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The Quarrymen live: TV Star Search audition, Hippodrome, Manchester

Although the Quarrymen had entered the competition the previous year without success, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison travelled to Manchester for another preliminary audition for the ABC TV’s talent show TV Star Search.

Instead of the Quarrymen, the group renamed themselves Johnny and the Moondogs for this event. The auditions were held by ‘Mr Star-Maker’ Carroll Levis at the Ardwick Hippodrome.

The precise date is unknown, but is likely to have been a Saturday in October 1958.

The Moondogs had had no drummer, and only McCartney and Harrison played guitar on this occasion. Lennon’s Gallotone Champion guitar had recently finally been retired – “smashed in half”, Lennon said. However, when leaving the theatre he stole a guitar belonging to another act.

It wasn’t even a nice guitar shape and I never once saw John play it. I said to George, ‘Couldn’t he have nicked something better?
Arthur Kelly
Tune In, Mark Lewisohn

Johnny and the Moondogs successfully passed the audition, and were invited to return to the Hippodrome a second time in the week commencing Monday 24 November.

They were long thought to have auditioned in 1959 but, according to Mark Lewisohn’s Tune In, their only attempts to appear on TV Star Search were in 1957 and 1958.

The Ardwick Hippodrome was demolished in 1964. It was sited on Arwick Green opposite the ABC Cinema (later the Manchester Apollo).

Last updated: 24 January 2024
Julia Lennon dies
The Quarrymen live: TV Star Search, Hippodrome, Manchester
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