The Beatles performs at the Cavern Club

get performs at the Cavern Club on Aug. 22, 1962.

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Tributes are pouring in.

Tributes have been paid to early Beatles booker Joe Flannery, who has died at the age of 87.

Dubbed the 'Secret Beatle,' Flannery was the band's booking manager from 1962 to 1963 and played a key role in the rise of the Fab Four.

As a young man growing up in Liverpool, Flannery dreamt of becoming a singer and performed with big band ensemble Joe Loss And His Orchestra prior to joining the army as part of his national service. 

He became involved in the city's late 1950s music scene by booking gigs for his brother's band, The Teenage Rebels, and entered The Beatles' orbit when his childhood friend Brian Epstein asked him to book some gigs for a new group he was managing.   

"[Brian] was very well spoken and didn't think it would suit if he was going round taking the bookings," Flannery told The Beatles Story museum in 2015. "So that became my job and Brian handled the contacts and business side of things. We would meet up every few days to share notes."

The job saw him become close friends with John, Paul, George and then Beatles' drummer Pete Best, who were regular visitors to his home. Lennon dubbed it "the posh house."

"I remember he used to lie on his stomach with his legs beating out a rhythm behind him, writing songs on scraps of paper. I used to throw the papers on the fire - maybe I should've kept hold of them!" Flannery recalled years later. 

His work with Epstein also saw him book gigs for a number of other Liverpool acts, including Gerry and the Pacemakers, Cilla Black, Beryl Marsden and Billy J Kramer. Flannery's association with The Beatles ended when he relocated to Germany and went to work at the Star Club in Hamburg, a legendary venue in the Beatles' story.

Flannery wrote about his experiences in his autobiography Standing in the Wings: The Beatles, Brian Epstein and Me, published in 2013. His death was announced by his nephew, Norman Meek, who said the 87 year-old had been unwell for a number of weeks and died at his home in Liverpool on March 27. He had been planning to travel to Norway later this year to take part in a Beatles' convention. 

"Fans from all over the world would call at his home and he was always happy to speak with them," said Meek in a statement. 

The Cavern Club tweeted, "We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Joe Flannery, a lifelong friend and business associate of Brian Epstein and friend of the Cavern Club. Everyone at The Cavern, Beatleweek and all who met him over the years will miss him dearly and our thoughts are with his family."

Martin King, managing director of Liverpool-based attraction The Beatles Story, added: "We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of our dear friend Joe Flannery and our condolences go out to all his family, friends and fans at this sad time." 

"Joe was a friend to many of us here at The Beatles Story and had a vital role to play during his work with the band," said King. "His story will continue to be told here for years to come."

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