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Recording: In Spite Of All The Danger, That’ll Be The Day

The Quarrymen recorded two songs at Phillips Sound Recording Services, a home studio in Liverpool, on 12 July 1958. It was the first recording session featuring John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison.

The studio was owned and run by Percy F Phillips, and was based in the living room of his home at 38 Kensington, a Victorian terraced house.

The Quarrymen recorded ‘In Spite Of All The Danger’ and a version of Buddy Holly’s ‘That’ll Be The Day’. The former was credited to McCartney-Harrison, with Lennon on lead vocals.

It says on the label that it was me and George but I think it was actually written by me, and George played the guitar solo! We were mates and nobody was into copyrights and publishing, nobody understood – we actually used to think when we came down to London that songs belonged to everyone. I’ve said this a few times but it’s true, we really thought they just were in the air, and that you couldn’t actually own one. So you can imagine the publishers saw us coming! ‘Welcome boys, sit down. That’s what you think, is it?’ So that’s what we used to do in those days – and because George did the solo we figured that he ‘wrote’ the solo.
Paul McCartney
The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Mark Lewisohn

The recording cost the group 17 shillings and three pence, and was pressed directly onto a 10″ aluminium and acetate disc to be played at 78rpm. The studio log book records the session simply as “Skiffle. 10inch double sided. Direct. 11/3”.

The precise date has since been disputed, with the former members of the Quarrymen remembering it taking place on different dates. A blue plaque installed on the front wall of the house in 2005 lists the session as taking place on 14 July 1958, a Monday, but the log book entry for that date does not mention any skiffle group.

The songs featured John ‘Duff’ Lowe on piano, a school friend of McCartney’s who was recruited for his ability to play the arpeggio at the beginning of Jerry Lee Lewis’ ‘Mean Woman Blues’. He later recalled the preparation that took place prior to the recording.

I can well remember even at the rehearsal at his house in Forthlin Road, Paul was quite specific about how he wanted it played and what he wanted the piano to do. There was no question of improvising. We were told what we had to play. There was a lot of arranging going on even back then.
John ‘Duff’ Lowe
A Hard Day’s Write, Steve Turner

The Quarrymen played their two chosen songs live into a single microphone.

I remember we all went down on the bus with our instruments – amps and guitars – and the drummer went separately. We waited in the little waiting room outside while somebody else made their demo and then it was our turn. We just went in the room, hardly saw the fella because he was next door in a little control booth. ‘OK, what are you going to do?’ We ran through it very quickly, quarter of an hour, and it was all over.
Paul McCartney
The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Mark Lewisohn

The tape was erased after the 10-inch shellac disc was pressed, Phillips’ custom practice to keep costs down. However, as the Quarrymen had only 15 shillings between them, Phillips held onto the disc until they returned with the full amount.

When we got the record, the agreement was that we would have it for a week each. John had it a week and passed it on to me. I had it for a week and passed it on to George, who had it for a week. Then Colin had it for a week and passed it to Duff Lowe – who kept it for 23 years.
Paul McCartney

In Spite Of All The Danger by The Quarrymen

In 1981 Lowe had the disc valued by Sotheby’s. It was reported by Sunday Times journalist Stephen Pile.

Before midday on that Sunday Paul McCartney had called my mum in Liverpool. I eventually spoke to him on the phone and we had long conversations over the next few days because he wanted to buy it from me. I was living in Worcester at the time and he sent his solicitor and his business manager up. I deposited the disc in a small briefcase at the local Barclays Bank and we met up in a small room the bank kindly let me use. The deal was done, I handed the record over and we all went home.
John Lowe
A Hard Day’s Write, Steve Turner

Lowe is known to have rejected an initial offer of £5,000, although the final amount paid by McCartney was not disclosed.

After taking possession of the single, McCartney arranged for sound engineers to improve the sound quality as much as possible. He then made around 50 copies which he gave to family and friends.

I ended up buying it back for a very inflated price. I have since had some replicas made. I don’t want to play the shellac because it would wear out, as demos in those days would. But it’s great to have.
Paul McCartney

The songs were eventually released in 1995 on Anthology 1. It is believed that a repeated verse and chorus towards the end were edited out for the album.

The song has since occasionally featured in McCartney’s live shows, most notably during his 2005 world tour and 2022’s Got Back tour of North America.

Last updated: 29 June 2022
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