Tonight – People’s History of Pop

The first episode of the People’s History of Pop is to be broadcast on BBC Four at 9pm tonight, as part of the year-long My Generation season.

Twiggy.jpg

Photo courtesy of BBC People’s History of Pop
Episode one sees Twiggy unearth pop treasures including a recording of John Lennon’s first-ever recorded performance with his band The Quarrymen, at a fete in Liverpool on the day he met Paul McCartney for the first time – which viewers will see Twiggy with David Hughes – Chair of EMI Group Archive Trust – listening to at the legendary Abbey Road studios.

Quarrymen tape recorder courtesy of the EMI Group Archive Trust.

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Fete intervenes 54 years ago today. Lennon meets McCartney.

There are dates in pop history that we most likely all remember, Elvis’ death, Live Aid, Woodstock, but what about July 6, 1957? The late fifties – Cliff Richard was yet to emerge, Elvis was King, Bill Haley was still having hit records and Teddy Boys greased back their hair in the embryonic coffee bars. In Church Road, Woolton, a suburb of Liverpool, it’s the day of the St. Peters Church Garden Fete. Starting time 3.00pm, all proceeds in aid of church funds. The Fete is preceded by a parade down Church Road – scout and guides, Morris Dancers, the Rose Queen Sally Wright and on the last lorry, a bunch of six young skifflers, The Quarrymen – guitarist Eric Griffiths, banjo player Rod Davis, tea chest bassist Len Garry, washboard man Pete Shotton, Colin Hanton on drums, and singer-guitarist John Lennon. Arriving at St Peter’s Church field, the lads from their lorry play covers of Lonnie Donegan, and Gene Vincent and traditional skiffle numbers like ‘Maggie Mae’. Looking on is another young music hopeful, his guitar perennially round his neck, probably for no better reason that that is where it lives. He watches The Quarrymen. That evening, the boys repeat and extend their performance in the Church Hall. The spectator is there too, and eventually John Winston Lennon and James Paul McCartney have their first conversation.

It is a date we should all remember as the moment that changed pop music forever.