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16th August 1962: A Fourth Drummer – Johnny Hutchinson – turns The Beatles Down

The Silver Beatles - Stuart Sutcliffe, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Johnny Hutchinson and George Harrison
The Silver Beatles – Stuart Sutcliffe, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Johnny Hutchinson and George Harrison

Johnny Hutchinson Turned Down The Beatles

When John, Paul and George decided that they needed to replace Pete Best, following the Parlophone audition, they asked Brian Epstein to find a replacement. The first drummer approached was Bobby Graham, who turned Brian down. Brian Epstein then spoke to Ritchie Galvin, who also said no to The Beatles. Johnny Hutchinson became the third drummer to decline the offer.

The Beatles introduced Brian to Ringo Starr at the Blue Angel Club. Epstein then offered Ringo the opportunity to replace Pete. Brian said that he would confirm the appointment on 14th August 1962. However, Brian then offered Johnny “Hutch” Hutchinson the job of Beatles drummer the day that Brian got rid of original Beatles drummer Pete Best. (see Why Pete Best was not sacked)

16th august 1962: brian Epstein asks johnny Hutchinson to be the beatles drummer

Johnny Hutch Hutchinson sat behind a replica Beatles drum kit. He played with The Beatles twice
Johnny Hutch Hutchinson sat behind a replica Beatles drum kit. He played with The Beatles twice

On the afternoon of 16th August 1962, Brian told Pete Best the bad news that the other Beatles wanted him out. Pete initially agreed to fulfil the Beatles gigs until Ringo was due to arrive on Saturday. An obvious choice for drummer was Johnny “Hutch” Hutchinson. Hutch had sat in, albeit grudgingly, with The Silver Beatles at the Larry Parnes audition in May 1960. Johnny Hutchinson was the driving force behind The Big Three and the best drummer in the Liverpool. Considering that The Big Three had just signed a management contract with Brian on 1st July 1962, it made sense to approach him to help The Beatles out at short notice.

The Big Three had been playing in Hamburg for most of July before returning to Liverpool in time to appear at the Tower Ballroom on 27th July. Brian asked Hutch to join The Beatles after he returned from Hamburg, and not just for the three upcoming appearances when Pete Best didn’t show up.

I was playing with the beatles

Finding the Fourth Beatle the story of the 23 drummers who put the beat into The Beatles
Finding the Fourth Beatle the story of the 23 drummers who put the beat into The Beatles

I interviewed Johnny for Finding the Fourth Beatle. “I was playing with The Beatles in Chester. With the Big Three playing on the same bill, Brian asked him to sit in with The Beatles. “I had to set up my drums and get dressed for our set with The Big Three, and then go and get changed and go back on stage with The Beatles.” Brian was there and kept looking at me strange. I got off stage after the gig and had to zoom off. Brian said, ‘I was looking at you to see how you’d fit with The Beatles’. I joked, ‘I don’t really.’” Little did he know what Brian was about to say to him.

“I think John would suit The Beatles down to the ground”

Johnny Hutchinson drumming with The Big Three
Johnny Hutchinson drumming with The Big Three

Johnny Hutchinson was honest; “I don’t remember dates, but I remember exactly where we were,” Hutch recalled. “I was in the Grosvenor Hotel in Chester,” after playing at the Riverpark Ballroom in Chester with The Beatles. “We sat down, and Brian Epstein and Bob Wooler were just looking at me. So I said, ‘What the f##k do you two want?’ And they looked at each other, and Brian said to Bob, ‘What do you think?’ Bob said, ‘Well, Brian, I think John would suit The Beatles down to the ground.’ Then Brian said, ‘I do, too. John, I want you to be The Beatles’ drummer.’

“I wouldn’t join The Beatles for a big clock”(Johnny Hutchinson)

“I told him that ‘I wouldn’t join The Beatles for a big clock. The Beatles couldn’t make as good a sound as the Big Three. My group is ten times better than The Beatles!’ And Brian said, ‘I know, but the Big Three are limited. The Beatles? The world is their oyster.’

I Like the beatles

“By that, I think he meant that I was the only one in the group who was grafting, really working hard. I was the drummer, doing the singing too, and with only three of us, there was only so much we could do. That’s what I reckon he meant. Brian also said that he had been ‘everywhere to get a drummer and that he couldn’t get one.’ And I said there must be another drummer out there, but Eppy said, ‘there isn’t anyone to suit The Beatles.’ You see, it is often said that I hated The Beatles, but I didn’t. I liked The Beatles, but hated the music. It wasn’t for me, but it suited lots of people. That’s why I wanted to stay with my band.”

johnny hutch recommended ringo to brian

Hutch recommended Ringo to Brian. “Yes I did. I told him to go and get Ringo. He’s a bum, he’ll join anyone for a few bob.” Johnny Hutch hasn’t for one minute ever regretted his decision to turn down The Beatles.

almost the fourth beatle

Johnny Hutchinson became the third drummer to turn down the opportunity to replace Pete Best in The Beatles. Sadly, Johnny died after a short illness in April 2019. He had become a good friend, and always good company, with some incredible stories. He was never one to make anything up – he always told the truth, which is a rarity.

finding the fourth beatle

These revelations from Johnny “Hutch” Hutchinson came from exclusive interviews with David Bedford over a three year period, and feature in his latest book, Finding the Fourth Beatle. You can purchase your copy here.

David Bedford

Pete Best was NOT Sacked by Brian Epstein or The Beatles

The Beatles in Hamburg: John Lennon, George Harrison, Pete Best, Paul McCartney and Stuart Sutcliffe
The Beatles in Hamburg: John Lennon, George Harrison, Pete Best, Paul McCartney and Stuart Sutcliffe

Pete Best and the biggest Beatles Mystery

Since 1962, one of the hottest debates has centered around Brian Epstein’s dismissal of Pete Best from The Beatles. The controversy has inspired articles, chapters and even entire books, all speculating on the reasons why the band booted Pete from the group as they were on the cusp of stardom. However, we have been looking at this most well-known chapter in Beatles history the wrong way.  To being with, let’s go back to the infamous head-to-head meeting that took place on this day in 1962.

Beatles Change Drummer is how Mersey Beat announced that Pete Best had left The Beatles
Beatles Change Drummer is how Mersey Beat announced that Pete Best had left The Beatles

Brian Epstein summoned Pete Best to NEMS on 16th August 1962. Although Pete thought it was to be a routine meeting, it would in fact go on to define his life thereafter. Even though we will demonstrate that Brian did not dismiss Pete, this does not mean that either Pete or Brian have ever lied about what went on that day. Both of them have since given consistent accounts over the years. After nervously exchanging some small talk, Brian then uttered those fateful words:

“the boys want you out”

I don’t know how to tell you this, but the boys want you out and it has already been agreed that Ringo is joining on Saturday.”

Pete recalled what happened next. “Only one echoed through my mind. Why, why, why? ‘They don’t think you’re a good enough drummer, Pete,’ Brian went on. ‘And George Martin doesn’t think you’re a good enough drummer.’ ‘I consider myself as good, if not better, than Ringo,’ I could hear myself saying.

does ringo know yet?

Beatles manager Brian Epstein
Beatles Manager Brian Epstein

“Then I asked: ‘Does Ringo knew about this yet?’ ‘He’s joining on Saturday,’ Eppy said.

” A conspiracy had clearly been going on for some time behind my back, but not one of the other Beatles could find the courage to tell me. The stab in the back had been left to Brian, and it had been left until almost the last minute. Even Ringo had been a party to it, someone else I had considered to be a pal until this momentous day.”

The meeting continued. “Epstein went on to what for him was simply next business at this shattering meeting. ‘We still have a couple of venues left before Ringo joins – will you play?’ ‘Yes,’ I nodded, not really knowing what I was saying, for my mind was in a turmoil. How could this happen to me? “

“Why had it taken two years for John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison to decide that my drumming was not of a high enough standard for them? Dazed, I made my way out of Brian’s office. Downstairs, Neil was waiting for me. ‘What’s happened?’ he asked as soon as he saw me, ‘you look as if you’ve seen a ghost.’” Pete walked straight past Billy Kinsley and Tony Crane of The Merseybeats, the group Brian was hoping Pete would join.”

Delving into the technicalities

We have to carefully look at, and challenge, every piece of available evidence, and consider the following statements:

  • Brian Epstein sacked Pete Best – the accepted truth since 1962
  • John, Paul, and George had hired Pete in the first place, and therefore they could fire him too

Definition of Dismissal: “Dismissal (referred to informally as firing or sacking) is the termination of employment by an employer against the will of an employee.” 

Pete Best was not an employee, so Brian couldn’t sack him. John, Paul and George couldn’t sack him either. In fact, Pete was a self-employed musician, so couldn’t be sacked by anybody.

Brian had to choose his words carefully

Now we know that Brian didn’t sack Pete, we have to examine what really happened.

The reason Brian used those exact words, “the boys want you out and it has already been agreed that Ringo is joining on Saturday” was not accidental; he chose those words very carefully.

Brian, as we know, was terribly nervous about the meeting, as Pete Best observed. It was because Brian knew he had to get the wording right, or it could have had dire consequences. Brian had to communicate Pete that he was sacking and replacing him, without saying those words.

Getting rid of Pete was not an easy matter. When he joined The Beatles, it was as an equal member, and therefore they became a partnership. The Beatles of John, Paul, George and Pete signed that Partnership Agreement at the end of 1961.

Another notable piece of evidence is the management contract that John, Paul, George and Pete signed as members of The Beatles. Brian hadn’t signed the contract. If Pete Best was simply a “hired hand”, then the contract would not have included him. The four Beatles were performing as a group, as a partnership.

No member of that partnership could fire another member. There needed to be a complex examination of the legal partnership among The Beatles and that management contract. Epstein needed the help of his solicitor, David Harris, to find a way to follow the instructions of John, Paul and George to get rid of Pete Best from The Beatles.

interview with Brian Epstein’s lawyer

Brian Epstein's lawyer, David Harris, who confirmed that Pete Best was not sacked
Brian Epstein’s lawyer, David Harris, who confirmed that Pete Best was not sacked

“Best wasn’t employed by Brian,” said Harris, “he was in partnership with the other three Beatles, and they had a partnership as a group known as ‘The Beatles’. Their partnership didn’t have to be in writing – not all contracts have to be in writing – but in general terms, a contract doesn’t have to be in writing. It can be verbal, like buying something in a shop. Same with this informal partnership agreement where they would work together as a group and share their profits. They could have agreed among themselves that they could divide the profits between themselves in any way they wanted.” What Harris didn’t know at the time is that The Beatles had a formal partnership agreement arranged in December 1961.

Brian had no authority to get rid of Pete

Finding the Fourth Beatle the story of the 23 drummers who put the beat into The Beatles
Finding the Fourth Beatle the story of the 23 drummers who put the beat into The Beatles

“The problem was,” said Harris, “that it was a Partnership. Brian had no authority to get rid of Pete. They (the other three Beatles) had to get rid of him, and dissolve the partnership. Brian could say that Ringo was replacing Pete.

I wrote a letter saying Brian would happily place him (Pete) in another group, as that was in his character anyway. He couldn’t sack him. The personal relationships didn’t suggest it, but the legal relationship did, that Pete was engaging Brian to provide work for him.” Pete and the other Beatles, in a legal context, employed Brian Epstein.

Finding the Fourth Beatle

Brian Epstein, on behalf of The Beatles, had already approached Bobby Graham, Ritchie Galvin and would also ask Johnny Hutchinson later this same day, but he had already lined up the young Ringo Starr. The rest, as they say, is history.

Read the full interview with Brian’s lawyer, David Harris, in Finding the Fourth Beatle.

David Bedford

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How Ringo Starr became the Beatles Drummer – In His Own Words

The Fab Four - George, John, Ringo and Paul. This was Ringo's first photo shoot after he became The Beatles drummer
The Fab Four – George, John, Ringo and Paul

Ringo becomes The Beatles drummer

Over the years, the story of how Ringo Starr became The Beatles drummer has been told in so many ways. It has taken on mythical proportions and so created an amalgam of scenarios that, if you look hard enough, is the truth. We have to investigate and piece the events together as best we can with exact times and dates. As more “facts” emerge, it retells more versions of the events, confusing the story even further.

Ringo sits in with The Beatles for Pete Best

No evidence exists to show that The Beatles offered Ringo the drumming job in The Beatles before August 1962. On the few occasions when Pete Best couldn’t make it, Ringo was their go-to drummer. This meant that they got to know each other a little better, musically. They first made a record together in Hamburg back in October 1960. Ringo next sat in with The Beatles was at their Christmas Party on 27th December 1961. On this occasion, Best had asked him to play in his place.

The Beatles at the Cavern - Pete, George, John and Paul. Ringo replaced Pete Best as The Beatles drummer
The Beatles at the Cavern – Pete, George, John and Paul

Ringo also played on 5th February at the Cavern, plus 26th March at The Cavern at lunchtime. He then joined them at the Kingsway Club in Southport in the evening. They knew what he was like to play with, and enjoyed playing with him in the group. This must have been a significant factor.

Examining The Evidence

Although some suggest that it would always be Ringo, the evidence says otherwise. Whatever transpired before Ringo Starr became The Beatles drummer, he was the right choice.

How did it happen? How did Ringo become the Beatles drummer? The Fourth Beatle? There are countless stories and multiple, often conflicting, versions of events. What does the evidence tell us?

Ringo explains how he joined The Beatles

In November 1962, Ringo told music journalist Chris Hutchins of the New Musical Express how he became The Beatles drummer. This interview, complete with relevant times, dates and locations, took place just three months after Ringo had joined the group. This interview appeared in my book, The Fab One Hundred and Four: The Evolution of The Beatles.

Ringo sat in with The Beatles on four occasions over the previous year, with conversations about him joining the group. There is no evidence that The Beatles offered Ringo the job before the weekend of 10th August 1962. In the interview, Ringo made no allusions to this, even a short time after joining them. The evidence only supports Ringo’s version.  

Friday, 10th August 1962: 10, Admiral Grove

John and Paul asked George to contact Ringo to invite him to join The Beatles.

 Richy (Ringo) with his mother, Elsie. From playing the accordian, he became The Beatles drummer
Young Richy (Ringo) with his mother, Elsie

In an interview with Mersey Beat, Ringo’s mother Elsie recalled this as the first time she had met George Harrison. She explained why he had called. “Ringo was at Butlins when George came up to the house—I hadn’t met him before—and asked if Ritchie was home,” she said. “I told him he wasn’t, and he said, ‘Tell him we’re trying to get him to join us.’” 

George Harrison explains

George corroborated this. “I went round to Ringo’s house when he was playing at Butlins, sat and had some tea with his mother and said, ‘Next time, tell your Ringo to call me up because I want him to be in our group’.”  

Elsie’s comments confirm that she hadn’t met George before, so there is no evidence of a close friendship between George and Ringo at that point.

Ringo seems to verify this: “I found it harder to get close to George Harrison. As the youngest Beatle, he backed off rather than try to compete for the limelight with the extrovert John and Paul. George was the original Little Boy Lost.”  

Saturday, 11th August 1962: The Odd Spot Club and The Blue Angel

Ringo (centre) with Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. Ringo explains how he became The Beatles drummer
Ringo (centre) with Rory Storm and the Hurricanes

Ringo had returned to Liverpool from Butlin’s and later recalled how The Beatles asked him to join on this day. “One Saturday morning,” Ringo said, “Elsie said that George Harrison had called and would I go down to see them at the Hot Spot (sic)?” This was actually The Odd Spot in Bold Street, Liverpool. 

“It was my night off and I couldn’t think of a better way to spend it. During the break, John, Paul, and George invited me to join them at the Blue Angel later on. Pete Best wasn’t coming, they said. At the Blue Angel, they introduced me to Brian Epstein. We shook hands, and he seemed a bit surprised by my appearance. I had a beard and a gray streak in my hair then.” 

Ringo at the back, with the Eddie Clayton Skiffle Group. Roy Trafford explains how Ringo became The Beatles drummer
Ringo at the back, with the Eddie Clayton Skiffle Group. Roy Trafford, centre

Ringo, as he always did, discussed the offer with his best friend, Roy Trafford. “When Ringo was asked to join The Beatles, it was a surprise to him and he didn’t know which way to go,” Roy related, “so he asked me, ‘What do you think?’ I told him ‘what have you got to lose? Have a go. I don’t know whether I made a difference to his decision, but it definitely worked out for the best’.” (Read David’s full interview with Roy in Finding the Fourth Beatle) The key phrase is that ‘it was a surprise’ to Ringo showing that he had no expectation of joining The Beatles.

Tuesday, 14th August 1962: The Drive To Butlin’s?

Did Paul and John drive to Butlin’s to see Ringo? It is possible, but it was a long way—around 180 miles each way, and before there were motorways—with very little time to spare. We can’t be sure if they made the trip.

johnny guitar remembers

Johnny Guitar and Ringo.
Johnny Guitar and Ringo

There are eyewitnesses though as Johnny Guitar from the Hurricanes remembers seeing them there. “John and Paul knocked on the door to our caravan about ten o’clock one morning, and I was very surprised because John hated Butlin’s. Paul said, ‘We’ve come to ask Ringo to join us.’ We went into the camp and Rory said, ‘What are we going to do because this is mid-season and we can’t work without a drummer?’ Paul said, ‘Mr. Epstein would like Pete Best to play with you.’ We couldn’t stand in Ringo’s way ‘cause we knew The Beatles would be big. We went back to Liverpool and saw Pete, but he was so upset that he didn’t want to play with anybody’.”

Spencer Leigh verified with Johnny Guitar that John and Paul visited Butlin’s, Skegness. “Yes, Rory got a big shock when Ringo said he would leave, and so did I,” Johnny said. “It is possible that Ringo had been tipped the wink on his last visit to Liverpool, but we had no inkling of what was going on.”  This would fit with the visit to Liverpool the previous weekend, as Ringo described.

ringo doesn’t remember

However, Ringo denied seeing them at Butlin’s. “I don’t remember John coming over, which was in somebody’s book.” John hasn’t mentioned it, and Paul doesn’t have any clear recollection of it either. Neil Aspinall told author Mark Lewisohn that Paul McCartney The Beatles’ van to see Ringo at Butlin’s, Skegness, though this couldn’t be verified. If it happened, then this was a follow-up to the conversation that John, Paul, George and Ringo had on Saturday 11th August when they took him to meet Brian. If this was the case, then the only day for this drive was 14th August when they were not playing during the day.

waiting for brian Epstein to call

So Ringo was on standby now to receive a phone call from Brian Epstein, and to join The Beatles.

Ringo Starr became The Beatles drummer, but there was a further twist to come…

David Bedford

Full Story in Finding the Fourth Beatle

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Ringo Starr: The Young Drummer’s Journey to Beatles Glory

Ringo playing drums with Tony Sheridan in Hamburg
Ringo playing drums with Tony Sheridan in Hamburg

August 1962 – Ringo Starr Nearly Becomes a Pacemaker


While Ringo Starr was with Rory Storm and The Hurricanes, EMI granted The Beatles the audition which lead to their contract offer. While the band was heading for the toppermost at EMI on 6th June 1962, Ringo felt he was going nowhere. But then, three offers arrived at once. First, Gerry Marsden asked Ringo to join The Pacemakers, but not as a drummer. “Gerry wanted me to be his bass player!”

Ringo on bass?

Ringo Starr playing drums with Rory Storm and the Hurricanes
Ringo Starr playing drums with Rory Storm and the Hurricanes

“I hadn’t played bass back then or to this day,” said Ringo, “but the idea of being up front was appealing. That you’d never played a particular instrument before wasn’t important back then!” After that, Ted “Kingsize”Taylor offered Ringo the drummer’s job in his group; Kingsize Taylor and The Dominoes.  


August 1962 – A King-sized Offer for Ringo

Ringo’s second offer was from Kingsize Taylor, who promised him £20 per week to drum for his group, The Dominoes. “Ringo was a rare commodity on Merseyside,” said Taylor, “as drummers at this time were very hard to come by. I only asked him to join The Dominoes out of desperation, as Dave Lovelady could not go back to Hamburg .”  

Some irony, with this being the reason The Beatles hastily offered Pete the position in August 1960. “Yes,” Taylor continued, “I did, off the top of my head, offer him 20 quid (£20) a week. He accepted it, even though ever liked Hamburg when he was last there.

Along came The Beatles, and the rest is history. Ringo was not a better drummer than Pete; too much of a swing in his rhythm and liked himself more than his music.” (David Bedford interview)

no offer from The Beatles yet

Why did Ringo initially accept Taylor’s offer? Because he had no offer to join The Beatles, and there were no guarantees it would happen. He knew he wanted to leave the Hurricanes, and joining Kingsize Taylor and the Dominoes was a step up.

They’re thinking of getting rid of you

But just when it looked as though his future was clear and that he would join Taylor in September, along came the offer to join The Beatles. But first, The Beatles told Brian to get rid of Pete. Although there had been hints as far back as June, when somebody said to Pete; “they’re thinking of getting rid of you, you know.”

Pete laughed it off, and Brian appeased him. And then, in early August, Pete had his heart set on buying a new Ford Capri car. He mentioned it to Paul, who responded; “If you take my advice, don’t buy it. You’d be better saving your money.” 

one more drummer

Ringo would soon be joining The Beatles
Ringo would soon be joining The Beatles

The Beatles asked one more drummer to replace Pete, on the same day that Pete received the bad news, and the day after Ringo had been offered the job. 

Taken from Finding the Fourth Beatle

David Bedford

Beatles History: A Second Drummer is asked to replace Original Beatles Drummer Pete Best

Ringo Starr was certainly not first on the list to replace Best

Beatles drummer Pete Best
Beatles drummer Pete Best

After the Beatles took the decision to replace Pete Best as their drummer, Brian Epstein approached Bobby Graham first of all to offer him the job. As unbelievable as it would seem in retrospect, Graham turned The Beatles down.

Ritchie Galvin is asked to join The Beatles

Ritchie Galvin on drums was asked by Brian Epstein to replace Pete Best in The Beatles
Ritchie Galvin on drums was asked by Brian Epstein to replace Pete Best in The Beatles

The second drummer that Epstein approached was Ritchie Galvin, drummer with Earl Preston and the TTs, as featured in the book Finding the Fourth Beatle. As with all stories connected to The Beatles, can this be corroborated? Let’s explore.

Ritchie didn’t like john lennon’s sarcasm

Ritchie Galvin was born Ritchie Hughes, but chose to adopt the name Galvin from the group he was fronting, The Galvinisers. Spencer Leigh spoke to Galvin’s girlfriend, and later his wife, Ann Upton. “Brian Epstein asked Ritch about joining The Beatles and he went to see Ritch’s dad as he was still under age,” Upton said. “Bob Wooler was with him, too. Ritch said that he didn’t agree with Pete being replaced and he didn’t like John Lennon’s sarcasm as he thought that they would fall out. Also, to my credit, he didn’t want to be leaving me as they would be working away from Liverpool quite a lot. He never regretted it and he said, ‘No, I wouldn’t have you and I wouldn’t have my kids and I wouldn’t have this life.'”

Ritchie Galvin on drums, who was asked to join The Beatles. Bass player Mike Kinney confirms the story
Ritchie Galvin on drums, who was asked to join The Beatles. Bass player Mike Kinney confirms the story

Brian Epstein and bob wooler

Galvin told many fellow musicians – like Earl Preston (Joey Spruce), Phil Brady, and Mike Kinney – the exact same story, how Brian Epstein and Bob Wooler, DJ at the Cavern, approached Ritchie and offered him the job with The Beatles, but he turned it down, especially because he didn’t like John Lennon – a common theme!

Galvin decided to settle down with his girlfriend, and stick with Earl Preston, as well as later playing with many Liverpool bands. He was a highly respected musician on the circuit.

Would Galvin have been good for the beatles?

“Ritchie produced a powerhouse of sound on the drums, and was nicknamed ‘thunder foot’,” said Kinney. “He was a great friend with a fabulous sense of humour, and an incredible drummer. When he set the tempo, he never moved either way. As a bass player it’s exactly what you need from your drummer. He was one of the most respected drummers on Merseyside right up until he died. I shed many a tear when he passed.”

Finding the Fourth Beatle
Finding the Fourth Beatle

You can read the full story in “Finding the Fourth Beatle“. Galvin was the second drummer to turn The Beatles down, but he wouldn’t be the last, before Ringo Starr agreed to join them.

How different things could have been!

If you enjoyed this story, please give it a share on Facebook.

David Bedford

Purchase your copy of Finding the Fourth Beatle and David’s other books

Beatles History: The Beatles’ Final Appearance at The Cavern on 3rd August 1963

From The quarrymen to the beatles

The Beatles first appeared at The Cavern when they were just The Quarrymen, back in early 1957. It wasn’t until February 1961 that as The Beatles, thanks to Mona Best, made their first appearance at the legendary Cavern Club on Mathew Street. It was a lunchtime session, and it wasn’t long before they made their debut in the evenings too. It was later in 1961 that Brian Epstein walked into The Cavern and saw The Beatles: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Pete Best. Within weeks he had signed them and arranged an audition for them at Decca. 

Between their first appearance and their last appearance on 3rd August 1963, they played nearly 300 times. Their final show did not go without incident.

The Cavern Club, Mathew Street, where The Beatles played nearly 300 times
The Cavern Club, Mathew Street, where The Beatles played nearly 300 times

The fab four: “please please me”

The Beatles were by now nationwide stars, and touring the country after the success of their singles and number one album, “Please Please Me”. The Fab Four were moving away from Liverpool, and setting up home in London, where the national media was located.  That last night at The Cavern would be their last, even though they didn’t realise it at the time.

The Cavern was a jazz club before The Beatles played rock n roll music there
The Cavern Jazz Festival as they began to have Beat Nights before long

“The crowds outside were going mad. By the time John Lennon had got through the cordon of girls, his mohair jacket had lost a sleeve. I grabbed it to stop a girl getting away with a souvenir. John stitched it back on. They may have altered their style elsewhere, but they didn’t do it at the Cavern. They were the same old Beatles, with John saying, “Okay, tatty-head, we’re going to play a number for you.’ There was never anything elaborate about his introductions.” Paddy Delaney, Cavern Club doorman

Brian Epstein promised they would return

Tickets for the final show had gone on sale at 21 July at 1.30pm, and sold out within 30 minutes. The fees for their last Cavern show were £300, a lot more than they received for their first appearance. By then, The Beatles could command almost any fee they wanted. With only 500 people there, at 10 shillings each, it was impossible for The Caverb to make money that night. Brian Epstein promised the club’s compère Bob Wooler that The Beatles would return, but they never did.

The Beatles at the Cavern Club in 1961; Pete Best, George Harrison, John Lennon and Paul McCartney
The Beatles in The Cavern in 1961; Pete Best, George Harrison, John Lennon and Paul McCartney

“The Beatles were very professional: there was no larking around and they got on with it. We all felt it was their swan song and that we would never have them at the Cavern again. Brian Epstein still owes the Cavern six dates for The Beatles as he kept pulling them out of bookings by saying, ‘You wouldn’t stand in the boys’ way, would you, Bob?” Bob Wooler

“When i’m sixty-four”: The first live performance

The show lasted from 6pm-11.30pm and The Beatles were joined on the bill were The Escorts, The Merseybeats, The Road Runners, Johnny Ringo and the Colts, and Faron’s Flamingos. However, during The Beatles’ set, there was a power cut – which was not unusual at the Cavern – and so they couldn’t use any of their equipment. As the show must go on, Paul McCartney moved over to the piano, and played a song the crowd hadn’t heard before, and wouldn’t hear on record for a few years: ‘When I’m Sixty-Four’ from the legendary Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Having shown that The Beatles had outgrown this primitive club, Lennon was not happy:

The Fab Four: Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, who last played at The Cavern on 3rd August 1963
The Fab Four: Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, who last played at The Cavern on 3rd August 1963

“We were on just before The Beatles and we were delighted with our reception as everybody was cheering and going mad. The Beatles all had long faces and John Lennon was saying, ‘We never should have come back here.” Tony Crane, The Merseybeats

Although this was the last Cavern appearance, it wasn’t their last Liverpool appearance, which happened in December 1965 at the Empire Theatre.

A Cavern Club membership card
Cavern Membership Card

Hello, goodbye

But for those Cavernites, it was the last time they saw their hometown heroes, The Beatles, in The Cavern.

David Bedford

27th July 1962 in Beatles History: Bobby Graham is asked to replace Pete Best

Bobby Graham
Bobby Graham

On Friday 27th July 1962, The Beatles were playing on the same bill as Joe Brown and the Bruvvers at the Tower Ballroom, New Brighton, a show promoted by Bob Wooler. As featured in Finding the Fourth Beatle, Bobby Graham was the first drummer to be approached to replace Pete and, in the estimation of John, Paul and George, ideally suited for The Beatles and more than adequate for George Martin’s needs. After all, the producer’s problem with Pete had nothing to do with his live performances, but rather his drumming in the studio. Graham had extensive studio experience and, as would be proved, was one of the top session drummers in the ‘60s. Unfortunately for Brian, Graham turned him down.  

As Graham recalled: “He said that they needed a change. I said, ‘No thanks’ as The Beatles hadn’t had any hits and anyway, I had a wife and family in London. I don’t think he had even discussed it with The Beatles, as surely they would have wanted someone from Liverpool.”

“I turned him down”

In a further interview with Spencer Leigh, Graham elaborated further on the discussion. “Brian Epstein invited us back to the Blue Angel after the show. He called me to one side and said he was having trouble with Pete Best’s mum and he wanted him out of The Beatles. He asked me if I would take his place. Although I liked The Beatles, I turned him down because I didn’t want to come to Liverpool. Besides, I liked Joe Brown, who was having hit records.”

It has been suggested that Bobby Graham wasn’t offered the permanent job. According to Mark Lewisohn in TuneIn: “He (Brian) can’t have been offering the position permanently – John, Paul and George were clear they wanted Ringo – but Ringo was at Butlin’s until early September…. Brian wondered if Graham could bridge the gap between Pete’s departure and Ringo’s return.” However, there is no evidence to support this.

Four Drummers were Asked

Finding the Fourth Beatle
Finding the Fourth Beatle

Bobby Graham was one of four drummers asked to replace Pete Best: Ringo was the one who accepted the job, and became The Fourth Beatle.

The full story is in Finding the Fourth Beatle. To purchase this, and David’s other books, go to www.beatlesshop.co.uk

David Bedford

26th July 1962 in Beatles History – Cambridge Hall, Southport

Southport Arts Centre
Southport Arts Centre, formerly Cambridge Hall

Beatles History: July 1962. The Beatles – John, Paul, George and Pete Best – made just the one appearance at this venue in the seaside town of Southport, just 20 miles north of Liverpool. Brian Epstein took action to get The Beatles out of the rock ‘n’ roll clubs, and this was all part of his strategy.

Cambridge Hall is now the Southport Arts Centre. (Featured in Liddypool)

On this occasion they were supporting one of Britain’s top acts, Joe Brown and his Bruvvers; The Beatles regularly covered Brown’s hit records. Brian had recently received news that they had a Recording Contract with Parlophone, and now Brian acted, sooner rather than later.

The following day, Brian approached the first drummer as a potential replacement for Pete Best; and it wasn’t Ringo Starr! Beatles history was about to be made. (The full story is in Finding the Fourth Beatle)

David Bedford

Discover David’s books at www.beatlesshop.co.uk

The Man on the Flaming Pie? Beatals, Nerk Twins, Beetles, Silver Beatles and The Beatles Names

How did The Beatles get their name? And how many Beatles names have there been?

When John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison decided they had had enough of the name “Quarrymen”, it was their latest recruit, Stuart Sutcliffe, who suggested a new name. In tribute to their hero Buddy Holly, whose group was called The Crickets, Stuart suggested “Beetles”. But how would it be spelled? In 1960, the group used many spellings, and variations, of the name Beetles. Interestingly, before calling themselves The Crickets, Holly’s group considered the name “Beetles” too. (Fab one hundred and Four)

the Beetles Myth

One often quoted myth can be debunked, which was quoted by George Harrison. The name was not inspired by the 1953 Marlon Brando film The Wild One, which refers to the rival gang led by Lee Marvin as “The Beetles”. The film was banned in England by the British Board of Film Censors until 1968.

27th March 1960: The Beatals

The first recorded use of the Beatles name was “Beatals”, in a letter written by Stuart Sutcliffe on 27th March 1960, calling himself The Beatals’ “manager”.

Letter from Stuart Sutcliffe mentioning Beatals
Stu has crossed out Quarrymen and used the name BEATALS

23rd April 1960: The Nerk Twins

The Fox and Hounds pub where John Lennon and Paul McCartney appeared as The Nerk Twins

The Fox and Hounds pub in Caversham, Berkshire was the venue for an unlikely pairing of two of The Beatles. John and Paul played on consecutive nights at this little village pub as The Nerk Twins, to only a handful of people. So how did they end up in the south of England in a tiny village pub?

They were in the Fox and Hounds because it was run by Paul’s cousin Bett and her husband Mike. The couple had both worked as Butlin’s Redcoats before taking on the pub and the teenage Lennon and McCartney were keen to get their advice. The Nerk Twins perched themselves on bar stools and, with their acoustic guitars and no microphones, played a set of songs together.

“It was the Easter school holidays and John and I had hitchhiked down from Liverpool to help out in the pub,” Paul recalled. “We generally dossed around for a week and worked behind the bar. Then Mike said that me and John should play there on the Saturday night. So we made our own posters and put them up in the pub: ‘Saturday Night – Live Appearance – The Nerk Twins’. It was the smallest gig I’ve ever done. We were only playing to a small roomful.” (Fab one hundred and Four)

10th May 1960: The Silver Beetles/ Silver Beatles

The Silver Beatles or Silver Beetles at the Wyvern Club. Stuart Sutcliffe, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Johnny Hutch Hutchinson and George Harrison
The Silver Beatles with Johnny Hutchinson drumming

After the concert on 5th May 1960 featuring Gene Vincent alongside Liverpool groups, John, Paul, George and Stuart approached Allan Williams to be their manager. He agreed, and his first job was to find them a drummer; he achieved that. Tommy Moore joined the group, now known as The Silver Beetles – or The Silver Beatles. Nobody is exactly sure which spelling was used and when over the next couple of months. The first time it was used was on 10th May 1960, when music promoter Larry Parnes came to Liverpool seeking a backing band for his latest star; Liverpool-born Billy Fury (born Ronnie Wycherly in the Dingle).

Tommy Moore was late for his first appearance, so Johnny Hutchinson sat in until Moore turned up. (Full story and biographies in Finding the Fourth Beatle)

14th May 1960: The Silver Beats

As well as being known as Silver Beetles or Silver Beatles, they were advertised as The Silver Beats
The Silver Beats

Appearing as The Silver Beats – the only time they used this name – the group played at Lathom Hall, in the north of Liverpool, on 14 May 1960. Their drummer Tommy Moore was with them, but because he did not have his kit, they asked Cliff Roberts to fill in. In many reference books, there is confusion over which Cliff Roberts played that night, and most of them refer to Cliff Roberts and The Rockers. However, the Rockers’ Cliff Roberts was a singer and guitarist, not a drummer. The Cliff Roberts who played with The Silver Beats was the drummer with The Dominoes.

Johnny Gentle and His Group/ The Beatals

Advertised as Johnny Gentle and His group, they were calling themselves Beatals, Silver Beetles and Silver Beatles too

Although they didn’t pass the audition to back Billy Fury, The Silver Beatles did enough to persuade Larry Parnes to hire them to back another Liverpool-born artist, Johnny Gentle. They spent two weeks travelling around Scotland, billed only as “His Group”. However, the first set of autographs to show a variation on the Beatles name was signed on this tour, as The Beatals, using their stage names; Paul Ramon, Carl Harrison, Stuart de Stael. John Lennon always swore he never used a pseudonym, though it has been suggested he called himself Johnny Silver, or Johnny Lennon, or a variation on that. Tommy Moore was simply Thomas Moore.

Evidence that they used the name The Beatals in autographs; Johnny Lennon, Carl Harrison, Paul Ramon, Stuart de Stael and Thomas Moore, with Johnny Gentle
The Beatals autographs

The Silver Beatles / Silver Beetles

On their return from Scotland, Tommy Moore decided he had had enough of John Lennon, and quit the group. With temporary drummers Jackie Lomax and Ronnie the “Ted”, as well as Paul McCartney, they soon recruited Norman Chapman, who only lasted a few weeks.

The Beatles

The Beatles in Neston, the first time the group had use The Beatles name in print
Reference to The Beatles in Neston

One of the places the group played in June 1960 was the Neston Civic Hall, and the local newspaper published a review, referring to them as The Beatles, the first time it had appeared in print.

The Man on the Flaming Pie?

So what about the “Man on the Flaming Pie”? Although Paul McCartney had an album titled Flaming Pie, and had a song; “I’m the Man on the Flaming Pie”, he wasn’t. On Page 2 of the first issue of Bill Harry’s Mersey Beat, John Lennon wrote his biography of the origins of the group, which Bill Harry titled “Being a Short Diversion on the Origins of Beatles (Translated from The John Lennon).”

In it, Lennon wrote:

Many people ask what are Beatles? Why Beatles? Ugh, Beatles, how did the name arrive? So we will tell you. It came in a vision – a man appeared on a flaming pie and said unto them ‘From this day on you are Beatles with an ‘A’. Thank you, mister man, they said, thanking him.

For years, many have scoffed at this as a bit of fun. However, there is a true story behind the “man on the flaming pie”, as detailed in The Fab one hundred and Four. His name is Royston Ellis, and he was a Beat Poet who visited Liverpool, and was backed by a group, known as The Beetles, at Liverpool University. I interviewed him for the book, and he told me the story of what happened in Gambier Terrace, looking every bit like a Beatnik paradise. He sat there with John, Paul, George and Stu, and discussed the possibility of them coming back down to London to back him as a beat group.

While there, they had an experience with a drug, of sorts, remembered by John later:

Beat Poet Royston Ellis, whom The Beetles, not Beatles, supported in Liverpool. Ellis was the man on the flaming pie
Royston Ellis

‘By the way, the first dope, from a Benzedrine inhaler, was given to The Beatles (John, George, Paul and Stuart) by an (in retrospect) obviously ‘English cover version of Allen – one Royston Ellis, known as beat-poet (he read poetry whilst we played 12-bar blues at the local in-place!).
So give the saint his due.
Love,
John Lennon

Record Mirror where Royston Ellis refers to the Beatles, but showing the spelling of The Beetles, and how they could come down to London
Record Mirror mentioning The Beetles

Whether it was under the influence of “Vicks” or not, Royston Ellis and John Lennon had a discussion about their group’s name. In a newspaper report, Ellise refers to the group The Beetles, and how he is hoping to bring them down to London as his backing group. “John and George liked the idea, though Paul and Stu were less keen.”

Beetles with an “A”

“I suggested that since they liked the beat scene and they were coming to London to back me, a beat poet, why not spell it with an ‘A’? I had bought a chicken pie and mushrooms for dinner. I might have had the money but I did not know much about cooking, and the result was that I overcooked the mushrooms and burnt the chicken pie. I have always assumed that gave rise to John’s reference to ‘a man on a flaming pie’ suggesting they call themselves Beatles with an A.” (Fab one hundred and Four)

And very soon afterwards, they settled on Beatles with an “A”, never to be changed.

For the full story of the Beatles names in 1960, and the interviews, see The Fab one hundred and Four: The Evolution of The Beatles.

David Bedford

15th July 1958: Julia Lennon is knocked down and killed

John Lennon with his mother, Julia
A young John Lennon with his mother, Julia

Just three days after making their first record at Percy Phillips’ studio in Kensington, Liverpool, tragedy was to strike John Lennon once more.

In the June of 1955, his Uncle George had died suddenly. The 14-year-old John took it badly. However, what did help him was the re-establishing of a relationship with his mother, Julia. She had bought him his first guitar, taught him to play a few songs using banjo chords and even let The Quarrymen rehearse in her house. She encouraged his love of music.

“I Lost her Twice”

On 15th July 1958, he was to lose his mother for the second time; this time it was forever. Having been taken away from his mother at the age of five, he longed for a relationship with her again in his teens. When making “Looking for Lennon”, our documentary feature film, we interviewed and filmed Nigel Walley, John’s childhood friend and eyewitness to Julia’s death.

Julia often used to take the bus to Mendips to see her sister Mimi, and on this occasion, John was in his mother’s house. Nigel called at Mendips just as Julia was coming out of Mendips, and walked to the corner of Vale Road with her. After saying goodnight, Nigel headed down Vale Road to his house, while Julia crossed the road and headed for the bus stop. As she crossed the old tram tracks and stepped onto the road, a car, driven by an off-duty policeman who didn’t have a full driving license, slammed on its brakes, but it was too late: the car hit Julia and sent her flying through the air. Nigel heard the brakes and turned round to see his best friend’s mother in the air and slamming onto the road. He ran over, but he knew she was dead. He can still picture her red hair blowing in the wind.

John opened the door…..

John answered the door of his mother’s house to the police, exactly like it is in the movies he said. He was devastated. The mother he adored was gone, and he spent the rest of his life seeking something for fill the void left by her. He immortalised her in song “Julia”. Some would say he never recovered from her loss.

Instant Karma

The policeman, Eric Clague, eventually left the police force and, in a strange twist of “instant karma”, became a postman, delivering Beatles fan mail to 20, Forthlin Road, the McCartney house.

Looking for Lennon

You can see the footage we shot with Nigel Walley, and the affect it had on him according to those who knew him best, and they didn’t all agree on how it affected John, in Looking for Lennon.

It is available on digital download worldwide on various platforms, on DVD/Blu-Ray in the US and will be sold all round the world. It should be out on DVD/Blu-ray in the UK soon, and is still available to watch on SkyTV.

Find out more here

David Bedford