Greatest Rock Band
by the "skiffle boom", a student at Quarry Bank
School in Liverpool named John Lennon decided to form
a group in 1957 and laid the foundation of what was to
become the most famous rock bands of all time. The name
John had first come up with was "The Blackjacks".
This name only lasted a week and John used the school
name as inspiration for the name "The Quarry Men"
in March 1957. John sang and played guitar, Colin Hanton
played drums, Eric Griffiths on guitar, Pete Shotton on
washboard, Rod Davis on banjo and Bill Smith on tea-chest
bass. Bill was soon replaced by Ivan Vaughan.
was inspired by "Heartbreak Hotel" and became
a fan of American rock 'n' roll music. He introduced songs
by Buddy Holly , Carl Perkins, The Coasters, Elvis Presley,
Jerry Lee Lewis and Gene Vincent into their repertoire.
On July 6, 1957, Ivan Vaughan invited Paul McCartney to
see their gig at The Woolton Parish Church Fete. The fifteen-year-old
McCartney was introduce to sixteen-year-old Lennon and
a unique song writing partnership began.
line-up of The Quarry Men increased to seven with Paul
on guitar and vocals, John Lowe on piano and George Harrison
on guitar and vocals. Soon Griffiths and another member
would leave, leaving a five-piece band. The group appeared
at several local talent contests but had very few gigs.
By January 1959, the group wasn't operating. Although
John and Paul kept in touch, George had joined the Les
might have been the end of The Quarry Men but they had
a stroke of luck. The Les Stewart Quartet had been booked
as a resident band at a new club called "The Casbah".
It was run by Mrs. Mona Best to support her son's Pete
and Rory. Stewart, upset because his guitarist Ken Brown
help decorate the club, refused to play there. Ken and
George walked out of the group and George contacted John
and Paul, and The Quarry Men were reunited as a quartet.
After about seven gigs at the club, Ken Brown left over
a disagreement about money. From October 1959 to January
1960 John, Paul and George continued as a trio with Paul
on drums. They called themselves "Johnny & the
this time John was enrolled in The Liverpool College of
Art. John knew that they needed a bass player so he asked
two students if they would like the position. The two
were Stuart Sutcliffe and Rod Murray. Both could not afford
a guitar, so Rod started to make one by hand. However,
Stuart was able to sell one of his paintings to a John
Moores Exhibition and was able to buy a Hofner bass guitar
and join the group in January, 1960. At this time the
group had changed its name to "Silver Beetles".
They also began shifting drummers around, the first was
Tommy Moore who toured with them through Scotland and
then left. The next was Norman Chapman but he left after
only a few weeks. Finally, George suggested that Pete
Best, the son of club owner Mrs. Mona Best, become the
contacted Pete and offered him the drummer seat, he took
it. The group had finally settled on "The Beatles"
just before their first trip to Hamburg in August, 1960.
Now John, Paul, George, Stuart and Pete would head off
for Hamburg. At that time The Beatles weren't considered
to be the leading group in Liverpool and in most cases
were looked down upon. In Hamburg they pulled their act
together musically. This was caused by the fact that they
had to play such long hours and were bullied by the club
owner Bruno Koschimider to "make a show". It
wasn't just Hamburg that made them special. The fact that
Liverpool had so many venues for local acts to play at,
coupled with the rivalry between more than 300 Merseyside
groups, continued to forge The Beatles until they were
to be regarded as Liverpool's top band.
the time, Pete Best was regarded as the most potent symbol
in the band. After Hamburg, Stuart Sutcliffe had left
and now The Beatles were a four-piece band and Paul took
over as bass guitarist. John, Paul and George were the
three front-line guitarists and they alternated as lead
singers and also performed vocal harmony with either John
and Paul or all three. Pete Best played drums and occasionally
sang one song but he had developed a distinctive drum
sound called "the atom beat" which many other
drummers tried to copy.
this time, The Beatles had hired Brian Epstein as their
manager and he signed them up for an audition with Decca
Records. The head of Decca Records told The Beatles manager,
"Guitar groups are on their way out Mr. Epstein.".
The Beatles were devastated by their failed audition but
Epstien secured them a contract with Parlophone Records.
George Martin became their A&R Man. In August of 1962,
Pete Best was replaced by Ringo Starr.
first single "Love Me Do" was issued on October
5, 1962, and was a modest hit. 1963 and 1964 proved to
be the most important years in their careers. In 1963
the "Beatlemania" craze had started in Britain
and The Beatles were no longer support acts at concerts.
Now they were starring in the Royal Variety Show and the
highest rating TV show "Sunday Night At The London
biggest year was 1964 when they conquered the biggest
record market in the world - America. The group became
symbols. America was mourning the death of President John
F. Kennedy and The Beatles appeared on the scene to bring
them fun and excitement and end their mourning. They also
brought back rock 'n' roll to America. After Elvis had
join the army, he lost much of his early rebelliousness.
Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry were rocked by scandals
and their careers suffered. Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper
and Ritchie Valens had been killed in an plane crash.
The American media was promoting what The Beatles called
"One-Hit-Wonders" such as Frankie Avalon, Tab
Hunter, James Darren, etc.
Sullivan had been at London airport when The Beatles return
from Sweden and saw all the girls screaming, the boys
cheering and the media taking pictures. He knew they were
something special and he booked them on his TV show "The
Ed Sullivan Show". That show received the highest
ratings in the history of television up to then. That
same year The Beatles toured America for the first time
and starred in their first motion picture "A Hard
Day's Night". In 1965, The Beatles second motion
picture "HELP!" premiered. Later that year,
The Beatles performed at Shea Stadium in New York to a
crowd of 55,000 screaming fans. The largest live audience
in history. Their tours did have their darker moments.
The first being in Tokyo, Japan where The Beatles were
locked up in their hotel and were not allowed to come
out until show time. The next was in the Philippines when,
on a day off, Madam Marcos asked them to attend a Royal
dinner. The Beatles politely turned down the invitation
and the public was furious. The Beatles quickly left.
1966, The Beatles were under heavy pressure from the press
after John made a remark that The Beatles were more popular
than Jesus. John had to apologize and explain himself
several times. Not only that but their tour of America
was plagued with mishaps. On August 19, 1966 they receive
a death threat in Memphis and a firecracker went off during
the show terrifying The Beatles. The next day in Cincinnati
a concert promoter failed to provide a stage canopy and
can't understand why The Beatles were unwilling to play
electric guitars in a rainstorm. Paul becomes so agitated
he becomes ill. On August 28, 1966 at Dodger Stadium,
L.A. cops are seen beating teenage girls. Dozens are trampled
in the chaos.
the sixties, The Beatles not only became a musical phenomenon,
they affected the styles and fashions of the decade. They
transformed the record industry as well. They brought
about royalties for artists and producers, revolutionized
music tours, and started the Pop promo film or what we
know today as "The Music Video". Everyone of
their albums, from Please Please Me to Abbey Road were
all popular and unique in their own way. But after the
death of their long time manager Brian Epstein, things
would start to fall apart for The Beatles.
to outside interests the group focused less and less and
the band. In late 1964 they were introduced to marijuana
and would experiment with more drugs such as LSD which
they were first introduced to in late 1965. The Beatles
played their last concert at Candlestick Park in San Francisco
on August 29, 1966. In 1967, their manager Brian Epstein
died of a accidental drug overdose. Some friction was
caused between John and Paul because Paul was trying to
become the leader of the group after Brian's death. Ties
were still strong at this point between the band members
despite Ringo leaving the band for a short time during
The White Album because he felt left out. When Ringo decided
to return he found his drum kit decked with flowers and
the others tried to include him more. After The White
Album they embarked on the "Let It Be" project.
The idea was to see The Beatles jam, rehearse and record
a whole new album of songs. At the end they would give
a concert from some spectacular place. Tensions were high
between Paul and George as they started recording at Twickenham
Film Studios. John was off in his land of love with Yoko
and Ringo was left in the background. One day George walked
out on a session after a disagreement with Paul. George
came back to finish up the album but as John would later
explain, "We couldn't play the game anymore, we just
couldn't do it".
Beatles gave their last public appearance on top of the
Apple building on January 30, 1969. However their "Let
It Be" album was deemed un-releasable. It was handed
over to Phil Spector who added lush orchestrations to
such songs as "The Long and Winding Road", infuriating
Paul. Despite all of this, The Beatles decided to get
together to make one final album "Abbey Road"
which would go on to become their biggest selling record
in history. It was mainly Paul who kept the group together
this long, encouraging them to make Magical Mystery Tour
back in 1967 after Brian's death and trying to get them
all excited about recording and performing. Recording
yes, performing no. From Sgt. Pepper's through Abbey Road
these were considered to be their "studio years"
where they rarely got together except to record. The Let
It Be album was finally released on May 8, 1970 less than
a month after Paul publicly announced he was no longer
a member of the group.
the end, The Beatles became true legends. Their music
touched all our lives. The Beatles wanted more than just
to "Be Beatles", they wanted happiness. A happiness
that they once had back when they first became successful.
John found happiness with his one true love Yoko, his
Plastic Ono Band, and son Sean; Paul found happiness with
Linda, his children, and Wings; George found happiness
with his solo career, Olivia, and his son Dhani; and Ringo
found happiness with his solo career, acting career, Barbara,
and his sons. They will always be the greatest rock 'n'
roll band in history.
Excerpts Were Taken From "The Ultimate Beatles
by Bill Harry and "Life Magazine Reunion Special,
The Beatles From Yesterday To Today"
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