Paul McCartney was introduced to John Lennon by Ivan Vaughan on 6th July 1957, which is firmly established in Beatle history, as we have the program from the Garden fete at St. Peter’s Church. That makes it one of the easiest of Beatles dates to establish.
If only they were all so easy.
After Paul joined, it was suggested that he made his debut with The Quarrymen at New Clubmoor Hall on 18th October 1957; the well-known photograph of The Quarrymen on stage in white shirts and bootlace ties is from that night.
However, although Paul did play with The Quarrymen on 18th October 1957 at New Clubmoor Hall, it wasn’t his debut. It was the first time he had played with the group, and they had been paid. He had already played with them at St. Peter’s Church Hall on Saturday evenings for the youth club. They then played in a Skiffle competition at Wilson Hall, from where they got the booking for New Clubmoor Hall. What we also now know is that the photograph of the group with the bootlace ties is from Wilson Hall, not New Clubmoor Hall.
Paul had a problem at New Clubmoor Hall when he was playing “Guitar Boogie” and made a mess of it. That led to a discussion with John about recruiting a lead guitarist. Of course, Paul recommended George.
But when did George join? For many years, we have known that George Harrison auditioned before John Lennon, possibly a few times. The place where he was successful, according to all sources, was on the top deck of a bus outside Wilson Hall in Garston. The date? 6th February 1958.
Or was it?
While researching The Fab One Hundred and Four: The Evolution of The Beatles, I re-examined the available evidence, with help from Quarrymen banjo player/ historian Rod Davis, especially looking at the exit from The Quarrymen of Eric Griffiths. We know that Eric left The Quarrymen because he was replaced by George. Eric put away his guitar and joined the Merchant Navy. I therefore obtained a copy of Eric’s Merchant Navy records, which show that Eric joined his first ship on 11th February 1958. We could then see that Eric qualified as an officer cadet in January 1958, which means he would have signed up for the Merchant Navy in mid-December 1957.
Therefore, George must have joined The Quarrymen before the middle of December 1957 for Eric to have left and signed up for the Merchant Navy. When we check the records, The Quarrymen played at Wilson Hall on 7th December 1957, which makes this the likely date for George’s successful audition to join The Quarrymen.
This means that John, Paul, and George were together in a band by the end of 1957. Of The Quarrymen who appeared with John on 6th July 1957, only he and Colin Hanton remained.
Now you know why my friend calls me The Beatles Detective!
Photo: The Quarrymen at Wilson Hall, 1957 (Leslie Kearney)