As a 13-year-old schoolgirl, Lynne Peters couldn’t believe her luck when a backstage helper sneaked her and her sister into the back of the theatre to watch The Beatles play live on stage.
When he came back after the show with a photograph signed by each of the Fab Four, she was ecstatic and the photograph — a page from the girls’ comic “Boyfriend” — was given pride of place in her bedroom.
The year was 1963 and Beatlemania was sweeping the country, but John Paul George and Ringo were still coming to terms with their new-found fame. So unaccustomed was he to signing autographs, Ringo started to write Richard Starkey, but hurriedly crossed it out to replace it with his stage name.
Now, more than 40 years later, that autographed page is valuable. When Chester auctioneers Byrne’s sell it on Wednesday, December 7, they expect a clamour from collectors of Beatles memorabilia and a selling price of £2,000-3,000, possibly more.
Mrs Peters, now a 56-year-old Chester housewife, said she was amazed that the picture was so valuable. Recalling the mild spring evening when her father took her and her younger sister, Denise, ticketless, to see The Beatles, she said that at first they were among a huge crowd of fans milling about outside the Royalty Theatre, in City Road, Chester, where the group was topping the bill.
“Someone spotted the boys in the Chinese restaurant opposite the theatre,” she said. “Chaos erupted and we were part of a wave of screaming, ecstatic fans, trying to get to them. The boys were mobbed as they tried to get back to the theatre as the fans and surged back and forth, hoping to touch them.
“Somehow, they got back inside the theatre in one piece to begin what was to become an unforgettable early Beatles show for me. My father knew one of the backstage helpers who said he would be able to get as tickets. But it was a sell-out and so we had to wait in the foyer while everyone filed past is to take their seats. But the helper said he’d get us in and he sneaked us through the doors on the balcony and told us to stand at the back. It didn’t matter that we didn’t have seats, because everyone was on their feet throughout the concert.
“The curtains rose to the opening bars of “Please Please Me” and brought an electrified wave of shouting, screaming, ecstatic, mainly teenage fans to the front of the balcony. Numbers such as “Love Me Do”, “When I Saw Her Standing There” and many others were the prelude to a grand finale where the boys brought the house down belting out the unforgettable “She Loves You”. Coming back on stage several times to pay tribute to us adoring fans, The Beatles brought the curtain down on an evening forever emblazoned on my memory.
“Before he left us, I’d given the stagehand the page from my comic, which my dad had pasted onto a piece of hardboard, and I asked him to try to get me their autographs. When my dad picked us up outside the theatre, the stagehand came out and I couldn’t believe it, they’d all signed it. I took it to school to show my friends and it was then I realised that Ringo had started off by signing it Richard Starkey, but then he had crossed it out.
“I’ve treasured it ever since but lately it’s been kept in a wardrobe wrapped up carefully to protect it, so I decided that now is the time to sell it and let someone else from a younger generation enjoy it as I have.”
Byrne’s annual pre-Christmas sale includes antique furniture, fine jewellery, silver, ceramics, objets d’art, pictures and collectors’ ceramics, notably a good single-owner collection of Clarice Cliff, militaria, toys and dolls and other collectables.
The sale starts at 11am and is on view on Sunday December 4 from 10am to 3pm; on Monday and Tuesday December 25 and 6 from 9am to 5pm and on the morning of the sale from 9am. Catalogues, price £6 (including postage) are available from the auctioneers and can be viewed online at www.byrnesauctioneers.co.uk.
Byrne’s fine art auctioneers, the North West’s most dynamic auction
house, was founded by Jo Boucher and Adrian Byrne, formerly of Hall’s
auctioneers, Shrewsbury. Byrne’s conducts 20 sales a year from a
prestigious listed mansion house in Chester’s Watergate Street, the
former location of Sotheby’s North West regional saleroom, and latterly
a Hall’s saleroom which Jo and Adrian took over in 2003.
More information from Byrne’s on 01244 312300.