Who Was Ivan Vaughan?

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Ivan Vaughan might have changed your life 🙂

It’s unlikely that you know the name though. And he didn’t invent anything, he wasn’t a captain of industry or a pioneering scientist. In fact he was just a normal bloke and a schoolteacher for many of his adult years. He didn’t come from an extraordinary family and went to an ordinary school.

Growing up, he had friends of course. One in particular friend was exactly the same age as him. They shared the same birthday – June 18th, 1942 – and went to the same school. He had other friends who lived in the same neighbourhood he did.

By the late 1950s Ivan was interested in music, as were most teenagers at the time. The government was no longer conscripting young men to join the army and music was a great pastime for teenagers in those days. So when he was only fifteen, Ivan joined an amateur skiffle band made up of a few of his friends.

July 6th, 1957. Woolton village

The teenage group was playing at a local village fete.  One of Ivan’s best friends was the leader of the band and he knew that his best school friend was a great guitar player and asked him to come along. After the group had performed he introduced his two friends. You might have guessed…..

They were John Lennon and Paul McCartney

Ivan knew that Paul would be a great addition to their little amateur group but the problem, he know, would be John. He knew John pretty well because their homes backed onto each other. And how would John, who was almost seventeen react to a mere fifteen year old who was a vastly superior musician?

Paul and John already knew each other by sight, as their homes were only a quarter of a mile apart. But John was like a grown-up, with his Elvis-style quiff whereas Paul was still a baby-face. After the group had played (they were then called The Quarrymen) they retired to the village hall which is where the momentous meeting took place.

And Paul impressed John and all the other lads present. First, he played the guitar – Eddie Cochran’s Twenty Flight Rock – sang it and then, standing at the village hall’s piano, played and sang Jerry Lee Lewis ‘ Whole Lot of Shakin’ Goin’ On. To John though, it was obvious that Paul was a much better musician – so should he ask him to join the band?

Later in life, John Lennon said ‘I’d been kingpin up to then. The decision was whether to keep me strong  or make the group stronger.’ It’s lucky for us – and for pop music in general – that he chose the latter. Paul joined the group the following day.

What happened to Ivan Vaughan?

Ivan remained a close friend of both Beatles but particularly with Paul. He didn’t pursue a music career though but decided to be a teacher. He read classics at the London University and married another teacher – she taught languages – and one day Paul asked her for help with a song he was writing.

He told her that he wanted a French girl’s name and words that rhymed with it. Jan Vaughan, a fluent French speaker, provided ‘Michelle‘ and ‘ma belle‘ plus ‘sont des mots qui vont très bien ensemble‘. Some claim to fame. Jan Vaughan recalled how Ivan, Paul and John used to speak in some crazy made-up language that they’d used as kids – no-one else could understand it.

The couple remained a part of Paul’s life and Ivan shared another momentous moment in Paul’s life. He went with Paul to LA for his first meeting with his wife-to-be, Linda Eastman.

When Ivan was in his late thirties, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. In August 1993 he died of pneumonia.

Cranlock naval, Cranlock pie

When Ivan died, Paul had already started writing poetry and he wrote one about Ivan. He sent it to Jan, Ivan’s widow. Later, it was published and it contained the verse:

Cranlock naval
Cranlock pie
A tear is rolling
From my eye

Paul McCartney fans throughout the world pondered about Cranlock naval, Cranlock pie. What on earth could it mean? Jan Vaughan recognised it at once – it was part of the secret language that Paul and Ivan had spoken since their childhood.

She said that in later life when the two men got together one of them was bound to mention Cranlock naval, Cranlock pie, and it would set them off into fits of laughter. What does it mean? Unless Paul McCartney wants to reveal the secret, I guess we’ll never know.


Jackie Jackson, also known online as BritFlorida, is a highly experienced designer and writer. British born and now living in the USA, she specialises in lifestyle issues, design and quirky stories. You can see a wide range of articles here, or visit her website Tastes Magazine. See The Writer’s Door for more information.

Author: Jackie Jackson

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