Category Archives: The Beatles

Happy Birthday Pete Best

On Pete Best’s 76th birthday, Pete is probably the most controversial person in Beatles history, who divides opinions. Was he a good drummer? Why did the Beatles get rid of him? When we began work on “Finding the Fourth Beatle”, we realised we had to address these questions and reach an objective conclusion, and it has been one of the most interesting, and controversial investigations we have ever undertaken. There is so much invested in urban myth and opinion that reaching the truth is never easy.

However, what we have been able to prove is that Pete Best was never sacked! We have evidence, and I interviewed Brian Epstein’s lawyer who explained what really happened in that meeting at NEMS, and why Pete was not sacked.

We have also enlisted the help of 9 drummers to analyse Pete and Ringo’s drumming, especially the Decca audition, EMI audition and those first visits to Abbey Road in September 1962.

That way, we will have independent, objective analysis. After all, you can’t take the word of an author who isn’t a drummer, can you?

David Bedford

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Obscure “Sgt. Pepper” People, with Liverpool Connections

 

“Carl Jung” – Liverpool is the pool of life. “I FOUND myself in a dirty, sooty city. It was night, and winter, and dark, and raining. I was in Liverpool.” But Carl Gustav Jung, the man who famously concluded that “Liverpool is the pool of life” – never was.

Carl Gustav Jung 26 July 1875 – 6 June 1961) was a Swiss psychiatrist and the founder of analytical psychology, who worked with Sigmund Freud.

“Fred Astaire” – Fred and Ginger, Alf and Julia. Alf “Fred” Lennon and Julia “Ginger” Stanley both loved dancing and were the Fred and Ginger of Liverpool!

“Sir Robert Peel” – A two-time Prime Minister of Great Britain, Sir Robert Peel was a major force behind easing restrictions on Catholics in Britain and the reformation of the judicial system in the 1830s. He was later considered to be an enemy to his own Conservative party when he went against his own political interest to repeal the Corn Laws to help alleviate the effects of the Irish Famine in the 1840s. John Lennon’s great-grandparents came over from Ireland in the 1840s so this would have helped the Lennon family.

“Tommy Handley” – Liverpool comedian. Thomas Reginald “Tommy” Handley (17 January 1892 – 9 January 1949) was a British comedian, mainly known for the BBC radio program ITMA (“It’s That Man Again”). He was born at Toxteth Park (where John’s parents Alf Lennon and Julia Stanley were from), Liverpool in Lancashire. The Beatles would have listened to Tommy Handley on the radio, one of many Liverpool comedians, like Ted Ray, Arthur Askey, and Rob Wilton.

“Albert Stubbins” – from Newcastle. One of the best centre-forwards of his generation, in the 1940s, he moved from Newcastle to Liverpool FC for £13,000 in 1946. Liverpool’s rivals, Everton FC also tried to sign him, so he decided on the toss of a coin between Liverpool and Everton. Liverpool won! Why would he be there, as none of The Beatles were particularly sporty? When John was at Dovedale School, around the age of seven, he wrote a paper called “Sport and Speed, Illustrated”. This would have been the time when Stubbins was scoring regularly for Liverpool FC. Maybe that is why he appears on the cover.

“Anonymous Legionnaire: RAOB” – Hiding behind actress Diana Dors is a member of the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes. The fraternal organization, which started in 1822, raises money for charities and provides assistance to its members and their families in times of need. This isn’t a random selection. John’s uncles, Charlie and Herbert Lennon, were members of The Dingle Lodge 4303, which was situated at 36, Devonshire Road, just two doors away from my childhood home of 40, Devonshire Road.

To find out more about The Beatles and Liverpool, you can order the brand new Third Edition of “Liddypool: Birthplace of The Beatles” from www.davidabedford.com

David Bedford

8 Days A Week (I Ain’t Got Nothing But..)

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

You Can’t Beat The Beatles as The Beatmakers!

Gerry and the Pacemakers at Hulme Hall

Gerry and the Pacemakers at Hulme Hall

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

Do you know when George Harrison joined The Quarrymen? Beatles historian says think again

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

When The Beatles were only the Silver Beats – with a drummer called Cliff!

Cliff Roberts, who sat in with the Silver Beats

Cliff Roberts, who sat in with the Silver Beats

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

 

Researching The Beatles by David Bedford

So, what does it take to research The Beatles? How do we Beatles authors and historians find the information?

Sometimes, just finding out a date can take weeks. In “The Fab one hundred and Four”, I was determined to find out when the first colour photograph of The Quarrymen was taken (see below). Sounds easy, but it was anything but! In the photograph, leaning against the wall with a half pint of Guinness is Dennis Littler, a good friend of Paul McCartney’s cousin Ian Harris. I tracked Dennis down, to find out what I could. Dennis sometimes let John, Paul or George borrow his guitar,  an Antoria Cello acoustic, which was more expensive than their guitars!

This is what Dennis remembered (taken from “The Fab one hundred and Four”):

Paul, George and John would often come to my house and play on my guitar, because it was a lot more expensive than the guitars they had, and obviously was a much better guitar too. I never performed with The Quarrymen, but rehearsed with them. I remember Paul coming to me one day and saying that he had worked out how to play ‘Butter y’ by Charlie Gracie and he played it perfectly. He had that knack of being able to pick a song up so quickly and it was
obvious how good he was. He could pick up songs like ‘Long Tall Sally’ by ear, and sing like Little Richard too because he had such a great voice. 

“When Ian got married, John, Paul and George were asked to provide some music, which is when the photo was taken by Mike McCartney, the first colour photograph featuring The Beatles. I am seen next to the wall with my glass of Guinness. I don’t remember much about the day I’m afraid.

So, the information that I had was that the photo was taken at the wedding of Ian Harris and Jacqueline Gavin. So all I needed to find was the day that Ian and Jacqueline got married. After searching databases and records, no such wedding took place between an Ian Harris and Jacqueline Harris between 1957 and 1959, and we know the wedding took place sometime in 1958. Where to go next?

As Ian Harris was a member of the McCartney family, they never use their first names. James Paul McCartney and Peter Michael McCartney for example. Ian’s dad was Harry, and as Paul had his father’s name, a search for Harry Ian Harris proved successful! In fact, Jacqueline didn’t use her first name either! She was Cecilia Jacqueline Gavin. Families eh? I then obtained a copy of the marriage certificate to provide the information I needed.

And so, as per the marriage certificate, Harry Ian Harris married Cecilia Jacqueline Gavin on 8th March 1958, the date the first colour photograph of The Quarrymen was taken, by Peter Michael McCartney!

So, for the purposes of the book, all you need to know is that the photo was taken on 8th March 1958. What you don’t see is the research behind finding that date. Believe me, that is the thrill of the historian/ researcher!

Read the full story behind the photograph in “The Fab one hundred and Four: The Evolution of The Beatles from The Quarrymen to the Fab Four”

David Bedford

The first colour photo of The Quarrymen, with Dennis Littler

The first colour photo of The Quarrymen, with Dennis Littler