All About the Beatles
1.1 Lennon's childhood
15 year old Alfred 'Freddie' Lennon met Julia Stanley at the 'Trocadero' club, a converted cinema on
Camden Road, Liverpool. On 3 December 1938, eleven years after they had first met, Julia married
Alf. None of Julia's family were at the wedding, which took place in the Bolton Street
Register Office. Soon thereafter, Alf, a merchant seaman went back to sea for three months, on
a ship headed for the West Indies.
The Stanley family completely ignored Alf at first, believing him to be of "no use to anyone,
certainly not our Julia." Julia's father demanded that Alf present something concrete to show that
he could financially support Julia, but Alf's only idea was to sign on as a Merchant Navy
steward on a ship bound for the Mediterranean.
John Winston Lennon was born in Liverpool Maternity Hospital on October 9, 1940, during World War 2.
Julia's sister, Mary "Mimi" Smith, stated that he was actually born during an air raid on Liverpool.
Lennon was named after his paternal grandfather, John 'Jack' Lennon, and Winston Churchill.
As Alf was often away at sea, Julia started going out to dance halls. In 1942, she met a Welsh
soldier named 'Taffy' Williams who was stationed in the barracks at Mossley Hill. She became
pregnant by Williams in late 1944, though first claiming that she had been raped by an unknown
soldier. Williams refused to live with Julia, who was still married to Alf, until she gave up John,
which she refused to do. When Alf eventually came home in 1944, he offered to look after his wife,
their son, and the expected baby, but she rejected the idea. Julia's daughter, Victoria Elizabeth,
was born in the Elmswood Salvation Army nursing home on June 19, 1945, and was subsequently given
up for adoption to a Norwegian Salvation Army Captain and his wife after intense pressure from the
Stanley family. Lennon was not told about Victoria's birth.
After Julia separated from Alf Lennon, she and the infant Lennon moved in with Julia's new partner,
John Albert "Bobby" Dykins, a wine steward at the Adelphi Hotel in Liverpool. Julia's sister Mimi
Smith twice contacted Liverpool's Social Services and complained about Lennon sleeping in the same
bed as Julia and Dykins. Julia was eventually persuaded to hand the care of Lennon over to Mimi and
her husband George, who had no children of their own.
Although Mimi was a caring guardian, she was also known for being very strict, compared to the more
relaxed influence of Julia. Family friends described Mimi as stubborn, impatient, and unforgiving,
but also said that she had a strong sense of humour. Her husband George was more demonstratively
affectionate to John. George Smith operated a dairy farm and retail outlet with his brother Frank
in the village of Woolton, which had been in the Smith family for four generations. George delivered
milk by pony in the Woolton area. The milk was held in a large churn and was ladled out to customers
into their own bottles and receptacles. It was George who taught Lennon to draw and paint, read him
nursery rhymes, bought him his first harmonica, and would put Lennon to bed nearly every night.
During the school holidays Lennon and his cousins were allowed to accompany George on his milk round.
Mimi later said: "John loved his uncle George. I felt quite left out of that. They'd go off together,
just leaving me a bar of chocolate and a note saying: 'Have a happy day.'" In 1955 at the age of 52,
George collapsed and died of a liver hemorrhage, and was buried in St Peter’s Church graveyard,
Woolton. At the time of his uncle's death, the fourteen-year-old Lennon was visiting members of the
Stanley family in Sango Bay, Durness, Scotland, and was not informed until he returned home.
1.2 McCartney's childhood
James Paul McCartney was born to James and Mary McCartney on June 18, 1942 at Walton Hospital, in
Rice Lane, Liverpool. His mother, a nurse and midwife had previously worked there as a nursing
sister in charge of the maternity ward. McCartney's father worked in the Liverpool Cotton Exchange.
Paul's brother, Peter Michael, known as Mike, was born in the same hospital on January 7, 1944.
His mother would often go out at all hours to deliver babies. Since the McCartneys didn't own a car
before 1953, she would go out on her bicycle to deliver babies. Paul says that one of his earliest
memories is of her riding away on her bicycle through the snow. Paul's father was a trumpet player
and pianist who had played in a jazz band in the 1920s, and who encouraged his two sons to be musical.
Jim had a piano in the front room. In 1947, he began attending Stockton Wood Road Primary school.
In October of 1948 Mary went to see a doctor because of pain in one of her breasts. She was
diagnosed with metastecized breast cancer. However, it lay dormant for eight years and she carried
on with her life as though it had never happened.
In 1949 Paul was transferred to Joseph Williams Junior School due to overcrowding at Stockton.
In 1953, he passed the 11-plus exam with three others out of the 90 examinees and thus gained
admission to the Liverpool Institute.
Jim and Mary would often take Paul and Michael for a walk to the local rustic village of Hale.
According to Paul, these frequent trips out of Liverpool to the countryside inspired his love of
Paul took the bus to school every weekday morning and in 1954 met George Harrison, who lived nearby
and took the same bus to the Liverpool Institute. They soon discovered that playing the guitar was
a common interest. Passing the exam meant that McCartney and Harrison did not have to go to a secondary
modern school, which most pupils attended until they were eligible to work.
Mary was always looking for a better place for the family to live. In 1955, through her job as a
midwife, they were able to get a council property in Allerton. They moved to 20 Forthlin Rd in Allerton,
four miles north of Speke, closer to the city center, and a better neighborhood.
On October 30, 1956, with her breast cancer now active again, Mary was operated on. She died the
following day. After Mary's death, Paul and Michael were sent to live with Jim's brother Joe,
and his wife Joan, for a short time, so as to let their father grieve in private. Jim depended heavily
on his sisters, Jin and Millie, to help around the house, as he was extremely depressed. Shortly
thereafter, Paul's father bought him a trumpet, but he soon exchanged it for a guitar which he taught
himself how to play. After Mary’s death, Jim married widow Angela Williams and adopted her daughter
from a previous marriage, Ruth McCartney. Jim was 62 and Angie was 34 when they married.
1.3 Harrison's childhood
George Harrison was born in Liverpool, England, on February 25, 1943, the last of four children to
Harold Hargreaves Harrison and his wife Louise, née French. His maternal grand-parents hailed from
Ireland's County Wexford.
He had one sister and two brothers. His mother was a Liverpool shop assistant, and his father was a
bus conductor who had worked as a ship's steward on the White Star Line. His mother Louise also
taught ballroom dancing at home. The family was Roman Catholic.
Harrison was born in the house where he lived for his first six years: 12 Arnold Grove, Wavertree,
Liverpool, which was a small 2 up, 2 down terraced house in a cul-de-sac, with an alley to the rear.
The only heating was a single coal fire, and the toilet was outside. In 1950 the family were offered
a council house, larger than the house they had been living in, at 25 Upton Green, Speke. Harold
and Louise had been on Liverpool Corporation's re-housing list for about 18 years.
George had a happy childhood, with lots of relatives around. He would sometimes wake up in the night,
come out of the bedroom, look down the stairs and see a little party in progress, often including
His first school was Dovedale Primary School, very close to Penny Lane, the same school as John Lennon
who was a couple of years ahead of him. There he passed his 11-plus examination and was awarded a
place at the Liverpool Institute for Boys (in the building now housing the Liverpool Institute for
Performing Arts), which he attended from 1954 to 1959. The Institute for Boys was an English grammar
school and, despite his qualification, Harrison was regarded as a poor student; contemporaries described
him as someone who would "sit alone in the corner." In 1956, George met Paul, who was in a class a year
ahead of him, while travelling to and from school on the No. 86 bus. They discovered that they shared
an interest in guitars and became friends. Says George,"I was totally into guitars. I heard about this
kid at school who had a guitar at 3 10s, it was just a little acoustic round hole. I borrowed the 3 10s
from my mother: that was a lot of money for us then." He bought a Dutch Egmond flat top acoustic guitar.
George's mother kept him company (sometimes until late hours) as he taught himself to play. Harrison
paid his mother back with money earned making deliveries for the local butcher.
George and Paul spent many an afternoon going through George's chord manual together. In 1956, George,
his brother (who had a guitar that he'd found in somebody's garage), and his close friend Arthur Kelly
formed a short-lived skiffle group which they called "The Rebels." The Rebels performed their one and
only gig at the British Legion club in Speke. After that, George sat in on gigs with other groups, and
worked Saturday mornings in a butcher shop. One of the butcher's assistants was in a group with whom
George also played. Through this group, George met Pete Best, future drummer for the Beatles.
When George was 14, he dated his first girlfriend, 12 year old Iris Caldwell, sister of the future Rory
Storm. He would come to her house several times a week to see her. They would often sit and watch
1.4 Starr's childhood
Ringo Starr was born Richard Starkey to Richard and Elsie Starkey (née Gleave), at 9 Madryn Street,
Toxteth, Liverpool, England on July 7, 1940. The two had met while working together at Cooper's, a
large local bakery. They eventually married in 1936. His father was then 28 and his mother 26.
The family resided at 9 Madryn Street, a six-room terrace house (3 up, 3 down) in a poor and rough
working class section of Liverpool known as the Dingle. Richard's parents, John and Annie, lived
nearby at number 59, and later his sister, Nancy, would move into number 21.
When Starr was only three years old, his parents parted, and except for about three occasions, Ringo
has not seen his father since. The couple seemed to have separated peacefully, and they were eventually
divorced. Ritchie stayed with his mother at Madryn Street, but they eventually moved to 10 Admiral
Grove, virtually just around the corner. Elsie met a man by the name of Harry Graves when Starr was just
over eleven years old, and they were married two years later in 1953. Graves encouraged Starr's interest
in music and eventually bought him is first drum set.
Starr was afflicted by illness for much of his childhood. When aged six, he had appendicitis, which
developed complications, causing him to fall into a coma. At thirteen, he developed chronic pleurisy and
was admitted to a sanatorium for two years. After this extended hospital visit he did not return to
school. The periods of hospitalisation left him behind scholastically, and as a result he was ineligible
to attend grammar school or even sit its Eleven plus qualifying examination. Starr attended St Silas
Primary School in High Park Street close to his home in Admiral Grove, which Billy Fury also attended at
the same time. Later Starr attended Dingle Vale Secondary Modern School, leaving in 1955. While there,
he showed an aptitude for art and drama as well as practical subjects including mechanics.
Starr took a messenger job with the British Railroad, but had to quit when he failed the medical exam.
He next worked as a barman on a boat that traveled between Liverpool and Wales, but he was fired when
he turned up for work in an inebriated state and argued with his boss. Finally, when he was seventeen,
while working for an Henry Hunt and Son's engineering firm as an apprentice joiner, he formed the Eddie
Clayton Skiffle Group with some fellow work mates. For Christmas that year he was given his first real
set of drums by his step-dad Harry Graves.
2. The Quarry Men (or Quarrymen)
In 1956, Lonnie Donegan and the Chris Barber Jazz Band scored a Top 10 chart success with a version of
Huddie Ledbetter's song "Rock Island Line" Lonnie Donegan's subsequent solo success, with songs such as
"Cumberland Gap" and "Gambling Man" started a craze that swept through the British Isles. Musical
instruments were expensive, so skiffle was a godsend to many British teenagers since it could be played on
a washboard with a tea chest for a bass. Donegan, a Scotsman, had a huge hit on both sides of the Atlantic
with his skiffle cover of Leadbelly’s "Rock Island Line," selling several million copies. All The Beatles
were fans of skiffle and Donegan in particular. The day Paul McCartney and John Lennon met, July 6, 1957,
Lonnie Donegan was at number one with "Gamblin’ Man."
In 1956, John started a skiffle group with his friend Pete Shotton playing washboard, as well as Rod Davis
on banjo, Bill Smith on tea chest bass, Colin Hanton on drums, and Eric Griffiths and himself on guitar.
They named the band the Quarry Men after the Quarry Bank school, which several of them, including John, had
attended. Lennon originally named the band, the Blackjacks, but two weeks later they heard that another
skiffle band was already called The Blackjacks, so Shotton laughingly suggested naming themselves The
Quarrymen after a line in their school's song: "Quarrymen, old before our birth / Straining each muscle and
The band first rehearsed in Shotton's house on Vale Road, but because of the noise his mother told them
to use the corrugated air-raid shelter in the back garden. For the most part Julia allowed rehearsals to
take place at her home. She would tune Rod Davis's banjo and John's guitar similarly, with the result
that John would play banjo chords using just the top four strings of his guitar. Smith rarely turned up
for rehearsals so decided to leave the band, and was replaced by a friend, Len Garry. Ivan Vaughan,
sometimes played at rehearsals when Garry was not available. Vaughan and Garry attended the Liverpool
Institute High School together, and Vaughan had introduced Garry to Lennon.
The group's first public appearance was on June 22, 1957 at a community party in Rosebery Street
celebrating the 750th anniversary of Liverpool receiving its charter from King John. They played in the
afternoon and again in the evening. According to Julia Baird, the group was called Johnny and The
Rainbows for this appearance, because they all wore different colored shirts, although a photograph taken
of the group on this day shows the name "Quarry Men" on Colin Hanton's drums. They played from the back
of a truck (lorry) and didn't get paid. They performed in the afternoon and the evening.
The event was arranged by Mrs. Marjorie Roberts of 84 Rosebery Street. Her son Charles, a printer, was
friends with Colin Hanton, and stencilled the Quarry Men logo on Hanton's bass drum. Roberts Jr. suggested
the group perform at the party. The coal lorry was owned by a resident from number 76, who allowed the
group to run a microphone lead through his front window. In the audience for the second show was John's
mother Julia, who brought his step-sisters Julia and Jackie to watch. The girls sat on the tailboard of
the lorry while Julia looked out from the window of the Roberts family's living room. During the second
set a group of local youths from nearby Hatherley Street threatened violence towards the musicians,
singling out Lennon in particular. The group ran to Mrs Roberts' house while the mob banged on the windows
for Lennon. In the end a policeman warned them off and escorted the Quarry Men to their bus stop.
After that, they played at parties. Ocassionally they were paid a little money, but mostly they just
played for fun.
2.2 John and Paul Meet
On the afternoon of July 6, 1957 the Quarry Men played at the garden fete of St Peter's Church, Woolton,
Liverpool. Pete Shotton’s mother, Bessie, had convinced the church that in order to make the youngsters
enthusiastic about attending, they should have a skiffle group on the program.
Beside the red sandstone church were paths that led the throng to the parish fields. The smaller tract
contained the refreshment stand, where lemonade and candy apples were for sale. At the larger, lower
site, a bazaar of was set up, local folk selling handkerchiefs and assorted hardware, as well as fruits
and cakes. Coin toss, dart games and other sideshows could also be found. The fete was a highlight of
the year for the residents of the sleepy Liverpool district.
The parade was set to begin around 2 PM. A band of Cheshire Yeomanry led the line. The traditional
ceremony of the Rose Queen was featured, with the outgoing Susan Dixon giving way to 13-year old Sally
Wright, wearing white lace and pink crinoline. Both girls rode on their float waving like royalty to the
cheering mob, tiny soldiers and attendants at their side. There were trained police dogs from Liverpool
police force. Other floats carried Boy Scouts and Girl Guides, Wolf Cubs and Brownies, all clad in uniform.
And, way in the back, bringing up the rear of the procession were The Quarry Men, standing atop a sparsely
decorated coal merchant’s wagon. In the band that day were John, Eric Griffiths, Colin Hanton, Rod Davies,
Pete Shotton, and Len Garry. The group arrived on the back of a truck (lorry).
Ivan Vaughan, a mutual friend of John and Paul, unwittingly played his role in pop history by setting up
the meeting that started the Beatles. Paul rode his bike to fete. He was dressed to impress, donning a
white sports coat with sparkly speckles and flaps over the pockets.
At 4:15 the Quarry Men played onstage in a field behind the church, before a display by the City of
Liverpool Police Dogs. They were playing "Come Go with Me" when Paul arrived, and Paul noted that
John improvised words where he didn't know them. After the set, Ivan introduced Paul to John, who
chatted for a few minutes before the band set up in the church hall for the second set. Paul
sang Eddie Cochran's "Twenty Flight Rock," Gene Vincent's "Be-Bop-A-Lula", and a medley of Little Richard
songs. John was impressed that Paul could tune his own guitar, because he had been paying someone to do it
for him. Later on, John and Pete Shotton discussed Paul, and whether to invite him to join their group.
For John it was a dilemma - should he admit a talented member who might pose a challenge to his own
superiority within the group, or should he persist without Paul, retaining his leadership yet giving up the
chance to add a talented musician to the group? John decided in favor of strengthening the group, and
roughly two weeks later Shotton encountered McCartney cycling through Woolton and asked him to join. Paul
agreed to join the Quarry Men.
The Cavern club in Liverpool originally opened in January 1957 as a jazz club. In August of that year, the
Quarrymen made their first appearance, sans Paul, at the club, which was at that time owned by Alan Synter.
Before the Cavern Club performance, the band argued amongst themselves about the set list, as rock 'n roll
songs were definitely not allowed at the club, but skiffle was tolerated. After starting with a skiffle
song, Lennon called for the others to start playing "Don't Be Cruel", but banjo-player Rod Davis warned
Lennon that the audience would "eat you alive", which Lennon ignored and started playing it himself, forcing
the others to join in. Halfway through, Sytner pushed his way through the audience and handed Lennon a note
which read, "Cut out the bloody rock 'n roll".
On, January 24, the Quarry Men performed for the first time with Paul at the Cavern. This would be the
last performance billed as The Quarry Men at the club. It would be three years before the band would turn
up again at the Cavern, and they would return as The Beatles.
2.3 Paul and George Join
On November 23,1957 The Quarry Men played at the New Clubmoor Hall, Broadway, Liverpool. Paul made his
debut with the band for a Conservative Club social, at The New Clubmoor Hall on Back Broadway in Norris
Green, Liverpool, on Friday, October 18, 1957, a while after returning from his summer holidays. The band
had been booked by local promoter Charlie McBain and they wore matching outfits with long-sleeved, white
cowboy shirts, black string ties and black trousers. Lennon and McCartney both wore white sports jackets.
Paul played lead guitar. During the show he botched a solo, embarrassing himself and the group. He was
playing his guitar upside-down and backwards because he did not know how to re-string a guitar left-handed.
To save face with John, during break Paul played him "I've Lost My Little Girl," his recently completed
first song. Hearing this song reportedly inspired Lennon to also start writing. The other members of the
band that night were Hanton, Garry, and Griffiths on guitar.
On Thursday, November 7, McBain booked The Quarry Men to appear at Wilson Hall, Garston . They also
played Stanley Abattoir Social Club on November 16, New Clubmoor Hall on November 23 and Wilson Hall on
Paul had begun talking to John about his friend George's skill with guitar, but 16 year old John regarded
14 year old George as a child. For a time, George was just a persistent Quarry Men groupie. He followed
the Quarrymen around and was occasionally allowed to fill in. However, in February 1958, on the top deck
of a bus, George played the instrumental "Raunchy," made famous by the Bill Justis Combo in November 1957.
John was convinced: George was invited to join The Quarrymen. By March 1958, George became a full fledged
On July 12, 1958, the Quarry Men - John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison, who all played guitars,
John Lowe who played the piano, and Collin Hanton the drummer - turned up at Sam Phillips Sound Recording
Studio. A short while later, having parted company with about $2, the five Quarry Men left, passing among
them the result of their work, a 78rpm record, ten-inches in diameter. The disc's label had no mention of
the words Quarry Men, and certainly not Beatles, a name they wouldn't adopt for another two years.
On one side of the disc was "That'll Be The Day," a homage to Buddy Holly and the Crickets, featuring John
Lennon's lead vocal with Paul McCartney providing the high harmonies. On the other side was "In Spite Of All
The Danger," co-written by Paul McCartney and George Harrison, but, again, with John Lennon singing lead.
Colin Hanton (whose membership of the Quarry Men pre-dated both Paul's and George's) and John Lowe (who was
recruited principally because he could play Jerry Lee Lewis's exacting arpeggio part in Mean Woman Blues)
left soon after the band's one and only recording session, leaving Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison, the nucleus
of the Beatles.
In September 1957, John enrolled in the Liverpool Art College. John had failed all his GCE O-level
examinations, and was only accepted into the Liverpool College of Art after his aunt and headmaster
intervened. Once at the college, he wore Teddy Boy clothes and acquired a reputation for disrupting classes
and ridiculing teachers. It was here that he met and became friends with Stuart Sutcliffe, another student
who was already a very talented painter. Lennon was introduced to Sutcliffe by Bill Harry, a mutual friend,
and according to Lennon, Sutcliffe had a "marvellous art portfolio", and was a seriously talented painter
who was one of the "stars" of the school. The students used to gather for beer and discussion at a pub
called Ye Cracke on Rice Street. Paul and George attended the Liverpool Institute, which, by a happy
coincidence, was located next door to the Liverpool College of Art, and so most lunchtimes Lennon,
McCartney, and Harrison would get together for a practice session.
In September 1957, future Lennon wife Cynthia Powell began attending the Liverpool College of Art. Although
studying graphics, she also took calligraphy classes, as did Lennon. He never had any drawing tools with him,
so he constantly borrowed pens and pencils from Powell, who found out that he was only in the class because
other teachers had refused to instruct him. Lennon sometimes brought a guitar with him into class, and once
sang "Ain't She Sweet" directly to Powell. She once overheard Lennon make a comment about a girl with blonde
hair in the college, who looked similar to Brigitte Bardot. The next Saturday, Powell turned up at the college
with her hair several shades blonder. Lennon noticed straight away. Their relationship started after a college
party to celebrate the end of term, when Lennon asked her to go to the Ye Cracke pub with him. She refused,
since she was already engaged, but later went and ran into him there.
Finally, John failed an annual exam, despite help from Cynthia, and dropped out of college before his final
2.5 Julia's Death
Julia visited Mimi almost daily. On the evening of 15 July 1958, Nigel Whalley went to visit John and
found Julia and Mimi talking by the front gate. Lennon was not there, as he was staying at Julia's house
in Blomfield Road. Whalley accompanied Julia to the bus stop further down Menlove Avenue, with Julia
cracking jokes along the way. At about 9:30, Whalley left her and she crossed the road to the central
reservation between the two traffic lanes, which was lined with hedges that covered unsused tram tracks.
Whalley turned off to go up Vale Road, where he lived. Five seconds later, Whalley heard "a loud thud",
and turned to see Julia's body "flying through the air." He rushed over but she had been killed instantly.
Julia's body landed about 100 feet from where she had been hit. She was buried in the Allerton
Cemetery, in Liverpool. John was sitting with Julia's boyfriend, Bobby Dykins, waiting for her to return,
when a policeman knocked on the door. "It was just like it's supposed to be, the way it is in the films,"
he told biographer Hunter Davies a decade later. "Asking if I was her son, and all that."
2.6 The Quarry Men in England
John Lowe eventually gave up playing for the band as he lived too far away from where they rehearsed, and
having to travel by bus meant he could only rehearse at weekends. The band continued to play, such as at
the wedding reception of Harrison's brother, Harry, in Speke, on December 20, 1958, and at Art School dances
every other Friday, where they were billed as "The College Band."
In early 1959, Lennon and McCartney continued to write songs together, but as no engagements were forthcoming,
Harrison joined The Les Stewart Quartet with Les Stewart, guitarist Ken Brown, and a young man known only as
Skinner. Mona Best (mother of Pete Best) decided to open a social club for teenagers in West Derby, Liverpool
(to be called the Casbah Club) and was going to hire the Les Stewart Quartet as the resident band. Ken Brown
had helped Mona prepare the club for opening night. This had upset Les Stewart who felt that Ken was missing
too many rehearsals because of helping at the Casbah Club. This caused an argument between Ken and Les,
causing Ken and George to walk out.
George Harrison and Ken Brown came down and saw Mona and said "We’ve got bad news for you, unfortunately the
group has broken up." George said, "I’ve got a couple of friends that I used to play with who aren’t doing
anything at the present moment and I’ll put the deal to them." He brought them down the next day, and they
turned out to be John Lennon and Paul McCartney. And Mona Best put the proposition to them, and they turned
around and said, "Yeah, we’d love to play it." They were delighted to be the resident act and opening the
club. The price was agreed on, 15 shillings each, which was a lot of money in those days. She said, "What
are you going to call yourselves?," and John said, "Well, we used to be called The Quarry Men, how does that
sound?" So she said, "It sounds good enough to me," and August the 29th 1959 they took the stage as The
Quarrymen. But they wanted to see the club. The club was still being assembled. It needed some decorating to
be done on it. So they all rolled their sleeves up and created the Aztec ceiling, which was painted by John
and is still in the Casbah today, the Rainbow ceiling, which was painted by Paul McCartney, and the stars.
The concrete and wood in the basement had been stripped and they painted each part a different colour. They
now had no drummer. Pete had a drum kit so he would sometimes sit in with them. He was a good-looking guy,
and out of all the people in the group, the girls used to go for Pete. He normally played with a group
called the Blackjacks. Ken's tenure with the Quarry Men was short-lived. He played with them for a mere
six weeks. An argument over money was the cause of his leaving the group. The Quarry Men played a series of
seven Saturday night concerts in The Casbah Club between August and October of 1959.
Playing as Johnny and the Moondogs, they passed the preliminary audition for Carroll Levis' TV Star Search.
The first stage of the competition was at the Liverpool Empire Theatre on October 18, 1959. The regional
finals were held each night from October 26-31, 1959. While the precise dates of the group's appearances are
unknown, it is likely that they performed on at least two nights. Johnny and the Moondogs lost out to the
Connaughts, a group which, under the name Sunnyside Skiffle Group, had beaten the Quarry Men in the same
competition back in 1957. However, the judges thought they were good enough to go through to the final held
at the Ardwick Hippodrome in Manchester a fortnight later. At the final, they gave one performance, but were
unable to stay for the performance in which the final winner was to be selected as the contest ran overtime.
The competition was judged by the results of a "clapometer" which recorded the volume of applause for each act,
during which the competitors gave a brief resume of their performance. In order to participate in the final,
they would have had to stay overnight in Manchester as the last train back to Liverpool would have already
left by the time the finals would be over. Lacking the funds for an overnight stay, Johnny and the Moondogs
returned to Liverpool early. A win would have meant a two-minute appearance on Carroll Levis TV show
That spring of 1960, John and Paul went down to a pub in Reading, The Fox and Hounds, run by Paul's cousin
Betty Robbins and her husband. They worked behind the bar. At the end of the week They played in the pub as
The Nerk Twins, and even made their own posters. The boys enjoyed the experience. Paul had a long talk with
Betty's husband, a former entertainments manager, about the business of putting on shows, and received valuable
advice, which he never forgot.
3. The Silver Beetles
3.1 The Jacaranda Coffee Club
In 1957, Allan Williams leased a former watch-repair shop at 21 Slater Street, Liverpool, which he converted into
a coffee bar. He had been to the famous "Two I’s Coffee Club" in London and decided to open something similar.
He was still a plumber, and he and his plumber friends did all the work to get it ready. It cost him £300 and
he had to borrow from the bank to get it finished. He named the venue the Jacaranda after an exotic species
of ornamental flowering tree, jacaranda mimosifolia. It opened in September 1958. The Quarry Men became frequent
customers. They drank coffee and ate bacon butties. Cynthia Lennon has said, "Condensation dripped off the walls
and it was so dark inside that we could hardly see each other, but this added to the slightly dangerous, exciting
atmosphere." When they asked for the chance to play the club, Williams instead put them to work redecorating,
with Lennon and Sutcliffe painting a mural for the Ladies room. Eventually they asked him for something more.
Williams didn't know they had a serious band, as they only played in art school dances then. He asked, "What do
you mean? There's no more painting to do." They then told him they had a group, though they had no drummer. Cass
from the Cassanovas was there and so Williams called him over. He asked what they called themselves and they said
they were thinking of The Beatals. He suggested "Long John and the Silver and The Beatles," which became The
Silver Beetles, which they hated but kept. It was Cass who recommended that the Silver Beetles find themselves a
drummer, suggesting Tommy Moore. Moore worked with them for a month. From May 1960 Williams began securing the
group live bookings in and around Liverpool. On one notable occasion they were the backing band for a local
stripper. Unfamiliar with the traditional Gypsy Fire Dance tune, they instead backed her with a version of the
Third Man Theme.
3.2 Stuart Sutcliffe
Sutcliffe lived at 9 Percy Street with fellow art student and best friend, Rod Murray, before being evicted
and moving to Hillary Mansions at 3 Gambier Terrace, with another art student, Margaret Chapman, who competed
with Sutcliffe to be the best painter in classes. The flat was opposite the new Anglican cathedral in the
run-down area of Liverpool 8, with bare lightbulbs and a mattress on the floor in the corner. Lennon moved in
with Sutcliffe in early 1960. Sutcliffe and his flatmates painted the rooms yellow and black, which his
landlady did not appreciate. On another occasion the tenants, needing to keep warm, burned the landlady's
furniture. As John turned 19, Sutcliffe, was evicted from his Percy Street flat. Forced to look for another
place to stay, Stuart moved into the largest of three rooms in this Gambier Terrace flat that was part of a
long Victorian/Georgian building overlooking the construction of the Anglican Cathedral, it was also very close
to the Liverpool Art Institute. The other two rooms were taken by Stuart's friend Rod Murray and his girlfriend.
John effectively moved in with Stuart soon afterwards. The flat had a shared toilet and was furnished with
mattresses on the floor, an empty coffin, and a stolen Belisha Beacon.In January 1960, Stu Sutcliffe joined the
group playing bass guitar. He had entered a painting in the John Moores biennial exhibit and won. John
convinced Stuart to use the money to purchase a bass guitar so that he could join the group.
3.2 The Larry Parnes Audition
Larry Parnes, the pop manager and impresario, contacted Allan Williams about the possibility of using Liverpool
groups as backing for his solo musicians. On May 10, 1960, Auditions took place at the Blue Angel, known as the
Wyvern Social Club before Williams bought it, at 108 Seel Street, Liverpool. Williams also owned the Jacaranda.
Other acts auditioning were Derry and the Seniors, Bob Evans and his Five Shillings, Gerry and the Pacemakers and
Cass and the Casanovas. This was an audition in search of a backing band for an upcoming Billy Fury tour. Tommy
Moore, The Silver Beetles' drummer at this time, had gone looking for some drum equipment and arrived late after
a couple of songs. Johnny Hutchinson from Cass and the Cassanovas graciously filled in on drums with a routine
drum beat. The Silver Beetles didn't win the audition. In his book,"The Man Who Gave The Beatles Away," Allan
Williams and the Beatles both later said that Stuart Sutcliffe played with his back to Larry Parnes at the Wyvern
Club audition because he couldn't play the bass well, and that Parnes said that he would take the group as Billy
Fury's backing group if they got rid of Stuart. This last part is apparently not true. Parnes himself was to say
that he had no problem with Stuart, that his objection was to drummer Tommy Moore, who turned up late for the
audition, was dressed differently from the other members, and was a lot older than them. A few days later, they
received wor that Larry Parnes was willing to hire the band to back Johnny Gentle on a tour of Scotland at the
end of May.
George later recalled, "I remember asking my big brother, 'Would you pack in work and have a go at this if you
were me?' He said, 'You might as well - you never know what might happen. And if it doesn't work out you're not
going to lose anything.' So I packed in my job, and joined the band full time and from then, nine-to-five never
came back into my thinking." John and Paul were still enrolled in college.
3.3 To Scotland With Johnny Gentle
Their fee was £120, which was to include their fares from Liverpool. The seven day tour began on 20 May 1960 at
the Town Hall, Alloa, Clackmannashire. Other gigs were on 21 May at the Northern Meeting Ballroom, Church Street,
Inverness; on May 23 at the Dalrymple Hall, Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire; on 25 May at St Thomas’s Hall, Keith,
Banffshire; on May 26 at the Town Hall, Forres, Morayshire; on 27 May at the Regal Ballroom, Leopold Street, Nairn,
Nairnshire and on May 28 at the Rescue Hall, Peterhead, Aberdeenshire. The group name was never actually used in
the promotion of the tour, as the billing read "Johnny Gentle and his group." However, three members of the band
decided to use stage names. Paul used the name Paul Ramon, George adopted the name Carl Harrison and Stuart called
himself Stuart de Stael. It has been suggested that John called himself Johnny Silver, but he denied this.
The Silver Beetles' the beat-up old van carrying everyone and everything necessary for the tour was involved in a
collision outside Banff near Fraserbugh. The only member of the band to be seriously injured was temporary drummer
Tommy Moore. He lost a few teeth and had to be taken to hospital for stitches, but he made the gig.Moore suffered
a concussion and was taken from his hospital bed to play the Fraserburgh gig. He is said to have had no idea where
They didn't arrive at Alloa with all their guitars lugged over their shoulders until forty-five minutes before the
curtain was due to go up.Gentle first met the group half an hour before they were due to go on stage together and
they had time for only twenty minutes of rehearsals before their performance. Scottish impresario Duncan McKinnon,
who had organised this tour, wasn’t impressed with the show but Johnny explained that they needed rehearsal time
together and, after practicing the next day, the stage show improved. McKinnon had also complained about their
stage gear, so Johnny gave George a black shirt to wear, as Paul and John were wearing black shirts. It was the
nearest they got to a uniform appearance on stage. Gentle says, "Duncan was more like a farmer than a man who put
on shows in dance halls. The repertoire for the Scottish tour was: "It Doesn’t Matter Anymore," Buddy Holly’s
"Raining in My Heart," Presley’s "I Need Your Love Tonight," Ricky Nelson’s "Poor Little Fool," Clarence Frogman
Henry’s "I Don’t Know Why I Love You But I Do," Eddie Cochran’s "Come On Everybody" and Jim Reeves’ "He’ll Have To
Gentle had a room to himself and the Silver Beetles shared two rooms. Sometimes they were put in different hotels.
The best hotel they stayed in was in Inverness, overlooking the river. It was while they were at the hotel that
Gentle played a song he’d written called "I’ve Just Fallen For Someone" to George and John. Gentle was having
difficulty with the middle eight and John came up with something he’d written which fitted in. Gentle decided to
use Lennon’s middle eight in his song and he actually recorded the number for Parlophone the following year under
the name Darren Young. The record sold about 3,000 copies. The middle eight words that John wrote to the song were:
We know that we’ll get by
Just wait and see
Just like the songs tell us
The best things in life are free.
He also gave the tune to the middle. Some months later, Gentle was offered a second tour of Scotland and
immediately requested that The Beatles come on board, however, they were already in Hamburg. On their return from
Scotland Tommy quit and the Beatles were again without a drummer.
3.3 Back to England
On June 11 the Silver Beetles had their third concert at the Grosvenor Ballroom within a week. When drummer Moore
didn't turn up they piled into Williams' car and drove to his house in Fern Grove, Toxteth. Upon their arrival
Moore's girlfriend opened an upstairs window and shouted at them, saying he'd quit to take a more lucrative job
working a night shift at the Garston bottle works. The group went there to the factory to find Moore, but he
refused to dismount his forklift truck. The Silver Beetles reluctantly drove to the Grosvenor Ballroom, where
they performed with a vacant drum kit behind them. The ballroom typically attracted rowdy crowds, and The Silver
Beetles didn't want to antagonise them by performing without a full band. John Lennon stepped up to the microphone
and asked if anyone present was able to stand in. A local tough guy named Ronnie got up and it turned out that he
couldn't play at all. Anyway, he was still there at the interval having done the whole first set of five numbers.
He wouldn't get off. John tried to talk him off and he wouldn't go. They were going to Hamburg shortly after that
and this guy was saying, "I'll go to Hamburg with you." It took an appeal from John to Allan Williams to have him
forcibly removed from the hall.
Paul turned 18 on June 18th, and the Silver Beetles performed at the Grosvenor Ballroom, Liscard, Wallasey. In July,
Norman Chapman became the next drummer, but was called up for National Service. This caused problems for the Silver
Beetles, who had dates booked in Hamburg, Germany, and were playing for Allan Williams at the Jacaranda Club and the
New Cabaret Artistes Club. The band once again changed their name, this time to the Silver Beatles.
Derry And The Seniors were among the first Liverpool groups to be sent to Hamburg. This became possible thanks to a
contract Allan Williams had concluded with the West German owner of several clubs in Hamburg - Bruno Koschmider.
The latter enjoyed the way the Liverpudlians played on stage at his Kaiserkeller club so much that he asked Williams
to send another group from Liverpool. He wanted to send Rory Storm And The Hurricanes, but they proved to be very
busy at that time. Allan Williams suggested the visit to Gerry And The Pacemakers, but they absolutely refused to
contemplate this tour. Seeing no other way out, Williams offered the visit to Hamburg to the Silver Beatles. They,
of course, were quick to take up this offer.
4. The Beatles
4.1 Pete Best
On August 6, with their usual Saturday night engagement at the Grosvenor cancelled, the Beatles visited the Casbah
Coffee Club, seeing Pete Best perform with the Blackjacks. On August 12th, the group auditioned him and invited him
to travel to Hamburg with them and become their permanent drummer. Best says, "My mother took a phone call from Paul
McCartney. He said that they’d had an offer to go to Germany and needed a drummer. George Harrison had seen me play
and knew that I had a drum kit. He thought I might be interested in joining. I went down to Allan Williams’ house
and auditioned. Two days later, I was a Beatle." Best had an audition in the Jacaranda club owned by Williams. The
group had decided to call themselves by the simpler name, The Beatles. Best had the chance to go to a
teacher-training college, as he had passed his school exams, unlike Lennon, McCartney and Harrison, but decided that
playing in Hamburg would be a better career move.
4.2.1 The Indra
To save money Williams drove the group and their equipment in his Austin Minivan, which was loaded by crane
onto a ferry at Harwich on 16 August 1960, and landed at the Hook of Holland. They went by van with Alan
Williams for £15 to be deducted from their pay. Williams also lent them money for clothes, toothbrushes. He
has stated that he was never paid back for this. The Beatles, Williams and his wife Beryl, her brother
Barry Chang, and "Lord Woodbine" were in the minivan, along with Georg Sterner (Koschmider's translator)
making a total of ten people, which resulted in a journey that was both uncomfortable and dangerous. They
had stopped off in London to pick up Steiner, an Austrian working in the Heaven and Hell coffee shop on Old
Compton Street, who was to be the Hamburg promoter Bruno Koschmider's interpreter. The van didn't have
seats, so they had to sit on their amplifiers.
The party ended up in Arnhem after Williams took a wrong turning. While there they were photographed at the
World War 2 memorial, spent time wandering around the city, and John Lennon stole a harmonica from a local
shop. Says Williams, "We had time to kill so we went round the town centre and into a music shop, and
when we came out they were all laughing their heads off. I said: "What's the joke, lads?," and John pulled
out a mouth organ - he'd stolen a bloody mouth organ! I thought, "Christ, we're never even going to get to
Hamburg, we'll all be in jail." The first time abroad and he had the audacity to rob a shop!" From the
Netherlands, the party made its way to Hamburg, arriving in the early evening of August 17, 1960. As
Williams had not obtained work permits for Germany, everyone pretended to be students on holiday, although
work permits were later obtained after their arrival.
The Indra Club (58 Grosse Freiheit) was closed, so a manager from a neighbouring club found someone to open
it up, and the group slept on the red leather seats in the alcoves. The group first played at the club the
same night, but were told they had to sleep in a small cinema's storeroom, which was cold and noisy, being
directly behind the screen of the cinema, the Bambi Kino. The room, next to the women's bathroom, had been
an old storeroom, and there were just concrete walls and nothing else. No heat, no wallpaper, no paint, and
two sets of bunk beds, with not very much for blankets, just British flags. They were very cold. They
would go to bed late and be woken up next day by the sound of the cinema show. John and Stu were lucky
enough to sleep in the only bed, in the most lit room, George slept on a sofa, and Pete and Paul got the
worst places, with no light at all
The boys were fascinated by the Reeperbahn, a large, nearby street, as it had so many clubs, neon lights,
and restaurants, although it also had less positive features. Harrison remembered, "The whole area was
full of transvestites and prostitutes and gangsters, but I couldn't say that they were the audience.
Hamburg was really like our apprenticeship, learning how to play in front of people." Best remembered the
Indra as being a depressing place that was filled with a few tourists, and having heavy, old, red curtains
that made it seem shabby compared to the larger Kaiserkeller, a club also owned by Koschmider and located
nearby at 36 Grosse Freiheit.
In the early 1960s, the Hamburg scene revolved around The Kaiserkeller, The Top Ten, The Star-Club, The
Beer-Shop, The Mambo, The Holle, The Wagabond (pronounced vagabond) and The Pacific Hotel, as well as the
less popular clubs Grannies, The Ice Cream Shop, Chugs, and Sacha's. The Reeperbahn and the Grosse Freiheit
were decorated with neon lights, with posters advertising the performers in the clubs. Each club had a
doorman whose job was to entice customers inside, since the drinks were expensive. Customers who wouldn’t,
or couldn’t afford to pay were beaten and then thrown out.
The group performed at the Indra Club for 48 nights, ending on 3 October. The group's contract was to run
for two months, from August 17 to October 16. The Beatles were to receive 30DM (£2.50) per person each day,
paid every Thursday. Koschmider also paid their manager Allan Williams a commission of £10 each week.
They were expected to perform for four and a half hours each weekday night, and they also had to play for
six hours on Saturdays and Sundays. The first night, the tired and hungry Beatles played to just a handful
of spectators, mainly prostitutes and their clients. The band were also forced by Koschmider to turn down
their amplifiers, following a complaint from the woman who lived above the venue. Feeling cowed by their
unfamiliar surroundings, on this opening night The Beatles played the entire four and a half hour show
huddled together and stock still. Afterwards they slept in Bruno Koschmider's flat, all in one bed.
Compared to what followed, it was a positive luxury. As Best had been the only one to take O-Level German
at school, he could communicate with Koschmider and the clientele better than the rest of the group.
Speaking the most German increased Pete's independence, and he was often away during the daytime.
The back breaking schedule the boys had to accomodate is widely regarded as having brought out the
astounding talent which made them world famous. Said Lennon: "We really had to hammer. We had to try
anything that came into our heads," He recalled, "We played what we liked best, and the Germans liked
it as long as it was loud." At first, the Beatles stood still during their act, but Koschmider,
dismayed by their lack of animation, complained to Willams. Williams returned to Hamburg to see that
there was some merit to Koschmider's complaint. Williams told the boys, "Make a show, boys!" and
encouraged them to move around. Koschmider, who spoke no English, took up the chant: "Mach schau!"
In future, every time they slowed down, Koschmider would exhort them to "Mach schau, mach schau." Now
forced to play for hours every day, the Beatles quickly exhausted their immediate repertoire of rock'n
roll hits, and were forced to delve deeper into the genre to find any songs they felt they could use.
Best said, "We started clowning about. 'If he wants us to mach shau - mach shau!' The drumming,
stamping our feet on stage, John clowning about, the mock fights, all this was our way of saying, 'All
right, if you want us to mach shau, then we’ll enjoy ourselves while we’re doing it.' But it caught on,
it was very much what the German audience wanted to see. It was John who provided most of the on-stage
action and verbal attacks on the audience, calling them "krauts" and "Nazis." John recalled, "We felt
cocky, being from Liverpool, at least believing the myth about Liverpool producing cocky people, so we
tried to be it. The first mach shau I did was to jump around one number like Gene Vincent. Every number
lasted twenty minutes, just to spin it out."
Paul later recalled, "We were always trying to attract people in. This was one of the great learning experiences
for us, to attract people who don't really want to see you. It came in handy later when we were doing something
for people who had come to see us. The first thing people would look at was the beer price, 'Oh, ein Mark ...'
Then they'd look around and there would be no one in the club and we'd jump into action, 'Yes! Yes! This is the
night! Come on in!' You really have to learn that, and by God we learned it and we really had those clubs jumping."
4.2.2 The Kaiserkeller
After nearly seven weeks at the Indra, the Beatles were moved to the Kaiserkeller (38 Grosse Freiheit). An
elderly widow living above the club had made numerous complaints about the noise, and the authorities finally
stepped in and forbade the playing of live music at the Indra. Furthermore, their original three month contract,
due to expire in November, was extended to December 31.
The Kaiserkeller was much larger than the Indra, and was also much rougher, requiring an army of bouncers. They
were headed by Horst Fascher, a onetime professional boxer who had been the 1959 German featherweight boxing
champion but whose career had been cut short after he unintentionally killed a sailor in a street fight. Fascher
found work in clubs along the Reeperbahn in Hamburg. Lennon often started arguments with the audience, so that
eventually one member of the audience would jump on stage to hit him, but it was Fascher’s job to protect Lennon
and the group. Fascher remembered Lennon often greeting the audience with a "Heil Hitler", and a Nazi salute:
"He'd pull out a black comb and pretend it was a moustache. People laughed." He sympathized with their terrible
living conditions. He recalls, "They stank of sweat, and sometimes from old sweat from the day before," said
Fascher. "I took their underwear and gave it to my mum to boil-wash." The Beatles alternated, an hour on and
an hour off, with Rory Storm and the Hurricanes.
The stage of the Kaiserkeller was made of planks of wood balanced on the top of beer crates, and the two groups made
a bet to see to who would be the first to break it. After jumping up and down on the stage for days, a slight crack
appeared, and when Rory Storm jumped off the top of the upright piano it finally broke. Storm's guitarist, Johnny
Byrne, remembered that as Storm hit the stage, it cracked loudly and he disappeared into it, together with all the
amplifiers and drummer Ringo Starr's cymbals. Koschmider was furious, and had to replace the live music with a juke
box. Both groups went across the road to Harold's Cafe for breakfast, but were followed by Koschmider's doormen, who
beat the musicians as punishment.
Among the Beatles closest friends in Germany were Astrid Kirchherr, Klaus Voormann, and Jurgen Vollmer, who were
about the same age that they were. Voorman was in a relationship with Kirchherr at the time, and lived just
around the corner from her parents' upper-class home in the Altona district of Hamburg. After an argument with
Kirchherr and Vollmer one day, Voormann wandered down the Reeperbahn, which is in the St. Pauli district of
Hamburg, and heard music coming from the Kaiserkeller club. He walked in on a performance by Rory Storm and the
Hurricanes. The next group to play were The Beatles. Voormann was left "speechless" by the performances.
Voormann had never heard rock 'n roll before, coming from a background in which the only popular music one listened
to was traditional Jazz, with some Nat King Cole and The Platters mixed in. He was scared because of the dangerous
reputation of that area of town, but intrigued by the sound he heard emerging from within. Voormann asked Kirchherr
and Vollmer to watch the performances the next day. After joining Voorman at the Kaiserkeller, the trio decided upon
spending as much time close to The Beatles as possible and immersing themselves in the music. Kirchherr later said:
"It was like a merry-go-round in my head, they looked absolutely astonishing... My whole life changed in a couple of
minutes. All I wanted was to be with them and to know them." Stuart managed to meet them eventually, and learned
that all three had attended the Meisterschule, which was the same type of art college that Lennon and Sutcliffe had
attended in Liverpool.
Kirchherr asked The Beatles if they would like for her to take photographs of them, to which they quickly agreed.
The next morning Kirchherr took photographs (with a Rolleicord camera) at a fairground in a municipal park called
"der Dom" (Cathedral) which was close to the Reeperbahn. In the afternoon she took them all (except for Best who
decided not to go) to her mother's house in Altona, a borough of Hamburg.
4.2.3 The Top Ten Club
Although they were under contract to play at Bruno Koschmider's Kaiserkeller club until December 31, 1960, they made
a verbal agreement with Peter Eckhorn to play at his new club, the Top Ten at 136 Reeperbahn.
The club had opened at the end of October 1960, and was in direct competition with the Kaiserkeller. Tony Sheridan
and his group The Jets were the opening act, and Eckhorn had persuaded Koschmider's bouncer Horst Fascher to work as
the club's manager.
As the group Eckhorn had, The Jets, were shortly to return to England, he began looking for groups to replace them.
The Beatles were becoming jaded with working for Koschmider, and knew the facilities at the Top Ten were better.
In late October, they went to see Eckhorn and asked if there was any work to be had at the Top Ten. Eckhorn could
offer more money, a better PA (with reverb and echo) and a slightly better place to sleep (above the club itself)
although by working there, the group broke their contract with Koschmider. Their first night at the Top Ten they
gave a performance which attracted so many people that the Kaiserkeller was left empty. It ended with an hour-long
jam of Ray Charles' "What'd I Say" with The Beatles and The Jets, both on stage.
Kirchherr and Sutcliffe got engaged in November 1960, and exchanged rings, as is the German custom. Sutcliffe later
wrote to his parents that he was engaged to Kirchherr, which they were shocked to learn, as they thought he would
give up his career as an artist, although he told Kirchherr that he would like to be an art teacher in London or
Germany in the future.
4.3 Deported From Germany
At the end of November 1960, Koschmider, furious at the group for violating the contract with him and appearing at the
rival Top Ten Club, reported the underage Harrison to the authorities, leading to his deportation. When McCartney and
Pete Best went back to the Bambi Kino to get their belongings they found it in almost total darkness. As a snub to
Koschmider, they found a condom, attached it to a nail on the concrete wall of their room, and set fire to it. There
was no real damage, but Koschmider reported them for attempted arson. McCartney later recalled, "One evening we were
just walking down the Reeperbahn, when we heard this 'ta-ti-ti-ta', and then 'Komm mit mir!' ('Come with me!')".
McCartney and Best spent three hours in a local jail and were deported Lennon returned to Liverpool on December 10,
while Sutcliffe remained in Hamburg with his new German fiancée, Astrid Kirchherr, for another month. The Jets had
their contract extended for two months until Gerry and the Pacemakers could come from Liverpool to relieve them.
Back in Liverpool, no-one contacted each other for two weeks, but Mona and Pete Best made numerous phone calls to
Hamburg to recover the group's equipment, which they eventually managed to do. Mona Best phoned Peter Eckhorn, who
sent their kit over by ship, and the group then intended to take up a residency at Williams' new club, the Top Ten.
Unfortunately, it burned to the ground and the Beatles were left with few bookings. Mo got to work, offering them
several gigs at the Casbah, setting up some promotions of her own to keep them in work, and Pete and Mo began to
take over the bookings for the group. They were, in effect, managing the Beatles at the time. The ex-Black Jacks
(Pete Best's old group) guitarist, Chas Newby, was invited to play bass with them for four concerts, as Stu
Sutcliffe had decided to stay on in Hamburg. Newby was shocked at the vast improvement of their playing and singing.
Through Bob Wooler, the group were booked by Brian Kelly for Litherland Town Hall on 27 December 1960 -- a highlight
in their local career. When Chas Newby returned to college, the group was left without a bass player. John tried
to get George to do it, but this met with a solid refusal, so Paul, who had been playing both rhythm guitar and
piano, agreed to switch. He put together a bass out of an Edgmond Solid 7 guitar and three piano strings. At
12:30pm on Thursday 9 February 1961, the Beatles debuted at the Cavern Club, situation in Mathew Street in central
Liverpool, which had played host to The Quarrymen before. By 1959 Alan Sytner had sold the club to Ray McFall, who
continued to maintain it as a leading jazz venue, however, the days of jazz at the club were numbered. By 1960,
rock groups began to appear at the club on a regular basis. This was George Harrison's first time on the Cavern
stage, as it was for Stuart Sutcliffe. Harrison arrived in blue jeans, which were banned from the club, but he
managed to convince the bouncer, Paddy Delaney, that he was one of the performers.
Neil Aspinall later rented a room in Mona Best's house and became very good friends with then-Beatle Pete Best. Neil
knew George from the Liverpool Institue, and also knew John. The Beatles had previously used public transport to get
to local gigs, but by February 1961, they were playing two or three concerts per night at different locations and
needed someone to drive them. They’d tried a spell hiring Casbah bouncer Frank Garner to drive them to gigs, but he
found he couldn’t keep the two jobs going at the same time. Best asked Aspinall to be a part-time road manager for
the band, so Aspinall bought an "old, grey and maroon Commer van" for 80 pounds, and charged each of the group five
shillings per concert. Harrison later said: "Our early van became the centre of attention every time it pulled up. It
was brush-painted red and grey, and from head to foot was covered in graffiti - girls' names, and things like 'I love
you, John'. It looked interesting, but the moment anybody saw it they would feel free to write all over it. Aspinall
left his job as a trainee accountant to become their permanent road manager, as he was earning more money driving them
Their first evening session, at the Cavern was March 21, 1961 at the Bluegenes guest night. On this night the Beatles
shared the stage with The Bluegenes, Dale Robert and The Jay Walkers and The Remo Four. The Beatles were actually
introduced to an evening crowd at the Iron Door on March 6 and March 11, 1961, two-weeks before they first appeared
for the Cavern's evening show. On this occasion they appeared in the now famous, first "Rock Around The Clock" all-night
session. The Iron Door Club was a music venue at 13 Temple Street, Liverpool founded by Geoff Hogarth and Harry
Ormesher. It opened in May 1960 and closed in 1964. The Searchers played there regularly. The Iron Door Club was
originally known as the Storreyville Jazz Club, home of the Liverpool Jazz Society. At this stage the popularity of
the club was growing to the point where it was open seven nights a week. Thirsting for more, members circulated a
petition to have the club opened on Sunday afternoon. After some thought the management of the Iron Door decided that,
should they open, a different musical focus would be necessary. Geoff Hogarth recalls "We decided that we weren't
going to put jazz on. I mean you can really get fed up listening to jazz seven nights a week."
The Beatles first performance atthe Iron Door on Monday March 6 was billed as "Beat Night at the Liverpool Jazz
Society." In the advertisement in the "Liverpool Echo" on Saturday March 4, 1961, the event was billed as
"Merseysides Best Ever Rock Parade" and included: Gerry and the Pacemakers, The Sensational Beatles, Rory Storm &
The Hurricanes, The Big Three, Derry & The Seniors and Kingsize Taylor & The Dominoes.
4.4 Back in Hamburg
After Harrison turned 18 on February 25,and the immigration problems had been solved, The Beatles went back to Hamburg
for another residency at the Top Ten Club, playing from April 1 to July 1, 1961. To secure their return, Eckhorn paid
158DM to the German authorities, which was the cost of deporting McCartney and Best back to Liverpool the previous
winter. Fellow musician, Tony Sheridan, later remembered the living conditions at the club: "John, George, Paul, Stuart
and Pete and I were booked to open the smart Top Ten in the Reeperbahn. We moved into a dormitory over the club and
slept in bunks. It was terrible really, now I look back. We all washed our own shirts and socks." A dispute started
by John over discontinuing the paying of percentages to their manager Alan Williams for that gig, lead to Williams
terminating his relationship with The Beatles.
On this contract, they played seven-hour sessions on week nights and eight hours at weekends with a 15-minute break
every hour. Playing for approximately 500 hours on stage during their 92 nights there, the group improved dramatically
and changed into what many people consider to be the greatest popular music act in history. During their residency at
The Top Ten Club, Stuart Sutcliffe (who had left the group to remain in Germany in February 1961) and Astrid Kirchherr
attended most nights, with Astrid taking many pictures of the group. Stuart also adopted a new hair style, which would
be later adopted by all (except Pete) as the Beatle haircut.
Matching lilac jackets, made by McCartney's next-door neighbour in Liverpool to be worn as stage clothes, were soon
threadbare, as were any other items of clothing, so the group bought cowboy boots, jeans and black leather jackets and
trousers, from Paul Hundertmark's (Spielbudenplatz 9) and a tailor's shop at Thadenstrasse 6. Lennon said: "We had a
bit more money the second time so we bought leather pants [and cowboy boots] and we looked like four Gene Vincents,
only a bit younger, I think. And that was it, you know. We just kept the leather gear till Brian (Epstein) came along."
The Top Ten Club had a mike system called the Binson Echo which George later described by saying, "on it you'd sound
like Gene Vincent doing Be Bop A Lula."
Paul bought a Hofner violin bass at the Steinway shop in the town centre. He chose it in part because it was quite
cheap. It cost the German mark equivalent of £30 or so. Paul's father had always hammered into the his sons never
to get into debt. John and George went easily into debt and got more expensive guitars: John got a Club 40 and George
had a Futurama - which is like a Fender copy - and then later Gretches. Then John got Rickenbackers. They were
prepared to use credit, but it had been so beaten into Paul that he wouldn't risk it. Once he bought the Hofner,
though, he fell in love with it.
Allan Williams in Liverpool, had discovered that The Beatles did not intend to pay him his managerial commission
on their earnings at The Top Ten Club, and that they considered he was no longer their manager. In mid-April, he
wrote them a stormy letter, accusing them of forgetting who had helped them in the past, and describing them as
"May I remind you, seeing you are all appearing to get more than a little swollen-headed, that you
would not ever have smelled Hamburg if I had not made the contracts."
He threatened using legal means to have them forced to leave Hamburg.
On their second trip to Hamburg in 1961, Cynthia and Dot Rhone, Paul’s girlfriend, got their nerve up to go to Hamburg
to visit their boyfriends over Easter. The boys were elated to have them. John and Cynthia were inseparable during
her visit. Even though she had "posh" quarters at Astrid’s house, she sometimes stayed overnight with John in his
dingy bunk in the same sleazy room as the rest of the Beatles, with the overwhelming "smell of sweaty socks." Dot and
Paul, together with Tony Sheridan, stayed on a houseboat owned by Rosa Hoffman, the 'toilet-frau' (lavatory attendant)
at the club where the group played.
The relationship between Paul and Stuart meanwhile grew worse. Paul made no secret of his opinion about Stuart's base
playing. There were rows on stage between Paul and Stuart, once even escalating to physical violense.
It was during this second engagement in Hamburg that the Beatles made their first professional recordings. In June 1961
the Beatles (minus Stu Sutcliffe) went to Hamburg-Harburg, about 30 minutes from Hamburg's center, for a recording
session in the Friedrich-Ebert-Halle (auditorium/hall). They were paid 300 marks (about $75) for the recording session
as a backup band for Tony Sheridan, with no royalty rights. At the orchestral hall, they recorded four tracks backing
Sheridan: "My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean," "When The Saints Go Marching In," "Why (Can't You Love Me Again)," and
"Nobody's Child." "My Bonnie" had been chosen for the recording because of its popularity with Hamburg's sailors; it
was part of The Beatles' live set for the same reason. Hamburg-born Bert Kaempfert (1923-1980), a well-known German
musician, composer, and producer was in charge of the production for Polydor Records. Kaempert is best remembered in
the U.S. for his big instrumental hit "Wonderland by Night" ("Wunderland bei Nacht"), which reached number one in 1961,
the same year he recorded Sheridan and the Beatles. They also recorded two songs of their own. Towards the end of the
June 1961 session, which took place in a Hamburg school assembly hall, they taped two songs of their own choosing:
"Ain't She Sweet" and "Cry For A Shadow." Still known just as "Beatle Bop," an improvised tune they would sometimes
play in their act, "Cry For A Shadow" wasn't released until The Beatles had found fame. It eventually saw light of day
in the US and UK in 1964, on a Polydor single backed with a Sheridan song, "Why." George later recalled, "It was a bit
disappointing because we'd been hoping to get a record deal for ourselves. Although we did 'Ain't She Sweet' and the
instrumental "Cry For A Shadow" without Sheridan, they didn't even put our name on the record.
On 31 October 1961, Polydor released "My Bonnie" (Mein Herz ist bei dir nur) which appeared on the German charts under
the name "Tony Sheridan and The Beat Brothers," a generic name used for whoever happened to be in Sheridan's backup
group, although McCartney explained: "They didn't like our name and said, 'Change to The Beat Brothers, this is more
understandable for the German audience.' We went along with it... it was a record."
On July 1, 1961, the Beatles played their final performance of their second tour of Hamburg. On that date, they also
signed a one year recording deal with Bert Kaempfert.
5. Back to England
5.1 Again in England
On July 3, the Beatles arrived back in Liverpool. On July 6, Bill Harry, one of John's art college friends, published
the first issue of his bi-weekly beat music magazine "Mersey Beat." He and his girlfriend Virginia had started it
with 50 pounds. It was intended to allow readers to learn where and when their favorite groups were playing. Harry
had stayed at the Liverpool Art College and received a National Diploma in design, eventually winning a Senior City
Art Scholarship. Harry wished to see Liverpool become a cultural center, having once written to "The Daily Mail,"
that "Liverpool is like New Orleans at the turn of the century, but with rock ‘n’ roll instead of jazz." The first
issue included a humorous article entitled "Being a Short Diversion on the Dubious Origins of The Beatles Translated
From the John Lennon." In it, Lennon put forth the idea: "... Many people ask what are Beatles? Why Beatles? Ugh,
Beatles, how did the name arrive? So we will tell you. It came in a vision - a man appeared on a flaming pie and said
unto them, 'From this day on you are Beatles with an A.'" John's contributions proved to be so popular that Harry
gave him a regular column under the pseudonym "Beatcomber."
5.2 The Cavern
On July 14th, the Beatles began a long series of performances at the Cavern Club. They became the resident house band
there and their legend started to grow. Gerry and the Pacemakers also performed there from time to time. The basement
club, which only had one entrance with very steep steps, was frequently packed way beyond capacity. On September 14,
the Beatles performed at the Litherland Town Hall.
The Beatles could no longer look to Alan Williams for bookings, since refusing to pay him a commission on their
earnings at the Top Ten Club. On Thursday, July 27,the Beatles performed at the Cavern Club at lunchtime. That night
they appear at St. John's Hall, Tuebrook, Liverpool. At St. John's Hall, the Big Three also appeared, the remaining
members of Cass and The Cassanovas after Brian Cassar left and went to London, and a new singer named Cilla White who
was backed by The Beatles on some songs. She would later become a world-famous Epstein-managed act under the stage
name Cilla Black.
They finished July performing at the Aintree Institute in Aintree, Liverpool and Blair Hall in Walton, Liverpool. At
the end of August, local DJ and rock promoter Bob Wooler wrote a very positive review of them in his first article for
"Mersey Beat." Also in August, Polydor released the "My Bonnie"/ "The Saints" single labeled "Tony Sheridan and The
Beat Brothers" and it became a top ten hit (for Sheridan) in Germany.
Later in the year, two weeks before his Oct. 9 21st birthday, John was given a £100 cash gift by his Aunt Elizabeth in
Scotland, prompting him and Paul to immediately embark on a two-week vacation to Spain hitchhiking. They left without
a word to George or Pete. They never got farther than Paris. They were tired so they checked into a little hotel for
the night, intending to go off hitchhiking the next morning. They were comfortable there, so decided to stay a little
longer. Eventually they decided that hanging around Paris was more fun than doing the work required to get to Spain.
While in Paris, they hung around the various cafes, clubs,and bars, and also met with a friend from Hamburg, Jurgen
Vollmer, who was in Paris on vacation. They also persuaded Vollmer to cut their hair in the same style that he wore
it. Astrid had cut Stu and George's hair that way in Hamburg. This style was thereafter to be known as the "Beatles
In mid-October, John and Paul returned to Liverpool and resumed their performances at the Cavern, as well as playing at
various venues around town. George and Pete were very angry at having been deserted without any notice.
Promoter Brian Kelly had booked the Beatles, Gerry & the Pacemakers and Karl Terry & the Cruisers to perform at
Litherland Town Hall on 19 October 1961. As a bit of fun, both the Beatles and the Pacemakers decided to combine into
one group called the Beatmakers. They joined forces on stage, with Gerry Marsden wearing George Harrison’s leather
outfit and George, who played lead, wearing a hood. Paul McCartney played bass and wore a nightie, and Freddie Marsden
and Pete Best played one drum each.
On Saturday, October 28, a young man named Raymond Jones went to Brian Epstein's NEMS record store to ask for the record,
"My Bonnie," on which the Beatles backed Tony Sheridan. Brian, that morning, happened to be behind the counter, helping
with the weekend rush. Brian started asking him questions: Who were they? Where did they play? What type of music did
they perform? After Jones, who didn't realize that he was talking to the owner, had answered these questions he told
Brian that they were the best group he had ever seen. Jones was a regular visitor to the Cavern's lunchtime sessions.
The Cavern was in Mathew Street and Jones worked about a five minute walk away at a printer's shop in Dale Street. His
manager didn't mind him spending a little extra time at lunch as long as he made the time up in the evening. Brian
promised to order a copy for him and did.
On Thursday, November 9, the Beatles performed a lunchtime concert at the Cavern Club. Epstein and assistant Alistair
Taylor were allowed in without queuing. Epstein asked Bill Harry to arrange for him and Taylor to watch The Beatles
perform without queuing at the door. Harry phoned the owner, Ray McFall, who said he would inform the doorman on the
day, Pat Delaney, to let Epstein in. Epstein and Taylor bypassed the line of fans at the door and heard a welcome
message announced over the club's public-address system by Wooler (the resident DJ) saying, "We have someone rather
famous in the audience today, Mr. Brian Epstein, the owner of NEMS." Epstein and Taylor looked out of place in their
white shirts and dark business suits. After the show, Epstein and Taylor went into the dressing room which was "as
big as a broom cupboard" to talk to them. The Beatles immediately recognized Brian Epstein as they were regular
customers at NEMS but before Epstein could congratulate them on their performance, George Harrison said, "And what
brings Mr. Epstein here?" Epstein replied, "We just popped in to say hello. I enjoyed your performance". He introduced
Taylor, who merely nodded a greeting. Brian said, "Well done, then. Goodbye," and he and Taylor left.
Epstein and Taylor went to Peacock's restaurant in Hackins Hey for lunch, and during the meal Epstein asked Taylor what
he thought about the group. Taylor replied that he honestly thought they were "absolutely awful," but there was something
"remarkable" about them. Epstein waited awhile before saying anything further, but eventually said, "I think hey're
tremendous!" Later, when Epstein was paying the bill, he grabbed Taylor's arm and said, "Do you think I should manage
them?" The Beatles played at the Cavern over the next three weeks, and Epstein was always there to watch them. Epstein
contacted Allan Williams(their previous promoter/manager) to confirm that Williams no longer had any ties to them, but
Williams advised Epstein "not to touch them with a barge pole," because of a concert percentage the group had refused to
pay him in Hamburg. When they had moved from the Kaiserkeller to the Top Ten Club, they had refused to pay him his 10%
as they had arranged it themselves.
In a meeting with the group at NEMS on December 10, 1961, he proposed the idea of managing them. Lennon, Harrison and Best
arrived late for the meeting - they had been drinking at the Grapes pub in Mathew Street - and Epstein was irritated to see
that McCartney was not with them, because, as Harrison explained, he was "taking a bath." Lennon had invited Wooler to be
at the meeting so he could later give his opinion of Epstein, but introduced him by saying, "This is me dad." The Beatles
signed a five-year contract with Epstein on January 24, 1962. Epstein had told his mother and father that managing The
Beatles was only a part-time occupation, and would never interfere with the family business.
Immediately, Brian started getting them jobs, a bit more money, radio shows, etc. He realized that the group would have
to conform and change their image to make real career progress. Paul McCartney loved the idea, John Lennon and Pete Best
didn't. John Lennon's response, though, was, "Yeah man, all right, I'll wear a suit - I'll wear a bloody balloon if
someone's going to pay me. I am not in love with leather that much." George concured saying,"We happily changed into
suits to get some more money and some more gigs." And it worked, the band were shortly playing shorter gigs for more
money. Brian took them to Horne Brothers and had their hair cut in a standardized way. He took them to his tailor Beno
Dorm in Grange Road West in Birkenhead to have mohair suits made for them. Brian took them to the Empire Theatre in
Liverpool to watch the Shadows and pointed out how they bowed to the audience at the end of their act - and said that
the Beatles must do the same. Alistair Taylor later recalled that there was no dissent or resistance at the tailor as
he bustled around taking measurements, and that the boys actually seemed content to be the center of attention.
5.4 Audition at Decca Records
Dick Rowe was the head of Decca's Artists and Repertoire department.The Beatles first came to Rowe’s attention via a young
writer in Decca’s employ named Tony Barrow. Barrow came from the Liverpool area, but was a few years older than The Beatles.
He had moved to London to take a job writing liner notes for the label, and was also a columnist for "The Liverpool Echo,"
Liverpool's evening newspaper, on the side. Brian Epstein consulted Barrow for advice and help. While Barrow turned down
Epstein's request to write about the band in his Echo column, he did promise to mention the group to Decca’s A&R department.
For Rowe, the request to consider this unknown Northern band put him in a slightly awkward position. He was hardly
interested in The Beatles, but Epstein was a valued customer for Decca. His NEMS music store was a major retailer in the
North and Epstein’s was a relationship Rowe could hardly afford to damage. And so, Rowe sent an assistant, Mike Smith, up
to Liverpool to see what the fuss was all about.
Brian met with the Marketing director of Decca Records, Sydney Arthur Beecher-Stevens, together with his assistant Colin
Borland. Epstein told them how good The Beatles were, backing this up with an article about them in "Mersey Beat." He
also gave them a copy of the single My Bonnie, which they listened to later before telling Dick Rowe about it.Rowe headed
a team consisting of his junior assistant Mike Smith, sound engineer Peter Attwood, and Tony Meehan, The Shadows’ first
drummer, who had left the group in autumn 1961 to start a solo career. He had just joined Decca, where he was working as a
producer. Dick Rowe sent Mike Smith to Liverpool to see The Beatles. Smith met Brian Epstein on December 13, 1961 and
the two of them went to the Cavern after a dinner during which Epstein told him about his wish to have his boys audition
In mid December, another label, EMI, wrote to Brian declining to sign the Beatles to a contract, but returning the
English translation of their contract with Bert Kaempfert, which he had enclosed with the application to clarify
their present status. Meanwhile, the boys were continuing to work steadily at various venues.
On New Year's Day in 1962,the Beatles were driven to London by Neil Aspinall for a Decca audition, but Aspinall
lost his way, and the trip took ten hours. They arrived at 10 o'clock at night, and John Lennon said that they
arrived "just in time to see the drunks jumping in the Trafalgar Square fountain." They stayed at the Royal Hotel,
Woburn Place, London.
The following morning, Smith arrived at the studio late, haggard from the previous night’s partying. 15 songs were
recorded during a session that lasted about two hours. "The cold, stone appearance of the Decca West Hampstead studios
looked more like an institution of learning than a recording studio," recalls Pete. "When we entered the building we met
Eppie and he was in a fit because Mike Smith had not yet arrived." And the climate had not improved after the producer
entered the room. "Mr Smith told us that we could not use our own amplifiers, and told John, Paul, and George to plug
their instruments into the studio speakers."
Brian believed they’d done well, and received no sign to the contrary. Smith said he would let Epstein know and hurried
them out of the studio because he was running late and had another appointment to see Brian Poole & The Tremeloes. They
celebrated with dinner at their hotel in London that night.
Weeks passed without a decision from Decca. On January 24th, the Beatles signed a contract to officially make Brian
their manager, to formally take effect on Feb. 1. Brian was putting pressure on Decca to give an answer, so Rowe
decided to resolve the matter himself by secretly travelling to Liverpool to hear the Beatles perform at the Cavern.
It was raining hard when Rowe arrived. Furthermore, the crowd at the Cavern trying to get in was such that he was left
waiting outside. Finally he simply gave up and left, thus turning down the most successful popular music group in
history. On February 5th, Pete Best was sick, so Ringo filled in for two performances - noon at The Cavern and evening
at the Kingsway Club in Southport.
On February 6, after numerous phone calls, Brian Epstein was invited to London to have lunch with Dick
Rowe, and Decca Marketing manager Sydney Arthur Beecher-Stevens. He was told that the record company had
decided not to sign the Beatles. Brian argued with Rowe in an attempt to change his mind about rejecting
the Beatles. Rowe notoriously and condescendingly informed Epstein that guitar groups were passé and
that he and Beecher-Stevens recommended that Epstein return to record retailing in Liverpool.
Brian Poole and his band from Essex got the contract, in part because their travel expenses would be less. In
an interview years later, Smith said,"With hindsight, it’s unfortunate that that excitement [of the Cavern
show he’d witnessed] couldn’t have been carried into the actual audition, which I have to say I think
was very much a disappointment. It transpired later that they had written some wonderful songs that
didn’t appear that day, and so sadly, I said no. I certainly didn’t envision them turning into the
phenomenon that they were, which I regretted bitterly over the years. In terms of how they were as
musicians...certainly the one that played the most bum notes was McCartney. I was very unimpressed with
what was happening with the bassline. [In McCartney’s defense, he’d only been playing bass for less than
a year, having taken over the position when Stuart Sutcliffe left the band in 1961.] But...we’re talking
about four young men in a very strange environment, probably a very overpowering environment. And as
much as we tried to be friendly, it was a foreign area for them to be in."
The two managers told Brian that for a fee of about 100 pounds, he could consult Tony Meehan who could give
him the benefit of his experience. Although not very happy with this idea at first, Brian still agreed to it,
firmly resolved to grasp this little concession on the part of the others. A meeting was arranged for the
next day with Tony Meehan,whom he found hard at work with Dick Rowe in a recording studio. They had a brief
but amicable conversation and fixed a date on which The Beatles could do a private recording session. But
Brian Epstein later thought better of this idea and abandoned it.
5.5 Meet George Martin
Other labels declined The Beatles’ services as well, based on hearing the tape of the Decca audition.
On February 8, 1962, Epstein visited an HMV store at 363 Oxford Street to get some acetate discs made
from the unsuccessful reel-to-reel Decca demo. The disc-cutter was Jim Foy who mentioned the group to
publisher Sid Colman who in turn mentioned them to George Martin head of EMI’s Parlophone imprint.
Parlophone was EMI's minor label - it was best known as the label home of radio comics Peter Sellers
and Spike Milligan's Goon Show, and the classically-trained Martin’s principal experience was in comedy
and classical production. EMI’s other imprints had already rejected The Beatles.
He listened to a tape recorded at Decca, and thought that Epstein's group was "rather unpromising", but
liked the sound of Lennon and McCartney's vocals. After another meeting with Epstein on 9 May at the
Abbey Road studios, Martin was impressed with Epstein's enthusiasm and agreed to sign the unknown
Beatles to a recording contract without having met them or seen them play live. The contract was not
what it seemed, however, as George Martin would not sign it himself until he had heard an audition,
and later said that EMI had "nothing to lose," as it offered one penny for each record sold, which was
split amongst the four members, meaning one farthing per group member. The Beatles' first recording
session was scheduled for Wednseday, June 6 1962 at EMI's Abbey Road Studios in north London. Martin
had not been particularly impressed by the band's demo recordings, but he liked The Beatles'
personalities when he met them. He stated in later interviews that what made the difference for him was
their wit and humour.
Producer Ron Richards was initially in charge of the session - George Martin was only brought later.
Taking place in studio 2 from 7-10pm, it served as both an audition and recording session proper. They
first ran through a number of songs, and then recorded four. Exact numbers of takes are unknown, but
the songs were taped in the following order: Besame Mucho, Love Me Do, PS I Love You and Ask Me Why.
The engineer present that day, Norman Smith, felt that the Beatles "weren't very impressive at all."
In an interview, he said, "They had tiny little Vox amplifiers and speakers, which didn't create much
of a sound at source. Of course, every sound engineer wants some kind of sound at source that he can
then embellish and improve, but I got nothing out of The Beatles' equipment except for a load of noise,
hum and goodness-knows-what. Paul's was about the worst. In those days we had echo chambers to add onto
the reverberation, and I had to raid the Studio 2 echo chamber in order to fix him up with a sound so
that we could get something down on tape."
In another interview, Smith recalled, "They had such duff equipment. Ugly, unpainted wooden amplifiers,
extremely noisy, with earth loops and goodness knows what. There was as much noise coming from the amps
as there was from the instruments. Paul’s bass was particularly bad and it was clear that the session
wasn’t going to get under way until something was done about it."
After some time, Smith, who had been impressed by the Lennon-McCartney original song, "Love Me Do,"
instructed tape operator Chris Neal to fetch Martin, who took over the rest of the session. Afterwards
he invited them to the control room to review the recordings, and to listen while the production team
critiqued the performance and repertoire. Each member of the audition team (Martin, Richards, and
Smith) reviewed their concerns with the Beatles. For example, Smith remembers telling the Beatles
(which included drummer Pete Best), "if you want to be recording artists, particularly with EMI, you
must have some decent equipment." And I said to them, "I can only improve your sound, embellish, if
you give me some kind of initial sound in the studio, then I can embellish, and whatever. But I can't
do it with the equipment you've got at the moment.
Martin also gave them a lecture on the state of their equipment. Recalls Smith, "They didn't say a
word back, not a word, they didn't even nod their heads in agreement. When he finished, George said,
'Look, I've laid into you for quite a time, you haven't responded. Is there anything you don't like?'
I remember they all looked at each other for a long while, shuffling their feet, then George Harrison
took a long look at George and said, 'Well, there's your tie, for a start.' That cracked the ice for
us and for the next 15- 20 minutes they were pure entertainment. When they left to go home George and
I just sat there saying 'Phew! What to you think of that lot then?' I had tears running down my face."
Martin had a problem with Pete Best, whom he criticised for not being able to keep time. Martin
privately suggested to Epstein that the band use another drummer in the studio. When the news came that
Martin wanted to replace Best on their recordings with a session drummer, Lennon, McCartney and Harrison
asked Epstein to fire Best from the band. The fact was, the others had already been thinking along those
lines. All the other Beatles went on record about the dismissal of Best. McCartney said: "It was a
strictly professional decision. If he wasn't up to the mark... then there was no other choice." He also
pronounced Best to be "a bit limited". Harrison said that "Pete kept being sick and not showing up for
gigs" and admitted, "I was quite responsible for stirring things up. I conspired to get Ringo in for
good; I talked to Paul and John until they came round to the idea." Brian was given the unpleasant
task of informing Pete that the others wanted him out of the band, which John, years later, called,
It was for a long time believed that all four songs recorded this day were completely lost. However,
"Besame Mucho" was found in late 1983 or early 1984 on a private reel, reportedly somewhere in the
Far East. The 1983/1984 dating is derived by noting that the track was not included in the :"Abbey
Road Show" private tour (July 1983), but was, however, edited by Barrett (July 1984) for the aborted
Sessions LP (slated for 1985 release but withheld due to legal wrangles). Sometime thereafter
(possibly 1994), Judy Martin (George's wife) came across an acetate disc of "Love Me Do" at the back
of a Martin residence closet. The Anthology video claimed, however, that it came from a "private reel"
(probably a mix-up with "Besame Mucho"), while Miles and Badman, in Beatles Diary Vol. 2 (2001),
wrote that both "Besame Mucho" and "Love Me Do" were found by Judy Martin in the back of a cupboard.
On June 9, the Beatles gave their first performance at the Cavern since returning from Germany, along
with The Red River Jazzmen, Ken Dallas and the Silhouettes, and the Four Jays.
On June 25th, following their lunchtime show at the Cavern Club, the Beatles travelled to St. Helens for
their first of five Monday night performances at the Plaza Ballroom. The Plaza was run by Whetstone
Entertainment, which also controlled two other ballrooms in the area as well as 13 bingo halls in the
north west of England. They were paid £25 for this appearance.
Finally, in July, Brian received a definite commitment from Martin and EMI to record the group, although
at the meager rate of one penny per record sold, to be divided among the Beatles and himself.
On 23 August 1962 John Lennon married Cynthia Powell at the Mount Pleasant register office in Liverpool.
Brian Epstein was the best man, and George Harrison and Paul McCartney were also in attendance. John's
aunt Mimi was not present. She made it clear she did not approve of the relationship. Cynthia's half
brother and his wife were there.
As soon as the ceremony began, a pneumatic drill outside the building opposite drowned out all that was
said; when the registrar asked for the groom to step forward, Harrison did, which only added to the
At Epstein's expense, they celebrated afterwards at Reece's restaurant in Clayton Square, eating a set
menu of soup, chicken and trifle. Reece's was where John's parents Alf and Julia had celebrated their
own wedding in 1938.
5.6 "Love Me Do"
The Beatles did three different recordings of Love Me Do and with three different drummers: Pete Best,
Ringo Starr and Andy White. The first recording was with Pete Best behind the drum kit on the June 6
audition. Producer George Martin was not impressed with Best's drumming (this version is available on
Anthology 1) and on the second recording, on September 4, the Beatles recorder "Love Me Do" with their
new drummer, Ringo Starr.
One week later, on September 11, the Beatles returned to the same studio and they made a recording of
"Love Me Do" with session drummer Andy White on drums, as Martin was unhappy with Starr's performance
on September 4 and he was relegated to play tambourine. White played on three songs - "Love Me
Do," "PS I Love You," and a version of "Please, Please, Me." However, when Love Me Do was released as a
single, George Martin decided to use the version with Ringo on the drums.
Love Me Do was released on October 4 1962 and made it to no 17 on the British charts. Almost two years
later, in May 1964, it hit the number one spot in the US, where it stayed for one week.
The Beatles made their debut on television on October 16, 1962, with an appearance in Manchester on the
local programme "People And Places," which was a magazine style program broadcast only in the north of
England. The Beatles rehearsed before cameras from 3-4pm, and again from 4:15-6pm. The show was broadcast
live from 6:35-7pm, and the group sang two songs: "Some Other Guy" and their new single "Love Me Do."
5.7 "Please Please Me"
The Beatles had accomplished a modest debut success with "Love Me Do", but outside of Liverpool and
Hamburg they were still practically unknown. Part of the problem was that the group was committed to
begin what was to be their final Hamburg season just as "Love Me Do" entered the British charts and so
was unable to actively promote it on their home soil. On November 1, 1962, the Beatles begin a 2-week
run at Hamburg's Star Club. The Beatles stayed at the Hotel Germania, having the luxury of single rooms
for the first time.The Star Club was a music club that opened Friday April 13, 1962 and was initially
operated by Manfred Weissleder and Horst Fascher. The club achieved worldwide renown through the
performances of The Beatles, who played there April 13 - May 31, November 1-14, and December 18-31 1962.
A performance of parts of several performances from the end of the latter stay was or were recorded on
a tape recorder.
Their producer, George Martin, felt that "Love Me Do" was a promising start and decided to go ahead with
a second single. "George Martin has stated that the original version of "Please, Please Me" was "rather
dreary", was too slow and consequently had little prospect of being the big hit the band were looking for.
Martin said, "I was still thinking that we should release their earlier recording of "How Do You Do It?,"
a previously taped Mitch Murray composition that Martin insisted the Beatles record which he had seriously
considered as an alternative debut single instead of "Love Me Do". The group replied that they were only
interested in recording their own material. McCartney said: "It was symptomatic of our group that we
turned down "How Do You Do It?". Ringo Starr commented: "I remember us all being ready to stand up for
the principle of, 'We have written these songs and we want to do them'". George Martin was ultimately
sympathetic to their appeals, but said later: "[I] would still have issued "How Do You Do It?" had they
not persuaded me to listen to another version of "Please Please Me". "Please Please Me" was released in
the UK in January of 1963, went to #1 by late February, and remained there for 30 weeks
5.8 Julian Lennon is Born
On April 8, 1963, John Charles Julian Lennon was born at Sefton General Hospital. On April 11, From Me
to You" / "Thank You Girl" was released. John didn't make it to the hospital until three days after his
son was born - the first opportunity he'd had to get away from the tour. John snuck into Sefton General
Hospital wearing a disguise consisting of a hat, a fake moustache and dark glasses. He told Cynthia, "He's
bloody marvelous, Cyn. Isn't he absolutely fantastic? Whose going to be a famous little rocker like dad?"
On Thursday, April 18, the Beatles made their first appearance at the Royal Albert Hall in London, taking
part in the BBC show Swinging Sound ’63, which featured other acts including Rolf Harris, Del Shannon and
On the April 28, John Lennon and Brian Epstein left for a holiday in Barcelona, Spain at the same time
George Harrison, Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney went to Santa Cruz, Tenerife.
6. George Goes to America
Although The Beatles would travel to America in February 1964 to appear on the Ed Sullivan show, in September
of 1963 George became the first of the group to travel to the US. While John and Cynthia Lennon were
holidaying in Paris, and Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr flew to Greece with their partners, George Harrison and
his brother Peter visited their sister Louise Harrison Caldwell in Benton, Illinois. The small city of around
8,000 people had a substantial coal mining community. Louise had emigrated there in early 1963 as her Scottish
husband Gordon was a mining engineer. Ringo Starr originally planned to join Harrison on the US trip, but
eventually decided to go to Greece instead. Most of the group wanted a restful holiday, and Louise Harrison was
keen to promote The Beatles' music with local radio stations.
When the Harrison brothers arrived in Benton in September, George and Louise hitchhiked to AM radio station WFRX
with a copy of "She Loves You," which had been released the previous month in the United Kingdom. The song was
played by DJ Marcia Raubach in June 1963, the first time The Beatles' music had been broadcast in the United
States. Marcia Raubach was a 15 year old high school student who had a rock'n roll show on her father's station.
While in Benton, George Harrison, bought two or three dozen records, mostly albums, and performed with a local
group Louise knew, called The Four Vests, at the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) Hall in Eldorado, IL. He also
performed with the group at the Bocchi Ball Club in Benton. He performed mainly American country music songs at
Two members of The Four Vests, Gabe McCarty and Vernon Mandrell, took Harrison to the Fenton Music Store in
Mt Vernon, IL. At the store Harrison bought a fireglo red Rickenbacker 425 guitar for $400. Apparently
Rickenbackers were difficult to come by in England and George wanted one. Gabe McCarty, who was friends with Red
Fenton, the owner, was always given a discount and got him to extend the same rate to George.
George and Peter Harrison also travelled to New York for a couple of days before returning to England on October 3.
7. National Fame
On November 22, 1963, the Beatles Second album, "With the Beatles," was released by EMI on George Martin's
Parlophone label. The album features eight original compositions seven by Lennon/McCartney, George Harrison's
first recorded solo composition, "Don't Bother Me," and six covers.
On December 27th, The "London Times" gave Lennon and McCartney the award of "outstanding English composers of
I love the Beatles and have no one to talk to about it, at least no one who's really interested.
If you have a similar interest and want to correspond about it, write to me at BrandonShw@hotmail.com,
but put the word Beatles somewhere in the title so that I don't mistake your letter for spam and delete it.
(To learn more about me generally, click "HOME" below and then click "About me" at the bottom of the home page.)
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