“Part 1 of a delightful talk with renowned Beatles author David Bedford, recorded at the famous Jacaranda club in Liverpool and covering various topics featured in his most recent book ‘Finding The Fourth Beatle’.
Also some thoughts on my recent trip to India and Jude Kessler’s 800-page John Lennon book called ‘Should Have Known Better’, which I’ve recently devoured!”
It was a busy day and I am pleased to say that every copy of “Finding the Fourth Beatle” sold out on the day. That means that all of our Limited Edition copies have sold out for this print run. However, we now have options for every pocket. We now have a standard Hardback copy, Softback, and even an ebook, all of which have been selling well.
These books are available on Amazon, but if you want a signed copy, then if you order from my shop, then you will get a signed copy from David.
“Liddypool” is available as a paperback or hardback; “The Fab one hundred and Four: The Evolution of The Beatles” is only in hardback; “Finding the Fourth Beatle” is available in hardback, paperback and ebook too.
If you want to know the key events in Beatles History, then this is the page for you. This will help you navigate the website, to find the history you need to know. Each link will take you to a different page on the site, where a post, article or interview is located. I will be constantly updating the site, so check back for the latest in Beatles history, discussing Beatles names, Beatles members, Beatles drummers and who the original Beatles were.
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.
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
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
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.
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 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.
“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.”
“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.”
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 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?
In June 1960, with no drummer, and very few gigs, Allan Williams
arranged for The Beatles to back Janice the Stripper at a strip club in Upper
Parliament Street, Liverpool, that Williams ran with his business partner, Lord
Woodbine. Paul played drums, accompanied by John, George and Stuart on
a tiny stage.
How? Why? A Stripper?
After some initial resistance, the four Silver Beetles had haggled out an equitable financial deal. Supposedly, Stuart was a tough negotiator and got them a fairly decent fee. “Why so much?”, Williams had asked them during the negotiations. Paul had replied, “For the indiginity. The bloody indignity of it all!”
Lord Woodbine recalled the club, and The Silver Beetles’ appearance, very well. “Allan Williams and I used to run some clubs together, and The Beatles used to play there. There were actually two clubs. In the first one, they used to play at dinner time (noon) until 3:00pm. The second was a striptease club in a basement, called the Cabaret Artistes Club.
Their job was to play music for the strippers. The strippers used to get them to play very slow numbers, which The Beatles did not really like. There was only one who wanted an up-tempo song. She used a hula hoop in her act. The Beatles weren’t interested in the strippers or the music. They just did it for the money.”
Paul obviously remembered the occasion very well, in a private letter to Bill Harry, for inclusion in Mersey Beat. “John, George, Stu and I used to play at a Strip Club in Upper Parliament Street,” recalled Paul, “backing Janice the Stripper. At the time we wore little lilac jackets, or purple jackets, or something. Well, we played behind Janice and naturally we looked at her, the audience looked at her, everybody looked at her, just sort of normal. At the end of the act, she would turn round and, well, we were all young lads, we’d never seen anything like it before, and all blushed, four blushing red-faced lads.
Janice the Stripper
“Janice brought sheets of music for us to play all her arrangements. She gave us a bit of Beethoven and the ‘Spanish Fire Dance’. So, in the end, we said ‘We can’t read music, sorry, but instead of the ‘Spanish Fire Dance’ we can play ‘The Harry Lime Cha-Cha’, which we’ve arranged ourselves, and instead of Beethoven you can have ‘Moonglow’ or ‘September Song’. Take your pick. Instead of the ‘Sabre Dance’ we’ll give you ‘Ramrod’. So that’s what she got. She seemed quite satisfied anyway.”
And The Beatles refused to play a strip club ever again! And they didn’t; well, until they went to Hamburg two months later!
As Paul was the drummer that day, it wouldn’t be the last time he sat behind the drum kit. In our recent book, “Finding the Fourth Beatle“, we discuss the times he sat in with other groups, plus the tracks that Paul played drums on for The Beatles. While working in the studio on the “White Album”, Ringo walked out on the group. Needing to keep going, Paul sat behind the drumkit, playing on “Back In The USSR”, “Dear Prudence”, “Martha My Dear” and “The Ballad Of John and Yoko”.
So from backing a stripper, to back in the USSR, Macca was more than a capable drummer, though was he as good as Ringo? We discuss that in depth in “Finding the Fourth Beatle“.
He collaborated with the Beatles’ only official biographer Hunter Davies on “The Beatles Book” (2016), and is working on a number of new projects.
David’s website aims to chart Beatles History through his interviews and research that have contributed to his books. Simply select Beatles History and either look at the main page, or select the appropriate year in Beatles History. This will be added to regularly to build a unique insight into Early Beatles and Quarrymen history.
In a branch off The Beatles trail, David has published his first crime detective novel, Inspector Rocke, which is set in Liverpool, 1960, and features The Beatles too!
Because of his forensic way of analysing Beatles history, in 2019, he launched a new Blog called “The Beatles Detective”, where he examines aspects of Beatles history, and searches for the evidence to solve the mysteries, like The Beatles names, Beatles members and other Beatles history. You can follow that at Thebeatlesdetective.com
He was Associate Producer and Historian on the documentary “Looking for Lennon” (2018), which was nominated for a National Film Award.
David is a Beatles historian, author and researcher, and a guest at Beatles events in the US, UK and Europe. He makes regular appearances on Radio, TV and Beatles Podcasts.
“David is defining and refining Beatles history” – Edd Raineri, Beatledd Fab Four Hour
Beatles Historian and Researcher: Discoveries
As well as many interviews with people connected with The Beatles, David’s original research has uncovered people, stories and events that no other author/historian has discovered:
Learn about The Quarrymen, The Silver Beatles, The Beetles, Silver Beetles and The Beatles; about John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, RIngo Starr, Pete Best and Stuart Sutcliffe. You can read interviews and articles The Beatles from his books: Liddypool, The Fab one hundred and Four and Fi...
Discover Beatles history with David Bedford. Learn about The Quarrymen, The Silver Beatles, The Beetles, Silver Beetles and The Beatles; about John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, RIngo Starr, Pete Best and Stuart Sutcliffe. He is a Beatles historian and author of Liddypool, The Fab one hun...
With 1 week to go: Help us build a statue of Brian Epstein. We have a special edition of Liddypod this episode as we speak to Marie Darwin about the fantastic appeal to erect a statue to Brian Epstein in Liverpool. Please help us achieve this goal!
David grew up in the Dingle, Liverpool, near the bottom of the street, Madryn Street, where Ringo Starr was born. He later attended St. Silas School, the same primary school that Ringo Starr, Billy Fury and Alf Lennon (John’s father).
He and his wife, Alix, moved to live near Penny Lane, where they have lived for the last 30 years. Their three daughters were born in Oxford Street Maternity Hospital, where John Lennon has been born. The three girls all attended Dovedale School, the same school that John Lennon and George Harrison attended. David has been the Chair of Governors there for nearly 15 years.
When illness forced him to retire at the age of 35, encouraged by his doctor, he began to read, research and write about The Beatles for the London Beatles Fan Club magazine, and helped to found the British Beatles Fan Club. Realising that so many stories about The Beatles and Liverpool were incorrect, he set out to dispel the myths by interviewing the people who knew The Beatles best.
The Fab one hundred and Four: The Evolution of The Beatles
His second book, the follow-up to “Liddypool”, “The Fab one hundred and four: The Evolution of The Beatles” was published in 2013 to further critical acclaim, with original interviews and rewriting Beatles history, by telling of the 104 people who contributed to the early history of The Beatles.
The Beatles Book
In 2016, he published a book with original Beatles biographer Hunter Davies, plus Spencer Leigh and Keith Badman, called “The Beatles Book”.
Inspector Rocke: That’ll Be The Day That I Die
As an aside from his Beatles books, David wrote a crime fiction novel in 2017 around a fictional Liverpool detective called Inspector Rocke. Each story is set around a key moment in Beatles history, and features The Beatles themselves, though not as suspects!
Looking for Lennon
In 2018, he was the Associate Producer and Historian for the documentary feature film “Looking for Lennon”, which was nominated for a National Film Award.
Finding the Fourth Beatle
In 2018, he also published his third book, with co-author Garry Popper, called “Finding the Fourth Beatle“, about the 23 drummers who put the beat in The Beatles.
He has several other book projects, and much more, on the go.