Saturday, October 29, 2011

Paul's Coffin

October 1961
A Barber "Coffin"

Nobody know exactly when, but sometime around now Paul McCartney made another improvement to the Beatles sound that is echoing down to us even today, 50 years later.  He obtained a custom made "reflex" bass speaker cabinet with a 15" speaker inside.  At the time, based on its size and shape, it was called "the Coffin".

Paul had it made by a fellow Liverpool musician from a group called the Big Three named Adrian Barber.  (Note the intro from Bob Wooler on that recording.  Cool!)  Barber is an unsung hero of the history of rock and roll because in addition to his interest in music, he also had some experience in the new technology of "electronics".  The Big Three boasted the loudest drummer on the Mersey Beat scene, Johnny Hutchison.  In order to be heard over the drums, Barber had to figure out how to build bigger and better amplification for himself and his bass player partner, Johnny Gustafson.

When Paul saw the huge new cabinet, he knew he had to have one, so he went to the source and asked Barber to make one for him.  For amplification, he just unhooked the speaker wires from his 30 watt Selmer TruVoice amp and connected them to the new cabinet.  Paul said later "Adrian made me a great bass amp that he called the Coffin.  And man!  Suddenly that was a total other world.  That was bass as we know it now."  Pete Best just remembers what a job it was to get it down the narrow stairway to the Cavern cellar!

Cavern 1961 - McCartney and band mates play off the "Coffin" nickname     (c) Apple - Peter Kaye