29 June 2017

The Quarrymen

The Quarrymen are a British skiffle/rock and roll group that is best known for being the earliest incarnation of The Beatles.

The group was formed by John Lennon in Liverpool in 1956 with Lennon and several friends from school.

The group took their name from a line in their school song from Quarry Bank High School.

Lennon's mother, Julia, taught John to play the banjo and taught him and his friend Eric Griffiths how to tune their guitars in a similar way to the banjo, and some simple chords and songs. His mother, who was forced to turn him over to his aunt Mimi, stayed in contact with John and he wrote several songs about her, including "Julia" and "Mother".

Lennon started playing skiffle music with his mates as The Blackjacks, but changed the name before any public performances to the Quarrymen. They played at parties, school dances, cinemas and amateur skiffle contests. Members included Colin Hanton, Len Garry and Rod Davis.

Paul McCartney joined the band in October 1957. George Harrison, then only 14, hung out with the group but was initially thought to be too young. He would join officially in early 1958.

The new members brought more rock and roll to the group and since McCartney and Harrison didn't attend Quarry Bank HS, they had no ties to the name. (Paul and George attended the Liverpool Institute.)

The group's amateur recording debut was a 1958 take of Buddy Holly's "That'll Be the Day" and also "In Spite of All the Danger" which is a song written by McCartney and Harrison. It includes Colin Hanton on drums and John "Duff" Lowe, on piano.

I discovered those tracks on The Beatles' "Anthology, Volume 1" CD set. 

The move from skiffle towards rock and roll caused members to quit leaving Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison. Their rockier band performed as Johnny and the Moondogs (which sounds like a surf band) and as the trio Japage 3 (a version of their first names), but then back the Quarrymen in 1959, and finally in 1960 as The Beatles.

In 1997, four surviving original members of the Quarrymen reunited to perform at the 40th anniversary celebrations of the garden fete performance at which Lennon and McCartney met for the first time. The band decided to continue playing, and since 1998 have performed in many countries throughout the world, releasing four albums. The current Quarrymen lineup includes the original members Len Garry, former tea-chest bass player, Rod Davis, from Quarry Bank School, at first the banjo player but now on guitar, and Colin Hanton on drums, who played with John, Paul, George and John Duff Lowe on the recording session for "In Spite of All the Danger" and "That'll Be the Day."

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