Author Archives: Alan L. Chrisman

About Alan L. Chrisman

I've been involved in music and writing for several years. I ran record stores, a coffeehouse, an alternative paper, managed musicians, put on concerts and organized Beatles Conventions(met several close to Beatles), wrote songs, and am currently working on a new book about music and The Beatles. etc.

“IF JOHN HADN’T MET PAUL”

by Alan Chrisman, c. 2018

Let’s just suppose John Lennon hadn’t met Paul McCartney; how would things have been different?

Or what if they had passed their Decca Records audition? They might have been forced to record someone else’s songs, like Mitch Murray’s “How Do You Do it”. Decca might have released a single and it might have become a minor hit.  And on that supposed Decca album there might even have been, unnoticed, one of their early original songs like “Like Dreamers Do” . Or what if Brian Epstein hadn’t decided to manage them, would they have ever made it out of Liverpool, then London, let alone America?  And if George Martin hadn’t signed them, would any other producer had allowed them to do their own songs or experiment with new sounds? Would there have been a Revolver or Peppers without him and his innovative engineers?  On the other hand, Martin, without them, might have only become known for his James Bond soundtracks and comedy records.

How would that have changed music in Britain? Would it, after skiffle had faded in a year or two, have reverted back to imitating U.S. pop stars and sounds.  Without The Beatles leading the assault on America would there have been a British Invasion? No English bands had before made much of a mark on American shores.  What if Kennedy hadn’t recently been assassinated and the pop charts weren’t filled with clean-cut white “Bobby Bobbys”, as Jerry Lee Lewis called them, because most of the 50’s often black founders of rock’n’roll had vacated the spots for various reasons.  So there was a real vacuum to fill.

Of course, the 60’s would still have happened, civil rights and anti-Vietnam demonstrations and drugs and acid rock from California. In England, some Brit. bands like the Rolling Stones, Yardbirds, and Animals would have still copied their blues heroes.  But how many would have written their own songs if Lennon/McCartney hadn’t shown that it was possible?  Would Brian Wilson have gone against his record company and some of his fellow Beach Boys, wanting to move past just writing about girls, cars and surfing?  Although he was already experimenting with pot and sound textures, without Rubber Soul, would he made the Good Vibrations of Pet Sounds?  And even Bob Dylan , already with a following  on college campuses with his protest songs, but also craving a mass audience, having been booed for going electric, if he hadn’t heard “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and recognizing that “was where music had to go.”? Would his new direction have been accepted by the general public without the  revitalization of rock by the The Beatles too?  What if there had been no Hard Days’ Night movie and The Byrds’ Roger McGuinn hadn’t seen George Harrison’s Rickenbacker guitar and decided to put it together with Dylan’s folk and help popularize folk-rock?  Pop music might have just remained entertainment for teenagers, but The Beatles, especially, showed that it could be so much more- even art.

What might each Beatle have done instead? Would Paul have become a teacher as his mother wanted; perhaps at Liverpool Institute where he might have become a headmaster? Or with his natural musical talent, he might have become a Prof. of Music and composed a classical piece about his childhood called, “Liverpool Oratorio.” Or he might have become just a songwriter providing songs  for pop singers like Welsh singer, Tom Jones(whom in real life turned down “Long And Winding Road”). Or perhaps with his boyish good looks and charm, he might have been the next pop idol a la Cliff Richard and had hits with his ballads “Yesterday” and ” Michelle.”  But unlikely then, he would have been allowed to display his more rocky side, such as “She Loves You” “Lady Madonna” or “Paperback Writer”.  Although he could have still had massive hits with his own songs, “Hey Jude” or “Let It Be”. Or maybe he might have gone another way and become like an Andrew Lloyd Weber and written a show for Broadway based on a character whom had a lonely wedding called “Eleanor Rigby”. That’s all possible.

George Harrison, might have joined his mate, Jackie Lomax’ Liverpool band, The Undertakers, and they might have written together a guitar instrumental, like “Cry For A Shadow.  But unlikely anything as majestic as  “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” or “Something” or “My Sweet Lord”, with Lennon/ McCartney not providing him expert competition.

And Ringo?  After Rory Storm broke up, his drum skills would have gotten him steady work in several Liverpool bands and he’d have been a regular at Butlins’ Holiday camps.  And maybe opened a hair dressing shop and married its hairdresser, Maureen. In short, he would still have been Ringo.

But what of John Lennon-if he hadn’t met Paul?  After his teenage band, The Quarry Men, fell apart,  would “Johnnie” Lennon, as he might have been called, like his estranged father, “Freddie”, have become a Liverpool pub entertainer, playing old rock covers(and perhaps an occasional original tune), when he wasn’t in jail for getting in drunken fights? Or might he have done stand-up comedy like his Dove Dale Primary School classmate, Jimmy Tarbuck?  Comedian Lennon, known for his politically-incorrect jokes about “cripples.” For as a Liverpool School of Art friend had said, “You will one day hit the bottle or hit the top boy and nothing in between.” 

Would his pub friends have believed him when he said he knew he’d always been a genius? Would there have ever been a “Strawberry Fields Forever” or “Walrus” (or “Imagine” or “Give Peace a Chance”, if he hadn’t met a Japanese avant garde artist), or a more commercial, Paul McCartney?

It took a lot of just the right circumstances and personalities and talents to all come together. Fortunately, they all did. A Beatle flapped its wings and the universe opened up-for us all.

 

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CHUCK BERRY: THE 1st POET OF ROCK

CHUCK BERRY:  THE 1st POET OF ROCK by Alan L. Chrisman

Chuck Berry has passed away at age 90.  Berry, was arguably, the most influential rock and roll founder, both musically and lyrically.  Berry could be called rock ‘n’ roll’s father. As John Lennon said when introducing him on the Mike Douglas TV Show in the 70’s ,” My hero, if you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it ‘Chuck Berry’”.  Before Bob Dylan and Lennon/McCartney, Berry, was perhaps its first rock poet. Dylan called Chuck Berry, “the Shakespeare of rock.” Berry would influence EVERYONE-The Beatles, Stones, Dylan, Beach Boys, Springsteen, and most rockers to follow. Springsteen’s tribute,” Chuck Berry was rock’s greatest practitioner, guitarist, and the greatest pure rock ‘n’ roll writer who ever lived.”

Elvis is called the King of Rock ’n ’Roll and was its most important 50’s popularizer, had a great interpretive voice and charisma , but he didn’t write his own songs.  Other early 50’s founders, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bo Diddley, Carl Perkins, and Buddy Holly (from whom The Beatles would take their name and would set the standard for the future- guitars, bass, drums line-up), all wrote their own songs. But Berry wrote complete musical stories.  And he played his own lead guitar (from which Rolling Stones’ guitarist, Keith Richards, would copy his style), before Hendrix would make the guitar and its solos forefront in rock bands. Richard and Lewis jumped on their pianos, and Berry would “duck walk “across the stage visually, before MTV and videos, and before Hendrix burned his guitar theatrically.

Berry had a string of hits in the mid- late 50’s, which perfectly captured a teenager’s life and preoccupations, girls, cars, music (“Sweet Little Sixteen”, “School Days”, “Rock ’n’ Roll Music”, “Roll Over Beethoven”, “Maybelline”, “Memphis, Tenn.”). Every young aspiring guitar player had to learn his “Johnny B. Goode.” Berry composed little vignettes, 2-3 minute poems set to music (check out the lyrics to his songs like,   “Promised Land”, “You Never Can Tell ( C’est La Vie”).

Berry had grown up in a middle-class neighborhood in St. Louis, (half-way between The South and The North),so maybe that’s why, although black, he understood white middle-class kids, who were the main radio audience in those early days of rock ’n’ roll.  His father was a contractor and a Baptist church deacon; his mother a school principal.  Berry’s influences were mainly black musicians like guitarist, T-Bone Walker. But it wasn’t until he moved north to Chicago and recorded along with other black musicians that were there too, like Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, and Bo Diddley at Chess Records, that he had his first hits. Like Elvis, it was in this combination of both black and white musical influences, blues, country, rock ’n’ roll, that he found his sound. Berry’s distinctive guitar riffs were also influenced by his long time piano player, Johnny Johnson’s, jazz and swing notes as well. It was this synthesis of styles that enabled him to appeal to a cross-section of listeners.

But by the early 60’s, along with most of the early founders, he and they were no longer as popular and, one by one, for sometimes racial reasons, they disappeared from the scene.  Radio was taken over by the more watered-down mainly white pop performers (or “Bobby-Bobbys” as J. L. Lewis called them). Dylan: “I was still an aspiring rock n roller. The descendant, if you will, of the first generation of guys who played rock ’n’ roll — who were thrown down. Buddy Holly, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Carl Perkins, Gene Vincent, Jerry Lee Lewis. They played this type of music that was black and white. Extremely incendiary. Your clothes could catch fire. When I first heard Chuck Berry, I didn’t consider that he was black. I thought he was a hillbilly. Little did I know, he was a great poet, too. And there must have been some elitist power that had to get rid of all these guys, to strike down rock ’n’ roll for what it was and what it represented — not least of all being a black-and-white thing.” Berry was accused of transporting a below-age waitress across state lines for sexual purposes under the Mann Act and was sentenced to 3 years in prison.

His career seemed almost over, but when he was released in late ’63, The Beatles Invasion was just starting to happen and he had been a big influence on many Liverpool groups and other British bands like the Stones. The Beatles were to record his “Rock and Roll Music” on their 2nd. album and  the first Stones U.K. single was a cover of his “ Come On” and “Carol” was on their 1st American album. Ironically, it was foreign groups who re-focused attention on Berry and other American early 50’s rockers and he gained a whole new respect for his song writing and playing .  One of the Beach Boys’ early hits, Surfin’ U.S.A., was actually Brian Wilson putting surf lyrics over Berry’s “Sweet Little Sixteen” music.  The Beatles and Stones would continue to be influenced by him in their own songs and performing. McCartney would partly pattern his “Back in The U.S.S. R.” after Berry’s “Back in the U.S.A.” and Lennon would even “borrow” some words and melodies for Come Together from Berry’s “You Can’t Catch Me” (which Lennon would later have to settle a lawsuit for with its publisher). Keith Richards organized a tribute concert/film for Berry called Hail Hail Rock and Roll in 1986 with Berry, Eric Clapton, Julian Lennon, Linda Ronstadt, Robert Cray, and Etta James. Berry would over the years come to his shows with only his guitar (refusing to play, until payment was already deposited into his bank account), not even rehearsing with the local back-up band, or telling them what key he was playing . Richards, amusingly, tells the story how Berry hit him for daring to even touch his hero’s guitar. But I guess geniuses are allowed these little personal foibles.

I remember seeing him in the film, American Hot Wax, which told the story of Rock ’n’ Roll’s first DJ , Alan Freed, in which Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, and other early rockers, recreated their original stage performances. It was shown along with Saturday Night Fever, which was the disco rage at the time in the early 70’s.  American Hot Wax was shown first and while getting popcorn at break, I overheard these young John Travota fans marvelling at this guy “duck walking” across the stage. I thought that was interesting and it gave me hope for the timelessness of Berry and his music.

Berry is now recognized as one of the most important song writers and musical influencers in the whole history of rock. He was one of the first to be inducted into the Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame in at its opening in 1986. His “Johnny B. Goode” was ranked #1 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s “Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time” in 2007.

Pop writer Chuck Klosterman has predicted that Berry will be remembered, even 300 years from now, as the perfect embodiment of rock music. In 1986, “Johnny B. Goode” was chosen by NASA to be sent into outer space for its Voyager space probe. So maybe even other life forms will know Berry’s music one day. There was only one Chuck Berry, Hail Hail Rock ‘n’ Roll!

 

Below, from Keith Richards -organized Tribute 1986 concert/film for Chuck Berry with Julian Lennon, etc.

https://youtu.be/5YcPtitpLkk

Below, from film, American Hot Wax, story of Rock ‘n’  Roll DJ. Alan Freed, Berry re-creating his “Reelin’ and Rockin’/ Roll Over Beethoven.”

https://youtu.be/IGY5bvNK_8Y

 

“EIGHT DAYS A WEEK”; Impressions of Ron Howard’s Beatles Film

I just saw the new Beatles film, “Eight Days a Week” and these are some of my impressions. I didn’t think I would actually like it that much. The Beatlemania years, frankly, don’t interest me as much as their more interesting Liverpool and Hamburg beginnings or their more creative period in the studio. The usual story is that, most of the time, they were just going through the motions, unable to hear themselves play, with all the screaming fans’ madness (especially near the end of their “Touring Years”, as the movie’s subtitle is called).

I thought director Ron (“Happy Days”) Howard might only cover the nice parts of Beatlemania. He does in the first half of the film and captures the pure energy of their early performances. He has assembled some not usually-seen footage and photos of their early concerts and appearances in Liverpool and Europe. These sometimes black and white images give it an almost old newsreel and historical feel. The film does seem primarily aimed at the North American market though.  There were only a couple Liverpool interviewees included in the theatre version, except for some trusted Beatles-insiders like roadie and later Apple director, Neil Aspinall (although I understand the later-to-be-released Deluxe 2 DVD version will  include more of these and lots more).

Howard also puts the Beatles Invasion into context with the tumultuous events the U.S.A. was going through in the mid-60’s with the Vietman War, Civil Rights demonstrations, and the assassination of JFK, which had only happened a few months before. The American people, especially its teenagers, were certainly ready for something to lift them out of their depression.  Along come these 4 English lads with the funny Liverpool accents and humor and it’s just the right medicine.  The Fab Four did so with its own version of the, ironically, America’s export, rock and roll, and the simple but catchy words and rhythms of their early original songs.  But what struck me again, upon seeing the film, is just how young and mainly female so many of their fans were.  For by this time, The Beatles themselves were already grown men in their early 20’s, playing to some only half their age.  Some of the most interesting and humorous moments for the movie audience, I was with anyway, was seeing again the complete hysteria they created in their fans (remember early attendees to their performances in the Cavern and Hamburg, evidently, didn’t originally scream).

But by ’66 and for most of the rest of the film, the whole atmosphere begins to change around The Beatles and they themselves could do little to contain it. Of course, there was the infamous “we’re more popular than Jesus” Lennon remark and the reaction it caused.  But it wasn’t only in America that they began to feel a backlash; there were death threats in Japan and, in the Philippines, they barely escaped when its First Lady Imelda Marcos felt snubbed. Howard has said in interviews promoting the film, that he didn’t want to go intodark corners.  But I have to give him credit for also not shying away from this part of their story too. For it seemed the once innocent teen hysteria had indeed turned into a far more dangerous form of madness. Howard includes excerpts from John and George’s recorded comments and also present day interviews with Paul and Ringo on both, the good and bad, aspects of this period.

The pall of these later more disturbing times toward the end of their touring years, which somewhat descends on the last half of the movie, is fortunately broken by his choice to also include their famous last public appearance on their Apple company’s rooftop in 1969.  What this reveals once again, is that even to the end (which they would also demonstrate on their last recorded album, Abbey Road) these were first and foremost musicians and original songwriters. Once they decided to finally get off the road because of the mounting pressures they were feeling, it would also allow them more time to spend in the studio and become more and more creative artists and not just entertainers.

Also shown in the movie theater after, was a half-hour film of their ’65 Shea Stadium concert. With improved color footage and remixed sound for this project by George Martin’s son, Gilles (although some in the particular theater I was in, said the sound wasn’t that good-but it may be fine in the movie and DVD itself), it shows just how good of performers they could be, even in often chaotic conditions. Ringo says that they really did try to always give their best-all four of them.  You can tell by their on-stage jokes that they are still having fun-most of the time. In the Shae Stadium show, Paul does one of his best, but perhaps underrated  rockers, “I’m Down”, with which they often ended their concerts, but for some reason was never released on a regular Beatles album(it was the B-side of the “Help” single).  John seems to be his old self, mugging and delivering gobbledigook asides and Paul is always the consummate showman. George is the musician, making sure he doesn’t miss a single guitar note and Ringo is driving the beat and shaking his hair. They alone were in the eye of the hurricane, but the film does seem to capture what it must have been like.  Howard’s title for his film is appropriate, for it really was “8 Days a Week.” As I said, the DVD will be released later this fall with some interesting extras.  But I would recommend, if you can, going to see this film still in the movie theater, and getting that feeling of enjoying it with other fans, which is what the best of Beatlemania was all about.

Carly Simon’s Memoir- Book Review by Alan Chrisman

Carly Simon’s book memoir, Boys in The Trees, was released in late 2015 and it’s quite interesting, but not for the reasons I would have thought(her music career and marriage to James Taylor). It could also perhaps have been named after another of her hit songs, “Anticipation “(or perhaps,“Things Aren’t Always As They Appear”), because  despite the commercial success of her music-it’s also a quite bittersweet story, which I thought made it even more human.

She grew up in privilege-her father was the Simon and co-founder of the publishing giant, Simon and Schuster, and he would often bring his famous book clients like baseball player, Jackie Robinson, Einstein, etc. home for dinner. She lived in big houses in Connecticut and summered at Martha’s Vineyard, but she didn’t have such a happy childhood and there was also a dark side she writes about. She was a shy and very insecure child and had a stammer (which ironically led her into doing music, because when she sang, it was one of the few times when she didn’t stammer). She was abused at an early age, and it went on for a while, by a neighboring teenage boy. She also witnessed her mother carrying on a relationship with a much younger man who lived in the same house as her parents, while her executive father seemed to be willing to do nothing about it.  She also competed for the attention and love (with her more outgoing and she felt, prettier, older sisters) of both her parents, but especially from her father. All these things set her up for confusion and ambiguity about sex and men and relationships, which would continue to haunt her.

She started singing with her sister, Lucy, in the duo, The Simon Sisters, and they had a minor hit with the song, “Winkin’, Blinkin’ and Nod” in 1964. But she wanted to step out from under her sister’s and family’s long shadow, dropped out of Sarah Lawrence College, and began to write her own songs. After a few failed tries (and being confronted with the equivalent of the casting couch syndrome), she finally got a record contract and had her first big hit with her song, ”That’s The Way I Always Heard It Should Be” In 1971. And she followed that up with the song and album, “Anticipation”.  But her biggest hit was, “You’re So Vain” with its sarcastic lines, ’”You probably think this song is about you”, which continues to fuel speculation about just who’s she’s referring to among her former lovers, and she had many famous ones, from actors, Jack Nicholson and Warren Beatty, to several musicians (Kris Kristofferson, she hints at Mick Jagger; “Anticipation” was written while waiting for a late Cat Stevens). Her sexy long-legged  album covers sometimes got as much attention as her music. These established her image and reputation as a sort of liberated, independent woman in a time of feminism in the 70’s.  She wrote often-confessional lyrics with which a lot of woman seemed to identify. But despite this marketing as a sex symbol, her own personal baggage and insecurities and mixed messaging about men and male role models, from her father on, only added to her anxieties. A well, she was never really comfortable on stage and would have panic attacks.

Then in 1972 she married folk-rock singer, James Taylor (whom she had first met when they were children on Martha’s Vineyard) in what seemed like the perfect singer-songwriter couple marriage and they had two children, Sally and Ben.  James Taylor was also one of the biggest pop singers of the 70’s.  Simon continued to have, in collaboration with her husband, hits such   as the cover songs, “Mockingbird” and “How Sweet It is (to Be loved By You)”, as well as her own several other hits, “You Belong To Me “ Haven’t Got Time For The Pain”, “Itsy Bitsy Spider”, etc. and even a James Bond theme song, “Nobody Does It Better.” But Taylor had his own insecurities, and as well, a hard drugs habit. That and both their admitted infidelities eventually led to their divorce in ’83.  After the split, Simon would attempt to keep her musical career on top and she also talks about the pressures of doing that and the fleeting temptations of fame. As well, her father, who had died early, and also suffered from depression, had lost control of his own company and she didn’t get her inheritance. She had many ups and downs and she documents them. Another surprising thing about this book is just how articulate (and even poetic) she is in describing the various personalities she’s known and loved or lost.

The memoir has an almost bittersweet sadness about it. She ends her story, still living in the house James Taylor and she had occupied in Martha’s Vineyard and raised their children (her two children are both musicians). She has Taylor’s fishing rod still in the very place where he left it. I get the impression, even after all these years, she still hasn’t gotten over their once-hopeful and later bitter marriage. Evidently, they have no communication between them these days, even though she would like to. Interestingly, James Taylor, just this past year too, released his first  album of original songs, Before This World, in over 13 years and it has become a #1 bestseller (45 years after his  classic album, Sweet Baby James). He’s currently on tour with his now 3rd. wife singing on the album and in concert with him. Carly Simon’s memoir then, is more than I expected it to be-not just another pop artist telling the usual rock ’n’ roll stories. I’m glad I read Carly Simon’s memoir, to see another side of her, and I recommend it to others for both the musical and personal journey, she so honestly  evokes.

Carly Simon performing her biggest hit, ”You’re So Vain”:

https://youtu.be/mQZmCJUSC6g

 

 

THE DAY BOB DYLAN WENT ELECTRIC

THE DAY BOB DYLAN WENT ELECTRIC

By  Alan Chrisman

On this day, July 20, two earth-changing events happened: Man landed on the moon in 1969 and Bob Dylan went electric in 1965, when his song,  “Like A Rolling Stone” was released on this day.  Dylan had been influenced by The Beatles and Dylan by them. The Beatles started paying more attention to their lyrics after hearing Dylan’s songs.  John Lennon’s writing, especially with songs such as “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” and “I’m a Loser”, started becoming more reflective and personal.  The Beatles also would soon release their folk-rock influenced album, Rubber Soul,

Bob Dylan would be booed for going electric at the Newport Festival on July25, '65

Bob Dylan would be booed for going electric at The Newport Folk Festival on July 25, 1965

by the end of ’65, with songs like “Norwegian Wood” and “Nowhere Man”.  Meanwhile, Dylan had been affected by them. Upon hearing, “I Want to Hold Your Hand”, Dylan said later, “They were doing things nobody was doing,” “Their chords were outrageous. It was obvious to me they had staying power. I knew they were pointing in the direction of where music had to go. In my head, the Beatles were it.” His next album, Highway 61 Revisited also released in’65, would be all electric.
Five days, after releasing the single, “Like a Rolling Stone”, Dylan would play the Newport Festival on July 25, and half the audience, the folk purists, would boo him for going electric and leaving behind his political folk-protest past.

Dylan and the electric The Band was still booed by some folk-purists in '66 at the Royal Albert Hall, London

Dylan would continue to be booed by some folk- purists in ’66 when he played with the electric mainly Canadian, The Band, at the Royal Albert Hall, London i

And even almost a year later, when Dylan toured England in ’66 with the electric, The Band, he was still being booed for playing rock-influenced music.  But “Like a Rolling Stone” had become his most successful hit and it reached #2, right behind The Beatles’ “Help.”  And like the Beatles, it changed the direction of music.  In 1974, I saw Dylan and The Band (who are mainly Canadian) perform “ Rolling Stone” In Montreal, as everyone got up and sang along.  Rolling Stone Magazine ranks, “ Like a Rolling Stone” as the greatest song of all time.

From Martin Scorsese’s documentary No Direction Home, Like A Rolling Stone”:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RHOdoJDgtrk

The Quarry men, July6, 1957: the day john Lennon met Paul McCartney

THE DAY THAT CHANGED MUSIC: JOHN LENNON MEETS PAUL McCARTNEY, JULY6, 1957

THE DAY THAT CHANGED MUSIC: JOHN LENNON MEETS PAUL McCARTNEY, JULY 6, 1957

By Alan Chrisman

Paul McCartney met John Lennon for the 1st time on July 6, 1957. Lennon and his teenage skiffle band, The Quarrymen, were playing a Liverpool church social. After Paul’s friend introduced him to the band. The 15-year old McCartney was able to show John guitar chords (John had only learned banjo chords from his mother.) Later, the band discussed if they should let this new kid join. But it wasn’t until two weeks later when Pete Shotten, John’s best friend, and Quarryman, ran into McCartney on his bike and approached him. The way Len Garry (another original Quarryman who was at their original meeting and I met) described it to me: Paul replied, ”Well, all right”, and then just nonchalantly rode away. Neither John nor Paul wanted to admit to the other directly, they liked and needed each other. And that was the beginning of one of the most fruitful songwriting and musical partnerships in history and would go on to change popular music and  the whole culture.

The Quarrymen on truck in parade the fateful day John met Paul

The Quarrymen on truck in parade on fateful day John Met Paul

Paul MccArtney would later join and perform with John's teenage band, The Quarrymen

Paul McCartney would soon join and perform with John’s teenage band, The Quarrymen

Below:John & Paul both describe that day they met:

A TRIBUTE TO STU SUTCLIFFE: THE LOST BEATLE by Alan Chrisman

Stu Sutcliffe one of the original % Beatles in Hamburd and a promising painter.

Stu Sutcliffe was one of the 5 original Beatles in Hamburg

Stuart Sutcliffe was born on June 23, 1940.  He was one of the original 5 Beatles who went to Hamburg and was John Lennon’s close friend and a big artistic influence. There have been many myths built up over the years about Stu’s bass playing, as with Pete Best’s drumming, that they both weren’t that good and that’s one of the main reasons Stu left and Pete was later let go. But several Liverpool people who knew them and witnessed their playing, dispute these myths (including Bill Harry, Editor of Mersey Beat Newspaper, and who had introduced John to Stu at their Liverpool art school). Bill Harry says “the photo floating around in which Stu’s back is turned to the audience was taken during a tune up session. It’s pointed out that none of the Beatles were accomplished musicians at that time, that George Harrison wrote Stu after he left asking him to ‘please come back’, It is suggested that he actually was a good bass player, certainly not bad, and his reason for leaving the band was something other than his musical abilities.”  They and others have also said that there was competition between Paul and Stu for John’s friendship.  Pete Best says: “When we came back from Germany I was playing using my bass drum very loud and laying down a very solid beat. This was unheard of at the time in Liverpool as all the groups were playing the Shadows’ style. Even Ringo in Rory Storm’s group copied our beat and it wasn’t long before most drummers in Liverpool were playing the same style. This way of drumming had a great deal to do with the big sound we were producing.” This beat was referred to as “The Atom Beat”.  Pete was actually the most popular Beatle in Liverpool and called, “ Mean, Moody, Magnificent” Pete and when they played the Cavern with new drummer , Ringo, George got a black eye from some of the fans. Cynthia Lennon told me she  thought Pete just couldn’t compete with John and Paul’s egos: he was too nice. 

Stu was also a talented painter who left The Beatles right before their success to pursue art and stay with his German girlfriend, Astrid Kirchherr. .Astrid, an art student and photographer, would also have a huge effect on The Beatles who posed for her iconic black and white photos and encouraged them to change to their later famous Beatles haircuts and helped create their whole image.  Stu would die soon after of a brain hemorrhage at only age 21.

I was fortunate to meet Stu sister, Pauline and to see some of Stu’s paintings and artwork at an exhibit in Toronto in ’95. I had actually talked on the phone to her before that, because when I met Cynthia Lennon and May Pang at the Conn. Beatles Convention the year before, when I returned there was a call from her (I assume Cynthia. had given her my number, because I had mentioned to her that I planned to put on my own more artistic Beatles Conventions), which I did.  I was also to meet several from their beginnings including one of the Quarrymen, who was there the day John met Paul on July 6, 1957, Allan Williams who had sent them to Hamburg, Tony Sheridan, who they backed up in Germany and first recorded with, Pete Best who was guest at my 1st Convention, Louise Harrison, George’s sister, guest at my 2nd. B. Wooler Epstein’s assistant, and others. When I met these and others who were there, since I was especially interested in this period, I would ask their opinions on these and other Beatles’ stories.  Pauline Sutcliffe would also co-write the book, Backbeat, which was the basis for the film of the same name, which told of their fascinating time in Hamburg and Stu’s short but productive life. Stu would pass away on April, 10, 1962. Ironically, The Beatles would officially break-up on April, 10, 1970, exactly 8 years later to the day.

“BACKBEAT FILM: HAMBURG BEATLES & INSIDE STORIES.” : https://beatlely.wordpress.com/2014/11/19/backbeat-film-hamburg-beatles-inside-stories/

Below documentary on Stu Sutcliffe: Including interviews with Pauline Sutcliffe, Tony Sheridan, Rod Murray, Allan Williams, etc.:

 

 

Stu Sutcliffe one of the original % Beatles in Hamburd and a promising painter.

Stu Sutcliffe was one of the 5 original Beatles in Hamburg