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John Lennon beats up Cavern DJ Bob Wooler at Paul McCartney’s 21st birthday party

Paul McCartney celebrated his 21st birthday with a party held at his Aunt Gin’s house at 147 Dinas Lane, Huyton, Liverpool.

The party was held in a marquee in the back garden in the evening of 18 June 1963. The Fourmost performed at McCartney’s request; he offered to pay them their regular fee, but the group insisted the would only accept fourpence halfpenny each. In the end, it is said, they were never paid anyway.

Paul McCartney on his 21st birthday, 28 June 1963

Other guests included Billy J Kramer and The Shadows. Cliff Richard’s backing group had been appearing in Blackpool. They met McCartney and his girlfriend Jane Asher outside the Empire Theatre, Liverpool, and all traveled to Dinas Lane together.

The party was overshadowed, however, by an incident involving John Lennon and Bob Wooler, the disc jockey at the Cavern Club.

Following Lennon’s holiday to Barcelona with Brian Epstein in April, rumours had circulated in Liverpool about the pair.

At the party Wooler allegedly described the holiday as a ‘honeymoon’. Lennon, fuelled by alcohol, lashed out at the DJ.

At the party the boys’ old friend Bob Wooler, the Cavern emcee, made a crack to John about his holiday. John, who’d had plenty to drink, exploded. He leapt on Bob, and by the time he was dragged off Bob had a black eye and badly bruised ribs. I took John home as fast as I could, and Brian drove Bob to the hospital.

I was appalled that John had lashed out again. I’d thought those days were over. But John was still livid, muttering that Bob had called him a queer. A day or two later when he had cooled down he was ashamed. He kept repeating, ‘Oh, God, Cyn, what have I done?’ He sent Bob a telegram saying, ‘Really sorry Bob stop terribly worried to realise what I had done stop what more can I say John Lennon.’ Unfortunately the local press got hold of the story and the [national] Daily Mirror ran it, which didn’t help John’s image. He swore he’d never do anything like it again and, to my knowledge, he didn’t, certainly for as long as we were together.

Lennon spoke about the incident in a 1971 interview.

He’d insinuated that me and Brian had had an affair in Spain. I was out of me mind with drink. You know, when you get down to the point where you want to drink out of all the empty glasses, that drunk. And he was saying, ‘Come on, John, tell me’ – something like that – ‘Tell me about you and Brian, we all know.’ And obviously I must have been frightened of the fag in me to get so angry. You know, when you’re twenty-one, you want to be a man, and all that. If somebody said it now, I wouldn’t give a shit. So I was beating the shit out of him, and hitting him with a big stick, too, and it was the first time I thought, ‘I can kill this guy.’ I just saw it, like on a screen – that if I hit him once more, that was going to be it.
John Lennon
John Lennon: For The Record, Peter McCabe and Robert D Schonfeld

Billy J Kramer later claimed that Lennon had also been abusive towards a girl at the party.

I wasn’t present at the incident in which John attacked Bob Wooler. I just knew that Bob was a mild mannered, inoffensive person who had done a lot for the Beatles career in Liverpool. I was outside the house with Billy Hatton of the Fourmost talking to a girl when John came out. He’d had a skinful and he grabbed the girl. She shoved him away and he swore at her so Billy and I persuaded him to calm down. Cynthia came out and she was in tears and she asked us if we could put John in a taxi. So we did.
Last updated: 9 March 2023
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