Tuesday, March 23, 2010

George's Childhood

George Harrison was the youngest of four children of Harry and Louise Harrison.  He was born into a "two up - two down" home at number 12, Arnold Grove. This was a four room domicile with a parlor and kitchen downstairs and two bedrooms upstairs.  There was no inside plumbing, so there was a privy in the back garden and a zinc tub for filling with hot water from the stove for bathing.

12 Arnold Grove

Harry made a passable living as a Liverpool bus driver, but the family got by on very modest means.  However, George showed himself to be an intelligent young man and was accepted into the Liverpool Institute, where only the most talented kids were allowed to attend. George, by this time, was obsessed by guitars and it didn't take a lot of pleading to convince Louise that her son should have one of his own.

Paul McCartney happened to be another of those kids enrolled at the Institute, and it so happened that George and Paul would ride the same public bus to school.  George was already known to Paul as a talented guitarist when he hooked up with John, so he invited him along to an audition on the upper level of a bus.  George played an expert rendition of the popular guitar song called "Raunchy" by Bill Justis and he was in.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Liverpool scene March 1960

This is my first "50th Anniversary" post.

It was a very seminal event that took place the week of March 14-20 1960 at the Empire Theatre in downtown Liverpool England.  Larry Parnes, an English pop impressario, organized a show featuring top American rock-and-roll singers Eddie Cochran and Gene VincentAllan Williams, a local boxing promoter and club owner, saw new vistas open up before him in the crowds of teenagers queuing up to see their idols from the other side of the Atlantic.  Williams could smell a five pound note from a mile away so it didn't take him long to get in touch with Parnes about doing some joint productions in the future.  He is destined to loom large in the Beatles legend.

It's just another instance of how the stars seemed to align in just the right way to ensure that the world would experience the phenomenon known as the Beatles.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Lightning Strikes

So, in 1957, John and Paul were two teenagers, somehow living within a mile of each other, each of whom had found a consuming passion in popular music.  John, always the leader, had formed his own "band" made up of his friends, musical talent optional.  Paul had, with the encouragement of his Dad, traded in a trumpet for a big Arch-top Jazz Guitar called a Zenith model 17.

July 6,1957 was the date of the Woolton's St Peters Parish Church carnival.  Booked to play at that event was John Lennon's Quarrymen.  The band played in a grand procession from the back of a flatbed truck, then later outside on the grounds of the church.  They were to play again in the evening inside the church hall.  While waiting for that show to begin, Paul McCartney arrived with his guitar over his shoulder in time to hang out at the informal rehearsal that John and friends were using to "tune up" for the show.

During a lull in the music, Paul picks up his guitar and reels off  Twenty Flight Rock, a current top 40 hit by Eddie Cochran and Be Bop a Lula by Gene Vincent.  John noticed this kid had talent and now had a decision to make.  Ask him to join the group and thus share some of his status as leader or reject him and occupy the alpha dog position alone?  That decision resulted in the first big change for a group that would continue to evolve for the next decade and a half and have an unimaginably huge influence on music and culture around the world.

Panorama of the field behind St Peters Church Woolton