John Lennon’s Original Quarrymen – the band who were on stage with John Lennon on Saturday July 6th, 1957 (the day John met Paul McCartney) – got back together in 1997 to celebrate the most momentous meeting in pop music history. They enjoyed themselves so much at that reunion and interest from fans was so great that they decided to re-form the group forty years on!
The current Quarrymen lineup includes three of those five original musicians, – Len Garry, former tea-chest bass player, now playing guitar and replacing Lennon as lead singer, – 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 on the famous 1958 Percy Phillips recording session which produced “In Spite of All the Danger” and “That’ll Be the Day” which was featured on the Beatles’ “Anthology, Volume 1” CD set. On piano is John Duff Lowe who was invited by Paul McCartney to join the group in 1958 and who also played on the Percy Phillips session.
The other members of the original group were John’s lifelong friend, washboard player Pete Shotton, who retired in Dec 2000 for health reasons, and guitarist Eric Griffiths who sadly died in January 2005, but not before thoroughly enjoying several tours with the newly reborn “Pre-Fab Five” – as the New York Post referred to them in 1998 after their gig at the legendary “Bottom Line” in Greenwich Village.
Anyone knowing their Beatles’ history is aware that The Quarrymen eventually evolved into the Beatles. It is precisely their stories of the group’s origins and of course the Skiffle and early Rock music that the Quarrymen perform, that draw to their shows not only Beatles’ fans, but all those who enjoy the history of the music and of the fifties.
The Quarrymen play the music which influenced the birth of the Beatles, the Skiffle and Rock ‘n’ Roll of the mid fifties – “Rock Island Line”, “Mean Woman Blues”, “Midnight Special”, “Twenty Flight Rock”, “Blue Suede Shoes”, and many more, played in the style of the hundreds of similar groups who were laying the foundations of British Rock Music. Of course the difference with the Quarrymen was that it was fronted by one very special man, John Lennon, who gathered together his best mates way back then to embark on the most famous journey in music history.
As well as their music, the Quarrymen share their Liverpool sense of humour in the stories and anecdotes with which they pepper their performance, giving Beatles fans a unique insight into the origins of their favourite group and the city in which they grew up.
Since 1997 the Quarrymen have played all over Europe, in Canada, Japan, Cuba, and Russia, and have visited the USA many times, performing in New York, Chicago, Boston, Las Vegas and across the country. They have appeared on stage with Pete Seeger, Tom Paxton, Tony Sheridan and Laurence Juber and have made countless TV and radio appearances. In 2007 they were featured on the BBC TV’s hour long documentary “It was 50 years ago today” which dealt with the “Day John Met Paul” in Liverpool. In 2010 the Quarrymen undertook a 21 day tour of the US in conjunction with the Lennon biopic “Nowhere Boy” during which they played 17 gigs from coast to coast, culminating in a mammoth concert in New York on what would have been John’s 70th birthday, where guests included Pete Seeger, Tom Paxton and Neil Innes. In 2013 they were featured in the Channel 4 documentary “Rock ‘n’ Roll Britannia”. The only authorised Beatle biographer, Hunter Davies, also wrote the story of the Quarrymen which was published in 2002.
The Quarrymen have released two cds, “Get Back Together” in 1997 and “Songs We Remember” in 2004 and in 2009 Horst Fascher’s Star Club-tv released a 60 minute dvd.
hottest news of the moment is that the Quarrymen have now been joined on bass by Chas Newby. When the Beatles came back from Hamburg at the end of 1960 they left Stuart Sutcliffe in Germany with his new girlfriend, Astrid Kirchherr, so that when the next gigs came their way they were without a bass player. Chas was a school friend of Pete Best and he was quickly recruited into the band and played with them on four occasions before he went back to university. The most famous of these was at Litherland Town Hall on December 27, when the sound that the Beatles had forged in their long hours on stage in Hamburg absolutely blasted the crowd and kicked off Beatlemania.
Chas plays a left handed-Hofner bass, rather like you-know-who, and his musical ability and his gentle sense of humour will prove a great addition to the Quarrymen’s lineup in 2016.
The Quarryman were also seena the Liverpool Premiere of THE BEATLES touring years.
Doors Open: 7.45pm Admission:£10on the Door
Tickets: £9 + BF from Bristol Ticket Shop, Union Street, Bristol Tel 0117 9299008 www.bristolticketshop.co.uk