The Quarrymen live: Rosebery St, Liverpool

The Quarrymen played twice on this day. In the afternoon they performed on the back of a stationary coal lorry, and that evening took part in a street party, both in Liverpool’s Rosebery Street.

Our first appearance was in Rosebery Street – it was their Empire Day celebrations. They had this party out in the street. We played from the back of a lorry. We didn’t get paid. We played at blokes’ parties after that; perhaps got a few bob, but mostly we just played for fun. We didn’t mind about not being paid.

The celebrations were for the 750th anniversary of King John granting Liverpool a Royal Charter, “inviting settlers to take up burgages or building plots in Liverpool, and promising them all the privileges enjoyed by free boroughs on the sea.”

The event was arranged by Mrs Marjorie Roberts of 84 Rosebery Street. Her son Charles, a printer, was friends with Colin Hanton, and stencilled the Quarrymen logo on Hanton’s bass drum. Roberts Jnr suggested the group perform at the party.

Our drummer Colin Hanton wanted to write the band name across the front of his bass drum. But there was insufficient space to write it as one word across the circumference of the drum – so he staggered the name in two words at diagonal angles. And vintage photographs of that drumhead have been erroneously cited by some as evidence for the name being split in two words.

The coal lorry was owned by a resident from number 76, who allowed the group to run a microphone lead through his front window.

In the audience for the second show was John’s mother Julia, who brought his step-sisters Julia and Jackie to watch. The girls sat on the tailboard of the lorry while Julia looked out from the window of the Roberts family’s living room.

During the second Quarrymen set a group of local youths from nearby Hatherley Street threatened violence towards the musicians, singling out Lennon in particular. The group ran to Mrs Roberts’ house while the mob banged on the windows for Lennon. In the end a policeman warned them off and escorted the Quarrymen to their bus stop.

The Liverpool Post and Echo media company gave Rosebery Street an award for the best-decorated street outside the centre of Liverpool. The residents held a second party to celebrate, to which the Quarrymen were not invited.

Last updated: 24 January 2024
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