Back From Hamburg
The last time we talked about our Richy, he had left Rory Storm and the Hurricanes and had travelled to Hamburg to play with Tony Sheridan at The Top Ten Club. The “Top Ten Band” also included Roy Young on piano and Colin Crowley on bass guitar. Ringo would remember about Hamburg, “It was tough but we didn’t give a damn; it was fabulous…To me, Hamburg was like Soho.” Tony Sheridan would remember about playing with Ringo, “Ringo was a very good drummer with us, though he seemed perpetually bored. He was slightly depressed all the time, a melancholy character, but he had his own charisma in a way.” Colin Crowley would say, “…he could keep the beat like clockwork.”
January and February were particularly cold in Hamburg, and in the middle of the month, The Top Ten Club was forced to close for several days due to what is now famously known as the North Sea flood, caused by Hurricane Vincinette. 315 residents of Hamburg lost their lives. It was the same storm that is known as the Great Sheffield Gale, which had torn through the UK and killed nine people in Sheffield. Though Ringo was supposed to stay until the end of the month, he took the opportunity to return home. Richy’s grandmother, Annie Starkey, had passed away on February 7, and though he had missed the funeral, there was some family time to be had. This included seeing his father for the first time since he was a young child. Afterwards, they would apparently never see each other again.
Who Needs a Drummer?
Ringo didn’t immediately rejoin Rory Storm and The Hurricanes. They were doing okay using what they called “dep” [deputy] drummers since he had left for Hamburg and they could continue to do so. He just kind of hung around, taking a break and making long driving trips to nowhere in his Ford Zodiac. Well, at least all of the above is the way that Mark Lewisohn tells it. In the biography written by Michael Seth Starr [no relation, but quite a coincidence considering Ringo’s name isn’t even actually Starr…], Ringo didn’t simply leave Hamburg because of the cold. He found Tony Sheridan extremely hard to work with, especially his habit of “changing songs mid-tune.” So, according to this version of the story, Ringo returned to Liverpool in mid-January and was immediately welcomed back into Rory Storm and The Hurricanes, where he “reclaimed his throne…” And just to throw this in for good measure, this version of the story says that Ringo was somewhat regularly called on by Brian Epstein to substitute for Pete Best when he was sick. Just to be clear, there is a great deal of evidence that the mid-January time frame is not accurate, as we’ve already seen above.
Tony Sheridan wasn’t through with Ringo, it seems. Hamburg’s newest and best venue, The Star Club, was about to open with Sheridan in place as its star attraction. Ringo was offered an apartment, use of a car, and £30 per week (that’s £570 or $750 today) on a contract that would last through April of 1963. It could be argued, and it has, that Ringo’s decision to decline this offer was one of the most important decisions he’d ever make considering what was coming in a few more months. Ringo also received an offer from Howie Casey and The Seniors to go on a tour of British ballrooms. He declined that as well. The Hurricanes were about to begin playing stints at US Army bases in France and then Spain. Ringo had long since given up his idea of moving to Houston, but the US bases would be full of American music and products.
It must have been a nice situation to be in. Highly in demand with the possibility of spending a year in Germany, a shorter tour of the UK, or two months in France and Spain, followed incidentally, by three months back at Butlin’s, this time in Skegness. Ringo sure liked the Butlin’s lifestyle. That very likely helped him make the decision. His last few months as a member of Rory Storm and The Hurricanes could begin.
Ringo is most commonly associated with playing a Ludwig drum set. But he had definitely gone through a few drums before landing there. His first set, which he remembers paying £12 for, was made up of random pieces from various brands. His first complete set was made by Ajax and he used that set when he started playing with Rory Storm and The Hurricanes. The set that he was using in the Spring of 1962 was made by Premier, and he had purchased it in early 1961. It was a standard four-piece set, most likely the Premier Continental 56. In addition, he had equipped high-hat, ride, and crash cymbals.
In the early days of the Premier set, Ringo put his initials, RS on the bass drum (or did that stand for Rory Storm?). But by this time in 1962, he had stenciled Ringo Starr across the front of the drum, as you can see in the photo. He would take the drum set to France, then Spain, and finally to Butlin’s Skegness and it would ultimately be replaced with the help of Brian Epstein. But not quite yet…
Next week we’ll continue talking about Ringo, but we’ll also be adding some info about Pete into the mix. Thanks very much, as always, to Mark Lewisohn for his All These Years: Tune In (Extended Special Edition). Thanks to Michael Seth Starr for his Ringo. Special thanks to Andy Babiuk for his Beatles Gear. And thanks to you for being here and for reading this. Please sign up for notifications of future blog posts! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you being here! – Andrew Martin Adamson
Between them, EMI and Decca owned 80% of the UK Singles market [EMI was the parent company of both Parlophone, where George Martin resided, and Columbia, home of Cliff Richard]. The fact that The Beatles had been turned down already by both was a substantial blow. Brian worked exceedingly hard to get a contract for The Beatles and would talk to anyone who would listen, even if they were simply going to deny him. He felt sure that their following in Liverpool, headline stories and winning polls in Mersey Beat, and the fact that they had passed a BBC Radio audition would have helped his case, but it didn’t at all.
Much of the lack of interest could be tied back to exactly one thing: they were from Liverpool. Two hundred miles from London meant that it was inconvenient for labels to work with them as opposed to artists who were already in London, or at least close by. Mark Lewisohn would relate two telling quotes about the situation. From Brian himself: “London agents said we’d never do it from Liverpool, we’d never get the TV exposure and all that.” From Brian’s brother, Clive Epstein: “[Brian] put up with rudeness and indifference and doors being slammed in his face.”
The name of the group was also an issue to some. It was unpleasant and evoked images of cockroaches. Bob Wooler would say that he “reassured Brian the name was positively valid, not just because they were known on the local scene but because it was a short name and when you put in on the posters the shorter the name the bigger the print!” Ha!
The constant bad news would cause some angry and frustrated conversations between Brian and his family, who said “Give it up, Brian. You’ve given it a go, now give it up.” But the anger and frustration carried over to The Beatles themselves, as well. Bob Wooler said that “John lost patience with him from time to time, which didn’t help.” In 1967, John would tell Hunter Davies, “We used to say he was doing nothing and we were doing all the work. We were just saying it, really. We knew how hard he was working.”
Dick Rowe at Decca went down in history as being the one who so famously rejected The Beatles by supposedly saying that “groups of guitars are on the way out.” But if The Beatles were turned down by every label, then there are surely some other people who could be called out just as much. At Pye Records, it is unclear exactly what happened. The fingers that have been pointed at all have included a look at Ray Horricks, a young A&R man new to the company. Decca’s Sales Director, Leslie Cocks, said that it was Alan A. Freeman, Decca’s A&R Controller who did the deed: “He just didn’t get it.”
Interestingly, Brian’s autobiography mentions few labels by name, but he did say that when he told The Beatles about the Decca rejection, he also told them “and Pye have turned us down.” This lead John to break the tension by saying, “Right. Try Embassy.” Embassy was a budget label who put out cover versions of hit songs to be sold at Woolworth’s. They didn’t sign creative talent. A good laugh was had and Brian would go on with his tasks.
Philips, Ember, and Oriole also turned Brian down. Little is known about the details, though Oriole brings up an interesting point. Their A&R Chief, John Schroeder, was actually heavily involved in looking for new talent all over Britain, and had even set up a talent search in Manchester. Moreover, Brian knew the owner of Oriole, Morris Levy, through retailer organizations. That may be how Brian knew that Oriole did not have a particularly robust distribution system and that they were not in a good position to create hits. Schroeder himself said that he absolutely did not turn down The Beatles.
So the commonly held story that every label turned down The Beatles may be more nuanced than that. Brian was seemingly also making some decisions himself. John Phillips, the sales manager of the British office of Germany’s Polydor Records, who had released “My Bonnie” in Germany, wanted very much to sign The Beatles to a new contract through their side of the company. Brian would say in an October 1962 press release that he didn’t allow The Beatles to re-sign with Polydor “because I wanted them to record for a British company.”
Much to the disappointment of his father, Brian not only pressed on, but assigned his brother, Clive, and Peter Brown to positions of higher authority within his store, Nems, so that he could spend even more time working on behalf of The Beatles. It’s not likely that much of a spoiler to say that the group’s eventual signing was getting nearer, but that story, of George Martin suddenly signing The Beatles, may be a bit more convoluted than you think.
Next week we begin two weeks of Ringo by talking about what he was up to in the Spring of 1962. Thanks very much, as always, to Mark Lewisohn for his All These Years: Tune In (Extended Special Edition). Thanks to Brian Epstein for his A Cellarful of Noise. Special thanks to Spencer Leigh for his The Best of Fellas. Thanks also to Hunter Davies for his The Beatles. And thanks to you for being here and for reading this. Please sign up for notifications of future blog posts! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you being here! – Andrew Martin Adamson
Paul vs. Brian
You may remember that back in December of 1961, Paul arrived an hour and a half late for what was only the second meeting between The Beatles and Brian Epstein. John would remember that Paul didn’t want Brian as manager, especially at first, and would try to cause complications by doing things like showing up late for meetings. Paul would say that John would make snap judgements about nearly everything, including bringing on Brian: “John always had a strong instinct to do that, but it’s not my personality.”
Things came to a head again on February 16, 1962. The Beatles were scheduled to play a show at Technical College Hall in Birkenhead. Neil Aspinall and Pete were to take the van filled with equipment and Brian would pick up John, George, and then Paul. Paul wasn’t ready when pickup time arrived. After waiting for a while, the decision was made that Brian, John, and George would head to The Beehive Pub for a drink before heading to the venue. Paul was left with instructions on how to get to the venue by bus and train. Paul said he wouldn’t be coming. He would say in 1967, “if they can’t be arsed waiting for me, I can’t be arsed going after them.”
Interestingly, by a few hours later, Paul had regained his composure and did arrive to play The Beatles’ second show of the evening at The Tower Ballroom. But the Technical College was no small performance in Brian’s eyes. He was very worried about letting down an audience who was ready for a show and for doing damage to their reputation. In his autobiography, Brian would say this about Paul: “Paul can be temperamental and moody and difficult to work with but I know him very well and he me…he has enormous talent and inside he has a great tenderness and great feeling that are sometimes concealed by an angry exterior…I would not care to lose him as a friend.”
Brian’s Personal Life
On February 21, 1962, John and Paul were sitting in the Kardomah Café between their lunchtime and evening sessions at The Cavern Club. With them was an unnamed friend of John’s from art school. He said to our boys, “I believe Brian Epstein is managing you – which one of you does he fancy?” John and/or Paul had no problem relaying the story straight to Brian, who was justifiably shocked. His reputation was at stake, not to mention his career. Though it may seem to be an overreaction in this day and age, the fact was that homosexual activity was still illegal in the UK in 1962, and Brian had already had a certain amount of legal trouble in the past.
Brian’s lawyer wrote a very intimidating letter to John’s art school friend demanding a written apology along with the assurance that he would not make similar remarks in the future. The chilling last line of the letter stated that if these demands were not met, “our client has instructed us to take such steps as may be necessary to protect his good name and character.” The demands were met and the incident was over with.
Brian and Pete
The manager and the drummer got along well. Brian would even sometimes continue to ask Pete for advice on The Beatles’ bookings. The same could not be said for his relationship with Pete’s mother, Mona Best. Mona wanted Pete’s name to be first in their promotional materials and for him to get more lead vocals. Of course, decisions on things such as vocals were not in Brian’s hands, but Mona still gave him a hard time. To make matters worse for Brian; John, Paul, and George were supposedly already making it clear that they were not happy with Pete as a member of the band at all. Brian told them that he would talk to Pete about his drumming “without hurting his feelings,” but that Pete should remain in the band especially considering that they were due in Hamburg, with Pete’s name on the contract, in April.
Aside: Brian tells this particular story in his autobiography, saying that conversations about the unhappiness with Pete as well as Brian’s talk with him happened in the Summer of 1962. Mark Lewisohn, however, says that there is evidence (not provided) that it happened closer to the time we’re talking about now. Whatever the actual exact timeline, we’ve already talked for quite a while about the bond that had been formed by John, Paul, and George, and how Pete was not really a part of it. Bill Harry (of Mersey Beat) would say, “Pete never said anything. He’d just sit by himself…but I always liked him.” Even Neil Aspinall, Pete’s best friend and soon-to-be father of Pete’s youngest half-brother, Roag, said, “John, Paul, and George were always a three. They were the tight ones.”
Next week we’ll be talking about some of the failures with London record labels that Brian and The Beatles went through in the Spring of 1962. Thanks very much, as always, to Mark Lewisohn for his All These Years: Tune In (Extended Special Edition). Thanks to Brian Epstein for his A Cellarful of Noise. And thanks to you for being here and for reading this. Please sign up for notifications of future blog posts! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you being here! – Andrew Martin Adamson
On Tuesday, March 6, 1962, The Beatles’ suits were finally ready. Brian Epstein took them back over to Beno Dorn’s shop for final fittings. John also got a new pair of Buddy Holly style glasses around the same time, though that wouldn’t matter to his fans much since he never wore his glasses in public. In any case, Brian had a decision to make. The Beatles would be heading to Hamburg in a few weeks. so should he have them take the suits there? He let that one wait. For the time being, though, it was necessary to decide where the suits would be unveiled for the first time…
Teenager’s Turn was a daily, Monday through Friday, BBC radio show that was directed at, well, teenagers, and featured live (well, recorded live) music sessions. The show aired from 5pm until 5:30pm and on Thursdays the specific show title was Here We Go. It featured the Northern Dance Orchestra who would play pop music and welcome special guests. The show was recorded at The Playhouse Theatre in Manchester.
As a refresher, Brian had completed an application in late January for The Beatles to audition for BBC Radio. Producer Peter Pilbeam remembered that “most of the applications we received had abysmal handwriting. But Brian Epstein’s was different.” Pilbeam set up an audition in Manchester for February 8. When audition day came, The Beatles travelled to The Playhouse Theatre and performed four songs for Pilbeam, “Like Dreamers Do,” “Hello Little Girl,” “’Til There Was You,” and “Memphis, Tennessee.” Pilbeam apparently like John more than Paul as a vocalist, but returned a verdict to Brian within two days. The Beatles would be invited back to Manchester and The Playhouse Theatre to record a number of songs to be broadcast on March 8, 1962. The program would likely be heard by more than 2 million people.
Four bands recorded that day, though the other three names may be lost to history. The Beatles recorded four songs, “Hello Little Girl,” “Memphis, Tennessee,” “Dream Baby,” and “Please Mr. Postman.” All but “Hello Little Girl” were broadcast the following evening (too bad, since that meant that a Beatles original wouldn’t get airplay yet), a total of six minutes of Beatles time. You can find the recording on the internet, recorded by a Beatles fan on a regular tape recorder (the BBC did not keep these kinds of tapes more than a few months). If you want to search…
The studio audience for BBC Radio recordings at The Playhouse Theatre was 250 people. Not too bad. Since this was Teenager’s Turn, most of the 250 were young. One interesting historical part is what The Beatles were wearing. For this session, Brian had decided it would make sense to debut the Beno Dorn mohair suits. So a studio audience for a radio show in Manchester would be the first to see The Beatles suited up (remember, before the leather, The Beatles would occasionally wear jackets, even in Hamburg, but not professionally tailored full suits with vests!).
Just a bit of conjecture. When The Beatles had played various shows outside of Liverpool, they were taken aback by the reaction of the crowd, who jeered at them and clearly had a problem with the leather. In Liverpool, they were accepted, but when they left their safe home area, clothes would make a difference. Paul even ultimately said that the lack of acceptance of their attire away from home helped make the decision to move to suits in the first place. Well, here at The Playhouse Theatre, they were in suits, on good form, and the audience reaction is excellent, right down to the screaming at the end of the songs that they would soon become more than used to. Appearance may not have been everything, but it did seem to matter at least somewhat. Mark Lewisohn would say that it was “significant that, at first grasp, they won over an audience that didn’t know them.”
Pete said that he, Paul, and John spent that particular half hour of March 8 at his house, above The Casbah Coffee Club, before leaving for the show they would play that evening at The Storyville Jazz Club. He would say, “We were jumping about in the living room listening to it. We weren’t just recording stars but radio stars!” They had held in maybe a little, but not all of that enthusiasm on the day of the recording. Peter Pilbeam would remember them as “just four Liverpool lads chuffed with the fact that they were getting somewhere and had been recognized by the national broadcasting organization.”
Next week we’ll be talking about how Brian Epstein’s relationship with The Beatles was going. Thanks very much, as always, to Mark Lewisohn for his All These Years: Tune In (Extended Special Edition). Thanks also to Roag, Pete, and Rory Best for their True Beginnings. And thanks to you for being here and for reading this. Please sign up for notifications of future blog posts! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you being here! – Andrew Martin Adamson
On Tuesday, February 20, 1962, The Beatles played at Floral Hall in Southport. This was a big deal for a couple of reasons. It was a large hall, fitting 1200 people. It had tiered seats and gold curtains. Very classy. But moreover, the show, which also featured Gerry and the Pacemakers, was set up by Brian Epstein himself. He felt that it was very important that he learn how to run that side of the business, especially since he was also beginning to explore signing other bands to come under his management. Setting up his own shows would ensure that his own bands were getting bookings.
Brian had six bands in mind to sign up right away. They were Gerry and the Pacemakers, The Big Three, The Remo Four, Johnny Sandon and The Searchers, The Undertakers, and The Four Jays. Including The Beatles, he could end up representing six of the top 12 (four of the top 5) bands in the recent Mersey Beat poll. These new bands were apparently aware that Brian would be giving The Beatles most of his attention, but as Mark Lewisohn would say, “if anyone could improve their bookings and earn them more money it was Brian Epstein, so they weren’t about to turn him down.”
Obviously, getting The Beatles and his other bands to appear in the best shows for the most pay was good for everyone, and that everyone included Brian. Brian’s 10% commission on The Beatles’ income didn’t come close to paying the bills that were mounting up, for travel, hotels, clothes, photos, etc. So Brian was paying the difference out of his own pocket. But all of that expense had one ultimate goal in mind: to get The Beatles a recording contract. They had already been turned down by EMI and Decca, so there was a lot of work to do. And the right people needed to be met…
Ardmore and Beechwood
People who like to talk about the history of The Beatles will bring up things like without “this” or “that” or “a particular person,” The Beatles would have never made it. Well, one pair of names that really doesn’t often get mentioned, but could easily fit into that accolade is Ardmore and Beechwood. We’ll be getting into exactly what role they played in the signing of The Beatles in a couple of months, but for now, this is how the company’s role started:
Brian Epstein had the Decca tapes and was trying his best to shop them around to various record companies, since Decca had rejected them. But it became clear to him that it would be a good idea to actually have acetate discs to give to the labels when he met with them. So he employed the services of Jim Foy, a disc cutter who worked with an acquaintance of Brian’s, Robert Boast, manager of His Master’s Voice in London, “the world’s largest record store.” While Foy cut the discs for Brian, they discussed the fact that The Beatles had actually written some of their own songs. Foy suggested that Brian talk to Sid Colman, general manager of music publishers Ardmore and Beechwood, who happened to have an office in the same building.
Foy summoned Colman, who came to the cutter’s office and listened to the fresh acetate. He liked what he heard (which was likely one or more of “Like Dreamers Do” (most commonly thought to be the one he was most interested in), “Love of the Loved,” and “Hello Little Girl”). He told Brian that he would be interested in publishing the songs. What that meant was that the songs would be given to other artists to record. In essence, Lennon and McCartney would become professional songwriters just like Leiber and Stoller or Goffin and King. Brian said that he preferred that The Beatles get a chance to record the songs themselves first, which Colman said he understood. The final result of the meeting was that Colman said he would do what he could to help The Beatles get a contract and Epstein promised that in return, Ardmore and Beechwood would get the publishing rights at that time. Stay tuned for more on this in future posts…
A Meeting at EMI
Some conflicting stories come into play here. George Martin would later say that Sid Colman called him to ask for a meeting, but Colman’s assistant, Kim Bennett, would deny that was the way it happened. In any case, on February 13, Brian found himself in George Martin’s office. There was hopefully much more potential in having this face-to-face meeting than back in December, when EMI’s Ron White had heard “My Bonnie” and told Brian that EMI wasn’t interested.
According to Brian, he played an acetate for George Martin that included “Hello Little Girl” and “’Til There Was You.” He made sure to note on the disc that the former was written by Lennon and McCartney. Brian would remember that “George liked ‘Hello Little Girl’ and ‘Til There Was You.’ Liked George [Harrison] on guitar. Thought Paul was the one for the discs [in other words, Paul would be the singer].” Martin would not remember the meeting that way. He would tell Melody Maker that one of the songs he heard was “Your Feet’s Too Big.” Strange, because though The Beatles did play that song live, it was not part of the Decca recordings and therefore would have meant that Brian was not playing the songs from the acetate, which would be odd indeed. Martin’s memory was, “I wasn’t knocked out at all. It was a pretty lousy tape…a rather raw group.” Brian left George Martin’s office at EMI with a “we’ll let you know.” There was no indication at all that they would ever meet again. But that story is for another time…
Next week we’ll be talking about The Beatles’ BBC radio recording session for Teenager’s Turn - Here We Go, which in front of the whole radio audience, they made their debut in their new mohair suits. Thanks very much, as always, to Mark Lewisohn for his All These Years: Tune In (Extended Special Edition). Thanks to Brian Epstein for his A Cellarful of Noise. And thanks to you for being here and for reading this. Please sign up for notifications of future blog posts! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you being here! – Andrew Martin Adamson
Back in Hamburg, Stuart Sutcliffe was clearly very ill. His violent headaches and convulsions would very often keep him from being able to function normally at all. Yet he persisted in trying to continue his art and more. Interestingly, and possibly unbelievably, between February 2 and February 9 of 1962, Stu borrowed a bass guitar and played nine shows in Hamburg with a group called The Bats [The Bats consisted of four German musicians who often played at The Kaiserkeller and were familiar to The Beatles. They played for several decades after this]. The last three of the nine shows were at The Kaiserkeller. Stu’s health did suffer. He wrote home on February 14, “I have played a couple of times in another band and managed to earn a bit…I fell sick…that was horrible, I thought I was dying.”
Obligatory aside: Maybe I’ve talked about this too much, but for fairly obvious reasons I won’t be talking about it much more. To me, the fact that Stu was asked by The Bats to sit in while they didn’t have a bass player, as well as the fact that he had played for a time with Howie Casey at the Kaiserkeller, point out how misguided the notion is that Stu couldn’t play the bass. When he joined The Beatles in 1960, he had not yet learned to play. When he left The Beatles to pursue his art in 1961, he had become what Klaus Voormann would call “a really good rock and roll bass player.” As I’ve said many times, we can all agree that Stu was never going to match Paul, but then, not many players have ever matched Paul, who is simply in a league of his own. But Stu was certainly as good as many others of the time.
Strangely, Stu would sometimes feel well enough to act as if life were proceeding completely normally. On February 3, 1962, he attended a fancy dress carnival at the Hamburg College of Art along with Astrid Kirchherr and Klaus Voormann. Photographs exist from that event and you can see that there is very little sign that anything is wrong with him.
Stuart’s mother, Millie, had an operation in February, so Stu travelled by boat and train back to Liverpool, arriving sometime mid-month. He went alone. Astrid did not feel welcome at Millie Sutcliffe’s house, so she stayed behind. Though he did visit with his mother, Stu took the opportunity during the few days he was in Liverpool to hang out with The Beatles. They spent time at The Cavern and at George’s house in Speke. But probably the strangest social gathering was when Stu accompanied The Beatles to a Liverpool bowling alley where our boys often relaxed, since the business sold alcohol and stayed open until 4am. On this particular occasion, they were joined by Allan Williams. The Beatles hadn’t seen Williams since the previous year when he sued them for non-payment of his commission. It all seemed like water under the bridge now.
Then there is the story of Stu’s meeting with Brian Epstein. According to Stu’s sister, Pauline Sutcliffe, they met at The Cavern and then went to dinner, just the two of them. John had apparently talked to Brian about involving Stu somehow in The Beatles organization. The thought was that Stu, as a creative person, would be a great “art director” for the group. Brian and Stu agreed that Brian would make a trip to Hamburg and they could work out the details over another dinner. Ms. Sutcliffe stated that the offer went somewhat further than that. She claims that she saw a letter in which Brian asked Stu if he would like to “help manage the boys.” He went on to say to Stu, “I didn’t know anyone as lovely as you existed in Liverpool.”
Awkward aside: Pauline Sutcliffe was certainly a loving sister and her book gives us some very interesting insight into her brother’s life. And as cringy as I feel casting doubt that could be taken as speaking ill of the dead (she passed away in 2019), there are several stories in her book that are eye-opening and include suggestions of occurrences that I will not spend any time detailing, occurrences that have never been corroborated by anyone else, ever, including those who she claimed were present. As far as the management offer goes, Mark Lewisohn said that claims of Brian making any such offer are “unproven and less believable.”
People who were present during Stu’s visit to Liverpool were said to be “shocked by Stuart’s condition” as well as be some of his actions and statements. He reportedly told John that he was going to jump out the window of George’s house. He told Paul’s brother, Mike McCartney, that “he felt something bad would happen when he went back to Hamburg.” Allan Williams would say about the bowling party, “He looked like death. He had a death pallor.” Most macabre was what came out in an interview Pete gave to Mark Lewisohn in 1985: “When he said goodbye to Pete at the end of the visit he said, ‘This’ll be the last time I see you.’” Of course, it actually was the last time any of them would see Stu. That story is coming in April, when Stuart Sutcliffe’s part in the history of The Beatles comes to an end.
Next week we’ll be talking about how Brian Epstein was getting to work trying to make something happen for The Beatles. Thanks very much, as always, to Mark Lewisohn for his All These Years: Tune In (Extended Special Edition). Thanks also to Pauline Sutcliffe for her The Beatles’ Shadow: Stuart Sutcliffe & His Lonely Hearts Club. Special thanks to https://daytrippin.com/2011/06/22/stuart-sutcliffes-bass-playing-id-like-to-set-that-one-straight/. And thanks to you for being here and for reading this. Please sign up for notifications of future blog posts! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you being here! – Andrew Martin Adamson
A Little Film
Sometime in February of 1962, someone took a short film showing The Beatles playing parts of two songs. The film was in color but had no sound, so we can’t actually hear them playing. The total time that The Beatles are shown is about forty seconds. You can find the film on the internet (sometimes with added music that doesn’t exactly match the pictures) or on the DVD released by Pete Best, Best of The Beatles. Interestingly, digging into the film and its origins reveals two things: First, it was most likely taken on February 10, 1962 at the St. Paul’s Church Hall in Birkenhead. And second, the two songs you can see The Beatles playing are “Dream,” written in 1944 by Johnny Mercer and played more recently by Cliff Richard; and “Dance in the Street,” written by Al Davis and Dan Welch and performed by Gene Vincent. This is NOT “Dancin’ in the Street.” In any case, when The Beatles played it, they changed the words to “Twist in the Street,” getting in line with the dance craze that was currently the biggest trend.
The Gene Vincent song was not the only “twist” that The Beatles did. They also played “Peppermint Twist,” which was sung by Pete. Also sung by Pete was a new song written by Paul called “Pinwheel Twist.” Though there is no recording of the song, some of the lyrics are known, remembered by people who saw The Beatles perform it. They included, “Pinwheel twist going round and round…We’ll twist, we’ll pinwheel, do the spin wheel…” Inspiring. Neil Aspinall would recall that it was “a bleeping [he didn’t actually say ‘bleeping’] awful song…it really didn’t work. I hated it.” Ha!
Elvis Losing His Crown
A new Elvis song would come out. They would start playing it. That’s the way it been. But not so much anymore. “Rock a Hula Baby” was the latest single off of the soundtrack of Elvis’ new film, Blue Hawaii. They didn’t play it, and in fact, never played another new Elvis release ever again. Both John and Paul were quoted over the years as saying basically that they believed that Elvis had lost his stature and status after going into the Army. What The Beatles did love more and more, and what played right into their penchant for doing three-part harmonies, was songs by American “girl groups.”
The Shirelles were a huge source of great songs. They were Shirley Owens, Doris Coley, Micki Harris, and Beverly Lee. They formed a group in 1957 in Passaic, New Jersey, and through their hit-making years, they were produced by Luther Dixon. The Beatles regularly played four hits by The Shirelles, “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” “Mama Said,” “Boys,” and “Baby, It’s You.” Of course, those last two stuck around with our boys for a long time. They would both appear on The Beatles’ first album, Please Please Me, with Ringo taking the lead vocal on “Boys” and John the lead vocal on “Baby, It’s You.”
More For George
As we talked about a couple of weeks ago, Brian Epstein had convinced the group that George should sing as many songs as John and Paul, and they should rotate among the three of them during the shows. But that meant that George needed some new songs to sing. Along with “Dream,” which we talked about above, he also sang Irving Berlin’s 1926 song, “Blue Skies,” though he may have been more familiar with the 1960 recording by Lloyd Price. George typically sang the comedic Joe Brown and the Bruvvers songs that The Beatles played, and now added another one, “What a Crazy World We’re Living In.” For some variety, George picked up the country-styled Buddy Knox song, “Open (You’re Loving Arms).”
What About Some Originals?
The Beatles had been playing a few originals regularly since around December of 1961. These included “Like Dreamers Do,” “Hello Little Girl,” and “Love of the Loved.” And as stated above, Paul had added “Pinwheel Twist” to give Pete the spotlight for a song. But those first three were actually fairly old, written between 1957 and 1959. They, for some reason, didn’t play “One After 909” or “I’ll Be On My Way,” a couple of the other songs they had written earlier that were complete (some songs, such as “Love Me Do,” had been started as early as 1958 but not completed). New, original songs would be coming soon. By the summer of 1962, John and Paul would begin churning them out. But for the time being, a typical set list would contain possibly those three main originals along with as many as 12 or 15 covers like the ones we’ve been talking about.
Next week we’ll be talking about Stu’s visit to Liverpool in February of 1962. Thanks very much, as always, to Mark Lewisohn for his All These Years: Tune In (Extended Special Edition). Thanks to Chazz Avery for his https://www.beatlesource.com. And thanks to you for being here and for reading this. Please sign up for notifications of future blog posts! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you being here! – Andrew Martin Adamson
About five weeks after The Beatles auditioned for Decca Records, on January 1, 1962, Brian Epstein had lunch with Decca’s Dick Rowe. Rowe famously told Brian, “we don’t like your boys’ sound. Groups of guitarists are on their way out.” At least that was Brian’s story. Dick Rowe would say that there was never any lunch meeting and that he never said those words. Nevertheless, Decca was not going to sign The Beatles. Rowe had studied the US charts, looking for trends, and found that overwhelmingly the top acts were either solo singers or vocal groups that didn’t not focus on the guitar. Even the few more “rocking” songs were basically versions of the twist, a fad that was sure to die out.
Brian was devastated. He apparently told Rowe, “These boys are going to explode. I am confident that one day they will be bigger than Elvis…” Decca’s A&R man had made his decision, though. He would tell Disc Magazine in their February 3 issue about what he felt the music tastes were of young people:
Those between 12 and 14 are not romantically inclined and like the thumping rock style best.
Those between 14 and 18 are romantically minded and enjoy the ballad style of people like Presley and Cliff Richard.
Those between 18 and 22 go for artists like Sinatra, and people older than that have other tastes.
Interestingly, Decca did actually sign a guitar-based group at the same time. Mike Smith, the Decca producer who had at The Beatles’ audition and who was in favor of signing them, was told by Rowe that he could only sign one band. Smith’s choice was between The Beatles and Brian Poole and the Tremeloes. The choice of convenience wasn’t particularly hard for Smith. Poole and his group lived in London, not in faraway Liverpool. They had professional management, wore suits, and were already members of the musician’s union. Most convincingly, Smith and Poole were already friends.
Dick Rowe suggested to Brian that he could pay a young producer, 18-year old Tony Meehan, £100 to record The Beatles and that Decca would release the recordings as an album. There are some differing memories as to how involved Meehan had been from the very beginning. Paul remembered that Meehan was actually at the January 1 audition. John remembered that it was Meehan who had done the recording at that they had paid him £15 to do so. Meehan himself later denied that he had been at that session, though an even younger colleague (17 at the time), Tony Calder, would say several years later that Meehan had confessed to him that he was there. Phew…
In any case, Brian is said to have initially left a message stating that he was willing to pay £100 for the recording of The Beatles’ first album. With a couple of days to think about it, Brian ultimately sent, on February 10, 1962, a final message to Dick Rowe, thanking him for his time and help with coming up with a way to make a record, but that “I have decided now not to accept.” He went to tell a little fib (😉), that the reason for turning down Rowe’s offer was that The Beatles had another offer from another company. In an unusual course of events, Rowe allowed Brian to keep the January 1 recording. Since they didn’t actually have another offer, this was fortuitous since it meant that Brian had 35 minutes’ worth of material to play for other record labels.
Relaying the News
Brian told John, Paul, and George the news. Paul would say the rejection “heightened our determination.” But John didn’t see it that way. He said, “we really thought that was it, that was the end.” For some reason that is apparently not known, John, Paul, and George didn’t tell Pete. The only explanation to be found came from Pete himself. He said that the news was kept from him “for days to come,” and that the explanation he was given was that he would take the result extremely badly. Pete said he had to “laugh in bewilderment” at the reasoning. But poor Pete, when saying these things he had just related that the rejection came in March. Meaning that it had been as long as five weeks, not “for days” that he had not been told. So, when Pete wrote his book in 1985, he still actually didn’t know just how long the secret had been kept from him.
Not telling Pete also meant that they could make no public announcements (or else Pete would find out). By mid-February, both Mersey Beat and The Liverpool Echo ran stories about The Beatles waiting to hear good news from Decca Records. For the time being, Brian was back to setting up more and bigger shows, trying to get The Beatles involved in radio and television, and taking those tapes around to all of the other labels in London.
Next week we’ll be talking about The Beatles’ song selections in the first part of 1962. Thanks very much, as always, to Mark Lewisohn for his All These Years: Tune In (Extended Special Edition). Thanks also to Pete Best and Patrick Doncaster for their Beatle! The Pete Best Story. And thanks to you for being here and for reading this. Please sign up for notifications of future blog posts! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you being here! – Andrew Martin Adamson
By George, they’ve got it!
Well, The Beatles weren’t exactly Eliza Doolittle, but in Brian’s opinion, they did need some amount of attention to becoming more civilized. He started with their on-stage behavior. Smoking, swearing, and eating were out. John would say in a 1975 interview, “it was a choice of making it or still eating chicken on stage.” He also told them that they had to stop interacting with only the first few rows of the audience in order to avoid making the rest of the crowd feel like they were missing out. Brian desperately tried to get John to stop chewing gum and to stop making what they called the “crip” face as it could be offensive to some people. The best he got was that John toned it down a little. There are countless videos that you can see of The Beatles all through their careers in which you can see John making faces at the camera as well as chewing gum incessantly while he was singing.
John had made it very clear that Brian was not to offer any form of advice about the content of the songs themselves. During the Decca audition, John had yelled profanely and offensively at Brian when he tried to offer a view about how to play a song. Brian left the session for about twenty minutes to gain his composure. But the contract that The Beatles had signed with Brian the previous week did allow for him to be involved with the structure of the shows that they played. By February of 1962, Brian had convinced them that George should sing as many songs as John and Paul, and that there should be a rotating order: Paul, then John, then George, and over and over again.
And Then There Was the Bow
On January 21, 1962, Cliff Richard and the Shadows played at The Empire Theatre. Brian got them all “first-house” tickets and encouraged The Beatles to watch how Richard dealt with the audience. In fact, Brian brought them backstage to talk to drummer Brian Bennett of the Shadows after the show. Adopting the bow was tough for at least one of our boys. George thought it was “a showbiz thing.” But Paul would say about Brian, “I would tend to agree with some of his stagey ideas…we actually used to count the bow…we’d do this big uniform bow all at once.” In addition to the bow, it would become standard for The Beatles to thank the audience between songs and announce what was coming next.
What to Do with That Hair
Brian’s hair always looked exactly the same, day to day, week to week, month to month. That was because he regularly went to see Jim Cannon, one of six barbers who worked at Horne Bros. “Regularly” meaning as many as three times a week. Brian soon employed Cannon to ensure that The Beatles’ hair would also always look the same. He had a certain amount of success. They wouldn’t get their hair cut as much as Brian, George especially hated haircuts, but they did at least always climb into the chair before important occasions. In a different 1975 interview than the one above, John said, “it was generally cut or trimmed for the photographs, like in your school photographs your hair was cut the day before…”
Oh, and the Suits
It is probably one of the most told and re-told stories about Brian Epstein’s relationship with The Beatles that he put them in suits. And that is basically true. Pete would say that Brian “claimed that no one in the world of entertainment…would tolerate our slovenly look.” In actuality, Brian didn’t personally dislike the leather. Even the promotional photos they used showed off that image. But as Pete implied, outside of Liverpool they would get nowhere looking like that. They started getting a taste of the audience’s disapproval at shows in Manchester and especially in Hoylake, where they were jeered. Paul would say, “we didn’t want to appear as a gang of idiots. We just got rid of the leather gear.” Brian would talk about it being a slow transition in a 1964 interview: “I encouraged them at first to get out of leather jackets, and I wouldn’t allow them to appear in jeans after a short time, and then after that step I got them to wear sweaters on stage, and then, very reluctantly, eventually, suits.”
Though much is made, obviously even by Brian, that they were reluctant to make the change, here is what our boys would later say:
John in 1975: “We liked the leather and jeans but we wanted a good suit. We allowed Epstein to package us, it wasn’t the other way around.”
Paul in 1981: “I was attached to the leather as much as anyone, but it was time to change to the mohair suits. It wasn’t just me, we all loved those suits.”
George in 1998: “I just saw it as playing a game. If it takes suits to get us on the television…then we will put on suits. We would put on fancy dress, whatever it took to get the gigs.”
It is commonly thought that The Beatles always wore leather and then put on suits. That’s not terribly accurate. Though they hadn’t worn full suits to play in the past, they had certainly worn matching jackets, even in Hamburg. Now, Brian would take them to “master craftsman” Beno Dorn, where he got his own suits. They wouldn’t be ready for several weeks yet, but they were on their way. Oh, and by the way, I know that the “My Fair Lady” comparison is a stretch… 😉
Next week we’ll be talking about the response that finally came from Decca Records. Thanks very much, as always, to Mark Lewisohn for his All These Years: Tune In (Extended Special Edition). Thanks also to Pete Best and Patrick Doncaster for their Beatle! The Pete Best Story. And thanks to you for being here and for reading this. Please sign up for notifications of future blog posts! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you being here! – Andrew Martin Adamson
January 24, 1962
After looking at a sample contract, Brian Epstein drafted two versions of a management contract, but he had never actually presented either of them to The Beatles. He felt that the sample contract that he had looked at was unfair to the artists. He would say, “I thought it an inhuman document providing simply for the enslavement of any artiste eager enough to place his name [on it].” He thought that this third one that he had written up would really encompass what he wanted out of the contract, and he was determined to be fair to the group. The contract first laid out seven types of work The Beatles may do that would fall under the terms of the document:
a) Vaudeville and revue
b) Motion Pictures
c) Ball or Dances whether of a public or private nature
d) Radio and Television broadcasting
e) Concerts, private parties, cabaret
f) Phonographic and tape recording
g) Sponsorship projects
The contract went on to say that Epstein would be responsible for guiding and advising The Beatles “in all matters concerning their professional interests as artists and to negotiate on their behalf…” It also said that Brian would “advise the artists on all matters concerning clothes, make-up and the presentation and construction of the artists’ act and also on all music to be performed…”
The contract would commence on February 1 and continue to be in effect for five years. After one year, the contract could be terminated by either side with three months’ notice. As for Brian’s cut, it would be 10% of The Beatles’ income and would rise to 20% if their individual gross annual earnings exceeded £1500 (that would be £27500 or $37250 today). Paul had an issue with the percentage. He would tell Geoff Brown in an interview with Melody Maker in 1974: “I said, ‘Twenty, man? I thought managers only took 10%.’ He said, ‘No, it’s 20 these days.’ I said, ‘OK, maybe I’m not very modern.’” In actual fact, two commissions were standard, management and agents. And they generally totaled 30%.
Eppy’s Odd Decisions
Though it seemed that Paul was willing, possibly unhappily, to go along with the commission, Brian actually went ahead and changed it. On the completed contract, the 20% upper limit is crossed out and 15% is written in. Meaning that The Beatles would be paying only half of what artists usually paid management. It seemed that Brian’s insecurity over his inexperience in managing bands along with his fear that something would go wrong started playing into his thinking. Because changing the commission barely begins to cover the odd things that he decided to do with the contract.
On the signature page of the contract, there were spaces for ten signatures: The Beatles, Brian, and Alistair Taylor, Brian’s personal assistant who would acting as witness to each signing. But in the end, one of the ten spaces was blank. It was the one that should have been home to the signature of one Brian Epstein. Alistair Taylor would say that he believed that The Beatles knew that Brian didn’t sign, but according to Mark Lewisohn, no Beatle ever talked about it. Brian would blame, in a sense, his insecurity. He said, “It was because even though I knew I would keep the contract in every clause, I had not 100% faith in myself to help The Beatles adequately. In other words, I wanted to free The Beatles of their obligations if I felt they would be better off.”
Oh, and Something Else…
There were a couple of key differences between the original drafts that Brian had written up and not given to The Beatles and the one that was ultimately signed. One was that a clause in the drafts allowed Brian to split the group up, kind of like how Cliff Richard and The Shadows could be together or separate when they wanted to be. That was gone in the final version. But that’s not the most important thing…
The original drafts actually contained three more signature lines. These were to contain the autographs of James McCartney, Harold Harrison, and John Best. Brian had given instructions to have those lines removed on the final version. You see, the age of consent in the UK in 1962 was 21. Only John had reached that age, so Paul, George, and Pete would need co-signers. Not having those signatures meant one very specific thing: Though no one apparently noticed or thought about it, the contract in its entirety was not in any way legal and/or binding. It was yet another step Brian had taken to assuage his insecurity. As Mark Lewisohn would put it, it was “Brian sabotaging a perfectly good document to give The Beatles an easy way out any time they wanted one.”
John said that when they were fending for themselves before 1962, that they looked for “the man with the big cigar” to manage them, meaning someone tough and ready to take on a cutthroat business. What they got was someone who actually cared about them, to a fault really. Brian cared more about The Beatles than he cared about himself. As Bob Wooler would say, “To Brian, they were so precious. They were more than a very special music act. They were in his mind, in his thoughts, all the time. They obsessed him, and this was apparent.”
Next week we’ll be talking about Brian Epstein’s influence on The Beatles’ fashion and behavior. Thanks very much, as always, to Mark Lewisohn for his All These Years: Tune In (Extended Special Edition). Also, thanks to Brian Epstein for his A Cellarful of Noise. And thanks to you for being here and for reading this. Please sign up for notifications of future blog posts! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you being here! – Andrew Martin Adamson
As we talked about last month, Brian Epstein met with Graham Pauncefort, an assistant manager of the British office of Deutsche Grammophon, on December 5, 1961. They had arranged for a UK release of “My Bonnie” on January 5, 1962. The B-side would still be “The Saints.” But best of all, the artist credit would be Tony Sheridan and THE BEATLES instead of The Beat Brothers. Brian intended to use the news of the release as leverage in his negotiations with London record companies in trying to obtain a recording contract for The Beatles. Or at least maybe it would get them some press and some radio play.
“My Bonnie” actually got some relatively positive reviews. NME (The New Musical Express) said it was “worth a listen for the above average ideas.” Melody Maker said “we should be hearing a lot more of them.” The World’s Fair called it “a real gone rocker which will please the youngsters…likely to receive steady plays…” Disc and Record Retailer (now Music Week) each gave “My Bonnie” three star ratings. Not fantastic, but still generally positive.
Unfortunately, Deutsche Grammophon didn’t bother to try to get radio play for the single, nor did they try to promote it to radio stations such as the very important Radio Luxembourg. Though The Beatles may have hoped to get some exposure on TV on Juke Box Jury or Thank Your Lucky Stars, it was not to be. In the end, the single was a complete failure. It would not even make the Top 100 on the UK Singles chart and was out of circulation by mid-January. Interestingly, even after The Beatles became popular nationally going into 1963, when “My Bonnie” was re-released it would still only reach #48 on the chart.
Even in Liverpool!
Brian had hopes that there would at least be some sales at home. He tried to get other record stores around the Liverpool area to stock the record. He made sure to have unlimited copies at his own Nems store with abundant window advertising. The Beatles’ Fan Club tried to spread the word to anyone who would listen that “My Bonnie” was available! The Beatles themselves played the song regularly at shows with John doing the lead vocal. None of it mattered. It just didn’t sell.
There were likely two main reasons for the failure of “My Bonnie” in Liverpool, and in retrospect, they seem pretty obvious. First off, though The Beatles played the music, it was Tony Sheridan who sang it. Fans didn’t care about Sheridan, he wasn’t a Beatle! Sure, they could see The Beatles play the song live, but they didn’t need the record for that. And in addition, any fans who really wanted the single had already bought the German import earlier in the year! No need to get it again!
Interestingly, had Brian Epstein been a less honest man, he could have actually done something about it. As we’ll talk about a lot when we get to the time when The Beatles start to release official material in about a year, the UK Singles Charts were not well-organized products. Different magazines had their own charts and the one chart that was “official” was calculated in a very strange way. They didn’t actually count the number of records sold. Instead, they asked selected retailers to report their top selling singles and then they would just take an average of all of those lists. Nems was one of the selected retailers, so in theory, Brian could have reported that “My Bonnie” was the number one seller at his store. It wouldn’t have been enough to make the song a big hit, but it would likely have at least seen some time on the chart. Of course, and rightly so, Brian Epstein was not the kind of man who would do such an unethical thing.
Soon after “My Bonnie” faded from the prospect of sales, it also faded from the minds of The Beatles. They stopped playing it and any excitement that had been generated by the idea of having a single out there was gone. By October of 1962, Paul would tell Monty Lister and Malcolm Threadgill in a radio interview that “My Bonnie” “wasn’t a very good record.” Fortunately, by that time The Beatles had bigger and better offerings for the UK Singles Chart, but we’ll get to that in a few months…
Next week we’ll be getting into the official management contract that Brian Epstein and The Beatles agreed to. Thanks very much, as always, to Mark Lewisohn for his All These Years: Tune In (Extended Special Edition). And thanks to you for being here and for reading this. Please up for notifications of future blog posts! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you being here! – Andrew Martin Adamson
For four and a half years, since July 6, 2017, we have been talking (sixty years later) about the formative years of The Beatles, starting on the day that Paul met John and soon joined The Quarrymen. This year we will be making the transition to talking about The Beatles becoming the foursome we all know and turning into professional recording artists. The year that it would happen? Sixty years ago, in 1962.
Fresh from the Decca audition
Quite a way for the year to start. The Beatles (John, Paul, George, and Pete) spent New Year’s Day in London auditioning for Decca Records. We talked about it in detail last week. It would be several weeks before they heard a decision from Decca, so it was back to playing as many shows as possible, including many more shows at The Cavern and The Casbah Coffee Club, but now adding in such new venues as The Kingsway Club in Southport, Technical College Hall in Birkenhead, and The Oasis Club in Manchester. Brian Epstein made sure that they were reaching new audiences. And on January 4, The Beatles would top the poll of best bands in Mersey Beat.
January 5 saw the release of The Beatles’ first UK single. It was “My Bonnie” and “The Saints,” released on German label Polydor Records and credited to Tony Sheridan and The Beatles. It did not reach the charts. By the end of March, The Beatles were regularly wearing suits and Eppy was hard at work trying to secure them a recording contract. Unfortunately, Decca rejected them and that was soon followed by virtually every other London-based label. The work, however, continued as they looked at returning to Hamburg for a third residency, this time at The Star Club.
The Worst of News and the Best of News
As The Beatles arrived in Hamburg, they were greeted by devastating news. On April 10, 1962, Stuart Sutcliffe had died at the age of 21. I’ve said it before… I do not look forward to writing what will be the last blog post about Stu in a few months’ time. But by May, the general mood of The Beatles would be in for a tremendous upswing. Word made it to Hamburg by telegram that EMI would be signing The Beatles to a six song recording contract with the intention of releasing at least one single. They would be assigned to Parlophone Records and produced by George Martin. It was the opportunity that they had worked so hard for over the last few years, and now the future looked extremely bright.
Or did it? On June 6, 1962, The Beatles recorded four songs in Studio Two of EMI Studios, Abbey Road. The session didn’t go as well as was hoped, at least in the eyes of George Martin. While The Beatles went back to playing shows practically every day over the next two months, Martin was trying to decide what songs would be good enough to be released as a single, possible a song written by Mitch Murray called “How Do You Do It?” But one thing was clear. Pete Best was not equipped to be a studio drummer, so they would need to bring in a session drummer for the recordings. To be fair, this was not an uncommon practice. Session musicians were often brought in for recording purposes. Martin had no intention of, nor the power needed for suggesting that Pete shouldn’t continue to be a member of the band for live shows.
The Decision Is Made
But regardless of George Martin’s intentions, in August John, Paul, and George told Brian Epstein that he needed to “fire” Pete. Now when the time comes, we’ll go into great detail about how the process would work legally, considering that Pete was under contract. But, nevertheless, as far as the trio was concerned, Pete was out and Ringo was in. Ringo would join The Beatles for his first live show as a full member of the band on August 18, 1962, when they played at Hulme Hall in Birkenhead. Many people seem to think Ringo’s first Beatles show was at The Cavern, but it was not. The first time for that particular event was the following evening, August 19. Clearly there will be a lot to talk about when the time comes to cover these events, and you should be aware: I love Ringo as you may imagine. Otherwise, why would I dedicate my life to writing about The Beatles! Ha! But I also love Pete Best. As I say all the time, he is a humble, classy, witty guy and I have nothing but respect for him as a person.
The Beatles are Complete
John, Paul, George, and Ringo. Rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? And so it was back to the recording studio at the beginning of September to really knock out that first single. But George Martin still intended to use a session drummer and had called in Andy White. We’ll be talking about how that went, how Ringo felt, and which releases have which drummer playing! Nevertheless, a big day was approaching. On October 5, 1962, Parlophone released The Beatles’ first official single, “Love Me Do” with “P.S. I Love You” on the B-side. It would hit the charts in mid-October and remain there for a bit into the following year.
The rest of 1962 would be taken up by doing more shows, making TV and radio appearances, and Brian Epstein trying to set up tours for 1963. We’ll talk about all of that as well as about the specific recording, management, and licensing contracts The Beatles had to sign and about their surprising (as in, not really talked about much and possibly unexpected) continuing relationship with Rory Storm and his family. Oh, and the Fall would include two more short trips to Hamburg! Are you ready to have a lot of fun talking about 1962? We are!
Next week we’ll be getting into the first official release in the UK of a Beatles single. It was that same old “My Bonnie” that had been knocking around for a while. Thanks very much, as always, to Mark Lewisohn for his All These Years: Tune In (Extended Special Edition). And thanks to Joe Goodden for his amazing https://www.beatlesbible.com/. And thanks to you for being here and for reading this. Please sign up for notifications of future blog posts! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you being here! – Andrew Martin Adamson