How John Lennon and Pete Shotton robbed a house for a tea-chest bass!

Bill Smith, Pete Shotton, John Lennon, Don Beattie and Michael Hill

Bill Smith, Pete Shotton, John Lennon, Don Beattie and Michael Hill

In the first look at the Fab 104, we examined the impact and importance of George Smith, Julia Lennon and, of course, harmonica tutor Arthur Pendleton. This time we look at the founding members of The Quarrymen: John Lennon, Pete Shotton and Bill Smith.

In a rare interview, Bill Smith told me where they formed the group and how they came up with the name, The Quarrymen – and who didn’t like the suggestion! They may look innocent, but in the photo we see, from left to right, Bill Smith, Pete Shotton, John Lennon, Don Beattie and Michael Hill (more on the latter two guys later). Bill also told me why his collar is up, and the story behind the hairstyles. Bill was the first tea-chest bass player with the group, but when he left the group, Lennon and Shotton broke into Bill’s house and stole it! But Bill took it back! Read Bill’s story in “The Fab One Hundred and Four: The Evolution of The Beatles” at

David Bedford


The Beatles: You Tell Me That It’s Evolution, well, you know…………or do you?

Could you tell someone how they went from the Quarrymen to the Beatles? I started researching it and therefore started writing “The FAB one hundred and Four: The Evolution of The Beatles”. And I was amazed – there were 104 people! I went looking for the musicians who played with every incarnation of the group, plus those who taught The Beatles to play, and those who played a significant part in the evolution of the Beatles, from the first Fab Four: John Lennon, Pete Shotton, Bill Smith and Eric Griffiths, to the famous Fab Four: John, Paul, George and Ringo.

Follow me on a journey from the very start of The Beatles to the end of 1962 when Ringo Starr had become the final piece of the jigsaw in the Fab Four.

It all started with John Lennon, and in particular, the influence of his mum Julia. Having been separated from his mother at the age of 5, he reconnected with her in his early teens, and she became a major instigator in Lennon’s musical journey. As Julia played banjo, ukulele and piano there was always music in the house, and she encouraged her son with his musical ambitions.

However, once he had a guitar, because he couldn’t play it or tune it properly, John tuned his guitar to his mother’s banjo, and so learned to play only banjo chords on his guitar. When he met Paul on 6th July 1957, he was playing banjo chords, which confused the young McCartney.

Julia also wanted to encourage him to learn to play the harmonica that his uncle George had given him. Julia’s neighbour, Arthur Pendleton, was a keen harmonica player, and so Julia sent young John to take lessons from Arthur. Those lessons, and not lessons from Delbert McLinton, helped to form the distinctive sound that caught the ear of George Martin, and underpinned the Beatles’ first hit singles.

Next time: how John acquired his first guitar.

For more information go to

David Bedford

Arthur Pendleton who taught John to play harmonica

Arthur Pendleton who taught John to play harmonica

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

David Bedford

#arts & entertainment #Beatles #Quarrymen


The Beatles back Davy Jones

At the famous Liverpool Stadium concert on 3 May 1960, when Gene Vincent appeared with several Liverpool groups following Eddie Cochran’s death, one of those artists on the bill was the black American singer Davy Jones, not to be confused with the late singer from The Monkees.

Jones returned to Liverpool at the end of 1961 and during The Beatles’ appearance at Sam Leach’s second “Operation Big Beat”, he got up on the stage as an unannounced guest and sang two numbers with the group.

This was shortly followed by two official appearances. First, Jones was booked by Ray McFall to appear at The Cavern on Friday 8 December 1961. Since he was a solo singer, Jones needed a backing band, so McFall arranged for The Beatles to support him. The session was photographed for Mersey Beat. That same evening, Leach was promoting another event at the Tower Ballroom in New Brighton and once again had Jones on the bill. As at The Cavern, The Beatles were booked to support him. Leach had advertised Jones as the Saturday Spectacular television star and
highlighted Jones’ status as a successful recording artist.

Read more about this historic appearance and how Cavern DJ Bob Wooler got stoned on a cocaine, thanks to Jones, in The Fab One Hundred and Four – get your copy now at

David Bedford

# arts and entertainment


Why We Should Thank Arthur Pendleton for “Love Me Do”

When we think about the early Beatles’ sound, John’s harmonica playing makes it stand out.

Find out about the man who taught John to play in “The Fab One Hundred and Four”



The Evolution of The Beatles – from the very beginning!

Fab 104 book cover

Fab 104 Cover

If somebody asked you: “How did they go from being The Quarrymen to The Beatles?”, what would you say?

I’ve spent the last 14 years researching and writing about the early history of The Beatles in my first book, “Liddypool: Birthplace of The Beatles” and my new book, “The Fab one hundred and Four: The Evolution of The Beatles”.

Over the next few weeks, I will take you on that journey with the whole story – including some surprise names, and revealing for the first time the previously unknown school friend who suggested to John that he should start a skiffle group!

Names like Arthur Pendleton, Everett Estridge, Simone Jackson and Ian James deserve credit for the important part they played in the evolution of The Beatles.

Make sure you don’t miss it!

David Bedford


The Day John Lennon Met Paul McCartney – First Published Photos of Parade

6th July 1957 will go down in music history as the day John Lennon met Paul McCartney for the first time, and everything changed!

John’s group The Quarrymen had been added to the program for the annual Woolton Village Fete being held at St. Peter’s Church, Woolton.

For my latest book, “The Fab one hundred and Four: The Evolution of The Beatles”, I have spoken to many key eyewitnesses, including The Quarrymen, to piece together the true story of that momentous day.

Also included in a book for the very first time are the photographs taken by Quarrymen banjo player Rod Davis’ father of the parade, where you can see the marching band, the scouts and guides, young people’s groups and of course, The Quarrymen themselves.

However, the key interview was with Ian James, Paul McCartney’s school friend who revealed the secret behind the success of Paul’s audition to John. Ian taught Paul to play guitar and went on to give both John and George lessons. Ian confirmed what we had long suspected about Paul’s audition in the church hall of St. Peter’s – that Paul had learned to play a right-handed guitar upside down!

Read the full story in “The Fab One Hundred and Four” – more details at

“A treasure chest of research and a visual delight, this will prove to be a work no Beatles fan should be without.”
Bill Harry, founder of Mersey Beat

“David is defining and refining Beatles history” – Edd Raineri, The Beatledd Fab Four Hour

I READ THE NEWS TODAY, OH BOY! “Check out “The Fab One Hundred and Four,” a new book written by author/ Beatles scholar David Bedford. Exhaustively researched and illustrated with terrific (and rare) photos, the book tills the fertile soil of the band’s early history by examining the Liverpool musicians who influenced John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr” Michael Starr, New York Post

Read the full story in “The Fab One Hundred and Four” – more details at