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Beatles stages 1956 PDF Print E-mail

Like other skiffle groups of that time, the Quarry Men began by performing before audiences.

The youngsters took advantage of any opportunity to perform, even unpaid, so long as there were people to listen to them. Their first listeners, it seems, were classmates and children living next door.

As was the case with all - or virtually all - skiffle groups, the Quarry Men had no musical education and the techniques they employed when playing instruments, including a washboard, then played by Pete Shotton, who was a childhood friend of John and would remain his friend throughout his life, were hopeless. However, as the group's performances increased, its members' playing techniques improved by leaps and bounds.

As I have said above, the Quarry Men's first appearances were in school halls, neighbours' yards and in the streets, as well as at weddings, clubs and church events. Now, after such a long time, it is impossible to list all these places. All that is known is the original composition of the skiffle group The Black Jacks/The Quarry Men. The founder and permanent leader of the group is the fifteen-year old (to be strictly accurate, he was fifteen and a half) John Lennon (guitar), his close friend and classmate Pete Shotton (washboard), another friend and classmate Bill Smith (tea chest bass), the latter, it's true, was not in the group for long, but was nonetheless a member.

Others who played in the group included Nigel Whalley and Ivan Vaughan (tea chest bass), Rod Davis (banjo), Colin Hanton (drums) and Eric Griffiths (guitar). A little later a friend of Ivan, Len Garry, joined the group, ultimately becoming firmly established within the group as bassist when Nigel Whalley gave up the bass and began devoting all his attention to managing the Quarry Men. We know that from April 1957 the teenagers were offered many gigs at the following clubs and other venues: the Pavilion Theatre at Aintree and the Grafton Ballroom and Locarno Ballroom. The latter two halls were on West Derby Road. The Pavilion Theatre is on Lodge Lane, and another hall, the Rialto Ballroom, is at the junction of Parliament Street and Stanhope Street.

Most of the Quarry Men's gigs in south Liverpool took place at the following venues: Wilson Hall in Garston and the Winter Gardens Ballrooms on Heald Street, which is also in Garston.

In July 1957 there was a moment in history at a church event held by St. Peter's Parish Church Youth Club when John Lennon and Paul McCartney met by chance. According to the famous American musician and composer, Leonard Bernstein, this was a meeting between Saint John (John) and Saint Paul (Paul)!

One Friday in November 1957 (none of the members remembers the date now), the teenagers played at the Haig Dance Club at Haig Avenue, Morton, the Wirral, Cheshire. They played at venues which regularly put on skiffle festivals. These included St. Barnabas Church Hall on Penny Lane and many other places. Throughout its last years the group continued to perform at various events, including to celebrate Christmas Day, for family celebrations, dances, etc. John, Paul, George and company continue to improve and gradually win their place "under the sun". Their relatives began helping them where possible. For example, Harry Harrison, George's father, then a bus driver and former chairman of several social and workers' committees, secured gigs for the young musicians at bus depot clubs on Picton Road, Wavertree and at Finch Lane, near Huyton (1 January 1959).

This list of their various performances is by no means exhaustive and it would be impossible to name all the places at which they performed in public. We shall confine ourselves to those which played a major role in establishing the popularity of The Quarry Men - The Beatles.

 
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