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Before They Were Beatles

1957-1959

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Before They Were Beatles

John Lennon's schoolboy skiffle group, The Quarry Men, formed in 1957, eventually became The Beatles.

Courtesy Library of Congress
John Lennon was just 17 when he formed his first band, The Black Jacks. The band was made up entirely of classmates at Quarry Bank Grammar School in Liverpool, and almost immediately after they started, they changed their name to The Quarry Men. They played skiffle music, a mixture of folk, jazz, and blues which was popular in England at the time.

In the summer of 1957, The Quarry Men were setting up for a performance in a church hall when another member of the band introduced Lennon to Paul McCartney, then a 15-year-old self-taught left-handed guitar player. He auditioned for the band when they finished their set, and was immediately invited to join, which he did in October, 1957.

By February 1958 Lennon was moving increasingly away from skiffle and toward rock 'n' roll. This prompted the band's banjo player to leave, giving McCartney the opportunity to introduce Lennon to his friend and former classmate, George Harrison.

The band, which then consisted of Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, piano player Duff Lowe and drummer Colin Hanton recorded a demo consisting of Buddy Holly's "That'll Be the Day" and a Lennon-McCartney original, "In Spite of All the Danger."

The Quarry Men broke up early in 1959. Lennon and McCartney continued their songwriting, and Harrison joined a group called The Les Stewart Quartet. The Quarry Men briefly reunited when Harrison's group fell apart, and he recruited Lennon and McCartney to help him fulfill a contract with Liverpool's Casbah Coffee Club. When that gig ended, Lennon, McCartney and Harrison continued performing as Johnny and the Moondogs.

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