JULY 6, 1957

I had turned 5 on May 12th, 1957.  It was a different world…a different time and place. Gasoline was 24 cents a gallon.  I vaguely remember the grownups complaining about the Dodgers leaving town. The folks were talking about spending $79.95 on a new Stereo Hi-FI music system at Korvettes.  Dad was working at the TV station in New York City. That July day we were at the favorite family summertime escape up in the New Paltz area of New York State at a small bungalow colony. Every morning I’d get up and walk down to the creek,  bucket and fishing pole in hand hoping to catch a fish or two…or maybe I’d be chasing down a crayfish under a stone over by the waterfall that fed the small pool. If my memory serves me well it wasn’t a brutally hot summer.  Just a warm sunny season,  cooled by the trees and mountain breezes.  We were living in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn in those days and spending time in the mountains was a great escape for the adults,  and certainly for a little kid used to asphalt, concrete playgrounds and car horns. It could just be the haze of the passing years but it seemed like a quiet, peaceful and happy time. Some guy named Elvis was all the rage but I wasn’t exactly sure why.   Halfway around the world an event was taking place that would change the course of world history.  A young man with a strong voice and lot of confidence was in the midst of setting up his equipment. He and his band, THE QUARRYMEN, were scheduled to take the stage at 8pm that evening,  in the garden courtyard of a small church in Liverpool, a grubby industrial seaport town in England.

English: St Peter's Church Hall St Peter's Chu...

English: St Peter’s Church Hall St Peter’s Church Hall is where John Lennon and Paul McCartney first met on the 6th July 1957. Whilst waiting to play at the church dance that night, John Lennon and the other members of the Quarrymen were introduced to the young Paul McCartney by a mutual friend. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That would’ve been right about the time I was headed to bed up in the mountains.  As the 16 year old John Lennon was busy getting ready, one of the members of his band, Ivan Vaughn,  introduced him to a younger school friend. “John said ‘hello,’ but as usual he was very withdrawn,” recalls friend and percussionist Pete Shotton. “He was always very suspicious of other people and wanted to make them come to him. He wasn’t always outgoing as a kid, but after a few minutes of standing awkwardly and saying virtually nothing, Paul, being the exuberant type of person that he was, got his guitar out and started playing, and then he and John had this thing in common.”  The then 15 year old Paul McCartney introduced himself and within minutes was doing an impromptu audition. He whipped off a few rock n roll classics from Gene Vincent, Little Richard and the like showing young Lennon his capabilities. After they chatted for a few more minutes THE QUARRYMEN began their show for the evening.

Liverpool skiffle group The Quarrymen playing ...

Liverpool skiffle group The Quarrymen playing their first full show in 1957: John Lennon is centre stage. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

McCartney remembers the scene. ““I just thought, Well, he looks good, he’s singing well and he seems like a great lead singer to me,’” McCartney said of Lennon’s performance to Record Collector magazine in 1995. “Of course, he had his glasses off, so he really looked suave. I remember John was good. He was really the only outstanding member, all the rest kind of slipped away.”  McCartney was also taken by Lennon’s clever word play.  “He was doing the Delphonics tune “Come and Go With Me” but he had changed the words to “Come and Go With Me to the Penitentiary”. After the show, Lennon and  McCartney went to a pub together.  Lennon was so impressed with McCartney’s natural talent and knowledge of music that he and the other members of the group later asked McCartney to join them.

McCartney and Lennon playing on the opening ni...

McCartney and Lennon playing on the opening night of The Casbah Coffee Club. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Years later Lennon said he was a “bit hesitant to invite such a powerful figure into his group”.  “I had a group, I was the singer and the leader,” John recounted to Jann Wenner in an interview with Rolling Stone in 1970. “I met Paul and I made a decision whether to — and he made a decision, too — have him in the group: Was it better to have a guy who was better than the people I had in, obviously, or not? To make the group stronger or let me be stronger? That decision was to let Paul in and make the group stronger.”

English: John Lennon and Paul McCartney at Ken...

English: John Lennon and Paul McCartney at Kennedy Airport.}} (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

About a year later Paul introduced John to George and the rest is as they say “History”.

By 1961 I was struggling to learn French in the 4th grade at PS. 186 on 18th Avenue listening to the hit records of that time…The Everly’s “Dream”…Sam Cooke’s “Chain Gang” and Ricky Nelson’s Travellin’ Man”.

Little did I know..little did the world know,  that a simple meeting of two teenagers in a church garden would irrevocably change not only the course of popular music, but also the areas of pop culture, fashion, politics and media.  The profound effect  THE BEATLES have had on the world continues to astound writers and pundits the world over. Their recordings, books, memorabilia, and concert tours by both Paul and Ringo, continue to delight multi-generational audiences in many different countries. The LOVE show is a massive Las Vegas hit and all things BEATLE are always newsworthy.  Tribute bands abound and Festivals of every kind celebrating their genius are a regular event.

English: Paul McCartney, George Harrison and J...

English: Paul McCartney, George Harrison and John Lennon during a Beatles performance for Dutch television Nederlands: Paul McCartney, George Harrison and John Lennon tijdens een Beatlesoptreden voor de Nederlandse televisie. Hrvatski: Paul McCartney, George Harrison i John Lennon tijekom Beatles performansa za nizozemsku televiziju. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

All of this because two kids were introduced by a friend on a warm summer’s night…July 6, 1957… in a seaport town far far away…while I was playing BINGO in a barn in upstate New York.

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25 Responses to JULY 6, 1957

  1. Danny Calvagna says:

    Joe I like to think of these types of events as a cosmic ripple. Things were set in motion that June day that truly changed the course of western culture. I sometimes wonder about these incidents and what would have been if say Paul never made it to the church event. Think about your own existence. What would that be like today. That day and those events set the course for the rest of time.

    • joeref says:

      Well I for one would still be musical…I was from a musical family and I was influenced by all of that before I’d heard The Beatles, but I’m sure the massive impact upon my life in general would have been gone…maybe replaced by something else, but that particular impact would be gone. I was a clarinet playing kid who wanted to play tenor sax in a rock n roll band in 1962. I probably would have followed that inclination somewhere but would it have been so important in the landscape of my life? hmmmm. probably not. The Beatles didn’t just “music me”…though that was the key element. They told me how to be cool, they told me how to dress, how to be funny, how to meet “chicks”, how to keep an open mind, how to respect and love one all people regardless of race or creed, how to be irreverent, how to play drums, then bass then guitar…they taught me how to work as a “group” with a bunch of guys toward a musical goal. It was college at an early age ! I often wonder about these events. Freddy Lennon almost took young John to New Zealand. Ringo almost dies twice in childhood from various illnesses. Life is crazy like that. Doors close but a window opens. Twists and turns. The odds of life even existing are incredibly small in the great scheme of the universe! Ahhhh but I digress. I’d probably be in Sicily picking mangoes if not for an incredible chain of unrelated events.

  2. Cat says:

    I never tire of this story Joe, And the pics are, well… fab 🙂 You and I are about the same age… I was 6 the day history was being made across the pond & spent that summer either at the beach, the pool, or riding my bike exploring the neighborhood… not terribly interesting since we lived in the “planned community” of Forest City in Wantagh out in the ‘burbs. At that time “music” was what was played in ballet class or something “classical”, learned for a school piano concert. My parents controlled all sound systems & the only rock & roll I was aware of was via the Ed Sullivan Show. I do remember enjoying hearing Elvis sing “Hound Dog” and being impressed with the Everly Brothers harmonies on “Bye Bye Love.” I don’t think I got my own radio until 1959 or 1960… my life finally had a soundtrack. But when I heard The Beatles for the first time in Dec 1963, music became my life. Danny, I can’t imagine life without Beatles music in it.

    • joeref says:

      People of our generation have had many similar childhood experiences for sure. I think it’s safe to say that The Neatles everyone deeply even people who are not musicians. Funny thing…I lived in Forest City in the 80’s…my first house!

      Sent from my Eye Phone

    • joeref says:

      I can’t imagine what the music scene, and the world, would have been without those 4 kids from England. Sometimes I just think theywere aliens who have stopped by the educate us all!

  3. Bill Deegan says:

    I find my love and enjoyment of the Beatles has grown over the years. I liked and admired them in the sixties but growing up in East New York Brooklyn my “gang” was more into The Four Seasons and the doo wop sound of the early sixties back then. We would sit on the stoop and listen to the WMCA Good Guys. Today I enjoy both the simplicity and complexity of The Beatles. As far a life being a string of chance happenings, I would agree. But it’s what we do with these opportunities of chance that makes all the difference. Hell, if I wasn’t coerced into going out for a beer 31 years ago by my buddies I would never have met my wife of 30 years !

    • joeref says:

      it’s funny but upon seeing them on the Ed Sullivan Show I was not impressed. I was a cocky 11 year old and I loved music, specially the rock n roll of the 50’s. Wasn;t sure what the big deal was. Within 6 months I was swept away like everyone else and with each passing year I find more to enjoy, more to understand and interpret, more to love.

  4. Joanne F says:

    I love these stories about The Beatles that may have seemed quite innocent at the time, but which evolved into some of our most important musical history. Or revolutions, as it were. And I liked reading about all of your personal experiences from the time. Although I was only an infant in 1957 (and oblivious to this as it was happening), I was able to get a strong feel for these events the two times I went to Liverpool and the Beatles museum (called “The Beatles Story”), and took a walking tour of The Beatles’ London. Opportunities of chance is name for it. Serendipity, perhaps, another? BTW, did everybody live in Wantagh at one time? 🙂 I did, too, from 1960-1963. It was our first Long Island home after we left Brooklyn. A little serendipity there, if I don’t mind sayin’!

    • joeref says:

      I would like to get to Liverpool and see all the places they lived, laughed loved and worked…and I’m sure I will at some point before I leave this world… Synchronicity too..

  5. Bill Deegan says:

    Never lived in Wantagh, but it seems like most everybody has some roots in Brooklyn. What a great place to grow up…hanging on the corner listening to am radio, stickball in the street, egg creams and Sunday night dinner at Bruno’s Italian Restaurant 🙂

    • joeref says:

      I know that very well. Brooklyn was and is quite a place. We lived a few blocks away from Lenny’s Pizzeria on 86th Street, under the EL !

      • Bill Deegan says:

        Ah, the El…we lived our life back then under the Jamaica Ave and Fulton Street El.

      • joeref says:

        Anyone who grew up in NYC knows the El. It was a constant. It was like a big steel river running through our lives.

  6. Bill Deegan says:

    Isn’t it great how a conversation about the Beatles has led to memories of growing up. Linda and I both feel that one of the reasons we enjoy their music as much as ever are the memories associated with the music.

    • joeref says:

      The Beatles were so much a part of this generation’s formative years it’s a natural progression but what strikes me as even more amazing is the way they have captured the 2 generations that have followed us. Being in a Beatle Tribute as I am, I get to see the faces of the people. Kids from 10 to 20, middle aged people 25 to 40 and of course all od us old geezers comes to the shows to hear the music. It is truly a multi-generational phenomena. In the true spirit of their times and music, The Beatles continue to bring all people together. It really is a joy!

  7. Bill Deegan says:

    We get a kick too when we look around at a Shuffle gig and see people of all ages singing along on songs from over 40 years ago, some weren’t even born when the song was a hit.

  8. joeref says:

    It makes me feel really good when I look out at an audience and realize there are all sorts of people there…all ages…races…it gives me a very special feeling

  9. Bill Deegan says:

    Here’s a question out of left field, but here goes…what are your favorite Beatle songs to play as a muscian ?

    • joeref says:

      My favorite Beatle songs are:

      And Your Bird Can Sing In My Life Strawberry Fields All I’ve Gotta Do A Hard Days Night Taxman Good Morning

      My faves to play :

      Hmmmmmmm I guess all of them! LOL Some more than others but I do enjoy playing them all.

      Sent from my Eye Phone

  10. Bill Deegan says:

    I would add…I Feel Fine and Help as all time faves.

    • joeref says:

      I could go on adding song after song. I actually thought about those two also and Yes It Is and Not A Second Time

      Sent from my Eye Phone

  11. Bill Deegan says:

    Maybe the question should be..what Beatle song you actually don’t like, if any…lol

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