The first manager of The Beatles who drove the band on their formative trip to Hamburg in 1960, Allan Williams, is dead. He died at the age of 86, his old club announced.

According to The Jacaranda Club in Liverpool, northwest England, which posted the news late Friday on its Facebook page, described his death as “one of the saddest days in our history”.

“The Jacaranda’s original owner and the man who discovered The Beatles, Allan Williams, has sadly passed away at the age of 86,” it said.

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Allan Williams The band were frequent visitors to the Jacaranda and John Lennon and Stuart Sutcliffe were tasked by Williams to paint a mural in the club, according to The Beatles Story exhibition.

They went on to play there several times and Williams organised their first residency in Hamburg in Germany. “No Allan Williams, no Hamburg. No Hamburg, no Beatles,” said Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn in a tribute message on Twitter.

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Williams parted ways with the band in 1961 and they went on to sign with Brian Epstein.