16th August 1962: A Fourth Drummer – Johnny Hutchinson – turns The Beatles Down

The Silver Beatles - Stuart Sutcliffe, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Johnny Hutchinson and George Harrison
The Silver Beatles – Stuart Sutcliffe, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Johnny Hutchinson and George Harrison

Johnny Hutchinson Turned Down The Beatles

When John, Paul and George decided that they needed to replace Pete Best, following the Parlophone audition, they asked Brian Epstein to find a replacement. The first drummer approached was Bobby Graham, who turned Brian down. Brian Epstein then spoke to Ritchie Galvin, who also said no to The Beatles. Johnny Hutchinson became the third drummer to decline the offer.

The Beatles introduced Brian to Ringo Starr at the Blue Angel Club. Epstein then offered Ringo the opportunity to replace Pete. Brian said that he would confirm the appointment on 14th August 1962. However, Brian then offered Johnny “Hutch” Hutchinson the job of Beatles drummer the day that Brian got rid of original Beatles drummer Pete Best. (see Why Pete Best was not sacked)

16th august 1962: brian Epstein asks johnny Hutchinson to be the beatles drummer

Johnny Hutch Hutchinson sat behind a replica Beatles drum kit. He played with The Beatles twice
Johnny Hutch Hutchinson sat behind a replica Beatles drum kit. He played with The Beatles twice

On the afternoon of 16th August 1962, Brian told Pete Best the bad news that the other Beatles wanted him out. Pete initially agreed to fulfil the Beatles gigs until Ringo was due to arrive on Saturday. An obvious choice for drummer was Johnny “Hutch” Hutchinson. Hutch had sat in, albeit grudgingly, with The Silver Beatles at the Larry Parnes audition in May 1960. Johnny Hutchinson was the driving force behind The Big Three and the best drummer in the Liverpool. Considering that The Big Three had just signed a management contract with Brian on 1st July 1962, it made sense to approach him to help The Beatles out at short notice.

The Big Three had been playing in Hamburg for most of July before returning to Liverpool in time to appear at the Tower Ballroom on 27th July. Brian asked Hutch to join The Beatles after he returned from Hamburg, and not just for the three upcoming appearances when Pete Best didn’t show up.

I was playing with the beatles

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

I interviewed Johnny for Finding the Fourth Beatle. “I was playing with The Beatles in Chester. With the Big Three playing on the same bill, Brian asked him to sit in with The Beatles. “I had to set up my drums and get dressed for our set with The Big Three, and then go and get changed and go back on stage with The Beatles.” Brian was there and kept looking at me strange. I got off stage after the gig and had to zoom off. Brian said, ‘I was looking at you to see how you’d fit with The Beatles’. I joked, ‘I don’t really.’” Little did he know what Brian was about to say to him.

“I think John would suit The Beatles down to the ground”

Johnny Hutchinson drumming with The Big Three
Johnny Hutchinson drumming with The Big Three

Johnny Hutchinson was honest; “I don’t remember dates, but I remember exactly where we were,” Hutch recalled. “I was in the Grosvenor Hotel in Chester,” after playing at the Riverpark Ballroom in Chester with The Beatles. “We sat down, and Brian Epstein and Bob Wooler were just looking at me. So I said, ‘What the f##k do you two want?’ And they looked at each other, and Brian said to Bob, ‘What do you think?’ Bob said, ‘Well, Brian, I think John would suit The Beatles down to the ground.’ Then Brian said, ‘I do, too. John, I want you to be The Beatles’ drummer.’

“I wouldn’t join The Beatles for a big clock”(Johnny Hutchinson)

“I told him that ‘I wouldn’t join The Beatles for a big clock. The Beatles couldn’t make as good a sound as the Big Three. My group is ten times better than The Beatles!’ And Brian said, ‘I know, but the Big Three are limited. The Beatles? The world is their oyster.’

I Like the beatles

“By that, I think he meant that I was the only one in the group who was grafting, really working hard. I was the drummer, doing the singing too, and with only three of us, there was only so much we could do. That’s what I reckon he meant. Brian also said that he had been ‘everywhere to get a drummer and that he couldn’t get one.’ And I said there must be another drummer out there, but Eppy said, ‘there isn’t anyone to suit The Beatles.’ You see, it is often said that I hated The Beatles, but I didn’t. I liked The Beatles, but hated the music. It wasn’t for me, but it suited lots of people. That’s why I wanted to stay with my band.”

johnny hutch recommended ringo to brian

Hutch recommended Ringo to Brian. “Yes I did. I told him to go and get Ringo. He’s a bum, he’ll join anyone for a few bob.” Johnny Hutch hasn’t for one minute ever regretted his decision to turn down The Beatles.

almost the fourth beatle

Johnny Hutchinson became the third drummer to turn down the opportunity to replace Pete Best in The Beatles. Sadly, Johnny died after a short illness in April 2019. He had become a good friend, and always good company, with some incredible stories. He was never one to make anything up – he always told the truth, which is a rarity.

finding the fourth beatle

These revelations from Johnny “Hutch” Hutchinson came from exclusive interviews with David Bedford over a three year period, and feature in his latest book, Finding the Fourth Beatle. You can purchase your copy here.

David Bedford

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1962 in Beatles History: Decca audition, George Martin signs The Beatles, Pete Best is “sacked/ dismissed” from The Beatles (the truth is revealed) and Ringo Starr joins. The Fab Four is born and “Love Me Do”, their first single, is released.

The Fab Four
The Fab Four

1st January 1962 – The Decca Audition

24th March 1962 – The Beatles at the Barnston Women’s Institute

10th April 1962 – Stuart Sutcliffe dies in Hamburg

6th June 1962 – Parlophone: were The Beatles under contract?

6th June 1962 – The Parlophone Session

26th July 1962 – The Beatles at Cambridge Hall, Southport

27th July 1962 – Bobby Graham is asked to replace Pete Best

August 1962 – Ritchie Galvin is asked to replace Pete Best

11th August 1962 – Ringo Starr is asked to replace Pete Best

16th August 1962 – Pete Best is sacked/ dismissed from The Beatles. Or was he? New evidence revealed

16th August 1962 – Johnny Hutchinson is asked to replace Pete Best

18th August 1962 – Ringo Starr makes his debut with The Beatles

4th September 1962 – The Beatles first session at EMI Studios, Abbey Road

7th September 1962 – The Beatles at Irby Village Hall

11th September 1962 – Andy White is brought in to replace Ringo

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1960 in Beatles History: The year that made The Beatles. Many Beatles drummers, lots of different Beatles names, Allan Williams is the Beatles manager and they go to Hamburg

The Silver Beatles, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Stuart Sutcliffe with Johnny "Hutch" Hutchinson
The Silver Beatles

January 1960 – The Beatals

January 1960 – Stuart Sutcliffe joins the group

23rd April 1960 – The Nerk Twins: John and Paul

5th May 1960 – Allan Williams becomes The Beatles manager

May 1960 – The Black Roots of The Beatles

10th May 1960 – The Silver Beatles audition for Larry Parnes with Johnny Hutchinson

10th May 1960 – The Silver Beatles audition for Larry Parnes with Tommy Moore

14th May 1960 – The Silver Beats and Cliff Roberts

20th May 1960 – Johnny Gentle and His Group

June 1960 – The Beatles back Janice “The Stripper”

14th June 1960 – John, Paul, George, Stuart and Ronnie the “Ted”

14th June 1960 – An Undertaker dies on Stage: Jackie Lomax

18th June 1960 – John, Paul, George, Stuart and Norman Chapman

24th June 1960 – Royston Ellis: The Man on the Flaming Pie

July 1960 – The Silver Beetles at the Embassy Club

12th August 1960 – The Unknown Drummer

12th August 1960 – Pete Best is asked to join The Beatles

15th October 1960 – John, Paul, George and Ringo appear on a record for the first time

17th December 1960 – Chas Newby joins The Beatles

27th December 1960 – The Beatles, Beatlemania at Litherland Town Hall

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