Raymond Jones

Beatles legend has it that, one day in 1961, a young man called Raymond Jones brought The Beatles' existence to the attention of Brian Epstein, when he asked for their single My Bonnie at Epstein's NEMS record store in Liverpool.

Raymond JonesOn Saturday, 28 October, an 18-year-old Huyton boy named Raymond Jones strolled into the Whitechapel branch of NEMS. Brian, that morning, happened to be behind the counter, helping with the weekend rush. He himself stepped forward to serve Raymond Jones, whom he recognised vaguely as one of the crowd of printers' apprentices often to be seen in the shop during their lunch-hour, sorting through the country and western stock. Like a good businessman, he even remembered that Carl Perkins was this particular customer's favourite singing star.

Today, Raymond Jones did not as usual ask for anything new by Carl Perkins. He asked for a single called My Bonnie, by The Beatles. ... Raymond Jones could provide no further details of the disc. He had heard about it, he said, at Hambleton Hall, where he and his mates always went on Friday night. The compere, Bob Wooler, had urged them to be sure and ask their record shop for My Bonnie by The Beatles.

Shout!
Philip Norman

It is unlikely - if not impossible - that Epstein had never heard of The Beatles until his meeting with Jones. The group appeared regularly in the pages of Liverpudlian music publication Mersey Beat, which Epstein sold in NEMS and wrote record reviews for. Although he had little interest in the actual content, he could hardly have failed to notice the leather-clad group which had taken Hamburg by storm.

Epstein's curiosity was, nonetheless, piqued after his encounter with the enthusiastic Jones, and on Thursday 9 November 1961 he and Taylor paid their first visit to the Cavern Club to watch The Beatles perform. It was the beginning of a chain of events that would irrevocably change the lives of the people involved, and cause a revolution in popular culture.

The first written reference to Jones came in an interview Brian Epstein gave to a UK newspaper.

Letter to Raymond Jones from NEMSWhen the Beatles had had a couple of recording under their belt, Brian Epstein was telling his story in a national newspaper, I was livid when he described me in the article as a "scruffy" 18-year-old leather-jacketed youth. I wrote to NEMS to show him my disgust about his remark. In the letter I said not everyone wore suits and that some people had to work for a living.

Shortly after that someone from NEMS wrote to me and asked me to contact Mr Epstein at his office, which at that time was in Moorfields off Dale Street. When I contacted him he asked me to call to his office and said he would like to apologise in person. After his somewhat poor apology we both went to Rigby's pub in Dale Street and had a couple of drinks. He was asking me all sorts of questions and taking notes at the same time. He didn't say so but I think he must have been planning the book A Cellarful Of Noise.

Some time later a neighbour of mine wrote to Brian - for what reason I'm not quite sure - but by return of post she received a letter from Diana Vero, Mr Epstein's secretary, asking for my address so he could send me a copy of his book. A week or so later I received it.

Raymond Jones

Epstein recounted the story of Jones' record request in his autobiography A Cellarful Of Noise, first published in October 1964. The account was the two-paragraph prologue to the book, proving its significance to The Beatles' story.

At about three o'clock on Saturday, October 28th, 1961, an eighteen-year-old boy called Raymond Jones, wearning jeans and a black leather jacket, walked into a record-store in Whitechapel, Liverpool, and said: 'There's a record I want. It's "My Bonnie" and it was made in Germany. Have you got it?'

Behind the counter was Brian Epstein, twenty-seven, director of the store. He shook his head. 'Who is the record by?' he asked. 'You won't have heard of them,' said Jones. 'It's by a group called The Beatles....'

Brian Epstein
A Cellarful Of Noise

The story was expanded upon later in the book.

On Saturday, October 28th, I had just come back from a long holiday in Spain during which I had wondered how I could expand my interests.

And then, suddenly, though quite undramatically, a few words from Raymond Jones brought the solution. The words, of course, were 'Have you got a disc by The Beatles?'

I had never given a thought to any of the Liverpool beat groups then up and coming in cellar clubs. They were not part of my life, because I was out of the age group, and also because I had been too busy. But I knew that a lot of boys had taken up the guitar because of the influence of teenage stars since the early days of Presley and Tommy Steele, through the late fifties to the Shadows, who, by the autumn of 1962, were the star instrumental group backing Cliff Richard, unchallenged British pop idol.

The name 'Beatle' meant nothing to me though I vaguely recalled seeing it on a poster advertising a university dance at New Brighton Tower and I remembered thinking it was an odd and purposeless spelling.

Raymond Jones was one of any average dozen customers who called in daily for unknown discs and there seems now no valid reason why, beyond my normal efforts to satisfy a customer, I should have gone to such lengths to trace the actual recording artistes. But I did and I wonder sometimes whether there is not something mystically magnetic about the name 'Beatle'? ...

On October 28 Raymond Jones left the store after I had taken a note of his request. I wrote on a pad: '"My Bonnie". The Beatles. Check on Monday.'

Brian Epstein
A Cellarful Of Noise

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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