When John Lennon was in his late teens he had only one thing on his mind and one thing only – rock and roll. He was obsessed with music, especially Elvis, and getting his hands on a guitar. Here’s the story of his first guitar and the story of his first group, the Quarrymen.
John Lennon’s aunt Mimi collapsed and bought him a guitar
As soon as the Elvis craze hit Liverpool, Lennon was shopped. It was all he wanted to talk about at his aunt’s house (where he grew up) and at his mother’s and stepfather’s house. Mimi quickly got tired of all the Elvis talk.
“Elvis Presley is fine, John, but I don’t want him for breakfast, dinner and tea,” she told him, according to the book The love you make by Peter Brown and Steven Gaines.
But although Mimi was tired of hearing about Elvis, she saw how passionate her nephew was about music and eventually broke down and bought him his first guitar. The two went to a music shop in Whitechapel and picked one out for £17 (about $21).
John constantly practiced playing his first guitar
Once Lennon actually owned a guitar, it was hardly ever separated from his body. It was a small Spanish model with cheap wire cords. His mother taught him some chords she knew from playing the banjo and that was his starting point. He played until his fingers bled. He played on his bed for hours. Mimi would encourage him to go outside and feel the sun. So he would go out on the porch and play there. He sat with his back against a brick wall on the porch for so long that Mimi was afraid he might rub off part of the brick.
Finally, Mimi, trying to keep a tight budget, regretted ever buying her nephew the guitar.
“The guitar is fine, John,” she said, “but you’ll never make a living off it.”
John Lennon’s first band: The Quarrymen
It wasn’t long before Lennon found himself in a band. They called themselves Quarrymen after high school. The group consisted of his local friends Pete Shotton, Nigel Whalley and Ivan Vaughan along with a few other boys from school who would cycle in and out as needed.
They gambled everywhere hoping to get paid, but mostly for free. At proms, on trucks, at competitions and in churches. At a church performance, the Quarrymen were first seen by teenager Paul McCartney (invited by Ivan Vaughan with the promise that the afternoon would be a good opportunity to pick up girls). After the show, McCartney played around with a guitar and everyone was impressed. Even reluctantly Lennon. A few days later he was invited to join the Quarrymen.
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