6th July 1957 – Part 3: John Lennon meets Paul McCartney

The Quarrymen led by John Lennon

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.

St Peter's Church Hall
St Peter’s Hall and Stage shortly before it was removed

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!

David playing with The Quarrymen
David playing with The Quarrymen at he 50th Anniversary

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.

He’s cack-handed!

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.

You can see photos from the parade in “The Fab one hundred and Four”, as well as interviews and other photos too.

David Bedford

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6th July 1957 – Part 2: Without Ivan, there would be NO Beatles

Ivan (left) with Pete Shotton
Ivan Vaughan (left) with Pete Shotton

How did John Lennon and Paul McCartney Meet?

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.

“THAT Lennon!”

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.

 John Lennon and Ivan Vaughan in the Isle of Man
John Lennon (second from left) and Ivan Vaughan (second from right) in the Isle of Man

The Same Birthday

Ivan Vaughan
Ivan at the Liverpool Institute

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.

Find out more about Ivan in The Fab One Hundred and Four.

David Bedford

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6th July 1957 – Part 1: The Quarrymen on Parade

The Quarrymen with John Lennon
The Quarrymen: Pete Shotton, Eric Griffiths, Len Garry, John Lennon, Colin Hanton and Rod Davis
The Quarrymen in the parade
The Quarrymen, including John, on the wagon during the parade

On 6th July 1957, the day John Lennon met Paul McCartney for the first time, there was a parade around the village of Woolton. At the front of the parade was a marching band, and at the back was The Quarrymen. In the above photo, you can see that John is singing, though nobody else is doing anything!

The Quarrymen (left to right) are: Pete Shotton, Eric Griffiths, Len Garry, John Lennon, Colin Hanton and Rod Davis. The photos of the parade were taken by Rod’s father James Davis. This photo appeared in my first book, Liddypool, and was inserted at the last minute, when the book was on the printing press ready to go! We literally said; “Hold the presses!” It was the first time it had appeared in a book.

When I was working on my second book, “The Fab one hundred and Four: The Evolution of The Beatles”, I gained permission from Rod Davis to reproduce all of the photos from the parade, the only book to include all of the photographs. These include the marching band, brownies and guides, the youth group, the Rose Queen and another of The Quarrymen. They are incredible. You can get your copy of the book here.

As the parade finished, everyone left the parade, as The Quarrymen clambered down from the wagon, and walked along the side of the church to the field behind the church. In that crowd watching closely was Ivan Vaughan, and his school friend Paul McCartney. Who could have predicted what would happen this day would still be talked about all these years later.

David Bedford

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The Silver Beatles at the Embassy Bingo Hall

Some time in July 1960, The Silver Beatles played at the Embassy Ballroom in Wallasey, Wirral, across the River Mersey from Liverpool. It was around this time that the group were going through drummers – Tommy Moore, Ronnie the “Ted”, Jackie Lomax, Paul McCartney and then Norman Chapman, who was soon to be joining the army. They were also trying to settle on the group’s name; Silver Beetles, Silver Beatles, Beetles, Beatals and eventually The Beatles.  

Embassy Bingo Hall, Wallasey
The Embassy Bingo Hall – the small stage now supports a bed for sale

Few details are known about this one-off performance.

Liddypool

The building is now a furniture store, though the original stage is still there, and even the original curtains. For a full list of over 100 venues The Beatles played around Liverpool, see “Liddypool: Birthplace of The Beatles”, now in its Third edition.

David Bedford

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The Liverpudlian who signed the Declaration of Independence

On American Independence Day, did you know that a Liverpudlian, known as the “Financier of the Revolution”, signed the Declaration of Independence and other key documents?  

The Financier of the Revolution

Robert Morris
Robert Morris

His name was Robert Morris, Jr. (January 20, 1734 – May 8, 1806), and he was born in Liverpool, living there until his teens. He was a Founding Father of the United States, serving as a member of the Pennsylvania legislature, the Second Continental Congress, and the United States Senate, and he was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the United States Constitution. From 1781 to 1784, he served as the Superintendent of Finance of the United States, becoming known as the “Financier of the Revolution.” Along with Alexander Hamilton and Albert Gallatin, he is widely regarded as one of the founders of the financial system of the United States.

Procuring Arms

Morris became a partner in a successful shipping firm based in Philadelphia. In the aftermath of the French and Indian War, Morris joined with other merchants in opposing British tax policies such as the 1765 Stamp Act. His anti-British sentiments came to the fore after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War, helping procure arms and ammunition for the revolutionary cause, and in late 1775 he was chosen as a delegate to the Second Continental Congress.

As a member of Congress, he served on the Secret Committee of Trade, which handled the procurement of supplies, the Committee of Correspondence, which handled foreign affairs, and the Marine Committee, which oversaw the Continental Navy. Morris was a leading member of Congress until he resigned in 1778. Out of office, Morris refocused on his merchant career and won election to the Pennsylvania Assembly, where he became a leader of the “Republican” faction that sought alterations to the Pennsylvania Constitution.

Superintendent of Finance

Facing a difficult financial situation in the ongoing Revolutionary War, in 1781 Congress established the position of Superintendent of Finance to oversee financial matters. Morris accepted appointment as Superintendent of Finance and also served as Agent of Marine, from which he controlled the Continental Navy. He helped provide supplies to the Continental Army under General George Washington, enabling Washington’s decisive victory in the Battle of Yorktown.

Bank of North America

Morris also reformed government contracting and established the Bank of North America, the first bank to operate in the United States. Morris believed that the national government would be unable to achieve financial stability without the power to levy taxes and tariffs, but he was unable to convince all thirteen states to agree to an amendment to the Articles of Confederation. Frustrated by the weakness of the national government, Morris resigned as Superintendent of Finance in 1784.

In 1787, Morris was selected as a delegate to the Philadelphia Convention, which wrote and proposed a new constitution for the United States. Morris rarely spoke during the convention, but the constitution produced by the convention reflected many of his ideas. Morris and his allies helped ensure that Pennsylvania ratified the new constitution, and the document was ratified by the requisite number of states by the end of 1788. The Pennsylvania legislature subsequently elected Morris as one of its two inaugural representatives in the United States Senate.

Morris or Hamilton

Morris declined Washington’s offer to serve as the nation’s first Treasury Secretary, instead suggesting Alexander Hamilton for the position. In the Senate, Morris supported Hamilton’s economic program and aligned with the Federalist Party. During and after his service in the Senate, Morris went deeply into debt speculating on land. Unable to pay his creditors, he was confined in debtors’ prison from 1798 to 1801. After being released from prison, he lived a quiet, private life in a modest home in Philadelphia until his death in 1806.

So, will we have a new musical called “Morris” to rival “Hamilton”? Probably not.  

David Bedford

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27 June 1746: Bonnie Prince Charlie escapes the English, leading to Brian Epstein signing The Beatles. Honest!

My Bonnie
“My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean”

When Flora MacDonald in 1746 helped Bonnie Prince Charlie escape from the English to the Isle of Skye, and then to France, little did they know it would help Brian Epstein sign The Beatles! Seriously? Yes! read on.

Bonnie Prince Charlie
Bonnie Prince Charlie

My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean

The Scottish folk song that recorded that story was called “My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean”. When, in 1961, German Producer Bert Kaempfert decided to make a record with Tony Sheridan, backed by The Beatles (as The Beat Brothers), he wanted a song that the German people would know, but was also performed by the British musicians. He chose “My Bonnie” and “When The Saints Go Marching In”.

My Bonnie Record
“My Bonnie” by Tony Sheridan and The Beat Brothers

Recording “My Bonnie”

Kaempfert combined melody with lush orchestral strings and brass. As well as orchestral and jazz-oriented records, he wrote the music for “Strangers In The Night”, recorded by Frank Sinatra, “Wooden Heart” recorded by Elvis Presley, as well as hits for Nat King Cole and Al Martino. Kaempfert must be one of the few, if not only, to have worked with Elvis, Sinatra and The Beatles.

Friedrich-Ebert-Halle
The Hall Where The Beatles recorded “My Bonnie”

Bert worked for Polydor, who often recorded at a school theatre in Hamburg Harburg. But this was no ordinary theatre, as I found out when I visited there in 2017. Kaempfert had The Beatles and Tony Sheridan, who had been playing this song together at the Top Ten Club, set up on the stage. This is where myth and fact combined to create urban myths!

The stage where The Beatles recorded "My Bonnie"
The Beatles recorded “My Bonnie” on this stage

Some say Kaempfert removed Pete Best’s bass drum and other drums, because he was so bad. This, they claim, became the first of many producers to be dissatisfied with Best’s drumming. There is no evidence for that.

What we do know is that Bert Kaempfert was happy to use The Beatles as a backing band, having seen them several times at the Top Ten Club. We also know that he never used heavy rock ‘n’ roll drums on any track, as he was into Easy Listening music. He therefore asked Pete Best to only use his snare drum and hi-hat cymbal, which he used to great effect, as you can tell when you listen to the record. We have evidence of that. Best’s drumming is superb!

Finding The Fourth Beatle

Because there are so many myths, misunderstandings and deliberate mistellings, I was determined in our book, Finding the Fourth Beatle, to ask real drummers what they thought of Pete Best’s drumming on “My Bonnie”. As I said in the book; I am not qualified to offer a professional opinion on drummers, as I am not a drummer, just an author.

Feedback from the drummers

“As Pete Best is not using his bass drum or floor tom, he does a really good job. Maybe Pete at that stage wasn’t experienced or talented enough maybe to play quieter. That is great drumming and a really good, high-speed drum roll in perfect time. How could anyone criticise that?” Mike Rice

“Very tight drum rolls at speed which is hard to do and keep in time. Especially as he didn’t use his full kit, he is very inventive in the use of the snare, with good flicks on the hi-hat, using it like a crash cymbal. A very technical piece of drumming, expertly executed.” Derek and Andrew Hinton

“My Bonnie” and other Songs

What songs were recorded, and in what order, is not known as there is little paperwork completed at the time. It is generally accepted that seven songs were recorded with Kaempfert. On the 22nd June, and possibly on the 23rd June 1961, four songs were committed to tape: “My Bonnie”, plus a German vocal as “Mein Herz Ist Bei Dir”; “The Saints (When The Saints Go Marching In)”; “Why”, written by Sheridan, and “Cry For A Shadow”, George Harrison’s skit on the Shadows, with a virtuoso solo performance, credited to Harrison/ Lennon.

The Beatles were also invited to perform another song, and John chose “Ain’t She Sweet”, one of his favourites, and one that would probably have fitted in with Kaempfert’s desire to record easy listening, old-time songs, that the German listener could identify with. However, what John produced was the harder, rockier sounding vocal performance that they would have done on stage, which didn’t really do him, or the group, justice. There were to be no vocal harmonies that would become their trademark in years to come.

My copy of "My Bonnie" signed by Pete Best
My copy of “My Bonnie” signed by Pete Best

It is also thought that they recorded “Take Out Some Insurance On Me, Baby (If You Love Me, Baby)”, probably at the same sessions, but there isn’t any documentation to confirm this. Sheridan, ably assisted by Paul on bass and Pete on drums also recorded “Nobody’s Child” as well. 

This was the Beatles being recorded for the first time as a group, in a studio, with a bona fide producer.    

“My Bonnie”, Brian Epstein and The Beatles

To complete the story, Brian Epstein became interested in The Beatles when local fans started asking to order “My Bonnie” by The Beatles. This brought them to Brian’s attention, who, as a record retailer, was interested in a local group who could sell records. (Read the interview with Alistair Taylor for more on that story).

And so, the story that started with Bonnie Prince Charlie’s escape from the English way back in 1746 led to Brian signing The Beatles.

For a detailed look at the recording of “My Bonnie”, it is featured in Finding the Fourth Beatle.

David Bedford

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Beatles Drummer Norman Chapman

The mystery drummer is Norman Chapman
He is Norman Chapman!

Norman Chapman – “Big feller; He Was a Good Drummer”

George Harrison said: “Big feller, did not talk much. In fact, I can’t remember a word he ever said to me. He was a good drummer, though, and that’s for sure.” Ringo later commented: “The boys told me they had this drummer they heard rehearsing on his own. They thought a hell of a lot of him.”

When I first came across the name of Norman Chapman, he was a footnote in Beatles history. He only gave one interview, many years ago, to BBC Radio Merseyside’s Spencer Leigh. There were no photographs of him; there was very little biography, and that was about that.

The Exclusive Story of Norman Chapman

Norman Chapman's drums in The Jacaranda Club
Norman’s Drums in The Jacaranda

When I was working on my second book, “The Fab one hundred and Four: The Evolution of The Beatles“, I was determined to find out more about Norman. It took me months of research, and eventually I was able to trace Norman’s daughter, Anne-Marie. After talking together, I was very honoured that she was prepared to trust me with telling her father’s story, and to entrust the photographs to me alone. I gave her my word that she could check the story before it was published, so that it was what she wanted, as this would be his legacy.

She also entrusted me with family photographs, none of which had been published before. If you see any of these photos, they will have been lifted from my book. I was proud and honoured to tell Norman’s story.

The Others Liked Him Too

Fab one hundred and Four: The Evolution of The Beatles by David Bedford
The Fab one hundred and Four

He was only with The Silver Beatles for a few short weeks, but it was clear that he settled in well with them, judging by George Harrison’s quote above. Allan Williams, their manager, also commented that; “He was a big guy, about six feet two, and spoke in a very quiet, gentle voice. His drumming was a hobby and he hadn’t even sat in with a band before. I told him about the band, and that they were playing around Merseyside, earning about ten pounds a night, and asked him if he was interested. ‘I sure am,’ he told me, ‘I could do with the money because drum kits are so expensive. That’ll help me pay off the money for the kit.’ The others liked him too.”

the beatles and hamburg: A National DIS-Service

Norman should have been the drummer who went with The Beatles to Hamburg, but around 2 weeks before they were due to depart for Germany, he was called-up for National Service, and had to join the army for 2 years. He would miss out on the trip, but it created the opportunity for Pete Best to join the group.

Read his fascinating story, and the see the photographs, exclusively in “The Fab one hundred and Four: The Evolution of The Beatles“.

David Bedford

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Global Beatles Day

Global Beatles Day

Today, 25th June, is Global Beatles Day, so wherever you are, celebrate The Beatles! And what a momentous day in Beatles history it is. You can follow their progress from 1960-67:


25th June 1960 – The Silver Beatles performed at Grosvenor Ballroom, with drummer Norman Chapman (more to follow about him)
25th June 1962 – The Beatles, with Pete Best, perform at the Plaza Ballroom, St Helens, just outside Liverpool.
25th June 1963 – The Beatles, now with Ringo, are the number 1 act in the UK and on tour in Middlesborough.
25th June 1964 – After Ed Sullivan, The Beatles are in the middle of their world tour, and after Jimmie Nicol stepped in for Ringo, the Fab Four are back together.
25th June 1965 – The Beatles are performing in Genoa, Italy. However, the shows were poorly attended!
25th June 1966 – The Beatles are in Essen, Germany, as part of their Bravo-Blitztournee.
25th June 1967 – The Beatles perform “All You Need Is Love” in front of a worldwide audience of 400 million people as part of “Our World”.

If ever one date deserves to be Global Beatles Day, this is it.

Yes, but what did The Beatles ever do for us??? Where do you start?

Join in on Facebook

David Bedford

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Stuart Fergusson Victor Sutcliffe

Happy birthday Stuart Sutcliffe
Happy birthday Stuart Sutcliffe

When John and Paul realised that they needed a bass player in their group, they approached two of John’s friends, Stu Sutcliffe and Rod Murray, and offered them the position. The first one to accept would get the job, provided they had their own bass guitar.

They both welcomed the challenge, and Stuart Sutcliffe won. However, Stu has probably had more criticism than any other member of The Beatles over his talent, or perceived lack of musical ability. For decades, the memory of Stuart Sutcliffe has been tainted by those who claim that, even though he was a brilliant painter, he was not much of a musician.

How many times have you heard it said about Stuart?

Rod Murray and Stuart Sutcliffe
Rod Murray and Stuart Sutcliffe copyright Rod Murray

‘He was only in the group because he was John’s friend’.

‘He used to stand with his back to the audience’.

‘He used to play unplugged so that they couldn’t hear how bad he was playing’.

‘He looked great on stage, but he couldn’t really play’.

Stuart’s talent as a painter has never been in doubt, with a long career as an artist assured, if only he hadn’t died at the tender age of only 21.

The Real Stuart Sutcliffe

Stu with The Beatles in Hamburg
Stu with The Beatles in Hamburg

Many art experts have said that, had he lived, Stuart would have been one of the pre-eminent painters of the 1960s. On the other hand, there have been many authors and commentators who have told us repeatedly that Stuart couldn’t play the bass. I decided to speak to the people who knew him best: his sister Pauline; Art College friend and flatmate Rod Murray; friend and fellow musician Klaus Voormann; and other musicians who were there at the time.

What evidence can we find to support the claim that Stuart was a good bass player? Or will we find evidence to substantiate the opposing view that he really couldn’t play?

Stuart’s musical skills began when he started playing the piano as a young boy. “Stuart had previously been learning the piano,” said Millie Sutcliffe, Stuart’s mum. “Stuart’s father was a wonderful pianist, a classical musician, though not commercial or anything like that. He played just for his own pleasure. Stuart’s knowledge of music helped him, and he was a pretty good singer, too.”

As Stuart was learning the piano, his father Charles bought him a Spanish guitar, which he played a little, but not to any great level. This alone was not enough to give him an edge in joining the group. As his mum Millie had said, Stuart was also a good singer. He was, in fact, the head chorister at his local church of St. Gabriel’s, Huyton.

Rod Murray or Stuart Sutcliffe – the Bass Race

Rod Murray with the bass guitar he started to make
Rod Murray with the bass guitar he started to make

When John, Paul and George needed a bass player, they offered the position to Stuart and his flatmate Rod Murray. Neither could afford to buy one, so Rod, also at Art College, designed and started to make his own bass guitar.

Stuart’s painting was purchased at an exhibition in the Walker Art Gallery. The exhibition ran from 19 November 1959 to 17 January 1960 and, contrary to some reports, Stuart did not win the competition. However, John Moores, who sponsored the competition, purchased Stuart’s painting, giving him the money to buy the bass guitar. Rod still has his part-made bass guitar, and told me all about it in my interview for The Fab one hundred and Four.

Learning Bass

Admittedly, when Stuart purchased his bass guitar, he couldn’t play it. But as a natural musician, and under the tutelage of musician David May, he soon picked it up.

Hamburg – Howie, Dick and Klaus

In order to provide continuous music, Koschmider split up The Beatles and The Seniors, giving Howie Casey the chance to assess Stuart’s competence as a bass player up close. “I was given Stuart Sutcliffe along with Derry and Stan Foster from the Seniors, and we had a German drummer. Stu had a great live style,” he recalled. (Fab one hundred and Four)

Rick Hardy of The Jets also witnessed Sutcliffe at close hand in Hamburg. “Stu never turned his back on stage,” he said emphatically. “Stu certainly played to the audience and he certainly played bass. If you have someone who can’t play the instrument properly, you have no bass sound. There were two rhythm guitarists with The Beatles and if one of them couldn’t play, you wouldn’t have noticed it – but it’s different with a bass guitar. I was there and I can say quite definitely that Stuart never did a show in which he was not facing the audience.”

One of those who became very close to Stuart in Hamburg was Klaus Voormann, who himself became a great bassist respected the world over. “Stu was a really good rock and roll bass player,” said Voormann, “a very basic bass player. He was, at the time, my favourite bass player, and he had that cool look. The Beatles were best when Stuart was still in the band. To me it had more balls. It was even more rock and roll when Stuart was playing the bass and Paul was playing piano or another guitar. The band was, somehow, as a rock and roll band, more complete.”

Pete Best on Stuart

In a rock ‘n’ roll band, the rhythm is driven by the drums and bass guitar working closely together, so the opinion of The Beatles’ drummer, Pete Best, is an important contribution to this debate. ”Stu was a good bass player,” Pete said. “I’ve read so many people putting him down for his bass playing. I’d like to set that one straight. His bass playing was a lot better than people give him credit for. He knew what his limits were. What he did was accept that and he gave 200%. He was the smallest Beatle with the biggest heart.” (quote from interview for Liddypool).

The Bats

After he’d left The Beatles, not long before his death, Stuart was asked to play with a German group, The Bats. He borrowed his old bass guitar from Klaus Voormann (who had recently purchased it from Stuart) and played with The Bats at the Hamburg Art School Carnival and the Kaiserkeller.

Hopefully, that puts the argument to an end. Stu could play bass!

Stuart Sutcliffe
Stuart Sutcliffe

Stuart brought style, image and a fashion-sense to make The Beatles look cool on stage. He was a great and talented artist too. But he was more than that; he was a good bass player, at a time when John Lennon said The Beatles were at their best. John always remembered his friend; “I looked up to Stu, I depended on him to tell me the truth.”

Read the full story, plus my interview with Rod Murray in “The Fab one hundred and Four“.

Stuart Sutcliffe Fan Club

For the last few years, it has been my privilege to help run the official Stuart Sutcliffe Fan Club on behalf of the family. Join us for free and get updates on events etc to do with Stuart. You can also see examples of his artwork online as well.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY STUART SUTCLIFFE

David Bedford

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The Quarrymen Rehearsed in My Road!

The Quarrymen
The First photo of The Quarrymen

When you’ve been researching The Beatles for nearly 20 years like I have, there aren’t many things that can surprise me. Having gone to Ringo’s school in the Dingle, and lived near Penny Lane for 30 years; my three daughters were born in the same hospital as John Lennon, and attended the same primary/ elementary school as John and George. But there was one surprise waiting for me when I spoke to Charlie Roberts.

Meet Charlie Roberts

Charlie Roberts
Charlie Roberts

Charlie decided to ask his friend Colin Hanton’s group The Quarrymen to perform in his street in Toxteth; Rosebery Street. The occasion was the 750th anniversary of the founding of Liverpool in 1207. Charlie thought that a skiffle group would add some great fun to the celebrations. Not only did he invite The Quarrymen, but when he borrowed a little camera and took a few photos. These turned out to be the very first photos ever taken of John Lennon performing with The Quarrymen.

The Quarrymen by Charlie Roberts
The Quarrymen by Charlie Roberts

“At that time,” remarked Charlie, “The Quarrymen would play anywhere for free, because they were doing it for fun. They became more serious after Paul joined, and maybe John was taking it serious, but it was really just friends having some fun. They all turned up, and set themselves up on the back of a wagon that Fred Tyler had brought along. He also wired up a speaker system so that they had something for the microphones, so they made quite a loud noise, which was good.”

The Quarrymen (2) by Charlie Roberts
The Quarrymen (2) by Charlie Roberts

“I thought they were great, playing good music and entertaining. When you compare them to other bands, I suppose they weren’t that good, but I enjoyed listening to them, and so did the crowd “I can’t remember what songs they played, but it was good fun. The street was decorated with bunting, and we had sandwiches and drinks, and had a good time.”

The Quarry men (3) by Charlie Roberts
The Quarry men (3) by Charlie Roberts

John Lennon causing trouble!

“There was an incident involving John, who seemed to upset some of the lads in the crowd. I think he had been winking at some of the girls, and it became obvious that there could be trouble, so as soon as they finished, they grabbed their instruments, and ran into my mum’s house. Some reports have said that the police came and escorted them to the bus stop, but The Quarrymen just stayed in our house for about an hour, and then after everyone had gone, they went home.”

“The party was such a success,” said Charlie, “that the City Council awarded us a prize for the best decorated street, and so the following week we had a second party, with entertainment provided by The Merseysippi Jazz Band, all paid for by the City Council, which was great.”

Charlie followed The Quarrymen to many of the venues they played, like Wilson Hall in Garston, where one particular incident sticks in his memory. “I remember Wilson Hall, when we all had to suddenly run away after the performance. I don’t know who started it or what it was about, but everyone legged it! I was okay, because I hadn’t been performing, so nobody knew me, but the others had to run. The first thing to discard was the tea-chest bass, which was too big and heavy to run with.”

The Quarrymen often went to “Barneys”, the club at St. Barnabas Church Hall. But, like most venues, alcohol was not available. “We used to meet in the Rose of Mossley pub on Rose Lane,” recalled Charlie, “and then we would go on to “Barneys”. We all had to wear proper suits and ties to get in there. After “Barneys” closed, we would then go to the Dutch Café on Smithdown Road, which was open late, one of the few places still open into the early hours of the morning.”

Cement in the Lock!

One of Charlie’s funniest memories takes place in an area called Ford to the north of Liverpool: “The Quarrymen had been booked to play at a party, and so we all travelled up there on the bus as usual. However, the party was in a house, and so there was not much room for the boys to play. By the time they had realised what time it was, the last bus had gone, and so they all decided to stay the night in the house. At some point, John and Paul went out for cigarettes, and there were obviously road works nearby, because they returned with a warning lamp they’d picked up. Everything went quiet, but when we tried to go home, we went to open the door, but somebody had put cement into the door lock! Nobody admitted doing it, but we all had our suspicions, because only John and Paul had been out. So, we all just left through the back door and said nothing.”

Charlie with his Photograph
Charlie with his Photograph

Charlie also talked about driving around with his friend Arthur Wong.

“Arthur’s dad had a very good business,” Charlie recalled, “and so Arthur had a Vauxhall Cresta PA, a great car with fins, two-tone paint, very much like the American cars. We used to drive around, and I clearly remember John and Paul on the back seat of the car, with Paul trying to master ‘Raunchy’. We had a great time driving around in it with Arthur and we would often end up at Arthur’s home at 42, Heydale Road, in Mossley Hill.”

John Lennon Played in My Road?

And that is where the coincidence comes in! Because, since 1989, I have lived in Heydale Road! And when we moved into this road, Mrs Wong still lived in 42, Heydale Road. As you can see, wherever I go, I am surrounded by The Beatles! A few years ago, I was giving a talk at the Liverpool History Show, and a man came up to me and wanted to see my book, The Fab one hundred and Four: The Evolution of The Beatles. Why? Because he was Arthur Wong’s brother, and told me how he remembered Charlie and friends hanging out with them. Small world this Beatle world isn’t it?

The Fab one hundred and Four

There are more great stories from Charlie in The Fab one hundred and Four, along with those other important people who played a part in Beatles history.

And if that isn’t enough Charlie for you, he now has his own book about his life, and hanging out with The Quarrymen and The Beatles; Just Like Starting Over; John and The Quarrymen, My Teenage Years.

David Bedford

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