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The Quarrymen Paperback – 2 Jul 2001
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The Quarrymen were a six man skiffle group formed by the young John Lennon. Soon eclipsed by the Beatles, the group was disbanded and the five other members largely forgotten. This account traces the lives of each band member, told in counterpoint to the fortunes of the Beatles over the years.
About the Author
Hunter Davies is the author of over 30 books. They include the only authorised biography of The Beatles. He is also a journalist with columns in the Sunday Times and the New Statesman. He is married to the novelist and biographer Margaret Forster.
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I was thrilled when I saw it on Amazon from one of their sellers, and the price was right . It is in very good condition, appears to be signed by the author, Hunter Davies and has fulfilled one of my Beatle wishes (there are MANY!!)
Hunter Davies wrote the first official biography of the Beatles and is a very entertaining and knowledgeable author. He details the formative years of John Lennon, Paul McCartney & George Harrison very well and is a fascinating insight into the development of the Quarrymen and beyond! A wonderful book!!
Hunter Davies succeeds in portraying a true picture of Britain in the 50s and how the social fabric of the country helped shape the destiny of 4 young men, who would in turn would shape the 60s. And actually hearing their tale from Len, Pete and other mates of the Beatles who were mates in the true sense and not just sycophants hanging in with the Fabs, makes it all more believable and fresh.
The Quarrymen is a story about friendship, values, bonds and above all life. And thats where it succeeds. More than the Beatles it shows us life in a different view.
It is not just the story of six school boys , or five people who knew someone famous , it is a story of something we have all had - innocent childhood dreams.
I enjoyed it as a young Beatles fan not only for the fab four memories but more importantly for the appreciative testament it gives as to what growing up in the 1940's and 1950's must have been like , something i can only imagine.
The Quarrymen probably were the most famous band that never was - they never had a recording contract or it seems a concrete line-up for more than a few weeks.Yet they little knowingly helped paved the way in changing popular music.If the Quarrymen never were who knows if those amazing songs may have been written or what , if anything at all may have happened.
It's main strength has to be that it is by no means the tales of any one individual either. The entire story of the band is captured by either John , Rod , Len , Pete , Eric or Colin.
These are events which happened over 40 years ago , can you remember what you were doing this time last week ?! Yet were one member has forgotten , another has remembered.
I also liked each individual characters storys as to what happened to them in the 40 or so in-between years.
The one thing i perhaps didnt like is that during this period the book focussed more on Pete Shotton. Although he had the most exciting times as John's best friend and at one time head of Apple Records , he did not neccasarily deserve that much space. I wanted to hear more about Rod's travelling or some more details of Len's New Zealand emigration , things which were only briefly skimmed over. Then again there is a lot of important information which has been crammed into such a small book.
For the Beatles fans there is little known or previously vaguely explained stories , some controversial stuff (mainly from Pete) , plenty of facts and figures in a seperate section and a list of other notewothy resources.
The most interesting thing with regards to pictures has to be a recently found second photo of the now infamous Rosebery Street gig , previously unpublished.All of the known Quarrymen photos appear in the same place for once ! What may have been nice which was lacking though was photos of the locations as they are today , as this is something that Beatles fans should see - Rosebery Street in particularas it has changed so much.
It is nice to hear all about Woolton (where they all lived) as the middle-class suburb it really was. The Beatles were not all poor scousers and this is something i think is often foolishly overlooked.
Another thing i would like to have read is accounts (perhaps in a seperate section so as to not to distract completley from the main five guys) of other influentials of that period. We hear of Nigel Whalley who helped set up gigs and was an occasional member , piano player on the record John Duff Lowe for example. All of these people may have had the odd intersting bite to add to the Original Quarrymens story. After all so much happened in such a short space of time and so many band changes happened along the way.
Perhaps most interesting for non-Beatles fans is of the band being almost re-born after laying dormant for all that time. It is interesting to note there re-actions as to actually gaining a slice of the fame they had dreamed of as teenagers 40 years before. For some it is not as good as it is cracked up to be , others have enjoyed it enormously. But to an extent they have all enjoyed meeting up again after 40 years to share their stories and re-visit their youth - who wouldnt ??
It is a testament that the re-formed band is entirely original , as so many bands of those times feature perhaps two original members if that!
Another pleasing factor in the read is that each character has been identified - The leader and the most musically ambitous one as John , the studious and assertive true jazz/folk music one as Rod , the humorous one as Colin , the quiet one as Eric , the speak your mind , prankster one as Pete and the other one as Len.
Lets face it , if you are not a Beatles fan you probably havent even heard of the Quarrymen , but their story as Liverpool teenagers in the 1950's and 60 year old globetrotting gents , as told in this unique first time account is a pure joy to read.
I hope you like it as much as i do !!
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