Archive for the ‘Rock n Roll Music 1960 Part 3’ Category

THE TWIST – HANK BALLARD & THE MIDNIGHTERS – CHUBBY CHECKER – JOEY DEE & THE STARLITERS – THE BEAT GENERATION – THE BEATNIK – FROM JOHNNY AND THE MOONDOGS TO THE BEATLES – FOLK MUSIC – THE KINGSTON TRIO – JOAN BAEZ

 

THE TWIST

“Come on baby, let’s do the twist, come on baby, let’s do the twist, take me by my little hand and go like this…” “The Twist” – Chubby Checker

It was the first touchless dance, the perfect move for the dawn of the rock ‘n’ roll era. All you had to do was shake. It didn’t matter what rock ‘n’ roll song was playing as long as it had a rhythm. You swiveled your hips back and forth, twisting your body at the waist while moving your arms left to right to the beat. You didn’t hold your partner or even take their hand, a concept that was unheard of in 1960. You just… twisted.

The Twist served in defining as well as bridging the Generation Gap, a gap that had been developing ever since Elvis swiveled his hips, by creating the first worldwide dance craze of the rock ‘n’ roll era. Parents shook their heads at the new dance style… then tried it out for themselves. It transcended age, spread around the world, and inspired future dances through the Sixties like the Frug, the Watusi, the Jerk, the Mashed Potato, the Swim, the Monkey and the Funky Chicken. The Twist is the granddaddy of them all, the dance craze responsible for literally shaking up civilized society.

 

HANK BALLARD & THE MIDNIGHTERS

John Henry Kendricks wrote and recorded “The Twist”, releasing it in 1959 as a B-side under his stage name Hank Ballard with his group the Midnighters. The Midnighters had choreographed a move they considered suitable for the song for their live performances, but it was a stylized dance, much like grooving to the music instead of dancing. Soon, the song became the high point of their show and their choreography morphed into the dance that shook the world.

“The dance was not originated by the Midnighters. The twist dance was originated by some women out there in the audience… so we just picked that up. The dance was created really by the people.” Lawson Smith – The Midnighters

The concept of the song came about during the time when Ballard, along with Midnighters’ guitarist Cal Green and the rest of the group, toured with gospel groups. One particular gospel member, Brother Joe Wallace of The Sensational Nightingales, explained to them the idea for the song. Because of its suggestiveness, Wallace couldn’t very well introduce it into the world of gospel music, so he passed the idea on to them. This got Ballad and Green to thinking. Having already written a song together called “Is Your Love For Real”, they decided to drop the lyrics and re-write new ones about the dance Wallace had described.

“My Daddy is sleepin’ and Mama ain’t around, yeah Daddy’s just sleepin’ and Mama ain’t around, we’re gonna twistin’, twistin’, twistin’, ’til we tear the house down…” – The Twist – Hank Ballard and the Midnighters

Ballard’s original version of The Twist only made it to Number 16 on Billboard’s R&B chart and Number 28 Pop in 1959. It was then quickly forgotten until Dick Clark heard it. Clark was the host of “American Bandstand”, the only rock ‘n’ roll variety show on TV at the time. Much speculation came about as to why Clark didn’t showcase Hank Ballard and the Midnighters on his show.

“He didn’t want to use the Hank Ballard record because he didn’t have control of (the song). He also felt Hank was too black. With Chubby, he had much lighter skin. He had the boy-next-door look. He was just a teenager.” Jim Dawson; “The Twist: The Story of the Song and Dance That Changed the World, (1995).

Another reason given for HB&TM to have been overlooked by Clark was simply because Clark wasn’t able to book the group due to scheduling conflicts, although some members of the Midnighters’ say Clark just didn’t bother with them.

“He (Dick Clark) refused to let us be on his show… and he started promoting Chubby Checker.” -Lawson Smith, The Midnighters

“History was made the day Chubby Checker went on Bandstand with ‘The Twist’… and it was all because of Dick Clark.” – Ernest Evans aka Chubby Checker

 

CHUBBY CHECKER

Ernest Evans was a gifted singer and dancer. When he was eight years old, he sang on the street corners of South Philadelphia with a harmony group. As a teenager, he’d entertain the customers of the markets he worked for with his imitations of the rock ‘n’ roll artists of the day, including his personal favorite, Fats Domino. His boss at the Produce Market nicknamed him Chubby due to his portly countenance, and his other boss, Henry Colt at the Fresh Farm Poultry store, was impressed enough to talk to a connection about having Chubby meet Dick Clark.

“I was 16 years old when I first met Dick. It was about two years before we did ’The Twist.’ I was in the studio with him. He was doing a Christmas project, and I was at the piano doing a Fats Domino impression.” – Ernest Evans aka Chubby Checker

Dick Clark’s wife Barbara attended the recording and after listening to him, Barbara asked him his name.

“Well, my friends call me Chubby.” Evans said.

“As in Checker?” she asked jokingly, and inadvertently gave Evans his stage name: Chubby Checker as a ‘twist’ on Fats Domino.

It was Clark’s decision to have Chubby record the Twist, primarily due to his voice, which was similar to Ballard’s, so much so that when Hank Ballard first heard Checker’s version on the radio, he thought it was his own recording. Clark also genuinely liked Chubby, having had him appear on “AB” once before to perform his debut single, a novelty hit called “The Class”, so Clark offered Checker the opportunity to record ‘The Twist” as his second single. Checker danced the Twist like he invented it, and thanks to the power of television, Chubby Checker was the symbol for the dance and its instructor as well, teaching the world how to move, forever identifying himself with it, and turning the song into a worldwide smash.

On July 18, 1960, Chubby Checker introduced his version of the Twist at the Rainbow Club in Wildwood, New Jersey. Three weeks later on August 6, he made his worldwide television debut on “American Bandstand” and the dance craze that would kick off a tsunami of dance crazes was born.

The single was a certified smash hit. It made it to Number One on September 19, 1960 and stayed there for one week. But that wasn’t the end of the Twist once it fell off the top position. It only became more popular as the months wore on, becoming ubiquitous worldwide, heard regularly on the radio, in clubs, even in conversation, as a thing of shock and fun. Soon, it spread from the teen market to the parents, and not just in America but all over global civilized society, right on up to the elite, sophisticated class that included the celebrities of the day, who were delighted by the Twist as much as everyone else. The Twist had broken through barriers, just like Elvis.

LET’S TWIST AGAIN – CHUBBY CHECKER

Chubby Checker was compelled to record other Twist songs and released his second biggest hit after the original, called “Let’s Twist Again”, the following year in the summer of 1961. The song was as good as the original that spawned it. It reached Number Two in the UK and Number Eight in the US Pop and won a Grammy for Best Rock & Roll Recording in 1962.

“Come on, let’s twist again like we did last summer, yeah, let’s twist again like we did last year, do you remember when things were really hummin’? Yeah, let’s twist again, twistin’ time is here…” Let’s Twist Again – Chubby Checker

The growing momentum since Chubby Checker’s release of “The Twist” and the glut of Twist songs flooding the market convinced the record company to release the original song once again, sixteen months after its debut, on January 13, 1962, where it made it to Number One a second time, this time for two weeks. As of this writing, “The Twist” by Chubby Checker still holds the record for being the only single to be released twice and to hit Number One both times, except for Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” released twenty years earlier.

 

THE PEPPERMINT TWIST – JOEY DEE & THE STARLITERS

After Checker’s “Twist” in ’62 dropped from the Number One position, the need to fill the void of another Twist song was immediately fulfilled by Joey Dee and the Starliters when “The Peppermint Twist” replaced Checker’s “Twist” at the Number One Pop position on January 27, staying there for three weeks.

The name of the song was due to the fact that Joey Dee and the Starliters was the house band for the Peppermint Lounge, located on 128 West 45th Street in New York City. They already had a few minor hits since 1958, so they were originally booked to just do a weekend gig. That first night however, two celebrities of the day, actress Merle Oberon and Prince Serge Oblinski, were spotted by the press and written about in the next morning’s paper. The Peppermint Lounge became the hottest ticket, literally overnight. Lines were snaking around the block and celebrities such as John Wayne, Judy Garland, Nat “King” Cole, Shirley MacLaine, Liberace, Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams and even First Lady Jackie Kennedy made an appearance, cementing the Starliters’ stay at the club.

The Peppermint Lounge was also one of the pioneering nightclubs that employed go-go girls, dancers in simulated outfits and exotic situations, often wearing next to nothing and found in cages or dance pods around the club. A year into the group’s stay, Joey Dee wrote “The Peppermint Twist” with producer Henry Glover. The song ultimately sold a million copies.

TWISTING THE NIGHT AWAY – SAM COOKE

Sam Cooke saw the value in the popularity of the Twist so he wrote and recorded “Twisting The Night Away” on December 18, 1961 and released it while Chubby Checker’s “Twist” was reigning over the chart the second time around on January 9, 1962.

TWIST AND SHOUT

“Twist and Shout” was written in 1961 by Phil Medley (not Bill Medley of The Righteous Brothers) and Bert Barnes (later credited as Bert Russell). It was originally called “Shake It Up, Baby”, and it was given to young up and coming record producer Phil Spector to record with a group called the Topnotes. Russell felt Spector ruined the song with his over the top production style so he gave it to the Isley Brothers to re-record it the way he heard it in his head.

The song’s title was changed to “Twist & Shout”, probably to jump on the dance craze bandwagon. It became the Isley Brothers’ first hit since ‘Shout’ in 1959, cracking the Top 20 at Number 17 on the Billboard Pop chart and Number Two on the R&B chart during the summer of 1962.

Several months later, on February 11, 1963, the Beatles recorded “Twist & Shout” as the last cut on their debut album “Please Please Me”. It had been a long recording session. The young group had laid down all eleven songs that were to be on the album over one ten hour night. John Lennon’s voice was hoarse by the time they got around to “Twist & Shout”, the last recording of the night, and his hoarseness is clearly heard on the recording, making it so much more of a rocker than the Isley Brothers’ version. ”Twist & Shout” is probably the Beatles’ biggest hit that wasn’t written by them, and a curious connection between the most influential band of the rock era and the most influential dance. Both broke barriers and both swung open the doors to a world of change for a world on the cusp of a social revolution.

On November 4th, 1963, The Beatles played the Royal Command Performance in London, England with the Queen and the entire Royal Family in attendance. Their last song was “Twist & Shout” and John Lennon introduced it with a now famous quote that made fun of the royalty in attendance.

“For our last number I’d like to ask your help. The people in the cheaper seats clap your hands. And the rest of you, if you’d just rattle your jewelry.” – John Lennon

The Twist became the standard Sixties dance even after the Beatles came to American shores and a slew of dances followed. The “touchless” dance style would reign for the rest of the decade and wouldn’t be replaced by anything radically different until the disco craze of the Seventies.

 

THE BEAT

There have only been a handful of words and phrases that have encompassed the vastness of rock ‘n’ roll. The phrase “rollin’ stone” for example, has been around since Muddy Waters first recorded the classic blues song in 1950, then carried on in spirit a dozen years later when member British musician Brian Jones spotted the Muddy Waters record on the floor and quickly named his band “The Rollin’ Stones” when asked their name over the phone. The term was also used in Bob Dylan’s “Like A Rollin’ Stone” (1965), quite possibly one of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll songs ever written, and in the Temptations’ groundbreaking soul classic “Papa was a Rollin’ Stone” (1972). It even wound up being the banner of “Rolling Stone”, a prestigious rock ‘n’ roll magazine that’s been around since 1967 and is still going strong today. The term’s actual meaning of a rambler who never settles down is a large part of the rock ‘n’ roller’s romanticized image.

But there is also a word that has become equally synonymous with rock ‘n’ roll, and it has roots in the Forties, born from a group of eccentric bohemian writers that literally laid down the blueprint for the sexual, social and cultural revolution of the Sixties. The word is, quite simply, also what the music is essentially comprised of: a beat.

 

THE BEAT GENERATION

The Beat Generation were a group of authors who published books during the 1950s that subversively shaped the culture of post World War II American society with precepts that became an integral part of the rock ‘n’ roll spirit; the quest for spirituality, the rejection of materialism, sexual orientation and experimentation and the use of psychedelic drugs.

These precepts were drawn from the esoteric books and magazine articles written by these eccentric few and went on to inspire a powerful cultural revolution that would spawn the Beatnik by 1960 as the natural progeny of the Beat Generation.

Jack Kerouak, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Boroughs, Herbert Huncke, John Clennon Holmes and Lucien Carr were young authors and poets who first met in 1944 as students in the campus of Columbia University in New York City. They were the refuse of society; closet homosexuals, ex-convicts, murderers and drug addicts who happened to also be brilliant writers. Jack Kerouak coined the phrase “Beat Generation” as a way of describing his non-conformist circle of peers. His meaning for the phrase had nothing to do with a rhythmic beat however. It was rather a slang that meant ‘downtrodden’, or members of the bottom rung of society.

“The Beat Generation, that was a vision that we had, John Clellon Holmes and I, and Allen Ginsberg in an even wilder way, in the late Forties, of a generation of crazy, illuminated hipsters suddenly rising and roaming America, serious, bumming and hitchhiking everywhere, ragged, beatific, beautiful in an ugly graceful new way—a vision gleaned from the way we had heard the word “beat” spoken on street corners on Times Square and in the Village, in other cities in the downtown city night of postwar America—beat, meaning down and out but full of intense conviction.”– Jack Kerouac

 

THE BEATNIK

On April 2, 1958, Herb Caen coined the term “beatnik”, meant as a derogatory term, in an article he wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle about the youth of the day and their lifestyle, which was mirrored in Jack Kerouac’s autobiographical and scandalous works of fiction. Caen picked up the “nik” suffix from the pages of world news and the steady stream of stories regarding the USSR’s Sputnik space program. Soon, the word ‘beatnik’ was picked up to describe the rebellious youth of the day who roamed the streets of Greenwich Village in distinct wardrobe that separated them from everyone else.

“Beat Generation” sold books, sold black turtleneck sweaters and bongos, berets and dark glasses, sold a way of life that seemed like dangerous fun—thus to be either condemned or imitated. Suburban couples could have beatnik parties on Saturday nights and drink too much and fondle each other’s wives.” –Joyce Johnson, “Minor Characters”

Madison Avenue picked up on the new trend and soon used it to sell records, mostly folk music.

“The term (beatnik) caught on because it could mean anything. It could even be exploited in the affluent wake of the decade’s extraordinary technological inventions. Almost immediately, for example, advertisements by “hip” record companies in New York used the idea of the Beat Generation to sell their new long playing vinyl records.” – Ann Charters, Jack Kerouac’s biographer

The demise of the Beatnik was brought about by the media’s manipulation of the stereotype, right down to the sandals and bongo drums. Half a decade later, the Beatnik would dissolve into history and give way to the hippie movement and the Sixties counterculture. Rock ‘n’ roll music changed to rock music by 1967 and the Beatnik vanished, but the term beat didn’t. Coincidentally, with no allusion to the Beat Generation at all, the word lived on to hang another suffix onto: Beatle.

 

FROM JOHNNY & THE MOONDOGS TO THE BEATLES


Stuart Ferguson Victor Sutcliffe
was a 19 year old, Scottish art student attending the Liverpool College of Art when he got evicted from his flat in early 1960 for not paying his rent. He moved in with his classmate Margaret Chapman into a larger place that had the nerve to call itself Hillary Mansions, located at 3 Gambier Terrace in Liverpool. It consisted of three rooms, three mattresses and three light bulbs. Since there was only two of them and they needed one more roommate to help with the rent, Stu’s close friend John Lennon moved in to occupy the third mattress.

John was more committed than ever to form a professional rock ‘n’ roll band. He found the perfect songwriting partner in Paul McCartney, who shared the same ambition, and Paul’s friend George Harrison complemented them well. George was the youngest of the three and underage, but he added a solid lead guitar to the songs they covered, and as they grew to know each other better and rehearse together steadily over the weeks that turned into months, they honed their talents into a nice, tight sound. Still, there were two things missing that without them, they couldn’t call themselves a proper rock ‘n’ roll band. Their first and foremost dilemma was that they still didn’t have a permanent drummer and it was difficult to get gigs without one. Paul used to explain to the club owners, “the rhythm’s in the guitars…” but it did no good. No drums. No gig.

They also hadn’t settled on a name for the band yet. The Quarrymen name suited John for his local Liverpool band, only because the original members were all students of Quarry Bank High School where John attended too. But now, John, Paul and George, the diehard members of the band, remained after all the others that passed through in the search for the right band mates fell off one by one. The trio had their sights set on becoming a legitimate rock ‘n’ roll band with the potential to tour outside Liverpool, maybe even all the way to London, and they needed a legitimate rock ‘n’ roll name.

“Stuart was in the band now. He wasn’t really a very good musician. In fact, he wasn’t a musician at all until we talked him into buying a bass.” – George Harrison, The Beatles Anthology

Stu joined the still unnamed band at the end of 1959, despite the fact that he didn’t know how to play a musical instrument. Stu was an artist, and John was mighty impressed by his peer’s immense talent. Stu and John stayed up at night talking about art, and many times the conversation veered towards the fate of the band. Stu felt uncomfortable about playing, especially when the other three would start yelling at him every time he got it wrong. He was more of a painter than a musician, and sometimes he felt forced by John to play in the band and relented only out of friendship.

Tension existed between Paul and Stu as well. Being an annoying perfectionist even way back then, Paul realized the only reason Stu was in the band was because he was John’s friend. Paul already felt a little resentment that John liked to hang out with Stu more than with him, especially because they were starting to write songs together. He knew that if they really wanted to succeed, they would have to strive for perfection, and Stu wasn’t adding anything to the band musically, although his looks did attract a female following.

“Stuart and I once actually had a fight on stage. I thought I’d beat him hands down because he was littler than me. But he was strong and we got locked in a sort of death-grip, on stage during the set. It was terrible. We must have called each other something one too many times: ‘Oh, you…’ – ‘You calling me that?’ Then we were locked and neither of us wanted to go any further and all the others were shouting, ‘Stop it, you two!’ – ‘I’ll stop it if he will.’” – Paul McCartney

Stu’s brooding look and thin frame carried a smooth featured face, and his manner of “teddy boy” attitude was accentuated with a wardrobe of tight, straight legged black leather pants, leather jacket, t-shirt and sunglasses. It made him look cutting edge for the times. John, Paul and George also adopted this tough guy look, originally inspired by Marlon Brando’s “The Wild One” (1952) and today more associated with gay culture than anything else. But back then, they were all trying to look tough and the only one who could pull it off well was John. The worst attempt at the teddy boy look was Paul, whose baby face betrayed his real “tea and crumpets” demeanor.

“We did have some arguments, me and Stu, but actually I just wanted us to be a really cracking band, and Stu – being a cracking artist – held us back a little bit, not too much. If ever it came to the push, when there was someone in there watching us I’d feel, ‘Oh, I hope Stu doesn’t blow it.’ I could trust the rest of us; that was it. Stuart would tend to turn away a little so as not to be too obvious about what key he was in, in case it wasn’t our key.” – Paul McCartney

As they struggled to find the right name, their lack of a drummer was a bigger problem, because it prevented them from getting good gigs like the upcoming Eddie Cochran concert at the Liverpool Stadium. But Cochran had to replaced at the last minute with Gene Vincent after being killed in a car accident on April 17, 1960. Vincent was also a passenger in that car but he had survived.


Rory Storm and the Hurricanes with drummer Ringo Starr

That show in Liverpool Stadium was promoted by Larry Parnes and Alan Williams. Parnes at the time was manager for a not very popular pop star called Johnny Gentle, who recorded two singles and an EP (Extended Play, consisting of only four songs) that didn’t go anywhere. The acts for that night besides Vincent were Gerry & The Pacemakers, and local Liverpool acts Cass & the Cassanovas and Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. Parnes and Williams met the still embryonic rock n roll group when they were auditioning local bands for the show. In the end, Rory Storm & the Hurricanes got the gig. Next to these scruffy beginners with the funny name, RS&H were a much more polished band, and it was particularly distinguished in having a rock steady drummer holding the beat.

“It was held in the stadium where Pete best’s dad, Johnny, used to promote boxing. Ringo was in that show with Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. We weren’t big enough to play, we didn’t even have a drummer, and I remember thinking how we’d got to get our band together because the Hurricanes all had suits and dance steps; a proper routine. It was semi-professional. It looked impressive from where we were sitting.” – George Harrison, The Beatles Anthology

As Stu and John busied themselves painting the walls of their flat yellow and black, they spent their evenings trying to find a good name for the band. They followed a trail of past band names and used Buddy Holly’s Crickets as a starting point. They liked the name of Holly’s group because the word ‘cricket’ had two meanings. Besides the chirpy insects, the name also had a musical connotation. It was Stu who suggested another insect: the beetle. John liked that (ironically enough, Buddy Holly had also considered ‘beetles’ as a possible name for his band before he ultimately decided on the Crickets).

But even at that point, they still weren’t sure of any name so they continued to try new ones on for size. When they appeared on Carroll Levis’ “TV Star Search”, a popular talent show in Britain, they billed themselves as Johnny & The Moondogs.

“The Spring of 1960, John and I went down to a pub in Reading… At the end of the week, we played at the pub as the Nerk Twins.” – Paul McCartney, The Beatles Anthology

One Saturday night, on April 23, 1960, John and Paul traveled to Reading, Berkshire and played live as a duo the only time in their lives. They called themselves The Nerk Twins on the spot, apparently not having given it much thought. The audience in the pub that drunken first night consisted of a grand total of three customers. They played country standards and rock ‘n’ roll songs like “Be-Bop-A-Lula” that night and reprised them the following afternoon for their lunch crowd, which didn’t have too much more clientele as the night before.

The two landed the gig because the wife of the pub’s landlord, Mike Robbins, was Paul’s cousin.

“It was the Easter school holidays and John and I had hitchhiked down from Liverpool to help out in the pub,’ Paul McCartney recalled. ‘We generally dossed around for a week and worked behind the bar. Then Mike said that me and John should play there on the Saturday night. So we made our own posters and put them up in the pub: ‘Saturday Night – Live Appearance – The Nerk Twins’. It was the smallest gig I’ve ever done. We were only playing to a roomful, a small, throbbing roomful.” Paul McCartney, The Beatles Anthology

Although that week long ago proved uneventful then, it was actually an important lesson learned by Paul in the world of professional show business.

“My cousin (Mike Robbins) used to tread the boards – he was a bit showbizzy. He’d been an entertainments manager hosting talent contests at Butlins and he’d been on the radio. He asked us what song we were going to open with and we said Be Bop A Lula. He told us, ‘No, it’s too slow. This is a pub on a Saturday night, you need to open with something fast and instrumental. What else have you got?’ We said, ‘Well, we do The World Is Waiting For The Sunrise’ – I played the melody and John did the rhythm – so we played him that and he said, ‘Perfect, start with that, then do Be Bop A Lula.’ This was our introduction to showbiz wisdom here and I would remember his advice years later when we were organizing The Beatles’ shows.” –Paul McCartney

After John and Paul returned from the Nerk Twins’ simultaneous debut and farewell shows, they were able to land a spot in a show in a little club cellar that had been organized by musician/entrepreneur Brian Cass. In the meantime, Stu had recently suggested playing around with the word ‘beetles’ as a band name and changing it to ‘Beatals’ but it didn’t sit right with John. John came up with a different spelling that would also have a double meaning just like the Crickets; bugs with a beat.


Gambier Terrace-Liverpool, England

“One April evening in 1960, walking along Gambier Terrace, by Liverpool Cathedral John and Stuart announced, ‘Hey, we want to call the band The Beatles. We thought, ‘Hmmm… bit creepy isn’t it?” – Paul McCartney, The Beatles Anthology

It was at the club Cass got them booked in where they first presented themselves as the Beatles. Cass hated the name. Since John was the founder and therefore leader of the group, Cass suggested, among other variations, Long John and the Pieces of Silver. An argument ensued.

“He said, ‘what’s your name?’ We had just thought of the Beatles so we thought we would try this out at the audition. Cass said, ‘Beatles? What’s that? It doesn’t mean anything.’ Everyone hated the name, fans and promoters alike. He asked John’s name. John, who was pretty much at that time the lead singer, said ‘John Lennon’. ‘Right, Big John… Long John… OK, Long John Silver’. So we compromised and had Long John and the Silver Beetles. We would do anything for a job, so that’s what we became.” – Paul McCartney, The Beatles Anthology

The Beatles were to drop the whole ‘Long John’ stuff and decided to just call themselves the Silver Beetles. During the summer of 1960, Parnes booked the Silver Beetles on a tour through Scotland backing the artist he managed, Johnny Gentle.

“I became Paul Ramon, which I thought was suitably exotic. I remember the Scottish girls saying, ‘Is that his real name?’… Stuart became Stuart De Stael after the painter, George became Carl Harrison after Carl Perkins (our big idol, who had written ‘Blue Suede Shoes’). John was Long John… So here we were, suddenly with the first of Larry’s untempestuous acts and a tour of Scotland, when I should have been doing my GCE exams.” – Paul McCartney, The Beatles Anthology

By the time they came back from the tour, John had once again tinkered with the name and changed the ‘e’ in ‘beetles’ to an ‘a’. By July, they were officially calling themselves the Silver Beatles.

It was during this time that Alan Williams became the Silver Beatles’ manager. Besides promoting rock ‘n’ roll shows, Williams owned a former watch repair shop on 21 Slater Street in Liverpool. He converted the shop into a coffee bar and called it the Jacaranda, after a flowering tree, opening the place on September 1958. John Lennon and Stu Sutcliffe, then students of the Liverpool Art College, and Paul McCartney of the Liverpool Institute, were frequent customers, having already met him within the local gig circuit.

John approached Williams to get him to hire them to play in his club. He took a liking to him and hired John and Stu to paint a mural for the Ladies’ room instead. After a while, Williams relented and allowed the Beatles to play in the Jac. Soon, he was finding other venues for the group to play in. The problem was that they still had no drummer, but when Williams found out about a club in Hamburg, Germany looking for a rock ‘n’ roll group, it was time to get serious and find a permanent percussionist.

(more…)

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