Allan Williams, the Beatles’ First Manager, Dies at 86

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Allan Williams, the Beatles’ first manager who became known as “The Man Who Gave the Beatles Away” from the title of his gritty autobiography, has died in Liverpool at age 86, reports the Liverpool Echo.

Williams opened a coffee bar in Liverpool called the Jacaranda where he first met Beatles John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Stuart Sutcliffe. He didn’t have much faith in them originally.

“I thought the Beatles were a right load of layabouts,” he wrote in his book, The Man Who Gave the Beatles Away.

One day, he said, John Lennon pitched the idea of the group playing at the Jac, as it was called. “You and (Larry) Parnes were talking the other night about using groups. How about us?,” Williams recalled in his book. At the time, the group didn’t have a drummer, so they added a local named Tommy Moore, rehearsed doing a lot of Chuck Berry numbers and had their first date at the Grosvenor Ballroom. They also took on a new name, the Silver Beatles, at the suggestion of Brian Casser of the Cassanovas.

They were paid 10 pounds, roughly $12 USD, for the show. Williams wrote he was paid a pound for his commission. He also hired the Beatles, who were desperate for money, to paint the Jacaranda’s ladies’ bathroom.

Williams helped the band get other gigs as well, including a short tour of Scotland with Johnny Gentle, but he and the Beatles got into a dispute after the group took on an extended engagement at the Top Ten Club in Hamburg and refused to pay Williams the commission he believed he was owed. The dispute was the beginning of the end of their association.

“I am very distressed to hear you are contemplating not paying my commission out of your pay, as we agreed in your Contract for your engagement at the Top Ten Club,” he wrote them on April 20, 1961. “May I remind you you are all appearing to get more than a little swollen-headed, that you would not even have smelled Hamburg if I had not made the contacts, and by Law it is illegal for any person under contract to make a contact through the first contract.” After threatening to report them to a music agents’ group, he wrote, “I don’t want to fall out with you, but I can’t abide anybody who does not honour their word or bond, and I could have sworn you were all decent lads, that is why I pushed you when nobody wanted to hear you.”

When the group returned to Liverpool, now with Pete…