John, Paul and George Find the Fourth Beatle: Ringo debuts with The Beatles

The Beatles John Paul George and Ringo - The Fab Four
The Beatles: John, Paul, George and Ringo – The Fab Four

“it don’t come easy”: how ringo’s debut with The beatles happened

August 1962 was a turbulent month for The Beatles. In trying to find a replacement for Pete Best, Brian had approached Bobby Graham, Ritchie Galvin and Johnny Hutchinson. Ringo, the drummer from Rory Storm and the Hurricanes with whom they had played before, agreed to join The Beatles. His debut was at Hulme Hall in the Victorian Model Village of Port Sunlight, Wirral, on 18th August 1962. The Fab Four was born.

Hulme Hall, where Ringo made his debut with The Beatles
Hulme Hall, where Ringo made his debut with The Beatles

how the beatles got to Hulme hall

Fab one hundred and Four: The Evolution of The Beatles
Fab one hundred and Four: The Evolution of The Beatles

In an interview for The Fab one hundred and Four, Ian Hackett had suggested The Beatles for a previous dance. His father, Harry, booked the group for that legendary debut appearance of the first Fab Four line-up in August 1962. “Our home overlooked the Dell, a particularly lovely landscaped part of the village,” recalled Ian. “It was just a few yards from Hulme Hall, the Bridge Inn and the Men’s Club. While selling the Liverpool Echo outside Lever’s, Monty Lister, one of my customers, approached me. He was the editor of the Port Sunlight News, with an offer I couldn’t refuse.

Ticket for Ringo's debut with The Beatles at Hulme Hall
Ticket for Ringo’s debut with The Beatles at Hulme Hall

“Back in the spring of 1962, Harry, as Captain of the Golf Club, organised the Club’s annual dance. He chose Hulme Hall as the venue, July 7th as the date and The Modernaires, as the main band. Then he asked me if I could think of a band to fill in during the Modernaires’ break. I suggested The Beatles.

“On 7 July 1962, the Golf Club Dance came,” recalled Hackett, the first of four appearances by The Beatles.

“They went down really well with my friends, although dad got some complaints about The Beatles.” In spite of those complaints, they booked The Beatles to appear again on 18th August 1962. Little did they know how significant this day would be.

“we want pete”

Poster for Ringo's debut at Hulme Hall with The Beatles
Poster for Ringo’s debut at Hulme Hall with The Beatles

“By having The Beatles headliners at Hulme Hall on August 18th, this showed that not all the adults were hostile. But there was a mass female chanting of ‘We want Pete!’ when they introduced their new drummer.

“The make-up of the audience was different for this show,” recalled Ian, “as there were more young people than locals. The problem was that the local people were angry as the young interlopers wanted to show support for Pete Best. The Beatles never stood a chance. I was glad for this one that my dad took the flak, and not me!”

In spite of the audience reaction, Ian was impressed with The Beatles that night. “I loved their treatments of ‘Twist and Shout’ and ‘Besame Mucho’” he said. “John’s harmonica in general was great, but especially on Bruce Chanel’s ‘Hey Baby’. At that stage, they weren’t playing that many original songs.”

No photos are known to exist of The Beatles at Hulme Hall. However, I discovered a photo of Gerry and the Pacemakers performing there later in 1962.

Gerry and the Pacemakers on stage at Hulme Hall
Gerry and the Pacemakers on stage at Hulme Hall

ringo in the toilet!

Ringo, because of the animosity in the crowd, was not enjoying the night of his debut. “I ran into a miserable-looking Ringo in the gent’s toilet during the break,” recalled Ian. “I tried to cheer him up with a smile and an optimistic comment: ‘Don’t worry about tonight. Things can only get better.’ And it was not long before they did.” (David Bedford interview in The Fab one hundred and Four)

Finding the Fourth Beatle the story of the 23 drummers who put the beat into The Beatles
Finding the Fourth Beatle the story of the 23 drummers who put the beat into The Beatles

You can still visit the hall, though the stage is no longer there.

Discover more about Ringo joining The Beatles in Finding the Fourth Beatle, available in hardback, softback and ebook.

David Bedford

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Ringo Starr: The Young Drummer’s Journey to Beatles Glory

Ringo playing drums with Tony Sheridan in Hamburg
Ringo playing drums with Tony Sheridan in Hamburg

August 1962 – Ringo Starr Nearly Becomes a Pacemaker


While Ringo Starr was with Rory Storm and The Hurricanes, EMI granted The Beatles the audition which lead to their contract offer. While the band was heading for the toppermost at EMI on 6th June 1962, Ringo felt he was going nowhere. But then, three offers arrived at once. First, Gerry Marsden asked Ringo to join The Pacemakers, but not as a drummer. “Gerry wanted me to be his bass player!”

Ringo on bass?

Ringo Starr playing drums with Rory Storm and the Hurricanes
Ringo Starr playing drums with Rory Storm and the Hurricanes

“I hadn’t played bass back then or to this day,” said Ringo, “but the idea of being up front was appealing. That you’d never played a particular instrument before wasn’t important back then!” After that, Ted “Kingsize”Taylor offered Ringo the drummer’s job in his group; Kingsize Taylor and The Dominoes.  


August 1962 – A King-sized Offer for Ringo

Ringo’s second offer was from Kingsize Taylor, who promised him £20 per week to drum for his group, The Dominoes. “Ringo was a rare commodity on Merseyside,” said Taylor, “as drummers at this time were very hard to come by. I only asked him to join The Dominoes out of desperation, as Dave Lovelady could not go back to Hamburg .”  

Some irony, with this being the reason The Beatles hastily offered Pete the position in August 1960. “Yes,” Taylor continued, “I did, off the top of my head, offer him 20 quid (£20) a week. He accepted it, even though ever liked Hamburg when he was last there.

Along came The Beatles, and the rest is history. Ringo was not a better drummer than Pete; too much of a swing in his rhythm and liked himself more than his music.” (David Bedford interview)

no offer from The Beatles yet

Why did Ringo initially accept Taylor’s offer? Because he had no offer to join The Beatles, and there were no guarantees it would happen. He knew he wanted to leave the Hurricanes, and joining Kingsize Taylor and the Dominoes was a step up.

They’re thinking of getting rid of you

But just when it looked as though his future was clear and that he would join Taylor in September, along came the offer to join The Beatles. But first, The Beatles told Brian to get rid of Pete. Although there had been hints as far back as June, when somebody said to Pete; “they’re thinking of getting rid of you, you know.”

Pete laughed it off, and Brian appeased him. And then, in early August, Pete had his heart set on buying a new Ford Capri car. He mentioned it to Paul, who responded; “If you take my advice, don’t buy it. You’d be better saving your money.” 

one more drummer

Ringo would soon be joining The Beatles
Ringo would soon be joining The Beatles

The Beatles asked one more drummer to replace Pete, on the same day that Pete received the bad news, and the day after Ringo had been offered the job. 

Taken from Finding the Fourth Beatle

David Bedford

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Beatles History: A Second Drummer is asked to replace Original Beatles Drummer Pete Best

Ringo Starr was certainly not first on the list to replace Best

Beatles drummer Pete Best
Beatles drummer Pete Best

After the Beatles took the decision to replace Pete Best as their drummer, Brian Epstein approached Bobby Graham first of all to offer him the job. As unbelievable as it would seem in retrospect, Graham turned The Beatles down.

Ritchie Galvin is asked to join The Beatles

Ritchie Galvin on drums was asked by Brian Epstein to replace Pete Best in The Beatles
Ritchie Galvin on drums was asked by Brian Epstein to replace Pete Best in The Beatles

The second drummer that Epstein approached was Ritchie Galvin, drummer with Earl Preston and the TTs, as featured in the book Finding the Fourth Beatle. As with all stories connected to The Beatles, can this be corroborated? Let’s explore.

Ritchie didn’t like john lennon’s sarcasm

Ritchie Galvin was born Ritchie Hughes, but chose to adopt the name Galvin from the group he was fronting, The Galvinisers. Spencer Leigh spoke to Galvin’s girlfriend, and later his wife, Ann Upton. “Brian Epstein asked Ritch about joining The Beatles and he went to see Ritch’s dad as he was still under age,” Upton said. “Bob Wooler was with him, too. Ritch said that he didn’t agree with Pete being replaced and he didn’t like John Lennon’s sarcasm as he thought that they would fall out. Also, to my credit, he didn’t want to be leaving me as they would be working away from Liverpool quite a lot. He never regretted it and he said, ‘No, I wouldn’t have you and I wouldn’t have my kids and I wouldn’t have this life.'”

Ritchie Galvin on drums, who was asked to join The Beatles. Bass player Mike Kinney confirms the story
Ritchie Galvin on drums, who was asked to join The Beatles. Bass player Mike Kinney confirms the story

Brian Epstein and bob wooler

Galvin told many fellow musicians – like Earl Preston (Joey Spruce), Phil Brady, and Mike Kinney – the exact same story, how Brian Epstein and Bob Wooler, DJ at the Cavern, approached Ritchie and offered him the job with The Beatles, but he turned it down, especially because he didn’t like John Lennon – a common theme!

Galvin decided to settle down with his girlfriend, and stick with Earl Preston, as well as later playing with many Liverpool bands. He was a highly respected musician on the circuit.

Would Galvin have been good for the beatles?

“Ritchie produced a powerhouse of sound on the drums, and was nicknamed ‘thunder foot’,” said Kinney. “He was a great friend with a fabulous sense of humour, and an incredible drummer. When he set the tempo, he never moved either way. As a bass player it’s exactly what you need from your drummer. He was one of the most respected drummers on Merseyside right up until he died. I shed many a tear when he passed.”

Finding the Fourth Beatle
Finding the Fourth Beatle

You can read the full story in “Finding the Fourth Beatle“. Galvin was the second drummer to turn The Beatles down, but he wouldn’t be the last, before Ringo Starr agreed to join them.

How different things could have been!

If you enjoyed this story, please give it a share on Facebook.

David Bedford

Purchase your copy of Finding the Fourth Beatle and David’s other books

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David’s Shop

Welcome to our shop, where you can purchase copies of David Bedford’s books: “Liddypool: Birthplace of The Beatles” (2009, 2011, 2017) now in its third edition; “The Fab one hundred and Four: The Evolution of The Beatles“, “Finding the Fourth Beatle” and “Inspector Rocke: That’ll Be The Day That I Die“.

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.

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27th July 1962 in Beatles History: Bobby Graham is asked to replace Pete Best

Bobby Graham
Bobby Graham

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

Finding the Fourth Beatle
Finding the Fourth Beatle

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

David Bedford

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10th July 1964: The Beatles Civic reception at Liddypool Town Hall

Liddypool: Birthplace of The Beatles
Liddypool: Birthplace of The Beatles

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”.

Fab one hundred and Four
The Fab one hundred and Four

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!

Liddypool
Liddypool by David Bedford

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.

You can get your copy of “Liddypool” now.

Welcome to Liddypool: Birthplace of The Beatles.

David Bedford

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Happy Birthday Ringo – The Fourth Beatle

Was Ringo just LUCKY or A BRILLIANT DRUMMER?

Finding the Fourth Beatle
Finding the Fourth Beatle

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.

Lucky? No!

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.

Happy birthday Ringo, the Fourth Beatle.

To get your copy of “Finding the Fourth Beatle“, order on Amazon or via our website

David Bedford

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The Beatles and the Stripper!

Paul McCartney on drums
Paul McCartney on drums with The Beatles

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!

Fab one hundred and Four
The Fab one hundred and Four

Read the full story in “The Fab one hundred and Four: The Evolution of The Beatles“.

Paul McCartney – Beatles drummer

Finding the Fourth Beatle
Finding the Fourth Beatle

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“.

David Bedford

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The First Fifth Beatle is the Fourth Beatle for a Fortnight

The Fab Five
The Fab Five – Jimmie Nicol, George, Ringo, Paul and John

Jimmie Nicol was the first Beatle to be called the “Fifth Beatle”, when he joined The Beatles at short notice, after Ringo fell ill on the eve of their world tour. George wanted to call it all off; that wasn’t possible. After a recommendation by Bobby Graham (the first drummer to turn Brian down as replacement for Pete Best), Jimmie soon joined up with John, Paul and George.

Until a few years ago, there was not much known about Nicol, until Jim Berkenstadt’s book, “The Beatle Who Vanished“, was published. An incredible piece of research by the Rock ‘n’ Roll Detective.

How Jimmie Nicol joined The Beatles

The Daily Mail covered the story on 4th June 1964. Under the banner “Ringo Is Replaced”, they revealed the truth behind the headline. Nicol “told reporter Robert Bickford, ‘I’m knocked out man. It’s quite a laugh being one of The Beatles. I can handle the job okay. Ringo can swing all right, but I’ve got more range.” The newspaper was keen to support Nicol’s addition to the tour: “An expert drummer, he is highly regarded by the record industry and was at home in Barnes, Middlesex, when The Beatles’ recording manager George Martin phoned and asked him to go straight to the EMI studios where the other three band members were recording.

After a two-hour rehearsal, John Lennon told him: ‘You’re in. This should be worth a couple of quid to you.’” The journalist also spoke to Ringo in the hospital to see how he was feeling. ”I’m not too bad really”, he said. “I feel pretty groggy but I am sure I’ll be well enough to go with the boys on Sunday to Hong Kong. It’s pretty nice in here. I’m surrounded by hot water bottles but I am still shivering. It’s a terrible drag not being able to go with the boys to Europe.”

This enigmatic drummer hit the heights that only the Fab Four had experienced, but it was over quickly. With exclusive photographs from the tour, and interviews with fans who attended the concerts and members of the support groups in Denmark and the Netherlands, and promoters too.

Top Six Records

With his battered Trixon drum set feeling its age, Nicol felt it was time for another upgrade: a shiny blue Trixon Luxus kit with a crocodile-style design. Nicol worked closely with Johnny Harris, trumpet player with the band, and the two became good friends. Their relationship would be especially important to Jimmie’s career when Harris was offered the position of Producer/Arranger at Pye Records, where he developed a great reputation and came to the attention of an Australian executive from Top Six Records.

Bill Wellings had this idea to put out an EP of cover versions of the top six chart hits, offered at a cheap price so those music fans who wanted the latest songs, but couldn’t afford the real artists, could have a version of six songs for the price of one. When Wellings approached Johnny Harris to arrange the songs, he knew which drummer was experienced and versatile enough to do the job: Jimmie Nicol. As well as being a great drummer, Nicol could also read music, which was a tremendous advantage to Harris who had to record lots of songs on a tight budget, and with a quick turnaround time. This was 1964, and which band was on top of the charts? The Beatles, of course. It was this twist of fate that would, within a few months, help to earn Nicol the biggest job on the planet.

Jimmie Nicol and Beatle Mania

In January 1964, Top Six released an EP entitled “Beatle Mania Special” using the phrase coined in October 1963 to describe the fans’ love of The Beatles. This record, which featured “She Loves You”, “Twist and Shout”, “Please Please Me”, “I Wanna Hold Your Hand”, “From Me To You” and “Love Me Do”. Incredibly, this record sold 100,000 copies. Nicol was now a successful recording artist and session drummer whose skills would be required very soon. In February 1964, as The Beatles were heading off to conquer America on The Ed Sullivan Show, Nicol was asked to form his own band and release a single, arranged by Johnny Harris. Jimmie Nicol and the Shubdubs released a ska version of the old nursery rhyme “Humpty Dumpty” on Pye Records.

DENMARK – COPING IN COPENHAGEN: 4th June 1964

On Thursday, 4th June 1964, John, Paul, George and Jimmie headed to London Heathrow Airport with their chauffeur Bill at the wheel of their Austin Princess car. They were allowed to board the aircraft before the other passengers and, of course, were asked for autographs by the crew. The co-pilot, who had probably been asked by his daughter to get their autographs, mistook Paul for Ringo – who wasn’t even on the plane! George, spotting the chance for a laugh, urged Paul to sign. “Go on, Ringo”, he told Paul, “Give him your signature”.

With exclusive photographs from the tour, and interviews with fans who attended the concerts and members of the support groups in Denmark and the Netherlands, and promoters like DJ Ray Cordeiro in Hong Kong.

But Australia was where Ringo caught up with his fellow Beatles.

On 13th June, DJ Bob Rodgers interviewed The Beatles and quizzed Nicol about his adventures with the band and the fact that his final appearance with them was that very evening.

BR: “Jimmie, you’ve got your final performances tonight and then Ringo arrives tomorrow.”

JN: “Yes, that’s right. I’m looking forward to meeting him.”

BR: “And then it’s all over for you. What’s going to happen? I hear you may not be going back to England?”

JN: “Not for a little while, no. I fancy going back to Sydney.”

That didn’t happen.

Sunday 14th June 1964 was a strange day, because, with a recovered Ringo now in Australia, there were five Beatles to be interviewed in Sydney Airport. However, the focus was now on Ringo, not Jimmie, as the interview bounced back and forth among the four of them. Eventually, Nicol was predictably asked about life after The Beatles. He confirmed that he wanted to remain in Australia, but with no firm offer, nothing was certain. As the questioning returned to the reunited quartet, the limelight was beginning to fade on Jimmie.

How the story ended – tomorrow…………..

Excerpts taken from “Finding the Fourth Beatle”

David Bedford

Buy the book – www.beatlesshop.co.uk

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