The Beatles’ first recording.
Now that’s not strictly true, I’ll admit, but In Spite of All the Danger was the first recording by Paul McCartney, Jogn Lennon and George Harrison. Ringo Starr was yet to join the group. What’s more, although it was the Lennon McCartney duo that was to become so famous in the songwriting field, In Spite of All the Danger was credited to Lennon & Harrison.
The recording was made on June 12th, 1958 in Liverpool when the group were still known as The Quarrymen.
Back in those far off days, luxuries such as cassette recorders (and how vintage they seem now!) didn’t exist. Unless a musician wanted to record in a studio, they had to use huge reel-to-reel tape recorders that were enormously expensive. The lads just couldn’t afford this.
John Lennon heard about Percy Philips – he was an electrical retailer in Liverpool who also ran a private recording studio. So John, Paul and George, plus two temporary band members, decided to lay down two tracks using Percy’s studio.
Although reports of how much they paid for the privilege is unclear after all these years, it seems likely that it was just over ten bob – half a British pound. They left the studio proudly bearing one copy of the disc – they could only afford just the one.
It was two-sided and on the other side to In Spite of All the Danger they recorded their version of That’ll be the Day, made famous by Buddy Holly and the Crickets.
What happened to the first record by the Beatles?
The disc was a ten inch one made of aluminium and acetate. As they could only afford one copy, each member of the group took possession of it on a weekly basis on a rota system — until the day that their pianist, John Lowe,. decided to keep it. It remained in his possession for over twenty years.
When it reappeared, it was thought my many to be the rarest record in the world.
John Lowe, naturally enough, wanted to make a profit on this prized possession — and after all, his piano playing was featured on the record so he was sort-of entitled. So in the early nineteen eighties, he decided to put it up for auction.
However, Paul McCartney heard about this and came to a private agreement with the former-piano player. How much? No-one knows to this day. But Paul had it remastered and several copies were made that he distributed to family and friends.
Below is a clip from Nowhere Boy, the story of John Lennon’s early days with the Quarrymen. There is a genuine version of In Spite of All the Danger below but I have added this one simply because Aaron Johnson – playing John Lennon – is totally gorgeous 🙂
Here’s the original recording:
And now, here’s Paul in much later life: