The Sixties Gold Farewell Tour is set to call in at Sage Gateshead this November.
The tour will feature a stunning line-up, including Liverpool bands The Merseybeats and The Searchers, American rock ‘n’ roller PJ Proby, and vocal harmony specialists The Fortunes.
Also on the bill will be Steve Ellis – from the band Love Affair – and late-sixties hitmakers Vanity Fair.
The Merseybeats came up through the Liverpool scene at the same time as The Beatles. They were even managed by The Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein.
However, The Merseybeats severed their ties with Epstein in a bizarre dispute over suits.
Lead guitarist and vocalist Tony Crane MBE said, “Brian had bought suits for The Beatles, but when we asked for suits, he said we would have to wait until The Beatles got established. When he bought the second suits for The Beatles and had still bought none for The Merseybeats, we left him.”
On the Liverpool scene, The Merseybeats often played the famous Cavern Club alongside The Beatles and other Liverpool acts like Gerry and the Pacemakers.
Tony said, “We hold the record for appearing with The Beatles the most times, but not just at the Cavern.”
“When The Beatles started getting bookings outside Liverpool, they always wanted The Merseybeats on the bill with them. We also used the same equipment, which we shared!”
Success came early to The Merseybeats. Their 1964 hit I Think of You was a million-selling gold disc. Tony said, “Having a million seller in 1964 when we were all still teenagers was a dream come true.”
Their 1966 single Sorrow featured musicians who would later go on to form Led Zeppelin and Cream. Sorrow would also turn out to have a very famous fan – one David Bowie.
Tony said, “When we recorded Sorrow, we decided to use session players instead of playing ourselves.”
“We asked Jimmy Page to play guitar, John Paul Jones to play bass guitar, Jack Bruce (later of Cream) to play double bass and Clem Cattini (of The Tornados) to play drums.”
“David Bowie recorded an album of some of his favourite songs of the 1960s, called Pin Ups. His favourite song of all was Sorrow – which he released as a single. George Harrison also used part of the song on one of his recordings. It’s good to know stars like them liked our record so much.”
Over the years, The Merseybeats have had a weekly Italian TV show, have gone through a number of line-up changes and have frequently played on the QE2, including on its final voyage in 2008.
Tony said, “We had played on the QE2 every year for many years so it was a great honour to be asked to play on the final cruise to Dubai. It was fantastic, but also very emotional for us as we loved that ship, along with everyone who made that final voyage.”
It is highly likely that this will be the last ever Sixties Gold Tour as headliners The Searchers would now prefer to concentrate on their own shows rather than touring as part of a package.
The Sixties Gold Farewell Tour will visit Sage Gateshead on Tuesday 6th November 2018. The show will begin at 7.30 pm, with tickets priced at £38.20.