‘Bea­tle’ to play con­cert with band that be­came Fab Four Quar­ry­men re­form­ing to play small coun­try fes­ti­val in the Mid­lands

Birmingham Post - - NEWS - Mike Lock­ley Fea­tures Staff

THE fore­run­ners of the Fab Four – the band that be­came The Bea­tles – are re­form­ing for a small coun­try­side con­cert.

In a ma­jor coup for Worces­ter­shire’s Rom­stock Fes­ti­val, the Quar­ry­men will take the stage in a play­ing field in Rom­s­ley vil­lage, near Hale­sowen, What’s more, they’ll be joined by one of the Bea­tles...

The skif­fle band that un­wit­tingly changed the face of world mu­sic are back thanks to Steve Moran, the man be­hind the June 9 fes­ti­val.

He hit on the idea of book­ing the Quar­ry­men after spot­ting a blue plaque on a Liver­pool prop­erty pro­claim­ing “Birth­place Of The Bea­tles”.

It com­mem­o­rated the spot where The Quar­ry­men – in­clud­ing John Len­non – recorded a cover of Buddy Holly’s That’ll Be The Day.

That disc, laid down in July 1958, is now one of the most collectable, and valu­able, in the world.

At Rom­stock, for­mer band mem­bers Rod Davis (gui­tar, vo­cals), Colin Han­ton (drums) and John Duff-Lowe (key­boards) will en­ter­tain a crowd in ex­cess of 1,500.

And there will be a Bea­tle in tow. Bass player Chris Newby, who now lives in Red­ditch, briefly joined the band dur­ing their 1961 Ham­burg days fol­low­ing the de­par­ture of Stu­art Sut­cliffe.

To pub­li­cise their sur­prise gig, The Quar­ry­men have un­earthed an in­cred­i­bly rare pho­to­graph of Len­non and the rest of the group on the back of a trailer. Taken on July 6, 1957, the group were on their way to play at a church fete in Woolton, Liver­pool.

It was the day that changed mu­sic for­ever. At Woolton, Len­non met Paul McCart­ney.

The Quar­ry­men’s line-up that day was: Len­non (vo­cals, gui­tar), Eric Grif­fiths (gui­tar), Han­ton, Davis, Pete Shot­ton (wash­board) and Len Garry (tea chest bass).

Mr Moran, an op­ti­cian Hale­sowen, said: “Len­non’s from at the back look­ing mis­er­able. I look at that photo and think an hour later he met Paul McCart­ney. That was the day mu­sic changed. I won­der what would’ve hap­pened if they didn’t meet.”

The Quar­ry­men have re­mained ac­tive. Grif­fiths, who died in 2005, Shot­ton, Garry, Davis and Han­ton re­united in 1997 for the 40th an­niver­sary of their Woolton gig. And in 2000, they recorded Come Go With Me – the very first num­ber McCart­ney heard Len­non sing at that le­gendary con­cert. Shot­ton died last year, but the re­main­ing trio con­tinue to per­form around the world.

Mr Moran, aged 52, ad­mits book­ing the band went be­yond Rom­stock’s usual bud­get.

“The parish has put in more money than it usu­ally does,” he said. “And they wanted ac­com­mo­da­tion, so I’m putting them up at my home.

“I plan to put up my own plaque, say­ing they stayed.

“But the crowd at Rom­stock will wit­ness rock and roll his­tory – and the Quar­ry­men will be do­ing meet and greets.”

There is, in­sisted Mr Moran, no bit­ter­ness in the band over miss­ing out on the star­dom en­joyed by the Bea­tles.

“I met Chris Newby in a Red­ditch pub,” he said. “There are no re­grets. He said, ‘At the time we all had our own ca­reers – they went on to be­come full-time mu­si­cians’. Chris be­came an engi­neer.”

Rom­stock has grown since be­ing launched in 2012. This year’s fes­ti­val will fea­ture nine bands.

Mr Moran added: “We started with 200 peo­ple, but ev­ery year it gets big­ger and big­ger. It will rain – it al­ways rains – but the peo­ple still turn up. One thou­sand peo­ple is nice, 1,500 is per­fect. After that, it can get a bit un­com­fort­able. Mind you, the costs are fright­en­ing.”

> The rare photo of John Len­non (third from right) per­form­ing with the Quar­ry­men, and (in­set) Steve Moran

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