A footnote to yesterday’s post…
Reading Tune In I was struck by some uncanny similarities in the evolution of The Beatles and The Who.
Both groups were formed by rebellious, street-wise teenagers who loved rock and roll and could to sing it brilliantly, and at the outset both these founding members recruited fellow schoolboys who had neither the will, ambition or talent to stay in the game. In both cases these boys were kicked out one by one and gradually replaced by superior musicians. One group was called The Quarrymen and the other The Detours.
The leader of The Quarrymen, name of John, chose as his first able-bodied recruit another guitarist whose talent he admired, name of Paul, who turned out to be a superb bass player. The leader of The Detours, name of Roger, spotted a bass player, another John, and invited him to join his group and he too turned out to be superb on bass. Once comfortably installed in The Quarrymen, Paul recommended to his leader John a skilled guitarist, name of George, and John sanctioned his arrival, thus cementing a core trio of front men guitarists. Similarly ensconced in his new group, the other John also recommended a good guitarist, name of Pete, to his leader Roger who also sanctioned his enrolment, thus also cementing a similar core trio of front men.
The John/Paul/George group had a drummer called Pete with whom they weren’t really happy because he didn’t fit their psychological profile and he lasted for about two years until they found the right one. The Roger/John/Pete group had a similar drummer problem with a chap called Doug for about the same length of time. The John/Paul/George group found the right drummer, Ringo, from among the many other groups in their locale, as did the Roger/John/Pete group when Keith showed up. In both cases the new drummers were very experienced, well acquainted with their new employers and, indeed, having recognised their superior skills had set their sights on joining them.
Both groups paid serious dues before the right drummers arrived, one in Liverpool and Hamburg and the other in West London. Both groups built up a local fan base before they recorded, in both cases through their industriousness and growing confidence as stage performers. Both groups recorded flop singles under a different name for labels that would drop them immediately afterwards (The Beat Boys’ ‘My Bonnie’ for Polydor and The High Numbers’ ‘I’m The Face’ for Fontana). The appearance of the right drummers put the final piece in the puzzle for both groups, lighting the blue touch paper and sending them on their way big time. Finally, the leaders of both groups married young, before they became famous, and both groups had gay managers who, at the outset, were hopelessly inexperienced in the ways of the music business.
Along the way, of course, The Quarrymen became The Beatles and The Detours The Who and their paths would diverge wildly when things got moving. The songwriting situation devoloped very differently in both groups and in one of the groups the leader abandoned his guitar to sing without it - but I reckon there are sufficient similarities in the evolution of both groups for this post to at least make a bit of sense!