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Ken Brown, September 13, 1965


QUESTION: How does it feel to have left the Beatles they really made it big?

KEN BROWN: Sometimes I could just kick myself - hard! I could still be one of the Beatles, earning thousands of pounds a week, instead of living in a caravan. I was with John, Paul, and George the first time they played at the Casbah. I knew John's wife, Cynthia - in fact, I saw their romance blossom. I knew George's first girlfriend, Ruth Morrison. We shared everything - our music and the three pounds a night we used to earn in those far-off days of August 1958. Now my old ten-watt amplifier lies in a corner of my caravan. The Hofner guitar I played hangs on the wall, but I still play for my wife, Marcia. These are my only souveniers, and I often think if it hadn't been for a row over a paltry fifteen year bob, I might still be with them.

QUESTION: What do you remember best about those days?

BROWN: The memories flood back ... I was with the Beatles the day they were formed - quite by accident. It was the summer of 1958 and Harrison and i were playing in the Les Stewart Quartet with a chap called Skinner. We spent hours practicing in the Lowlands Club, Heyman's Green. We would have probably gone on playing at clubs, but for George's girlfriend, Ruth. George had never really been too keen on girls. He was only sixteen and at the Liverpool Institute with Paul McCartney. Later, he seemed to go head over heels for Ruth, who eventually moved to Burmingham to become a nurse. One evening the three of us were sitting in the Lowlands, drinking coffee, moaning about the fact that we had nowhere regular to play when Ruth suggested we see Mrs. Best at the Casbah. She promised that the Les Stewart Quartet would play at the club when it opened. On that Saturday we were due to open, so I went round to Stewart's house. George was sitting in the lounge, his Hofner across his lap, idly plucking at the strings. The atmosphere seemed a bit tense. "What's up?" I asked. George looked down at his guitar and said nothing. So I turned to Les. He looked daggers saying, "You've been missing practice," he said. "I know," I replied. "but only so's we can have somewhere to play; I've spent hours working at the club." "You've been getting paid for it," challenged Les. "No I haven't." "well, I'm not going to play there," said Stewart, as our argument got steadily more heated. I turned to George. "Look," I said. "the club opens tonight. We've spent months waiting for this, you're not backing out too?" George thought for a moment. Then he said he would go on with me, so we left Les at his house. As we were walking down the road, I turned to George and said : "we can't let Mrs. Best down now. Let's try and get a group together ourselves. Do you know anyone?" "There's two mates I sometimes play with out at Speke," ventured George. "Okay, let's ask them," I said, and George went off on the bus, joining me two hours later at the Casbah with his two mates - John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

QUESTION: Did you have any idea who his two mysterious mates were?

BROWN: No, not at all. This was the first time I'd ever met them. Paul was fifteen, still at school, and had a schoolboyish haircut. But John was already a bit of a beatnik, with his hair hanging over his collar, dressed in a check suit coat and old jeans. I told them we would each be paid fifteen bob a night. They seemed glad about that; in those days most groups played just for experience.

QUESTION: What were you called at this point?

BROWN: We talked over various names to call ourselves and finally settled on the Quarrymen, a name John had used once or twice before for skiffle groups he had formed since leaving Quarrybank Grammar School. So, that night the Beatles were born and the Casbah opened after all. We went down great particularly when Paul sang, "Long Tall Sally." Our most popular numbers were John and Paul's vocals - I was the rhythm guitarist - John's pet solo was "Three Cool Cats," which he used to growl into the mike.

QUESTION: What are your thoughts these days on John?

BROWN: John was always quiet. He was a lonely youngster, seldom talking about his family, maybe because his father had deserted him in childhood, and then his mother had been killed. John seemed in need of affection and depended on Cynthia.

QUESTION: How did your days with the band finally end?

BROWN: One night, just as we were due to start  Saturday session, I felt a crippling pain in my leg. I could barely stand but insisted on doing something, so Mrs. Best asked me to take the money at the door, and for the first time, John, Paul, and George played without me. Just as everyone was going home, I was in the club when Paul came back down the steps. "Hey Ken, what's all this?" he said. "What?" I asked him. "Mrs. Best says she's paying you, even though you didn't play with us tonight." "That's up to her," I replied as Paul bounded back up the stairs, still aruguing with Mrs. Best. They all came downstairs to me. "we think your fifteeen bob should be divided between us, as you didn't play tonight," said Paul. "All right, that;s it then!" shouted McCartney, and they stormed off down the drive towards West Derby village, shouting that they would never play at the Casbah again. But that wasn't the last time I saw them - not the last time they played at the Casbah - though we didn't play together again. The last time I saw the Beatles was on March 16, 1963. I had moved to London and married Marcia. The telephone rang and it was Neil Aspinall, their road manager. He told me the boys were in bit of a jam; they had run out of money; the next night they were due to appear in Sheefield; unless someone helped them out they would have to sleep in the van. Neil wondered if I would lend them twenty quid. Eventually I agreed, and they all turned up at our flat. Neil came to the door, then Marcia and I went down to the van to see the boys. I handed over the money, which they repaid six weeks later. I told them we were moving into a caravan. "Great," said Paul. "We'll all drop in to see you sometime." And with that they drove off into the night.

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