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The Quarrymen 50

John and Paul as members of the Quarry Men.

The Quarrymen (also written as "the Quarry Men") were a British skiffle/rock and roll group, formed by John Lennon in Liverpool in 1956, which evolved into the Beatles in 1960. Originally consisting of Lennon and several schoolfriends, the Quarrymen took their name from a line in the school song of their school, the Quarry Bank High School. Lennon's mother, Julia Lennon, taught her son to play the banjo, showed Lennon and Eric Griffiths how to tune their guitars in a similar way to the banjo, and taught them simple chords and songs. Lennon started a skiffle group that was briefly called the Blackjacks, but changed the name before any public performances. Some accounts credit Lennon with choosing the new name; other accounts credit his close friend Pete Shotton with suggesting the name. The Quarrymen played at parties, school dances, cinemas and amateur skiffle contests before Paul McCartneyjoined in October 1957. George Harrison joined in early 1958 at McCartney's recommendation, though Lennon initially resisted because he felt Harrison (14 when he was introduced to Lennon) was too young. Both McCartney and Harrison attended the Liverpool Institute.

Quarrymen 1

The Quarrymen nowadays.

The group made an amateur recording in 1958, performing Buddy Holly's "That'll Be the Day" and "In Spite of All the Danger", a song written by McCartney and Harrison. The group moved towards rock and roll, causing several of the original members to leave. This left Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison, who performed under several other names, including Johnny and the Moondogs and Japage 3 before returning to the Quarrymen name in 1959. In 1960, the group changed their name to the "Beatles" (chosen for its double-meaning, the name was conceived of late at night during the wee hours between Lennon and Stuart Sutcliffe, by then the groups fourth member, and introduced to the other two the next day; initially booked as the "Silver Beetles" by the local clubs who saw it as a more sellable name than "Beatles") and went on to be the best-selling music act of all time.

In 1997 the four surviving original members of the Quarrymen reunited to perform at the 40th anniversary celebrations of the garden fete performance at which Lennon and McCartney met for the first time. Since 1998, they have performed in many countries throughout the world, releasing four albums. Three original members still perform as the Quarrymen.


Current members
  • Colin Hanton – drums (1956–58, 1997–present)
  • Rod Davis – banjo (1957); guitar, vocals (1994–95, 1997–present)
  • Len Garry – tea-chest bass (1957–58); vocals, guitar (1997–present)
  • John Duff Lowe – piano (1958); keyboards (1994–95; since 2005, has been a regular guest, although not a constant member), vocals (1994–95)
  • Chas Newby – bass guitar (2016–present; Newby also played bass with the Beatles briefly from 1960–61)
Former members
  • John Lennon – vocals, guitar (1956–60; died 1980)
  • Eric Griffiths – guitar (1956–58, 1997–2005; died 2005)
  • Pete Shotton – washboard (1956–57, 1997–2000; died 2017)
  • Bill Smith – tea-chest bass (1956)
  • Nigel Walley – tea-chest bass (1956; Subsequently, became "manager" 1956–58)
  • Ivan Vaughan – tea-chest bass (1956–57; died 1993)
  • Paul McCartney – vocals, guitar (1957–60)
  • George Harrison – guitar, vocals (1958–60; died 2001)
  • Ken Brown – guitar (1959–60; died 2010)
  • Stuart Sutcliffe – bass guitar (1960; died 1962)
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