The Quarry Men
14 July 1958 - Monday
Percy Phillips' Studio
Photographer: Jean Cathrell (plaque)
On this day, The Quarry Men made what would become known as
The Beatles' first recording. In addition to John, Paul and George,
the band still included Colin Hanton on drums and new member
John "Duff" Lowe on piano.
Previously, the date of this recording was generalized as mid 1958.
Creation of the new plaque (above) reveals that the date has somehow
been determined to be 14 July 1958. How this was determined is unknown. Perhaps studio documents or some long lost diary has been discovered.
If I get any new details, I'll post them here.
NOTE: It has recently been drawn to my attention that this is NOT the
date of this session. A source close to "Duff" Lowe says Lowe recalls
that the session was in cold weather, perhaps October or November,
and specifically remembers the band having to wear scarfs. Also, in The Quarrymen by Hunter Davies, a similar story is related by Colin Hanton. Clearly, this indicate later in the year.
I've left this page at this date simply because it is the "announced" date.
Read the details of this event below.
Large images and further details about the disc can be found - here
"That'll Be The Day" can be found on Anthology 1
"In Spite Of All The Danger" is edited on Anthology 1
Hear an edit restoring it to its original length - here
Running an electrical goods shop in Liverpool wasn't enough for Percy Phillips, and being 60 certainly wasn't going to stop him. So in 1955, spurred by the local interest in country and western music, Phillips spent 400 pounds on a portable tape recorder and portable disc cutting machine, microphones and a four-way mixer, which were installed in the middle living-room of his Victorian terraced house at number 38 Kensington, a major thoroughfare located a mile beyond Liverpool city centre.
Sparse it may have been but Phillips' recording facility was efficient. Having arrived for their appointment customers would sit in a waiting area and, when prompted, move into the living-room, face up to the microphones and perform, live. While trams rattled along Kensington - their noise was deadened by a heavy curtain over the studio door - Percy Phillips would first commit the performance on tape and then, provided that the Artiste was not distressed with the result, immediately transfer this to a shellac disc, wiping over the tape next time someone used the studio.
Word of Phillips' facility soon spread, and as skiffle and then beat music took hold so it began to attract a number of Liverpool's younger musicians, eager to commit their sound to disc and able to announce that they had "made a record". Having travelled with their instruments from the south end of the city, a quintet called the Quarry Men - John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison, who all played guitars, John Lowe who played the piano, and Collin Hanton the drummer - turned up at Phillips Sound Recording Service on day in the spring or summer of 1958. A short while later, having parted company with 17s 6d [88p] (about $2) the five Quarry Men left 38 Kensington passing among them the cherished fruit of their debut recording session: a very breakable 78rpm record, ten-inches in diameter. The disc's label clearly instructed "Play with a light-weight pick-up" ... but no mention of the words Quarry Men, and certainly not Beatles, a name they wouldn't adopt for another two years.
On one side of the disc was That'll Be The Day, homage to Buddy Holly and the Crickets, featuring John Lennon's lead vocal with Paul McCartney providing the high harmonies. On the other side was In Spite Of All The Danger, co-written by Paul McCartney and George Harrison, but, again, with John Lennon singing lead.
Colin Hanton (whose membership of the Quarry Men pre-dated both Paul's and George's) and John Lowe (who was recruited principally because he could play Jerry Lee Lewis's exacting arpeggio part in Mean Woman Blues) left soon after the band's one and only recording session, leaving the nucleus, Lennon, McCartney and Harrison, to aim for fame.
Paul McCartney owned the only known original copy. Paul had the song digitally re-mastered and 50 copies pressed as Christmas presents for friends.
This recording was released in both the US and the UK on November 21, 1995 on "The Beatles Anthology Volume 1."