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10th May, 2016

Allan Williams: A citizen of honour

Allan Williams, original manager of The Beatles has been awarded with a top civic honour in recognition of his contribution to the music industry in Liverpool.

The Citizen of Honour award was introduced by Liverpool City Council in 2008 to formally recognise individuals who have made a significant, exceptional or unique contribution to enriching the life of the city. A special service was held at the Town Hall on Monday 9 May.

Allan Williams, who became known as “the man who gave The Beatles away”, was responsible for securing the band’s first bookings in 1960. He even personally drove the van to take the young band to Hamburg, Germany in 1960.

 

Born 17 March 1930, Williams spent much of his life trekking around Europe. In the late 50s he returned to Liverpool with some entrepreneurial ideas, opening the Jacaranda Club and later the Blue Angel.

The Jac (as it became known) opened in September 1958, a former watch-repair shop which he converted into a coffee bar. The Beatles were frequent customers, with John Lennon and Stuart Sutcliffe attending Liverpool Art College nearby and Paul McCartney being at Liverpool Institute adjacent to the college.

Asking for the chance to play the club, Williams instead put them to work redecorating, with Lennon and Sutcliffe painting a mural for the Ladies room. Finally, the Beatles began playing at the Jac on occasions. The Jacaranda still operates today as a cafe, bar, live music venue and vinyl record store.

 

The Raz (as the Blue Angel became known) is also still in operation and is especially popular amongst university students. Famously, Pete Best's audition to join the Beatles took place in the Blue Angel on 12 August 1960 and Brian Epstein saw Cilla Black perform "Bye Bye Blackbird" at the venue in 1963 prior to signing the singer.

Williams played a crucial role in establishing Beatles tourism in Liverpool – an industry now estimated to be worth £80 million a year – by organising the first conventions devoted to the band in the 1970s. Allan is also a perennial VIP guest at the city's annual Beatle Week festivals.

He said: "I am over the moon, very proud and honoured. I am no spring chicken now and have been looking forward to the event. I am pleased to have been born and bred in Liverpool, to me it’s the most wonderful city in the UK and I hope that I have done it proud."

Find out more about Allan's story at The Beatles Story, Liverpool.

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