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28 October 2014
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John Lennon and Nigel Walley in 1958

John Lennon and Nigel Walley in 1958.

The Quarrymen Q & A

We talk exclusively to Nigel Walley, manager of The Quarrymen, about his memories of John Lennon and the early days of the Liverpool Merseybeat music scene.

1. What are your fondest childhood memories of John Lennon?

We were just very good friends. He was a very funny  person - we used to get into  the usual scrapes -  John was always a bit wild, wanting to stand out.

The thing with John though was that he was as blind as a bat  -  he had glasses but he would never wear them.  He was very vain about that.

So if we were in a shop or out somewhere, John was always walking into things like shop counters or walking into lamposts...  In a shop you'd hear "CRASH.." and you'd  know that was John...

2. What sort of music did you both listen to as kids?

Well, it all started with Lonnie Donegan - he came along with Rock Island Line and he was the inspiration for The Quarrymen  because  anyone could play skiffle music -  you just neededs guitars, a washboard, drums and a tea-chest  for a bass... and then Elvis and Buddy Holly.

We were always trying to check out the latest records by listening to Radio Luxembourg with a radio under the bedclothes at night...

"I think he always believed he would make  it  - become famous one day."

Nigel Walley

3. How did you get involved in managing the Quarrymen?

I didn't play any instruments but I was good at talking so John said 'OK, be our manager then'.  I mean they were just a group - nobody knew what was going to happen - so it was just fun.

I got them quite a few gigs actually. In fact I got them their first gig at The Cavern Club - but to do that we had  to play at the owner of the Cavern Club's Golf Club.

The boys went down really well there - in fact they had a whip around among the members and they made more money that night than any other gig they played. 

The funny thing was that whenever Paul was around he used to say 'don't pay anyone's who's not playing... Thanks Paul!!  He didn't really rate managers…  ha ha ha…!!

4. What was John like as a person in the early days? 

John was always drawing cartoons - he was a great cartoonist - he could have made a living out of that.

He was very witty, always deliberately getting people's names wrong.

I think he always believed he would make  it  - become famous one day.

We were always close and people sometimes forget I was with his mother when she was killed. 

Nigel Walley

Nigel Walley in Liverpool today.

I walked up the road with her towards her bus stop and  said goodbye to her as she crossed the road and then she was knocked down and killed.

That was an awful time.

John didn't let on but I know it affected him deeply...

5. What was the most surprising thing about working with John back then?

John wasn't really interested into school or anything like that - it was music, music, music...

6. How did it feel for you and The Quarrymen when John achieved huge success with The Beatles?

I was really pleased for them. I left The Quarrymen as manager shortly after that photo was taken because I was good at golf  -  so I ended up becoming one of the youngest golf professionals of the time and ended up working at a golf club in Austria…

And then I heard they'd made it big and I thought - 'great for them'.  I never felt  bitter about it… 

John and I always stayed in touch after he was a Beatle - I would go round to his flat or house and we'd talk...

7. How did John feel about Liverpool and his old mates after he became hugely successful with the Beatles?

He never forget any of the old gang…  in fact towards the end of his life he was becoming more and more nostalgic…

8. What do you make of the old photograph that's been uncovered? What were your first thoughts when you saw it?

Wow! Fantastic, brilliant… wonderful - much better than I had expected and very emotional for me because we looked happy then...  I had the better teeth  too didn't I? 

Look at those coats though - amazing lapels aren't they? We were trying look like  Teds...

9. How do you like to remember John, today?

Just a lovely guy really - a really lovely man who we all still miss very much...

last updated: 02/10/07

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