Sam Leach was, and indeed still is, an out and out Rock'n'Roll fan.
From the moment he thrilled and bopped to the 'dulcet ' tones of Little
Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly and Elvis, he was hooked ....
doomed. A prisoner of Rock'n'Roll. And never was a condemned man happier.
In 1957 he organised a fan club for his mate John Peverall's skiffle
group, The Blue Diamonds. During the interval he put his records on
an old dusty turntable and when he saw the kids bopping around the small
garage that served as a meeting place, Sam knew where his future lay.
Promoting. He told me he got greater pleasure putting bigger and better
shows on than performing onstage even with The Beatles. Which incidentally,
he once did. After a few shows with The Blue Diamonds, Sam persuaded
his best mate Dick Matthews to join him in opening his first Rock club
at Mossway Hall, Croxteth, practically a no-go area. But Sam Leach would
go anywhere for Rock'n'Roll .... and often did.
Such a small venue wasn't in keeping with Sam's vision however and,
less than two years later, he launched his first full time promotion
at the ancient St George's Hall in the City centre. The stuffy Liverpool
Council had banned Rock music but Sam found a way by sneaking in three
Rock groups during the interval without their knowledge. As indeed were
the 2,000 extra fans squeezed in above the limit of 1500. With wildly
fluctuating results, Sam Leach continued his merry madcap way toward
his destiny .... meeting The Beatles on 10th January 1961. From that
night he knew they would be as big as Elvis .... and told them so.
For almost two years Sam Leach was swept along on a roller coaster
ride through Rock history. Sometimes he was at the helm .... sometimes
not. Altogether The Beatles played for him on 50 mostly successful occasions,
second in appearances for a promoter only to The Cavern. Long before
Eppy (Brian Epstein) came on the scene, Sam knew that Merseybeat was
a phenomenon that only needed launching to sweep the world. Realising
that publicity was all important, Sam persuaded Bill Harry to change
from a Jazz Magazine to 'Mersey Beat'. Then, as the next step in his
ambitious plan, Sam decided to launch his own independent record label,
In June 1961, in a small studio on the outskirts of Liverpool, Gerry
and The Pacemakers recorded 'You'll never Walk Alone'. The Beatles had
agreed to cut 'Twist and Shout' when their contract with Polydor expired
at the end of the year. Unfortunately Sam lost the Cassanova Club and
couldn't complete either project through lack of finance. Later that
year however, Sam, as was his wont, bounced back with his 'Operation
Big Beat' series at the Tower Ballroom.
He was back in the money and a few weeks later, making his bid to become
The Beatles' manager, tried to introduce them to reluctant London Agents
by promoting shows at The Queens Ballroom, Aldershot. That failure became
part of Beatles folklore. continued .... - 2 - Soon afterwards the race
was over when Brian Epstein tiptoed apprehensively down the 18 stone
steps of The Cavern towards his destiny. When Brian Epstein eventually
worked Sam Leach out of his liaison with The Fab Four in September 1962,
Sam continued promoting with his usual up and down style, culminating
in this sensational opening of The Peppermint Lounge in March 1963.
For a while things went smoothly until he was ousted from ownership
of the highly successful Club by a conspiracy of Borgia-like dimensions.
Back in the doldrums and 'On the Dole'. In February 1964 'Like a Rubber
Ball' Sam bounced back from adversity. Anticipating that The Beatles
would soon conquer America following exposure on the Ed Sullivan Show,
he produced a brilliant magazine 'Beatles on Broadway', which sold almost
a million copies in eleven languages.
In the money again, Sam ran a group agency for a while but with
The Beatles gone forever his heart wasn't in it and he 'sort of settled
down' to his most successful promotion .... his young family, wife Joan
and three kids, Debbie, Paul and Tony. In 1978, Samantha his fourth
child arrived. Sam Leach continued his wayward journey through life,
eventually running a successful business as a damp proofer. Then came
that fateful day .... 8th December 1980. When John Lennon was assassinated,
Sam Leach was abruptly thrust back into the business. Following his
single-handed tribute to John Lennon at St George's Hall, which gained
him world-wide acknowledgement, he was asked to visit America guesting
at Beatle conventions and US TV and Radio shows.
Needing something to promote in America in a hurry, he sat down and
wrote 'Follow the Merseybeat Road' taking only seven days from start
to finish. This received critical acclaim and eventually he wrote 'The
Rocking City'. When The Beatles first become famous, Brian Epstein issued
press releases that gave the false impression that it was he who had
made the Merseybeat scene and genuine people like Sam Leach were deliberately
ignored. Eventually however, prominent authors such as Philip Norman
and Mark Lewisohn documented Sam's important place in The Beatles evolution.