Bob Wooler, Disc Jockey
Here is an obituary from the Independent on Bob Wooler who was the DJ at the Cavern when the Beatles played there:
Frederick James Wooler (Bob Wooler), disc jockey: born Liverpool 19 January 1926: married 1967 Beryl Adams (marriage dissolved 1973); died Liverpool 8 February 2002.
Here are excerpts from the obit:
In 1961 Bob Wooler became the DJ at the Cavern Club in Liverpool. He exerted an influence over the promotion and presentation of the Beatles and many of the other beat groups which came out of Liverpool in the Sixties. . . .
In the mid-1950s, Wooler became interested in skiffle and rock'n'roll music, arranging appearances for the Kingstrums, Carole Crane and, in 1960, Gerry and the Pacemakers. He would take his records along to clubs and, he said, "by accident, I became the only rock'n'roll DJ on Merseyside". A local impresario, Allan Williams, persuaded Wooler to leave his job and become a full-time DJ at his new club, the Top Ten. Unfortunately, the premises were destroyed by fire a week later.
The fledgling Beatles had been playing in clubs in Hamburg, but were deported when they were accused of starting a fire, and wanted work in Liverpool. Wooler arranged their first booking, for £6 at Litherland Town Hall on 27 December 1960, and the promoter Brian Kelly billed them as "Direct from Hamburg". "Too much has been made of this," said Wooler, "There wasn't any deceit in trying to present them as a German group, although I did mention that they had been playing in Hamburg when I announced them."
The bookings poured in and Wooler introduced the Beatles all over Liverpool. "I would play a few bars of 'Piltdown Rides Again' by the Piltdown Men to get attention and then say, 'It's the Beatles'. Nothing special," he recalled. His aphorisms, known as "Woolerisms", were known throughout Merseyside, however. When he told one audience at the Cavern Club, "Remember all you Cave-dwellers, the Cavern is the best of cellars," its owner, Ray McFall, was so impressed that he offered Wooler a permanent position.
As the Cavern's DJ, Wooler booked the bands and wrote the highly innovative publicity which would appear in Liverpool Echo. He was always looking for something different and once arranged for the Beatles and Gerry and the Pacemakers to perform together as "The Beatmakers" at Litherland Town Hall.
Wooler also wrote a column for the Mersey Beat newspaper called "The Roving I". He gave the performers appellations – Faron was "the panda-footed prince of prance", Rory Storm "Mr Showmanship" and Gerry Marsden "Mr Personality". He came up with names for several of the groups, including his discoveries the Merseybeats. In October 1961 he published a chart of his Top Ten groups, with the Beatles at No 1.
Wooler was prophetic when it came to the Beatles. "The Beatles are the stuff that screams are made of," he wrote in 1961. "Here is the excitement – both physical and aural – that symbolised the rebellion of youth in the ennuied mid-Fifties. I don't think anything like them will happen again."
The Beatles sought Wooler's advice when Brian Epstein of NEMS record store in Liverpool approached them with an offer to take on their management. He attended the first meeting in December 1961, where John Lennon introduced him to Epstein as "my Dad".
Epstein, whom Wooler nicknamed the "Nemperor", decided to revamp the Beatles' image. Wooler recalled,
"Contrary to general opinion, I think the Beatles were glad to escape from black leather to suits, because everybody was following them and wanting to be unkempt and devil-may-care. A friend of Brian Epstein's, Beno Dorn, who was a tailor in Birkenhead, provided the suits. They were not collarless, as that innovation came later from London."
On the night that the Beatles were planning to unveil their new look, McFall had had the stage area at the Cavern freshly painted. Wooler said,
"Everything looked marvellous, but condensation dripped from the ceiling and the paint got on to their new suits. Brian was furious, livid and Ray was full of commiserations. Brian hated the thought of having to have those brand new suits cleaned."
When Beatlemania struck (John Lennon, in Wooler's words, went "from rage to riches"), the Cavern became the most famous club in the country. Wooler was hired to introduce the Radio Luxembourg series Sunday Night at the Cavern, as well as a live LP featuring Dave Berry and Heinz and an EP, The Big Three at the Cavern. Always pushing back the boundaries, Wooler refers to the Big Three in his introduction as "the boys with the Benzedrine beat".
Wooler compered beat nights at other venues, notably with Jerry Lee Lewis and the Rolling Stones at the Tower Ballroom. He was also featured on the Mersey Beat edition of ITV's Thank Your Lucky Stars, but he turned down a job with NEMS Enterprises, preferring to remain in Liverpool. He had two of his songs recorded – "I Know", written with George Martin, for Billy J. Kramer with the Dakotas and "Sidetracked" for Phil Brady and the Ranchers.
Wooler, who spoke very clearly and with no trace of a Liverpool accent, would have been an ideal DJ for the opening of Radio 1 in 1967 but he showed up drunk for the audition. Also in 1967, he married Brian Epstein's former secretary, Beryl Adams, although it lasted only a few years. "She would go on and on about my drinking," he said, "and she was right."
Wooler became a DJ at the Silver Blades Ice Rink until it closed in 1970 and then took work as a bingo caller, mainly to clear his back taxes. He promoted Liverpool's first Beatles Convention in 1977 and his subsequent appearances with Allan Williams at this annual event were hilarious, as they would settle old scores in public.
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