The original blue no back

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I’ve read about someone called Ken Brown being in the Quarrymen. Who was he?

Ken Brown was a lovely chap who passed away in June 2010. His story is interesting.  He wasn’t actually a Quarryman per se but he did end up being an honorary member for about 6 weeks. He was a young guitarist who played in a group that George Harrison occasionally performed with during the lull in Quarrymen gigs between January-August 1959.  That group was called the Les Stewart Quartet. In August 1959, the Les Stewart Quartet landed a short residency at the new club for teenagers called The Casbah that was in the basement of the house owned by Pete Best’s parents.

However, the quartet’s leader Les Stewart and Ken Brown apparently had a disagreement about playing at the Casbah and Les and the group’s drummer (Geoff Skinner) walked out leaving just Ken and George Harrison. Not much of a quartet! And not much of a group that could be called “Les Stewart Anything” let alone the “Les Stewart Quartet”!  Not wanting to lose the gig for which Pete Best’s mum was expecting a quartet, Ken needed two substitute musicians to augment George and himself. George suggested bringing in his pals John and Paul.  Since three of the players in this new lineup of the Les Stewart Quartet were also members of the dormant Quarrymen, the Quartet temporarily renamed itself the Quarrymen for just 6 shows - thus making Brown briefly an honorary Quarryman. 

Ken had a falling out with John, Paul and George when he was too ill to play one night – but well enough to work on the club door selling tickets. Pete Best’s mother paid Ken one-quarter of the money due to the four musicians even though he hadn’t played music that night.  The three musicians who HAD played thought it was unfair to share their meagre stipend with someone hadn’t played a note – and the disagreement led to the end of Ken’s brief tenure as an honorary Quarryman!

Subsequently Ken joined a new ensemble with Pete Best playing the drums that he acquired as a Christmas present in December 1959.  By a quirk of fate, that new group called themselves the Blackjacks.  The group lasted approximately 8 months until August 1960 when the remaining Quarrymen members (now calling themselves the Beatles) were desperate for a drummer to accompany them at a new residency they had secured in Hamburg and they offered the position to Pete Best. The rest is history of course…