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 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 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 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:
“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.
But for those Cavernites, it was the last time they saw their hometown heroes, The Beatles, in The Cavern.
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
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
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)
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”.
23rd April 1960: 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
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).
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
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.
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:
‘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
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.
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.
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.
This small studio tucked inside a Victorian terraced house at number 38, Kensington is where The Quarrymen made their first and only demo record. It was a disc that eventually became one of the most historic recordings in popular music. John, Paul, George, Colin Hanton and John Duff Lowe paid seventeen shillings and sixpence (87.5 pence) and cut a two-sided disk made of shellac. They couldn’t afford to pay for a tape and so the recording was made straight to disk.
McCartney/ Harrison Song
The five-piece ensemble recorded Buddy Holly’s “That’ll Be The Day” and “In Spite Of All The Danger”, an original McCartney- Harrison tune. It was seen as Paul’s song with George providing the guitar solo.
Percy Phillips owned the studio, which was on the ground floor. His clients waited in the front parlour and recorded in the back room studio. The studio consisted of two tape-recorders, a microphone hanging from the ceiling, a piano and disc-cutter, which produced these shellac discs.
Interview with Colin Hanton
Colin Hanton spoke about that famous first recording. “We met at a theatre and walked up there. All I remember was this back room with electronic equipment in the corner. We set up our equipment with me in the corner and the lads with their guitars: there were no amps, it was all-acoustic. John Lowe was over by the wall on the piano. I was hitting the drums and he said that they were too loud, so I tried again but there was still the same problem, which was finally fixed by putting a scarf over the snare to soften it and keep it as quiet as possible.
“John Duff Lowe reckons there was one microphone hanging down from the ceiling, which picked everything up. He was complaining because he said we should get the tape, which was a pound, but we just had enough each— three shillings and sixpence (17.5 pence). I always felt that was one of the reasons to invite John Lowe along to split it five ways. John and Paul went white at the thought of a pound. “Percy was fed up because we were taking too much time, and starting to look at the clock. ‘In Spite Of All The Danger’ was quite long, and he said to chop a verse off. John said no. John Lowe could see Phillips from where he was sitting and he was apparently telling John to finish. We kept going, so the record ended with the song going almost to the centre of the disc, right to the hole in the middle.
We had a record!
“He gave us the disc and off we went. It was a big thing. How many people had records like popular crooner, Matt Monro? So we had a record too, and could listen to ourselves. We had heard our group before because the girl who lived next door to me, Geraldine Davies, had a Grundig tape recorder. She’d record us and then we’d all sit down and listen to it. It was a momentous day for us. I can still remember it so clearly”.
On 10th July 1964, The Beatles arrived in Liverpool for a civic reception at Liverpool’s Town Hall, as well as holding the Northern Premiere of A Hard Day’s Night. The image of them standing on the balcony was so iconic, I decided it should grace the cover of my first book “Liddypool: Birthplace of The Beatles“, published in 2009.
The reception was difficult to arrange, but Brian was determined to make it happen. His letter explained it:
“Thank you very much for your charming letter of the 4th instant. As you probably know the boys and I set forth for the United States tomorrow morning. On their return the boys have an intense filming schedule, which will take them up to the end of April. They will then be resting for most of the month of May. So therefore while I look forward very much to accepting your kind invitation, for which the boys and I are most appreciative, I think the actual date may have to be left in abeyance for the present. With many thanks and best wishes. Yours respectfully, Brian Epstein
On the flight home their thoughts were occupied with this visit to Liverpool. One of the travelling journalists who had accompanied the group down under was from the Liverpool Daily Post and Echo, named, ironically, George Harrison—no relation whatsoever. Harrison’s observation was astute: “Probably for the first time in their show-biz lives our world-famed troubadours are nervous. They aren’t sure how their fellow citizens will react to this home-coming triumph. The four boys are thrilled to their fringes at the honour Liverpool is bestowing upon them. But in the back of their mind is a niggling doubt”.
Harrison spoke to each of The Beatles about how they were feeling as they came closer to their return to Liverpool. Even though all the preparations had been made, Paul McCartney didn’t know if it would click with Liverpool people. “I can’t somehow see all the kids I used to go to school with from Mather Avenue and their parents, turning out to watch young Paul McCartney drive by in a big car, along the road where we used to play together. I don’t think I’d bother to go and cheer for somebody else”, McCartney said honestly, “and I’ve got a feeling that they won’t do it for us either.
“And who is going to stand outside the Town Hall just to see us arrive? Only a couple of years back hardly anybody in Liverpool had heard of us. Now this! I’m keeping my fingers crossed and hoping that everything comes off all right, but I have butterflies in my tummy over it”.
Harrison (the reporter) observed that the manner of The Beatles was one of humility and that “there still isn’t a big head among the four of them. They just can’t believe they are important”.
John Lennon, never normally short of words, could hardly explain how he felt about the forthcoming event. “The only time I’ve ever been at the Town Hall was when they sent me from art school to draw it. Going back like this, in state, or whatever they call it, is a bit scary”. Ringo, however, was more forthcoming. “It’s a funny feeling. Makes you feel small and yet ten feet tall. I mean, all those other places in Australia and New Zealand where we went to civic receptions, they were only parties of people we didn’t know, like. But this is different”, Ringo enthused. “It’s Liverpool. Think of being in that parade from Speke to the Town Hall with some of our old mates probably looking at us and saying; ‘I knew that lot when they were poor’. And that wasn’t so long ago either, was it?” he said with a smile.
Even the “quiet” Beatle had an opinion. George spoke to his namesake with his own perspective. “It’s great that our own home town should do this for us”, he said seriously, “but deep down I have the feeling that there are a lot of Liverpool folk who deserve this honour far more than we do. After all”, he continued modestly, “what have we done? Sang some songs around the place and made money. It doesn’t seem much compared with some things that have been done by many Liverpool men and women who’ve never been honoured”.
The above is taken from my first book “Liddypool“. Little did I know when Liddypool was published what would happen next. Now in its third edition, it has sold over 5,000 copies worldwide, and led to me publishing two further books, “The Fab one hundred and Four: The Evolution of The Beatles” and “Finding the Fourth Beatle“, plus co-authoring “The Beatles Book” with Beatles biographer Hunter Davies. Last year, the first documentary I have consulted on was released; “Looking for Lennon”. I have visited the US a dozen times at various Beatles conventions, and been a guest at other events in Europe, and have several other projects on the go which keeps me in mischief!
Everywhere I go in Liverpool, I see so many Beatles tour guides using “Liddypool” to help give tours to their visitors. I am so privileged, and cannot thank everyone enough for your support.
I love what I do; it is a labour of love. I just want to share my amazing city of Liverpool, and why it was crucial in the evolution of The Beatles; they could not have come from any other city.
Ringo, more than any other Beatle, seems to have received criticism over the years for his ability. Is it justified? “Oh, he is just a lucky guy who was in the right place at the right time.” “You could take Ringo out of The Beatles and you would still have The Beatles.”
Finding the Fourth Beatle
When we started work on “Finding the Fourth Beatle“, one of the main aims was to examine why Ringo became the drummer who made the grade with John, Paul and George. Was he just the happy-go-lucky guy who was around at the right time, or was he really a good drummer, or even a great drummer?
What I soon learned was that as a guitarist/keyboardist, I was not qualified to answer that question adequately. I have read so many authors who either compliment or condemn Pete Best or Ringo Starr because they feel like it, without offering any justification, as if their reputation as an author is good enough. Trust me, it isn’t. I have played with plenty of drummers of varying capabilities, and know the difference between a good and bad drummer, but anything more than that is beyond me.
Drummers on Ringo
And so, what we decided to do was to get experienced drummers to examine Ringo’s drumming (we did the same for Pete Best too) and try to work out whether he was just a lucky guy, or really was the influence that many great drummers say he was. And if he is that good, why?
So we rounded up several drummers who could examine Ringo’s style, and get their feedback. It was illuminating. First, I spoke to Gary Astridge, who is Ringo’s drum curator, and been working with him for years. Gary is also a drummer in a band, so he could explain the details behind Ringo’s kits, and how he plays. Second, I spoke to Rob Shanahan, who is Ringo’s photographer, but is also a drummer, with a similar style to Ringo.
A Lefty on a Righty
One of the distinctive sounds created by Ringo is that he is naturally left-handed, but plays on a right-handed kit. Shanahan is also a lefty on a righty, and explains why this creates quite a unique sound, and how Ringo uses his kit. Ringo has also always kept quite a simple kit, and resisted the trend to have lots of tom-toms and other additions to his kit.
“Plays the Song”
One phrase that keeps cropping up is that Ringo “plays the song”, but what does that mean? It took a while to understand it, and I did that with the help of several drummers who play in Beatles tribute bands. They are the ones who have to learn to play Ringo’s parts, and I never realised how difficult that was. Ringo plays by feel, at that moment, and that exact moment in the song, which could be different every time they recorded it.
“Ringo Starr and The Beatles Beat”
Two drummers who are considered experts on Ringo’s drumming are Alex Cain and Terry McCusker. Their incredible book, “Ringo Starr and The Beatles Beat” examines Ringo’s style on every Beatles song, and they shared their expertise with us by analysing 10 of the songs that define Ringo’s style. It is only when you listen to Beatles songs for the drumming that you truly appreciate his contribution to The Beatles’ sound. Just go listen to songs like “Come Together”, “Rain” and “Strawberry Fields Forever”, and you will gain a new appreciation for his talent.
What Alex and Terry also point out is that Ringo, once The Beatles were getting into more complicated musical arrangements, was heavily involved in the arrangement of the song, and contributed not just drum rhythms, but percussion too. He was no ordinary drummer.
Although 3 other drummers were offered the chance to join The Beatles to replace Pete Best, it was Ringo who said yes. And that is just as well! Ringo was the perfect drummer for The Beatles at that time, and became an invaluable, and indispensable, member of the Fab Four.
They Found The Fourth Beatle
As you will read in the book, “Finding the Fourth Beatle“, Ringo was, and still is, a great drummer who inspired a whole new generation of drummers who wanted to play like him. Just read the comments from other leading drummers as to how they feel about Ringo. In conjunction with our findings in “Finding the Fourth Beatle“, it is clear that Ringo is respected as a drummer, and not just because he was a Beatle.
After the parade, and after Paul had watched John and The Quarrymen perform, the group was over in the church hall, preparing for the evening performance.
Ivan Vaughan walked in with Paul McCartney, but what happened next?
Who did what? Who said what?
Since I started investigating these key moments in Beatles history, I have interviewed several people who were there at St. Peter’s Church on 6th July 1957. These include: Quarrymen Rod Davis, Eric Griffiths, Colin Hanton and Len Garry, plus eyewitnesses Julia Baird and Ian James. I have also studied the comments made by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. And guess what? Not everyone agrees on 100% of what happened! I did mention to several of them that they should have been taking notes, as the most important meeting in music history was happening, but we can excuse them!
What we can agree, when collating and conflating the eyewitness accounts, is that most of The Quarrymen were in the hall: Colin Hanton had gone home for tea, and Rod Davis was in the toilet for some of the time! Ivan brought Paul over to meet John, and they were talking for a short while. Paul was intrigued by how John was playing guitar. John explained that he was playing banjo chords, as taught by his mother.
Most of them agree that John handed Paul his guitar. The first thing Paul did was to alter the tuning, which was more than the other Quarrymen could do; tune a guitar! What astonished them, and must have looked impressive, was that Paul then turned John’s guitar upside down, because he had learned to play a right-handed guitar upside down! This was verified during an interview I did for “The Fab one hundred and Four” with Ian. Paul was left-handed (or cack-handed as we call it. Just don’t ask why!!)
Twenty Flight Rock
Paul then played “Twenty Flight Rock” by Eddie Cochran, and proved he could not only play a guitar upside-down, but he could sing too, and know a new song, including its lyrics. No wonder John was impressed! Paul also sang some of “Long Tall Sally”, not knowing how important that song was to John (that will be a future blog post).
After a short time, Paul left to go home, and John was left with the decision; should he let Paul join, even though he was better than him, but would improve the group?
John made the right decision; Paul would be invited to join, thus creating the Lennon/McCartney partnership that would change modern music.
The story of how John and Paul met for the first time on 6th July is a fascinating one, because it has the strangest of coincidences connected with it.
When John moved in with his Aunt Mimi and Uncle George in 1946, the first friend he made was Ivan Vaughan, who lived in Vale Road, just behind “Mendips”. When Ivan moved from Lidderdale Infants School to Dovedale Primary School at the age of 8, he and John became even closer, even though he was a year behind John.
However, with John’s reputation among the parents in Woolton, when it came for Ivan to go to Grammar School, Mr and Mrs Vaughan didn’t want their son following John to Quarry Bank! Known by parents as “THAT Lennon!”, they didn’t want their precious son, who was very intelligent, being corrupted by Lennon. And so they took the decision to send him all the way into the city centre to the Liverpool Institute.
The Same Birthday
At the Liverpool Institute, Ivan ended up in the same class as a lad born on exactly the same day as him; Paul McCartney. The two became friends, with a mutual interest in music, and so Ivan told Paul all about his friend’s skiffle group called The Quarrymen, which Ivan occasionally played in. He told Paul that The Quarrymen were performing at the Woolton Fete on 6th July (1957) and invited him to come along. Paul was indecisive at first, but when Ivan told him it was a good place to meet girls, how could he refuse!
John, Meet Paul
And so, on 6th July 1957, Ivan brought Paul along to St. Peter’s Church, and introduced him to John Lennon.
Without Ivan, the most important meeting in music history would never have taken place. John and Paul lived in different parts of Liverpool, went to different schools, and had different groups of friends, all apart from Ivan. And so, thanks to Mr and Mrs Vaughan wanting to keep their son away from John Lennon, they inadvertently connected John and Paul, and thus led to the birth of The Beatles.
Thank you Mr and Mrs Vaughan, and especially Ivan.