the beatles meet ringo – 5/27/22

Today's selection -- from The Last Days of John Lennon by James Patterson. In 1960, John Lennon and Paul McCartney meet the drummer from a rival band at the Jacaranda Club. They agree he looks tough:
"In May 5, 1960, John Lennon heads to Slater Street's Jac­aranda Club, which has a jukebox and an Italian espresso machine. Coffee bars like this are popular teenage hangouts, and at night, downstairs in the former coal cellar, the Jacaranda has a members-only club for up-and-coming bands.

"Now John finds Allan Williams standing behind the Jacaranda's counter. Williams, a tiny man with a black bushy beard, has suddenly become a key player in the Liverpool music scene.

"'Allan,' John says, 'why don't you do something for us?' Williams adjusts the black top hat he wears all the time, even in the summer.

"'How do you mean "us"? Who's us?'

"'My group,' John says. 'The Beatles.'

Starr performing with the Beatles in 1964

"John's inspiration comes from the Crickets, Buddy Holly's band, as well as his love for wordplay. Changing the second e to an a gives 'Beatles' a double meaning -- both crawling things and rhythmic music.

"Johns heard that there’s an audition with Billy Fury and tells Williams that he wants to be part of it.

"Williams nods. 'Sure. Whats your groups lineup?'

"John tells him about Paul and George and their new member Stuart Sutcliffe, a fellow student from art college. Williams knows Stu as the student who painted the murals in the base­ment of the Jacaranda -- but when Stu sells an abstract painting at Walker Art Gallery, John persuades him to use the windfall to purchase a Hofner 333 four-string bass. Stu doesn't know how to play it yet, but Johns certain he'll learn.

"Besides, Stu looks the part. He’s a thin guy with a Vandyke beard who looks a lot like American actor James Dean. Accord­ing to George, John wanted Stu in the band because he 'looks so cool.' He wears shades clipped on his eyeglasses.

"'Who’s the drummer?' Williams asks.'We haven't got one,' John admits.

'''I'll try to find you one,' Williams assures him. He delivers a fellow named Tommy Moore. Moore’s married and old-almost twenty-nine-but promises to come to the audition on May 10, after his shift at the Garston Bottle Company factory.

"They've upgraded their clothes-to black shirts and jeans-like trousers -- and their equipment. George has a new guitar, a Futurama, and Paul purchased an Elpico amplifier. John's former guitar, a gift from his mother, broke into pieces after all the playing. Mimi refused to buy him another one ('If you want it,' she told him, 'prove it'), which forced him to get an actual job, laboring to construct the city's new water pumping station. His hands bled every day of the long, hot summer.

"John bumps into Brian Casser, the lead singer of Cass and the Cassanovas. 'What's your group called again?' Casser asks John.

"'The Beatles.'

"Casser laughs at the unusual name. They go around and around until John settles on Long John and the Silver Beatles.

"When their turn arrives, they play three songs -- John taking lead in one, Paul taking lead in the second, the third an instru­mental. Stu, who doesn't know the proper notes, plays with his back to music promoter Larry Parnes and the rest of the audi­tioners. It was Paul's suggestion -- he called it 'doing a moody,' as if Stu, with his dark glasses, was too cool to be bothered.

"Long John and the Silver Beatles fail the audition. The band needs a lot more practice.

"Williams lets them use the Jacaranda cellar for rehearsals. George ties a microphone to a broomstick, and Cynthia Powell, John's girlfriend from art college, holds it up for whoever is singing.

"One day, they have an audience -- Rory Storm and his band the Hurricanes, with guitarist Johnny Guitar and drummer Ringo Starr, whose real name is Richard 'Richy' Starkey.

"'Why Ringo?' Cyn asks him.

"He holds up a hand and says, 'Because I wear three rings. That's what they called me at first -- Rings.' He tells Cyn the story behind each one. 'This one's from me mum I got when I was sixteen, this one's an engagement ring from me girlfriend, and this one's me granddad's wedding ring I got when he died.'

"'He looked like a tough guy,' George says after Ringo and his bandmates leave, 'with that gray streak in his hair and half a gray eyebrow and that big nose.'

"John agrees. They all do."


James Patterson


The Last Days of John Lennon


Hachette Book Group


Copyright 2020 by James Patterson


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