The Quarrymen reunited together on stage at the Liverpool Empire Theatre on Saturday, August 26, 2006; 49 years after the group originally performed as participants in a talent search contest with the late John Lennon as their lead singer. The graying lads delivered an entertaining show for the assembled Beatles fans in the audience.
The Quarrymen line-up now features Len Garry on acoustic guitar and lead vocals, Colin Hanton on drums, John Duff Lowe on keyboards, Frank Cairns handles the bass position for the band, and Rod Davis on acoustic guitar and harmony vocals (as pictured from left to right above). Pete Shotton has retired, and Eric Griffiths passed away on January 29, 2005.
Both drummer Colin Hanton and keyboardist John Duff Lowe appear on the original 1958 Quarrymen recording of the McCartney-Harrison composition, "In Spite Of All The Danger", issued on the first Beatles Anthology album in 1995. What an undeniable treat it was for his fans when Paul McCartney dusted off this historic song as a solo performance on tour dates in 2004 and 2005.
Performing an abbreviated set at the Empire Theatre in celebration of Beatles Week, The Quarrymen ran through several numbers of the day when they were teenagers back in the 1950's. Now almost five decades later, these gents have reunited, offering a glimpse into the embryonic vehicle that launched the musical career of the late John Lennon.
Garry is the principal lead vocalist, and the group began the evening with "Mean Woman Blues". Dual acoustic guitars and the sparse arrangement brought the sound of the ancient skiffle craze alive again on stage. Gary is a natural singer with strong projection.
Davis took his turn at the microphone with "Rock Island Line", the song identified with Lonnie Donegan who was responsible for igniting the skiffle craze that inspired a teen-aged John Lennon to pick up the guitar. Gary provided harmony after the spoken intro with Lowe taking up the washboard for added effect.
Garry commented about the early Quarrymen rehearsals before singing the Presley tune, "That's All Right, Mama", with an authentic `50's feel. A keyboard solo from Lowe lifted the melody, before Garry reprised the final verse. Hanton spoke about how he came to join The Quarrymen and the scarcity of Liverpool bands having an actual drummer in the group.
Lowe remarked about attending the Liverpool ceremony to place a commemorative plaque at the location of the Phillips Sound Recording Service where the first recordings by Lennon, McCartney and George Harrison with Hanton and Lowe were engineered by Percy F. Phillips in 1958. Lowe later rediscovered the shellac disc in 1981, ensuring it's eventual commercial release in 1995.
Truly the musical highlight of their Liverpool reunion, a new arrangement introduced "In Spite Of All The Danger". After Lowe's keyboard solo, Garry's confident vocals transformed the moment into a memorable performance. The crowd cheered in approval on this wholly original Quarrymen composition.
The Quarrymen were encouraged to perform one encore for the enthusiastic audience. The final number, "Twenty Flight Rock", was the song that cemented the relationship between Lennon and McCartney. Gary and Davis harmonized together, underscored by a subtle keyboard solo. The gents took a much deserved bow together to a standing ovation.
The Quarrymen have recorded and released two studio albums to their credit: John Lennon's Original Quarrymen Get Back Together from 1997, and Songs We Remember from 2004. Talk about a blast from the past, these albums project a homespun musicianship with a Liverpool twist. John Lennon would surely have enjoyed hearing these recordings.
Liverpool setlist: Mean Woman Blues * Rock Island Line * That's All Right, Mama * Blue Moon Of Kentucky * In Spite Of All The Danger * Come Go With Me * Lost John * Memphis, Tennessee * Don't Be Cruel * Encore: Twenty Flight Rock
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In spite of all the decades
The Quarrymen reunite in Liverpool before a warm welcome
by Timothy Tilghman