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
Some photographs don’t need much of an explanation. The above photo of Jimmie Nicol says everything; 300,000 people screaming to sitting alone in a matter of days.
On their last few hours together, the five Beatles headed back inside for their next interview with the waiting journalists. As with the first interview, the banter between John, Paul, George and Ringo was as funny as ever, with Ringo prominent throughout. It was as if Nicol was the invisible Beatle; Ringo was back and all was good, except for Jimmie Nicol. At one point, a reporter asks him about his plans while the other Beatles are still being interviewed. He is quickly shut down.
On reflection, Nicol was asked about how he was treated and how he felt sitting in for Ringo in the biggest group on the planet. “After Ringo returned, they changed. It was like welcoming a close member of the family back. They treated me with nothing but respect as a musician. And I think they thought I was very good. John once told me I was better than Ringo but that I just missed the ship. When I was on the plane back to London, I felt like a bastard child being sent back home from a family that didn’t want me. When you have had the best, you can’t accept anything else.”
The Beatles were under curfew, instigated by Brian, and overseen by Derek Taylor and Mal Evans. However, it was Nicol’s last night in Australia, and he wasn’t going to abide by any curfew. After all, he had sneaked out before and had fun, going mostly unrecognised. This time, it was different. He had only been out for a short time when Taylor and Evans turned up at the bar, grabbed Nicol and took him back to the hotel. After all, he was still a Beatle! Everything had changed, because not only had Ringo arrived, but Brian Epstein as well. Nicol’s short career with The Beatles ended not in a blaze of glory, but a mild whimper.
Back Home – Hello, Goodbye
On 15th June 1964, Brian took Jimmie to the airport before he could even say goodbye to the Fab Four, who were still in bed. If ever there was a photograph that needed no caption, it was the one of Jimmie sitting all alone in a near empty airport with nobody paying any attention to him. How things had changed in just a matter of days. When asked about that photograph, and if he felt lonely, Nicol said: “That’s a beautiful picture. Well, if you look at that photograph, that answers your question.” (Evert Vermeer) No words were needed.
However, a TV reporter spotted him, and Nicol gave his final interview as a Beatle, reflecting on his exploits in Australia. He was asked, in a different way, the same question about what he would do next. “Well I hope to do something that I want to do. Now there might be a possibility that I might be able to do something….maybe earn enough money to study in America. That is what I want to do, is study drums in America and American music. And learn to arrange.” (The Beatle Who Vanished)
With Brian sitting nearby, the television interviewer brings him into shot to say an awkward ‘thank you’ on camera to Nicol. “I’d just like to say to you Jimmie that The Beatles and I are very, very grateful for everything you have done. You carried out a fine job for us and we’re very, very pleased. We hope you have a great trip back to London and every success to you in the future.” Jimmie’s response? “Thank you very much Brian.” It looked and sounded staged, broadcasting an obvious lack of emotion between the two men. In front of the camera, they were both professional, but Nicol, like so many people who featured in the story of The Beatles, had his part to play and then retired to virtual anonymity.
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT?
In his interview with Teutsch, Nicol reflected on his time with The Beatles.
T: “Did you ever see them after the tour?”
JN: “I had a band (The Shubdubs) and Brian put us on the same bill with The Beatles and the Fourmost one night (12 July 1964 at the Hippodrome Theatre in Brighton). Backstage, we talked, but the wind had changed since we last saw each other. They were pleasant.”
T: “Why do you think you were forgotten after all this?”
JN: “When the fans forget, they forget forever. After the Beatles thing was over for me, I played around for a few years then got away from the music scene. I mean, when you’ve played with the best, the rest is just, well, the rest.”
T: “Any regrets?”
JN: “None. Oh, after the money ran low, I thought of cashing in in some way to other. But the timing wasn’t right. And I didn’t want to step on The Beatles’ toes. They had been damn good for me and to me.”
SHUBDUBS, LIVERPOOL, SPOTNIKS, MEXICO………
When he returned home, he formed a band, The Shubdubs, who had a couple of singles, but not much success. He joined Swedish group The Spotniks, who had international hit albums and tours, when he ended up, after a disagreement, stranded in Mexico, where he stayed for a while, working on a number of projects, before coming out of hiding in 1984 in a Beatles Unlimited show in Holland. It was 20 years since Jimmie had played there with The Beatles. Nicol got up on stage with a local group, and promised a book would follow. It never did.
The film was a huge disappointment to me. Some nice footage, and bits of commentary from Paul and Ringo, but this was not a film for serious die-hard Beatles fans.
When we were told a couple of years ago that The Beatles were going to be captured in a new, fresh, exciting film, directed by the legendary director Ron Howard, there was great excitement among Beatles fans. We were promised new footage, new photos, behind the scenes interviews and the first truly new Beatles film since the 1960s. I attended the world premiere in Liverpool – we were screening 30 minutes ahead of London – and I walked the “blue jay way” carpet with Allan Williams, The Quarrymen, Julia Baird and many more, which was an honour. In the cinema, when we watched interviews with Allan and Beryl Williams, Joe Flannery, Freda Kelly and other Liverpool people, I was so pleased that the film started with the Beatles in Liverpool. However, when that finished after 20 minutes, I realised something was not quite as it seemed. This film was only for us in Liverpool. Ron Howard, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr appeared on the screens with a special intro for us, where Ron Howard aditted he hadn’t been to Liverpool but he would like to. Seriously? But then as Liverpool wasn’t to feature in the main film, I suppose it didn’t matter. Where were The Beatles from? Ermmm. Where were The Quarrymen? Stuart Sutcliffe? Pete Best, who probably played more hours live with The Beatles than Ringo, but no mention. The film was a huge disappointment to me. Some nice footage, and bits of commentary from Paul and Ringo, but this was not a film for serious die-hard Beatles fans, but a nice trip through the Beatles touring years. The one thing it did show well was how fed up with touring the Beatles were by 1966. That was about it. There was nothing particularly new, and plenty I’d seen elsewhere and so much more they could have included, but didn’t. There was no new insight into touring with The Beatles, and, as a Liverpudlian, this film was definitely made for the American market. Even when a clip was shown of The Beatles on the balcony in Liverpool in July 1964, there was no caption to tell you where it was, even though virtually everywhere else was captioned. When they showed The Beatles in Amsterdam in June 1964, there was Jimmie Nicol standing in for Ringo, but he was not name-checked or identified and just passed over to when Ringo rejoined the tour. Oh, and I nearly forgot. The people they interviewed. Not ordinary fans, but they rolled out celebrities! Of course, the famous “Fifth Beatles” Richard Curtis, Eddie Izzard, Jon Savage, Whoopi Goldberg, Sigourney Weaver…………………Yes, right. I could go on, because there were so many disappointments there’s not enough space! This was a huge opportunity missed. Would I pay to see it again? No. Would I recommend it to others? No. Will I buy it on DVD? Probably not. Was I disappointed? Definitely. I ain’t got nothing but disappointment, babe, Eight Days A Week. David Bedford
On 19th October 1961, one of the greatest lineups in Merseybeat history occurred at Litherland Town Hall. The Beatles, together with Gerry and the Pacemakers and singer Karl Terry joined forces on stage. The Beatmakers were — John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Pete Best, Gerry Marsden, Freddie Marsden, Les Chadwick, Les Maguire and Karl Terry. There was George on lead guitar and Paul playing rhythm, with the drumming duties split between Pete Best and Freddie Marsden. Les Chadwick played bass guitar and John Lennon played piano with Karl Terry joining in the vocals. Finally, Gerry Marsden played guitar and sang, while Les Maguire played the saxophone. Gerry Marsden formed the Pacemakers in 1959 with his brother Fred, Les Chadwick and Arthur McMahon. They rivalled The Beatles early in their career, playing in Liverpool and Hamburg. In 1961, McMahon was replaced on piano by Les Maguire. The band’s original name was Gerry Marsden and The Mars Bars, but they were forced to change this when the Mars Company, who produced the chocolate bar, complained. The band was the second group to sign with Brian Epstein (who was born on 19th October 1934, 27 years to the day before this Beatmakers’ performance), who later signed them with Columbia Records (a sister label to The Beatles’ Parlophone under EMI). Their first single was 1963’s “How Do You “How Do You”, the song The Beatles turned down.The other member of The Beatmakers was Karl Terry, who started singing when he first heard “Rock Around The Clock” and hasn’t stopped singing since. He joined a skiffle group, The Gamblers, which evolved into Terry and the Teenaces and eventually Karl Terry and the Cruisers. As well as sharing a stage with The Beatles, he appeared on the bill with some of the biggest names in pop history, like Tom Jones, The Shadows, Gene Vincent, The Crickets and many more. Find out more in “The Fab one hundred and Four: The Evolution of The Beatles” www.fab104.com
In the first look at the Fab 104, we examined the impact and importance of George Smith, Julia Lennon and, of course, harmonica tutor Arthur Pendleton. This time we look at the founding members of The Quarrymen: John Lennon, Pete Shotton and Bill Smith. In a rare interview, Bill Smith told me where they formed the group and how they came up with the name, The Quarrymen – and who didn’t like the suggestion! They may look innocent, but in the photo we see, from left to right, Bill Smith, Pete Shotton, John Lennon, Don Beattie and Michael Hill (more on the latter two guys later). Bill also told me why his collar is up, and the story behind the hairstyles. Bill was the first tea-chest bass player with the group, but when he left the group, Lennon and Shotton broke into Bill’s house and stole it! But Bill took it back! Read Bill’s story in “The Fab One Hundred and Four: The Evolution of The Beatles” at www.fab104.com David Bedford
Could you tell someone how they went from the Quarrymen to the Beatles? I started researching it and therefore started writing “The FAB one hundred and Four: The Evolution of The Beatles”. And I was amazed – there were 104 people! I went looking for the musicians who played with every incarnation of the group, plus those who taught The Beatles to play, and those who played a significant part in the evolution of the Beatles, from the first Fab Four: John Lennon, Pete Shotton, Bill Smith and Eric Griffiths, to the famous Fab Four: John, Paul, George and Ringo. Follow me on a journey from the very start of The Beatles to the end of 1962 when Ringo Starr had become the final piece of the jigsaw in the Fab Four. It all started with John Lennon, and in particular, the influence of his mum Julia. Having been separated from his mother at the age of 5, he reconnected with her in his early teens, and she became a major instigator in Lennon’s musical journey. As Julia played banjo, ukulele and piano there was always music in the house, and she encouraged her son with his musical ambitions. However, once he had a guitar, because he couldn’t play it or tune it properly, John tuned his guitar to his mother’s banjo, and so learned to play only banjo chords on his guitar. When he met Paul on 6th July 1957, he was playing banjo chords, which confused the young McCartney. Julia also wanted to encourage him to learn to play the harmonica that his uncle George had given him. Julia’s neighbour, Arthur Pendleton, was a keen harmonica player, and so Julia sent young John to take lessons from Arthur. Those lessons, and not lessons from Delbert McLinton, helped to form the distinctive sound that caught the ear of George Martin, and underpinned the Beatles’ first hit singles. Next time: how John acquired his first guitar. For more information go to www.fab104.com David Bedford
For many years, we have known that George Harrison, at the invitation of his school friend Paul McCartney, auditioned before John Lennon a few times. The place where he was successful, according to all sources, was on the top deck of a bus outside Wilson Hall in Garston. The date? 6th February 1958. Or was it? While researching my latest book, “The Fab one hundred and Four: The Evolution of The Beatles”, I re-examined the available evidence, with help from Quarrymen banjo player/ historian Rod Davis, especially looking at the exit from The Quarrymen of Eric Griffiths. We know that Eric left The Quarrymen because he was replaced by George. Eric put away his guitar and joined the Merchant Navy. I therefore obtained a copy of Eric’s Merchant Navy records (reproduced in the book) which shows that Eric joined his first ship on 11th February 1958! We could then see that Eric qualified as an officer cadet in January 1958, which means he would have signed up for the Merchant Navy in mid December 1957. Therefore, George must have joined The Quarrymen before the middle of December 1957 for Eric to have left and signed up for the Merchant Navy. When we check the records, The Quarrymen played at Wilson Hall on 7th December 1957, which makes this the likely date for George’s successful audition to join The Quarrymen. This means that John, Paul and George were together in a band by the end of 1957! To read the full story, get your copy of my book, “The Fab one hundred and Four” now at www.fab104.com David Bedford #arts & entertainment #Beatles #Quarrymen
On 14th May 1960, The Silver Beats – as they called themselves for this one occasion – the boys headed up to the north of Liverpool to appear at Lathom Hall. They arrived there with their current lineup – John, Paul, George, Stuart and Tommy Moore. Tommy forgot his drums and so Cliff Roberts sat in! Find the story in “The Fab one hundred and Four: The Evolution of The Beatles” by David Bedford #TheBeatles #art and entertainment: Music http://bit.ly/1ssxq5O
On 14th May 1960, The Silver Beats – as they called themselves for this one occasion – the boys headed up to the north of Liverpool to appear at Lathom Hall. They arrived there with their current lineup – John, Paul, George, Stuart and Tommy Moore. For some reason, Tommy didn’t bring his drums!! So, he asked a fellow drummer, Cliff Roberts from Kingsize Taylor and the Dominoes, if he could use his drums. He declined! So, drummerless, the lads approached Cliff Roberts and asked him to sit in with them that night, which he duly did. That night, they were: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Stuart Sutcliffe and Cliff Roberts: The Silver Beats. Roberts recalled The Silver Beats’ appearance that first night: “They were a scruffy bunch whose drummer hadn’t brought his kit and asked if he could borrow mine. I had a brand new Olympic kit that I hadn’t even used on stage myself, so I naturally refused.” They performed six numbers together, as Roberts recalled, “four rock ‘n’ roll standards that all the groups played, and two originals that they had to teach me.” Cliff Roberts is therefore a member of the “Fab one hundred and Four: The Evolution of The Beatles” Find out more at www.fab104.com David Bedford