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When John Met Paul: A Day That Changed The Course of History

The fateful story of how John Lennon and Paul McCartney met for the first time.

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The Beatles - Photo: David Redfern/Redferns
Photo: David Redfern/Redferns

On July 6, 1957, 16-year-old John Lennon met 15-year-old Paul McCartney. It was at St. Peter’s, Woolton’s Parish Church in Liverpool, and John was playing with the Quarry Men at a church fete/garden party.

It was a Saturday afternoon and Paul had gone along to the fete with his friend, Ivan Vaughan, to watch John’s skiffle group, The Quarry Men. (The group was made up of Eric Griffiths, Colin Hanton, Rod Davis, John Lennon, Pete Shotton, and Len Garry.) The group took their name from Quarry Bank High School, which they all attended.

The Quarry Men played on a makeshift stage, in a field behind the church. John played the guitar and sang, while Eric Griffiths also played guitar, Colin Hanton, the drums, Rod Davies a banjo, Pete Shotton was on washboard and Len Garry played the inevitable, tea-chest bass.

The Beatles - Now And Then
The Beatles - Now And Then
The Beatles - Now And Then

Things had got underway in the early afternoon with a short parade through this up-market area of Liverpool, with a couple of lorries bringing the Rose Queen, on the first lorry, with the Quarry Men on a second lorry. The biggest challenge for John and his mates in the band was to stay upright on the back of the moving vehicle while continuing to play; once in the field behind the church things got a little easier.

In the evening the Quarry Men played at The Grand Dance in the church hall, opposite the church; sharing the bill with the George Edwards Band. Ivan Vaughan had on occasions played tea-chest bass with the Quarry Men and it was he who introduced Paul to John.

McCartney, wearing a white jacket with silver flecks and the obligatory black drainpipe trousers, talked with John for a little while and having shown John a technique for tuning, McCartney played some songs, including a medley of Little Richard’s tunes, along with Eddie Cochran‘s “Twenty Flight Rock” and Gene Vincent‘s “Be-Bop-A-Lula.”

According to Paul, “I remember John singing a song called ‘Come Go With Me.’ He’d heard it on the radio. He didn’t really know the verses, but he knew the chorus. The rest he just made up himself. I just thought, ‘Well, he looks good, he’s singing well and he seems like a great lead singer to me.’ Of course, he had his glasses off, so he really looked suave. I remember John was good.”

Afterward, John and Pete Shotton talked over whether or not to ask Paul to join The Quarry Men. They decided it would be a good idea and a couple of weeks later Shotton saw Paul riding his bike in Woolton and asked him to join. After a little thought, Paul agreed to become a member.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

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  1. Mike Donovan

    July 6, 2015 at 2:48 pm

    I think everybody knows what a “lorry” is. What’s a “tea chest bass,” and why were they inevitable?

    • Howard

      July 6, 2015 at 4:00 pm

      A tea chest bass is a variation of the washtub bass that uses a tea chest as the resonator for an upright stringed bass. The instrument is made from a pole, traditionally a broomstick, placed into or alongside the chest. One or more strings are stretched along the pole and plucked. – inevitable because it was cheap and simple to make and easy to play

    • D Boomer

      July 10, 2015 at 8:54 am

      It was an inside down tea chest with a broom shank fastened to the top, like a ship sail, a piece of taught string ran down the shank and strummed, notes formed by the same method as any guitar, noise amplified by the hollow tea chest.

  2. Howard

    July 6, 2015 at 3:58 pm

    A tea chest bass is a variation of the washtub bass that uses a tea chest as the resonator for an upright stringed bass. The instrument is made from a pole, traditionally a broomstick, placed into or alongside the chest. One or more strings are stretched along the pole and plucked. – inevitable because it’s simple to make and easy to play

  3. Michael

    July 6, 2015 at 4:17 pm

    Why is there a “come” in that second sentence? What word should be there? Am I missing something?

    • Kevin Harrington

      July 6, 2015 at 8:26 pm

      I think they wanted the word (( it’s not naughty )) “cum” meaning ‘also known as’ —-

    • Kevin Harrington

      July 6, 2015 at 8:26 pm

      I think they wanted the word (( it’s not naughty )) “cum” meaning ‘also known as’ —-

    • Roy

      July 6, 2015 at 8:35 pm

      probably because he wanted to use a latin word that means “pertaining to two functions” but whose spelling he may want to avoid because of “bad word filters”, since the word is also used to describe the output of sexual congress 🙂

      • luis

        July 7, 2015 at 9:39 pm

        Roy. areyou fucking shit?

    • Lyn Brown

      July 7, 2015 at 5:26 am

      This is how language changes, it was common to explain something which was a bit of both in that way. Today we would write it as church fete/garden party.

    • Nell Croissant

      July 7, 2015 at 2:53 pm

      That’s not what “come” means in that sentence. It means “and/or,” or you could substitute a slash (/), or you could say “read.” It just a British way of saying “same thing as a garden party.” It has no lascivious meaning in this instance. Sorry to disappoint your puerile minds.

    • NeuroGeek

      July 7, 2016 at 12:17 am

      In this sense, “come” means, more or less, “turns into” a garden party.

  4. Chris

    July 6, 2015 at 5:11 pm

    Yep, I remember the good old tea chest bass for sure, a great sound. Someone thought of a coffee pot bass, but it didn’t sound anywhere near as good.

  5. Terry

    July 6, 2015 at 6:33 pm

    It hurts my mind to think that only TEN YEARS after that, 1 measly decade- we go from that…. to Sgt. Pepper.

    • Kiegie

      July 7, 2015 at 9:11 pm

      Ouch, indeed.

  6. Steve

    July 6, 2015 at 7:32 pm

    The Beatles had a profound effect on music, but they didn’t change history. History changed for a multitude of reasons, not the least of which was the aftermath of WWII and a very prosperous time especially for western civilization. They were just along for the ride for the magic that was the 60s. Music reflects the times, it never has and it never will create them.

    • Kiwi40

      July 6, 2016 at 6:56 pm

      I think they mean changed history in the case of music. Had they not met, no Beatles, so different history to today

  7. Jim Bob

    July 6, 2015 at 8:38 pm

    I think we’re over looking the most important member here, he is slightly out of shot here but a Mr Frances Sidebottom was the glue that held in the Quarrymen together and would have gone on to be the worlds most famous bass (like the fish) guitarist had it not been for one Mr McCartney who stole the bass position off and him, and stole two timing Linda off him.

    Frances and Ringo invented Merseybeat. Remember that!

    • Antonio

      July 8, 2015 at 12:31 am

      Agreed! Next to Sidebottom, McCartney is bobbins!

  8. Keith Lucy

    July 7, 2015 at 12:02 am

    As the writer of this article stated- “the rest is history”, I would add, it was the beginning of the end of the Republic of the United States. They were the primary instigators in the social and politcal sea changed, the end results we have now. They contributed good melodies, however, the culmination of other events cobined with this group (The Beatles), has contributed to the social and moral decay we have today, sorry, they weren’t that great. Keith Lucy, Delta, CO USA

    • Linda

      July 7, 2015 at 3:52 am

      You obviously have the right to your opinion. But you can’t state as fact that they were instigators or that they weren’t that great as if it’s fact. It’s your opinion. Only an opinion. I doubt many share your opinion. I don’t.
      Those that don’t, like me, anyway have been studying their music, watching ‘the makings of’ vids on YouTube, reading the Anthology, their biographies, and listening to isolated tracks of songs, I have heard their songs thousands of times believing I knew them inside out and I continue to become increasingly awed by their perfection-

    • D. Zaster

      July 7, 2015 at 6:02 am

      An idiotic comment.

    • Brian

      July 7, 2016 at 12:15 pm

      i couldn’t disagree more! The Beatles opened the door to change, independence, personal expression and did it all in a largely responsible manner. The moral decay in our country has more to do with 24 hour news and talk radio than anthing else!

  9. Judith Buchanan

    July 7, 2015 at 1:07 am

    How good is this. The original advertisement is priceless! Great that we can access these wonderful postings around the world…even down under in Australia!….Judith

  10. Carl Giordan

    July 7, 2015 at 4:21 am

    Music stirs our emotions and many react to those emotions with an action. Those actions become history . Now when millions react in the same way to, lets say the Beatles, isn’t that creating history?

  11. Zeke Proust

    July 7, 2015 at 4:33 am

    History is the past, a record of what happened in the present moment. Thus it has already taken a course that nothing can change. Likewise there is never any assurance that present actions can predict or change the course of the future, or assure a pleasant past for fond reminiscence over tea and scones. Nevertheless we are all free to wallow in lamenting unpleasant past events or bask in the pleasure of old Beatles tunes, without the burden of presumption of a change in the course of either the past or the course of the future. Just “Let it Be” and live in the present.

  12. Joe Carter

    July 7, 2015 at 5:57 am

    The Beatles for me were the best thing that ever happened in music, but they didn’t change history, Simply becauseall history has already happened….and no one can change what has already happened! . They changed music….and influenced my life more than anything else. For that I am eternally grateful.xxxx

    • Mike

      July 6, 2019 at 1:49 pm

      Agree totally with you Joe. No group ever like them since. Lennon/McCartney.. greatest songwriters ever. Love all their albums as much today as ever

  13. Mark Roberton

    July 7, 2015 at 6:50 am

    Actually none of you claiming “they didn’t change history” has a cluewhat you are taking about. EVERYTHING in the past is history yet you profess to know what of that counts as historic!
    Yes The Beatles were clearly very significant in culture, fashion, individual causes, music and entertainment in general. I’ll add politics too, because they affected youths internationally.
    If that isn’t “historic”, then live for wars and leave your opinions on this on your dank walls.

    • Val

      July 7, 2015 at 11:19 am

      I read historic to be in the context of music. I think that is true.. Music does reflect the times. Just as we can look back to music of the 20’s to fill us in to the back beat going on around speak easy’s…or the big band Era to reflect the 40’s. Music is a cultural piece and cultural norms lend themselves to our social behavior. On the other hand…maybe it was just good music.

  14. Wayne J Davis

    July 7, 2015 at 1:10 pm

    I wouldn’t want to go back to the world before the Beatles, I think we live in far more open, honest, and tolerant world now. As I tell my kids about those “old days”- it was a very hypocritical world that NEEDED to change. Maybe the Beatles didn’t cause all that change single-handedly, but they certainly had something to do with it, and for that I think they can only be counted as a force for good.

  15. Halle Browning

    July 7, 2015 at 8:43 pm

    Was the real James Paul McCartney replaced in 1967. Looking at pictures and comparing The Beatles from their early years to their later years I would say yes it is a different Paul McCartney. I read he was replaced by a guy named William Campbell who was a look a like with talent who later formed Wings.

    • Kiwi40

      July 6, 2016 at 6:54 pm

      Keep taking the drugs lady

  16. Golfradar

    July 7, 2015 at 10:33 pm

    As John said many years ago..we’re more famous than Jesus..which was misquoted of course along with idiots burning their records..explained later by john..more people in our day than Jesus days more people know them

  17. LeftyG

    July 6, 2016 at 2:04 pm

    Blaming The Beatles for “history gone bad” is ridiculous. Their popularity in America was due to timing. When they descended on the States, it was three months after the assassination of JFK. This country needed “something” to snap it out of it’s shock and depression, and The Beatles supplied it. News alert: they weren’t responsible for the assassination of RFK, MLK, or the Vietnam War either. But the did offer a voice, that hadn’t existed before them, to these events (which actually DID alter history).

  18. gaspi

    July 6, 2016 at 3:18 pm

    A “lorry” refers to what sits atop the “trucks” which are the wheel carriages, typically four, two on each side, that support the lorry. In railroads, these “trucks” support the train’s “cars”.

  19. Mason Philips

    July 6, 2016 at 4:05 pm

    I have seen the original photo from that 1957 debut and also held the banjo of Julia Lennon on which she tried to teach young John the rudiments of music. Original Quarryman Rod Davis am pleased to say still performs and was of enormous help to me in the writing of “Tomorrow Never Knows” my original stage play on the Beatles phenomenon now in pre-production for its West End debut. Follow us on FB for details and updates.

  20. Flegg

    July 26, 2017 at 3:45 pm

    George Edwards is my grandad, would anyone have any recordings of him and his band?

  21. Apple Sweden

    July 13, 2020 at 8:14 pm

    Been there, done that. Hello Liverpool

  22. Frank Brantley

    December 5, 2023 at 5:46 pm

    While John was 16 and Paul 15 at the time, they were 20 months apart in age. McCartney had just turned 15 only a few weeks before (18th of June), and Lennon was just 3 months from turning 17.

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The Beatles Red and Blue Boxsets
The Beatles Red and Blue Boxsets
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