On this day in 1957- 60 years ago today-John Lennon met Paul McCartney. Maybe I overstated it- calling this day the greatest day of the century, maybe I didn’t.
John Lennon’s group the Quarry Men were playing at the Woolton Parish Church Garden Fete. John Lennon and Paul McCartney had a mutual friend named Ivan Vaughan [who was born the same day as Paul was} It was Ivan’s idea to invite Paul to the event and introduce him to his friend John.
The Quarry Men were playing in a field behind the church [ a picture from the performance is above-with John and the Quarry Men- there is no picture of Paul on that day } This church fete was a big deal in Woolton- you have to wonder how The Quarry Men got invited to play at this?
On the way to the Fete- Ivan filled Paul in on John and the make up of the band. The band was to play at 4:15pm.
The Quarry Men played and Paul was impressed by what he saw in John. The first song they played was Come Go With Me- and what impressed Paul was that John didn’t know the lyrics so he was making them up as he went along.
After the Quarry Men’s set which probably lasted a half hour. John came strolling over towards Ivan and Paul and Ivan Vaughan made the introduction of his friend and classmate at Liverpool Institution Paul McCartney to John Lennon. They exchanged small talk. The fete continued with different acts. A while later the boys wondered into the nearby hall which was being prepared for a dance. They started to talk about music. Paul asked to have a go on the guitar. He noticed John’s guitar was tuned like a banjo [ John learned the banjo from his mother Julia} and suggested that he could re-tune it. Paul held the guitar upside down which everyone noticed [he was left handed ] After a few minutes of tuning he broke into Eddie Cochran’s “Twenty Flight Rock” John was impressed this wasn’t an easy song to master and not only could Paul play the song but he knew all the words. Paul now knew he had everyone’s attention and he then played Gene Vincent’s “Be Bop A-Lula, then an Elvis song. Paul then broke into his Little Richard- he did a great Little Richard. Paul would have no way of knowing it at the time but the songs he was doing and Little Richard especially was right up John’s alley. John no doubt acted cool at the time on the outside but he was impressed with what he was hearing. The other Quarry Men were certainly not in this boy’s league.
The Quarry Men would play again that evening and incredibly a couple songs from that performance was caught on a tape recorder by a fellow called Bob Molyneux. In 1994 he would come across the tape he was made and it would auction off for $120,000 even though the tape wasn’t of high quality sound.
After the evening was over- John was walking home with his best friend at the time Pete Shotton and John brought up the idea of asking this Paul to join the group. Two weeks later Shotton ran into Paul who was riding his bicycle in Woolton- and casually brought up the invitation to join the band. Paul reportedly said he’d think about it. There is some dispute on this and it will probably never be solved- there are other reports that Paul was asked on the evening he met John. No one seems to have the same memory. The bottom line is- Paul would be asked to join and he would say yes.
Paul’s father James would eventually met this Lennon character- and warn his son “He’ll get you into trouble son.” Every parent seemed to have the same reaction to John Lennon- he was trouble. Paul would usually follow what his father told him but in this case he wouldn’t.
John Lennon has to get a lot of credit here for two reasons. Paul had just turned 15, John was about to turn 17. That kind of an age difference wouldn’t matter in a few years but at that time John would receive some ribbing for being friends with someone that much younger. The other Quarry Men at the time were John’s age. John was always if someone made my life more interesting age didn’t matter. When Paul would come over to visit John- John’s Aunt Mimi would always make a point of announcing it as “Your little friend is here John.”
John also has to be credit for inviting Paul to join the group. At that time John was the talent in the group. The other Quarry Men would soon fall aside. Some of them weren’t very talented, others weren’t all that dedicated. John was the star. He recognized in meeting Paul an equal. It would have been easy for him to reject asking Paul to join. Paul had shown he was better on the guitar, why have a rival in the group of equal talent? John always explained his decision to ask Paul to join as- he wanted the group to be better and adding Paul would do that. It wouldn’t be too far into the future when Paul would bring an even younger boy who was at the time also a lot smaller physically- George Harrison to John’s attention. George was a guitar fanatic and even a better player than Paul. George was almost 2 1/2 years younger than John–John’s reaction was George can play that guitar and I like him- he’s in.
Note- In the churchyard of St. Peter’s Church- Woolton is the grave of a woman named Eleanor Rigby. Near Eleanor Rigby’s grave is- the grave of John Lennon’s uncle George Smith- his Aunt Mimi’s husband who died when John was in his teens. It was Uncle George who bought John his first musical instrument- a harmonica.