Tag Archives: The Quarry Men

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 www.fab104.com

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

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

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