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28 October 2014
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John Lennon and Nigel Walley

Rare photograph of Lennon and Walley.

Quarrymen world exclusive

Forty years since their heyday The Beatles still make headlines all over the world. Inside Out journeys back in time to bring viewers a world exclusive - the discovery of a rare photograph of John Lennon with his first band, The Quarrymen.

Quarrymen Facts

  • Formed Liverpool in 1956 by John Lennon and his school friends.
  • Originally called The Black Jacks featuring Lennon and washboard player Pete Shotton. Renamed themselves The Quarrymen.
  • Also recruited Rod Davis, Eric Griffiths, Colin Hanton and Len Garry.
  • The famous St Peter's Rose Queen and Garden Fete gig in July 1957 was where Lennon met McCartney and they chatted. Tickets for the show cost two shillings.
  • McCartney was invited to join the group and made his debut on 18 October, 1957 at the New Clubmoor Hall in Norris Green, Liverpool. McCartney played lead guitar.
  • Rod Davis left the band in 1958 to be replaced by McCartney's friend, George Harrison.
  • In 1958 the band recorded two songs in a demo studio in Liverpool. One was a a cover of a Buddy Holly song and the other was an original number called 'In Spite of All the Danger'.
  • Colin Hanton left the band in 1959 after an argument with John and Paul - and continued as The Quarrymen for a short time.
  • In May 1960 Stuart Sutcliffe joined the band followed by Pete Best. They used several band names including The Silver Beetles before deciding on The Beatles.
  • After several departures, Ringo Starr joined the band in 1962 to complete the classic Beatles line up.
  • The Quarry Men continue to perform after getting back together in the 1990s. 

The Quarrymen is a band of legendary status in Merseyside's musical pantheon, not least because they evolved into The Beatles.

Back in late 1956 John Lennon formed The Quarrymen to play skiffle music, drawing on the sound of Bill Haley, Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley.

John Lennon

John Lennon in a very early photograph.

The group's name was taken from the Quarry Bank Grammar School, which Lennon and some of the other band members attended.

The band started to build up a local following, playing at parties, garden fetes and skiffle events across Liverpool.

But The Quarrymen's biggest break came when they appeared at the Woolton Rose Queen fete in July 1957.

It was the day Paul McCartney came along to see them... and it marked the start of the remarkable creative partnership between two iconic figures in popular music - Lennon and McCartney.

Following the meeting, McCartney was recruited to the band and the rest is history.

Although The Quarrymen eventually broke up, amazingly they are back together again and 2007 marks a momentous year -  their 50th anniversary.

Picture perfect?

For many decades the band have been searching to find a fragment of their past.

They've been looking for a photograph of one of the most important days in pop music history - the date when John Lennon met Paul McCartney on July 6, 1957.

Only one photograph of the event has claimed its place in history - one in which a young, self-assured John Lennon stares out from the stage.

But The Quarrymen are convinced that more images of the Woolton Rose gig must exist in somebody's attic or photo album.

Memories can differ but photographs can tell a story in an instant, as The Quarrymen's Rod Davis explains:

"It's the 50th anniversary for goodness sake. These photos will disappear - we've got to try to find them. They're out there somewhere.

"What would be nice would be to find a photograph of Paul McCartney actually talking to The Quarrymen." 

What's tantalising for the group is knowing that there must be other photographs out there of that important day - Rod's partner, Janet Pain, believes that she once briefly caught sight of such an image.

The Quarrymen

With John Lennon on stage that day in 1956 there were three other Quarrymen - Rod Davis was playing banjo behind John, Colin Hanton was on drums and Len Garry was there on T-chest bass.

If fate had been a little kinder, it could easily have been John, Paul, George and Colin, or Len or Rod.

Together they have had 50 years to get over not becoming The Beatles.

Ten years ago Rod Davis and the other members of the original Quarrymen got together again and started playing their distinct style of skiffle music.

Since then they've been in demand at Beatles festivals and conventions around the world.

The Quarrymen playing live

The Quarrymen celebrate their 50th year.

When they were in New York in early 2007 they took the time out to pay their own respects at the Central Park memorial to their friend John Lennon.

Fifty years on The Quarrymen are being honoured with a weekend of celebrations at St Peter's Church Hall in Woolton in Liverpool.

Blast from the past

The evening is a great success but The Quarrymen's hopes of unearthing another photograph are looking slim.

Despite appeals no-one came forward with any pictures.

Nigel Walley and Rod Davis

Nigel Walley and Rod Davis today.

But then something extraordinary happened... a photograph turned up.

After the Woolton show someone contacted The Quarrymen to say they had a photograph from their past.

They want to remain anonymous, but the photograph they produced is fascinating and a world exclusive.

It's not of the Woolton concert, but it is something very special, especially for The Quarrymen and their manager, Nigel Walley.

"It was a very special day in my life when my friend took me to the Woolton church fete to see John play and to meet him later in the evening. "

Paul McCartney's special message

It's a photograph of Nigel and John Lennon in Lime Street in Liverpool on May 5, 1958 - and it's been hidden away since then.

Nigel is astounded by the find, as he explains, "It's absolutely fantastic - just the closeness, the togetherness we had in those days. We look happy there".  

Search for photographs

For The Quarrymen there's still the hope more photos may be found.

If you have any rare early photographs or cine film of The Quarrymen, Inside Out would like to hear from you.

Email us at insideout@bbc.co.uk

Also featured...

An interview with the train driver from the Grayrigg rail crash. Read our exclusive web diary from Jan Duff, partner of driver Iain Black who was seriously injured in the accident.

Plus we look at Joy Division's Ian Curtis, celebrated in the new movie Control.

last updated: 03/10/07

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