Beatles History Blog

Black History Month: October 1962 – The Beatles back The Shades/ The Chants. Part 2

The Chants as featured in Mersey Beat
The Chants as featured in Mersey Beat

The beatles back the shades at the cavern

Having been invited down to The Cavern by John and Paul (see Part 1), the boys went to Mathew Street. They couldn’t get in to The Cavern!

“We went down there the following day and they wouldn’t let us in while they (The Beatles) were on,” said Joe Ankrah from the group. “Five black guys, standing outside The Cavern, which would have looked suspicious. So after they’d finished and everyone was coming out, they said we could come in then. The saving grace for us was that as we walked in, Paul remembered my name and said; ‘Joe, how are you?’ I told him I’d brought the band, and he was great. It was a really nice atmosphere.

“It was dark, the stage was lit and people were clearing up around us. He asked us to sing, so we started to sing ‘Duke Of Earl’. They were absolutely knocked dead, which was a buzz for us, because we’d been doing all of this rehearsing for twelve months and getting everything sharp without performing anywhere. It was refreshing to see people responding to what we were doing.

go and get brian Epstein!

“Bob Wooler, the Cavern compere, was there and he heard us and said; ‘I must go and get Brian. So he ran down Mathew Street to NEMS to see Eppy, and then came back to us. Brian can’t come down now, but tell the boys not to speak to anyone or sign anything, and we were just bemused. The Beatles picked up their instruments and started playing. We were just happy to be playing with a band, as we were used to just singing together. I would start us off with the pitch and away we’d go.”  

There was, however, one problem, and that was Brian Epstein. When Epstein arrived at The Cavern that night, he hadn’t realised that The Shades didn’t have musicians and objected to The Beatles providing the backing.  However, after intervention from John and Paul, he was overruled and The Beatles backed The Shades.  

john and paul introduced us

The Shades, who became The Chants at The Cavern
The Shades, who became The Chants at The Cavern

“We found ourselves appearing at The Cavern that night and we turned up with these smart black shirts and suits. John or Paul said, ‘I’d like to introduce you all to some friends of ours, The Shades’, and then we walked on, wearing our dark glasses, our shades, being cool, all dressed in black, and we started singing. The place was in an uproar. We only had two microphones, with the lead singer on one, and the other four gathered around the second microphone, and doing our thing, and it was great. That’s where it all started.”

The Shades performed four songs that night: “Duke of Earl”, “A Thousand Stars”, “16 Candles” and “Come Go With Me”.

paul mccartney played piano

“I can remember going up to the Blue Angel after The Cavern”, Joe said, “and we did a few numbers with Paul playing the piano for us for Allan Williams.”  

“After appearing with The Beatles, I signed with Eppy on behalf of the band, which didn’t mean much really, as we were under 21. But at least if people asked us to do anything, we could say no, because we were under contract.

played with the beatles

“We played with The Beatles then a couple more times–once at The Majestic Ballroom in Birkenhead on 15 October ‘62, and then La Scala in Runcorn on 16 October ‘62, which I remember because we went over the bridge to this little cinema. Then we played another couple of times with them.                  

“Lots of our friends were starting up groups, but we were ahead of them, and had worked so hard on our stage presence. We were rough, but I had to tell the others that we can’t be swearing on stage, and getting into arguments with them, but we had to watch what we said, how we said it. We once had a complaint from a member of the audience at the Playboy Club in London because one of us was sweating, and another one had different coloured socks than the others!”

inspiration?

There weren’t many black groups around in the UK at the time, so where did they get their inspiration? Joe explained: “I watched a group called the Deep River Boys, who did all the moves on stage, dancing around the microphone and maybe a little more cabaret than us. We were a bit snobby about cabaret because we didn’t want to do that. However, artists like Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, or the original Drifters, were a great inspiration to us. Furthermore, I would say all the black American vocal groups like The Marcels, the Del-Vikings, Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin and so many more. They were all fantastic.”

The Chants with The Beatles at Liverpool Town Hall on 10th July 1964
The Chants with The Beatles at Liverpool Town Hall on 10th July 1964

With their career under the guidance of Brian Epstein, they should have had success, but it wasn’t to be. “We didn’t do much with Epstein really, because he was busy with The Beatles, Gerry and Cilla,” said Joe. They didn’t see them again until after they had come back from America in 1964, because they had this civic reception at the Town Hall. We were invited, and we were the only other band there. I’ve got the picture from the day to prove it, but the photo has never really been seen, maybe because it had black guys in it. It is hard to believe that it was happening back then, but we just accepted that was the way it was.

juke box jury

The Beatles taped the episode of Juke Box Jury at the Empire Theatre between 2.30pm and 3.15pm on December 7, 1963. Juke Box Jury was a popular show hosted by David Jacobs in which panellists voted on whether forthcoming singles would be hits or misses. In the audience were members of The Beatles’ Northern Area Fan Club members. Juke Box Jury was broadcast later that evening between 6.05pm and 6.35pm, and was watched by an estimated 23 million people.

The first song to be judged was “I Could Write A Book” by The Chants, and this is how The Beatles rated it:

John: “It’s gear. Fabulous. Fab. It’s it.”

Paul: “I talked to The Chants recently about the disc. They said it’s powerful. It is.”

Ringo: “I’ll buy it.”

George: “It’s great. Enough plugs and they’ve got a hit.”

David Jacobs: “Are they being too generous?”

the beatles voted it a hit

The Beatles unanimously voted the single a hit, but sadly, despite their support, it failed to achieve chart status. None of the group’s other records fared any better: their debut single, “I Don’t Care”, released in September 1963; “She’s Mine”, released in June 1964; and their last single with Pye, “Sweet Was The Wine”, from September 1964. Commenting on their period with Pye Records, Eddie Amoo commented, “They had no idea what to do with a black doo wop group. They just had no idea.”

The group never found record success despite further releases with Fontana, Page One, Decca and RCA. They toured with box office stars like Helen Shapiro, Bobby Rydell and The Searchers and went to Hamburg and played at the famous Star Club, where they were very popular. “All we had to do,” recalled Joe, “was play two sets of twenty minutes, whereas the other groups were playing three or four hours each night. We had a great time there and Manfred Weissleder was very good to us.”

the real thing

 The Real Thing
The Real Thing

After they disbanded in 1975, Joey and Edmund Ankrah formed another group, OFANCHI, and enjoyed a degree of success on the television show New Faces. Eddie Amoo joined the Liverpool soul band The Real Thing, whose lineup included his brother Chris Amoo. They found UK chart success in June 1976 with “You To Me Are Everything”, which reached number 1 in the UK and number 28 on Billboard’s R&B Singles chart. Their follow-up UK hit, “Can’t Get By Without You”, reached number 2. They released a number of successful albums, including one named after the Toxteth area of Liverpool, their home turf.

The Chants were a fantastic group who should have made it big, especially with the help of The Beatles. Look them up on YouTube and listen to them. Fantastic!

Fab one hundred and Four: The Evolution of The Beatles
Fab one hundred and Four: The Evolution of The Beatles

This is an excerpt from “The Black Roots of The Beatles” in my book.

They are among the “Fab 104” people who featured in my second book, “The Fab one hundred and Four: The Evolution of The Beatles”.

Get your copy here.

David Bedford

Black History Month: October 1962 – The Beatles back The Shades/ The Chants. Part 1

The Chants pose outside Liverpool Cathedral
The Chants pose outside Liverpool Cathedral

13th October 1962: The Beatles and The Shades/ Chants – Joe Ankrah, Eddie Ankrah, Edmund Amoo, Nat Smeda, Alan Harding

One of The Beatles’ favourite Liverpool bands was the all-vocal black harmony group, The Shades, who later became The Chants. The Beatles would, in fact, back them on three occasions in 1962. The group originated in the Liverpool 8 area. I met founding member Joe Ankrah, who told me how it began. (Featured in my book The Fab One Hundred and Four: The Evolution of The Beatles)

Joe Ankrah, founder member of The Chants
Joe Ankrah, founder member of The Chants

“My father was the organist and choir master at the African Churches Mission. My brother Edmund and I were in the choir there.  A lot of my upbringing with my dad and the church, I did want to make something of myself.”

Joe attended Upper Park Street Primary School and then went on to Wellington Road Secondary Modern. “When I left school, I wanted to be an artist, as I was quite good at art,” Joe said. “There was a huge gap in opportunities between black people and white people. My dad was good at drawing, and when he was in the army, he was a draughtsman. He did all kinds of rubbish jobs, and ended up as a ship’s fitter over at Cammell Laird.  

“Doing our moves”

“So I left school and suddenly, there were no friends and nothing to do. I decided that there was no way I was going to work in a chippy or something like that. So I put my portfolio together and headed for town and tried to get a job as an artist. It was possible back then, because posters and advertising hoardings were all painted by hand. However, of course, that kind of artwork was dying out and being replaced by photography and new ways of printing. So I found myself out of work, and bumming around.    

“One of our enjoyments was going to the Rialto, which was a cinema.It also had a ballroom where we used to go and listen to music and dance. So we would head down there on a Monday night, all dressed up, stand around the ballroom, doing our moves.

rock around the clock

There was a movie coming on called Rock Around The Clock. We watched this and I was impressed with them, even though it was really about Bill Haley. I just realised that I wanted to start a group, and particularly a vocal-harmony group. My brother Edmund and I were bumming around. Because my dad had been a choirmaster at the church, I knew about harmony.”

Apart for singing in their cellar, they had performed a few times at Stanley House. This was especially when his mother grew sick of them! There was a gang culture developing in Toxteth, as Joe explained: “There was the J’s and the Shines. The J’s were the John Bull’s (John Bull was a political character who symbolised British culture), the white guys. We were the Shines, because our skin was shiny.

cellars and American g.i.S

Joe continued: “I told them we were going to form a group and we started to practice in our cellar. I knew all the harmonies off by heart and that’s how we evolved. People used to come around to the house and we would be singing on the corner. And even when we would be rehearsing, there would be big crowds standing outside the house listening. Several American singers influenced us, and here we had an advantage. I have three aunties–Grace, Adah and Uzor–who were courting American GIs stationed at Burtonwood, just outside of Liverpool. They would bring their records down to my grandmother’s house and we would listen to them.

“We were bored with it eventually. What were we doing? Where were we going? All we seemed to do was rehearse. During one of those periods where we weren’t singing or performing, I found out that Little Richard was visiting Liverpool.”

“we didn’t know about the cavern”

Joe made an interesting observation about the music scene in Liverpool. This showed how the black and white communities were still segregated in the Sixties. “We didn’t know that there was a live music scene in Liverpool,” observed Joe. “We didn’t know about the Cavern and clubs like that. I wouldn’t have known how to get into the clubs and you wouldn’t see a black person in town then. I had no reason to go into town, so I didn’t know what was going on there.

little richard

“I was a big fan of Little Richard and I had some communication with him. He told me he was staying at the Adelphi and to come and meet him. I went down and he spoke to me. ‘Hey man, I’m doing a thing at the Tower, a Mersey show’, so I went to see him live.”

The show was on 12th October 1962 at the Tower Ballroom, New Brighton. One of Brian Epstein’s marketing ideas was to have The Beatles playing second to some of the biggest names around.  

the beatles

“I was backstage most of the time because I came with Little Richard,” recalled Joe. The Beatles were on and Little Richard was doing his famous walking around the balcony, singing all of his songs. So we were back by his dressing room and everyone was around Little Richard. I was just standing there, not trying to get near him. These two guys were there and asked me what I was doing there. So I told them I was there to see Little Richard. I asked them what they were doing there, and they told me they’d be on stage.”

Little Richard with The Beatles, The Chants and Derry Wilkie at New Brighton's Tower Ballroom
Little Richard with The Beatles, The Chants and Derry Wilkie at New Brighton’s Tower Ballroom

Without realising it, Joe was talking to John Lennon and Paul McCartney. They were also queuing up to meet their hero. Joe didn’t know most of the groups, or even their names. For that reason, he hadn’t recognised John and Paul.  

 “I suppose I may have vaguely heard of the Cavern,” Joe said. “But even if we went into town at night time and tried to get into any of the clubs, we were turned away. We just accepted it back then.  That was how it was, and it was the way it was. We had our photograph taken with Little Richard and The Beatles, plus Derry Wilkie and Sugar Dean.

“come down to the cavern”

“I told John and Paul that I was in a band and they laughed and asked what we played. I told them we don’t, we just sing. They couldn’t quite grasp it. ‘Why don’t you come down to one of the afternoon sessions at The Cavern, and we’ll listen to your band.

And so they did..………… Part 2 coming next

Fab one hundred and Four: The Evolution of The Beatles
Fab one hundred and Four: The Evolution of The Beatles

This is an excerpt from my second book, “The Fab One Hundred and Four: The Evolution of The Beatles”.

David Bedford

18th October 1957: Paul McCartney’s debut with The Quarrymen (or was it?)

The Quarrymen performing at New Clubmoor Hall
The Quarrymen performing at New Clubmoor Hall

Was This Paul McCartney’s Debut with The Quarrymen? Colin Hanton says No!

For years we have accepted that Paul made his debut at New Clubmoor Hall on 18th October 1957. However, I spoke to Quarrymen drummer Colin Hanton who says that can’t be right.

“All I knew was that one day Paul turned up, and Rod had left by then. His parents were giving him some grief about homework and not messing about with these silly boys and the music.”

Charlie McBain and Wilson hall

“I have my doubts about Paul’s debut being at Clubmoor,” said Colin. “It was Wilson Hall before Clubmoor, which was run by the same guy Charlie McBain. We did a paid gig at Wilson Hall after Clubmoor, but we appeared before it too.”

st. peter’s church hall

St Peter's Church Hall, where The Quarrymen played with Paul McCartney
St Peter’s Church Hall, where The Quarrymen played with Paul McCartney (copyright David Bedford)

Colin says that after John and Paul met, they played at the hall regularly. This was before playing Wilson Hall or New Clubmoor Hall. “After the summer fete in July ‘57, we used to play a lot at St. Peters church hall on a Saturday night. The guy had no microphone for us, and we kept asking for one. The Saturday dance became very big and they were getting all of their friends from school to come.”

A memory then springs to Colin’s mind. “I’ve just remembered: Paul was there. He said to John, there was no mic and he had been promised there would be a microphone. We got there late afternoon to set up, and John was looking round and there was no mic. The guy said he couldn’t get one. John argued with the guy who said he hadn’t been able to get a microphone.

paul mccartney

“Paul said, ‘He’s rattled now, because he’s whistling’ and so that was that. John decided we were not playing and we walked out, which was a bit of a mistake. I went home with my drums, and then back to the hall to look for the others. I got to the door and asked if John and the lads were there. The guy said, ‘no, and he’ll never get back in here!’

“This was soon after the fete and we used to rehearse there too. They had a dance evening with a record player there by the stage, which was cranked up to full volume. Then they danced the usual three waltzes and three quick steps and then The Quarrymen would play.”

From St. Peter’s Church Hall, the next step was to Wilson Hall, Garston.

Wilson hall

“This is how we got into Wilson Hall. Charlie McBain had a good system whereby he had a 6-piece dance band/ orchestra who would play and then want a 45-minute break to go to the pub. In the past he put the record player on, but he decided to have a skiffle contest. All he needed were 5 or 6 groups.

“You needed to pay two shillings and sixpence to get in. At 4 or 5 people a group, and 5 or 6 groups: a great idea and he was quids in. John said, ‘I’m not paying that, we’re here for the competition’. Paul said, ‘the prize is £1, so just pay the money then we’ll split the winnings’. We didn’t win!” However, it worked as an audition.

“McBain must have seen something, even though we didn’t win and that’s how we got our bookings with him. Nigel Walley was a bit of a manager and he got us 5 ten-shilling notes – £2.50 – for playing.

how they got to new clubmoor hall

New Clubmoor Hall, where The Quarrymen played on 18th October 1957
New Clubmoor Hall, where The Quarrymen played on 18th October 1957 (copyright David Bedford)

“We definitely did Wilson Hall before Clubmoor, and that’s how we got it, from the competition. That’s how we also then got up to Clubmoor. We were just desperate to get onstage. We got on at the Cavern – Paul wasn’t there because he was with scouts. It was Open Mic night which was how we got down there, and then we got paid for it. There was no way Paul joined in July and did not play until October at Clubmoor. We rehearsed and played in St. Peter’s Hall, and then appeared at the contest at Wilson Hall.

the locarno

“We also went to the Locarno, another of the endless round of talent contests. There was a poster at the back for the following week for singers only, so Paul said to John, ‘why don’t we go in for it’, but John said, ‘no we’re a group’. John wasn’t interested in getting up on his own, just for the group. I think John would have been happy to keep doing what we were doing.”

Playing at New Clubmoor Hall, and the famous photograph showed how having Paul in the group had changed the balance.

mccartney gets john lennon into a suit

How New Clubmoor Hall celebrated John and Paul playing there in 1957
How New Clubmoor Hall celebrated John and Paul playing there in 1957 (copyright David Bedford)

“Paul never challenged John’s authority, but he was very diplomatic, very subtle. He always got his own way, but with subtle means. I remember at the start Paul wanted to smarten the Quarrymen up. He never said let’s get jackets, he just said to John, ‘I’m going to wear a jacket’. He didn’t say that we should wear one – it was sort of oatmeal colour. So, of course, John went out and got one too. So Paul got John dressed up without having a row or telling him to do it. And that was for the Wilson Hall gig, before the Clubmoor one. So it certainly wasn’t the first time Paul played with us. Maybe the first time in those jackets, so again, we played Wilson Hall before Clubmoor.”

Conclusion? Paul’s appearance at New Clubmoor Hall was probably the first time Paul played and The Quarrymen were paid! It was certainly not the first time he played with them.

Liddypool: Birthplace of The Beatles by David Bedford
Liddypool: Birthplace of The Beatles by David Bedford

Taken from my interview with Colin Hanton for Liddypool (now in its third edition)

Colin still plays drums with The Quarrymen (photographed in St Peter's Church Hall)
Colin still plays drums with The Quarrymen (photographed in St Peter’s Church Hall)

Colin Hanton has a new book out called “Pre:Fab“, which is a great read, and being turned into a documentary.

David Bedford

Hey Jude! Celebrating John Lennon’s Birthday – with Jude Kessler

John Lennon with his mother Julia
John Lennon with his mother Julia

We celebrate what would have been John Lennon’s 79th birthday. Join your Liddypod podcast team of David Bedford and Paul Beesley in conversation with author Jude Kessler. Jude, whose John Lennon Series is now in its fifth book, talks all things Lennon and Liverpool. David has even given her the title of “honorary Scouser”.

Two of Jude's books; Shoulda Been There and Shivering Inside
Two of Jude’s books; Shoulda Been There and Shivering Inside

What drives a lady from the deep south to cross the Atlantic several times to Liverpool, before “google” and the internet, to interview those who knew John the best?

Listen now, and subscribe to, Liddypod: Beatles Banter with Bedford and Beesley.

David Bedford

5th October 1962 in Beatles History: “Love Me Do” is Released

The Fab Four - George, John, Ringo and Paul
The Fab Four – George, John, Ringo and Paul

The Beatles first single is issued in the uk

After the first session with George Martin on 4th September 1962, Martin decided to bring in a session drummer. Andy White was recruited for the second session a week later.

“Ringo Didn’t Drum on the First Single”

Paul was convinced that Ringo didn’t play drums on the group’s first Parlophone single, “Love Me Do” – and Ringo agreed. Yet history has shown that he was indeed on the UK single release. Considering that Andy White was hired to drum on the recording, there are questions. Was Ringo’s version mistakenly released on the UK single? After all, the White version of “Love Me Do” appeared on The Beatles’ debut studio album Please Please Me, the UK EP release The Beatles’ Hits, and also on their U.S. single release.

"Love Me Do" The Beatles' first single released on 5th October 1962
“Love Me Do” The Beatles’ first single released on 5th October 1962

Was it released by mistake? Any evidence?

If the Ringo version wasn’t considered good enough after 4th September, why release that first version? Neither George Martin nor Ron Richards were sure if it was selected intentionally or not.

Releases of “Love Me Do” issued after The Beatles’ Hits on 21st September 1963 contained Andy White’s version. Why? The original master recording of Ringo’s version of “Love Me Do” destroyed or recorded over. EMI only had Andy White’s 11th September recording to use. It was the only remaining – and arguably the superior – version. When “Love Me Do” was released in the U.S. in April 1964, it was Andy White’s version that was used.

McArtney not mccartney!

A further mistake was made when 250 promo discs of “Love Me Do” were released, misspelling Paul’s name as McArtney; something he was used to in Mersey Beat. One of these discs was sold in October 2017 for $14,757, the ost expensive 7-inch single ever sold.

50th anniversary mistake

In a twist of fate – or was it an inside joke – when Apple decided to reissue “Love Me Do” on the 50th anniversary, they initially used Andy White’s version. They then had to quickly recall those records, so that Ringo’s version could be issued.

The final piece of evidence is one of omission. With the group’s popularity increasing, why did they not ask Ringo to re-record “Love Me Do” for the album? The conclusion is that Ringo’ version was most likely released by accident. That is not uncommon in the recording industry, even today. Nothing else really makes sense.  

REVIEW OF THE BEATLES’ FIRST PARLOPHONE SINGLE

Specially written for this Press Release By Tony Barrow. His weekly column OFF THE RECORD by “DISKER” appears each Saturday in THE LIVERPOOL ECHO AND EVENING EXPRESS

For many years the Tennessee town of Nashville has been known as the golden capital of America’s Country & Western music industry. In its own way, I guess, Liverpool has become the British beat equivalent to Nashville for the city, deep in the heart of Z Cars country, boasts an almost incredible array of thriving rock ‘n’ roll beat groups.

WHINING HARMONICA

The most popular of these is THE BEATLES a group which deserves the nationwide following which its Parlophone recordings will surely bring. On the evidence of “LOVE ME DO” nobody can claim that THE BEATLES are a carbon of The Everlys, The Brooks, The Allisons, The Shadows or any other existing outfit. Theirs is a thoroughly distinctive vocal sound backed by the semi-plaintive, semi-impatient rasp and whine of John Lennon’s remarkably expressive harmonica plus a stout guitar and solid drum beat.

SIMPLY INFECTIOUS

The lyrics of this infectious, medium-paced ballad are simple and it is in this easy-to-remember simplicity that THE BEATLES can pin their well-founded hopes of hit parade headlines for their very first Parlophone outing.

ANOTHER PUNCHY VOCAL

The under-deck carries something much more than the traditional (albeit ungenerous) B side padding. “P.S. I LOVE YOU” is a bright, up-tempo ditty with another punchy John Lennon/Paul McCartney vocal and a smart, rhythmic backdrop which has a colourful Latin tint to it.    

IF YOU CAN’T BEET ‘EM……………..

Beetles did you say, George? Course I’ve heard of them. Your Grandfather (may he rest in peace) used to put down some powdery stuff to stop them coming in the house.”

“No, Grandma. BEATLES. With ‘A’ before the ‘T’”.

“Hay? No, I’m sure it was powdery stuff. And who ever heard of beetles supping tea?”

“BEATLES, Grandma. It’s a group………………..there are four of them……………..and they’re on Parlophone”.

“We haven’t got a phone in the parlour, George. Anyway I don’t want hear any more about them. They give me the creeps. Nasty big black things”.

“But they’re not black, Grandma………… They’re white …………. And they’re British!…..”

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

Find out more in Finding the Fourth Beatle

David Bedford

A Statue for Beatles Manager Brian Epstein

Brian Epstein manager of The Beatles
Brian Epstein manager of The Beatles

please support this project

Here in Liverpool, we are trying to raise £60,000 to create and erect a statue to the great Brian Epstein. Without Brian, The Beatles would never have made it out of Liverpool. As Beatles fans, let’s make this happen.

We have already raised nearly £5,000, so we need your help. There are lots of benefits and rewards for every pocket. The statue is being made by Andy Edwards (below) who sculpted the amazing Beatles statues at the Pier Head.

how to support the statue fund

Simply go to the fundraising site and decide how much to give. £60,000 between us all isn’t much at all.

SUPPORT BY CLICKING HERE

Thank you

David Bedford

Shrewsbury Beatles Festival 2019 – Review

Shrewsbury Beatles Weekend
Shrewsbury Beatles Weekend

brilliant beatles weekend

The Theatre Severn, where The Beatles films were shown
The Theatre Severn, where The Beatles films were shown

Happy to report that I had a fantastic time at the Shrewsbury Beatles weekend. National Film Award Nominated Director Roger Appleton introduced “Looking for Lennon” on Friday night, and I had the honour of giving a talk about “Liddypool“, “The Fab one hundred and Four” and “Finding the Fourth Beatle“, and debunking a few Beatles myths.

The other Beatles Statues
The other Beatles Statues – on loan

I then introduced one of my all-time favourite Beatles films, “Good Ol’ Freda”, and “Eight Days a Week” later that evening. In between selling some of my books – a big thank you to everyone who bought them – and talking to some fascinating people, I got to meet Cara Spencer, whose father Terry photographed The Beatles many times – as well as chronicling much of the latter 20th Century. She introduced “A Hard Day’s Night”, and told us plenty of funny and fascinating stories about her father.

Mayor Phil and King Tim

Me with Mayor Phil

The brainchild of the weekend was Lord Mayor Phil Gillam who, in his one year term of office, wanted an event he would like to go to, and would support his chosen charity; The Samaritans.

As a huge Beatles fan, he quickly enlisted the help of his very good friend, and fellow Beatles nut Tim King. Between them, they put on an incredible weekend, which everybody thoroughly enjoyed.

Plus, because it was all about raising money for a fantastic charity, it made it even better.

Local Beatles historian Thomas Perring, David Bedford and Tim King
Local Beatles historian Thomas Perring, David and Festival organiser Tim King

The cavern – shrewsbury style!

On Sunday, it was al lover to the Buttermarket, which is a “cavernous” venue, perfect for live music! And what a fantastic atmosphere it was too, with Phil giving us an introduction, before the live Beatles music started. Combined with a bacon buttie, what more could you want?

Shrewsbury's Mathew Street?
Shrewsbury’s Mathew Street? Queueing to get in
Give us a song, Phil?
Give us a song, Phil?
The Backbeat Three singing The Beatles
The Backbeat Three singing The Beatles
Are you sure it isn't The Cavern?
Are you sure it isn’t The Cavern?

i read the new today, oh boy!

The Beatles weekend made the local papers, and rightly so. It was a triumph for everybody involved, but a special thank you once again for the amazing Mayor, Phil Gillam, and Tim King. It was a wonderful weekend, and everyone is asking whether it will be repeated. If it is, then I will be there.

The Beatles weekend in the news
The Beatles weekend in the news

Ever been to Shrewsbury?

As well as meeting so many wonderful people, I was stunned at how beautiful the town is, and intend to return as a tourist. If you get the chance, go and visit this beautiful, historic town.

Get Back to Shrewsbury 2020? I hope so!

Thank you for making me feel so welcome.

And don’t forget The Samaritans – if you need them, they are a fantastic organisation.

David Bedford

David Bedford on “Glass Onion”. Part 1 of my Interview

David's Social Media
David’s Social Media

If you missed the first podcast interview I did with Antony, then he has re-edited it into 2 parts. Part one below. We had a great time talking about “Looking for Lennon”, Liddypool, Fab one hundred and Four: The Evolution of The Beatles and Finding the Fourth Beatle. We could have talked for hours! Oh yes, we did!

David

“Part 1 of a delightful talk with renowned Beatles author David Bedford, recorded at the famous Jacaranda club in Liverpool and covering various topics featured in his most recent book ‘Finding The Fourth Beatle’.

Also some thoughts on my recent trip to India and Jude Kessler’s 800-page John Lennon book called ‘Should Have Known Better’, which I’ve recently devoured!”

EPISODE 19: DAVID BEDFORD INTERVIEW IN LIVERPOOL. PART 1

The file is available as a direct download mp3

you tube version
www.youtube.com/watch?v=lq4RwO3sKW8

Enjoy!

Antony Rotunno

Shrewsbury Beatles Weekend – 20th – 22nd September 2019

Shrewsbury Beatles Weekend 2019
Shrewsbury Beatles Weekend 2019

This coming weekend, join me and many others in Shrewsbury for a fantastic Beatles weekend.

This year Shrewsbury will be celebrating all things Fab Four with Shrewsbury Beatles Weekend 20th to 22nd September.

It’s almost impossible to imagine the modern world without The Beatles. Their impact upon popular culture has been – and continues to be – enormous. Their music and their iconic image are loved by young and old alike. On September 20th, 21st and 22nd there will be a whole range of events in the county town including live music, special guest speakers and Beatles film screenings – once again proving that All You Need Is Love.

What’s more: the entire weekend is in aid of the Mayor of Shrewsbury’s charity 2019-20, the Samaritans of Shrewsbury.

Now on display at Theatre Severn – statues of The Beatles, until 22nd September – Mon-Sat 10am – 7pm and when there is an event taking place at the theatre.

Key Film Screenings

Over the weekend, come and see us:

Looking for Lennon
Looking for Lennon

The Walker Theatre at Theatre Severn
8.00pm Film ‘Looking For Lennon’ (cert 12) 2018, introduced by director Roger Appleton, followed by Q & A. 
Documentary director Roger Appleton presents an honest retrospective on the early life of John Lennon and the tragedies that shaped his personality and later his music. The film includes rare and previously unseen memoirs along with interviews with some of his closest family, friends and associates. The film uncovers the story of John’s time in The Quarrymen with interviews with original members.  Fellow art school students and early friends recall their memories of teenage John as he was discovering music and life. Director Roger Appleton will introduce the film and will participate in a question and answer session with the audience after the screening.
Writer and director Curt Wiser describes the film – “I place ‘Looking for Lennon’ among the ranks of the great music documentaries out there.”

Tickets: £8.
Visit Theatre Severn website or phone 01743 281281

come and meet me for a talk and book signing

David's Social Media
David’s Social Media

The Walker Theatre at Theatre Severn
12.45pm – Meet Beatles author David Bedford from Liverpool in the Theatre foyer. He will be describing his work and signing books. He has collaborated with Beatles biographer Hunter Davies on ‘The Beatles Book’. Find out more about David at http://www.davidabedford.com/

good ol’ freda

I have the pleasure of introducing the following amazing film:

Good Ol' Freda
Good Ol’ Freda

1.30pm Film – ‘Good Ol’ Freda’ (cert PG) 2013
Behind a great band, there was a great woman.
Beatles Fan Club Secretary Freda Kelly told her story for the first time in 50 years in this fun and charming documentary directed by Ryan White. At the start she had no idea how far The Beatles would go but she had faith in them and they had faith in her. For ten years Freda was a witness to the ups and downs of life in the inner circle of the greatest band in history. 
“This story of Freda Kelly’s will be one of the last true stories of The Beatles that you’ll ever really hear.” – Angie McCartney, Paul’s Stepmother
“Pure joy.” – The Hollywood Reporter
Tickets: £8 via Theatre Severn website  or phone 01743 281281

For the full schedule and information, go to the official website

David Bedford

11th September 1962 in Beatles History: Andy White replaces Ringo Starr

Andy White, the session drummer who recorded with The Beatles on 11th September 1962
Andy White, the session drummer who recorded with The Beatles on 11th September 1962

Andy White: Beatles Session Drummer

11th September 1962 : EMI Studios, Abbey Road

Andy White was about to become The Fourth Beatle. A week after their first session at EMI’s Abbey Road Studios, The Beatles were once again walking through its doors. That, however, was only a fantasy at this stage. They hadn’t even managed to make their first record yet. Today would have to be the day they accomplished this, because there would be no more studio time.

In his various books and interviews, George Martin has often confused the 4th September session with the 11th September session. That was his first meeting with Ringo, confirming that the 4th September session was not expected to produce a record.

As Martin once stated: “On 11th September 1962, we finally got together to make their first record. The boys meantime had brought along a guy, and they said ‘we’re going to get Ringo to play with us’. I said ‘we just spent good money and booked the best drummer in London. I’m not having your bloke in. I’ll find out about him later. Poor Ringo was mortified and I felt sorry for him, so I gave him the maracas”. On Anthology Martin said: “when Ringo came to the session for the first time, nobody told me he was coming. I’d already booked Andy White and told Brian Epstein this.” 

George Martin was so exasperated with getting The Beatles’ first single recorded that he didn’t attend the second recording session. He left producer Ron Richards to oversee it.

ringo was shocked!

Ringo Starr drumming in EMI Studios, Abbey Road
Ringo Starr drumming in EMI Studios, Abbey Road

Following the 4th September session, George Martin decided that Ringo’s drumming was not what he was looking for. Therefore, he booked Andy White to make the record. As Ringo later observed: “I went down to play. He didn’t like me either, so he called a drummer named Andy White, a professional session man, to play”. That must have been devastating for Ringo. Was his career with The Beatles ending before it had begun? Ringo, unsurprisingly, was crestfallen. “I was devastated he (George Martin) had his doubts about me. I came down ready to roll and heard, ‘We’ve got a professional drummer’. He has apologised several times since, had old George, but it was devastating – I hated the bugger for years” (Anthology).

Beatles Producer George Martin in EMI Studios
Beatles Producer George Martin in EMI Studios

Ringo also told Beatles biographer Hunter Davies: “I found this other drummer sitting in my place. It was terrible. I’d been asked to join the Beatles. Now it looked as if I was only good enough to do ballrooms with them, but not for records. I thought; that was the end. They’re doing a Pete Best on me. I was shattered. What a drag. How phoney the whole record business was; I thought. Just what I’d heard about. If I was going to be no use for records, I might as well leave. What could the others say, or me? We just did what we were told.”  

no room for sentiment

Much like the June session, John, Paul and George didn’t mention the personnel change to their drummer; in June, it was Pete – in September, it was Ringo. You have to wonder why they failed to tell him earlier that week that he was not going to be playing on the next recording session. What kind of friends were they, not giving him advance notice that he was being replaced by a session drummer? It all came down to business. This was their last chance, and there was no room for sentiment.  

Geoff Emerick was sitting in the control room when Ringo walked in. “Dejectedly, Ringo sank into a chair beside Ron, and the session got underway.”

The Session Drummer

“On ‘Love Me Do’, they were only recorded on mono at first,” said producer Steve Levine. “They moved to mono on twin-track so they could record the backing tracks. Then they overdub the vocals on the other track”. That is why it was crucial to have the session drummer at the beginning. The whole rhythm track would be mixed and recorded on one track. It had to be right. You could not re-do the drums or guitars. Drummers like Andy White were worth their weight in gold, and always in demand.

In my interview with Andy White for The Fab one Hundred and Four, he told me that he was contacted by EMI for the job. “I received a call a few days before the session from the ‘fixer’ at EMI,” said White. “Every record company had a guy, who would contact the session musicians and book them for a particular gig. I received my call from EMI. It was only when I walked in on the morning of 11th September I realised it was Ron Richards producing the session”.

White remembered Ringo walking in on 11th September. “Ringo walked in with the others, and was obviously shocked to see me setting up my drums,” he said. “It was clear nobody had told him he was not going to be playing, and so we said ‘Hello’. He must have thought I was going to replace him, but I was ten years older than him. I’d have needed a wig after a year with them!”

working with john and paul

George Harrison, Paul McCartney and John Lennon in Abbey Road
George Harrison, Paul McCartney and John Lennon in EMI Studios, Abbey Road

White had no prior knowledge of the group or the songs they would be recording. That was the usual practice for session drummers. “As with any session, I had no knowing what I was going to be doing that day. We sat down and discussed the songs. Most of the time I was talking with John and Paul, as they were the songwriters. Of course, they had no written music, but that was fine. They knew what they wanted to do, so we set to work. I was really impressed with them, and it was a nice change to be working on original songs. We worked through the routines and started rehearsing. Most of what I was trying to do was work with Paul and match what he was doing with the bass guitar”.

Recording Session: 4.45pm-6.30pm

Andy White’s presence in the studio demonstrated why George Martin’s decision was such an important one. The studio was booked between 4.45pm and 6.30pm, which didn’t leave them much time. In less than two hours, they managed to commit to tape excellent versions of “Love Me Do” and “P.S. I Love You”, and also a couple of takes of “Please Please Me”. The difference in studio time spent this day compared with the previous session was incredible. The Beatles had also now recorded three versions of “Love Me Do”, each distinctive, and each with a different drummer.

Andy White, the session drummer who recorded with The Beatles on 11th September 1962
Andy White, the session drummer who recorded with The Beatles on 11th September 1962

P.S. You Love Me?

With Andy White on the kit, The Beatles first recorded “P.S. I Love You” and then “Please Please Me” to see which of the two would best serve as the B-side. Emerick remembers them playing “P.S. I Love You”. After a few run-throughs, and ten takes, he was amazed at how “White seemed to get the hang of it. I was amazed at how quickly he did so, and how well he fit in with three unfamiliar musicians. The mark of a great session player.” 

Ron Richards suggested to Ringo that he could go downstairs and join in with them, though only to play maracas. Emerick could “sense that he (Richards) was getting increasingly uncomfortable at having the sulking drummer sitting beside him. This must have struck him as a good way of getting Ringo out of the control room.”.

P.S. I Love You by The Beatles, with Andy White on drums
P.S. I Love You by The Beatles, with Andy White on drums

Love Me Do

After successfully recording “P.S. I Love You” and a run-through of “Please Please Me”, they got down to recording a third version of “Love Me Do”. Ron Richards called them back to their places quickly, aware of the passing time. “Now we need get back to work,” he said. “George wants you to have another go at ‘Love Me Do’”. Geoff Emerick remembers Ringo looking expectantly at Richards, “but Ron shot him down again. ‘I’d like you to play the tambourine on this, Ringo; we’ll stick with Andy on the drums.’”

Again, it took White only a short time to familiarize himself with the song. “His timekeeping was definitely steadier than Ringo’s had been the previous week,” recalled Emerick. “The other three were playing a lot better, too, and Paul sang the lead vocal with much greater confidence”. It was obvious to Richards and Emerick that the Beatles had done a lot of rehearsing during the week.”.

Norman Smith affirms the choice of Andy White, a drummer he knew well. “He started playing exactly as I thought the song should have been played, and how it should be done. Andy White was great, and so we created the master.” 

Please Please Us

George Martin turned up towards the end to the session to see the group, and what progress had been made. Ron Richards could happily inform him that, in just under two hours, they had recorded both the A-side and B-side. “Please Please Me” was then run through and recorded with the modifications Martin had suggested the previous week. However, it still wasn’t the finished article. Even so, it was vastly improved.

Again, White played the drums, with no contribution from Ringo. He gave the song an exciting rhythm, and his musical rapport with the other three Beatles was incredible. In less than two hours, they had taught him – and recorded! – three original songs. That is the difference a session drummer can make. With the White version of the song now completed, Ringo was able to use it to create a similar drum pattern when the group re-recorded the song on 26th November 1962.  

comparing andy white and ringo

How do the two versions compare? “It’s a strange one,” said Alex Cain, “because on this occasion Ringo displays more solidity than the seasoned-pro. Ringo plays solid ‘8 in the bar’ ride cymbal throughout. Andy offers a softer approach, playfully landing on his hi-hats around the snare beats, producing a stop-start feel. White’s fills are somewhat hurried where he sounds as if he’s thrown his drums down the stairs! Personally, I much prefer Ringo’s performances, both in the studio and live. It makes for a more energetic and youthful sound overall”. Did Ringo’s performance on 26th November convince George Martin to stick with Ringo, and not use a session drummer again?

However, for the recording of “Love Me Do”, everyone was happy; except for poor Ringo.

Love Me Do or Love Me Don’t? Comparing the Ringo and Andy White Versions

In his book I Want To Tell You, Anthony Robustelli examined the two September versions of “Love Me Do”. “The second version of ‘Love Me Do’ (Andy White’s version) is five faster and therefore, rocks a little harder. The recording is far superior sonically to the other version with the kick and snare punchy in the mix. Furthermore, Andy White’s kick drum pattern is much busier, and though it seems to lock in with the bass better. It’s difficult to compare the kick’s feel because of the drastic sonic differences. On the original September 4th version with Ringo, the kick is barely audible. White’s more swinging kick drum definitely propels the song forward more successfully. The sonic punch and clarity undeniably helped, as did the addition of Ringo’s tambourine and an additional five BPM.”.

“Ringo Didn’t Drum on the First Single”

Love Me Do, The Beatles first single, with Ringo Starr on drums
Love Me Do, The Beatles first single, with Ringo Starr on drums

Paul was convinced that Ringo didn’t play drums on the group’s first Parlophone single, “Love Me Do” – and Ringo agreed. Yet history has shown that he was indeed on the UK single release. Considering that Andy White was hired to drum on the recording: Was Ringo’s version mistakenly released on the UK single? After all, the White version of “Love Me Do” appeared on The Beatles’ debut studio album Please Please Me. The UK EP release The Beatles’ Hits, and also on their U.S. single release.

Is there any evidence to support this?

If the Ringo version wasn’t considered good enough after 4th September, why release that first version? Neither George Martin nor Ron Richards were sure if it was selected intentionally or not.

The releases of “Love Me Do” issued after The Beatles’ Hits on 21st September 1963 contained Andy White’s version. Why? The original master recording of Ringo’s version of “Love Me Do” destroyed or recorded over, possibly as early as 1962. EMI only had Andy White’s 11th September recording to use. It was the only remaining – and arguably the superior – version. When “Love Me Do” was released in the U.S. in April 1964, it was Andy White’s version that was used.

The final piece of evidence is one of omission. With the group’s popularity in 1963, why did they not ask Ringo to re-record “Love Me Do” for the album? Instead, they used Andy White’s version? The conclusion is that Ringo’ version was most likely released by accident. Nothing else really makes sense.  

No More Session Drummers

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

Although George Martin wasn’t impressed with Ringo’s drumming, he grew to appreciate his style. They soon became good friends. The producer would replace him only one more time by a session drummer – Bobby Graham. “Ringo always got, , a unique sound out of his drums, a sound as distinctive as his voice,” Martin said. “Ringo gets a looser deeper sound out of his drums that is unique. This detailed attention to the tone of his drums is one of the reasons for Ringo’s brilliance. Although Ringo does not keep time with a metronome accuracy, he has an unrivalled feel for a song. If his timing fluctuates, it invariably does so in the right place at the right time. He keeps the right atmosphere going on the track and giving it a rock-solid foundation. This held true for every single Beatles number Richie played Ringo also was a great tom-tom player”.

Martin added: “Ringo has a tremendous feel for a song, and he always helped us hit the right tempo the first time. He was rock solid. This made the recording of all the Beatles songs so much easier.”

An excerpt from “Finding the Fourth Beatle” by David Bedford and Garry Popper

David Bedford