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2009

Reinhard Fissler’s 60th Birthday  - Berlin 2009

Reinhard Fissler

pictured here in his heyday on the cover of Axel Reitel’s book ”Seelenbrennen” (Burning Souls) - Conversations with Reinhard Fissler. A fascinating read but it is of course in German!

      From a gig point of view 2009 has been quiet for the first few months, although by invitation of Edmund Thielow and Gunter Queck Rod Davis did make it over to Berlin in February for the 60th Birthday of Reinhard Fissler, one of East Germany’s most famous Rock ‘n’ Rollers who kept the flag flying during the greyest days of the Communist era despite the sometimes active disapproval of the regime. Probably his best known role was as lead vocalist with top East German band “Stern Combo Meissen” but he has also enjoyed a successful career as a soloist and a singer songwriter.
     Reinhard - who is a huge Lennon fan -  and Rod first met in Glauchau in 2001 at the “My Bonnie” Convention run by Edmund Thielow for the 40th Anniversary of the recording by Tony Sheridan and the Beat Brothers. At the time Reinhard was in the early stages of ALS - a motor neurone disease (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) which had already virtually taken away most of the use of his arms, thus preventing him from playing the guitar. Nevertheless he soldiered on, his singing voice as authoritative as ever. However as his disability took a firmer grip he eventually had to be confined to bed, where he is now under 24 hour care, able only to speak and move his eyelids.
    Despite this he has been able to teach his daughter Vivien to play the guitar and she has become an accomplished musician and singer. He also writes and arranges music by using a specially adapted computer.
    For his 60th Birthday party Reinhard was transported still in his special bed to a large room in a nearby sailing club overlooking the Berlin lakes, where all his old musical friends were waiting for him. From his bed he compered the concert and even sang on a few numbers in what was a tremendous display of courage and determination.
    Reinhard, whose English is much better than Rod’s fractured German, is an inspirational character and it was a pleasure as well as a great privilege to meet him, chat with him, pick guitar with his daughter Vivien and experience the respect and admiration which was shown to Reinhard by his many friends at his 60th Birthday.


Yekaterinburg - Russia May 2009

     In May 2009 The Quarrymen were invited to Yekaterinburg in Russia by the Urals Beatles Fan Club to unveil the first monument to the Beatles in Russia beside the River Iset. As well as being present at the unveiling, the Quarrymen - Len Garry, Colin Hanton and Rod Davis (John Duff Lowe couldn’t make it for business reasons) were joined by bass player Andrei Ledaykin who had played with them on their previous trip to Russia in 2007. The gig was held in the “Ben Hall” English Pub in the centre of Yekaterinburg, which was packed to the gills with Beatles fans. A great venue which serves a fabulous pint of Guinness, the fuel which powers the Quarrymen! The concert was called “Beatles on the Border” as Yekaterinburg is on the border between Europe and Asia   - Siberia is just along the road!
     The monument to the Beatles, a tasteful outline of the group on stage, is set against a wall overlooking the river in a prominent position. Vladimir Popov, the President of the Urals Beatles Fan Club due to whose efforts over the last couple of years had resulted in the erection of the monument, made a speech to the assembled crowd, local musicians and a children’s choir sang Beatles hits and then the Quarrymen performed the unveiling after which they were assailed for autographs and photos. In the afternoon the Quarrymen were treated to a trip around the sights of the city.
 Special thanks go to our good friend Jane Enenko for taking such good care of us in Russia and of course to all the Beatles Fans in Yekaterinburg who made us feel so welcome.


Bellinzona & Brescia - June 2009

     A short tour organised by our old friend Rolando Giambelli found us on our way to Bellinzona in Switzerland to play at one of their annual “Beatles Days” which take place on three consecutive evenings on a stage in the main square in the town -ironically in the circumstances the square is named “Piazza delSole” -Square of the Sun!- in a fabulous setting dominated by a huge rock topped with a mediaeval castle. Unfortunately for the Quarrymen  - and even more so for our dedicated audience - the heavens opened and an absolute downpour lasting several hours almost flooded the square.The Green Room itself boasted a veritable stream of water from one side to the other! However all this did not serve to dampen the enthusiasm of either the Quarrymen or the audience who gave us a fantastic reception and stayed with us right to the end of our set, huddled under umbrellas which the wind and rainstorm threatened to snatch away.
    Our visit to Brescia started with a trip to the new Beatles Museum, which is housed in the same building as the Mille Miglia Museum on the outskirts of the town. John Duff Lowe presented Rolando Giambelli - who is also President of the Italian Beatles Fan Club - with a facsimile copy of the Percy Phillips record on which Duff and Colin Hanton played in 1958 with John, Paul and George. This will go on exhibit in Brescia together with other Beatles memorabilia which are gradually being gathered together. Afterwards we toured the Mille Miglia Museum and drooled over some of the fabulous cars which had taken part in the race.
     The Brescia Beatles Day is held every year in aid of charity and this year it took place in the centre of the city, over fifty bands playing Beatles music and Rock ‘n’ Roll in the Quadriportico, a covered mall, which surprisingly provided an excellent setting for the concert and was absolutely packed with fans of all shapes, sizes and ages. The Quarrymen’s set was very well received, some of the audience even knew all the words of the songs we played so all we had to do was lipread them when we got lost!
     In the afternoon we went for a quick trip round the sights of Brescia which is rich in Roman era ruins, before heading off out of the town centre to another big sound stage to make a second appearance starting around midnight. Again a fantastic audience and we got to meet some great Beatles Fans.
     Our thanks to Rolando and Alice, to Gino in Desenzano and all the other people who helped to make the Brescia Beatles Day such a success- and especially to Giancarlo from the Beatops who played bass with us on all the gigs.


The Quarrymen at the Flavel Arts CentreDartmouth, Devon

     The Quarrymen made a rare appearance in the UK on Fri 30th Oct when they played at The Flavel Arts Centre in Dartmouth, Devon. This time John Duff Lowe was in the lineup on piano, with Len Garry, Colin Hanton and Rod Davis, and joining them on bass was an old friend, Mike Wilsh, of the Four Pennies.
     The Quarrymen had a great evening singing songs from their fifties repertoire, ably supported by Mike on string bass, and telling stories of how it all began.
 


A Quarryman in Canada   

In October and November Rod Davis went on a three-week tour of Canada with his friend blues guitarist Guy Davis. Starting in Aylmer in Ontario, they then flew westwards to Edmonton and played a number of gigs in Alberta before finishing their tour in Vancouver and Vancouver Island. Guy then flew back to the States and Rod ended his trip back in Toronto with a solo gig at Hugh’s Room All in all it was a fantastic trip and Rod met many old and new friends, including Les Brough, an old schoolmate from Quarry Bank. Les played drums in a trio called “The Elastic Band for which Gerald Greenwood played piano and Rod played guitar after he left the Quarrymen.
     The photo shows Guy and Rod  after their gig in Victoria, Vancouver Island.