Tag Archives: Ringo Starr

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

Pre-Order your copy now

Advertisements

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

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 http://www.fab104.com

David Bedford

Arthur Pendleton who taught John to play harmonica

Arthur Pendleton who taught John to play harmonica

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