B is for The Beatles – The Early Years

Tuesday 29th July

I first heard the Beatles in the back seat of my dad’s Ford Zodiac in late 1962.  Love Me Do had entered the charts, but didn’t reach number one.  The Light Programme had a precursor of the chart show on Sunday afternoons, but they only played the top 3 or 4 and a few new entries.  Frank Ifield, Helen Shapiro and even old stalwarts like Doris Day predominated.  I had heard Elvis; Mum and Dad had some 78s and one or two by Elvis.  Would be worth a fortune now of course, but were slung out some time in the Seventies.  I was never that excited by Elvis, he was my parent’s sound.  The Beatles were mine.  I was 11 and fell straight away in love with them, and through them all music.

I have since tried to buy everything by them, including early recordings with Tony Sheridan and the demo tapes which Decca famously rejected.  I especially love those early years with innocence and excitement in equal measure.  It was quite a basic sound; drums bass, rhythm and lead guitar.  But it was the singing that sold them.  Sometimes their voices were so blended that you couldn’t tell who was singing, because the band had three very good vocalists, and even Ringo could sing.  They had dropped Pete Best, and with a streak of ruthlessness replaced him in the eve of fame with Ringo.

From the start they seemed natural at interviews, competing with each other for quips and put-downs, which all added to their allure as rebels and heroes.  In no time at all that innocence was lost and after just two albums they were huge stars and making their first film.  But listen again to Please Please Me and With The Beatles, and you can hear all that pent-up enthusiasm, that excitement that they were actually making records.  “Where are we going John?”  “To the toppermost of the top” and they did.

early beatles