Friday, October 4, 2013

9 Days of Lennon; Day 4 The Quarrymen

skif·fle  (skifel) n.:
Jazz, folk, or country music played by performers who use unconventional instruments, such as kazoos, washboards, or jugs, sometimes in combination with conventional instruments. (Definition from )

In 1956 John Lennon had started his own skiffle group with schoolmates, Rod Davis on banjo , Pete Shotton on washboard, Eric Griffiths playing lead guitar, Bill Smith on tea-chest bass and had himself as lead vocalist. They called them selves "The Blackjacks" but later changed to "The Quarrymen" after Quarry Bank grammar school where they attended and graduated in 1958. Not shortly after Bill Smith had left the band having Len Garry replace him and the band added Colin Hanton on drums. On July 6, 1957 young Paul McCartney had made an impression on John and was offered a place in the band (find more about John and Paul meeting here ). In 1958 The Quarrymen sat on top of a double Decker bus with a friend of McCartney's, George Harrison.

"I'd been invited to see them play several times by Paul but for some reason never got round to it before. I remember being very impressed with John's big thick sideboards and trendy teddyboy clothes. In a way, all that emotional rough stuff was simply a way for him to help separate the men from the boys, I think. I was never intimidated by him. Whenever he had a go at me I just gave him a little bit of his own right back."- George Harrison
The Quarrymen needed a stronger guitar player and Paul knew George from school and told John that he knew of a guy, little bit younger but good. On that bus it took some encouragement from Paul who nudged George to take out his guitar and play for them. George took out his guitar and played "Raunchy".

"Now George Came through Paul" (1980) "Paul introduced me to George and I had to make the decision whether to let George in. I listened to him playand said, 'Play "Raunchy".' I let him in and that was the three of us then, and the rest of the group was thrown out, practically." -John Lennon (1970)
The Quarrymen had their first recording on 1958 at  a studio owned by Percy F Phillips on 38 Kensington. They recorded Paul McCartney and George Harrison's song "In Spite of All The Danger" and Buddy Holly's "That'll Be The Day".
"It says on the label that it was me and George but I think it was actually written by me, and George played the guitar solo! We were mates and nobody was into copyrights and publishing, nobody understood - we actually used to think when we came down to London that songs belonged to everyone. I've said this a few times but it's true, we really thought they just were in the air, and that you couldn't actually own one. So you can imagine the publishers saw us coming! 'Welcome boys, sit down. That's what you think, is it?' So that's what we used to do in those days - and because George did the solo we figured that he 'wrote' the solo."- Paul McCartney
The record cost the band 17 shillings and three pence. There were only one record so the band would take turns, each week handing the record off until John "Duff Lowe" kept it for 23 years. The record featured George Harrison, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Colin Hanton, and Duff Lowe who played piano.

The Quarrymen would later change to  Long John and The Silver Beetles, To The Silver Beetles, to The Beatles dropping members and adding members (like Stu Stutcliffe and Pete Best) until it became the Fab Four when Ringo joined in 1962.

Original band members like John Duff Lowe, Len Garry, Rod Davis, and Colin Hanton still preform as The Quarrymen, check them out here.

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