11th Jul, 2020

MUSIC MATTERS: The day The Beatles were TV ‘jury’ for young Coventry wannabes

MUSIC MATTERS by Pete Chambers

Hit or Miss, miss

Back in 1963 The Beatles were ‘it’ and they were given the luxury of their own episode of the famous music-based TV show “Juke Box Jury”..

The show, hosted by David Jacobs, usually included four celebrities of the day and in this special edition on December 7 1963, only Moptops were allowed on the panel.

The idea was that a minute or so of new single 45 releases were played and the panel had to vote whether the record would be a hit or a miss in the UK singles charts.

The Coventry interest here is that on this edition, Coventry schoolgirl trio The Orchids had their new single ‘Love Hit Me’ played. So would it be a hit or a miss?

I’m happy to say that I recently acquired an audio CD of the show christened ‘The Beatles Broadcasting Company’, and at last I can hear exactly what went on (amazingly no visuals of the show remain, as tapes were wiped and reused in those days, yes even Beatles shows).

Georgina Johnstone, Née Oliver was a third of The Orchids. Although this Coventry trio of fifteen-year-old schoolgirls never quite made the charts, they created quite a buzz in the music world of the sixties.

There were ten songs to vote for, The Orchids were second from last. Once the snippet was played (and in my opinion one of the best songs played on that day) The Beatles gave their opinion: John Lennon was first up, claiming it was just a big con, a pinch. “If it had come out before The Crystals it would have been great. It’s quite nice, it doesn’t sound right.”

Paul was the most appreciative Beatle saying, “It sounds great, it’s marvellous, the sound and things. And I think it’s great, I like it”.

Ringo was on the fence saying, “It’s good, but I wouldn’t buy it, it may sell a few, but not many” (he was right).

Finally, George thought it was nice, “I liked the idea of it being a British record even though it is a pinch”.

This is Georgina’s story. (She’s the one in the glasses by the way).

“We were present at the special edition Juke Box Jury that was held at a theatre in Liverpool with The Beatles as the jury. We were seated way up in the upper balcony. They played ‘Love Hit Me’. Only Paul voted it a ‘hit’.

I don’t think we were really bothered about whether they voted it a hit or a miss. We were just so excited at the prospect of actually meeting them. Sorry to say that never happened.

“After the vote, David Jacobs did the bit about “Well boys, it just so happens that we have the girls in the audience” and the audience let out a big ‘Aaaahhh!’ when we stood up and took the applause.

“I do have a memory of one of them (don’t know which) shouting ‘Sorry, girls!’ and I remember John shouting, ‘I’ll buy a hundred and that was a lousy trick.’ Then it was over – no heart stopping backstage visit, no autographs, nothing! We felt completely gutted!

“The picture in my mind is of us high up in the theatre and The Beatles looking small and indistinguishable a long way down on the stage.”

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