Allan Williams was born in Bootle, Liverpool, and is a former businessman and promoter of Welsh descent. He was the original manager (more precisely, booking agent) of The Beatles. He personally took the young band to Hamburg, Germany, where they gained the vital show business experience that led to their emergence on the world stage.
In 1957 Williams leased a former watch-repair shop at 21 Slater Street, Liverpool, which he converted into a coffee bar. He named the venue the Jacaranda, after an exotic species of ornamental flowering tree, jacaranda mimosifolia. The Jac (as it became known) opened in September 1958. The Beatles were frequent customers, with John Lennon and Stuart Sutcliffe attending Liverpool Art College nearby, and Paul McCartney 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 occasion. Between May and August 1960, Williams secured a number of bookings for the group at other places. One was backing a local stripper, when she discovered the Beatles weren't familiar with the "Gypsy Fire Dance," they instead backed her with a rendition of the Harry Lime theme tune.
In August 1960, Pete Best joining as the group's new drummer, Williams and the Beatles left Liverpool in a small, crowded van which took them to Hamburg for the first time. He continued to get them bookings, until he fell out with the Beatles in 1961, over the payment of his ten per cent commission in a later trip to Hamburg. Williams had no further business dealings with the group, and was especially disappointed that Sutcliffe, whom he was especially fond of, was the one who told him the band wouldn't pay. In 1962, before Brian Epstein became the band's manager, he contacted Williams to make sure there were no remaining contractual ties. There were none, but Williams forthrightly told Epstein "Don't touch them with a fucking bargepole; they will let you down," as he related later.
Years later, Williams and the Beatles spoke fondly of one another, with Paul McCartney describing Williams in The Beatles Anthology as "a great guy." In the 1970s, Williams played a crucial role in producing the first Beatles conventions to be staged in Liverpool and he is a perennial VIP guest at the city's annual Beatle Week Festivals. He published a memoir, The Man Who Gave the Beatles Away, in 1977, which John Lennon gave his endorsement. Recovering a tape of a latter-day Beatles show in Hamburg (performing on New Year's Eve of 1962-63), he saw the tape released (also in 1977) as Live! at the Star-Club in Hamburg, Germany; 1962.
Williams carries on today speaking at Beatles conventions from Liverpool to Singapore. The Jacaranda reopened under new management in the mid-1990s, and continues to thrive as a Liverpool hotspot with occasional live music.
The Man Who Gave The Beatles Away is also the title of a musical by Irish playwright Ronan Wilmot, which was performed at the New Theatre in Dublin in 2002.