Liverpool football club were certainly looking for inspiration when the first team went along to see Shirley Bassey at the Empire Theatre in May 1965.

They were 3-1 down after the home leg of their European Cup semi-final against Inter Milan – and were flying out to Italy the next day.

But they couldn’t turn down Bassey’s personal invitation to forget football for an evening, especially since they’d won the FA Cup against Leeds United ten days earlier.

The Liverpool football team, FA Cup winners who leave tomorrow for Milan to play the second leg of the European Cup semi final forgot about football for an evening and went along to the Empire Theatre, Liverpool, at the invitation of Shirley Bassey. During the intermission the boys went backstage and joined Shirley behind the curtains singing ‘As Long As He Needs Me.’ 11th May 1965.

The team even went backstage during the interval to join the singer for a special rendition of her hit song As Long As He Needs Me from the musical Oliver.

Our remarkable photo shows the players lined up behind the curtains with Bassey perched on the piano.

Unfortunately, the musical diversion failed to do the trick. Liverpool went down 3-0 in Milan to lose the semi-final 6-1 on aggregate!

The Reds ended the season in seventh place in the First Division after beating Leeds 2-1 in the FA Cup Final at Wembley. They also shared the Charity Shield after drawing 2-2 with West Ham United.

The Beatles were frequent visitors to the Empire in the ‘60s, either performing or recording TV shows. The panel show Juke Box Jury was filmed there in December 1963.

Beatles Drummer Ringo Starr pictured leaving his family home in Admiral Grove Liverpool, 7th December 1963.
Ringo is on his way to the Empire Theatre, where a special edition of the BBC television show Juke Box Jury will be filmed / taped.

In fact, the Fab Four gave their last ever performance in Liverpool at the Empire on Sunday December 5th 1965.

More than 40,000 fans applied for tickets, so the two concerts on the day were massively over-subscribed. Large as it was, the Empire could only seat 2,250 so thousands of fans missed out.

The final concert was a show-stopper with the Beatles belting out 11 tracks including I Feel Fine, Nowhere Man and Yesterday. What’s more, Paul McCartney played the drums for Merseyside support band the Koobas!

The Beatles cooling down at Liverpool Empire, November 1964. Standing left to right: Paul McCartney with a fire extinguisher, John Lennon and George Harrison holding buckets of water. Seated is George Harrison.

As well as hosting the Fab Four’s final performance, the Empire was the venue for the first Beatle to play live again in Liverpool.

The honour went to George Harrison, who joined Gospel singers Delancy and Bonnie for the second half of their show in December 1969. He also accompanied the duo on their UK tour.

George Harrison of The Beatles is kissed by two female fans. Elaine on the left and Gillian on the right.
They are at The Liverpool Empire Theatre for tonight Christmas concert by the group.
The Beatles performed nine songs at this concert: Roll Over Beethoven, All My Loving, This Boy, I Wanna Be Your Man, She Loves You, Till There Was You, I Want To Hold Your Hand, Money (That’s What I Want) and Twist And Shout
Picture taken 22nd December 1963

His long-haired appearance was in sharp contrast to the fresh-faced, mop-top Beatle who greeted young fans at the Empire in December 1963!

Singer Dusty Springfield was the star of the pantomime Merry King Cole at the Empire in December 1966. There was no chance of her forgetting the words of the main song as they were printed in letters a foot high on a massive roller screen!

Dusty Springfield, star of the pantomime Merry King Cole which opens at the Empire Theatre, Liverpool, on Christmas Eve. Pictured, Dusty Springfield with the song sheet she will use in the pantomime. 22nd December 1966.

There was more panto magic in December 1965 when Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves was stage at the Empire – this time on ice!

Our picture shows, from left, Sally Rose as Alcolom, Douglas Breniser who played the Prince

The star trio at the Empire Theatre, Liverpool, are (left to right) Sally Rose (Alcolom), Douglas Breniser (The Prince) and Sue Park (Marjanah), who appear in the production of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. 22nd December 1965.

Sue Park (Marjanah) all with their skates.

There was a fair amount of ice about in June 1963 when David Frost and Liverpool-born actor Kenneth Cope decided to play conkers with ice-lollies outside the Empire.

Trouble at the Empire Theatre, Liverpool, where David Frost and Kenneth Cope are appearing. After playing ‘conkers’ with ice lollies Frost saw the size of Cope’s billing on the placards, which led to trouble! 10th June 1963.

They were appearing with actor Derek Dene in a travelling revue – and Frost was less than amused at the size of Cope’s billing on the publicity posters.

Cope worked with Frost in the satirical TV series That Was The Week That Was and also played Jed Stone on Coronation Street from 1961 to 1966.

Stone was Minnie Caldwell’s lodger – and couldn’t resist get-rich-quick schemes which eventually landed him in jail.

Cope later achieved national fame playing ghostly detective Marty Hopkirk in the popular TV series Randall and Hopkirk Deceased in 1969. Mike Pratt portrayed his partner Jeff Randall.

*Hundreds of pictures from an unforgettable decade are packed into Clive Hardy’s fascinating book Around Merseyside in the 1960s. It’s available at £9.99 plus postage and packaging.

Just go to inostalgia.co.uk to place your order or ring the hotline on 01928 503777.