A brief history of the Beatles

Paris – U-Arena de La Défense November 28, 2018

It is eight o’clock in the immense white enclosure where 40,000 ecstatic fans wait in the dark for a sort of deliverance. The tension is at its height. The vertiginous walls of enclosure empty one last time on the crowd, making resound the “Intro” of “A day In the life”, until the last major chord that everyone awaits. And then nothing. The U-Arena is once again plunged into darkness. There is no more noise. Only a trickle of light still illuminates one end of the immense stage. A well-known figure moves in semi-darkness towards the center. She stops in front of the microphone, looks up to her audience … Everyone knows: the storm will soon break. In a burst of white and blue lights, accompanied by the metallic thunder of electric guitars, appears Sir Paul, black denim jacket, gray shirt, all British phlegm, with his eternal left-handed Hofner auburn bass slung over the shoulder. There he is, waving his hand at the U-Arena, all devoted to its cause. Two guitarists agree at his side, two fifties with shirts too loose, jeans too tight and hair too long, straight out of the sixties. The drummer, a bald colossus, surely a size, takes his turn behind the set of drums. Calm seems to have returned. But before the dust has had time to settle, the first chord of « Hard day’s night » tears the silence, turning the calm waters of the front rows into a raging river flowing onto the stage. There is everything in this hysterical crowd: sixties, fifties, but also their children and their grandchildren. Everyone knows the flagship titles by heart: Love Me Do, The Let it Be, The Long and Winding Road, Yesterday … On Hey Jude, Paul calls for 20,000 female voices, then 20,000 male voices before bringing the sexes together in one impressive giant choir that gives goosebumps. Of course the features have aged, the voice trembles a little and the walk is hesitant, but the charm is at work. Paul took off the jacket and went from the microphone to the electric guitar, then from the guitar to the piano: « In spite of all the danger ». We go back in time, we cross the 70s with the Wings, the sixties alongside the Beatles, then we are in 1958, with the Quarrymen, those who, sixty years earlier, had emptied their pockets to pay for a first recording. in the studio. A tear can then escape from the most sensitive eyes.

I. Georges Martin

At EMI headquarters, on the third floor of an old and opulent Victorian building, Georges Martin, headphones screwed to his head, is concentrated. Lightning can continue to fall on London, the rain can strike the windows, Georges will not be distracted; he will remain attentive to the slightest note coming back to his expert ears. He listens professionally to a piece of jazz recorded the day before. A graying streak fell on her azure eyes forcing her, with a delicate gesture, to redraw with the palm of her hand the impeccable part which divides her slicked hair in two equal parts. In a very British elegance, an eternal black tie resting on a white shirt, he crushes, for the tenth time, a cigarette in the ashtray. Because the tobacco helps him to think… The cup balanced on the mixer now overflows with smoking ashes. Some escaped and slipped between the thousands of buttons, the red and blue sliders. Georges is here in his universe: his recording studio. Metal cabinets, jacks and microphones linked together by thousands of electric wires of all colors, speakers, turntables, microphones, padded studios; it is in the midst of all this stuff that he feels good. He’s the conductor of all this hardware store. However, on this day in May 1962, Georges was not sure of himself. Dubitative, he rewinds the tape, listens again, then rewinds again … He’s been looking for a good quarter of an hour, that he tweaks his cursors without result… He nervously grabs a new cigarette, cracks a match, inhales deeply, slowly, probably seeking inspiration in the tobacco which penetrates his body. How to arrange this piece? An interesting piece of course, but without relief, without depth … Should we restart a recording session? It would take time … His blue gaze was lost in the infinite whirlpools of the tape recorder which tirelessly spins in the billows of smoke. Suddenly everything seemed obvious to him! He puts down his butt. His fingers run across the mixer, balancing the bass, boosting the mids, adding brass and reducing the strings. A smile finally appears on his face. That’s it. He has what he was looking for: the perfect match, the balance. “Another 33 rpm that will make a date” he thinks.

Georges martin

Georges Martin is an excellent musician, but it was not his artistic qualities that made him an undisputed master at EMI, but his talents as an arranger. It is for this reason that he was appointed to a prestigious position: artistic director of Parlophone, the EMI subsidiary specializing in classical and jazz. Georges can fall down on the back of his faux leather armchair: it’s a good day that begins. He adjusts his headphones, rewinds the tape. Play! He reveled in the result by tugging, satisfied, on another cigarette. A telephone ringing sounds. But Georges heard nothing. Rose knows it well. When his boss is in this daze, not even an earthquake can extract him from his job. Rose is Monsieur Georges’ secretary; a dedicated secretary. From the top of her 55 years, she looks like she harbored in her old England, that of traditions, good manners and a job well done. She wears severe pleated skirts, a strict bodice, and sports a towering black bun that she regularly sticks a knitting needle into. Visibly annoyed, Rose puts down her pen and an unfinished crossword, muttering. “We are never quiet… Another pain in the ass! One of those self-proclaimed managers who found the new Elvis! We are at EMI here! We make serious music… Not that Zazous stuff, that Rock-and-roll with which we are knocked out all day long! »It was on the seventh ring that Rose finally picked up the receiver. She introduces herself as the assistant to Mr. Georges Martin, Artistic Director at Parlophone, then politely listens to the interlocutor with the hideous accent of Liverpool: a certain Brian Epstein. He has a group of four boys, promising musicians… « Four Elvis! » « Four at once this time! » She sighs. “We can’t stop progress… How many has she seen from these promising stars? Tens ? Maybe hundreds. At the end of the day, it’s always the same thing: teenagers who think they are talented in singing American stars to devilish music… It is not enough to wiggle their asses to make a musician. They waste our time. And that of Monsieur Georges is so precious. The nasal voice resumes in the receiver: – Stars in Hamburg! You will not be disappointed ! continues Epstein enthusiastically. – Any more Germans? – No ! they are very English. Four boys from Liverpool. – Is that so ! there is indeed a place in Mr. Martin’s agenda. Tomorrow, May 9, at 9 a.m. – It is very good ! – Who do I advertise ? – Brian Epstein. – It is noted Mr. Epstein, you will be received by Mr. Martin. Rose is relieved. She managed to stay kind. The desire to send Mr. Epstein for a walk had crossed his mind. « Epstein » she notes in the diary, for May 9 … Rose takes up her crossword, sits at her desk and looks up at the boss: Georges, the helmet still on his ears, noticed nothing. She might as well have taken her morning… Several hundred miles, much further north, in a Liverpool office on the first floor of NEMS store, the city’s largest music store, Brian Epstein is delighted. He has finally landed an audition! And more at EMI! He’s got his chance! He will be able to promote the talent of his young people. And by a true professional! He knows they have the potential to get out of the trap, to stand out among the hundreds of rock’n’roll groups touring in England; several hundred, in London alone! You only have to descend into the smoky basements of the Capital to come across one of these heterogeneous assemblages, more or less talented, of self-taught musicians, of teenagers dreaming of a place in the sun in the merciless world of record companies. But real musicians… Brian only knows his four from Liverpool, the only ones who know how to make real “Rock’n’roll”. He’s got his chance! He will be able to promote the talent of his young people. And by a true professional! He knows they have the potential to get out of the trap, to stand out among the hundreds of rock’n’roll groups touring in England; several hundred, in London alone! You only have to descend into the smoky basements of the Capital to come across one of these heterogeneous assemblages, more or less talented, of self-taught musicians, of teenagers dreaming of a place in the sun in the merciless world of record companies. But real musicians… Brian only knows his four from Liverpool, the only ones who know how to make real “Rock’n’roll”. He’s got his chance! He will be able to promote the talent of his young people. And by a true professional! He knows they have the potential to get out of the trap, to stand out among the hundreds of rock’n’roll groups touring in England; several hundred, in London alone! You only have to descend into the smoky basements of the Capital to come across one of these heterogeneous assemblages, more or less talented, of self-taught musicians, of teenagers dreaming of a place in the sun in the merciless world of record companies. But real musicians… Brian only knows his four from Liverpool, the only ones who know how to make real “Rock’n’roll”. stand out among the hundreds of rock’n’roll groups touring England; several hundred, in London alone! You only have to descend into the smoky basements of the Capital to come across one of these heterogeneous assemblages, more or less talented, of self-taught musicians, of teenagers dreaming of a place in the sun in the merciless world of record companies. But real musicians… Brian only knows his four from Liverpool, the only ones who know how to make real “Rock’n’roll”. stand out among the hundreds of rock’n’roll groups touring England; several hundred, in London alone! You only have to descend into the smoky basements of the Capital to come across one of these heterogeneous assemblages, more or less talented, of self-taught musicians, of teenagers dreaming of a place in the sun in the merciless world of record companies. But real musicians… Brian only knows his four from Liverpool, the only ones who know how to make real “Rock’n’roll”.

II. John

It had been more than ten years since Hitler’s V2s had deserted the skies of Lancashire and yet the traces of war had not yet completely disappeared from the streets of Liverpool. The deep scars carved out in the asphalt by Göring’s bombs in the summer of 41 were still visible in places. The Luftwaffe was especially bent on the docks, but the residential districts had not been spared so far: 4000 dead and as many wounded; 10,000 houses destroyed and 200,000 damaged. We remembered especially the night of May 3, 1941, the Merseyside blitz, as it was called: the Malakand ammunition vessel had been hit: 1000 tons of bombs caught in the fire, exploding in a formidable fire of fireworks which pulverized all the buildings within a radius of one kilometer. At the end of the war, everything that needed to be razed had been razed, and even a little more, the rubble had been cleared and the town patiently rebuilt, stone by stone, especially Seaforth Dock, which quickly became the nerve center of British commerce. In the mid-1950s, the trauma of war was finally only in the minds. The young shoots, who had not experienced the bombardments hidden at the bottom of a cellar, had long since reinvested the city, its alleys and its vacant lots. The port was particularly popular with bands looking for American cigarettes, Jazz or Brandy records. In particular, there was John, a rebel, indomitable, who liked to roam the Docks where in the evening floated a foul-smelling cocktail of urine, diesel and herring. and even a little more, the rubble had been cleared and the town patiently rebuilt, stone by stone, especially Seaforth Dock, which quickly became the nerve center of British commerce. In the mid-1950s, the trauma of war was finally only in the minds. The young shoots, who had not experienced the bombardments hidden at the bottom of a cellar, had long since reinvested the city, its alleys and its vacant lots. The port was particularly popular with bands looking for American cigarettes, Jazz or Brandy records. In particular, there was John, a rebel, indomitable, who liked to roam the Docks where in the evening floated a foul-smelling cocktail of urine, diesel and herring. and even a little more, the rubble had been cleared and the town patiently rebuilt, stone by stone, especially Seaforth Dock, which quickly became the nerve center of British commerce. In the mid-1950s, the trauma of war was finally only in the minds. The young shoots, who had not experienced the bombardments hidden at the bottom of a cellar, had long since reinvested the city, its alleys and its vacant lots. The port was particularly popular with bands looking for American cigarettes, Jazz or Brandy records. In particular, there was John, a rebel, indomitable, who liked to roam the Docks where in the evening floated a foul-smelling cocktail of urine, diesel and herring. in particular the Seaforth Dock, which quickly became the nerve center of British commerce. In the mid-1950s, the trauma of war was finally only in the minds. The young shoots, who had not experienced the bombardments hidden at the bottom of a cellar, had long since reinvested the city, its alleys and its vacant lots. The port was particularly popular with bands looking for American cigarettes, Jazz or Brandy records. In particular, there was John, a rebel, indomitable, who liked to roam the Docks where in the evening floated a foul-smelling cocktail of urine, diesel and herring. in particular the Seaforth Dock, which quickly became the nerve center of British commerce. In the mid-1950s, the trauma of war was finally only in the minds. The young shoots, who had not experienced the bombardments hidden at the bottom of a cellar, had long since reinvested the city, its alleys and its vacant lots. The port was particularly popular with bands looking for American cigarettes, Jazz or Brandy records. In particular, there was John, a rebel, indomitable, who liked to roam the Docks where in the evening floated a foul-smelling cocktail of urine, diesel and herring. the trauma of the war was finally only in the heads. The young shoots, who had not experienced the bombardments hidden at the bottom of a cellar, had long since reinvested the city, its alleys and its vacant lots. The port was particularly popular with bands looking for American cigarettes, Jazz or Brandy records. In particular, there was John, a rebel, indomitable, who liked to roam the Docks where in the evening floated a foul-smelling cocktail of urine, diesel and herring. the trauma of the war was finally only in the heads. The young shoots, who had not experienced the bombardments hidden at the bottom of a cellar, had long since reinvested the city, its alleys and its vacant lots. The port was particularly popular with bands looking for American cigarettes, Jazz or Brandy records. In particular, there was John, a rebel, indomitable, who liked to roam the Docks where in the evening floated a foul-smelling cocktail of urine, diesel and herring.

John LENNON – 1950

He had lived from a young age with his maternal aunt Mimi, an orderly, upright woman, attached to good manners, and his Uncle Georges, an always jovial being, a little inclined to drink. The couple had settled in Woolton, a working-class area of ​​Liverpool, at number 251 Menlove Street. Mimi was a diminutive for Mary Elizabeth Smith. She had married Uncle Georges in 1939, just before the planes of Goering, Heinkels and Messerschmidts darkened the sky. John was born on October 9, 1940, in the midst of the Battle of Britain. He had no recollection of the war. This was not the case with Mimi who had particularly suffered from « those terrible years which had taken away her joy of living » as she often said. She remembered, at nightfall, the howling sirens announcing the deluge of steel, motorcycle noise characteristic of the terrible V2, the precipitous descent into the cellars, hours of anguish sitting in the dark and then the end of the alert, the ascent towards daylight, desolation, gutted buildings leaving again flames escaping, firefighters spraying the smoking blocks, Red Cross ambulances making their way between the charred rubble, and then all these lifeless bodies, pulled from the debris by the sappers and which were placed on the stretchers. Mimi had forged a character of steel, upright, demanding for herself and for others, refusing to complain. This was not the case with Uncle Georges, who was always in a good mood … From the war, he especially remembered that incendiary bomb which had fallen in the garden and which had set his rose bushes on fire. He had smothered the fire with a wet blanket before laughing… His military exploits had ended roughly there. Reformed, he had found a quiet place in an arms factory until the end of hostilities. Aunt Mimi was Julia’s older sister, John’s mother, an absent mother whom he knew little about. According to Mimi, he would have been abandoned very young by this frivolous mother for shameful reasons… The two sisters had not spoken to each other for at least ten years. He knew even less about his father. Everyone called him « Alf », probably for Alfred… Mimi said he was a sailor and that he wandered like a poor devil on all the seas of the globe. So he imagined her dressed as a sailor, at the helm or hoisting the mainsail. Often his ghost came to haunt his childhood dreams: each time it started with a dark, sinister swell that crashed against the rocks of the harbor. Then came dark rooms, screams, slamming doors and finally terrible faces glued to the fogged windows… John knew that, among those eyes watching him, there were those of his father… But he never managed to form them. features of a face. The eyes disappeared and he was left alone in the darkness sitting on a chair. He woke up with a start, frightened, soaked in sweat. This double absence was for John a trauma, buried in the depths of his subconscious and who waited each night to rise to the surface. Why had he been separated from his mother? Why was he living with his aunt? Nobody said anything to him, especially not Mimi who got angry as soon as he broached the subject. And why was he called « Winston », after the Prime Minister savior of the Fatherland? He didn’t like: his first name was John. So, to calm his anxieties, he often escaped to the docks. He wrote poetry, to breathe a little, to get out of his house, to escape for a time from the grayness of Liverpool, from its cold and penetrating drizzle. He had also tried his hand at drawing, sometimes laying down, in his spiral notebook, the images stolen from the port: drunken sailors, sometimes trawlers, often girls. Uncle Georges had given him a harmonica. John had been sincerely touched by this gesture, even if for him the music was a beautiful foreigner and this piece of metal protected by red velvet, a very mysterious object. Uncle Georges had taught him some rudiments, a basic technique learned in the army, sufficient to play simple folklore tunes. John, obviously eager to learn, had taken to the game and, after a few weeks, had accumulated a few pieces in his repertoire. Seeing that John nourished a real attraction for music, Uncle George had brought back an old record player equipped with two speakers. He had installed the first in the living room. Mimi was horrified to find that an extension cord had been deployed on her floor and was running up the stairs, upstairs, then down the hall, to sneak under the door to John’s bedroom where the second loudspeaker had taken place. It was there that her two men spent entire evenings listening to BBC broadcasts, a Whiskey close at hand. Often Uncle Georges, rinsed off by alcohol, collapsed on the bed. John and Mimi were not too two then to carry the animal, heavy as a dead horse, to its bed. One evening in the summer of 1955, undoubtedly a little more watered than the others, Uncle Georges had collapsed in the hallway. He hadn’t got up again. John was fifteen.

Julia lennon

III. Julia – June 1955

Uncle George’s funeral took place in the pouring, cold and penetrating rain. About ten relatives had made the trip. Mimi, dignified in her black outfit, a net of black lace over her eyes, faced the coffin, frozen in pain, her fingers clutching her little bag. His gaze was motionless, fixed on the oak crate that hung over the sodden earth of the cemetery. A family friend sheltered it under a dripping umbrella. John was by his side. He wasn’t shedding a tear, but his heart was broken. Georges had been to him more than a father. He was a confidant and a faithful friend. An official muttered an inaudible sermon, then four ropes entwined the coffin which slowly descended into the muddy bowels of Liverpool. Uncle Georges had joined his family. Already, shovels covered his body. John wiped his soggy, somewhat confused face. He remained like that for a few minutes, silent like the rest of the assembly. He felt a familiar hand on his shoulder: it was Pete, the « blond », his best friend, always there in times of trouble. He pointed with his index finger to a shadow that stood at the edge of the cemetery. John looked up. A little further away, behind a row of willows, a red-haired woman concealed under a black felt hat seemed to be watching him. John grabbed his glasses, but the shadow was already gone. This red-haired woman, he knew, was Julia, his mother, « the daughter of the ocean » as he liked to call her. He sighed: « She had come for him, just for him… It was a certainty. » But why was she hiding? He remained like that for a few minutes, silent like the rest of the assembly. He felt a familiar hand on his shoulder: it was Pete, the « blond », his best friend, always there in times of trouble. He pointed with his index finger to a shadow that stood at the edge of the cemetery. John looked up. A little further away, behind a row of willows, a red-haired woman concealed under a black felt hat seemed to be watching him. John grabbed his glasses, but the shadow was already gone. This red-haired woman, he knew, was Julia, his mother, « the daughter of the ocean » as he liked to call her. He sighed: « She had come for him, just for him… It was a certainty. » But why was she hiding? He remained like that for a few minutes, silent like the rest of the assembly. He felt a familiar hand on his shoulder: it was Pete, the « blond », his best friend, always there in times of trouble. He pointed with his index finger to a shadow that stood at the edge of the cemetery. John looked up. A little further away, behind a row of willows, a red-haired woman concealed under a black felt hat seemed to be watching him. John grabbed his glasses, but the shadow was already gone. This red-haired woman, he knew, was Julia, his mother, « the daughter of the ocean » as he liked to call her. He sighed: « She had come for him, just for him… It was a certainty. » But why was she hiding? the « blond », his best friend, always there in difficult times. He pointed with his index finger to a shadow that stood at the edge of the cemetery. John looked up. A little further away, behind a row of willows, a red-haired woman concealed under a black felt hat seemed to be watching him. John grabbed his glasses, but the shadow was already gone. This red-haired woman, he knew, was Julia, his mother, « the daughter of the ocean » as he liked to call her. He sighed: « She had come for him, just for him… It was a certainty. » But why was she hiding? the « blond », his best friend, always there in difficult times. He pointed with his index finger to a shadow that stood at the edge of the cemetery. John looked up. A little further away, behind a row of willows, a red-haired woman concealed under a black felt hat seemed to be watching him. John grabbed his glasses, but the shadow was already gone. This red-haired woman, he knew, was Julia, his mother, « the daughter of the ocean » as he liked to call her. He sighed: « She had come for him, just for him… It was a certainty. » But why was she hiding? a red-haired woman concealed under a black felt hat seemed to be watching him. John grabbed his glasses, but the shadow was already gone. This red-haired woman, he knew, was Julia, his mother, « the daughter of the ocean » as he liked to call her. He sighed: « She had come for him, just for him… It was a certainty. » But why was she hiding? a red-haired woman concealed under a black felt hat seemed to be watching him. John grabbed his glasses, but the shadow was already gone. This red-haired woman, he knew, was Julia, his mother, « the daughter of the ocean » as he liked to call her. He sighed: « She had come for him, just for him… It was a certainty. » But why was she hiding?

Why hadn’t she just come to see him, to comfort him, to kiss him? Desperate, John put his head in his hands and let out a sob. He turned to Mimi, hoping to find some semblance of an answer in her fleeting gaze. Wasted effort. She hadn’t seen anything. Still motionless, she said nothing … He couldn’t take it any longer, this silence, this invisible, impassable wall, mounted on very sordid foundations, which prevented him from knowing his mother. And him ? What was he guilty of? Why were they made him pay for old stories of good wives? He was fifteen now and was still taken for a child. He had to know. He then turned to Pete. The two friends didn’t need to speak to understand each other. Pete was the man for the job. He slipped away discreetly, stepped over the graves, pushed open the rusty gate of the cemetery and began to run in the direction of the unknown shadow. Pete Shotton was almost a brother to John. They had known each other at the Anglican school in Dovedale and they had immediately become inseparable: together on school benches, then in college and finally in Quarry Bank, very close to the Strawberry fields. They were so close together that the teachers nicknamed them « Lotton » and « Shennon ». Pete was a weakling. He had a gaunt face with straight blond hair falling and very clear eyes. He often wore short panties, even in winter. Pete liked to infuriate John by calling him « Winnie », in reference to his middle name. Punches were raining down then, but it always ended in a loud laugh. Everyone in the neighborhood knew them and rarely for more than nonsense. But on this day of mourning, the time was not for jokes: the mission John had given him was of the utmost importance. Pete had run through the streets. It had not been difficult to find the trace of Julia… He was now in front of a small modest house, only a few hundred yards from the house where John lived! Inside, behind embroidered curtains, he had seen the red-haired woman with a chubby mustache, as well as two little girls sitting under a chandelier. Pete knew well enough so far and he shouldn’t be spotted. the assignment John had just given him was of the utmost importance. Pete had run through the streets. It had not been difficult to find the trace of Julia… He was now in front of a small modest house, only a few hundred yards from the house where John lived! Inside, behind embroidered curtains, he had seen the red-haired woman with a chubby mustache, as well as two little girls sitting under a chandelier. Pete knew well enough so far and he shouldn’t be spotted. the assignment John had just given him was of the utmost importance. Pete had run through the streets. It had not been difficult to find the trace of Julia… He was now in front of a small modest house, only a few hundred yards from the house where John lived! Inside, behind embroidered curtains, he had seen the red-haired woman with a chubby mustache, as well as two little girls sitting under a chandelier. Pete knew well enough so far and he shouldn’t be spotted. he had seen the red-haired woman with a chubby mustache, as well as two little girls seated under a chandelier. Pete knew well enough so far and he shouldn’t be spotted. he had seen the red-haired woman with a chubby mustache, as well as two little girls seated under a chandelier. Pete knew well enough so far and he shouldn’t be spotted.

John expected everything, but not this! He and his mother were neighbors and for so long! He put on his pair of shoes and the two friends stepped out onto Menlove Street. They walked on Newcastle Road, then across the fields. Fortunately, the rain had stopped. John felt his heart beat. He was afraid, after all these years, of discovering the ghosts of the past and the secrets they held. Perhaps he had more to lose than to gain? Maybe Mimi had tried to protect him? But it was too late. It was time to break through that « fucking » wall. After about twenty minutes, Pete stopped: « There it is! » « . In front of their eyes, there was a small garden of a few square meters, closed by a white wooden fence and, behind, the small wooden hovel of the same color, quite simple, terraced and identical to all the other hovels in the neighborhood. John hesitated, then made a U-turn. Pete held him back and pushed him towards the patio. He knocked on the door three times and left John alone, facing his past. Emotion tightened John’s throat, anguished by what was still invisible, hidden behind that door. He had imagined the features of a mother’s face so many times that he only knew in a dream … Would he have the strength to face his fate? Footsteps echoed in his ears, then the creaking of a handle and finally the pivot of the door. He rolled his eyes and breathed in the fresh air. When his gaze fell, Julia was standing there, straight in the doorway. She was a little shorter than him, two emerald pearls in the place of the eyes, a blonde hair that was reddish, posed delicately on her frail shoulders, pink cheekbones, protruding, and a smile illuminating her lips made up of a very pale pink. John was unable to say anything. He stood still, staring at the one that had given him life, which he was only discovering. Julia had stepped forward slowly and hugged her son, for the first time in over ten years. They stayed like that for several minutes, one against the other, without saying a word. Then Julia grabbed the still childish face in her hands and kissed his forehead. John did have a mother; he had always known it. She was who he had imagined, sweet and bubbly at the same time. Julia invited him to come home. They entered the deserted house. It was sober and tidy. It smelled of hot cookies. They sat down at the living room table, which was dimly lit by the chandelier. John, of course, had a thousand questions. But the words jostled in his head, preventing him from constructing even the beginning of a sentence. Then it was Julia who spoke; his mother, whose gentle voice he heard for the first time. He heard the flow of words, but did not listen, too attentive to the features of her face, to her expressions in which he sometimes recognized himself. Why had she waited so long? John didn’t understand. What about the girls Pete had mentioned? And the mustache, who was he? His father ? They thus spent the afternoon, simply, evoking above all the life which passed, avoiding for the moment the past. Over the hours, a glass of Brandy helping, she became more intimate, finally addressing the real questions. The mustache was not his father, but the new man in Julia’s life. Yet she was still married. Her father was alive and well, she thought! In the first few years, she had received a few mandates, then nothing. She hadn’t heard from him for over five years. As John had guessed, his name was « Alfred », Alfred Lennon. As for the mustache, he was called « Dikins ». He was a silent sommelier, not very pleasant, silent, paunchy, with a small mustache à la Dario Moreno, sometimes violent when he had drunk too much. She didn’t seem to be overflowing with love when she spoke about it. However, he was the father of his two daughters and above all he provided for the needs of the household. Dikins and Julia therefore lived in sin. A good point for John! But this free union was not acceptable in the Puritan Liverpool at the time, which was why the couple were keeping their distance a bit. Perhaps that was also the reason why Julia had been so discreet. But John didn’t care. He had found his mother. Dikins or not, he had decided to stay several days in Newcastle Road. Mimi would be angry, no doubt. But it was no big deal. She would survive… John discovered that Julia was the exact opposite of his sister. While Mimi sought to stifle any fantasy, cultivated sobriety, the rigor of an Anglican life, Julia was bursting with life and did not give a damn about conventions. She enjoyed life to the fullest, not disdaining a good glass of alcohol, good cigarettes, and even, some afternoons, liked to dance in a few fishing bars on the port … which was why the couple were standing a bit apart. Perhaps that was also the reason why Julia had been so discreet. But John didn’t care. He had found his mother. Dikins or not, he had decided to stay several days in Newcastle Road. Mimi would be angry, no doubt. But it was no big deal. She would survive… John discovered that Julia was the exact opposite of his sister. While Mimi sought to stifle any fantasy, cultivated sobriety, the rigor of an Anglican life, Julia was bursting with life and did not give a damn about conventions. She enjoyed life to the fullest, not disdaining a good glass of alcohol, good cigarettes, and even, some afternoons, liked to dance in a few fishing bars on the port … which was why the couple were standing a bit apart. Perhaps that was also the reason why Julia had been so discreet. But John didn’t care. He had found his mother. Dikins or not, he had decided to stay several days in Newcastle Road. Mimi would be angry, no doubt. But it was no big deal. She would survive… John discovered that Julia was the exact opposite of his sister. While Mimi sought to stifle any fantasy, cultivated sobriety, the rigor of an Anglican life, Julia was bursting with life and did not give a damn about conventions. She enjoyed life to the fullest, not disdaining a good glass of alcohol, good cigarettes, and even, some afternoons, liked to dance in a few fishing bars on the port … Perhaps that was also the reason why Julia had been so discreet. But John didn’t care. He had found his mother. Dikins or not, he had decided to stay several days in Newcastle Road. Mimi would be angry, no doubt. But it was no big deal. She would survive… John discovered that Julia was the exact opposite of his sister. While Mimi sought to stifle any fantasy, cultivated sobriety, the rigor of an Anglican life, Julia was bursting with life and did not give a damn about conventions. She enjoyed life to the fullest, not disdaining a good glass of alcohol, good cigarettes, and even, some afternoons, liked to dance in a few fishing bars on the port … Perhaps that was also the reason why Julia had been so discreet. But John didn’t care. He had found his mother. Dikins or not, he had decided to stay several days in Newcastle Road. Mimi would be angry, no doubt. But it was no big deal. She would survive… John discovered that Julia was the exact opposite of his sister. While Mimi sought to stifle any fantasy, cultivated sobriety, the rigor of an Anglican life, Julia was bursting with life and did not give a damn about conventions. She enjoyed life to the fullest, not disdaining a good glass of alcohol, good cigarettes, and even, some afternoons, liked to dance in a few fishing bars on the port … Mimi would be angry, no doubt. But it was no big deal. She would survive… John discovered that Julia was the exact opposite of his sister. While Mimi sought to stifle any fantasy, cultivated sobriety, the rigor of an Anglican life, Julia was bursting with life and did not give a damn about conventions. She enjoyed life to the fullest, not disdaining a good glass of alcohol, good cigarettes, and even, some afternoons, liked to dance in a few fishing bars on the port … Mimi would be angry, no doubt. But it was no big deal. She would survive… John discovered that Julia was the exact opposite of his sister. While Mimi sought to stifle any fantasy, cultivated sobriety, the rigor of an Anglican life, Julia was bursting with life and did not give a damn about conventions. She enjoyed life to the fullest, not disdaining a good glass of alcohol, good cigarettes, and even, some afternoons, liked to dance in a few fishing bars on the port …

She took him to the coast, to tread the damp boards of the walks, to smell the spray coming from the west. There was a multicolored balloon vendor giving it a splash of color, anglers with their buckets full of wriggling fish around which the gulls fluttered. Sweets distilled a scent of freedom in the air. They heard a song of Buddy Holly coming out of a pier pub. “Rock’n’roll! Pure sex! She whispered to her son in the hollow of her ear. John was not shocked. She invited him to this den of the devil, the haunt of thirsty sailors. She began to dance, like a teenage girl, intoxicated by musical notes. John realized how different the two sisters were! Obviously, he understood his mother better. He was like her, eager to bite into life without restraint. A long week went by without them talking about the past, perhaps for fear of breaking the spell. John was adopted by his new family, with the notable exception of Dikins who resented the prospect of sharing « his Julia ». The two girls, Ingrid the older and Julia the younger, were delighted: they had found an older brother who made them laugh during meals by imitating the walrus with two fries stuck between their teeth. Much to Dikins’ dismay, Julia liked to sing along with a banjo. John was in admiration. He liked it: his mother with such a soft voice happy to play « Maggie Mae » for him. He immediately wanted to learn to play! One evening in July, she put the banjo in his arms and moved behind him to guide his hands. He began to strum the four strings, one by one, then together. Julia taught him to put his fingers, exert the right pressure on the strings, respect the tempo. The instrument never left his hands. Day after day he trained. At first clumsy, the technique improved. He added vocals and, a few days later, played Maggie Mae in turn perfectly: he now mastered the four-string banjo chords. When Mimi learned of the existence of this new romance, she went into a mad anger. Angry with her sister for so long, she now saw her reinvest her life in the most sordid way: Julia sought to take back from her what she had most dear in the world: John, this child she had raised as a son. . She said that Julia no longer had any rights over him, that she had abandoned her, that it was too easy to show up now like a flower and reap the fruits of another… John tried to calm his tempestuous aunt by explaining to her that she was not losing anything at all. He would still be there. He would simply divide his life between Menlove Avenue and Roadcastle Street. Anyway, she had to get used to it: it was up to him from now on to organize his life as he saw fit. Mimi was the surrogate mother, the one who regulated life as it was undoubtedly to flow, a kind of life insurance, the base on which he had been built; Julia, it was his natural mother, the discovery of a pure love, still virgin, it was the new and so pleasant feeling to feel alive, unique… He wanted them both. Faced with the sincere and humble arguments of this somewhat orphaned son, Mimi allowed herself to be moved, then convinced. She finally accepted John’s « deal », that sharing of flesh that tore her heart apart.

V. The Quarrymen 1956

At first, John spent most of his days with his mother. It was quite normal, because we had to make up for ten lost years. The lively districts of the city center held no secrets for them. It was in April 1956 that Julia took John to the movies. It was a first for him. In the news, pictures were shown of the King jiggling around Heart Break Hotel. John had found him handsome, all in black leathers with cowboy boots, hair slicked back and slicked back, holding his mic as he would have held a pretty girl, swaying obscenely. He literally burst the screen. His voice was warm, brilliant, pure rebellion against the order established by the bourgeoisie of Puritan America. And above all, there were those screams. John turned around. Despite the darkness he had seen the hysterical Liverpool girls, some in tears, hypnotized by this Demi-Dieu… « That’s a good Job! » He immediately thought. « This is what I want to do in my life: Rock’n’roll »! He then took it into his head to learn to play the guitar.

Elvis

Not easy when, throughout your childhood, you have been rocked by Brahms, Tchaikovsky or Mozart. So we had to collect some money and talk to Mimi about it. She then went into one of the angers she was accustomed to: « Julia is wanton, irresponsible! » She has put dangerous ideas in your head that will lead nowhere! Already the Principal of Quarry Bank has written to me all the time to complain about your flippant attitude! John you have to pull yourself together, work seriously, to have a real job, not those trendy things like music which have no future and which pass like the seasons!  »  » It’s not win ! John said to himself. But he expected it. He had to think about a new approach. Because the damage was done. John had made his choice: music would be part of his life, whether Mimi likes it or not. He waited a few days for the storm to clear away and deployed his plan B: “Listen to Aunt Mimi. I offer you a sort of deal: You offer me a guitar and, in exchange, I agree to behave properly. No more clandres with the Principal! And I am seriously working at Quarry Bank! Mimi, to her surprise, no doubt tired of the Principal’s missives, let herself be convinced again. The next day they were at the Music Store. In the window, proudly enthroned the object of all desires: a red folk guitar at the price of ten pounds in « excellent condition » according to the sign. John pushed Mimi into the store, then toward the vendor. After some negotiation, they came to an agreement on Seven Pounds. The salesman carefully placed the guitar in its cardboard sleeve and gave it to John who couldn’t believe his eyes. « The road to the top begins here and now, » he said to himself secretly. For the next few days, he contented himself with admiring his guitar carefully placed in a corner of his room. He saw again the images of the King, the leather and the crying girls… He grabbed the ebony handle and put, for the first time, his fingers on the nylon strings, hoping that one day he would make them sing rock ‘ n’roll. He only used four of the six strings, like on the banjo. He easily found the main chords of the banjo. His game, at first timid, gained confidence. Soon he could add his voice to it. He spent hours with his new toy, giving up, unlike the “deal” he had with his Aunt, a little more Quarry Bank. He did not forget to visit his mother every day. He was happy to show his progress, despite his aching finger: the skin martyred by the repetitions was starting to peel, forcing John to take a break. Julia was delighted to see her son flourish like this, as she would have liked so much to do … Of course, Mimi received, some time later, the letter from the Principal regretting « the unacceptable behavior of John, a past master in the art of saucy poetry and obscene drawings ”. Mimi learned that he had been kicked out of Quarry Bank with that damn Pete Shotton, first a week, then permanently. John had broken his promise. She would hold hers: she went up to the bedroom, grabbed the guitar and brought it back to the Music Store. When John noticed his toy was missing, he was beside himself. It was as if his fingernails had been pulled out on both hands. He didn’t stay a second longer in the house, yelling at his aunt like he had never done before, and found refuge with his mother, determined not to let it go. He only told her that he needed 7 Pounds. She gave it to him without asking a question. That same evening, the guitar was his. He had even saved two pounds. He made a triumphant entry into Mimi’s living room, which enraged her sister who, as usual, « had done everything wrong ». She tried to remind John of her « deal » but without hope, she knew it: she had no rights over him. The upstairs chamber echoed back to basic Rock’n’roll chords. Now John had to take it to the next level. Rock’n’roll was at least two guitars, a bass, a drums and a singer. If he could put it all together, money and crying girls would come naturally. It was therefore necessary to found a group. In 56, the Skiffle was the fashionable music in England; it was a mixture from New Orleans which mixed a little blues, Jazz and American Folk. Lonnie Donegan was then the undisputed master with his flagship title: « Rock Island Line ». Its great advantage was its simplicity. The Skiffle did not require very advanced musical bases. And that was a big advantage for John, because good musicians, even musicians at all, he did not know. John had already thought of a name: « the Quarrymen, » the guys from Quarry Bank. it was a mixture from New Orleans which mixed a little blues, Jazz and American Folk. Lonnie Donegan was then the undisputed master with his flagship title: « Rock Island Line ». Its great advantage was its simplicity. The Skiffle did not require very advanced musical bases. And that was a big advantage for John, because good musicians, even musicians at all, he did not know. John had already thought of a name: « the Quarrymen, » the guys from Quarry Bank. it was a mixture from New Orleans which mixed a little blues, Jazz and American Folk. Lonnie Donegan was then the undisputed master with his flagship title: « Rock Island Line ». Its great advantage was its simplicity. The Skiffle did not require very advanced musical bases. And that was a big advantage for John, because good musicians, even musicians at all, he did not know. John had already thought of a name: « the Quarrymen, » the guys from Quarry Bank. he didn’t know any. John had already thought of a name: « the Quarrymen, » the guys from Quarry Bank. he didn’t know any. John had already thought of a name: « the Quarrymen, » the guys from Quarry Bank.

Quarry Men 1957 – John LENNON in the background

To form the group, it was enough to tap into the inexhaustible source of school friends. The next day, he gathered his fans in the toilets and presented his project. No one really believed it. And yet John, with his leadership soul, imposed the idea. Even if he didn’t seem very motivated, Pete Shotton would of course be in the game. It would do the job rhythmically with the « Washboard », a kind of washing board that you scraped with a metal utensil. Eric Griffith would play the guitar and Bill Smith the « Tea-Chest-Bass », the tea box, used for the bass. Rod Davis, who had bought a banjo the day before, would be on board too. Griffith knew a neighbor, Colin Hanton, who had a set of batteries and especially a garage to rehearse. « Let him come too! » John had said. In her head, he reserved the vocals and the rhythmic guitar. He imposed frequent and severe repetitions on all. There was no question of being late! Griffith missed several rehearsals which infuriated John. Len Garry immediately replaced him at the Tea-Chest-Bass. Everything was ready for the Skiffle. The Quarrymen put on a few improvised stages with pallets recovered from the docks and made their debut in front of a sparse audience in the vicinity of Liverpool. John, with his shirt, his jeans, his bad manners, his cigarette in his mouth and his hair back, had become a real Rocker! Finally, a Rocker who played the Skiffle. Griffith missed several rehearsals which infuriated John. Len Garry immediately replaced him at the Tea-Chest-Bass. Everything was ready for the Skiffle. The Quarrymen put on a few improvised stages with pallets recovered from the docks and made their debut in front of a sparse audience in the vicinity of Liverpool. John, with his shirt, his jeans, his bad manners, his cigarette in his mouth and his hair back, had become a real Rocker! Finally, a Rocker who played the Skiffle. Griffith missed several rehearsals which infuriated John. Len Garry immediately replaced him at the Tea-Chest-Bass. Everything was ready for the Skiffle. The Quarrymen put on a few improvised stages with pallets recovered from the docks and made their debut in front of a sparse audience in the vicinity of Liverpool. John, with his shirt, his jeans, his bad manners, his cigarette in his mouth and his hair back, had become a real Rocker! Finally, a Rocker who played the Skiffle. his cigarette in his beak and his hair back, had become a real Rocker! Finally, a Rocker who played the Skiffle. his cigarette in his beak and his hair back, had become a real Rocker! Finally, a Rocker who played the Skiffle.

V. Paul – 1957

It was particularly hot on July 6, 1957 on the forecourt of Saint-Peter Church where the traditional Woolton fair took place. The summer sun had scorched what was left of the lawn and, to the dismay of a weeping nun, the proud hydrangeas were only a distant memory. A piece of cardboard nailed to a tree announced the Quarrymen by mid-afternoon. In the meantime, the families, stunned by the heat, listened religiously to the last notes of a folk tune played by a brass band. Only a few children gave a little energy to the board, running in all directions, enjoying the slides and games organized by the school staff. The coronation of the Queen of Roses was preparing. In the shade of a willow tree, the whole Quarrymen were biding their time. John tugged nervously on his cigarette. He had put on his red checked shirt and, as Aunt Mimi had pointed out, looked like a Canadian lumberjack. He had combed his curly hair tip forward to look like a Teddy Boy. Around him were Pete Shotton, Eric Griffith, Len Garry, Colin Hanton and Rod Davis. He had gathered his little world for a final briefing. It was almost time: the brass had definitely given up the ghost. He had gathered his little world for a final briefing. It was almost time: the brass had definitely given up the ghost. He had gathered his little world for a final briefing. It was almost time: the brass had definitely given up the ghost.

Quarry Men – July 6, 1957

Before setting off, John tried to motivate his troops one last time by giving the final instructions. The loudspeaker announced their name in a nasal voice. John stubbed out his cigarette, stuffed it in his jeans pocket and gave the signal, demanding « the best » from all. They climbed one after the other on the platform of a truck that would serve as a stage. The instruments were already in place and everyone knew their place. John moved to the center. Eric Griffith, the lead guitarist, to his right, attentive to the boss’s orders. In the background, hid Pete Shotton, not very comfortable with his Washboard, and Rod Davis on the banjo. To John’s left stood Len Garry and his tea-chest-bass, his fingers already resting on the two taut strings hanging from the sides of a wooden crate.

Children, intrigued by the group and all its equipment, tried to climb onto the stage. John motioned for them to walk away, which they did without insisting. The audience was young and sparse, but luckily enthusiastic. There was especially Julia, in the front row, in her marvelous floral dress, and beside her, Mimi, dubious, in a more strict outfit. « Attention, One, two, three four! » John called out. And it was on. Griffith started the intro, followed by John on vocals and all the Quarrymen: Oh dirty Maggie Mae they have taken her away And she never walk down Lime Street any more Oh the judge he guilty found her For robbing a homeward bounder Maggie Mae, Come Go With Me and a few other titles followed. John was still breaking his Banjo chords. He didn’t know all the lyrics; often he improvised bits of sentences without any meaning or he was sometimes content to sing the refrains. But he was good enough. The texture of his voice already smelled of rock’n’roll. Attracted by the music, a young man approached the stage. He was wearing a white first communion jacket, in which he had slipped a rose. He was smiling. John obviously intrigued him. He approached again, pushing Mimi by apologizing flatly and brushing against Julia who was hopping like a teenager. He was calm, but attentive. He stayed in the front row until the last song. He was wearing a white first communion jacket, in which he had slipped a rose. He was smiling. John obviously intrigued him. He approached again, pushing Mimi by apologizing flatly and brushing against Julia who was hopping like a teenager. He was calm, but attentive. He stayed in the front row until the last song. He was wearing a white first communion jacket, in which he had slipped a rose. He was smiling. John obviously intrigued him. He approached again, pushing Mimi by apologizing flatly and brushing against Julia who was hopping like a teenager. He was calm, but attentive. He stayed in the front row until the last song.

When the Quarrymen put down their instruments, he walked away towards the rectory. John, on the other hand, still on the stage, was slowly catching his breath. He was quite happy and congratulated everyone with a good pat on the back. Everything had gone well… The Quarrymen descended from their platform and walked towards the large communal room where a snack was offered. John had rekindled his cigarette and was nervously puffing on the tobacco. He already saw a lot of areas for improvement. Beers and bread rolls had been made available to the group and everyone tried to quench their thirst with a laugh. The atmosphere was festive. Across the hall, in the shadow of the main entrance, two young people appeared. John recognized the first: it was Ivan Vaughan, one of his friends from Quarry Bank. He was accompanied by the guy in the white jacket who had slipped into the front row after pushing Julia. He had a slung guitar, cocker spaniel eyes, and a clean stingray lying on his side. He looked very young, fourteen or fifteen, no more. Vaughan made the introductions: – John, this is my friend Paul. I brought him in, because I think he could do a lot for the Quarrymen! – Oh yes ? What is he playing? Bottle? laughed John, before stepping forward to shake his hand. – Guitar. Paul said simply, replacing the black lock that had fallen over his eyes. – I recognize you ! Were you in the first row? How did you find? – Not bad. – Not bad ? Could you do better maybe? Fortunately, you are a friend of Ivan. – I believe, in fact, that I could do better. – Oh yes ? Can you show us? John smirked, swallowing his beer. – Sure ! Paul replied, putting on his guitar. – You put it upside down! – No. I’m left handed. – Nice your rose! It looks dandy. – I could lend it to you if you want… Without saying more, Paul put his hands on the guitar. He took a deep breath and struck the opening chords of Eddie Cochran’s Twenty Flight Rock, a track John had always stumbled upon:

Ooh, w ell I got a girl with a record machine When it comes to rockin ‘she’s the queen We love to dance on a Saturday night All alone where I can hold her tight But she lives on the twentieth floor uptown The elevator’s broken down.

John was impressed. This Paul was better than him! There was no doubt about it. And, besides, he knew the lyrics! Seeing the Quarrymen excited by the devastating riffs of this cheeky left-hander, John, a dominant male worried about his leadership, began to calm everyone down. The chef was him! But he was obviously torn by two contradictory feelings: on the one hand, he said to himself that it would be good for the group to have a guy like that, a real musician. On the other hand, John had to remain the boss, the leader, the one who imposed on others and therefore be wary of competition, especially when this competition was better than him. He had little time in front of him, for he could feel five pairs of eyes, ten impatient pupils riveted on him, waiting for his reaction. It was mistrust that won the day. He thanked Paul on the pretext that they were full. Paul walked away, disappointed… Shotton did not understand! « John, we need this guy in the group! » John needed time to think and time, right now, he didn’t have: they had to get back on the stage or rather on the platform of the truck for the second part. Their audience was waiting for them… Paul was no longer there. The more days passed, the more John had to face the facts: he had made a huge mistake. On the burning forecourt of Saint-Peter Church, his fiery temperament had undoubtedly won the day, but at the same time he had deprived him of a real opportunity to progress. We had to face the facts: the Quarrymen were not very good, only amateurs who had learned music on the job trying to reproduce,

None had musical bases. John wanted to move his project forward and for that Paul could help him. So, for a while, he had to put his pride in his pocket, and try to make up for it. He sent Vaughan to scout. On October 18, 1956, Paul, after a semblance of hearing and a sort of closed-door deliberation, was officially admitted to the Quarrymen, although he had never set foot in Quarry Bank. John took it upon himself to bring him the good news. He went to the address Vaughan had given at 20 Forthlin Road, in the district of Allerton, a little worried about the fairground episode. He discovered in fact a charming guy, not resentful, almost too nice for a rocker who, on entry, opened his heart and the door of his room to him. Paul wanted to become a teacher. But, like John, he had fallen into the infernal rock’n’roll trap. His father Jim sold cotton for 6 Pounds a month, which was not very glorious. But he had an enormous quality: he was a musician. He had set up a piano in the living room and Paul had started doing some scales and playing chords. Happy to see his son’s attraction to music, Jim had bought a trumpet and then a guitar for Paul and his brother! So Paul had a big advantage over John: he had learned with a music teacher and not with an occasional banjo player, which changed everything! Paul knew a dozen « real chords » of guitar which were played on the six strings, that is to say two more than on the banjo. So he had quite a head start. Even though it was difficult for him, John had to admit that he was far from having all this knowledge. It was no big deal for Paul who was ready to give him a little demonstration. John sat down on the bed. He watched Paul place his left-handed hands on the ropes. Not easy to see how he was doing… All these chords backwards!

John then had a bright idea: he moved the mirror in the hallway to « put the picture right side up. » C major, D major, E major, the scale was reviewed. Then Paul explained minor chords, then seventh. It was a lot of a sudden! Paul offered him a notebook on which he had drawn the position of the fingers and gave him a set of six new strings! He immediately installed them on John’s guitar which he tuned using the piano. John was in admiration even though, true to his character as a leader, he showed nothing. They stayed that afternoon together, tinkering with a few pieces and talking about everything. In the evening, John set off again for Menlove Street with, in his pocket, a stub of a cigarette and a spiral notebook. After a week, John had exhausted the notebook. So he returned to Forthlin Road to fill his own notebook with new arrangements. A healthy collaboration took place. John was charmed by the kindness and availability of his new friend; as for Paul, he liked this willful guy, « a real bulldozer that nothing will stop ». John had, for the first time, the impression to advance… If John remained the undisputed leader of the Quarrymen, Paul naturally became his second. They quickly worked their first pieces together. The duo worked wonderfully, which was astonishing within the group because they were so different: John was as impulsive as Paul was composed, calm, « old school ». John looked down on people, often haughtily, while Paul was attentive, polite, concerned about those around him. Ultimately, their only common point was music and their desire to make it their profession. Quickly, John invited him to his mother’s house on Newcastle Road. Julia, of course, fell under the spell of this « boy so well behaved ». She liked his good manners, the way he said hello and inquired about his health. She found his presence soothing, a presence that did her son good, channeled his ardor. Dikins made no effort to hide his annoyance, irritated by all these noisy intrusions into his tidy life. channeled his ardor. Dikins made no effort to hide his annoyance, irritated by all these noisy intrusions into his tidy life. channeled his ardor. Dikins made no effort to hide his annoyance, irritated by all these noisy intrusions into his tidy life.

I Cynthia

Two months had passed. Mr. Pobjoy, a Quarry Bank teacher, who, it seemed, had seen in John’s obscene graffiti « a certain talent, » had suggested that he try the Fine Arts. Mimi agreed. She was even relieved: John could finally do something with his life, take a « serious path », find a job. Julia, the ocean girl, on the other hand, was sad. Her son was probably going to go away. John, on the other hand, was not sure. Or rather if! He was sure he wasn’t cut out for math and physics: “Fine Arts… After all, why not? He loved to draw. And then that would give him time to make music… So the decision was quickly made. One morning in September, he gathered some things, packed his suitcase, put his guitar in a protective bag and left for the « real city », as he says, « to listen to the heart of a city that never stopped beating » … He settled in a boarding house reserved for students, sparsely furnished, with bunk beds, bedrooms for four and dirt everywhere. For his meager things there was a metal cupboard. The next day, he was on the benches of his new school, far from Shotton, Griffith and the others, a little lost in this conventioned, hushed universe which was not his. At first, he called Aunt Mimi and Julia every week, anxious to keep alive the fragile bond he had woven between the two sisters and also because he felt a little alone… He met Bill Harry, a jovial guy, then Stuart Sutcliffe, a guy dressed all in black, head to toe, hidden behind a thick brown lock that fell over dark, mysterious eyes. John fell under the spell of this discreet, ultra-sensitive boy, skinned by life and beautiful as a God. “Stu,” as everyone called him, liked John’s rebellious style and his big mouth. They did not resemble and yet became inseparable, real accomplices, often ending the days at the Pub, drunk as sailors returning from fishing, remaking the world, kissing the girls, sometimes distributing a few punches. The next day, they would wake up alongside complete strangers, whose first names they had forgotten. John had spotted Cynthia, « a girl who gave off something new, » a dark brunette with tweed skirts, attractive, but as attractive as she was inaccessible. John, however, vowed to end up in his bed. Cynthia Powell was everything John rejected, however. She was from old England, that of ancient traditions, excessive politeness and people of the theater. Behind her stern student glasses, she was also tidy, refined and studious: the complete opposite of John.

Cynthia POWEL (LENNON)

She had once loved Barry, the school playboy, and had even thought of marriage. But Barry was a womanizer and, a few infidelities later, Cynthia had found herself alone. Wounded, she took refuge in her cave, forbidding access for a while to anyone, completely immersing herself in studies as if to protect herself. Often seated in the first row, she seemed to want to learn, to progress in order to make art her profession. One fall day, during drawing class, John sat behind her and patted her on the shoulder, « Hello, I’m John. » I don’t have any material. Can you help me out, a pen, a sheet? Cynthia didn’t answer, but graciously lent him some pencils and paper. The next day John came with his guitar and played rock’n’roll in the middle of a class, staring at her. It was undoubtedly the first time that the respectable institution heard this kind of music. He approached Cynthia, but only succeeded in scaring her. She hurriedly left the room. Cynthia had been shocked by this boy who allowed himself anything. Shocked, but not indifferent… There was something about John that she didn’t have, a sort of ease, arrogance. He did not seem to be bothered with prejudices, lived unhindered, without anxiety for the next day. She secretly would have liked to be like him; she who spent her time finding herself too small, too fat, too boring, simply forgetting to live. She knew John admired Brigitte Bardot, the curvy French starlet. So the next day, Cynthia showed up to class with gorgeous blonde hair. John saw real encouragement in this radical change. He was not wrong. That same evening, they were together. He took her first to the Pub and then to Stuart Sutcliffe’s room which, miraculously, was not occupied.

As Stu had yelled a little in front of his bed in mess, the rest of the story was a little less glamorous: they made love in sordid places, like the toilets of the Pub or under a lamppost. The life of broke students was thus, free and bohemian at the same time. But it was worth it. John realized that with Cyn it was not like the other girls whose names he had erased from his memory. He felt good, just enjoyed walking with her on the shores of Otterspool, sitting on a bench, chatting, watching the willows weep in the Mersey waters and then kissing. For the first time, he didn’t feel the need to quickly move on. He felt that there were a thousand things to discover about her and that he had to take his time. His attachment, he showed it awkwardly through serious fits of jealousy: he sometimes was violent, as during that evening one evening more watered than the others, when he laid his hand on her, because she had been unfortunate. to dance with Stu. He collapsed in tears, apologizing between sobs, sheepishly, blaming it on the beer. Love, Alcohol and Rock’n’roll. Such was the program of the Fine Arts years and the program of the years which were to follow. Cyn, for his part, was already thinking about marriage … Alcohol and Rock’n’roll. Such was the program of the Fine Arts years and the program of the years which were to follow. Cyn, for his part, was already thinking about marriage … Alcohol and Rock’n’roll. Such was the program of the Fine Arts years and the program of the years which were to follow. Cyn, for his part, was already thinking about marriage …

VII. Alfred

With Cyn and Stu, the regular phone calls to his mother and aunt, the sometimes interesting lessons, John felt much better. There was nothing more than this « damn anguish » which, in the evening, fell on him: for he knew it, the images of Blackpool would return in the night; he would see the black swell breaking over his dreams again; faces glued to the damp tiles of a dark room in the middle of which he would stand, terrified. The nightmare was settled like music paper, inevitable. He would wake up sweating around three in the morning and no longer slept. Lying on his bed, fully dressed, his eyes turned towards the yellowed ceiling of the youth hostel, his hands as a pillow, he repeated over and over again the discussions he had had with his mother: « Aunt Mimi the would have stolen! Fly ? Can you steal a child? What did his mother mean? We steal a car, a wallet, but not a child! And this father who cannot be found? Maybe dead… ”Sometimes he couldn’t find any sleep at all, endlessly stuck in his nocturnal cogitations. It could go on for a long time yet… However, he knew the solution: the two sisters had to talk to each other, the abscess had to be burst, all the family stink came out once and for all. It would be at this price that he would find inner peace. He was determined to act as a catalyst. Taking advantage of a weekend, he returned to Julia without warning. Dikins was absent, it was good. He offered a few glasses of Brandy, which she gladly accepted. Drunkenness helping, he took her, invited her to get up and pulled her towards the door: – Where are you taking me? she said worried – Where I should have taken you a long time ago. – I’m warning you, I won’t go to Mimi’s! – That’s what we’ll see. And he yanked her back again, squeezing her tight around the wrist. Julia resisted, tried to release the embrace. – You hurt me ! – I know. It will pass. I have been in pain for more than ten years because of you.

Weakened by alcohol, Julia ceased to resist. Trembling, she grabbed her flying raincoat and left with John. They crossed the garden, walked down Roadcastle, then walked across the fields, without saying a word. Menlove Avenue was now in front of them. John knocked on the door, which turned slowly. Aunt Mimi stood stiff in the doorway, her eyes fixed on her sister, her contorted face that spoke of all the hatred accumulated over the years. John grabbed his mother by the wrist again and dragged her inside, despite her unnecessary protests. Mimi stepped aside, letting them pass. Julia, standing in the living room, bowed her head. Her legs gave way and suddenly she collapsed on the carpet. On her knees, her hands clenched on her face, she was unable to face the gaze of her sister whom she felt above her head, like the cleaver of a guillotine. Mimi looked like an eagle ready to pounce on its prey, cold, impassive. Ten years since her sister had not set foot on the floor of her house and she was there, collapsed, whining, stammering, shaking with little plaintive groans. She wavered between pity and anger. Julia, hesitant, found the strength to stand up while looking for some help in her son’s eyes.  » Tell him ! John said reassuringly. « Tell him what you told me. Tell her Mimi stole from me! These last words put Aunt Mimi beside herself! She inserted herself between John and Julia and took her sister’s face in her hands. « Ah I stole John? » And did you tell him what really happened? Did you tell him that you are still married to Alfred and that you live with another man? Mimi looked like an eagle ready to pounce on its prey, cold, impassive. Ten years since her sister had not set foot on the floor of her house and she was there, collapsed, whining, stammering, shaking with little plaintive groans. She wavered between pity and anger. Julia, hesitant, found the strength to stand up while looking for some help in her son’s eyes.  » Tell him ! John said reassuringly. « Tell him what you told me. Tell her Mimi stole from me! These last words put Aunt Mimi beside herself! She inserted herself between John and Julia and took her sister’s face in her hands. « Ah I stole John? » And did you tell him what really happened? Did you tell him that you are still married to Alfred and that you live with another man? Mimi looked like an eagle ready to pounce on its prey, cold, impassive. Ten years since her sister had not set foot on the floor of her house and she was there, collapsed, whining, stammering, shaking with little plaintive groans. She wavered between pity and anger. Julia, hesitant, found the strength to stand up while looking for some help in her son’s eyes.  » Tell him ! John said reassuringly. « Tell him what you told me. Tell her Mimi stole from me! These last words put Aunt Mimi beside herself! She inserted herself between John and Julia and took her sister’s face in her hands. « Ah I stole John? » And did you tell him what really happened? Did you tell him that you are still married to Alfred and that you live with another man? Ten years since her sister had not set foot on the floor of her house and she was there, collapsed, whining, stammering, shaking with little plaintive groans. She wavered between pity and anger. Julia, hesitant, found the strength to stand up while looking for some help in her son’s eyes.  » Tell him ! John said reassuringly. « Tell him what you told me. Tell her Mimi stole from me! These last words put Aunt Mimi beside herself! She inserted herself between John and Julia and took her sister’s face in her hands. « Ah I stole John? » And did you tell him what really happened? Did you tell him that you are still married to Alfred and that you live with another man? Ten years since her sister had not set foot on the floor of her house and she was there, collapsed, whining, stammering, shaking with little plaintive groans. She wavered between pity and anger. Julia, hesitant, found the strength to stand up while looking for some help in her son’s eyes.  » Tell him ! John said reassuringly. « Tell him what you told me. Tell her Mimi stole from me! These last words put Aunt Mimi beside herself! She inserted herself between John and Julia and took her sister’s face in her hands. « Ah I stole John? » And did you tell him what really happened? Did you tell him that you are still married to Alfred and that you live with another man? found the strength to stand up as she searched her son’s eyes for some help.  » Tell him ! John said reassuringly. « Tell him what you told me. Tell her Mimi stole from me! These last words put Aunt Mimi beside herself! She inserted herself between John and Julia and took her sister’s face in her hands. « Ah I stole John? » And did you tell him what really happened? Did you tell him that you are still married to Alfred and that you live with another man? found the strength to stand up as she searched her son’s eyes for some help.  » Tell him ! John said reassuringly. « Tell him what you told me. Tell her Mimi stole from me! These last words put Aunt Mimi beside herself! She inserted herself between John and Julia and took her sister’s face in her hands. « Ah I stole John? » And did you tell him what really happened? Did you tell him that you are still married to Alfred and that you live with another man? She inserted herself between John and Julia and took her sister’s face in her hands. « Ah I stole John? » And did you tell him what really happened? Did you tell him that you are still married to Alfred and that you live with another man? She inserted herself between John and Julia and took her sister’s face in her hands. « Ah I stole John? » And did you tell him what really happened? Did you tell him that you are still married to Alfred and that you live with another man?

Alfred LENNON

Did you tell him that Alfred, his father, had returned, that he had sought to rebuild your family and that you had rejected him? Did you tell him he made an appointment with us in Blackpool? Did you tell him about our endless walk on the planks of the pier, the inky sea, unleashed which beat our faces and this warehouse in which he had given us an appointment? Did you tell him when we saw, through the panes, poor John, scared, sitting alone in a dark room. Did you tell him that Alfred then told us about his plan to take him to New Zealand? Did you tell him then your cries, your tears? Did you tell him that his father asked you to come in so John could « choose between his father and his mother? » To him, a child of five! Did you tell him that in this grim room John had chosen his father? Did you tell him as you walked out in tears, screaming as usual, abandoning your son? Did you tell him that John, in despair, had run down the street and tried to hold you back and you hadn’t done anything? No, of course, you didn’t tell her… It was at that moment, John, that I hugged you, that I « stole » from you as she says. If that was “stealing” then yes, I stole you and I don’t regret a thing.  » I stole you and I don’t regret a thing.  » I stole you and I don’t regret a thing. « 

John was silent, aware that he had just lived the most important seconds of his life. The veil that had darkened her childhood, in an instant, had been torn. The black swell, the dark room, the screams, all the pieces of the puzzle now fit together perfectly. Julia had sat down on the sofa and was trying to find some calm. She took a deep breath and was finally able to say a few words to her son: – John, I love you more than anything. All that is in the past. Mimi told the truth. It went well like that. – Love is no excuse! Mimi interrupted sharply. – No. But that’s all I have to offer. I know that I have never been very strong, beside you that nothing shakes, nothing moves. – It’s a bit easy… I may be heartless, but I also think that nothing is built on whining; no solid foundation, just see .. John stepped aside. He looked at the two women in his life who were arguing once again; Mimi’s eyes bloodshot and Julia wet with tears. So he started yelling « Stop! » Ten years is enough! Remember you are sisters! And that there are people that we cannot hate, that we have no right to hate. I am simply telling you: either you make your peace or I will disappear from your lives. Mimi wasn’t expecting this. She sank down on the sofa. Julia stopped crying and came to his side. The two sisters looked at each other and kissed. Mimi’s eyes bloodshot and Julia wet with tears. So he started yelling « Stop! » Ten years is enough! Remember you are sisters! And that there are people that we cannot hate, that we have no right to hate. I am simply telling you: either you make your peace or I will disappear from your lives. Mimi wasn’t expecting this. She sank down on the sofa. Julia stopped crying and came to his side. The two sisters looked at each other and kissed. Mimi’s eyes bloodshot and Julia wet with tears. So he started yelling « Stop! » Ten years is enough! Remember you are sisters! And that there are people that we cannot hate, that we have no right to hate. I am simply telling you: either you make your peace or I will disappear from your lives. Mimi wasn’t expecting this. She sank down on the sofa. Julia stopped crying and came to his side. The two sisters looked at each other and kissed. She sank down on the sofa. Julia stopped crying and came to his side. The two sisters looked at each other and kissed. She sank down on the sofa. Julia stopped crying and came to his side. The two sisters looked at each other and kissed.

VIII. Georges

John had done well. There had been screams and tears, but he was sure the hard part was done. The following days, Julia and Mimi had started talking to each other again. And then this past that had been thrown in his face was quite close to the one he had imagined. His father was indeed named Alfred and was a sailor, like those he had come to know in the port. And like them, he had a life elsewhere, beyond the pier, the East Lighthouse. He had returned, then left again without giving any news.  » Rest in peace ! John sighed. His mother had suffered terribly and he didn’t blame her, it was no use. Time had done its work. On the contrary, it was necessary to help him, to accompany him in this new stage of his life. As for Mimi, she remained Mimi, the one who had raised him, his second mother. The most important thing was to rebuild a piece of the family and, for that, to forget. In any case, John felt released from a burden. He slept peacefully like a baby next to Cyn. He had every intention now to take care of himself a little. With the family parenthesis closed, he could devote himself to his long-standing project, resume his long road to glory.

Paul had a friend he was dying to introduce to him, a « nice guy » who lived at a bus stop at 25 Upton Green in Speke. They had known each other as teenagers, in Dovedale, near Penny Lane, while Paul was still playing the trumpet, before realizing that it was not the ideal instrument for singing. Paul had moved, but they had stayed in touch. They had hitchhiked together on the south coast of England with their guitar as only luggage. This friend, two years his junior, was called Georges Harrison. He had bought his guitar while working as a delivery boy in the summer of 1955 and like the others had fallen in love with this music from the United States.

Georges HARRISON – Paul Mac Cartney 1959

School was not his cup of tea: Georges much preferred to work on his scales and play with his brother. They had created with two friends The Rebels and had played a few times in Pubs where they had earned a few shillings. Georges was a charming type, a little discreet. He was becoming another when it came to playing rock’n’roll. For Paul, there was no doubt he was much better than Griffith. And then, he was a real Rocker, with a black jacket, ripped jeans, and hair back. Paul took advantage of a night drive up the deserted floor of a double decker bus to introduce his friend to John. At first glance, John found him too young. He was then 14 years old. John lent him his guitar anyway. Georges took it and played the first chords of Raunchy by Billy Justis. John was impressed from the first listen. This Georges had in his game the maturity that his youthful face lacked. His technique, his precision were clearly advanced. A few riffs and seven months later Georges was a Quarrymen. Griffith, anyway, never taken by the adventure, had already packed his bags. At the same time, another Quarry Bank alumnus, Nigel Whalley was inducted as “manager” of the Quarrymen! They were not yet recognized stars, but were no longer a small group that was called to host fairs. At the same time, another Quarry Bank alumnus, Nigel Whalley was inducted as “manager” of the Quarrymen! They were not yet recognized stars, but were no longer a small group that was called to host fairs. At the same time, another Quarry Bank alumnus, Nigel Whalley was inducted as “manager” of the Quarrymen! They were not yet recognized stars, but were no longer a small group that was called to host fairs.

IX Mimi and Julia

Spring had brought its sweetness to Menlove Street. With the sun, smiles returned to their faces. The icy winds of winter seemed to have vanished in the spray of Blackpool giving way to the scents of the streets, the scents of roses, cyclamen and ice cream, opening the tarmac for scooters and balloon vendors. John, without warning, made an appearance at his Aunt’s house. Leaning on the white fence, he discovered the unreal spectacle of the two sisters side by side, smiling, stretched out on deckchairs, taking advantage of the daylight which generously watered the garden. They discussed everything and nothing, accomplices as if the past had been swept away by the bad season, swept away by the spring breeze. John was amazed and happy: he no longer had to choose between his mother and his aunt. He had them both. He pushed open the door and walked slowly for fear of breaking the spell. An extension cord had been pulled and Uncle George’s old record player, installed on the front steps, was playing an Elvis piece. The two sisters had not seen John. In their light dresses, they had stood up and were dancing! 58 started so well …

John decided to stay some time in this little paradise; four spring weeks basking in the sun, drinking beers and kissing. Every afternoon, Julia came to have Ceylon tea in Mimi’s living room. On July 15, the sun had drawn them into the garden, in the midst of the daisies which had invaded the lawn. John had recently been out. They had once again remade the world, then they had kissed on the doorstep that overlooked Menlove Street. Nigel Whalley, the Quarrymen’s newest manager, perched on his bike, stopped beside them. He was looking for John. Mimi told him that he had left early and that he would probably find him on Newcastle Road. Nigel suggested that Julia do « a bit of the road together ».  » Why not ? She replied. This Nigel was a lovely guy. He got off his bicycle and they entered the deserted avenue. Julia grabs Nigel’s arm. She was light, happy in her flowered dress, smiled at all the passers-by, joked about the life which now flowed like a « long quiet river » to her sister and her son who had been found. They parted at the bus stop at the top of the avenue. Nigel kissed Julia, got on his bicycle and resumed his journey with strong pedaling. Not for long… He heard a screech of brakes behind him followed by a thud. He turned around: Julia was lying on the asphalt, lifeless, her head thrown back. A white Standard Vanguard was stopped a little further across the road. The body had been thrown several meters away, like a dead leaf. The shock must have been incredibly violent. Nigel rushed over to Julia. She didn’t move. He knelt down, then put his hand behind the still head. He felt the warm blood that wet the beautiful red hair and flowed on the pavement. A puddle was starting to form. Nigel looked around, but he was alone. The driver of the Vanguard stayed behind the wheel, completely haggard. He then ran to Mimi’s, suddenly pushed open the gate, crossed the garden and knocked on the door with all his might, shouting: « You have to call an ambulance, something has happened to Madame Lennon! » When Mimi arrived on the road, help was already there. A neighbor, alerted by the noise, had undoubtedly done what was necessary … Two paramedics were already placing the lifeless body on a stretcher. They had healed the wound and yet blood was still flowing. The floral dress was nothing more than a torn fabric dripping with blood. They closed the doors of the vehicle. Mimi was devastated and fell into Nigel’s arms. A man in white approached, looking grim: Julia was dead instantly. As soon as John heard the news, he rushed to Menlove Street. Mimi was there, frozen like a statue in the living room, stoic as with every stroke of fate. She had already dried her tears. John had a grudge against poor Nigel, holding him responsible for his mother’s death. Mimi took him in her arms and kissed him tenderly. Then she made him sit down on the sofa; this sofa where the two sisters had reconciled a few months earlier and which still bore the imprint of their bodies. She settled down next to him and took him by the shoulder, hugging him to her chest.

Mimi was so grateful to him for bringing her sister back to her. He did not say a word and remained long hours on this sofa, his head in his hands. Then he went upstairs and took his guitar to leave for a moment, to escape this nightmare. He improvised for Julia these few lines: Half of everything I say does not make sense … But I say it to be near you Julia. Girl from the ocean is calling me. And I will sing a love song for you Julia. With your shell eyes, your smile and your shining windy hair, are reflected in the sun. Julia, morning moon, touch me and sing a love song. There was nothing more to do. One year only! John will have had a mother for just one little year. Julia was going to join Uncle Georges in the gray forest of Merseyside, at the bottom of the Graveyards, where the willow branches caressed the marble of the graves. The Quarrymen were all there for the funeral, gathered in silence in Mimi’s living room. The proud leather rockers were in tears. John was wavering between pain and anger. Paul, who had also lost his mother Mary at a young age, did his best to accompany her. Dikins, cold as usual, had at his side his two little girls who seemed not to realize. He handed John an envelope left by Julia. Inside were pictures and some Shillings. Nigel’s testimony did not impress the judge. The driver of the Vanguard was a policeman! Of course, he was acquitted… The verdict was clear: “it was fate’s fault”. Mimi could not contain her anger: she insulted the magistrate copiously, then the driver:  » the criminal ! « . Fortunately, John’s wise words succeeded in pacifying him: “Hatred was no use. She wouldn’t bring Julia back. « 

X. The Silver Beatles

To rebuild himself, John immersed himself body and soul in music, a marvelous escape capable, he knew, of pushing the most terrible anxieties beyond the borders of his body. Paul had jotted down a few words in his spiral notebook. He put chords on it and it made a song in the style of the King’s ballads. He began to work on it with John, then with George and finally the whole of the Quarrymen. The Shillings would be used to record a record! The Quarrymen went to Philipps Recording Service, a private studio at 38 Kensington Street, on the first floor of a large Victorian house. There was only one microphone, but they made do with it, accustomed to rough conditions. John was on vocals, Georges and Paul on backing vocals, John Lowe on piano, and Colin Hanton on drums. The diamond began to engrave the piece on an acetate disc. We put it on the record player and a nasal sound came painfully from the speaker: In spite of all the danger In spite of all that may be I’ll do anything for you Anything you want me to If you’ll be true to me On Side B, the Quarrymen recorded a cover Ain’t she sweat an old 1927 song by Ager and Yellen which they arranged in Rock’n’Roll, as Gene Vincent had done before them. But they did not have the 17 shillings necessary to pay the Patron de Philipps Recording Service, who therefore kept the record. Emptying their pockets, they miserably collected 15 shillings. Mimi completed and John walked away proudly with the 45 under his jacket. The Quarrymen were now in great demand at school parties or Saturday night balls, which enabled them to afford a little equipment. With Georges, they had found their « Lead guitar »: a real guitarist capable of tackling the most complicated solos, like the intro of Johnny Be Good. John and Paul were on the beat and shared the vocals: John’s voice was made for the Rocks a little harsh, removed and Paul’s perfect for ballads. Pete Shotton, « the blond », little motivated, finally gave up. John’s voice was made for the Rocks a little hard, removed and that of Paul perfect for ballads. Pete Shotton, « the blond », little motivated, finally gave up. John’s voice was made for the Rocks a little hard, removed and that of Paul perfect for ballads. Pete Shotton, « the blond », little motivated, finally gave up.

The Quarrymen had also lost drummer Colin Hanton: his disastrous New Year’s 59 performance at the Speke Bus Depot Social Club was his last. John Lowe took over. Even if he had not taken music lessons, Georges, despite his 15 years, was the most advanced. He had been encouraged very early on by his parents, especially by his mother Louise who had suffered, in her childhood, from a cantankerous mother who had forbidden him anything that closely or remotely resembled music: the record players, the instruments, balls and even singing which were forbidden in the house. Louise especially did not want to reproduce this terrible pattern and wanted to let Georges fully live his passion and, if possible, in his living room! A godsend for the Quarrymen who, in addition to a good guitarist, had found a place to rehearse. So they met, after school, at « Mrs. Harrison » delighted to see her son rock’n’Roll. There was still a bass player missing to claim the title of Rock-and-Roll band. Nobody wanted to stick to it. The bassist was the guy standing behind, whose name nobody knew, who finally put the others in the spotlight from the shadows where he was confined. John thought of Stu, his fine art friend introduced to him by Bill Harry. Stu was not at all a musician, even if, with his eternal dark glasses, his dark air, his penetrating gaze, he was, of his friends, the one who most resembled the image we had of a rocker. . Stu’s art was expressed in painting and, more particularly, in knife painting, a modern painting, which resembled him, where red and black dominated; a scratched, immense, violent painting, often thrown on the canvas in handfuls of colors and scratched with his nails, modeled by his body.

The sale of one of his works at the Moores exhibition in Liverpool had saved him some money. John had then urged him to buy a bass guitar. On January 21, 1960, for lack of an alternative solution, Stu was thus embarked on the adventure, more out of friendship for John than out of a real desire to make music. The group was now full. There was, however, one detail to be settled: neither George, nor Paul, nor Stu came from Quarry Bank, so the name « Quarrymen » no longer made sense. John proposed “Johnny and the Moondogs”. But “the dogs of the moon” were not unanimous. Stu came up with a new idea: he had seen the wild team with Marlon Brando and his backfire biker gang, all in black leathers, real rebels, road terrors, outlaws who spoke with their fists. This gang which terrorized the neighborhood called itself the Beetles: the beetles. John liked the idea. It echoed Buddy Holly’s « Crickets ». Replacing the « e » with an « a » gave Beatles, an interesting pun for a Beat Music group. On February 21, 1960, the Quarrymen officially became the “Silver Beatles”.

The silver Beatles

In April of the same year, after a concert at the Fox and Hounds pub in Caversham, Paul expressed his weariness of repeating American standards. He pulled John aside and said, « John, you often tell us you want to go all the way to the top. » For that, we have to compose our own songs! It made it possible to avoid problems with record companies and to show that we are capable of creating something new! I know you write poems. If you put notes on it, it makes songs! Indeed, John’s notebook was filled with texts, often unfinished, anecdotes decorated with graffiti, often obscene drawings, which testified to John’s creativity. But this creativity was going all over the place. Paul saw in this mess an inexhaustible source of inspiration. He would bring his sense of harmony and especially the rigor necessary for the writing of the songs. They set to work and by mutual agreement signed their first titles « Lennon – Mc Cartney ». The most successful piece was undoubtedly « Love me do », a haunting blues sketched out by Paul two years earlier, to which John added an intro on the harmonica, no doubt a nod to Uncle George who would have been so proud. It now remained to find concert dates to convince them that they could earn money and make a living from music. to which John added an intro on the harmonica, no doubt a nod to Uncle George who would have been so proud. It now remained to find concert dates to convince them that they could earn money and make a living from music. to which John added an intro on the harmonica, no doubt a nod to Uncle George who would have been so proud. It now remained to find concert dates to convince them that they could earn money and make a living from music.

XI. Allan Williams and Larry Parnes

John and Stu frequented the Jacaronda, a club located a stone’s throw from the Beaux-Arts. The club was run by a certain Allan Williams, a guy invested in promoting British rock groups. John asked him if any guys from Liverpool could interest him.  » Why not ? He replied. « But start by repainting the ladies’ bathroom! » John wasn’t asking for so much. Painting was their specialty! The next day John and Stu arrived with a bundle of paintbrushes and a shipment of paint cans and got down to business. And on May 5, 1960, the « Jac » scene was offered to the Silver Beatles; a real stage, with real lighting, acceptable sound and an audience that came for them. Allan Williams was delighted with their performance, full of energy. He offered them several dates alternating with other groups. Williams had, in addition, a well-filled address book. He knew perfectly the nights of Liverpool and in particular those which populated them like a certain Larry Parnes, the very first manager of the groups of Rock, a type which counted in the medium. His honor roll included the concert of Gene Vincent, the American star, at the Liverpool Stadium! Parnes was spinning the big hitters around, like Billy Fury and Johnny Gentle. And he needed a solid group to accompany them on stage. Of course, Williams jumped at the chance. He just had a « strong group » that suited him. Well almost … John Lowe had just left the group. Williams knew another drummer, a certain Tommy Moore who would do the trick. On May 10, 1960, the Silver Beatles auditioned at the Blue Angel, another Allan Williams club. Tommy Moore was to join them there. The Silver Beatles weren’t alone. There were other exotic formations: « Cass and the Cassanovas », « Derry and the Seniors », « Gerry and the Pacemakers » or « Cliff Roberts and the Tornados » …

Gerry and the pace makers

John and his gang waited their turn in a dark hallway, sitting on an uncomfortable bench. On the bench opposite, there were the five of the Cassanovas, nice guys they had met at Jac. John was beside himself. Tommy Moore was late! Paul tried to reassure him, but he wasn’t at ease either. Stu, on the other hand, was quite British. They had just been called on the intercom: it was theirs. We had to save time… So, without rushing, they went up on stage, checking the equipment several times, carefully plugging in the instruments, feigning a problem with the microphone… Sitting on their chairs, in front of the stage, Larry Parnes and Billy Fury were attentive, not to say impatient. John looked around sweeping the back of the room: still no Tommy Moore… « Why are there always problems with those fucking drummers? » Never on time ! He sighed. « Yet it’s up to them to set the tempo! » Seeing the impatient jury, Paul decided to find a solution. He knew Johnny Hutchinson, the drummer of the Cassanovas, with whom he had shared a beer at Jac. He disappeared into the corridor and brought him back on stage. The hearing could begin. They reviewed the great Rythm’n’blues standards in front of the ecstatic faces of their audience. When the last piece was finished, John asked Billy Fury for an autograph; It was that taken… The Cassanovas took over, then came the turn of the Seniors. Larry Parnes and Fury were hungry for more. They debriefed with Williams. No group really stood out. Maybe the Tornados… The Silver Beatles were good, but their bassist, Stuart Sutcliff, was a little weak. Williams couldn’t prove them wrong, having made the same observation. Still, Stu did what he could: he was even the only one who had taken a few lessons with a music teacher. But he didn’t like the scene, he didn’t feel at all comfortable there. He wore thick dark glasses and most of the time had his back to the audience. Parnes asked Williams if by any chance he didn’t have another bass player on hand. Williams knew John’s answer in advance: if Stuart was going, he was going too. The hearing ended thus, with a taste of incomplete. The Tornados were eventually selected to accompany Fury. Williams couldn’t prove them wrong, having made the same observation. Still, Stu did what he could: he was even the only one who had taken a few lessons with a music teacher. But he didn’t like the scene, he didn’t feel at all comfortable there. He wore thick dark glasses and most of the time had his back to the audience. Parnes asked Williams if by any chance he didn’t have another bass player on hand. Williams knew John’s answer in advance: if Stuart was going, he was going too. The hearing ended thus, with a taste of incomplete. The Tornados were eventually selected to accompany Fury. Williams couldn’t prove them wrong, having made the same observation. Still, Stu did what he could: he was even the only one who had taken a few lessons with a music teacher. But he didn’t like the scene, he didn’t feel at all comfortable there. He wore thick dark glasses and most of the time had his back to the audience. Parnes asked Williams if by any chance he didn’t have another bass player on hand. Williams knew John’s answer in advance: if Stuart was going, he was going too. The hearing ended thus, with a taste of incomplete. The Tornados were eventually selected to accompany Fury. He wore thick dark glasses and most of the time had his back to the audience. Parnes asked Williams if by any chance he didn’t have another bass player on hand. Williams knew John’s answer in advance: if Stuart was going, he was going too. The hearing ended thus, with a taste of incomplete. The Tornados were eventually selected to accompany Fury. He wore thick dark glasses and most of the time had his back to the audience. Parnes asked Williams if by any chance he didn’t have another bass player on hand. Williams knew John’s answer in advance: if Stuart was going, he was going too. The hearing ended thus, with a taste of incomplete. The Tornados were eventually selected to accompany Fury.

Larry Parnes still had no one to accompany Johnny Gentle on the next tour that was approaching. He called Williams, « Good news Alan, if they’re still available the Silver Beatles are going on the Beat Ballad Show Tour, a week in Scotland with Johnny Gentle as the American star! » We have quite a few dates on the program, including the Northern Metting Hall, Regal Ballroom, Rescue Hall and other venues on the North Coast. Williams didn’t need to check the availability of his foals. Their schedule, it was he who organized it! Sure of their agreement, he just tells them, « Guys, you’re going on tour with Tommy. » You are going to get paid to play music! Now it’s up to you to show off your stuff! In Louise’s living room, there was an explosion of joy. That night, at Jac, the beer flowed freely. It was talking loudly around the coffee tables pestering Williams with questions. Paul found that their names sounded a bit too “little guys from Liverpool” and not very “showbiz”, not very exotic in any case alongside “Billy Fury” or other “Rory Storm”. The night was the occasion of a patronymic contest: John called himself Long John Silver, Georges proposed Carl Harrison, in reference to his idol Carl Perkins, Paul became Paul Ramon and Stuart was reincarnated as Stuart de Staël, in reference to the French painter.

XII. The scottish tour – May 1960

Larry Parnes had given each a small amount of money for « small expenses, » as he had specified. The tour began with a concert in Alloa, in the county of Clackmannanshire. John, Paul, Georges, Stu and Tommy had piled the amps, guitars, bass and drum set in the back of the van loaned by Williams. Gerry Scott, the driver, switched on the ignition and drove off towards the roads of the far north. A Scottish rain, penetrating, icy had copiously watered the road which had become slippery, which required Gerry a good deal of concentration; not easy in the euphoric, cramped and humid atmosphere of the van with the windows completely fogged up. They arrived safely in the evening and pulled into the hotel parking lot reserved by Williams. There were posters on the front wall announcing their concert, but « Silver Beatles » had disappeared: they only advertised « Johnny Gentle and his group at 8 pm tonight ». Pity. Paul looked at his watch: « It’s in an hour! » They quickly unloaded and introduced themselves to the reception. We handed them the keys and quickly they went upstairs. Johnny was already there, well settled in his room. The Beatles shared two others, John and Stuart with Georges and Paul with Tommy. They changed and got acquainted with « the star » only a quarter of an hour before going on stage. Johnny gave them a copy of the list of songs to play. Paul and John took a quick glance: everything was fine, they knew them all: had repeated them dozens of times and they were now well established. There was Buddy Holly’s, Elvis of course, Ricky Nelson, Clarence Frogman, Eddie Cochran’s and others… To make them a “group” and also to thank them, Johnny gave each a black bad tee shirt. boys. That evening, there were not many people. But the concert, for a first, was well received.

Johnny GENTLE

Gentle was a real pro, able to adapt to the formation he discovered at the same time as his audience. The next day, they loaded the van again and set off for the north coast of Scotland, in the wind and rain battered Highlands. They shared just about everything with Johnny: the Van, the hotel rooms, the restaurants and, of course, the stage. They became real friends, discussing at length after the concerts, especially the long road that would one day lead them to success. Because they were aware of it, it would not be the Scottish Tour and these old-fashioned party halls that would make them known to the whole world. But undoubtedly it was necessary to go through there. John helped Gentle complete a song: I’ve just fallen for someone. Sometimes when Gerry Scott had overused the local whiskey a little too much, Gentle took the wheel. But he too was sometimes tempted by the bottles offered. After the concert at Dalrymple Hall, a little tired, misted by the alcohol fumes of a drunken evening, he rushed the Van against a convertible Vanguard. Tommy Moore, who was sleeping in the back, took all the material in his face and lost a tooth. Yet the next day he was on the stage of St. Thomas Hall, in the far north of Scotland, disfigured, but present … After a week, Johnny’s gang began to tire. The euphoria of the first few days had clearly diminished in intensity. The rhythm of the concerts, the trips in the Van, the short nights, the abuses of all kinds, alcohol and cigarettes began to draw on the bodies. Larry Parnes’ nest egg had melted like snow in the sun. No matter how much they called, the money never came. When they settled in at the Royal Station Hotel, they had no money left in their pockets. After the concert, they discreetly loaded the van and left without paying the bill. The tour turned into a hassle. It was time for the Scottish Tour to end. The whiskey couldn’t do more miracles. It was with real relief that they said a last goodbye to this rainy country, its sparse audience and its ridiculous meals. They found themselves in Liverpool leaner than ever. Sitting on a folding seat in the back of an imperial bus, Paul looked at the state of the troops: Pitiful! Georges was slumped on Tommy’s shoulder, himself slumped on the glass. Stuart was sleeping on the bench, his eyes hidden behind his dark glasses. John watched his blister-worn fingers covered in plaster. Faces were hollowed out by sleepless nights and emaciated bodies by rushed meals. Were they gone for that? John thought that was part of the job, that you had to go through this long and winding road to one day get to the top. They would be taller, taller than Elvis. Paul had heard the old story dozens of times and it got tired of him. Stuart and especially Tommy couldn’t believe it for a second.
In addition to his pounds, the drummer had lost a tooth and was in debt to the bone: he owed everyone money. He was about to give up! John then tried to shake his world. « Guys, we can’t let go after everything we’ve been through! » We knew it would be difficult. The pounds are quickly regained! We will bounce back. Williams will find new dates. To symbolize a new beginning, he proposed to change their name: « The Beatles ». It’s simpler, easier to remember and it takes up less space on a poster ”. Tommy doubted that was enough. The bus dropped them off at Jac where Allan was waiting for them with open arms, as if welcoming his own children.  » Hello ! So this tour? Wonderful isn’t it? You all look great anyway. I’ll let you settle in. Rest a little. Because tonight you are playing at the Neston Institute on Hinderton Road! Another good stamp! Thanks WHO ? Too tired, John and his gang didn’t respond. They unloaded the equipment, entered the Jac and stretched out on the purple velvet benches. They slept a good part of the afternoon. That evening they were paid in Coca-Cola bottles. For Moore, those red and black bottles that sprawled out before his numb eyes with fatigue was too much humiliation. It was for him the clear signal of the end of the adventure. He slammed the door. entered the Jac and stretched out on the mauve velvet benches. They slept a good part of the afternoon. That evening they were paid in Coca-Cola bottles. For Moore, those red and black bottles that sprawled out before his numb eyes with fatigue was too much humiliation. It was for him the clear signal of the end of the adventure. He slammed the door. entered the Jac and stretched out on the mauve velvet benches. They slept a good part of the afternoon. That evening they were paid in Coca-Cola bottles. For Moore, those red and black bottles that sprawled out before his numb eyes with fatigue was too much humiliation. It was for him the clear signal of the end of the adventure. He slammed the door.

XIII. Herr Bruno

Again, they were looking for a drummer. Shotton, Hanton, Moore had succeeded one another behind the set of batteries which, at the start of the summer of 1960, was hopelessly empty. Paul, still demanding, was beginning to be worried. A rock band without a drummer, it was like Scottish music without a bagpipe, it didn’t sound like anything anymore. John took it as a joke. At the Grosvenor Ballroom, he spoke to the audience to see if anyone could help them out… A big, hard booze, beard full of leftovers from his meal, got up and took a seat behind the cymbals and drums. Tommy. Obviously, he had never played drums… A disaster. Moore came back a couple of times, « to help out, » then disappeared completely from the scene. Allan introduced to the group a certain Chapman who also left, because of military service… We couldn’t get out of it! Paul then proposed a solution that he hoped would be temporary: we could do without one of the three guitars: a lead guitar and a rhythm guitar were enough. The Tornados were running well like that! He had a few notions and could spend some time behind Moore’s kit! Everyone agreed. Either way, there were no other solutions. The Beatles continued like this, but with less early enthusiasm. Allan Williams would put them in sordid places, like Lord Woodbin’s New Cabaret Artists Club, a strip club where drunkards from Liverpool came to sleep their beer while ogling the girls. At least the Beatles could rinse their eyes. Williams felt that rock bottom was hit and his charges risked throwing in the towel. He offered them two or three evenings at the Jac, in return for some painting work which they accepted willingly. He actually had an idea in his head. On the third evening, he had invited a colorful guy in a plaid jacket, a tall fellow who spoke English with a strong accent, a certain Bruno Koschmider, a German from Silesia looking for English bands to furnish the evenings of one of his Hamburg clubs.

Bruno KOSHMIDER

It was not the first time that « Herr Bruno » had come to the Jac for his market. Ever since Elvis had successfully crossed the Channel, then the Rhine, his customers were always asking him for more Rock’n’roll. It was good, because the Liverpool stage was now very crowded. Herr Bruno had thus picked up in his nets some idle talents, like Derry and the Seniors, that the Beatles had met at Parnes. The Seniors had played for him at the Kaiserkeller. Herr Bruno had another club: Indra, a sort of cabaret specializing in pretty girls ready to take off their clothes for a few Marks. To avoid downtime between leaf stripping, he needed a group capable of maintaining the temperature and thus encouraging consumption. Allan had told him about his charges, « Used to strippers ». It could be fine. In any case, Herr Bruno wanted to see them. Allan organized the meeting without warning the group, however, for fear that the stress would interfere with their performance. That evening, Herr Bruno arrived early. He had his habits … He walked to the back of the room and sat down in the dark, at « his table », a pint of beer prominently in front of him. He watched the scene where John, Paul and the others were tuning their instruments. “One, two, three Four! Their entire repertoire was reviewed, plus an energy that Allan hadn’t heard in quite some time. Herr Bruno slipped away after the last song, without saying a word … lest the stress interfere with their performance. That evening, Herr Bruno arrived early. He had his habits … He walked to the back of the room and sat down in the dark, at « his table », a pint of beer prominently in front of him. He watched the scene where John, Paul and the others were tuning their instruments. “One, two, three Four! Their entire repertoire was reviewed, plus an energy that Allan hadn’t heard in quite some time. Herr Bruno slipped away after the last song, without saying a word … lest the stress interfere with their performance. That evening, Herr Bruno arrived early. He had his habits … He walked to the back of the room and sat down in the dark, at « his table », a pint of beer prominently in front of him. He watched the scene where John, Paul and the others were tuning their instruments. “One, two, three Four! Their entire repertoire was reviewed, plus an energy that Allan hadn’t heard in quite some time. Herr Bruno slipped away after the last song, without saying a word … Their entire repertoire was reviewed, plus an energy that Allan hadn’t heard in quite some time. Herr Bruno slipped away after the last song, without saying a word … Their entire repertoire was reviewed, plus an energy that Allan hadn’t heard in quite some time. Herr Bruno slipped away after the last song, without saying a word …

Allan was surprised at this somewhat hasty departure. Was he the only one who believed in his foals? May be. But it didn’t matter. He would continue. Confident in his infallible flair, he was sure his investment would one day be rewarded. He wouldn’t give up. To begin with, he offered John the Grovesnor Hall, a popular large hall they shared with Gerry and the Pacemakers, other old acquaintances. John told the group who, for lack of anything better, agreed. At least, these repeated concerts allowed them to settle down, to improve their technique, to pose their voice properly. Paul was by far the most meticulous, attentive to the slightest discrepancy, to errors, which tended to annoy Stu who was there to « help ». John was catching up with the mayonnaise that often threatened to turn out.

In July, two rival gangs met at Grosvenor Hall, just to explain themselves with great blows of pickax handles. The Beatles, who had already played three songs, deserted the stage and quietly retreated backstage. From his hiding place, Paul gazed worriedly at the brand new Elpico he had paid a fortune for. A few yards away, the excited alcoholic ones threw chairs at each other. Above all, there was this fat guy who had struggled to climb the steps and was staggering between the drums and Stu’s bass. Paul jumps on stage to block his body. The fat guy took him by the collar and said: « If you move my boy, you’re dead… » Paul didn’t move, probably saving his skin and his Epiclo. Completely dry, the guy ends up collapsing on the wooden slats in a great din of cymbals. Fights, girls, Whiskey and Rock’n’roll … The neighbors of Grosvesnor Halln could not take it any longer: the amplifiers at full blast all evening, the intoxicated scum, the police sirens, had exhausted the patience of the good people around … Several concerts were canceled by order of the Mayor who threatened to ban the room The manager tore up the posters, shouting: « The Rock’n’Roll is over! » He opened his doors to a new audience, fans of bagpipes … The Beatles had to find another base. had exhausted the patience of the good people around… Several concerts were canceled by order of the Mayor who threatened to ban the room The manager tore up the posters screaming: « The Rock’n’Roll is over! » He opened his doors to a new audience, fans of bagpipes … The Beatles had to find another base. had exhausted the patience of the good people around… Several concerts were canceled by order of the Mayor who threatened to ban the room The manager tore up the posters screaming: « The Rock’n’Roll is over! » He opened his doors to a new audience, fans of bagpipes … The Beatles had to find another base.

XIV. Pete

Salvation came from the Liverpool Casbah, a basement room, fitted out in 1959 by a certain Mona. The Quarrymen had played there briefly in 1959; but it did not last because of a different on the pay of the drummer at the time: Ken Brown. Mona was a mature, smiling, warm woman who gladly welcomed rock bands. Because this House-wife, with beautiful black hair and an hourglass figure, was bored. She was born in 1924, in British India, in the suffocating vapors of Delhi. She had spent the war years there, with her three siblings away from the metal screaming bombs. She had enrolled in medicine where she had met a certain Donald Peter Scanland, naval officer, with whom she had had a son: Peter. But Donald, like many officers, was killed in the torpedoing of his vessel by a Doenitz U-boat. She quickly consoled herself in the arms of Johnny Best, an organizer of boxing matches, whom she had met during a mission for the Red Cross and whom she married in 1944. The war over, Johnny wanted to return to France. England to develop its business. Mona dropped out of school and the family moved to Liverpool, in a modest house. Then, thanks to a mysterious entry of money, the Best moved into a large Victorian house, at number 8 Hayman’s Green. Mona was crazy about music in general and the King in particular. As Louise had done for Georges, she bought her son Peter sticks, cymbals and drum heads. Peter would be a drummer. Mona was struggling to get used to the grayness of Liverpool. The routine of a house far too big for her was not helping. His man’s passion for leather rings kept him away from home, and most of the time, Mona was alone. Every day that God made, Mona patiently waited for her son to come home from school, listening on an old recorder to the latest standards from America. She was a real mother hen to Peter, surrounding him with sometimes suffocating affection. She wanted the best for him. One evening in the summer of ’59, she sat down on the concrete steps that disappeared into the basement to listen to the din that arose from the set of batteries. She sighed, « Maybe he was talented? » Maybe… But he’s alone, desperately alone, like me… ”She thought of that BBC report on the Soho club open to youth groups.

Pete BEST

The next day, she went up to the Casbah. A few jobs, two or three mauve velvet hangings, a little paint, a coffee machine, chairs, tables, a semblance of a counter and the job was done. The vaulted walls were imbued with that particular sound that was called the MerseyBeat, from the name of the river which flowed to the sea. The basement quickly became the obligatory passage for the rock groups of the district. But at the end of July 1960, Mona found herself without a solution when the Lee Stewart Quartet, without warning, snapped her fingers. At the other end of the city, John and his disillusioned gang were completing a contract at Jac and they were looking for a room… Georges was sent to scout to sound out the patroness of the Casbah. Of course, Mona agreed. The Beatles were welcome, even without a drummer… But there was one condition: they had to come with brushes, cans of paint and dirty things. The Casbah needed a good refresh, “trendy” colors, beautiful dark greens and garish purples. Stuart and John knew the job and the deal was quickly made. On August 6, 1960, the Beatles were playing at La Casbah, in front of an audience of 300 people who were piling up in the greasy smoke of the basement. There was only one microphone and a small amp, but it was an opportunity to fill each pocket with 15 shillings. In the first part, Mona played the Blackjacks, four guys not very good, but who had the immense interest of having a drummer: Pete, her darling son! Well wedged behind his set of batteries, he did the job. Paul and John were impressed. Not by his rather banal playing, nor his Rocker crest or his nice boyish air, but by his magnificent, shiny set. Without consulting each other, the idea of ​​stealing Pete and his equipment from the Jacks had caught on.

XV. Hamburg August 1960

Time had passed and the Beatles had finally forgotten « Herr Bruno ». However, he recalled Allan Williams: « if they were available, the Beatles were welcome in Hamburg ». But he wanted five musicians, with a drummer. John wasn’t sure of anything. Of course, that guaranteed several dozen dates and stamps. But Hamburg, it was far, far from Mimi, far from Cyn… Paul was ready, despite the reluctance of Jim, his father, who had dreamed of something else for his son. Louise Harrison was thrilled! Her son was going to live the dream she would have loved to live. Stuart was rather reluctant. He was still taking his courses at the Beaux-Arts and had not given up on the idea of ​​making a living from his painting … But hey, it was the opportunity to go elsewhere, to get out of the gray Liverpool, to discover a new country and to caress girls… There was always the problem of the drummer. This time, Heaven came to their aid: the Jacks were about to go their separate ways! That same evening, Pete and especially his drum set auditioned. In fact, it didn’t matter how good he was. In their heads, Pete was already on the trip. The contract with Herr Bruno was signed immediately. On the paper that Koschmider kept carefully in his bag, Georges had aged a year; still a minor, he did not have the right, strictly speaking, to work abroad. Georges had therefore cheated a little. The die was cast. After Scotland, the band went further into the unknown. Hamburg was a city made of bricks and rock; a city with dark alleys that reeked of the urine of all the sailors on earth, a city with electric avenues, soaked in alcohol, with its industrial port of a thousand temptations. Hamburg was German Liverpool. John, Paul, Georges, Stuart and Pete were leaving without knowing it in a place of perdition: the Reeperbahn, the red light district of Sankt Pauli, the beer district where the storefronts, after dark, were dressed in red and green neon lights . It was the haunt of drunkards looking for street fights or prostitutes, most often both.

Allan Williams arranged to meet the group in front of the Jac. Everyone, at the appointed hour, was ready. Since there were no seats in the van, they sat down on their packed amps and crammed the rest of the gear in the back: the guitars, the bass, the loose drum set amid miles of wire. electric. Allan got in touch: headed for Harwich harbor. At the first bus stop, they picked up an Austrian, Herr Steiner, who would act as their interpreter. When they arrived at the docks, around 1 p.m., the freighter was already docked. Cyn and Louise, very moved, had been waiting for an hour. John got out first and walked over to the two women. He kissed Cyn for a long time, like it was the last time. Louise warmly embraced her son. She wanted to put small madeleines in her bag, “For his snack”… Georges discreetly put them in his pockets. The van was tied up tightly by a muscular unit of sailors, then hoisted onto the freighter like a crate of coconut. Everyone got on board with their share of equipment. They settled into the two cabins reserved for them on the lower floors, then went back up to the deck. Cyn and Louise, weeping on the quay, were each waving a white handkerchief at the end of their arms. A blackish plume was already emerging from the deep bowels of the boat, the sheets of which vibrated to the rhythm of the engines. The foghorn sounded and the moorings were cast off. The five left their homeland for the first time. Amid the scent of oil, gasoline and fish, they watched England go away, disappear. The van was tied up tightly by a muscular unit of sailors, then hoisted onto the freighter like a crate of coconut. Everyone got on board with their share of equipment. They settled into the two cabins reserved for them on the lower floors, then went back up to the deck. Cyn and Louise, weeping on the quay, were each waving a white handkerchief at the end of their arms. A blackish plume was already emerging from the deep bowels of the boat, the sheets of which vibrated to the rhythm of the engines. The foghorn sounded and the moorings were cast off. The five left their homeland for the first time. Amid the scent of oil, gasoline and fish, they watched England go away, disappear. The van was tied up tightly by a muscular unit of sailors, then hoisted onto the freighter like a crate of coconut. Everyone got on board with their share of equipment. They settled into the two cabins reserved for them on the lower floors, then went back up to the deck. Cyn and Louise, weeping on the quay, were each waving a white handkerchief at the end of their arms. A blackish plume was already emerging from the deep bowels of the boat, the sheets of which vibrated to the rhythm of the engines. The foghorn sounded and the moorings were cast off. The five left their homeland for the first time. Amid the scent of oil, gasoline and fish, they watched England go away, disappear. Everyone got on board with their share of equipment. They settled into the two cabins reserved for them on the lower floors, then went back up to the deck. Cyn and Louise, weeping on the quay, were each waving a white handkerchief at the end of their arms. A blackish plume was already emerging from the deep bowels of the boat, the sheets of which vibrated to the rhythm of the engines. The foghorn sounded and the moorings were cast off. The five left their homeland for the first time. Amid the scent of oil, gasoline and fish, they watched England go away, disappear. Everyone got on board with their share of equipment. They settled into the two cabins reserved for them on the lower floors, then went back up to the deck. Cyn and Louise, weeping on the quay, were each waving a white handkerchief at the end of their arms. A blackish plume was already emerging from the deep bowels of the boat, the sheets of which vibrated to the rhythm of the engines. The foghorn sounded and the moorings were cast off. The five left their homeland for the first time. Amid the scent of oil, gasoline and fish, they watched England go away, disappear. A blackish plume was already emerging from the deep bowels of the boat, the sheets of which vibrated to the rhythm of the engines. The foghorn sounded and the moorings were cast off. The five left their homeland for the first time. Amid the scent of oil, gasoline and fish, they watched England go away, disappear. A blackish plume was already emerging from the deep bowels of the boat, the sheets of which vibrated to the rhythm of the engines. The foghorn sounded and the moorings were cast off. The five left their homeland for the first time. Amid the scent of oil, gasoline and fish, they watched England go away, disappear.

Night fell over the rough sea and they returned to the cabins. But John was seized with violent stomach aches. He immediately climbed back on deck to « breathe the fresh air ». He caught a few packets of sea on his face and ended up returning his lunch to the North Sea fish. After 24 hours at sea, they made a stopover in the Netherlands. They landed in Arnhem Harbor, where there was not much to do or see, only a war memorial where John, who had regained color, took a photo of the group. It was not very hot. They found a small music store and the small troop went to warm themselves among the beautiful instruments that they could not afford yet. They only stayed there for five minutes. Back on the platform, John was hilarious. He took out a harmonica from his pocket.  » Devil ! You stole a harmonica! Allan sighed. « We’re all going to end up in prison before we get there! » On the evening of August 17, Hamburg was in sight. The Van was lowered as it had climbed, tottering at the end of its rope, accompanied by the same sailor unit that defeated it. Each took his share of equipment and finally put his foot on German soil. The instruments were piled up in the van, which immediately took the road to the city center. Allan started down the avenues, then crept through the alleys leading to the Reeperbahn. Through the misted-up windows spread all the exuberance of the city, the blinding lights, beds of prostitutes, clashes, staggering men everywhere, some collapsed in the gutters. The five, wide-eyed, laughed like teenagers. The Van finally parked in front of the Bambi Kino, a cinema that gave pride of place to movie posters of naked girls. They would sleep there, behind the screen, in a ten square meter room, in which a pair of two bunk beds had been set up. John and Stuart chose the left side, Paul and Pete the right.

Georges would sleep on the floor on a makeshift mattress. They stuffed the suitcases into the metal cupboards and threw themselves on the beds, exhausted from the trip. Bruno Koschmider « Herr Bruno » then entered without warning. Behind his particularly thick eyebrows hid two inquisitive eyes which scrutinized poor Georges: « Wie alt bist du? » He said. « 18 years old, as it is written on the contract » replied Georges. Visibly unconvinced, Herr Bruno left without saying a word. Georges then added: « next February ». After these long hours of travel, everyone was starving. There was nothing for cooking. The best thing was to go to the harbor, with the few shillings they had in their pockets. On the wide embankment lined with mansions, they inhaled the scent of Hamburg for the first time. All these smells, these howls of fog horns, these waves bursting on the pier, this humidity carried by the spray from the sea finally reminded them of Liverpool. There were auctioneers and anglers filling basins with fresh fish, under the greedy eye of herring gulls who waited for carelessness to take away loot. They came across the company of British sailors where a little hot milk was offered to them by the boss. A blessing for empty stomachs. Night was falling. It was time to return to Herr Bruno’s spooky dormitory. Despite the noise from the street, the few police car sirens, the night was almost calm. John, finally freed from the rolling North Sea, was able to rest. They were expected on stage the next day. Around 10 a.m., Allan, who had a separate room, brought bread and Wurst, a kind of local charcuterie that did not last long. They spent most of the day adjusting the equipment and then rehearsing a few acoustic songs. Around 4 p.m. Allan asked them to get ready. They were expected at Grosse Freiheit 58, at Indra. They put on the leathers and got into the Van.

Beatles at Indra

The facade of the Indra was covered with a rather sordid blood-red paint, more reminiscent of the girly bar than the concert hall. It was obviously not a club for the lower middle class… There was no poster, only an “INDRA” sign in front of which Herr Bruno, in his checked jacket, was waiting for them. He barely greeted them, opened the gates and immediately led them « backstage », in fact a small box at the end of a poorly lit corridor. Herr Bruno walked past and opened a sliding door: by the sluggish glow of a light bulb hanging from the ceiling, two lightly dressed, generously-shaped mädchen were hastily preparing themselves in front of a large mirror. Obviously the public was waiting for them… Undoubtedly pressed by the timing imposed by Herr Bruno, they ignored the five guys who were eyeing them from head to toe. They crushed a last scarlet red on their lips, raised their bustier and slipped in the middle of John and his gang, smirking laughing « Entschuldigung »! Herr Bruno gave them ten minutes: the time necessary for Greta and Hannah to strip their leaves and then pick up their things scattered on the stage. He never took his eyes off them. The group entered the dressing room, put down the equipment, took the instruments out of the cases, then quickly agreed. The terrible Germanic accent echoed one last time: « Mak the show boys! » And Herr Bruno slipped away. Everything was ready. John, slung Rieckenbacker, led the way. The five slipped into the small corridor, brushed past the two friends in the dark, who again apologized with great reinforcements from Entschuldigung. The stage was now in front of them: ten square meters poorly lit, leaning against a purple curtain and overhung by a mirror ball. Good taste seemed to have done everything to avoid this place. There were about twenty customers below, sailors accompanied by prostitutes, with empty pints of beer piled up on the tables. John settled into the center mic under the freezing eyes of Herr Bruno who was sipping whiskey at the bar and began, « Hello, I’m John Winston Lennon. » Winston as the sailor! Not like the Prime Minister. Only a guy in the front row, his mustache full of foam, picked up the joke and laughed. It was best to send out a few decibels. John strummed the first chords of a Chuck Berry track finally filling the walls of Rock’n’roll Indra: Let me hear some of that rock ‘n’ roll music; Any old way you choose it; It’s got a back beat, you can’t lose it; Any old time you use it; It’s gotta be rock ‘n’ roll music; If you wanna dance with me …

The customers obviously appreciated. Under the tables, the feet began to beat the energetic measure that ricocheted off the walls. Some sailors got up and tried a few dance steps with the girls. One of them collapsed on the floor and was evacuated by one of the « big arms » who watched the entrance. All their repertoire was reviewed: 4 hours of pure Rock’n’roll. Now it was Hannah and Greta’s turn to take over. Herr Bruno seemed satisfied: “They had done the show! « . He offered them a beer and slipped a few marks into his pockets. They now had to rest because they were expected the next day. The group repacked the equipment and stuffed it into Allan’s van, which was waiting for them with the engine running. He knew of a small brewery near the port. They were finally entitled to a real meal. That night, the dirt of the Bambi Kino, the rats running in the passageways, the noise of the street did not prevent them from sleeping like newborns. The sequence was repeated for the next seven days, then another seven days, without rest. Unlimited beers, cheap cigarettes, easygoing girls with the arms of sailors on a layover and, of course, Rock’n’roll were now part of their decor. The pay was not glorious, but, as Allan had told them, « they had to prove themselves and be patient. » And then, they ate their fill. On October 1, when they had been on stage for an hour, the Polizei arrived at the club. Georges, panicked, slipped into the dressing room. But the agents weren’t there for him: a neighbor had lodged a complaint for noise. The next day, Indra was closing its doors. The Grosvenhor scenario repeated itself. But Koschmider had resources. He moved his small troop of musicians and strippers to Keiserkeller, his other club, a few blocks away, at 36 on the same avenue. The club had just been deserted by Derry and his Dominos gang. It was good… They found the same clientele there, more or less the same setting, and always girls ready to offer themselves to the first comer for a few marks. The pace was a little less sustained, because they played alternately with old acquaintances: Rory Storm, the blonde storm from Liverpool, and his Hurricanes! This time they had one day off per week. Little by little, we started talking about them. He said to himself in the circle of patrons of the district of Pauli that their sound was particular, that they had something different, energy to spare, a communicating vibration. We saw the tables were filled with a younger audience, attracted by these leather rebels and their electric music. Seeing his foals installed, Allan Williams returned to Liverpool.

XVI. Klaus and Astrid – October 1960

One misty October morning, around four o’clock, Stu and John went to get lost in the still busy streets of Pauli where a few prostitutes, exhausted by the night, were still trying their luck with the last onlookers. They headed for the port where they had heard that sausages were being served for the sailors who were about to set out to sea. The quay was deserted, however. They still saw a guy urinating on a streetlamp, yelling at the whole world. They walked over and asked him if everything was okay. He answered only an inaudible growl. A group of three staggering sailors had descended from a freighter and headed in their direction. Stu didn’t see the blow coming. He received a blow to the temple and collapsed into his friend’s arms. The three sailors had already disappeared. John panicked, to look around. But there was only the man leaning on the lamppost, completely smashed. Stu had straightened up. With his eyes closed, he held his head in his hands, wincing in pain. John leaned her on his shoulder and painfully helped her up. « Are you okay Stu? » He asked her. – How are you. I believe,,. What happened ? – You took a nasty blow to the head. A sailor with a baton. – What happened ? – I just told you, a sailor who hit you from behind. – What happened ? – Ok… I’ll take you back to the movies. And they went back to Bambi Kino where Stu passed out… John watched over his friend much of the night. In the morning, Stu, despite a rifle headache, was feeling pretty well. However, he remained in bed a good part of the day, a damp cloth on his aching temple. The next day he was already on stage. Lack of sleep and abuse of all kinds began to weigh on the bodies. Hannah had something to hold on: blue pills that she said could « make a dead man hard. » The five did not need to be prayed for. This invaluable help, supplemented by liters of beers and reams of cigarettes, enabled them to last whole nights. They effortlessly skimmed through the entire Rock’n’roll repertoire in front of an increasingly enthusiastic and younger audience, fascinated by their inexhaustible energy. « Bandaging a dead man ». The five did not need to be prayed for. This invaluable help, supplemented by liters of beers and reams of cigarettes, enabled them to last whole nights. They effortlessly skimmed through the entire Rock’n’roll repertoire in front of an increasingly enthusiastic and younger audience, fascinated by their inexhaustible energy. « Bandaging a dead man ». The five did not need to be prayed for. This invaluable help, supplemented by liters of beers and reams of cigarettes, enabled them to last whole nights. They effortlessly skimmed through the entire Rock’n’roll repertoire in front of an increasingly enthusiastic and younger audience, fascinated by their inexhaustible energy.

One rainy evening, a weird guy, between 20 and 30, got lost in their den. He was not like the other customers. He was more sophisticated, more elegant, effeminate, with a ridiculous bowl cut; a type that one would have imagined more in a cozy living room or an exhibition of paintings than in a rock concert. He had hung out in the Saint-Paul district and had been attracted by the din of Rory Storm, that frenzied music that escaped from the Kaiserkeller and flooded the avenue. Puzzled, he went downstairs and sat down at a table, between two beefy guys in leather harnesses. He was literally « bewitched » by John and his gang, his new, quite simple but « so explosive ». He saw in the singer a leader, but also noticed the others, the two guitarists, the bassist with dark glasses who sometimes turned his back on the audience; and the phlegmatic drummer, a perfect symbiosis that delivered a real communicative power. The spotlights ended up going out and he returned to his beautiful quarters, completely turned upside down. The next day he was there again, as close as possible to the stage; and then the following evening and again the next seven. On the eighth night, he waited for the right moment and invited himself to the bar where Paul and Georges were finishing their beer. He wanted to know them, to discover these aliens, these specimens that did not exist on this side of the North Sea. So he offered a tour, a second and a third. They laughed a good part of the night and parted at dawn, good friends. a perfect symbiosis which delivered a real communicative power. The spotlights ended up going out and he returned to his beautiful quarters, completely turned upside down. The next day he was there again, as close as possible to the stage; and then the following evening and again the next seven. On the eighth night, he waited for the right moment and invited himself to the bar where Paul and Georges were finishing their beer. He wanted to know them, to discover these aliens, these specimens that did not exist on this side of the North Sea. So he offered a tour, a second and a third. They laughed a good part of the night and parted at dawn, good friends. a perfect symbiosis which delivered a real communicative power. The spotlights ended up going out and he returned to his beautiful quarters, completely turned upside down. The next day he was there again, as close as possible to the stage; and then the following evening and again the next seven. On the eighth night, he waited for the right moment and invited himself to the bar where Paul and Georges were finishing their beer. He wanted to know them, to discover these aliens, these specimens that did not exist on this side of the North Sea. So he offered a tour, a second and a third. They laughed a good part of the night and parted at dawn, good friends. as close as possible to the stage; and then the following evening and again the next seven. On the eighth night, he waited for the right moment and invited himself to the bar where Paul and Georges were finishing their beer. He wanted to know them, to discover these aliens, these specimens that did not exist on this side of the North Sea. So he offered a tour, a second and a third. They laughed a good part of the night and parted at dawn, good friends. as close as possible to the stage; and then the following evening and again the next seven. On the eighth night, he waited for the right moment and invited himself to the bar where Paul and Georges were finishing their beer. He wanted to know them, to discover these aliens, these specimens that did not exist on this side of the North Sea. So he offered a tour, a second and a third. They laughed a good part of the night and parted at dawn, good friends.

This guy was called Klaus and he was sort of an artist from the affluent youth of Hamburg. He wanted to share his discovery with a friend, Astrid Kirchherr, an artist like him. After some hesitation, she agreed. She was an angel descending to hell, barely 20, reserved, with beautiful blonde hair cropped short and high cheekbones. A little embarrassed, she insisted on sitting down at a somewhat set back table, casting worried glances to right and left at the people, the young girls, the sailors and then these guys on the stage, rude who were were playing violent music. She felt like an intruder, so far from her psychedelic universe. His gaze swept across the stage, starting to the left where Paul and George were at the microphone, then to the center where John was screaming Mister Postman’s first verse,

Klaus VOORMAN

At the end of the concert, Klaus introduced Astrid to John, George and the others. She invited the group for a drink, « but not here, in her own universe ». A luxury car with a driver was waiting at the entrance to the Kaiserkeller; a limousine capable of carrying the five musicians plus Astrid and Klaus without any worries. The driver quickly got out of Saint-Paul and drove towards the city center. He stopped in front of the bluish facade of an opulent building, the entrance of which was watched by a bellhop. It was a fascinating place, from which escaped music of the possessed, sound loops that repeated endlessly, punctuated by a sort of regular beating of a large artificial heart. Passed the door, we discovered waitresses in sequined skirts carrying drinks of all colors on trays, all in blue smoke to cut with a knife. Incredible beings populated this place: demonstrative lesbians, characters from the theater or circuses. The group would not have imagined that such a place existed. Stu was immediately fascinated: that was what he had been looking for for so many years, this world of avant-garde artists, these creatures giving free rein to their creative impulses.

The others only drank one glass. But Stu decided to stay with Klaus and Astrid. They chatted for a long time, discovering each other, learning from their differences. Then Klaus, tired, took his leave. Astrid and Stu found themselves alone in the middle of the crowd. They spoke no more, or very little, contenting themselves with the gaze of the other. Stu came home late that night, aware that that blue, timeless night was going to mark him for life. The next day, at the Kaiserkeller, Astrid’s presence in the front row did not go unnoticed. The place was made for sailors on a layover, surely not for this type of girl. She had arrived early enough, when Rory Storm and her hurricanes were still restless. She moved to the right of the stage, patiently waiting for Stu to come on stage. At eight o’clock precisely, the stars came on stage to applause and the guitars spit out the first Roll over Beethoven chords, Stu was not there that night. Paul, annoyed, noticed that his ideas were elsewhere, towards this first row, towards Astrid who only had eyes for him. He missed the covers, got the wrong tone. The concert barely finished, Paul took him aside in the dressing room to clear his mind. Without John’s arrival, they would have come to blows. Stu changed and left immediately with Astrid. The concert barely finished, Paul took him aside in the dressing room to clear his mind. Without John’s arrival, they would have come to blows. Stu changed and left immediately with Astrid. The concert barely finished, Paul took him aside in the dressing room to clear his mind. Without John’s arrival, they would have come to blows. Stu changed and left immediately with Astrid.

Astrid KIRSHER

John watched worriedly as the couple walked away. It didn’t smell very good. There was something insidious, singular about the violence of this idyll that could blow everything up. Astrid was not a girl like the others, like those who had paraded for months in her friend’s bed. Astrid could steal her friend from him. Indeed, the first evenings, Stu arrived late, missed the first few songs, then a whole evening, then another. Paul had to replace him on bass. We saw him reappear in the morning, without an excuse, his hair in disarray, his eyes numb with sleep. Paul was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. He had never liked this friend imposed by John, especially since he « was not up to par. » When he saw him cross the dance floor of the Kaiserkeller, he glared at him,

Stu moved to Astrid’s in the heart of the beautiful neighborhoods of Hamburg. She was a photographer and had posted many black and white photos in her small apartment. Stu fell under the spell of these photos which told of the nights in Hamburg. They had known each other for less than a month and yet seemed to understand each other already. Their souls were made of the same fabric, surrealist art and skin-deep sensibility. Stu now knew he wouldn’t build his life around Rock’n’roll. In fact, he had always known it. Astrid offered him a small studio in the attic of his apartment where Stu, for the first time since he had left Liverpool, was able to unpack his painting materials: silk brushes of all shapes, palettes, knives, multicolored rags and tubes of gouache. He bought gigantic canvases which he placed all over the place, a tripod which he put under the skylight and a stool. He set to work. The frustration accumulated over so many months turned into a real artistic frenzy: he began to paint from morning to night, only interrupting himself to eat or make love. Astrid, hypnotized by his beauty, watched him do it and sometimes took a picture of him. He thus accumulated dozens of works. There was no longer a shadow of doubt in his head. The chapters to come of her life would be written here, in these converted attics, in the middle of her colors and in the company of this woman sent by the gods. The Kaiserkeller would not see him again. For several weeks, he gave no more news, too busy with his new project: to pass the November competition for entry to the Fine Arts in Hamburg.

Stuart SUTCLIFFE

The jury accepted his candidacy without discussing it. Stu was not surprised. The decision of this grizzled jury was only confirmation of what he had known for a long time. But now he had to warn the others, starting with John who sincerely congratulated him. – Delighted for you Stu. Sincerely, he said, hugging him. – I’m happy that you don’t blame me too much, – You’re going to miss the train and this kind of train only passes once… – I know. Maybe other trains are waiting for me. – I hope so for you, – I also hope that you will succeed. You are the best. Much better without me. And then Paul won’t be upset, I’m sure. – I hope you will be happy. – Do you blame Astrid? – How not to blame him? She took my best friend from me, like the Vanguard took my mother and the ocean my father. It’s like that. Only time will calm things down. – We will make sure to shorten its course, I promise you. The following week, John was at the apartment contemplating under Astrid’s eyes the dozens of photographs displayed on the walls or hung on wires by clothespins: he had never seen anything like it: dressed figures. lights and shadows, the flayed brick walls of Hamburg, the port in the mist, a group of haggard sailors looking out to sea, fishermen seemingly lost on the pier, the crowd at the fish market… John had to recognize it: she had a real talent for seizing the moment. She knew how to enhance simplicity, reveal the beauty hidden in the recesses of a landscape as banal as a bed of cod crates, a bundle of planks or a trawler. Only time will calm things down. – We will make sure to shorten its course, I promise you. The following week, John was at the apartment contemplating under Astrid’s eyes the dozens of photographs displayed on the walls or hung on wires by clothespins: he had never seen anything like it: dressed figures. lights and shadows, the flayed brick walls of Hamburg, the port in the mist, a group of haggard sailors looking out to sea, fishermen seemingly lost on the pier, the crowd at the fish market… John had to recognize it: she had a real talent for seizing the moment. She knew how to enhance simplicity, reveal the beauty hidden in the recesses of a landscape as banal as a bed of cod crates, a bundle of planks or a trawler. Only time will calm things down. – We will make sure to shorten its course, I promise you. The following week, John was at the apartment contemplating under Astrid’s eyes the dozens of photographs displayed on the walls or hung on wires by clothespins: he had never seen anything like it: dressed figures. lights and shadows, the flayed brick walls of Hamburg, the port in the mist, a group of haggard sailors looking out to sea, fishermen seemingly lost on the pier, the crowd at the fish market… John had to recognize it: she had a real talent for seizing the moment. She knew how to enhance simplicity, reveal the beauty hidden in the recesses of a landscape as banal as a bed of cod crates, a bundle of planks or a trawler. – We will make sure to shorten its course, I promise you. The following week, John was at the apartment contemplating under Astrid’s eyes the dozens of photographs displayed on the walls or hung on wires by clothespins: he had never seen anything like it: dressed figures. lights and shadows, the flayed brick walls of Hamburg, the port in the mist, a group of haggard sailors looking out to sea, fishermen seemingly lost on the pier, the crowd at the fish market… John had to recognize it: she had a real talent for seizing the moment. She knew how to enhance simplicity, reveal the beauty hidden in the recesses of a landscape as banal as a bed of cod crates, a bundle of planks or a trawler. – We will make sure to shorten its course, I promise you. The following week, John was at the apartment contemplating under Astrid’s eyes the dozens of photographs displayed on the walls or hung on wires by clothespins: he had never seen anything like it: dressed figures. lights and shadows, the flayed brick walls of Hamburg, the port in the mist, a group of haggard sailors looking out to sea, fishermen seemingly lost on the pier, the crowd at the fish market… John had to recognize it: she had a real talent for seizing the moment. She knew how to enhance simplicity, reveal the beauty hidden in the recesses of a landscape as banal as a bed of cod crates, a bundle of planks or a trawler. The following week, John was at the apartment contemplating under Astrid’s eyes the dozens of photographs displayed on the walls or hung on wires by clothespins: he had never seen anything like it: dressed figures. lights and shadows, the flayed brick walls of Hamburg, the port in the mist, a group of haggard sailors looking out to sea, fishermen seemingly lost on the pier, the crowd at the fish market… John had to recognize it: she had a real talent for seizing the moment. She knew how to enhance simplicity, reveal the beauty hidden in the recesses of a landscape as banal as a bed of cod crates, a bundle of planks or a trawler. The following week, John was at the apartment contemplating under Astrid’s eyes the dozens of photographs displayed on the walls or hung on wires by clothespins: he had never seen anything like it: dressed figures. lights and shadows, the flayed brick walls of Hamburg, the port in the mist, a group of haggard sailors looking out to sea, fishermen seemingly lost on the pier, the crowd at the fish market… John had to recognize it: she had a real talent for seizing the moment. She knew how to enhance simplicity, reveal the beauty hidden in the recesses of a landscape as banal as a bed of cod crates, a bundle of planks or a trawler. John was in the apartment contemplating under Astrid’s eyes the dozens of photographs displayed on the walls or hung on wires by clothespins: he had never seen anything like it: figures dressed in shadows and lights, the scorched brick walls of Hamburg, the port in the mist, a group of haggard sailors looking out to sea, fishermen seemingly lost on the pier, the crowd at the fish market … John had to admit it: she had a real talent for seizing the moment. She knew how to enhance simplicity, reveal the beauty hidden in the recesses of a landscape as banal as a bed of cod crates, a bundle of planks or a trawler. John was in the apartment contemplating under Astrid’s eyes the dozens of photographs displayed on the walls or hung on wires by clothespins: he had never seen anything like it: figures dressed in shadows and lights, the scorched brick walls of Hamburg, the port in the mist, a group of haggard sailors looking out to sea, fishermen seemingly lost on the pier, the crowd at the fish market … John had to admit it: she had a real talent for seizing the moment. She knew how to enhance simplicity, reveal the beauty hidden in the recesses of a landscape as banal as a bed of cod crates, a bundle of planks or a trawler. the flayed brick walls of Hamburg, the port in the mist, a group of haggard sailors looking out to sea, fishermen seemingly lost on the pier, the crowd at the fish market… John had to admit it: she had a real talent for capturing the moment. She knew how to enhance simplicity, reveal the beauty hidden in the recesses of a landscape as banal as a bed of cod crates, a bundle of planks or a trawler. the flayed brick walls of Hamburg, the port in the mist, a group of haggard sailors looking out to sea, fishermen seemingly lost on the pier, the crowd at the fish market… John had to admit it: she had a real talent for capturing the moment. She knew how to enhance simplicity, reveal the beauty hidden in the recesses of a landscape as banal as a bed of cod crates, a bundle of planks or a trawler.

Astrid wanted to take pictures of the group. John immediately liked the project. An appointment was made for the next day. She wanted them in black jackets, cowboy boots, and their instruments. She wanted the images to show their « naughty boys » side. They didn’t have to force their nature… The wastelands of the suburbs of Hamburg, its working-class streets and an abandoned train station served as the backdrop. The result was splendid. It was by far the best shots of the bunch. Astrid with her talent as a photographer had broken into the hearts of the gang. Even John had fallen in love with the young girl. Not only had he not lost Stu, he had gained a wonderful friend. Stu also didn’t want to cut the ties that still hold him firmly to his Liverpool friends. But he also wanted to explore the refined world of Astrid. And the slicked back hair, the black jacket and the leather boots belonged to a world he wanted to confine to his memories. Astrid offered him Klaus’ psychedelic jackets, velvet pants and cut his hair in the bowl. He thus went to the Kaiserkeller, settling down at a table near the bar with his muse. Pete thought he was dying of laughter. Paul for his part saw in the cut an original element which could allow them to stand out from the competition. John was skeptical. Georges, excited, immediately went under Astrid’s scissors. Astrid offered him Klaus’ psychedelic jackets, velvet pants and cut his hair in the bowl. He thus went to the Kaiserkeller, settling down at a table near the bar with his muse. Pete thought he was dying of laughter. Paul for his part saw in the cut an original element which could allow them to stand out from the competition. John was skeptical. Georges, excited, immediately went under Astrid’s scissors. Astrid offered him Klaus’ psychedelic jackets, velvet pants and cut his hair in the bowl. He thus went to the Kaiserkeller, settling down at a table near the bar with his muse. Pete thought he was dying of laughter. Paul for his part saw in the cut an original element which could allow them to stand out from the competition. John was skeptical. Georges, excited, immediately went under Astrid’s scissors.

XVII. Expulsion – November 1960

Fifty hellish nights, fifty nights of wearing their fingers on the strings and their voices into the microphone. John was exhausted by the hellish pace. « Even more time to piss or drink a beer! » He moaned. Paul had blisters on his hands and Pete couldn’t hold his wands anymore. Only Georges seemed to hold out. John ended up complaining to Herr Bruno who again advised them to take amphetamines. John cursed without any real hope of compassion: the little blue pills made them lose sleep and lose their appetite. They still couldn’t feed exclusively on this stuff! Paul was also starting to worry. He must have weighed barely fifty kilograms. They all looked like zombies, those skeletons that had come back exhausted from the Scottish Tour. It couldn’t go on like this. Something else had to be found because they risked leaving their skin there. Luckily, John had met Tony Sheridan’s Jets who were playing a little further away, at the Top Ten, a more “upscale” club, at 136 Reeperbahn. He had heard that the boss, a certain Peter Eckorn, was looking for a group to replace his Jets who wanted to return to England. Rumor had it that Eckorn wouldn’t be sorry to steal the Beatles from his big rival the Kaiserkeller. John went discreetly to Eckorn: the Top Ten offered much better conditions, better acoustics, good pay, generous clientele and above all a slower pace of work. A verbal agreement was quickly found. They would end their engagement at the Kaiserkeller, then continue on to the Top Ten. Luckily, John had met Tony Sheridan’s Jets who were playing a little further away, at the Top Ten, a more “upscale” club, at 136 Reeperbahn. He had heard that the boss, a certain Peter Eckorn, was looking for a group to replace his Jets who wanted to return to England. Rumor had it that Eckorn wouldn’t be sorry to steal the Beatles from his big rival the Kaiserkeller. John went discreetly to Eckorn: the Top Ten offered much better conditions, better acoustics, good pay, generous clientele and above all a slower pace of work. A verbal agreement was quickly found. They would end their engagement at the Kaiserkeller, then continue on to the Top Ten. Luckily, John had met Tony Sheridan’s Jets who were playing a little further away, at the Top Ten, a more “upscale” club, at 136 Reeperbahn. He had heard that the boss, a certain Peter Eckorn, was looking for a group to replace his Jets who wanted to return to England. Rumor had it that Eckorn wouldn’t be sorry to steal the Beatles from his big rival the Kaiserkeller. John went discreetly to Eckorn: the Top Ten offered much better conditions, better acoustics, good pay, generous clientele and above all a slower pace of work. A verbal agreement was quickly found. They would end their engagement at the Kaiserkeller, then continue on to the Top Ten. a more « upscale » club, at 136 Reeperbahn. He had heard that the boss, a certain Peter Eckorn, was looking for a group to replace his Jets who wanted to return to England. Rumor had it that Eckorn wouldn’t be sorry to steal the Beatles from his big rival the Kaiserkeller. John went discreetly to Eckorn: the Top Ten offered much better conditions, better acoustics, good pay, generous clientele and above all a slower pace of work. A verbal agreement was quickly found. They would end their engagement at the Kaiserkeller, then continue on to the Top Ten. a more « upscale » club, at 136 Reeperbahn. He had heard that the boss, a certain Peter Eckorn, was looking for a group to replace his Jets who wanted to return to England. Rumor had it that Eckorn wouldn’t be sorry to steal the Beatles from his big rival the Kaiserkeller. John went discreetly to Eckorn: the Top Ten offered much better conditions, better acoustics, good pay, generous clientele and above all a slower pace of work. A verbal agreement was quickly found. They would end their engagement at the Kaiserkeller, then continue on to the Top Ten. Rumor had it that Eckorn wouldn’t be sorry to steal the Beatles from his big rival the Kaiserkeller. John went discreetly to Eckorn: the Top Ten offered much better conditions, better acoustics, good pay, generous clientele and above all a slower pace of work. A verbal agreement was quickly found. They would end their engagement at the Kaiserkeller, then continue on to the Top Ten. Rumor had it that Eckorn wouldn’t be sorry to steal the Beatles from his big rival the Kaiserkeller. John went discreetly to Eckorn: the Top Ten offered much better conditions, better acoustics, good pay, generous clientele and above all a slower pace of work. A verbal agreement was quickly found. They would end their engagement at the Kaiserkeller, then continue on to the Top Ten.

Beatles in the Top Ten

Herr Bruno, of course, got wind of the little merry-go-round. He went into a terrible fury! This is how these ungrateful Englishmen thanked him! He had opened his doors to them, had housed them, fed them and now they were letting him down… He would not let himself be taken in, neither by these unfortunate Englishmen, nor by this upstart Eckorn. And he knew how to get there to derail all those Machiavellian plans that were being put together behind his back. Ah they took him for a three week old rabbit! He knew very well that Georges was too young to work! He wasn’t as naive as he looked. He played a few connections and the same evening the Polizei showed up in their dormitory at Bambi Kino: a civil administrator gave Georges the formal injunction to leave German territory without delay.

It was Astrid and Stu who took poor George to the station where he took the first train to the port of Hook in the Netherlands. Loaded with substantial equipment, an amplifier bought in Hamburg, a guitar and several suitcases, he embarked on a boat for England. Twenty-four hours later he was back in Harwich where another train brought him back to Liverpool. In the hallway, sitting on his amp, surrounded by his stuff and drunk soldiers, he let out two or three sobs, thinking of his friends back in Germany. Besides, he was penniless. His entire fortune was spent in train tickets and taxi bills. On the other side of the North Sea, Paul, John and Pete were starting to seriously wonder about their future… Stu and Georges left, it was getting complicated to play anything… They had contractual obligations at the Kaiserkeller for the last nine performances, ie until November 29th. Deprived of their lead guitar and their bass player, cold with Herr Bruno, they ensured the minimum, while looking in the expatriate pool for an improbable idle musician capable of complementing their trio. Because the “Première” in the Top Ten was approaching… With the end of the contract at the Kaiserkeller, we could no longer count on the hospitality of Herr Bruno. We had to move. On the evening of the 28th, after the concert, Paul and Pete went to collect things from the Bambi Kino. It was already dark in the room and Herr Bruno had managed to cut off their electricity. Paul rummaged in his pockets. There he found an old condom and a lighter. He set the condom on fire and hung it on a nail in the wall, only to allow them to collect the bags. There was only one night left at Bambi Kino. One night too long …

In the evening, the Polizei arrived in the room where Paul and Pete were dozing: Herr Bruno had filed a complaint for attempted arson! An arrest warrant was presented, and they were given five minutes to pick up their last items. Supervised by two officers, they were taken to prison. Expulsion was very near. The first plane to London would be for them. On December 1, 1960, Paul and Pete were back to square one, « back to square one » as Paul sighed, as poor as they had left and still a few pounds lighter. John continued a bit in Hamburg with other groups, but without enthusiasm. As Christmas approached, he preferred to throw in the towel and join England as well. Stu was left alone. Well, not quite … John followed in George’s footsteps earlier, from Hamburg to the Netherlands, then from the Netherlands to Liverpool. He got off the boat a little stunned with his guitar as his only baggage. He remained a long time in the port, seated on a bench to contemplate the black waters which stormed the concrete blocks, silent, taking and remaking the assessment of the past year, a sad record … All for that! Hours on stage, amphetamines, liters of beer, fights, to find yourself again in this port, penniless, dreams of glory and a friend less. Was it worth it? What if he was wrong? What if they weren’t that good? Willpower alone was perhaps not enough. Perhaps they lacked the spark, something different to come out of the cesspool where hundreds of groups like them floundered, to finally swim to the surface, get noticed by a producer. He sighed, then got up to take the bus that took him back to Aunt Mimi’s. He had warned Cyn of his return and she was impatiently waiting for him on Menlove Street. At least her return made two happy people. It was an outpouring of hugs, deep hugs and female tears too. John wandered alone for a few days in the suburbs of the city, without touching his guitar which had found its place in his child’s room alongside memories of Uncle Georges. He did not try to contact his friends. He needed time to think. strong hugs and female tears too. John wandered alone for a few days in the suburbs of the city, without touching his guitar which had found its place in his child’s room alongside memories of Uncle Georges. He did not try to contact his friends. He needed time to think. strong hugs and female tears too. John wandered alone for a few days in the suburbs of the city, without touching his guitar which had found its place in his child’s room alongside memories of Uncle Georges. He did not try to contact his friends. He needed time to think.

Besides, the atmosphere here had changed: the bananas had disappeared. Apache of the Shadows was a hit and all the bands tried to emulate them by playing this soporific music from the old Cliff Richard musicians that John loathed. The Shadows were too wise, too neat in their First Communion garb. They swayed on stage like metronomes, far from the explosive energy he gave off. “Was there still a place for Rock’n’roll in Liverpool? He wondered. Maybe it was just out of fashion …

A little lost, he went to Allan Williams. The latter had sought to set up a Top Ten clone in Liverpool for groups who, like them, were returning from Hamburg. But the box had been destroyed by fire before it even opened… For now, he had nothing to offer her. He advised her to go look around Mona’s place. John invited himself to the Casbah.

Beatles at the Casbah

Mona was there, still elegant in a very tight black dress. John told him of Scotland, of Hamburg, of the hasty return and above all of his dashed hopes: of the road to success which ended there, miserably, in the grayness of Liverpool. Secretly, he waited for a nudge from Mona and watched for any sign on her face. He was not disappointed: she gave him a wonderful smile. Of course, they were welcome at the Casbah! A first concert was scheduled. But there was still one problem to be resolved: Stu was still in Hamburg with Astrid and Paul didn’t want to spend too long on bass. It was therefore necessary to quickly find a bass player. Pete offered to tap into the blackjack’s fire pit: Chas Newby was available! He was immediately contacted and integrated into the group, without even an audition. Paul resumed his place on the guitar and Pete behind his drum set. They were ready to rock and roll the brick walls in Mona’s basements. But for this renaissance to be a success, it was necessary to bring in the public. The streets and the fronts of pubs were then covered with posters announcing « their great return ». Bingo! The Casbah, from the first evening, was packed. Word of mouth had done its work. The following evenings, Mona began to refuse people. The Casbahs concerts followed each other for more than a month. The streets and the fronts of pubs were then covered with posters announcing « their great return ». Bingo! The Casbah, from the first evening, was packed. Word of mouth had done its work. The following evenings, Mona began to refuse people. The Casbahs concerts followed each other for more than a month. The streets and the fronts of pubs were then covered with posters announcing « their great return ». Bingo! The Casbah, from the first evening, was packed. Word of mouth had done its work. The following evenings, Mona began to refuse people. The Casbahs concerts followed each other for more than a month.

For his part, the indefatigable Allan had gone back in search of drop-off points worthy of the name. He had found in Litherland, a port town near Liverpool, a larger performance hall which was looking for a rock band. “A great opportunity! He had said to John. Indeed, it was about a place known for its sound qualities and its enthusiastic public, sometimes a little too much… The affair was quickly concluded with the manager of the corner who had heard of their passage at Mona. The five, now well established, arrived with their brushes, their buckets of glue and brushed the surrounding walls. On the agreed evening, they presented themselves in front of the artists’ entrance. Looking up, they saw a huge sign, about four meters square, surrounded by light bulbs, on which their name was written in large red letters. Smaller, it was specified that they came « straight from Hamburg ». A journalist was there in a beige raincoat and a black felt hat. He insisted on extracting a few words from the « German stars! » Pete, entangled with his gear, was assigned the chore. The journalist complimented him on his perfect English… The group sat on a stage, indeed much larger than usual. For once, they weren’t on top of each other. They even felt helpless by this sidereal void that separated them. The room, still empty, could accommodate several hundred people! However, from eight o’clock, there was no longer a place available. And when the first chords sounded, it was hysteria among the all-female front ranks. Something was going on. John was sure it was. All these people clustered in the room, these half-crazy girls screaming their names… They were no longer just one “little group” among many others. They had become pros, musicians demanded on both sides of Mersey Side. The problem was no longer to find rooms but to meet demand. The last projectors barely extinguished, it was necessary to repack the equipment, the amps and the miles of wires, cram everything into Allan’s van, travel through Lancashire until the next meeting, urgently reassemble everything, adjust the acoustics. , play for two good hours, then take everything apart again, agree on the seal, have a drink, often several, smoke a cigarette, have a bite to eat, get some sleep and then start all over again… Someone had to be found urgently to take care of all this logistics. Neil Aspinal was that guy. He was a mutual friend of Paul and Pete, a nice guy staying with Mona… Above all, Neil had the huge advantage of owning an old van. He accepted without hesitation. He became at the same time their official driver, their Road manager and their accountant. Over the concerts, the red and gray of Neil’s van disappeared under the thick layers of graffiti, feminine messages that left no room for ambiguity. a nice guy hosted by Mona… Above all, Neil had the huge advantage of owning an old van. He accepted without hesitation. He became at the same time their official driver, their Road manager and their accountant. Over the concerts, the red and gray of Neil’s van disappeared under the thick layers of graffiti, feminine messages that left no room for ambiguity. a nice guy hosted by Mona… Above all, Neil had the huge advantage of owning an old van. He accepted without hesitation. He became at the same time their official driver, their Road manager and their accountant. Over the concerts, the red and gray of Neil’s van disappeared under the thick layers of graffiti, feminine messages that left no room for ambiguity.

XVIII. The Cavern – Liverpool 1961

Far from the rowdy tumult of concert halls, Stuart, most often silent, spent his evenings in Astrid’s studio, painting, laying down on canvas whatever came to his mind, giving free rein to his insatiable appetite for creation. Between these four walls, on these floorboards of a few square meters, he had never felt so good, so free, traveling on these canvases according to his inspiration, jets of color that sometimes decorated the furniture around. Only the violent headaches managed to make him pause. Astrid often looked at him, also silent, intrigued by the meaning of these extraordinary explosions of gouache. When night fell on the port city, Klaus took Stu to the most unexpected corners, the dungeons, the night world, places for insiders, populated by characters from fantastic films. It was a perpetual celebration where everything could be bought: drugs, alcohol, men and women… Often all at the same time. Amphetamines were there to push fatigue back to the borders of the night. On the dance floors, bodies tortured by music, soaked in sweat, stirred under the neon lights, in a smoke that could be cut with a knife. They touched each other, rubbed in sensitive places, mingled in a sort of collective convulsion. Stu liked it. His nights were filled with delusions of all kinds, psychedelic trances and alcoholic comas. By dint of testing his limits, he ends up collapsing, his head in his hands. Klaus took him back to the apartment. It was a perpetual celebration where everything could be bought: drugs, alcohol, men and women… Often all at the same time. Amphetamines were there to push fatigue back to the borders of the night. On the dance floors, bodies tortured by music, soaked in sweat, stirred under the neon lights, in a smoke that could be cut with a knife. They touched each other, rubbed in sensitive places, mingled in a sort of collective convulsion. Stu liked it. His nights were filled with delusions of all kinds, psychedelic trances and alcoholic comas. By dint of testing his limits, he ends up collapsing, his head in his hands. Klaus took him back to the apartment. It was a perpetual celebration where everything could be bought: drugs, alcohol, men and women… Often all at the same time. Amphetamines were there to push fatigue back to the borders of the night. On the dance floors, bodies tortured by music, soaked in sweat, stirred under the neon lights, in a smoke that could be cut with a knife. They touched each other, rubbed in sensitive places, mingled in a sort of collective convulsion. Stu liked it. His nights were filled with delusions of all kinds, psychedelic trances and alcoholic comas. By dint of testing his limits, he ends up collapsing, his head in his hands. Klaus took him back to the apartment. Amphetamines were there to push fatigue back to the borders of the night. On the dance floors, bodies tortured by music, soaked in sweat, stirred under the neon lights, in a smoke that could be cut with a knife. They touched each other, rubbed in sensitive places, mingled in a sort of collective convulsion. Stu liked it. His nights were filled with delusions of all kinds, psychedelic trances and alcoholic comas. By dint of testing his limits, he ends up collapsing, his head in his hands. Klaus took him back to the apartment. Amphetamines were there to push fatigue back to the borders of the night. On the dance floors, bodies tortured by music, soaked in sweat, stirred under the neon lights, in a smoke that could be cut with a knife. They touched each other, rubbed in sensitive places, mingled in a sort of collective convulsion. Stu liked it. His nights were filled with delusions of all kinds, psychedelic trances and alcoholic comas. By dint of testing his limits, he ends up collapsing, his head in his hands. Klaus took him back to the apartment. Stu liked it. His nights were filled with delusions of all kinds, psychedelic trances and alcoholic comas. By dint of testing his limits, he ends up collapsing, his head in his hands. Klaus took him back to the apartment. Stu liked it. His nights were filled with delusions of all kinds, psychedelic trances and alcoholic comas. By dint of testing his limits, he ends up collapsing, his head in his hands. Klaus took him back to the apartment.

The next day, Astrid took her to a specialist. The doctor asked him a few questions in broken English, then examined the x-rays of his skull. Nothing abnormal. « Only a little tired. You only have to see his head, the huge circles around his eyes, his pale complexion, to be convinced. He just has to rest a little and everything will be in order. He concluded. The couple left the office a little reassured and got into the little pale yellow Volkswagen that Astrid had just purchased. Stu waited until she got behind the wheel to pull a ring out of her pocket. Stu proposed to her in marriage. She accepted with a radiant smile and kissed him tenderly. For his part, Herr Bruno had not let go of the affair. He’d had other people’s skin, he’d have Stu’s. It was only a matter of days, at most weeks. Stu knew he was on borrowed time. He was waiting for the day when a police officer, armed with the famous eviction order, would come knocking on the apartment door and take him back to prison. Every suspicious noise fell on him like a sword, leaving him in terrible anguish for hours on end. He had to take the initiative again so as not to suffer the diktat of Herr Bruno. So, on January 20, 1961, he decided to return to Liverpool. Koschmider would get bored and then he could come back. Astrid was desperate, even though she understood his decision. To save him the unnecessary fatigue of long hours on the train and ferry boat, she insisted on offering him the plane ticket. would come knocking on the apartment door and take him back to jail. Every suspicious noise fell on him like a sword, leaving him in terrible anguish for hours on end. He had to take the initiative again so as not to suffer the diktat of Herr Bruno. So, on January 20, 1961, he decided to return to Liverpool. Koschmider would get bored and then he could come back. Astrid was desperate, even though she understood his decision. To save him the unnecessary fatigue of long hours on the train and ferry boat, she insisted on offering him the plane ticket. would come knocking on the apartment door and take him back to jail. Every suspicious noise fell on him like a sword, leaving him in terrible anguish for hours on end. He had to take the initiative again so as not to suffer the diktat of Herr Bruno. So, on January 20, 1961, he decided to return to Liverpool. Koschmider would get bored and then he could come back. Astrid was desperate, even though she understood his decision. To save him the unnecessary fatigue of long hours on the train and ferry boat, she insisted on offering him the plane ticket. Koschmider would get bored and then he could come back. Astrid was desperate, even though she understood his decision. To save him the unnecessary fatigue of long hours on the train and ferry boat, she insisted on offering him the plane ticket. Koschmider would get bored and then he could come back. Astrid was desperate, even though she understood his decision. To save him the unnecessary fatigue of long hours on the train and ferry boat, she insisted on offering him the plane ticket.

In the departure lounge, the amused passengers witnessed the torrents of tears, the interminable hugs. But the plane wouldn’t wait. Stu inhaled Astrid’s scent one last time and tore himself from his arms. He walked away towards the tarmac. He presented his passport to the officer, then waved his hand one last time to his beloved. Pressed by the pack of travelers, he finally disappeared into the crowd. Three hours later he landed in Liverpool. John was waiting for him at the Albert docks. They fell into each other’s arms in front of the cast iron and stone fortress that hosted the huge freighters from around the world. Over a beer, John told about the Casbah, the concerts in Lancashire, Litherland, the ever-increasing number of spectators and the hysterical girls… Now, they had a manager and a guy who took care of all the logistics and a van of their own! The squalid halls of the Scottish Tour, the whore bars, it was over! He was even starting to earn some money. John, by the way, had gained weight. Without much hope, he again offered to get on the train. He was always welcome. He would fire Chas Newby. Of course, Stu declined the offer. Regrets, he didn’t have any. He had found what he was looking for with Astrid. For nothing in the world, he would not change his life, even for all the glory in the world. John was expecting it a little. He sighed. He understood that Stu had not returned for the group. He had just taken shelter while he waited for Storm Koschmider to subside. He would set off again as soon as the winds were favorable. John made up his mind. Their artistic paths separated here. The next day, at lunchtime, they were playing on Mathew Street, at the Cave, a club usually reserved for Jazz.

Beatles at the Cavern

It was a fairly large but stifling room, designed like the caveau de la Huchette in Paris. Stu promised to come and listen to them. Stu arrived a little early. The room, all in length, was carpeted with red bricks, with oppressive vaults. All the youth of Liverpool had gathered there to smoke cigarettes after cigarettes. Stu glanced up at the stage. His pals had just moved in and were getting along. Then they started the intro of Little Richard’s Long Tall Sally to screams from the crowd. Paul, with his Hoffner, seemed to have settled down permanently on bass. He was good, better than he had ever been… John was in the center, with his Rickenbacker and his voice made for rock. Banana survivor Pete was behind on drums. Georges finally stood up straight and performed the solos. Stu was reassured. They didn’t need him anymore …

XIX. Top Ten – Hamburg April 1961

Everything was better now. They were offered dates all over the region, enough to fill the winter of 61 and perhaps beyond. But there was the word given to Eckorn. Just before the expulsion, John had promised him to play at the beginning of April in the Top Ten in Hamburg. He had negotiated very good conditions, much better than at the Kaiserkeller. John also saw a big advantage in it. A series of a hundred concerts in the same place meant the end of the incessant journeys, the continual unpacking of the equipment, the kilometers and the fatigue… It was easy for him to convince everyone. Stu would scout on March 15. With Klaus’ invaluable help, he would sort out the paperwork before they arrived, five days later. And on April 1, they were on the Top Ten stage. They had agreed on sets starting at seven o’clock and until two o’clock in the morning. For the next ninety-two nights, the stage was theirs! The contrast was stark against the murky atmosphere of the Kaiserkeller. There were hangings on the walls, a chandelier, and men in suits. Champagne was served in sparkling buckets filled with ice. No more sailors, construction workers or drunkards, but people from good families. Before them were tables with well-ironed tablecloths with candles that lit up the clean faces of golden youth. a chandelier and men in suits.

The nights of Hamburg offered themselves to them again, with all its excesses. They often ended up in the port where the last night owls came, in their bottomless throats, to empty their bottles of rum, on the lampposts, their bladder too full and, in the black waters of the harbor, their stomachs. We saw them on the benches, on the piers and sometimes in the gutter.

On spring break John and Stu spent some time together often in a pub. One evening, John confided to her that at first he had resented Astrid. He had the impression that she had stealthily entered his life, as by breaking and entering, to steal his friend from him, that she had, from the start, scaffolded a sort of Machiavellian plan to penetrate the intimacy of the group and detonate from the inside. But now he knew it wasn’t true. Astrid was a good girl, sincere, and Stu had been a willing victim; a now happy victim and that was most important. He evoked the Fine Arts, Scotland, Johnny Gentle, Cyn, the rooftops of Liverpool, when they remade the world with beer in hand, hatching incredible projects as they watched the container ships go away. He crushed a tear. In fact, the page, he hadn’t turned it completely. John realized that Shotton had been his friend, Cyn a lover, but that Stu had been more than that, something indefinable, rare, precious, something that only happens once in a lifetime and moving away from him. Pete, on the other hand, had fallen in love with a stripper, a lioness with an incredible red hair and billions of freckles. Every night he would wait for her to pack up her underwear scattered around the stage, then take her to town. Nobody knew where … He often came home very late or rather very early, around ten in the morning and collapsed on his bed. Paul didn’t like it: « Impossible to get everyone together for rehearsals! ». He then recalled the eternal rules of life he had so often repeated:  » Guys ! We are a group. And the principle of a group is to live in a group, that is to say around the same time! If everyone does what they want, when they want, it can’t work. Pete sleeps until noon! John is still half stuck in the alcohol fumes… Georges is the only one to be on time! You do what you want, I am not your mother. But the rule is to be available at ten o’clock to rehearse! Everyone listened politely…

XX. Tony Sheridan – Juin 1961

In the closed circle of Hamburg rock groups, the Star Club was « The place to be », a kind of Grail that made all Elvis apprentices dream. The star of the moment who occupied the place was Tony Sheridan. A real rocker, a handsome kid with the voice of a crooner and banana à la Elvis. In England, everyone knew him. He was the one who brought the electric guitar into homes through television. It was in the 1950s, when John and his gang were still schoolchildren. He was also the one who had opened the road to Hamburg to British groups by taking in his luggage Elvis, Eddy Cochran and the others… He sometimes played in the Top Ten where he was occasionally accompanied by John and his band. He loved « those kids with the horrible accent from Liverpool, this bunch of ill-bred bad boys straight out of the working-class suburbs ”. They were from the same world: they shared the love of sex and rock’n’roll. Tony absolutely wanted to share the Star Club scene with them. A godsend for Paul, the opportunity to take another step forward …

Tony sheridan

As soon as they arrived, they realized that Tony was not playing in the same court! The club stage was larger, better lit, better sound, and framed by elegant gray velvet curtains. The back wall had a modern decor of American buildings. There was a white grand piano which occupied the left third of the stage and above all, there were good people and waiters in uniform. They were quickly seated and Tony handed out the list of the evening’s songs. They reviewed the great classics, but also some original titles signed « Sheridan » like « My Bonnie ». A great evening in the opinion of all! Obviously, they were meant to meet as their games seemed to complement each other. Tony had the maturity, musical knowledge and connections that they lacked and, on their side, they had the energy, the spontaneity capable of enhancing it. For Paul, Tony became “the teacher”. He was the helping hand of fate he was waiting for, a sort of « big brother » who would pull them higher. In addition to being an excellent musician, he mastered the guitar like no one else, but also the violin which he had learned at a young age and the piano. He also had an encyclopedic knowledge of music and could introduce them to new worlds, unexplored fields like those of American Blues or Pioneer Country. Tony introduced them to a drummer friend who came from Liverpool like them. To believe that the whole city had met in Hamburg! The guy, a little taciturn, tongue-in-cheek, was called Richard Starkey. Georges and Paul had seen him play with Rory Storm at the Kaiserkeller. They complimented him for his inventive and precise playing. Starkey appreciated the compliment. He actually called himself Ringo Starr and according to Tony he was Lancashire’s best batsman.

Ringo (Richard Starkey) on the left – Storm in the center

Paul, who was always one step ahead, reflected in silence. He was already assessing his chances of stealing that Ringo from Rory Storm. Pete was doing the Job, of course, but he didn’t bring that little extra that could sublimate the group, that touch of originality likely to catch the ear of a producer… And then, there was always this strip- teaser of misfortune, this lioness who turned his head upside down, prevented him from being entirely at the service of the collective, not to mention his recurring headaches which kept him bed-ridden for days on end … It was obvious that ‘with a drummer like Ringo, such a metronome, the band had everything to gain. The sets at the Star Club multiplied in front of an ever-growing audience, won over in advance, who sometimes came from upscale neighborhoods across the city. Three-piece suits and evening gowns had definitely replaced the jackets of the Kaiserkeller’s sailors. One December evening came a guy in his forties, graying, even more distinguished than the rest in his tweed suit. He sat down in a high chair at the bar, ordered a cocktail, and chatted with the boss who seemed to know him. As Tony and John began to fold up the equipment, he walked up to the stage and apostrophized them: he wanted to talk to them… Everyone gathered backstage around a round table. The guy’s name was Bert Kaempfert. He was a conductor and was, according to Tony, « very well known in Hamburg ». Certainly more accustomed to classical and jazz, he had let himself be tempted, on the advice of a friend, by the sound of the Star Club. He hadn’t been disappointed: really, he had heard something new tonight, « the pure energy capable of making the housewife’s ass off the chair. » He would suggest they record a song or two.

Why not « My Bonnie » which he had particularly appreciated? John couldn’t believe his ears. After all these galleys, this bohemian life between dormitories and whore bars, these kilometers on the roads, these stamps in the shape of Coke bottles, these fights, these liters of beer and these kilos of amphetamines to hold on, a guy finally came to offer them to record disk! A guy who also looked serious because he had his tickets at Polydor! You couldn’t miss it. A train like this never passed twice. Of course, they accepted. Of course, they were ready to sign anything.

The next day, with all the equipment, they were in front of the Polydor studios. Sheridan was waiting for them outside the glass doors of the elegant building in central Hamburg. They went up to the plush floors, being guided in the corridors by a charming secretary who opened the doors one after the other, to that of studio n ° 2, a padded room overhung by an aquarium from where Bert Kaempfert greeted them. A technician invited them to settle down. Tony warmed his voice and called out his « One, two, three … » My Bonnie lies over the ocean, My Bonnie lies over the sea. My Bonnie lies over the ocean. Oh bring back my Bonnie to me The third take was the right one. Tony and the Beat Brothers burned My Bonnie onto vinyl. The release was scheduled for October 23.

XXI. MerseayBeat – Bill Harry – July 1961

Hamburg had adopted them. They felt good there. They had discovered in Germany a people eager for freedom, in every sense of the word, far from what they had imagined. In return, they had adopted Hamburg, which had become their second homeland. They knew every nook and cranny of the city now, the best as well as the sordid, and, without their English accent, would have passed for locals. Still, they were seriously missing the good smells of ketchup and fish and chips, not to mention family and royals. The desire to come home, to get some rest, was starting to trot in everyone’s mind. They agreed: they would leave in early summer. They would play the last dates for Eckorn later… At the beginning of July, they said their goodbyes to all their little world: Tony, sorry to see his charges leave, Klaus their faithful friend, Astrid and of course Stu who accompanied them to the station from where they took the train to the Netherlands, then the ferry to Liverpool. The docks welcomed them with its traditional fog, pierced only by the sound of fog horns and the halls where fish sellers were bustling about. Cyn, Mimi and Louise were on the quay, happy to see the troop in good shape, plump, well away from the bodies of dried-up zombies who had returned from Scotland a year earlier. Allan Williams, still him, found them a base at Saint John Hall in Liverpool, July 13, 1961. As a matter of rest, began a new series of concerts, interrupted only by two or three days of rest. Not enough to recharge tired batteries. Paul and John wanted a real break. John’s 21st birthday was the perfect opportunity for a weekend in Paris. Three days without a guitar, without an audience, just walking the avenues of the elegant capital, the Champs Élysées and its cinemas, Boulevard Haussmann and its incredible Department Stores, the endless rue de Vaugirard… They spent hours looking at the Parisian women strolled along the quays of the Seine and landed on a bench facing the Olympia, this mythical venue that they promised to conquer. At The Cave, John met up with Bill Harry, the old Fine Arts buddy who had introduced him to Stu two years earlier. They remembered the good memories, the nights out, the parties at Ye Cracke, the pub on Rice Street, the Jacaranda and all those girls they had fondled… It had barely been two years and it was already so far… Bill Harry was more into Jazz and that was why he came regularly to the Cave. He had discovered Rock’n’roll late with the stars of Liverpool, like Johnny Gentle, Rory Storm and Gerry. Bill always had a notebook with him and was taking notes on the fly of anything interesting going on around Liverpool. For Bill, Liverpool was a bit like New Orleans, but with Rock instead of Jazz: a teeming city, a city of culture where talent was exploding and which lacked the essential: a specialized newspaper. The articles he submitted to the dailies invariably ended up in the trash. So with fifty pounds he started his own newspaper, the Merseybeat,

Mersey BEAT

The first issue was released on July 6, 1961 and, within months, had become the bible of teenagers. The reaction to Mersey Beat was phenomenal: 5,000 copies of the first issue quickly sold out. The teenagers literally tore off the newspaper, devoured the articles, cut out pictures of their idols which they stuck on the already crowded walls of the rooms. Mersey Beat set the temperature, or rather the « La », of the Liverpool music scene in Southport. Liverpool’s three main book and record sellers then WH Smith, Blackburn’s and Conlan’s in turn demanded copies of Mersey Beat. Bill had to make reprints. Especially since he had made up his mind to enter NEMS, the North Ends Music Store, the largest record store in the north of England. He had gone there and asked to see the owner: a certain Brian Epstein, an elegant man in his forties still in a three-piece suit. Bill had shown him the last copy with Gerry on the cover. Epstein was immediately won over by « the innovative concept that filled a void. » Harry had left twelve copies for him to « try »; he had shook his hand with the promise to take back any unsold goods. Epstein had called him in the afternoon: the twelve numbers had already been sold and he wanted more. For the next issue, he pre-ordered twelve dozen copies! Bill wanted to write something about “John’s Tape” as he called it. John lent himself to the game and, that same evening, brought a biography of the band written in his hand, in his particular style.

“Once upon a time there were three young men, John, George and Paul by their baptismal names. They decided to go a long way together because they had a bit of the same ideas. When they were together, they asked themselves « Why do »? So all of a sudden they were playing guitar and making some trendy sounds. Funny enough, it didn’t interest anyone except these three kids. So they discovered a fourth: Stuart Sutcliffe and suggested he buy a bass. What he did. But he didn’t know how to play it. So they sat down and taught him. And then they looked for a drummer… Suddenly, during the tour in Scotland with Johnny Gentle, the band discovered that their sound wasn’t really good because of the amps. A lot of people ask: what are the Beatles? Why the Beatles? Well, I’ll tell you.

Harry wrote down the story of John who would anchor his gang in the landscape of the port city; it was the first in a long series that would open the doors of the front page to them and, in the meantime, the windows of NESMs.

XXII. Brian Epstein – November 1961

Originally, North End Music was an electrical equipment store established in 1957 by Brian Epstein’s father on Great Charlotte Street. Brian had inherited it and, within a few years, had developed it, moving it to a more prestigious address, expanding it, then specializing in everything that had to do with music, near or far. He sold pianos, guitars, wireless radios, gramophones and, of course, records. NEMs had become, under his authority, a benchmark. But now that the store had reached a comfortable cruising speed, Brian was bored. He was looking for something else, “something to stimulate”, a new challenge capable of “getting him out of the gray alleys of NEMS, where a clientele of the same color circulated”. But he had no precise idea since his field of competence stopped at the glass door of his store. Among the clientele was Raymond Jones, the regular regulars, punctual like a Swiss clock and boring like a rainy day. One day in October, exactly the 21st, at 2 p.m. as usual, he walked in, pushed open those glass doors and delivered the usual courtesies to the hostesses, then went to the counter where Brian had hoped for a moment to remain invisible: – Hello Mr. Epstein, I’m looking for My Bonnie with the Beatles! he had asked. – Hello Mr. Jones. I do not know. I’ve never heard of it, Brian replied politely. punctual like a Swiss clock and boring like a rainy day. One day in October, exactly the 21st, at 2 p.m. as usual, he walked in, pushed open those glass doors and delivered the usual courtesies to the hostesses, then went to the counter where Brian had hoped for a moment to remain invisible: – Hello Mr. Epstein, I’m looking for My Bonnie with the Beatles! he had asked. – Hello Mr. Jones. I do not know. I’ve never heard of it, Brian replied politely. punctual like a Swiss clock and boring like a rainy day. One day in October, exactly the 21st, at 2 p.m. as usual, he walked in, pushed open those glass doors and delivered the usual courtesies to the hostesses, then went to the counter where Brian had hoped for a moment to remain invisible: – Hello Mr. Epstein, I’m looking for My Bonnie with the Beatles! he had asked. – Hello Mr. Jones. I do not know. I’ve never heard of it, Brian replied politely. then went to the counter where Brian had hoped for a moment to remain invisible: – Hello Mr. Epstein, I’m looking for My Bonnie with the Beatles! he had asked. – Hello Mr. Jones. I do not know. I’ve never heard of it, Brian replied politely. then went to the counter where Brian had hoped for a moment to remain invisible: – Hello Mr. Epstein, I’m looking for My Bonnie with the Beatles! he had asked. – Hello Mr. Jones. I do not know. I’ve never heard of it, Brian replied politely.

Brain Epstein

– It just came out on Polydor, a German label. – I’m sorry, I don’t know. And I make a point of knowing all the last 45 laps! – Oh good… – But the customer at NEMS is King Mr. Jones. If these Beatles exist, I’ll find them for you. – Well, I’ll come back tomorrow, around 2 p.m. – I have no doubt Mr. Jones. – Goodbye, Mr. Epstein. – Goodbye, Mr. Jones. In the evening, two young girls came to the counter to make the same request: – We’re looking for My Bonnie with the Beatles! – Definitely! Everyone is looking for these famous strangers! I’m sorry ladies, I don’t have the honor of not knowing these Beatles. I am, I must admit, a little annoyed not to be able to satisfy such a charming clientele… – Of course you know them, Mr. Epstein, said the youngest! There they were, last week, at the same counter, leather boys who annoyed you by constantly asking for records and never buying anything! – Oh yes… These young people… – Yes. The Beatles, great guys playing in the Cave. – I am sorry. Yet I know this place well. I will inquire. As soon as the youth was gone, Brian called various record companies. No one knew My Bonnie or the Beatles. He then called Polydor directly. A beautiful female voice with a German accent greeted him: – Hello sir, can we help you? – Yes. I’m Brian Epstein, the owner of NEMS, a record store in Liverpool, and several clients ask me for My Bonnie with the Beatles. Do you know? – Sure ! My Bonnie has just reached fifth place in the charts in Germany! But the name « Beatles » doesn’t ring a bell. You must be talking about the Beat Brothers and Tony Sheridan surely ?!  » – No. I’m talking about the Beatles … But send me 500 copies of My Bonnie. I will see. – It’s like it’s done, Mr. Epstein. The copies are leaving today. – Thank you Madam. Brian hung up the receiver, half satisfied. He knew that at 2 o’clock the next day, Mr. Jones would be there… He scratched his head. « The Beatles », he had seen that name somewhere. He searched his stack of old magazines and pulled out the latest Mersey Beat! Bingo! It was there that he had seen them. In the inside pages, John, Paul and the others were posing with their rocker instruments. He read the few lines which accompanied the article and had indeed the confirmation that they did the nights of La Caverne, the club of Ray Mc Fall. The Cave was not very far from NEMS. He would get there as soon as possible. On November 9, 1961, at lunchtime, Brian put on his most elegant suit and walked out on Matthew Street, accompanied by his assistant James Alistair Taylor, in the direction of La Caverne. An endless line of more or less young people stretched out in the street. But Brian was not an ordinary person, he was a personality from Liverpool: he asked the security guard to see Ray Mc Fall. The latter arrived immediately, greeted him warmly and indicated the entrance reserved for VIPs. Behind the door was a metal staircase that seemed to descend into hell. Brian committed to it, followed by his assistant and Ray and plunged into the bowels of the city where the first Roll over Beethoven chords dated back. At the bottom, stretched out a dark, vaulted room, lined with red bricks, all in length, overheated, where a hysterical crowd was agitating. Ray settled the two partners at a retired table at the back of the club. They ordered a beer.

Brian was not in his world. He was a man of good manners, a man of elegance, and at first glance the guys who performed on the stage seemed vulgar to him. Cramped in a sort of niche, they wore bad boys’ leathers and old jeans that were forbidden at the club; they smoked a lot, gulped down beers on beers, ate sandwiches between titles and talked with the front rows like friends. But we had to recognize that they had a particular sound, a rhythm that made you want to dance. And people liked it. After this first impression, Brian took an interest in the singer: John was then at the microphone. Brian watched him closely. There was something magnetic, animalistic, eccentric about this theatrical character with the rugged voice. The bassist was also good. From time to time he took over at the microphone. There was not one good singer, but two! The guy with the lead guitar wasn’t bad either! And then there were all these girls… Brian had never seen that: “hysterical” was the adjective that comes to his mind to describe this completely crazy female gente who squeezed in the first row. Brian thought to himself that, perhaps, on this tiny stage, something new was playing out, an opportunity, the new challenge he was so hoping for, enough to give a little boost to his too routine life … Suddenly, the sono de La Caverne announced: « Mr. Brian Epstein is here with us this evening! » Brian stood up and greeted the crowd with a sigh, « Thanks Ray! » I will repay you…. ”. The last notes of Please Mister Postman were now evaporating overhead. It was time to go. But Ray had joined them and offered to take them for a walk in the boxes. « Great idea, » Brian replied, curious to see where his intuition could take him. In the dressing room, as small as a cash drawer, the Beatles were already there putting away the equipment. Georges had recognized the boss of NEMS and immediately asked him: « And what brings you here Mr. Epstein? » Brian flattered left them his card. “I loved the energy you deployed tonight! You hardly save yourself! He replied, shaking hands with everyone. Over the next few days he tried to find out about the group. Did he have a manager? Had he already recorded something? Sitting at his desk where copies of My Bonnie had been displayed, he scratched his chin. Perhaps he had found what he had been looking for for so long, something to finally get out of his boring comfort zone? Rereading Mersey Beat, he learned that they had their headquarters at the Casbah. He then instructed James Alistair Taylor to go there with a contract: a real professional contract! John, slumped in Mona’s sofa, picked up the papers Taylor presented him. He could not believe his eyes. This time was the right one, the real start of their career, the highway that would lead them in Elvis’ footsteps … Paul, more measured, at the living room table, scanned the document diagonally. Epstein reserved 25% of the proceeds! John was amazed. Taylor explained that Mr. Epstein was going to invest in them and that he expected to lose a lot of money at first. How to refuse? Impossible ! what to finally get out of his boring comfort zone? Rereading Mersey Beat, he learned that they had their headquarters at the Casbah. He then instructed James Alistair Taylor to go there with a contract: a real professional contract! John, slumped in Mona’s sofa, picked up the papers Taylor presented him. He could not believe his eyes. This time was the right one, the real start of their career, the highway that would lead them in Elvis’ footsteps … Paul, more measured, at the living room table, scanned the document diagonally. Epstein reserved 25% of the proceeds! John was amazed. Taylor explained that Mr. Epstein was going to invest in them and that he expected to lose a lot of money at first. How to refuse? Impossible ! what to finally get out of his boring comfort zone? Rereading Mersey Beat, he learned that they had their headquarters at the Casbah. He then instructed James Alistair Taylor to go there with a contract: a real professional contract! John, slumped in Mona’s sofa, picked up the papers Taylor presented him. He could not believe his eyes. This time was the right one, the real start of their career, the highway that would lead them in Elvis’ footsteps … Paul, more measured, at the living room table, scanned the document diagonally. Epstein reserved 25% of the proceeds! John was amazed. Taylor explained that Mr. Epstein was going to invest in them and that he expected to lose a lot of money at first. How to refuse? Impossible ! he learned that they had their headquarters at the Casbah. He then instructed James Alistair Taylor to go there with a contract: a real professional contract! John, slumped in Mona’s sofa, picked up the papers Taylor presented him. He could not believe his eyes. This time was the right one, the real start of their career, the highway that would lead them in Elvis’ footsteps … Paul, more measured, at the living room table, scanned the document diagonally. Epstein reserved 25% of the proceeds! John was amazed. Taylor explained that Mr. Epstein was going to invest in them and that he expected to lose a lot of money at first. How to refuse? Impossible ! he learned that they had their headquarters at the Casbah. He then instructed James Alistair Taylor to go there with a contract: a real professional contract! John, slumped in Mona’s sofa, picked up the papers Taylor presented him. He could not believe his eyes. This time was the right one, the real start of their career, the highway that would lead them in Elvis’ footsteps … Paul, more measured, at the living room table, scanned the document diagonally. Epstein reserved 25% of the proceeds! John was amazed. Taylor explained that Mr. Epstein was going to invest in them and that he expected to lose a lot of money at first. How to refuse? Impossible ! took the sheets Taylor presented to him. He could not believe his eyes. This time was the right one, the real start of their career, the highway that would lead them in Elvis’ footsteps … Paul, more measured, at the living room table, scanned the document diagonally. Epstein reserved 25% of the proceeds! John was amazed. Taylor explained that Mr. Epstein was going to invest in them and that he expected to lose a lot of money at first. How to refuse? Impossible ! took the sheets Taylor presented to him. He could not believe his eyes. This time was the right one, the real start of their career, the highway that would lead them in Elvis’ footsteps … Paul, more measured, at the living room table, scanned the document diagonally. Epstein reserved 25% of the proceeds! John was amazed. Taylor explained that Mr. Epstein was going to invest in them and that he expected to lose a lot of money at first. How to refuse? Impossible !

The four signed making Brian Epstein their new manager. Taylor continued: – Mr. Epstein wants you to make yourself available, because he will be doing the tour of record companies and could get an audition shortly. John softened. « There’s a little problem, Mr. Taylor. » Of course, we’re okay with the auditions, the record companies, the fame, the money and everything in between. But we have to leave in April for Hamburg: we have promised Peter Eckhorn to play a few more dates at the Star Club. – Hamburg? Taylor asked in surprise. What are you going to do in Hamburg? There is nothing there! – You are probably right my Taylor, but we promised. The owner gave us an advance and then we owe him that. – Like you want. That leaves us four months before your departure. For his part, Brian, very motivated by this new challenge, had already set to work. He knew Mike Smith from DECCA. A phone call and he picked up a first audition: on January 1, 1962, they were expected in North London. Brian told them not to get excited, not to expect immediate miracles, because the competition was tough. Neil Aspinal loaded the equipment into the van and they took the snowy road to West Hampstead where Mike Smith, a not-so-nice guy, greeted them. Everything went very quickly: the jacks were plugged in and they played a few songs, including Besame Mucho and Till it was you. Mike Smith listened and seemed rather satisfied a priori. He promised a quick response. But time passed, January, February, March,… and still nothing. Brian lost patience. He rushed to London, forced Smith’s desk and demanded an explanation. Smith didn’t even get up. Next to him was Dirk Rowe, the artistic director of DECCA. It was he who spoke smugly: « Go back to Liverpool, Mr. Epstein, the guitar groups will disappear! »  »  » What an imbecile ! Brian enraged. He will bite his fingers … The first attempt was therefore a failure. Brian had prepared for it. He picked up his handset and began to unroll his address book. His proteges resumed while waiting for the road to La Caverne where they intended to take root at least until spring. Then they would fly to Hamburg to settle their last accounts. « Go back to Liverpool, Mr. Epstein, guitar groups will disappear! »  »  » What an imbecile ! Brian enraged. He will bite his fingers … The first attempt was therefore a failure. Brian had prepared for it. He picked up his handset and began to unroll his address book. His proteges resumed while waiting for the road to La Caverne where they intended to take root at least until spring. Then they would fly to Hamburg to settle their last accounts.

XXIII. Stu – April 1962

* On April 13, 1962, the Beatles landed on the Hamburg tarmac. Astrid greeted them at the international flight terminal, strangely silent, dressed all in black, a woolen cap pulled up to her eyes. John rushed over to her and hugged her. He saw immediately that something was wrong. Astrid, usually so talkative, said nothing. John released the hug and asked, « What’s wrong? » Why do you say nothing? And why are you alone? Where’s Stu? – Stu is dead. she said simply, crushing a tear between her frozen fingers. – Dead ? What are you talking about. He is not dead. – He is dead. Yesterday. In his studio. It’s over… – What are you telling me? It is not possible. – Yet it is the truth. He collapsed in the middle of his paintings and his colors. I found him on the floor, lifeless. Help arrived too late. They couldn’t do anything. That’s why I came alone. John was devastated. His lifelong friend, his brother was no more. A part of him, the most intimate, had just disappeared in the steams of Hamburg. And there was nothing he could do about it. Absolutely nothing ; only to hug Astrid, even harder, perhaps to breathe in her scent, one last time. They stayed like that for long minutes. Astrid finally took a kraft envelope from her pocket. John opened it and extracted a few pictures, the frozen image of Stu casually, his bass slung over his shoulder, hiding behind his eternal dark glasses, a black strand falling over his dark gaze. John wiped away a tear in turn. He wanted to see the workshop,

He left his band and left with Astrid, hand in hand. The attic was still cluttered with all of the artist’s equipment, as if Stu was about to work on a new piece. A dim light barely managed to pierce the orange veils that Stu had hung on the only window. There were gigantic canvases, most of them a deep black, sometimes with a few shades of red, violent paintings, scratched like the kid from Liverpool. On the floor, a palette testified to the drama that had played out in this small room. John picked it up. She was ice cold, like the rest of the room. There was nothing more to say, nothing more to do. Astrid and John sat for long minutes in Stu’s chair, one against the other, united in pain. Astrid asked John to stay for the night. He accepted. With Stu’s disappearance, the Star Club concerts were a real chore for John. He no longer saw any point in staying in this sordid port that led them nowhere. Their future was played out elsewhere, in England, in London where Brian was struggling like hell.

XXIV. Parlophone – May 9, 1962

Despite the efforts of their new manager, EMI and Colombia Records had not wanted to give them another chance. Too many groups were circulating. And, it seemed, the London groups had more chances than the others: the black leathers and the sliced ​​bananas, it was too « suburb », too « worker ». Now you needed well-tailored suits and the manners of nice boys, like Frank Ifield, Mr. Acker Bilt or the Tornados. Brian had therefore taken it into his head to change the image of his proteges to make them real Londoners and finally open the doors of good society to them. Put away the jackets, no more cigarettes on stage and plenty of alcohol. The Beatles had to buy themselves a pipe; they would now be in costume and greet their audience. Their performances should henceforth be exclusively composed of their flagship titles and be organized down to the millimeter. The idea was to seduce! To seduce the decision-makers, those who had the keys to the record companies. He began to write little notes, memos about the thousand and one ways of behaving on stage and in life. Neil Aspinal would be his transmission belt, the messenger who would transmit the instructions to the group. Brian had two qualities: his tenacity and his address book. The first never failed him. The second, on the other hand, was beginning to show its limits. He was at the end of his list. There was Parlophone, but the label was more specialized in strings and brass. But Brian took a chance. Bingo! Five minutes were enough for him to seduce the secretary on the phone: Georges Martin, the artistic director, agreed to receive it. It was 8 am on May 9, 1962. Brian looked up into the London sky where the prestigious EMI building stood. He looked like a very young man in his crisp white shirt, silk tie, and black special occasion suit.

In his briefcase were the precious tapes, titles recorded in the studio. The sound wasn’t great, but it should do the trick. There were four songs, covers of old American standards, like Aint she sweet, That’s all I Want and some original compositions. He took a deep breath. He felt a bit like a recent graduate on his way to his first hiring date. This Mr. Georges Martin was going to decide on the consequences of the adventure. But Brian, although he didn’t know why, this time around was rather optimistic. After so many failures, doors closed on his nose, he was convinced the tide had turned and luck was now on his side. He pushed open the double glass door. The hostess verified her identity, then directed her to an elevator. « Third floor » she had indicated. Brian pushed the button and the door closed. As he went upstairs, he thought of all the directors he had seen, these smug people who had turned him away, politely or not. He sighed. “Ding! « . He had arrived. He got out of the elevator and walked down the hallway indicated by the hostess. He was now in front of the headmaster’s door. He put his tie back on, adjusted his suit, straightened his black hair, and knocked on the door. Georges Martin opened the door to him in person. “A true British Lord! Brian thought to himself. He asked her to come in and offered to sit down on the only chair that sat in front of the Spartan desk. Then, Mr. Martin offered him a Ceylon tea that Brian accepted with joy. The manager picked up his receiver and asked his secretary to do what was necessary. Brian had prepared a little speech: he talked about Liverpool, NEMS, the Scottish Tour, the Cave and Hamburg. Mr. Martin listened politely. Brian then offered to listen to the essays recorded on the tapes. Still without saying a word, Georges Martin grabbed them and slipped them into a small tape recorder placed in front of him. He pressed Play and the slightly nasal first notes of Ain’t she Sweet rang out. Brian, sunk in the leather chair, searched every feature of her face, looking for some semblance of excitement. But nothing. Not a wrinkle on his forehead, not a smirk on his lips, only the gaze of the expert capable of judging a piece at the first listen, as a head sommelier would do at the first sip of good wine. of the Cave and of Hamburg. Mr. Martin listened politely. Brian then offered to listen to the essays recorded on the tapes. Still without saying a word, Georges Martin grabbed them and slipped them into a small tape recorder placed in front of him. He pressed Play and the slightly nasal first notes of Ain’t she Sweet rang out. Brian, sunk in the leather chair, searched every feature of her face, looking for some semblance of excitement. But nothing. Not a wrinkle on his forehead, not a smirk on his lips, only the gaze of the expert capable of judging a piece at the first listen, as a head sommelier would do at the first sip of good wine. of the Cave and of Hamburg. Mr. Martin listened politely. Brian then offered to listen to the essays recorded on the tapes. Still without saying a word, Georges Martin grabbed them and slipped them into a small tape recorder placed in front of him. He pressed Play and the slightly nasal first notes of Ain’t she Sweet rang out. Brian, sunk in the leather chair, searched every feature of her face, looking for some semblance of excitement. But nothing. Not a wrinkle on his forehead, not a smirk on his lips, only the gaze of the expert capable of judging a piece at the first listen, as a head sommelier would do at the first sip of good wine. Georges Martin grabbed them and slipped them into a small tape recorder placed in front of him. He pressed Play and the slightly nasal first notes of Ain’t she Sweet rang out. Brian, sunk in the leather chair, searched every feature of her face, looking for some semblance of excitement. But nothing. Not a wrinkle on his forehead, not a smirk on his lips, only the gaze of the expert capable of judging a piece at the first listen, as a head sommelier would do at the first sip of good wine. Georges Martin grabbed them and slipped them into a small tape recorder placed in front of him. He pressed Play and the slightly nasal first notes of Ain’t she Sweet rang out. Brian, sunk in the leather chair, searched every feature of her face, looking for some semblance of excitement. But nothing. Not a wrinkle on his forehead, not a smirk on his lips, only the gaze of the expert capable of judging a piece at the first listen, as a head sommelier would do at the first sip of good wine.

The secretary had just brought two teas and a few pieces of cakes. Mr. Martin asked him, with a wave of his hand, to put them on the entrance table. Which she did without saying a word. Again, the headmaster’s face froze. Brian sighed, « He must have seen guys like me scrolling through this office with more or less good tapes… What was I hoping for? » He’s going to send me back to Hamburg, for sure, like the others, like those idiots from DECCA! Brian had already given up hope when George lifted his forehead and said simply, « OK, I want to meet them. » Let’s see… What do you say about June 6th, at the Abbey Road studios? Brian couldn’t believe his ears. He had just landed an audition at EMI! “Of course I am available! June 6 is perfect. They will be there and you will see that you will not be disappointed! He greeted Monsieur Martin, who walked him back to the elevator. Brian, while trying to stay in control of his emotions was jubilant inside… We had to stay calm, not to screw everything up… Fortunately, the doors closed. He looked up at the overhead light. It was there that he was seized with a panic attack: his charges were still in Hamburg! They had to be reached quickly and brought back to England, because they might not have a second chance. It was there that he was seized with a panic attack: his charges were still in Hamburg! They had to be reached quickly and brought back to England, because they might not have a second chance. It was there that he was seized with a panic attack: his charges were still in Hamburg! They had to be reached quickly and brought back to England, because they might not have a second chance.

XXV. Abbey Road – June 1962

Unable to contact them. Brian had to try everything. When they weren’t on stage they were in the harbor, when they weren’t in the harbor they were in a club on Reeperbahn. He left several messages to the Top Ten without success. He tried to reach Eckorn. He was at the absent subscribers. Allan William had no more news… And the date of the meeting was approaching. He tried again: John this time picked up. Brian explained the situation to him. He insisted on Monsieur Martin’s seriousness and on this chance that should not be missed. We had to get back to Liverpool as quickly as possible to prepare for the hearing. John hung up, gathered the tape, « NDE guys! » We have a date with EMI! What do you think ? Paul had bitter memories of the auditions at DECCA and preferred to remain cautious. But he agreed that every opportunity should be seized. And this was not just any occasion. Anyway, they had reached the end of the « Eckhorn » contract, those forty exhausting nights which had got the better of their extra pounds and even seriously damaged the reserves! Georges was excited: he had more than enough of Germany, its strippers and street fights. He wanted to get home as soon as possible. Pete, on the other hand, had just gotten angry with his lioness and was pining for Mama Mona’s Burgers. There was finally only John to feel a pang in his heart: he would leave behind Astrid and the terrible memory of Stu which still haunted the streets of Hamburg. But he knew that his route should now continue in London, epicenter of European rock,

On June 2, the Beatles left Hamburg for good, and four days later Neil Aspinal gathered everyone together. He loaded the equipment again in the back of the Van and switched on the ignition: direction London, the EMI studios on Abbey Road. The atmosphere was good, although a little nervousness was felt. Neil briefed the team, insisted on politeness and good manners. He only received a « Yes Mum! » of Georges and the bursts of laughter from the others. Neil found a place not far from the famous building. It was four skeletons that got out of the vehicle: Brian couldn’t believe his eyes. To believe that they had not eaten for days! We had to hurry: we were waiting for them at studio n ° 2. It was a sort of old English Lord who greeted them! A guy of rare elegance, very dignified, tall and thin, the grizzled hair, neatly plastered back, the kind of character that was not usually part of their landscape, more in Dickens’ novels or Agatha Christie stories. Georges Martin motioned for them to enter and introduced them to the technicians present. Impressive ! The four never had such an abundance of technical gadgets of all kinds, mixers, microphones and carpet everywhere! John sat down on his Vox. Georges Martin asked them if they had any questions before starting. Georges Martin motioned for them to enter and introduced them to the technicians present. Impressive ! The four never had such an abundance of technical gadgets of all kinds, mixers, microphones and carpet everywhere! John sat down on his Vox. Georges Martin asked them if they had any questions before starting. Georges Martin motioned for them to enter and introduced them to the technicians present. Impressive ! The four never had such an abundance of technical gadgets of all kinds, mixers, microphones and carpet everywhere! John sat down on his Vox. Georges Martin asked them if they had any questions before starting.

Georges simply said he didn’t like Monsieur Martin’s tie. “It has nothing to do with music! »Replied the director who continued:« Good, since there is no question, I go up in his semaphore and forward! Let’s see what’s on your stomach. Everyone knew what they had to do: the hours on the stage had long allowed everything to be settled: the covers, the choirs, everything that made the fluidity of a song, the harmony of an ensemble had long been overdue. stalled. They plugged the jacks into the amps, adjusted the volumes and the balances, pushed the saturation a little and it was gone with « Ask me why ». Perched in his glass bubble which dominated the quartet, Brian at his side, Georges Martin listened attentively. Concentrated, he had resumed his frozen expert face. With his head propped up in his hands, he thought back to his first listening and said to himself: “The songs are average. But there is a particular sound, an atmosphere, something new. John has a very Rock voice. Paul has velvet in the vocal cords, ideal for ballads; I could see him singing « Love me tender ». The guy who didn’t like my tie is also doing well on the guitar. The drummer is clearly not at the level of the other three. I did well to bring them in, but we would have to try with a real drummer… ”Martin waited for the“ cigarettes ”break to tell Brian his idea. He was ready to offer them a contract, but on one condition: they had to find « a drummer worthy of the name ». Brian listened. He had anticipated everything except that. He began to do clever calculations in his head, think about the thousand and one ways to announce the thing to Pete, imagine his reaction… Not easy after what he had lived with the three others… The audition ended thus, on the promise to meet again. Brian waited until everyone was seated in the van to present the situation to the group: “Mr. Martin offers a contract with recordings from September. The van struggled to contain the explosion of joy. Seeing Pete in heaven, he sighed and then said, « Pete. » I don’t know how to tell you. But he wants to replace you… He doesn’t find you good enough. He wants us to find another drummer. And this is a sine qua none condition. In the back of the van, it was like a sledgehammer to poor Pete’s head. « How could you throw it away like an old sock? » After all these sacrifices, those nights of beating time for others without ever complaining… He had opened the doors of the Casbah to them, had helped them out when they were in trouble, always present when needed, and now… ”He was not naive: he knew he was not the best in the place, but he had done everything to improve, he had worked hard, even blisters. When the group came out of anonymity, it was going to go back to mom … The other three were sincerely sorry. Pete had been a nice, helpful guy… and it hurt their hearts to treat him like that. Obviously, they had nothing against him. and now… ”He was not naive: he knew he was not the best in the place, but he had done everything to improve, he had worked hard, even blisters. When the group came out of anonymity, it was going to go back to mom … The other three were sincerely sorry. Pete had been a nice, helpful guy… and it hurt their hearts to treat him like that. Obviously, they had nothing against him. and now… ”He was not naive: he knew he was not the best in the place, but he had done everything to improve, he had worked hard, even blisters. When the group came out of anonymity, it was going to go back to mom … The other three were sincerely sorry. Pete had been a nice, helpful guy… and it hurt their hearts to treat him like that. Obviously, they had nothing against him.

But Mr. Martin had been very clear: he needed another drummer and quickly! John and Paul had the same name in mind: the guy Tony Sheridan had introduced them to: Richard Starkey, the one who called himself Ringo Starr XXVI Ringo Starr September 1962 On September 4, Neil Aspinal parked his Van for the second time at the foot of the building of EMI. Ringo, of course, had accepted the offer. He had taken Pete’s place in the back of the Van. He was as talkative as Pete was silent, taking everything for a laugh. The atmosphere was good throughout the trip. They went directly to studio number 2 where Georges Martin was waiting. First surprise: he introduced them to Andy White, a studio drummer. Ringo was therefore not necessary! He dropped his chopsticks, glaring at Brian who didn’t know. To look good, Georges Martin suggested that he play the maracas or the tambourine. Supreme humiliation for the one who considered himself the best batsman in Liverpool. Second surprise: Georges Martin offered them a title: “How you do it” composed by a certain Mitch Murray. He was sure to make it a number one. John listened to the model, then Paul: they didn’t like it. They preferred to play their own titles. They had written quite a few in Hamburg. There was for example “Love me do”, a blues in E with ideal lyrics to melt all the midinettes of Liverpool, a song that Paul had imagined in the already remote days of the Quarrymen, while thinking of his fiancée. John did the intro on the harmonica and Paul followed up with the verse: Love, love me do You know i love you I alwyas be true, So please Love me do Georges Marin agreed. He would pass “How you do it” to Gerry and the Pace makers. The session was a bit laborious. The eighteenth take was the right one. For the B side of the 45 rpm, Paul and John proposed another title of their composition: « PS I love you ». This time it took ten takes. Both singles were in the box, ready to go to press to turn into hundreds of vinyl records. The release was scheduled for October or November. In the meantime, the Beatles resumed their habits at La Caverne. Ringo had quickly integrated into the group. He had brought his technique, his sense of tempo, but also of fantasy. His sober playing stuck incredibly to the mood created by the other three, without abuse of drum rolls, tom or snare. He stepped aside at the right time, highlighted himself when needed, as if he had always been part of the adventure. He was not a virtuoso of the cymbal, but had a rare talent, that of knowing how to fit exactly, almost naturally into the titles offered to him, to put himself at the service of the group, to bring discreetly to the together his personal musical touch. He was the fourth they’d been waiting for from the Quarrymen. to discreetly bring your personal musical touch to the ensemble. He was the fourth they’d been waiting for from the Quarrymen. to discreetly bring your personal musical touch to the ensemble. He was the fourth they’d been waiting for from the Quarrymen.

October arriving, everyone was watching in the bins for the arrival of the 45 rpm. It was on October 5 that NEMS offered it for sale. Thanks to Brian’s address book, the BBC had aired it two or three times. The Liverpool groupies spent their pocket money and « Love me do » slowly climbed the charts to reach seventeenth place! Brian was half satisfied, although for a start it wasn’t that bad. In any case, that gave them the right to a second try, a new recording with Monsieur Martin. John, this time, took the lead and came up with one of his compositions: « Please Please Me », a Roy Orbinson-style blues he had composed while still living with Aunt Mimi. He had already tried to fit it on the B side of « Love me do », but Georges Martin had found it too soft. John had reworked it and this time he was offering a greatly accelerated tempo. The title marked a real change in the way of composing: until then, Paul and John respected the structure of the Blues to the letter, around three main major chords. With « Please Please Me », John proposed to start in Blues, with an A major and an E major, but to escape for the chorus by proposing a rise in F sharp minor, followed by a C sharp minor. , to end with an apotheosis in B major: Please Please Me oh Yeah and I please you ”. A real fireworks display! Martin agreed to Ringo taking his place behind the drums for the first take of « Please Please Me ». He made a little demonstration to the doubtful lord who had to face the facts: he did the job very well and he could fire his drummer from the studio. “One, Two, Three Four! Ringo had just given the signal start. John began the intro on Uncle George’s harmonica. Eighteen takes later, Martin was finally satisfied: « Boys, you’ve got your first Number One here! » For the B side, John offered, “Ask me why”. « Please please me » was released on January 11, 1963. It was signed Mc Cartney – Lennon, in that order and became, as Georges Martin had predicted, Number 1. From that moment on, the quartet did not belong. no longer to Hamburg fans, nor to Liverpool fans. The whole of England made it her own. Soon he would conquer the world, make girls cry, unleash passions, collective hysteria, influence the history of music, aesthetics, fashion and beyond. He will become more famous than Christ, known from the London suburbs to the suburb of Manila, from the plains of Ukraine to the Japanese prefectures, making the King pass for a singer of the past… An odyssey that will last 7 more years. Postscript It’s midnight. The huge steel arena will close its doors soon. The faces of John, Georges, Ringo and Paul adorned the backstage walls throughout the evening, bringing tears of joy down the cheeks of many nostalgic. Sir Paul is still valiant despite the years and has accepted a final recall. He settles down at the piano and offers us the medley of the B side of Abbey Road. The last title sounds like an epitaph: The end. It’s time to go to sleep. So be it. from the plains of Ukraine to the Japanese prefectures, making the King pass for a singer of the past… An odyssey that will last 7 more years. Postscript It’s midnight. The huge steel arena will close its doors soon. The faces of John, Georges, Ringo and Paul adorned the backstage walls throughout the evening, bringing tears of joy down the cheeks of many nostalgic. Sir Paul is still valiant despite the years and has accepted a final recall. He settles down at the piano and offers us the medley of the B side of Abbey Road. The last title sounds like an epitaph: The end. It’s time to go to sleep. So be it. from the plains of Ukraine to the Japanese prefectures, making the King pass for a singer of the past… An odyssey that will last 7 more years. Postscript It’s midnight. The huge steel arena will close its doors soon. The faces of John, Georges, Ringo and Paul adorned the backstage walls throughout the evening, bringing tears of joy down the cheeks of many nostalgic. Sir Paul is still valiant despite the years and has accepted a final recall. He settles down at the piano and offers us the medley of the B side of Abbey Road. The last title sounds like an epitaph: The end. It’s time to go to sleep. So be it. The huge steel arena will close its doors soon. The faces of John, Georges, Ringo and Paul adorned the backstage walls throughout the evening, bringing tears of joy down the cheeks of many nostalgic. Sir Paul is still valiant despite the years and has accepted a final recall. He settles down at the piano and offers us the medley of the B side of Abbey Road. The last title sounds like an epitaph: The end. It’s time to go to sleep. So be it. The huge steel arena will close its doors soon. The faces of John, Georges, Ringo and Paul adorned the backstage walls throughout the evening, bringing tears of joy down the cheeks of many nostalgic. Sir Paul is still valiant despite the years and has accepted a final recall. He settles down at the piano and offers us the medley of the B side of Abbey Road. The last title sounds like an epitaph: The end. It’s time to go to sleep. So be it. The last title sounds like an epitaph: The end. It’s time to go to sleep. So be it. The last title sounds like an epitaph: The end. It’s time to go to sleep. So be it.