A tenderness that belies their mythic Scouse upbringing

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“On my desk I keep a tearsheet of a portrait of John Lennon and Paul McCartney taken by photographer David Bailey. There’s something about the photograph that captured then and still holds my attention to this day. Like all great photographs it’s hard to put into words why the picture is so affecting; in my case it’s a feeling about the quality of the relationship between Lennon and McCartney. There’s a tenderness there that belies their mythic Scouse upbringing in Liverpool. Looking at the picture, Lennon’s head tilts a bit to the right, while McCartney’s goes left; his head seems to float against the solid black shape of Lennon’s body. Each a part of the other”.
Russell Devita

July 15th, 1958

tumblr_mpzc83RSnE1soa8c1o1_500“He didn’t talk about his Mum to anybody but me,” says Cynthia. “It shattered his life. He often said how terrible it was that he’d lost her just at the time she was becoming his best friend. I could see the feeling welling up deep inside him. I’d say: “Come on, John. I want to know all about you.” And he’d shake his head as if to say no. It was obviously too painful for him to open up very much” (Cynthia Lennon)

There was a spark going round.

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“I thought they were a scruffy load of louts. Lennon was wearing leather jacket, jeans and cowboy boots, hair quiffed. Same with McCartney. We were wearing V-necked red sweaters. They just looked so confident, and rock’n’roll. They had a sex appeal that us, in our V-necked jumpers, just didn’t. The first thing I noticed [when The Beatles started playing] was the noise. Pete Best playing fours on the bass drum. I thought Hang on, he’s not doing it like you’re trained to. It was so powerful. They’d just turned up everything louder. They did Long Tall Sally, Red Sails In The Sunset … The audience were dancing, then suddenly they stopped. There was a spark going round. You could feel it. There was a slow movement towards the stage. People just stood and watched. Boys and girls, just stood there, watching this band jumping on chairs, doing Chuck Berry stuff backwards and forwards across the stage, absolute crackers. Suddenly you realised, there something happening here. A generation’s moving. You can either jump on it, or watch it go by.” (John McNally, guitarist and vocalist of Johnny Sandon and The Searcher, talking about the show on December 27, 1960, at Litherland Town Hall Ballroom, near Liverpool)

As perfect as a band can get

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“The Beatles to me were like the perfect science experiment, the perfect organic combination, the stars aligning magically. The serendipity of it is just unbelievable. When I was a kid, I remember digging all of them a lot… The harmonies, all of it was just so resonant. They were this perfect balance, this perfect harmony, I mean as perfect as a band can get”. (Rusty Anderson)

Blossoming as a songwriter

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“It was beautiful. George was blossoming as a songwriter. With ‘Something’ and ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ – are you kidding me? Two of the finest love songs ever written, and they’re really on a par with what John and Paul or anyone else of that time wrote. They’re beautiful songs. It’s interesting that George was coming to the fore and we were just breaking up.” (Ringo Starr)

That beery old breath

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“We wrote our first songs together, we grew up together and we lived our lives together. And when we’d do it together, something special would happen. There’d be that little magic spark. I still remember his beery old breath when I first met him here [Woolton church fete] that day. But I soon came to love that beery old breath. And I loved John”. (Paul McCartney, 2003)