A Beatles Twist of Fate
July 6, 1957, Liverpool England. It's raining. It's always raining in Liverpool. A 17-year-old musician named John Lennon just wraps up a gig with his band, the former "Black Jacks", now known as "The Quarry Men", at a popular local venue called St. Peter's Parish Church in Woolton, Liverpool.
The future Beatles members include John Lennon on guitar, Pete Shotten on the washboard, Rod Davis on banjo, Eric Griffiths on guitar, and Colin Hanton on drums. The group rotates the bass guitar spot between their friends Bill Smith, Len Garry, Ivan Vaughan, and Nigel Whalley.
As John is packing up his gear fellow band member, and one of John's friends, Ivan Vaughn, walks up and introduces John to another young lad named James Paul McCartney. No one could possibly have foreseen the magnitude of this chance meeting. Anxious to show off his stuff, Paul grabs his guitar and starts playing and singing.
When it comes to rocking she's a queen.
I took her to a dance on a saturday night,
All alone where I can hold her tight.
She lives on the twentieth floor uptown.
The elevator's broken down."
John and Paul chat for a while and then Paul walks away as the band starts setting up for their second gig of the night. Had it ended there, the world would never have experienced "Beatlemania" and the names John, Paul, George and Ringo, the Beatles, may never have become so much a part of our culture. But it didn't end there.
A Legend is Born
On July 20, 1957, band member Pete Shotten approaches Paul and asks him to join the band. Paul's first public performance with the group won't happen until October 18th of that same year at a tiny little place called "The Conservative Club".
On Feb 6, 1958, Paul introduces a college friend named George Harrison to John, but George remains an outsider until August 29th, 1958 when he is invited to join the band. The group now counts 7 members and continues making appearances until they finally break up in early 1959 because of a shortage of gigs.
The performers each go their own way for a while until George, and his friend Ken Brown, team up with John and Paul, to form "Johnny and the Moondogs", and land a gig for seven consecutive Saturday performances at the "Casbah" Club. Internal bickering, and financial disputes with the club's owner, combine to break the group up on October 10th when they stop playing at the Casbah and Ken Brown walks away from the he quartet leaving a trio consisting of John on guitar and vocal, George on guitar, and Paul on drums. Ken Brown teams up with Casbah owner's son Pete Best, and they continue to perform at the club.
John and Paul also began writing songs during this period in the soon-to-be-famous "Lennon & McCarthy" style. They collaborated on "Love Me Do", "One After 909", "Hello Little Girl," and "When I'm Sixty-Four. "
On April 23 and 24, 1960, John and Paul played a gig at the "Fox and Hounds Bar" which was owned by Paul's cousin Elizabeth Robbins. Playing acoustical guitars, and singing without microphones, they performed under the unlikely name "The Nerk Twins".
It's Almost Time
It's now January 1960, A school friend of John's, Stu Sutcliff, joins the group on Bass. May comes and the group changes their name to The "Beetles" in honor of Stu's hero "Buddy Holly & The Crickets". This name lasts about a month and, at John's insistance, they become the "Silver Beetles".
Always on the lookout for a "real drummer", they take on Tommy Moore, who remains on board for the groups May 18th nine day tour in Scotland where they perform as the backup group for Johnny Gentle, a pop performer whose star was on the rise, but who never quite made it to the big time. His actual place in history is as the only performer who ever had the Beatles sing backup for him.
In July 1960 they take on drummer Norman Chapman only to lose him a few months later when Norman is drafted into the military. With several gigs booked, the group is frantic for a new drummer and they tap Peter Best who is still playing with former group member Ken Brown. They also change the group's name slightly, from the "Silver Beetles", to the "Silver Beatles". Peter is an instant hit with the group's female fans and he becomes a huge sex symbol. The Press take a liking to Pete as well and call his unique drumming style the "atom beat". The other group members begin to resent all the attention being heaped upon Pete and this resentment simmers behind the scenes.
The group now consists of John Lennon on rhythm and vocals, Paul McCartney on rhythm and vocals, George Harrison on lead and vocals, Stuart Sutcliffe on bass and vocals, and Pete Best on drums. The boys are playing to wild crowds on a tour of Germany but hit some rocky roads in Hamburg when George gets deported for being underage and playing in bars, and Pete and Stu get arrested for suspicion of starting a fire at the home of Allan Williams, the groups booking agent, after a dispute arises over money.
Stu wanders off after getting engaged to photographer Astrid Kirchherrnd who is later credited with giving the boys the idea for their then controversial hair styles. The group disbands for about a month after Paul's father pressures him to get a "real job" in a factory.
It's now 1961 and record producer Bert Kampfert asks the boys if they would like to make a record with a struggling pop musician named Tony Sheridan. This leads to a record contract with Polydor and the company promotes them as the "Beat Brothers" (Soon to be The Beatles). Their first commercial recordings include "My Bonnie", "In the School Hall", "Cry for A Shadow" and "Ain't She Sweet".