Monday, June 9, 2014

Performing in Hong Kong

To commemorate a concert that very little is ever said about that occurred 50 years ago today, I thought I would reproduce  part of  an article about when the Beatles played in Hong Kong that I found online from the South China Morning Post. 

When the Beatles came to Hong Kong
By Charley Lanyon

June 9, 1964, has been called the most important day in Hong Kong’s pop history. In the collective memory of the city, The Beatles’ appearance at the Princess Theatre in Kowloon – today the site of the Mira Hotel – marked the beginning of an era: the era of Hong Kong English-language rock 'n' roll, and ultimately of the Cantonese-language pop that it gave birth to.

However, when speaking to the people who were there – audience members and the movers and shakers of Hong Kong’s 1960s pop scene – a more complicated picture emerges. Have we been giving the Fab Four too much credit?

First of all, Fab Three would be more accurate: The Beatles who appeared in Hong Kong were short one Ringo Starr, who was recovering from tonsillitis in a London hospital; he was temporarily replaced by drummer Jimmy Nicol.

Also, the commonly heard story that the Princess Theatre was packed with thousands of screaming, music-starved Hong Kong youngsters doesn’t hold up under scrutiny. The screams were real, but according to Hong Kong institution DJ Ray “Uncle Ray” Cordeiro, they most likely came from military servicemen. In fact, the concert was the only time in Beatles history where the promoter lost money. Tickets went unsold.

“It was quite a flop because the teenagers couldn’t afford to buy the tickets … and the parents didn’t know who The Beatles were. So the theatre was empty,” Cordeiro says.

According to Cordeiro, the promoter was forced to offer the unsold tickets to the army, free of charge, and the auditorium was filled with soldiers in uniforms.

Other audience members remember things a bit differently. Anders Nelsson, then a teenager and lead singer of the band The Kontinentals, and Philip Chan Yan-kin of the Astro-Notes, clearly remember throngs of screaming female fans. Nelsson recalls barely being able to make out the music, “the girls were screaming so loud and the PA system was so bad that it was basically an experience rather than a concert”.


  1. Fifi Lefebvre -formerly DeeganApril 12, 2023 at 8:07 AM

    I also interviewed them for the South China Morning Post when they visited Hong Kong