Monday, August 16, 2010

The Journey of 1000 Miles Begins

August 16, 1960

Stuart was the oldest at age 20.  John was 19.  Paul and Pete Best were 18.  And George, the youngest, was 17.  Henceforward, they dropped the word Silver from the band name and became the Beatles.

Passports and visas had been obtained, work permits conveniently forgotten. So all five boys with their equipment were loaded into an Austin van and set out on the long drive from Liverpool, through London, to Harwich and the terminal for the ferry to Holland.  Also on board were Allen Williams, his wife Beryl and her brother.  Allen's amanuensis and friend, Lord Woodbine was there, too.   In London, they picked up a friend to act as interpreter for the time being.  The van was about the size of a VW bus.  I count 10 people, four guitars and a full drum kit (plus personal luggage) so it must have been rather close in there.  (Pictures of the vehicle show a large bag tied to a car-top carrier.  No doubt the suspension was never the same afterwards.)

As to that equipment, Stu had his Hofner President bass (or was it a model 333?), and Pete his new drum kit. Lennon carried a Hofner Club 40 and McCartney a Rosetti Solid 7 guitar.  George Harrison's axe was a Futurama, which was an eastern European knock-off of an early Stratocaster, such as was played by Buddy Holly, leader of the American early rock band (and important Beatle influence) the Crickets. Their amplifiers were little plywood boxes that wouldn't even qualify as decent practice amps today.  But judging by recordings from around this time period, they did manage to generate a pretty exciting sound.

Can it really be that it was just nine years to the day before the first Woodstock Music Festival shook the world?

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