How ‘drunk’ Lennon met ‘fat schoolboy’ McCartney 59 years ago today



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“At Woolton village fete I met him,” Paul McCartney writes in the intro to John Lennon’s book, In His Own Write. “I was a fat schoolboy and, as he leaned an arm on my shoulder, I realised he was drunk. We were twelve then, but, in spite of his sideboards, we went on to become teenage pals.”

Turns out, McCartney was off on his dates. He was 15 and Lennon was 16, but they did meet at a village fete. Lennon’s band, the Quarrymen performed at the fete and, later that night, in the church hall across the street.

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They were setting up their equipment for the evening show when the Quarrymen’s bassist, Ivan Vaughan, brought in his buddy, Paul. Lennon immediately impressed McCartney with his voice, and McCartney impressed Lennon with his own singing prowess (and his ability to tune a guitar).

McCartney also played around on a backstage piano, busting out Jerry Lee’s A Whole Lot of Shakin’.

“That’s when I remember John leaning over, contributing a deft right hand in the upper octaves and surprising me with his beery breath,” McCartney says (via the Beatles Bible). “It’s not that I was shocked, it’s just that I remember this particular detail.”

A few weeks later, the Quarrymen invited McCartney to join the band. A year later, George Harrison joined them, too, and all the other Quarrymen had hung up their hats. The group eventually found a drummer and became the Beatles.

“Aunt Mimi, who had looked after him since he was (young),” McCartney wrote about Lennon, “used to tell me how he was cleverer than he pretended, and things like that. He had written a poem for the school magazine about a hermit who said; ‘as breathing is my life, to stop I dare not dare.’ This made me wonder right away – ‘Is he deep?’ He wore glasses so it was possible.”

After that July 6, 1957, show, the Quarrymen — along with McCartney — went to a pub, lied about their ages and had a few pints. Lennon, then, wasn’t the only one with beery breath.

Photo credit: PRESSENS BILD (Mikael J. Nordström)

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