al Jolson. As we had a great relationship with all the cinema managers in the city centre, when the Trocadero was advertising the screening of Jolson Sings Again, we arranged for Pat to go on stage before a full audience to mime to Jolson songs. Shortly before he went on he was physically sick, but he got over it and went on stage and performed. He also did his Jolson routine at one of our Mersey Beat award ceremonies we held at the Majestic Ballroom, Birkenhead.

 

We were often invited to visit the homes of friends of ours who were active participants of the Mersey scene, such as Gerry Jackson and his wife, who lived near the Pavilion in Lodge Lane. We used to spend evenings sitting and chatting in their living room, drinking scotch and coke.

 

Ted Knibbs - Giving It All Away

 

A particularly good friend was Ted Knibbs, who managed Billy Kramer & the Coasters. I remember sinking into his big armchair when we visited him at his home. He had given up his job to manage Billy and the group and he also contributed a column for Mersey Beat called Clubland. This provided us with lots of invaluable insights into the world of Merseyside clubland, particularly the famous Ozzie Wade's in Walton. We'd often drop into Ozzie's on a Sunday afternoon to hear the various acts auditioning for the club secretaries.

 

He would be one of the regulars, like Brian Epstein, Bob Wooler and Joe Flannery, who would gather, along with Virginia and myself, in the office of Bill Marsden, manager of the Majestic Ballroom, or in various other places such as the Grapes or the Roscoe Arms or the Blue Angel for social chats and gossip about the local music scene. Incidentally, at one of the meetings in Bills office, Virginia and I wereBeryl Marsden discussing with Joe the fact that Beryl Hogg wasn't really a good name for a singer. We were trying to figure out another surname and Virginia pointed to Bill Marsden and suggested she become Beryl Marsden. That was agreed - but we didn't realise at the time that people would believe she was Gerry Marsden's sister!

 

One day Ted came into the office and said hed like me to co-manage Billy J Kramer with him. He even had a contract which he handed me. But I put the contract in a drawer and said that he would be better seeing Brian Epstein as I had too much work running Mersey Beat. He did see Brian and Brian agreed to become Billy's manager, which was fortuitous, because Billy was about the leave the group and work in Crewe. I believe that Brian offered Ted £50 for signing over Billy to him, but Ted told me he never received the money.

 

Billy's backing band the Cruisers refused to turn professional, so Brian asked the Remo Four if they'd back him, but they turned him down. He got the Dakotas from Manchester to back him instead, albeit only on the promise that they could record as a separate unit.

 

I heard that Ted died some years ago when he was run over by a bus.

 

Freddie starr, billy j kramer and earl preston

 

What I do particularly remember of those days is the warmth and camaraderie Virginia and I enjoyed from the friendship of so many people behind-the-scenes such as Jankiel Feather, Jim Ireland, Joe Flannery, Alun Owen, Ray McFall, Bob Wooler, Ralph Bowdler, Jeff Martin and many others.

 

 

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