Live: Casbah Coffee Club, Liverpool

The Quarrymen’s Saturday night residency at Mona Best’s Casbah Coffee Club came to an end on this evening. In time-honoured musical tradition, it was because of an argument about money.

With their preceding six weekly appearances, the Quarrymen had proved such a draw that Best hired a doorman to control the crowds. At this time, the group had four members, each of whom played the guitar: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ken Brown.

It all went fine until this one night when Ken Brown turned up with a heavy cold. I could see he wasn’t well enough to play. I said to him, ‘Look, you go upstairs and sit with Mother’ – he often did that; she was bedridden, you see, and he’d sit and talk to her. I said, ‘I’ll bring a hot drink up to you.’ But Ken said no, he’d stay down in the club and watch. Just John, Paul and George played, and at the end, I gave them 15 shillings each. There was a bit of murmuring; then they said, ‘Where’s the other 15s?’ ‘I’ve given it to Ken,’ I told them.

They didn’t like that. They wanted the full £3. But it was too late. I’d already given Ken his 15s. There was a bit of arguing and Ken said right, that was it, he’d finished with them. The other three walked out of the club there and then.

Pete, my elder boy, had been getting more and more interested, watching the others play. I remember Ken Brown saying to him, ‘Right, I’m out of that lot. Come on, Pete: why don’t you and I get a group up now?’

Mona Best
Shout!, Philip Norman

The Quarrymen performed at the Casbah on seven occasions. The other dates were 29 August; 5, 12, 19 and 26 September; and 3 October 1959. The Beatles played the venue a further 37 times: 17 and 31 December 1960; 15 and 29 January; 12, 19 and 26 February; 5, 12, 19 and 26 March; 6, 13 and 27 August; 10 and 24 September; 22 October; 19 and 24 November; 3 and 17 December 1961; 7, 14, 21 and 28 January; 4, 11, 18 and 25 February; 4, 11, 18 and 25 March; 1, 7 and 8 April; and 24 June 1962.

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