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Home arrow About The Beatles arrow • Beatles history arrow Who backed the Beatles (1)
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Who backed The Beatles? (1) PDF Print E-mail

Ken Brown: A rhythm-guitarist with the Liverpool group The Les Stuart Quartet, in whose evening shows the 16-year-old George Harrison would occasionally take part. (This is in August 1959, i.e. when the Beatles had plenty of spare time). Brown's group played at Mona Best's coffee club, the Casbah. And when The Les Stuart Quartet broke up Ken Brown, through Harrison, invited John and Paul to play at the Casbah, which they did. However, his career with John, Paul and George did not last long. And here's why. One day, Ken Brown failed to turn up for an evening gig because he was ill, leaving the remaining three Quarry Men to play without him. However, when Mrs Mona Best paid them for the performance, the trio discovered that she hadn't given them all the money.

When questioned, Mona replied that the rest of the money would be given to Brown since, although he hadn't performed with them the last time, he was nonetheless a member of the group. This incident put an end to Ken Brown's collaboration with The Quarry Men, who went on to boycott the Casbah club. Then, in June 1959, Ken suggested to Mona's son, Pete Best, that they form a new group, to which the latter agreed. It was called The Blackjacks. However, by August 1959 Pete Best had accepted the offer made by Paul and George and became the Beatles' official drummer. The Blackjacks began to hit the skids, and soon Ken Brown also left Liverpool.

Eric Clapton: One of the most famous and remarkable rock guitarists in the world, he was born in the small English town of Ripley, in Surrey, on 30 March 1945. Eric first took up the guitar when he was 17, and his first group was called The Roosters. In October 1963 he joined the group Casey Jones & the Engineers, where he would not stay for long. Clapton went on to play with the popular Yardbirds, and then backed Billy J. Kramer on his 1964 tour, i.e. before his own performance at the Another Beatles Christmas Show, which took place at the end of December 1964 at the Odeon Cinema, Hammersmith, London.

It was here that Eric met George Harrison, and this meeting marked the beginning of their close friendship. Clapton also played in the then very famous group Cream. His guitar-playing by that time was so good that he was rightly named one of Britain's most exciting guitarists. It was he, Eric, whom George invited to play a guitar solo during his song "While My Guitar Gently Weeps". (In so doing he breached the ban existing within the Beatles on any outsiders being present in the studio when they were recording their songs). It's worth mentioning, though, that Eric Clapton initially refused this very flattering proposal, saying that he thought it wrong for him to play in even part of another group's song, all the more so since none of the Beatles apart from George had invited him to do so. Nonetheless Harrison insisted on having it his own way, saying "it's my song".

We all know now how brilliantly Clapton played his part in "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", all but making his guitar weep. Unfortunately, the friendship between the two great guitarists also had negative consequences - Eric's role in the break-up of Pattie Boyd and George Harrison: The behaviour of Pattie herself was, to say the least, tactless towards her husband, having started to flirt openly with Eric, who had fallen so deeply in love with the wife of his best friend that he dedicated his famous song "Layla" ... to Pattie, my friend's wife. Officially, he wrote this song having been inspired by the immortal heroes of "Layla and Med? [sic] a work written by a great 12th century Azeri poet and thinker, who lived in the ...? [sic] then accepted in the east, Niza Ganjavi. However, the whole world knew that Pattie was Clapton's Layla.

The song certainly enjoyed enormous success, reaching the top-10 charts on both sides of the Atlantic in 1972. Ten years later, in 1982, the song repeated its success. By the way, the innocent, open-hearted George was invited by his friend to play a riff in this song, published on the double album "Layla And Other Assorted Songs".

George and Pattie parted at the end of 1973. Pattie returned to her modelling job and went to live with Clapton, only formally divorcing her husband in 1977. On 27 March 1979, in Arizona, Pattie Boyd was legally married to Eric Clapton. Upon their return to Great Britain, the young couple invited a host of guests to their house (i.e. Eric's house - Hurtwood Edge, Ewhurst) chief amongst whom were George Harrison and his second wife, the Mexican-American Olivia Arias, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr and their wives, Mick Jagger, Elton John, Lonnie Donegan, Jeff Beck and Ray Cooper. A little earlier, on the eve of this ceremony, Eric Clapton, with the help of the local fire brigade, set up a stage for a jam session. And so, during the celebrations, he invited all three Beatles on to the stage! Imagine, Paul, George and Ringo played together, in 1979!!!

As for Pattie's and Eric's marriage, it would last only seven years, ending in divorce in 1986 ... It remains to be added that Eric Clapton, as guitarist, played alongside George, John and Yoko at a concert organised by UNICEF (UN children's fund) on 15 December 1969 at the London Lyceum. On that occasion Eric performed Lennon's song "Cold Turkey" together with the Beatles. That same year, 1969, in John's and Yoko's group The Plastic Ono Band, Clapton took part in a concert called the Toronto Rock ‘n' Roll Revival Show. Also noteworthy is his participation in the recording of the following albums: "John Lennon Live Peace in Toronto" 1969 (US: Apple SW - 3362) and George Harrison's "Dark Horse" (US: Apple SMAS - 3418) 1974. In August 1971 Clapton performed in New York at the "Concert For Bangladesh", organised by George Harrison (Ringo was another Beatle to take part in this, and all the proceeds from it went to the aid fund for the starving children in the far-off south Asian country, Bangladesh).

In the years after this Clapton has remained a fairly active performer, playing various concerts and other musical programmes. However, his musical path intersected that of the Beatles another four times, with Clapton taking part in the recording of Ringo Starr's album "Rotogravure" (US: Atlantic SD - 18193), 1976, and the Paul McCartney/Wings album "Back To The Egg" (US: Columbia FC - 36057), 1979, and on 5 and 6 June 1978, at the Prince's Rock Trust Gala Concerts, where he performed with Ringo Starr (George Harrison performed here too); and in December 1990, in Japan, where Clapton and Harrison played twenty concerts together throughout the country.

Rod Davis: He was a school friend and classmate of John Lennon. He played in the first skiffle group, The Quarry Men. The story of Rod's presence in the group is extraordinarily simple: John, knowing that Davis's parents had bought him a banjo, invited his friend to play in the group. What's more, when the boys needed a car to take them to their gigs, Rod's father always offered them his car.

Rod Davis was a member of the group from March 1957 to February 1958. He was forced to leave the group because of other matters that were taking up this time.

Craig Douglas: He is a British singer, fairly well-known from 1959 onwards. Douglas's songs often reached the charts. For example, "A Teenager of Love" (1959) and "Town Crier" (1963). Craig was born in Newport, Isle of Wight, in 1941. He starred in a few films, with his film debut thought to be "It's Trad, Dad". Craig Douglas's meeting with the Beatles took place on 9 June 1957, at the Liverpool Empire Theatre's Sunday concert, where the Beatles backed him at the end of their first part of their first concert performance at the Empire Theatre. It has to be said that this performance with Craig Douglas was a prestigious one for the Beatles.

 
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