Allan Williams, best known as the first manager of the Beatles, has died aged 86, it has been announced. It was Williams who took the band to Hamburg, where its members learned much of their craft, before returning to the UK and stardom.
He was the owner of the Jacaranda club in Liverpool, which confirmed the news of his death on Friday night. “His legacy has allowed us to remain at the heart of the Liverpool music scene for almost 60 years, and his memory will live on through every band that plays our famous stage. Allan, you will be missed. All of our thoughts and wishes go to his family and his wife Beryl,” a message on the club’s Facebook page read.
The Beatles Story, an exhibition in Liverpool celebrating the band’s success, praised Williams for his “significant role”. Martin King, its spokesman, said: “We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Allan Williams. Our thoughts go out to his family at this sad time. Allan was a friend to many of us at the Beatles Story and his legacy will continue to be told for years to come.”
In a statement released on Friday, the exhibition said: “His involvement in the Beatles’ early years in Liverpool and on to Hamburg helped shape the band in to what we see and know today.”
The team behind the attraction said they were shocked and saddened by the news that Williams, who also served as the Beatles’ first booking agent, had died. “He personally drove the van to take the young band to Hamburg, Germany in 1960, where they gained the vital show business experience that led to their emergence on the world stage,” they said. “In May this year, Allan was awarded a top civic honour in recognition of his contribution to the music industry in Liverpool.”
In 2009, Williams spoke about the Beatles’ early days, saying he had confidence in the band when others in Liverpool did not. “It was mainly their personalities, because most of the groups were a bit on the thick side, whereas they all had good educations; they were a bit posher and more articulate. So I thought, no, I will take a chance,” he said.
He also remembered bonding with a young John Lennon. “I had him down as a coffee-boy layabout, as I used to call him, and thought he was rather arrogant. But when I got to know him – it’s quite tragic, really. I had an unhappy childhood, too, so there was a bit of an understanding there, although we never talked about it.”