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Published: Thursday 16th October 2014 by Paul Nickerson - Writer
All in black with a neat bob framing her face, Lynda Hill, who I worked out must be roughly sixty seven (she met The Beatles in 1963 age seventeen) took some time out to tell HEYToday about her once-in-a-lifetime encounter and her new book – All you need is Hull.
Lynda still resembles the sixties girl she once was. The book shows pictures of her from then and now – an uncanny amount remains the same.
Lynda’s an accomplished modern day writer now, but I couldn’t help thinking she still has a drop of sweet-sixteen about her from the time when it was all girls could do not to pass out in the front row of vibrating auditoriums.
I met Lynda in Starbucks at St Stephens to talk about her latest book on how she met The Beatles back in 1963. Lynda has the charm of a bygone age too, telling her story with a voice that wouldn’t be out of place on Jackanory. It happened 52 years ago next month, almost exactly on the spot where we now sipped our coffee.
“Mum, Dad, these boys are The Beatles”
“As they started to play, we just stood still at first, we had never heard anything like it, that sound, we just stood there in shock”. My own mind flicked to that scene in Back to the Future where Michael J Fox lets rip on the electric guitar. But this was the Majestic Ballroom in Hull in 1962 when The Beatles first played the city. This time Lynda was just a normal concertgoer, part of a small audience that had come to see a band from Liverpool that few people had yet heard of.
“They showed up in an old van the first time with George Harrison at the wheel and had to haul their own kit into the building”. In fact, The Beatles of 1962 didn’t even have a hotel booked. Lynda tells the story of how after the concert they gratefully accepted an invitation from her friend to stay at her parent’s house in Hull…“Mum, Dad, these boys are The Beatles”
Within a year they were back in Hull, but this time they had to be escorted by police in and out of the ABC Theatre and reinforcements were brought in to hold back the crowds. ‘Love Me Do’ was the song that did it; released in October 1962 and now on the record players of practically anyone who could draw breath. Beatlemania had begun and was about to swing into Hull.
Lynda says that Hull was attracting some major acts at the time, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, “yep, Jimi Hendrix played Hull” and Buddy Holly. But the fab four were her favourite. “It was just something about their music, and the way they looked”.
So with the 1963 Beatles Concert fast approaching, Lynda was determined to see her idols again but little did she know she would meet them.
If you wanted tickets to a big concert in the sixties, you had to have some stamina. “People had to queue all night to get tickets and they sold out very quickly”. So at 7pm on a cold Hull night in the early sixties, Lynda and a friend joined the line outside the ABC roughly where St Stephen’s entrance stands today.
People had arrived with sleeping bags, flasks and food and a dream of getting close to the band that everyone now knew. Although she didn’t know it at the time Lynda would shortly come face-to-face with John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr.
But first Lynda had a big decision to make.
Love me Do: The song that launched Beatlemania and made certain their return trip to Hull would be big.
She had been queuing in the cold all night, occasionally having to change position sitting on the freezing pavement, sometimes dozing off. Randomly those inline would rally each other with renditions of Beatles classics. At one point an angry policeman popped up to tell them off for disturbing the peace.
Although she didn’t know it at the time Lynda would shortly come face-to-face with John Lennon, Paul McCartney George Harrison and Ringo Starr.
Finally, dawn and the yellow of headlights began to passing one by one; throwing up spray and sound. The crowd assembled into line and after a couple of false alarms, a cry came from the front – the Box office was open.
At the same moment, having lost track of time, Lynda realised she only had fifteen minutes to get to work. Contemplating getting into trouble with her boss or getting tickets to the concert of a lifetime; amazingly Lynda chose to leave the now moving line and go to work.
“Don’t forget it was different back then, people couldn’t just do what they wanted, if you had a job, you had to be there on time, you could easily get the sack”.
When Lynda arrived at the little shop where she worked in Hessle red faced and out of breath, her boss demanded to know what was going on. Lynda told her of the previous night spent queuing for tickets and how, to get to work on time, she had abandoned her mission.
Lynda’s boss was the kindly Joyce Hipson owner of Rumball & Bates haberdashery store. She says that back then Lynda was a shy girl who worked hard. “I could see she was crestfallen when she came to work that day, and I decided that this special girl deserved a reward…. how many teenagers do you know that would give up what Lynda did to make sure they were at work exactly on time?”
Joyce was well connected too. She enlisted the help of a friend at the Hull Daily Mail, telling them of Lynda’s story. Together they hatched a plan to make sure Lynda not only got to the concert, but that she alone would meet those four boys from Liverpool and realise every young person’s dream of meeting The Beatles.
And the rest as they say is history.
And it’s a special history that Lynda tells in her book ‘All You Need Is Hull – The Beatles and Me’. The book picks up the story of that night when Lynda got the surprise of her life and what happened when she came face-to-face with the band.
The book itself is wonderfully written. It breaks one or two rules of your average history book, but so what, it’s better for it. In any case, it’s more than a history book, it’s an inside look on a unique time in our city. It’s written kindly and carefully.
Lynda has painted an image that takes the reader back to a time when Hull was an important venue in the pop world. A moment when our city’s department stores where thriving with record sections blaring out music and the swinging sixties were just getting started.
Now I know I already said that Lynda has an old world charm all of her own. Her book is not just a record of her encounter with The Beatles, but she has painstakingly records that of many others in the book. With a voice recorder and a laptop she has archived social history at its most personal best. A mere nook in the vast veneer of Beatles history it may be, but an overwhelmingly relatable one it is and over and over again it is a story worth telling.
As we finish our coffee I get the feeling we’re cutting things a bit short so we arrange to meet up again, I sense there is more to tell. Next time I must remember to ask this local treasure when’s your autobiography coming out?
As an afterthought, next time you’re near the lifts in St Stephens, remember that’s where The Beatles stood and performed at the ABC over half a century ago.
All You Need Is Hull [paperback]
Published by Linda Hill and printed by DALTONSPIRE LIMITED
Order: Direct from the Author
Our verdict: 4/5
Published: Thursday 16th October 2014 by Paul Nickerson - Writer