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Beatles stages 1957 / 1958 PDF Print E-mail

1. The British performances and tours of The Quarry Men - The Beatles

9 July 1957 - Empire Theatre, Liverpool
The first "official" public, albeit unsuccessful, performance by The Quarry Men - they failed to impress when they auditioned before the promoter Carroll Levis who was looking for new talent to appear on his next production of the ATV Mr Star Maker TV show. In his quest for new talent Mr Levis had organised the TV Star Search show at the Empire Theatre. However, as we have said, John and his friends were unsuccessful on this occasion. The winners then were The Sunnysides, who included in their number the Lilliputian Nicky Cuff, who was both vocalist and played the tea chest bass.

6 July 1957 - Garden Fete, St. Peter's Parish Church, Woolton, Liverpool
As those who were involved in these annual garden fetes in Woolton, which were always funded by the local church, recall, John Lennon and his group always loved playing there. And they were more than up to the tasks set them here. John is remembered as a skilful and accomplished lad. One night his microphone broke during a performance; Lennon was not put off, though, and simply started belting out the song.

There was one taboo for Aunt Mimi. She was not allowed to appear at venues at which John was playing. One day, 6 June 1957, Mimi broke the "agreement" and appeared here, at the garden fete. Having spotted John in full "Teddy Boy" regalia, Mimi was horrified and disappointed. John, undoubtedly displeased, as if nothing had happened, straightaway thought up a new chorus for the song they were singing: ... Mimi's coming, oh, oh, Mimi's coming down the path".

On the whole, The Quarry Men that day played songs which were very popular among young people at the time: "The Cumberland Gap", "Railroad Bill" (both traditional songs arranged by Lonnie Donnegan), "Come Go With Me" (Quick) (very popular then as performed by the Del Vikings), "Twenty Flight Rock", Eddie Cochran (Cochran-Fairchild), "Maggie May" (a traditional, Liverpool song, popular among young people). As we know, in 1969 the Beatles will perform it again and rewrite it, and it appears on the album "Let It Be" (1970). As for Gene Vincent's song "Be Bop A Lula" (Vincent-Davis), some experts claim that Lennon was singing the wrong words the first time.

Then, on 6 July 1957, the teenage Paul McCartney, who had been asked at the last minute by his friend Ivan Vaughan to come to the church fete because it would be a good place for him to pick up girls, arrived on his bicycle. And so, having failed to meet anyone, the young McCartney strolled disappointedly around the fete, arriving by chance at the very spot at which The Quarry Men were playing, where he saw John Lennon for the first time. We already know what happened next.

The only thing worthy of note here is that a little later on it was Ivan Vaughan who introduced Paul McCartney, showing off in his trendy, customised jester's trousers, and white jacket to Lennon, and that Paul gave the group some really invaluable assistance: he showed them the mistakes in their guitar-playing and where they were going wrong in the songs' lyrics, which Lennon was singing from memory, often making up and adding words of his own.

It is also well-known now that it was Paul who wrote down the lyrics of the songs "Be-Bop-A-Lula" and "Twenty Flight Rock" for John and showed him how to play the guitar properly in the song "Long Tall Sally" (Johnson-Penniman-Blackwell) "Tutti Frutti" (Penniman-Labostrie). All this, of course, made a deep impression on Lennon, although he was wary of Paul who, as an impressive performer, could challenge him, John, for leadership of the group. Two weeks later (20 July 1957) Pete Shotton (by the way, his mother often helped the group, selling tickets for The Quarry Men gigs at St. Peter's Church), happened upon Paul McCartney on his bicycle in Woolton, stopped him and said that Lennon wanted to invite Paul to play with The Quarry Men.

Paul, of course, agreed and was right to do so. After all, we all know what happened next. The greatest performance and composing duo in the world - Lennon-McCartney - was born on 7 August 1957 at the Cavern Jazz Club, Matthew Street, Liverpool! This is a special day in the group's history. Nigel Whalley had managed to organise an invitation for the group to play at the elite Cavern Jazz Club. This was the day on which The Quarry Men performed for the first time here. The club rapidly became a "home from home" for the group - the birth place of a new, very popular and famous musical style known as Merseybeat.

This was at a time when, as we can see from the club's first name, it was considered a place for jazz fans. To be allowed to play there, John had to declare that The Quarry Men were anti-rock ‘n' roll. On stage, however, it was all very different: they started with rock ‘n' roll and managed to play some of their own songs, having announced them as jazz numbers by Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry. At this point the anxious and bewildered club manager went up to the stage and said to them "cut" it out, "cut the bloody rock". But this reprimand had no effect whatsoever and so John and his group were forcibly removed from the stage.

Be that as it may, rock fans gradually began to supplant the jazz fans, and the Cavern Club, which had already lost the "jazz" from its name, became a stronghold of rock and the Beatles. The Beatles played at the Cavern Club a total of 292 times. On 18 October 1957, they played at the New Clubmoor Hall (Conservative Club, Broadway, Liverpool). This performance by The Quarry Men marked Paul's debut performance with them. He played the guitar. During the gig, to demonstrate his "instrumental" prowess, Paul stepped to the front of the stage and announced Arthur Smith and The Crackerjacks' number ("Guitar Boogie" (Smith) (this was a very well-known number at that time)), and launched into a weighty guitar solo. The group held its breath: this was exactly what the group needed. And it needed a good lead-guitarist.

November - December 1957. On 7 November The Quarry Men play at Wilson Hall, Garston; on 16 November at Liverpool's Stanley Abattoir Social Club; on 23 November at the Conservative Club's New Clubmoor Hall, and on 7 December again at Wilson Hall.

January - March 1958, Liverpool. The Quarry Men continue their performances. On 10 January they again appear at the New Clubmoor Hall; on 24 January at the Cavern Club; on 6 February at Wilson Hall, Garston, and on 13 March they appeared at the opening night of Liverpool's Morgue Skiffle Cellar. Incidentally, on 6 February at Wilson Hall, George Harrison, a fanatical guitarist and close friend of Paul McCartney, meets The Quarry Men for the first time. It is here, after a short and very good-natured and friendly session playing the guitar with the group - as every one recalls it - George is accepted into the group. The Quarry Men now include John, Paul, George, Len Garry, Eric Griffiths and the pianist John Lowe, nicknamed "Duff", who played with them occasionally (a little later, John would throw Len Garry and Eric Griffiths out of the group).

20 December 1958. Wedding reception for Harry Harrison Junior and Irene McCann-Harrison, Speke, Liverpool.

As we already know, at the beginning of this year George Harrison - the third of the future Beatles and a close school friend of Paul McCartney - also utterly devoted to the guitar, was introduced by the latter to John Lennon. This happened on 6 February 1958. And although it is John who decides to accept Harrison into the group, he nonetheless does not consider this an end to the matter because he thinks George is too small, practically a boy. Harrison literally "haunts" Lennon, earns his admiration and sometimes substitutes for someone in the group. It is all this, coupled with George's fairly proficient guitar-playing, that finally wins John Lennon over and persuades him to accept George as a popular member of The Quarry Men.

This day - the wedding of Harry, George Harrison's elder brother, on which he was accepted as a member of The Quarry Men, is considered to mark George's first performance as the group's new official guitarist.

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