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