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UPDATED Oct 2016

Bristol - Dec 2012

In early December the Quarrymen appeared at The Thunderbolt in Totterdown, Bristol for their last gig of 2012. John Duff Lowe has lived near Bristol for many years and one of his musical pals happens to be Mike Wilsh, bass player for the Four Pennies, who also lives in Bristol, and so the Quarrymen were delighted to have Mike guesting on bass once more.  In addition to their usual full programme of music and anecdotes, the Quarrymen were  recorded both on stage and in interviews for the forthcoming BBC4 tv programme, “Rock ‘n’ Roll Britannia”, which is provisionally scheduled for airing on Friday 17 May. In the audience for the gig was a lady called Sheila Stewart who had been present when the Quarrymen performed on the Church Field at the St. Peter’s Rose Queen in Woolton on 6 July 1957. Sheila wasn’t sure whether the Quarrymen had improved over the years, but they had certainly aged a bit!

It was a great audience and we had a fantastic evening, special thanks go to landlord David McDonald and his family for making us feel so welcome.


Quarryman visits German Beatle Museum:

Quarryman Rod Davis visited Edmund Thielow’s Beatle Museum
 - this is his report:

In the first few days of October I drove to Munich to visit the Oktoberfest in my rented lederhosen, then drove eastwards to the little town of Glauchau not far from Dresden. The reason for this visit was the 20th Anniversary of the Beat Archiv Museum – formerly the Sergeant Pepper’s Museum – under it’s Director, Edmund Thielow. Edmund had been a Beatles fan since 1975 and at the time he was of course living in the DDR under Communist rule, where a liking for the degenerate music of the Beatles marked him out as a dangerous subversive, so much so that the ill-famed Stasi secret police had a file on him. (The photo above shows Edmund playing washboard with Tony Sheridan and Rod Davis.) However those days are now long gone and musicians and Beatles fans from all over Germany came together for a celebration party. The Quarrymen played in Glauchau some years ago and we received a very warm welcome, however this time the welcome was even warmer than expected because on the Friday night the hotel in which I was staying caught fire! Fortunately the fire brigade made a very efficient job of dealing with the outbreak which was caused by an overheating fridge motor. Our only serious discomfort involved waiting in the car park from 1:00am to 2:30 whilst the hotel was made safe.

Next day the guests began to arrive and the list of invitees read like a roll-call of supporters of the Beat Archiv over the last 20 years.

Tony Sheridan and Hans-Walther Braun (Icke) from the Beatles’ Hamburg days; tribute band “Frankie goes to Liverpool” from Berlin; singer-songwriter Andreas Geffart; Lothar Becker and Kai-Uwe Wittern from The Strawberries; Reinhard Fissler from Stern Combo Meissen and his daughter Vivien Maurer; author Reiner Bratfisch; Sergey Radschenko from Ukraine, curator of the “Back from the USSR” exhibition of Soviet era Beatlefan material and Thorsten Dahlberg, the Head of the Culture Department of the Glauchau Town Council which has lent great support to the Beat Archiv Museum over the years. Also present were members of the Glauchau Beatles Fan Club, including old friends of mine Gunter and Undine Queck, Andrea Noack and Maik Eidam.

The music performances were fantastic, naturally most of the songs were Beatles favourites, but by no means all. Amongst the many offerings of note, “Frankie goes to Liverpool” played a selection of Beatles material, including a very emotional performance of “If I fell”, where the lead vocal was taken by Reinhard Físsler, who despite his near total paralysis had travelled from Berlin to Glauchau in his special hospital bed to be at the celebration – see photo at right.

Reinhard’s daughter, Vivien Maurer,  a supremely talented singer and guitarist, performed “Blackbird”, “Here, there and everywhere”, “Michelle” and “Eleanor Rigby”.

Tony Sheridan played half a dozen numbers in his own inimitable style including “Georgia on my mind” on which he was joined on vocals by Reinhard.

Eventually it was my turn and Tony stayed on stage as we ran through some old skiffle numbers such as “Midnight Special”, “Lost John” and “Freight Train” with bassist Eugen Braumann and drummer Gerald Zaczyk with various guest washboard players such as Edmund Thielow himself, Andrea Noack and Gunter Queck.

It was a fantastic party and a marvellous celebration of 20 years of the Glauchau Beat Archiv. Very many thanks go to Edmund, his wife Christina, Gunter and Undine Queck and all those who helped to make the occasion such a huge success.

John Duff Lowe, Len Garry, Colin Hanton, Hunter Davies,
Frank Cairns (guest bassist) and Rod Davis

London Oct 2012

Hunter Davies’ Party

On Thursday 11 October Hunter Davies was launching his new book “The Lennon Letters” at the British Library and he asked the Quarrymen to provide some authentic entertainment. After his interesting lecture on his Beatle connections and the writing of the book, Hunter welcomed his guests, many of whom were the owners of the letters featured in the book, to a private party. Amongst those guests were John’s two sisters, Julia and Jackie, his cousin David, and Yoko Ono, who as owner of John’s copyright in the letters, had given her permission for them to be used.

All of Hunter’s talk is now on Youtube at:

The whole clip lasts about 1 hour 10 minutes and the Quarrymen appear playing “Maggie May” after about one hours 7 minutes.

Quarrymen Gig at The Castle:

The following night, Fri 12 Oct The Quarrymen played a rare London gig - their first since 2006 - at The Castle, Finchley Road, a great London Rock ‘n’ Roll venue. The gig was organised in conjunction with the British Beatles Fan Club, whose members turned out in force. The evening began with a toast to their Ukrainian friends who had presented them with a bottle of Pepper Honey Vodka at our Hamburg gig in April.

It turned out to be a great evening with a fantastic atmosphere. More than a few members of the audience got to play tea-chest bass and washboard with the band. Towards the end of the first half the Quarrymen were joined on-stage by one of their musical heroes, Chas McDevitt, who joined the group to play a couple of his great skiffle hits which had inspired the Quarrymen was back in 1957. Chas kicked off with “Freight Train” which all those years ago had sent the three chord skifflers in the UK crazy -why?? - because it contained a fourth chord - E7 - which for them was like the dark side of the moon, and then he gave us the flip-side ”The Cotton Song”. Chas remained on stage to play “Putting on the style” with the Quarrymen, which closed the first half of the evening.

In the interval, the Quarrymen’s guest bassist, Frank Cairns, persuaded Chas to sign his original 78 rpm shellac copy of “Freight Train”, and here is a delighted Frank with Chas. The story has an unhappy ending however, because somehow on the trip home with all the gear in the back of his car, Frank’s record was broken.

In the second half the guys were joined by an old friend of Rod’s, American musician Caspar Cronk, a great guitarist and autoharpist, but this time he was to sit in with the band on musical saw. A curious link with history because Rod bought his original banjo in 1956 after a conversation with his uncle who happened to play fiddle and saw in a dance band in North Wales, his banjo came from the banjo/guitarist of the same band. Rod’s brother Bernie still plays the same musical saw. Saws sound best on slow numbers, so the Quarrymen played “Blue Moon of Kentucky” -well known as an Elvis number which always features in their sets. However this time they began in 3/4 time, just like the original Bill Monroe version, which gave the saw a chance to shine, before kicking into the faster 4/4 tempo.

Skiffle groups and jug bands in the USA all played the same sort of thrown together music, and Caspar had also brought his jug. Both the musical saw and the jug were firsts for most of the audience and it brought a  great touch of authenticity to the Quarrymen’s skiffle numbers.

The Quarrymen were having such a great time that they stayed on stage for fifteen minutes over their allotted time. They’re already looking forward to their next London gig........

  • See below for loads of photos of the gig - courtesy of Richard Porter - thanks Richard!