The First photos of john lennon – the true story

John Lennon and The Quarrymen
John Lennon and The Quarrymen
John Lennon and The Quarrymen

22nd June 1957 – The Quarrymen at Rosebery Street

“Our first appearance was in Rosebery Street. They had this party out in the street. We played from the back of a lorry. We didn’t get paid. We played at blokes’ parties after that; perhaps got a few bob, but mostly we just played for fun. We didn’t mind about not being paid.”
John Lennon, 1967, Anthology

Charlie Roberts

Charlie Roberts was a friend of The Quarrymen and he booked them for this appearance. Not only that, he decided to take some photographs of his mates. Little did he know that they would become historical iconic images, as the first ever photos of John Lennon and The Quarrymen.

In his new book, “Just Like Starting Over”, Charlie recalls his friendship with John, Paul and George and the other Quarrymen too.

“Our street party was held to celebrate the 750th anniversary of King John issuing Liverpool with a Royal Charter, to give Liverpool City status. I had asked the Quarrymen if they would play at the street party, and although they were a bit hesitant because Liverpool 8 had a bad reputation, I persuaded them that they would be safe. It should be remembered at this point that some of the lads were still at school and were not streetwise or accustomed to violence. To their credit, they agreed the ‘booking’, and arranged some practice sessions a week or so before.

The Poster that Charlie Designed for the Quarrymen’s Performance

“The poster generated a lot of curiosity and interest because at the time not many people knew much about Skiffle music, and nobody in the area ever seen a live Skiffle group. Nor had anyone in the area heard of the
Quarrymen before, and of course, neither had most of Liverpool.”

The Quarrymen Turn Up

It was around 3.15pm when, to their credit, the Quarrymen sheepishly turned into Rosebery Street, having just visited the Windsor Hotel aka ‘The Clock’ pub on Kingsley Road where they ‘had a few’ for a bit of Dutch courage. I could tell that they had been drinking, as I ushered them into my house at number 84, where my mum, Marjorie Roberts, plied the lads with food and drink (tea or coffee that is) and definitely no more alcohol. We were all in a jovial mood, and although rather apprehensive, the lads were eager to get started.

They had used up a lot of time during the previous week practising for their appearance at what was to become a truly historic event in the story of the Beatles.

Time was up, and the six lads filed out of 84 and went left down to 76 and the flatback wagon. The wagon belonged to Mr. Fred Tyrer, who had also provided the basic microphone that was powered from a music system in his front room. The wagon itself was not as dirty as had been suggested in some previous publications. It wasn’t a coal wagon, but was normally
used to transport all manner of goods, but never coal!

The Quarrymen Set Up

The Quarrymen in Rosebery Street, photographed by Charlie Roberts

It was beginning to get noisy while the Quarrymen were setting up, with lots of excited kids waiting in anticipation. At this point, Pete said that they weren’t due to start until 5pm and it was only 4.00pm. John replied; “It makes a change for us, we’re usually late”.

As a large crowd was now gathering and after a brief discussion it was decided that they should get started. John Lennon, in his customary check shirt took centre stage with his guitar. Colin Hanton on drums, Len Garry on tea chest base, both sporting crew cuts were at the rear.

The remaining Quarrymen – Eric Griffiths on guitar, Rod Davis on banjo, and Pete Shotton on washboard – surrounded John near the front of the crowded flat-back wagon. The audience were in awe as the lads started
playing a mixture of mostly Skiffle and a little Rock n’ Roll.

Read the incredible full story by Charlie Roberts in his fascinating eyewitness testimonies of hanging around with The Quarrymen for a couple of years.

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