Eric Griffiths 1940 - 2005
Eric Griffiths died on Saturday 29 January about 11am at his home in Edinburgh. After the Quarrymen’s last gig of 2004 in Trondheim in Norway during which he experienced great pain from the supposed back trouble from which he had been suffering, Eric went into hospital for a check-up and it was discovered that the real problem was cancer of the pancreas.
After a short time he returned home with his pain stabilised on morphine and he was able to spend Christmas and the New Year with his wife Relda and their three sons, Tim, Matthew and Daniel. Knowing that his condition was terminal, Eric typically spent his time sorting out his affairs in order to minimise the burden which would otherwise have fallen on his wife and family. During this period he displayed considerable courage and fortitude, but eventually he became too weak and was moved to a hospice. However he decided to return home where he passed away peacefully in his own bed.
Eric and The Quarrymen:
Eric played a major role in the history of the Quarrymen. He and John got together before the group started in order to learn the guitar, a goal which they however soon abandoned after they realised it would take a lifetime to learn to play from music. John’s mother Julia taught them banjo chords which they used until the arrival in the group of Paul McCartney.
For John’s skiffle group at Quarry Bank School, which originally consisted of John himself, Pete Shotton on washboard and Bill Smith on tea-chest bass, and Eric himself on guitar, Eric recruited banjoist Rod Davis and taught him how to play and he also sought out drummer Colin Hanton, whose presence raised the Quarrymen to a new level as drummers were a rare commodity in the Liverpool of the fifties. Bass player Bill Smith was soon replaced by Len Garry from the Liverpool Institute and with these six members the group played in youth clubs, skiffle competitions and dance halls and of course at the legendary Cavern Club.
The next milestone in the Quarrymen’s history came on 5 July 1957 when they played at the St Peter’s Church Garden Fete in their home village of Woolton. The young Paul McCartney was brought along to listen to the group by his Institute school pal, Ivan Vaughan, an old mate of the Quarrymen and as a result he was eventually asked if he wanted to join.
Eric used to tell a story about how once John was considering starting another group but without Paul, but Eric persuaded him that this was not a good idea as Paul was such an asset to the Quarrymen. So maybe we have Eric to thank for the continuing partnership of John and Paul!
Competition arrived for Eric in the shape of the young George Harrison, who was, as Eric himself has admitted, a fantastic guitarist for the time. If George had joined the band, this would have meant four guitarists, no problem in a skiffle group but too many for a rock’n’roll band. So it was suggested that Eric should buy an electric bass and amplifier, but this would have been a major expense which the Quarrymen’s minimal earnings would have taken forever to repay and so Eric left the group and went off to join the merchant navy. For details of Eric’s intervening years please see his Biog page on this website - CLICK HERE
In 1997 the Cavern decided to celebrate its 40th Birthday and invited dozens of musicians who had played there in the early years to an enormous party. As the Quarrymen had not seen each other for the best part of 40 years it came as a bit of a shock to realise that they were all old men. However this did not prevent them from letting themselves be dragged up on stage to play a few numbers and then various Beatle fans in the North West who had plans for a charity performance to raise funds for the dilapidated St Peter’s Church Hall, asked them if they were up for it. Eventually they agreed and the event was a great success.
People kept asking them if they had a cd and so Eric decided that they should make one and the result was “John Lennon’s Original Quarrymen Get back Together”, which appeared in September 1997.
Since that time the Quarrymen have appeared all over Europe, have played in Canada and Cuba, visited the USA five times and even played in Japan. Their Japan trip, which took place in 2003, produced another cd, “Songs we remember” which was released in the UK in Jan 2005.
A great deal of Guinness was consumed during these Quarrymen trips and the group were delighted to meet so many really kind people and considerable fun was had by all.
Eric was notorious for his serious demeanour on stage, which masked a man with a great sense of fun and a wide knowledge of music. He will be sadly missed by his many friends around the world and of course by the remaining Quarrymen.
Eric was buried on a hillside in Scotland on Monday 7 February on a sunny but chilly afternoon, surrounded by his friends and family after a secular service which celebrated his life. His great friends Alan Taylor, Jim Taylor, Colin Hanton and his son Tim all spoke of their recollections of Eric and the Quarrymen’s recording of “In my life” and John Lennon’s recording of “Watching the Wheels” were played.
Eric’s family have been very touched by the outpouring of sympathy from fans of the Beatles and fans of the Quarrymen worldwide.
Those who wish to express their sympathy in more than words may send a donation in his name to the cancer hospice his family wish to support.
DONATIONS TO THE MARIE CURIE CANCER HOSPICE
You may make a donation in memory of Eric to the cancer hospice his
family wishes to support.
Details of how to make a donations to the Marie Curie Hospice can be
found on this website
The website enables you to make a donation using a credit card from any
country in the world. You may specify that your gift goes specifically to the Marie Curie Hospice in Edinburgh or you can simply send a donation by mail to:
The Marie Curie Hospice
Frogstone Road West
Edinburgh EH10 7DR