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July 6th, 2007

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03:11 pm - "It was a very sunny day; it seemed like all days were sunny days then, not wet days"
Fifty years ago, on July 6, 1957 (or 6 July, 1957 if you prefer) St. Peter's Church in Woolton, South Liverpool held its annual garden fete complete with a procession around the village, fancy dress parade for the children, the crowning of the Rose Queen, fair attractions in a field by the church, and a musical performance by a local skiffle band. A few young lads from the Quarry Bank School and a friend or two had formed a group and named themselves The Quarry Men, and played American rock and roll songs to a rollicking washboard beat named "skiffle", popularized in the UK by a singer named Lonnie Donegan. (Dementites and Dementoids from America may know him for his spirited novelty recording of "Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavor On The Bedpost Overnight?" But that's neither here nor there; that was then.)

A lad named Paul visited the fete with a friend and watched the Quarry Men perform the Del Vikings' "Come Go With Me". The lead singer John knew the chorus, all right, but wasn't so good on all the lyrics. So he kept making them up. The Quarry Men performed once and were supposed to go on again after a police dog demonstration, but the dogs ran late. Later, the Quarry Men performed during the evening dance when the "real" band, the typical schmaltzy dance music type, took breaks.

The whole proceedings have been remembered and memorialized in a new BBC documentary, combining interviews of Woolton residents and some of the band, too. There's even a story from a couple who'd been married that day, who tell how the groom's visiting relatives couldn't understand why so many people had turned up for the wedding.

That lad Paul also tells a story of how, before the band set up in the church hall, he hung out with the Quarry Men and their pals. He took hold of one of the guitars, tuned it properly, held it upside down (he was left-handed and had learned how to play right-handed guitars upside down) and played Eddie Cochran's "Twenty Flight Rock". John was impressed by the proper tuning and the fact that Paul knew all the words and didn't have to make any lyrics up.

At any rate, a week or so later, John Lennon extended an invitation to Paul McCartney to join the Quarry Men.

Happy 50th.

(the BBC radio link requires a Real-type player of some sort in order to listen. yeah, yeah, tell it to mrs. trellis.)

(3 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:July 6th, 2007 08:08 pm (UTC)
last week i said, "the older i get, the more i like the beatles," and jd said, "that's how it should be."

this was a beautiful retelling, i like the tone a lot.
[User Picture]
Date:July 6th, 2007 08:17 pm (UTC)
I can't quite explain what I loved about the audio documentary, but I think it was the fact that the memories and stories give us a picture of how the day was: a garden fete, a girl excited by her fancy dress costume, a boy who rode a zipline-style pulley ride set up by the Scouts, John's relatives watching him perform on a moving vehicle during the procession and not having a good time of it, the guys who snuck over the wall to get in free, and how the police dog demonstration ran late. There was absolutely nothing portentous about it at all, but boy howdy did a chance meeting that day lead to changing popular music forever.

I think that's what I like about it all.
[User Picture]
Date:July 6th, 2007 08:10 pm (UTC)

The entire reason for this comment is so that I could use the word "Liverpudlian"

Ever see Backbeat? It ain't bad. The guy who plays Lennon is great. And Stephen Dorff does a passable Liverpudlian accent.

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