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Beatles





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January

Singles released in January: Fats Domino's Ain't That A Shame (26th, #23); The Viper Skiffle Group's Don't You Rock Me Daddy-O (26th, #10)

16th: The Cavern Club opened for business. Alan Synter had fallen in love with a place in Paris called Le Caveau: “And I thought Mathew Street looked like a narrow street in the latin quarter, so I felt I was bringing the Left Bank to Liverpool! The place had been reinforced to make an air-raid shelter and the brick reinforcements had to be removed with a sledgehammer as we couldn't get a pneumatic drill in. We did it by hand, and were left with a lot of rubble. That was the ideal foundation for the stage, which was made of wood and just went over the bricks.”

Because Alan was a jazz-man, the opening acts were all bee-bop trumpet shit - it was still a few years away from becoming the Cavern that we all know and love.

February

Singles released in February: Little Richard's Long Tall Sally (9th, #3); Elvis Presley's Mystery Train (16th, #25); Little Richard's Tutti Fruitti (23rd, #29)

The fashion at this time was to look and sound like Elvis, so John started dressing up in teddy-boy gear, and grew a hefty pair of sideburns too. But then a friend said “he had a record by Little Richard, who was even better than Elvis. So we used to go round his house and listen to 78s. His record was 'Long Tall Sally'. And when I heard it, it was so great I couldn't speak!”

March

Singles released in March: Little Richard's The Girl Can't Help It (16th, #9)

April

Singles released in April: Julie London's Cry Me A River (6th, #22); Nat King Cole's When I Fall In Love (20th, #2)

May

Albums released in May: Elvis Presley's Rock 'N' Roll No.2 (4th, #3)



Playing down Roseberry Street, 22nd June 1957

Photo: Charlie Roberts
June

Singles released in June: Elvis Presley's All Shook Up (15th, #24); Little Richard's Lucille (29th, #10)

22nd: The Quarrymen played their first gig down Roseberry Street, during the Empire Day Celebrations. They had to stand in the back of an old coal lorry and run the leads through the kitchen window. John said: “We didn't get paid. We played at bloke's parties after that, or weddings, perhaps got a few bob. Mostly we just played for fun.”

July

Singles released in July: The Everly Brothers' Bye Bye, Love (13th, #6); Elvis Presley's Let Me Be Your Teddy Bear (13th, #3)

Sometime during the summer (date unknown) George got together with his brother and a few mates, and formed a band called The Rebels. “I remember we had a tea chest with a lot of gnomes around it,” he said. “And one of my brothers had a five-shilling guitar with the back off it. But apart from that it was all fine. Just my brother, some mates and me. I tried to lay down the law a bit, but they weren't having any of that. We thought we made a pretty good sound but so did about four million other groups.” His mother recalled: “He came home one day and said he'd got an audition at the British Legion Club in Speke. And I told him not to be so daft.” But when they got down there, none of the other groups had bothered turning up so they were forced to play all night! “And they were so excited when they came home,” she said, “all shouting together. I couldn't make out what happened at first. But they showed me the ten bob they'd got - their first professional engagement. The poor boy on the tea-chest looked awful. His fingers were bleeding from playing. The blood was all over the tea chest!”

2nd: John and Nigel Whalley tried signing onto the seaman's register down at the docks, but when Aunt Mimi found out she went ****** nuts, and ordered them home at once. “I was rung up by this place at Pier Head,” she said, “some sort of seaman's employment office... 'We've got a young boy named John Lennon here,' they said. 'He's asking to sign up.' 'Don't even dream of it,' I told them.” Then she put her hat and coat on and marched straight down there and beat the living daylights out of them.


John playing at the fete, just before his first meeting with Paul

Photo: Geoff Rhind

6th: The day John met Paul. Pete Shotton's mum had handily bagged them a set at the annual Woolton Parish Church Garden Fete - a good gig for a crappy band. The day kicked off with a procession down Allerton Road, King's Drive and Hunt's Cross Avenue, led by kids in fancy dress, Cubs, Brownies, Girl Guides, Morris Dancers and the twenty-five piece band of the Cheshire Yeomanry. The Quarrymen had to sit in the back of a flat-bed truck and Eric Griffiths recalled: “I felt a complete prat. It was hopeless - trying to play while we were still moving.” John just about managed to knock off a few wobbly tunes before the truck deposited them at their 4:15 performance. Paul was coming too - dragged along by his mate Ivan Vaughan: “I had this mate,” he said. “And we were born on exactly the same day, so we were great mates. And one day he said, 'Come and see this group, they're great.'” Now, it just so happened that John was friendly with Ivy too, because he lived round the back of his house: “It seemed that he knew Paul was dicking about in music, and he thought that he would be a good lad to get in the group,” he said. “So one day when we were playing at Woolton, he brought him along. We were playing on a raised platform and there was a good crowd because it was a warm, sunny day.”

Paul recalled: “John was obviously leading this thing - he had an acoustic guitar, brown-wood with a hole, and a bit of a crew-cut, and a little quiff. He was staring around as he was playing, watching everybody. He told me later that this was the first time that he tried sussing out an audience, you know, sizing them up, seeing whether it was best to twist a shoulder at them, or just not move at all... He didn't know the words or anything, he'd obviously just heard the records and not bought them, but I was still pretty impressed. I went round to see them afterwards in the interval, and they were having a few beers. I was a little bit young for that, because John was one-and-a-half years older than me. But they were just hanging out, and I talked to them, just chatting and showing off.” Pete Shotton said: “I really didn't take to him on that first meeting. He seemed very quiet - but you do when you meet a group of new blokes for the first time. He was this chubby-faced kid and we all grunted at each other for a bit, in an awkward silence.” Then Paul recalled: “I picked up his guitar (which I had to play upside down, because I'm left-handed, so that was a little bit impressive) and played 'Twenty Flight Rock'. Then I did 'Be-Bop-A-Lula', which they didn't know either. Then I did my Little Richard bit - went through my whole repertoire in fact.”

Colin Hampton's memory is a bit shaky, but he remembers the meeting: “All I remember is several people coming into the hall while we were getting ready. I was playing my drums, but people would wander in with a bugle or a trumpet and play a bit on their own. We were all just messing around.” John said: “Paul could obviously play the guitar. I half thought to myself, he's as good as me.” Pete remembers him tuning his acoustic too: “And he actually knew how to tune the thing, and neither John nor Eric Griffiths had learned how to do that yet. Whenever their guitars went out of tune, they'd been taking them round and asking a fellow in King's Drive to do it.”

John was naturally impressed with this chubby little kid, and was given a dilemma because “up until then I'd been the kingpin. I was the singer and the leader. But now I thought: if I take him on, what will happen? But he was good, so he was worth having. He also looked like Elvis.”

A few weeks later Paul met Shotton cycling past and was formally invited into the band.

(N.B.: Many years later a tape of this gig turned up containing the songs 'Puttin' On The Style' and 'Baby Let's Play House'. Other songs rumoured to have been played include 'Cumberland Gap', 'Maggie Mae' and 'Railroad Bill'.)

August

Albums released in August: Elvis Presley's Loving You soundtrack (31st, #1)

Sometime in August (date unknown) Pete stopped playing with the band. “I hadn't wanted to say that I was fed up,” he said. “But my contribution was totally non-musical - I just went to make wisecracks and help carry the gear. I never liked going on stage anyway. It gave me the willies.” After a show in Toxteth he finally plucked up the guts to tell him straight: “John and I were on the floor, sitting cross-legged at the end of the party, surrounded by our instruments and empty beer bottles. And he was in fine form, making me laugh hysterically at something or other. I plucked up the courage to say I was leaving - I say 'plucked' because I thought he'd be upset. But he'd obviously been struggling to tell me he didn't want me in the group any more. Anyway, he suddenly picked up my washboard and hit me over the head with it. He then turned to me and said, 'Well, that takes care of that problem, doesn't it?' So that was it. I was released from the Quarrymen. We then just laughed until the beer rolled down our eyes.”

Pete then went and joined the police force, getting his own beat in '59. “I was shit scared,” he said. “I was given a wooden stick, a whistle and sent off on patrol. I had to go under this bridge, at the end of which you were right into about the roughest area of Liverpool. I began to think, What am I doing? I'm not enjoying this. So after nine months I resigned.”

7th: The Quarrymen's debut at The Cavern Club. Paul couldn't make it because he was away at scout camp (not very rock 'n' roll!). They got the gig because Nigel Whalley had just become a golf professional and got friendly with Dr. Synter - whose son had just opened the club seven months before. It was just a dumpy old warehouse in Mathew Street - nothing special in those days. The entrance was by seventeen stone steps leading down to three barrel-vaulted cellars, the center one of which contained a small stage and wooden seats. It had one toilet, no tables, no curtains, no carpet, and you weren't even allowed to drink alcohol because it didn't have a licence! Alan Synter recalled: “I wasn't anti-booze but my heart wasn't in it - I didn't think that I could meet the requirements for a liquor licence. I was going to get a lot of young people in the place and so it wasn't a good idea to have booze there. They could always get a pass-out and go to the White Star or the Grapes, where, incidentally they might find me.”

The club's clientele at that time was mainly posh jazz kids come to listen to the shitty bee-bop, and Alan remembered them going down all right, “but it was hardly a discerning audience,” he said. “I thought they were pretty useless, actually, just a bunch of kids going through their apprenticeship, doing poor imitations of current pop, Buddy Holly and the like.” When they started playing 'Hound Dog' and 'Blue Suede Shoes' he sent an angry note backstage saying: “Cut out the bloody rock!” John said: “We used to introduce them as if it were a genuine jazz piece... 'And now an old favourite by Fats Duke Ellington Leadbelly, called 'Long Tall Sally'.' And we'd go straight into that number... We were always anti-jazz. I think it's shit music. It never gets anywhere, never does anything, it's always the same. And it's followed by students in Marks and Spencer pullovers and all they do is drink pints of beer.”

Gerry Marsden (of Gerry and the Pacemakers) used to love those early days: “It was great,” he said. “It was a small, smelly cellar that looked like a train tunnel, basically. All the kids came down and it stank of disinfectant because they used to clean it out with tons of the stuff. It was a great place to play in.” The sweat used to roll down the walls like raindrops because it got so hot and stuffy with a hundred kids in it.

This was also the Quarrymen's final gig with Rod Davis. He wasn't kicked out or anything like that - he just drifted away. “In essence,” he said, “I was replaced by Paul. Perhaps I hadn't realised at the time that Paul had taken my place. But there was no dramatic parting... we just went our separate ways.”

September

Singles released in September: Buddy Holly and the Crickets' That'll Be The Day (28th, #1); Jerry Lee Lewis' Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On (28th, #Cool

Sometime in September (date unknown) Paul's family went to Butlins and entered 'The People National Talent Contest'. This was his very-first performance on stage, and he sang the Everly Brother's 'Bye Bye Love' and Little Richard's 'Long Tall Sally' with his brother Michael.

It was also around this time that he first started practising with John: “We used to sag off school and go back to my house when there was no one in during the afternoon. We'd smoke Twinings Tea in a pipe. My dad kept a couple of pipes in the top drawer of the nicely polished chest of drawers in the dining room, the drawer where the Prudential Insurance card and the birth certificates and the pens and the family photographs were kept. We'd fill the pipes with tea and light them, which made us cough and did nothing else, and we'd think we were right little rebels doing that. We'd sit around, smoking, and have a little bash on the piano... We never played our guitars indoors at Mimi's house. We practised outside the front door in the glass porch. John told me Mimi banished him out there from the first day he brought home his guitar on account of all the noise. He didn't mind, though. He liked it out on the porch as the echo of the guitars bounced nicely off the glass and the tiles.” Aunt Mimi said: “He stood there leaning against the wall so long, I think he wore some of the brickwork away with his behind. To me, it was just so much waste of time. And I used to tell him so. 'The guitar's all very well, John,' I told him, 'but you'll never make a living out of it.”

Paul described this time in Many Years From Now: “John had a guitar bought from the want ads and it's main claim to fame was that it was guaranteed not to split! It was a joke we always used to have. It was guaranteed not to split and by golly, it didn't! So it was not an awfully good guitar; neither was mine, but it didn't matter. I would either plonk a little bit on the piano or most of the time we would sit down opposite each other with our two guitars. And because I was left-handed, when I looked at John I would see almost a mirror image of myself, I'd be playing the guitar as it were upside-down, he'd be reading me, upside-down, so we could clearly see what each other was doing, almost what you were doing yourself, you could see yourself playing the chord D and you could see whether it looked good.”

John said: “He told me that the chords I had been playing weren't real chords. And his dad said they weren't even banjo chords! Although I think they were. Paul had a good guitar at the time. It cost about fourteen quid. He got it in exchange for a trumpet that his dad had given him. I learned some chords from him - and of course he taught me left-handed shapes. So I was playing a sort of upside-down version of the correct thing, if you can work that out.” He thought banjo-strumming was the correct way to play, “but after a while I discovered that it wasn't and I had to start learning all over again.” Paul said: “I remember we once went across town for a new chord, B7. We all knew E, A, but the last one of the sequence is B7, and it's a very tricky one. But there was a guy that knew it, so we all got on the bus and went to his house. 'Hear tell there's a soothsayer on the hill who knows this great chord, B7!' We all sat round like little disciples, strum strum. 'How's he doing it?' And we learned it.”

Paul remembered walking home at night: “I used to walk home from his house if I didn't have enough for the fare, but I never minded that. I wrote a lot of songs on those walks. 'World Without Love' and 'Love Of The Loved' included, though John helped me polish them up later. I remember those walks home very well. I had to cross this horrible, pitch-black golf course. I'd always be singing, but if I ever came across somebody in the dark, I'd shut up and try to pretend it wasn't me.”

October

Sometime in October (date unknown) John started attending the Liverpool Art School. He was put into the 'lettering' class. He said: “I went a bit wild when I was fourteen. I was just drifting. I wouldn't study at school, and when I was put in for nine GCSEs, I was a hopeless failure. My whole school life was a case of 'I couldn't care less!' It was just a joke as far as I was concerned. Art was the only thing I could do, and my headmaster told me that if I didn't go to art school, then I might as well give up life!”

18th: The Quarrymen's first gig with Paul McCartney. “I went in there as the lead guitarist really, because I wasn't too bad on guitar,” he said. “But when I got up on stage my fingers went all stiff. I had a big solo, on the song 'Guitar Boogie', and when it came to my bit... I blew it! I just blew it! I couldn't play at all and I got terribly embarrassed. My fingers found themselves underneath the strings instead of on top of them. So I vowed that very-first night that that was the end of my career as lead guitarist.” It was soon after this gig that Paul showed John the tune he wrote in '56. And, not to be outdone, John immediately went home and wrote his own, called 'Hello Little Girl'.



Left to right: Colin Hanton; Paul; Len Garry; John and Eric Griffiths

Photo: Leslie Kearney
November

Singles released in November: Elvis Presley's Loving You (2nd, #24); The Everly Brothers' Wake Up Little Susie (9th, #2); Elvis Presley's Lawdy Miss Clawdy (9th, #15); Jackie Wilson's Reet Petite (16th, #6)

23rd: The Quarrymen played a gig at the New Clubmoor Hall - famous because some kid took a photo of it.

December

Singles released in December: Buddy Holly and the Cricket's Peggy Sue (7th, #6); Jerry Lee Lewis' Great Balls Of Fire (21st, #1); Buddy Holly and the Crickets' Oh, Boy (28th, #3)

Sometime in December (date unknown) George saw the Quarrymen playing for the first time. He said: “I'd been invited to see them play several times by Paul but for some reason never got around to it. I remember being impressed with John's big thick sideboards and trendy teddy boy clothes. He was a terribly sarcastic bugger right from day one, but I never backed down from him. In a way, all that emotional rough stuff was simply a way for him to help separate the men from the boys, I think. I was never intimidated by him. Whenever he had a go at me I just gave him a little bit right back.”
ml
oh yeah, posting a lot of randomly googled texts smells like spamming to me Mad
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