12th July 1958: John, Paul and George make their first record

Percy Phillips Record by The Quarrymen
The First record made by John, Paul and George
Percy Phillips Studio
Percy Phillips’ Studio was in the back room of his house

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 in his studio
Percy Phillips (right) in his studio

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.

Colin Hanton of The Quarrymen

“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!

In Spite of all the Danger
In Spite of all the Danger by The Quarrymen

“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”.

The songs appeared on Anthology Disc 1.

This interview first appeared in “Liddypool“. Read the full interview in the book – get your copy here.

Liddypool
Liddypool by David Bedford

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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