Raymond Jones

The story of Raymond Jones’ request resurfaced again in Hunter Davies’ 1968 authorised biography of the group. Interestingly, Davies embellished the tale by claiming Brian Epstein had never heard of The Beatles before that date.

Raymond JonesIt happened, just to be precise, at three o’clock on the afternoon of 28 October 1961. A youth in a black leather jacket called Raymond Jones walked into the NEMS record store in Whitechapel, Liverpool, and asked for a record called My Bonnie by a group called The Beatles. Brian Epstein, who was behind the counter, said he was terribly sorry. He’d never heard of that record nor of a group called The Beatles.
The Beatles
Hunter Davies

In A Cellarful Of Noise, Epstein claimed that he had seen The Beatles’ name on a poster advertising a Liverpool performance, and recalled having seen them in his shop. In the book he claimed that Jones and two Liverpudlian girls asked for My Bonnie. The story goes that Epstein resolved to investigate further, telephoning the store’s suppliers the following Monday to order copies for his customers.

Polydor Records had despatched his order of 200 copies of My Bonnie: an event loyally noted by Mersey Beat. The record sold moderately well among The Beatles’ following, though some – Raymond Jones included – were disappointed to find them only a backing group to Tony Sheridan and billed as ‘the Beat Brothers’.
Shout!
Philip Norman

Bill Harry featured the group so frequently in his magazine Mersey Beat that Epstein was well aware of their name, if not their music.

The first week of July 1961 was when I entered NEMS with copies of Mersey Beat and asked to see the manager. Brian Epstein came down from his office and I showed him copies of the first issue and he ordered one dozen copies. He then phoned me and ordered more (my telephone number was on page 2, next to ‘Being A Short Diversion on the Dubious Origins of Beatles’ by John Lennon).

He expressed surprise at how rapidly the issues sold. The first issue was dated 6 July 1961 and the second issue was published on 20 July. Brian ordered 144 copies of the second issue. This amount of copies in a single record store was unprecedented. They all sold out.

Brian had no awareness at all of the music scene on Merseyside and was completely surprised at reading in Mersey Beat that there was so much happening locally. He invited me into his office to discuss it and seemed quite amazed at the musical activity…

Following his discussions with me, when asking about the groups, the Beatles name often cropped up because they were the ones I kept promoting in Mersey Beat above all others.

Bill Harry
Beatles Examiner

Epstein was presumably only spurred into visiting the Cavern Club to see them after My Bonnie was requested by NEMS customers. It remains significant that Jones was mentioned by Epstein in both the newspaper interview and in A Cellarful Of Noise.

In a 1995 interview published in the Manchester Evening Standard newspaper, however, Brian Epstein’s former assistant Alistair Taylor told journalist Bill McCoid that he was the originator of the Raymond Jones story.

‘I’ve never told anyone this before, but I ordered My Bonny [sic] – I am Raymond Jones’. … Do George, Paul and Ringo know this? ‘Nobody knows it.’ Did Brian know? Taylor shakes his head. ‘Nobody knows.’ Why have you kept this secret all this time? ‘It’s part of the myth. I’ve kept the myth going. There are many myths.’ Why did you order that Beatles record then? ‘Because we knew they were big in Liverpool. So Brian and I said: OK, yeah, let’s find it. I just made it up. I became Raymond Jones.’…

You ordered the record? ‘Yeah.’ You told Brian you’d had an order from Raymond Jones? ‘Yeah’. Have you felt you should have got the credit you deserved for it this last 34 years? ‘Yeah, of course I do. Yeah, sure.’ So Brian never saw Raymond Jones? ‘No, nobody ever sees Raymond Jones.’ The nearest anyone’s ever got to Raymond Jones is you? ‘Absolutely. It’s a thing I’ve kept under my belt. We had to do it.’

Manchester Evening Standard
4 November 1995

Taylor’s claim that he and Epstein knew that The Beatles were “big in Liverpool” is intriguing, as it directly contradicts the myth that Epstein was unaware of the group until Jones asked for the single.

A Cellarful Of Noise was ghost-written by The Beatles’ publicist Derek Taylor – no relation to Alistair. Epstein and Derek Taylor spent four days in early 1964 at the Imperial Hotel, Torquay, where they discussed the group’s manager’s life story, which Taylor then turned into the book.

Because of the frenetic pace surrounding The Beatles at the time, and the involvement of NEMS, it is not inconceivable that Alistair Taylor also had some involvement in providing details for the book.

Taylor is known to have actively maintained the Raymond Jones story in the years after The Beatles split up. On several occasions he appeared on UK radio shows asking for Jones to come forward.

Well Raymond Jones has come forward only once in 40 years in a very drunken phone call to Radio Merseyside. I don’t remember Raymond Jones. So I leave it up in the air. You can either believe the late Bob Wooler or me. Either there is a Raymond Jones or I made it up.
Alistair Taylor, 2002

So why would Taylor have thought it necessary to invent a customer? At the time the minimum order undertaken by NEMS was 25 copies of a single. Epstein had a policy of satisfying every customer’s request. Despite knowing of The Beatles’ local popularity, the company’s policy required a customer to place an order prior to a new record being stocked.

The truth is that we were being asked for My Bonnie but no one actually ordered it. Brian would order any record once we had a firm order for it. I thought that we were losing sales and I wrote an order in the book under the name Raymond Jones and, from that moment the legend grew.
Alistair Taylor
The Beatles Book, 1997

The truth is actually rather different. Raymond Jones did exist: he was born in 1941 and worked for a printing company in Liverpool. He saw The Beatles perform on a number of occasions in the city, and did order a copy of My Bonnie from Brian Epstein in NEMS.

Raymond Jones

In August 2010 Ray Jones gave an interview to this website from his home in Spain. He was keen to set the record straight about the Alistair Taylor allegations, and spoke of his memories of The Beatles and how he received a signed copy of A Cellarful Of Noise from Brian Epstein.

12 responses on “Raymond Jones

  1. Ken

    I worked for Ray Jones in 1973-74 and he did ask Brian for the record, he went to Paul’s 21st. He was given an autographed copy of ” a CELLARFUL OF NOISE” and is now retired and living in Spain.

    1. Raymond Jones

      Hi Ken,
      Its been a long time since I’ve heard from you. Thanks for your support regarding my association with the Beatles. There have been many claims and counter claims,theory’s The truth is out now in a couple of books The Best of Fellas written by Spencer Leigh of BBC Radio Merseyside, this book is all about Bob Wooler The DJ at the Cavern.
      Another book Ten years thet Shook the World, published by Mojo Publication.

      All the lies by Alister Taylor I think was just to give him his fifteen minutes of fame and of course just to feather his nest.

      By the way I did not go to McCartneys 21st.

      Thanks once again for telling your story.

      So many people find it very hard to believe my story, but i’m afraid its true. It was me who went into NEM’s and asked Brian Epstein for the record and yes it is all true what he said in the book.

      Still alive and kicking,

      RAYMOND JONES

      1. James Skilton

        Hello Raymond, I have interviewed Alistair Taylor and Bob Wooler and through my Beatles research they both mentioned you. Would you be open to a phone interview for my book of memoirs which I an compiling? It will include over 100 artists involved with Beatles pre and post. Thanks

          1. Alex

            I’m glad you posted here! There are so many people who associated with The Beatles trying to snag up whatever they can, if they think it can’t be disproven, or the real people most likely will never see it and come forward.

            It’s really cool to learn the truth about your small role in Beatles’ history and to have you call one of the many re-writers of Beatles history on their lies.

          2. Gilbert Alomenu

            Hi Raymond.I would really like to interview you.I am glad to know you really exist(as I always suspected was the case). I’ve heard Alastair Taylor say at a Beatles convention that he just made the name up, and also Bob Wooler say at a Beatles convention that this is not true, that you really did exist.

  2. Dave Cullen

    Let’s try and put everyone straight once and for all..There was a Ray Jones who worked in a printers in Tithebarn Street, Liverpool, who did go into NEMS and ask for The Beatles record of ‘My Bonnie’.
    Ray is a very good friend of mine, and back in the early 60′s Ray and I played our guitars (sing-a-long) at The Wheatsheaf Hotel on East Prescot Road most Saturday nights. I knew that he’d gone into NEMS and asked for ‘My Bonnie’.
    I’d not heard it, and Ray was always quite keen to play it. He knew that The Beatles (we found out at a later date that they were shown on the record as The Beat Boys), had played on the record and it is very possible that he may have heard them playing it at The Cavern or Casbah. However, as he worked in town he went into NEMS and asked for the record, leaving his name and address should they get hold of a copy.
    I remember him bringing his signed copy of Cellerfull of Noise into The Wheatsheaf on a Saturday night a few years later, packed in a box.
    He was always (and still does) going on about The Beatles, and as they became famous and released their own songs, the more Ray and I played and sang them at The Wheatsheaf, and later at The King Edward in the City Centre.
    Ray has lived in Spain for the past 15 years, and we’re still in contact.
    Let it be known, THERE WAS…AND STILL IS..A RAY JONES…THE VERY ONE WHO WENT INTO NEMS AND ASKED FOR ‘MY BONNIE’

  3. Doreen Adams, (Robinson).

    Hi Ray, its been a long time, 46 years i think.Hope you are keeping well, i know you have a few health problems but we are all getting older. I remember seeing a article in a news`paper wanting to now the whereabouts of a boy in a black leather jacket who went in to NEMS record shop asked if they have the record, My Bonnie by the Beatles, he was told they had never heard of it, or the Beatles. I rang my uncle (Ron Billingsley) a friend of Ray Jones, told him someone was looking for Ray. I knew Ray had been in to NEMS and asked about the record. Take care Ray.

  4. John Laster (from Texas and currently in Afghanistan)

    James Skilton – as a Beatles fan (from Texas) I would love to get a copy of your book. Is it yet available, and by what title? My earliest memories of The Beatles were buying an album and falling for Eight Days a Week. I also had a sitter take me to the movie theater in a very small Texas town to watch them. The girls in the Theater (25 cents admisssion) were screaming so loud I had to cover my ears! lol

  5. Jim Mawer

    HI Ray, for what it’s worth, through encouragement from friends and family, I too am writing my memoirs of my “”colourful” early years of being lucky to have, like you, lived my young life through the 50′s and 60′s in and around the great City of Liverpool! Yes, totally “caught up” in the music scene, meeting and seeing those great groups! I was born in the Dingle in 1945, moving to Speke, then moving to Page Moss in 1952. The “notorious” Hambleton Hall, I still bear a few “minor scars” from the unavoidable “skirmishes” with the “headcases” of the time! LOL!! Huyton was a tough place to live! (circa ’60/’62} I went to Art school, and worked part time in Coopers Food Hall (screen print/ticket office) so, as the Cavern was only a few minutes walk, I too spent most lunchtimes in there!! That smell..Dettol???? my boss would say ” you stink of that cellar! why d’you waste your lunchtimes in there”?? little did he know! Anyway Ray, I moved to London Sept.1966, a very good decision, finally settling here in Sunny Spain!
    I wouldn’t be surprised if our paths had crossed on the odd occasion, although you are older than I. Like so many kids I picked up the guitar and played around town but, as you know like hundred of groups we never made the “big time”!! Did a little better in London though!
    Ray, thanks for taking the time to read my note, and, it would be a pleasure to cross check a few old stories with you, would that be possible? much appreciated, Hope to hear back from you.
    My best regards……………Jim. Mawer

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