The first colour photograph of The Quarrymen was taken at the Liverpool wedding reception of Paul McCartney’s cousin Ian Harris and his bride Jackie. The photographer was Mike McCartney.
Harry Ian Harris, then 19, married Cecilia Jacqueline Gavin, 16, in a Catholic church ceremony in Huyton on Saturday 8 March 1958. Afterwards a party was held in their honour at 147 Dinas Lane, the home of Paul’s Auntie Gin.
Ian, as he was known, asked Paul to bring some musician friends to play at the reception. This was not a full Quarrymen performance – pianist John ‘Duff’ Lowe, sometime tea chest bassist Len Garry, and drummer Colin Hanton only played when circumstances allowed.
Available on the date, however, were Paul (then aged 15), George Harrison (15), and John Lennon (17).
George Harrison had met the Quarrymen only the previous month, and had turned 15 just days before. He was photographed on the left, playing his Hofner President guitar, a sunburst acoustic model to which he added a pickup.
A rosy-cheeked John Lennon stands in the centre of the image, partially hidden behind Harrison and McCartney’s crossed guitar necks. Lennon was playing a dark acoustic guitar – most likely his first instrument, a three-quarter-sized Gallotone Champion.
To Lennon’s left stood Paul McCartney, playing a Zenith Model 17 archtop acoustic guitar made by the German company Framus. This was McCartney’s second guitar.
Mike McCartney titled the photograph “John, Paul, George and Dennis”, in reference to the fourth figure in the image. Dennis Littler was a stout-drinking party guest, and a neighbour of Ian Harris.
Another notable element of the picture is the musicians’ clothing. Years before they were smartened up by Brian Epstein, Lennon, Harrison and McCartney were wearing shirts, ties and smart jackets. Whether this was in keeping with the party’s dress code or an attempt to create a band uniform, it shows that the trio were not averse to smartening up their act when required.
There is also, on the far left of the image, the tip of the headstock of a fourth guitar. This may have been the Quarrymen’s other guitarist, Eric Griffiths. If so, it would have been one of his final appearances with the group before he was asked to leave by their manager Nigel Walley.
In December 2020 a previously-unseen Mike McCartney photograph from the event emerged online, showing Paul McCartney, John Lennon and George Harrison performing.
Also on this day...
- 2016: Beatles producer George Martin dies
- 2015: Ringo Starr live: Coliseo Yucatán, Mérida, Mexico
- 1970: Recording: It Don’t Come Easy by Ringo Starr
- 1965: Filming: Help!, the Bahamas
- 1963: Live: Royal Hall, Harrogate
- 1962: Live: Storyville Jazz Club, Liverpool
- 1961: Live: Hambleton Hall, Liverpool
- 1961: Live: Aintree Institute, Liverpool
- 1961: Live: Cavern Club, Liverpool (lunchtime)
Want more? Visit the Beatles history section.