Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Just a Handful of Fans

Having recently finished reading Mark Lewisohn's amazing book 'Tune In,' I still have the early years of the Beatles in my mind.   I found this story written by Liverpool fan, Pat Hogetts (who supposedly was who the song 'Polythene Pam' was about because the nickname the Beatles gave her was 'Polythene Pat' due to the fact that she used to chew on Polythene).    I found the story in the 1966 Christmas Extra issue of The Beatles Book.   It really does match up with a lot of the things in the Lewisohn book including the fact that George's infamous black eye most likely had nothing to do with an angry fan who was made that Pete Best was out and Ringo Starr was in, but had to do with a group of tough guys who were causing issues.

Just a Handful of Fans
One of the Beatle’s fans talk about their Cavern Days

Pat Hodgetts, a friend of the Beatles from Liverpool, reminisces about the old days when Ringo played for Rory Storm and Pete Best was the Beatles drummer.

Although Pat was friendly with the boys, she also spent afternoons at the Harrison home, having tea with George’s mother, and was a frequent visitor at the McCartney’s, because at the time she was very friendly with Mike –Paul’s brother.

Pat hasn’t seen the Beatles for some years now, and her one wish is to meet them again to find out whether or not they have changed.  She recalls, “I never missed a single Beatles session at the Cavern, whether it was in the evening, or a lunchtime.   In those days they used to play a lot of Chuck Berry type numbers like “Memphis.”   One of Paul’s specialties was “Over the Rainbow,” and I remember John singing “Keep your hands off my baby.”

Although Ringo was with Rory Storm at the time, he often used to sit in for Pete Best when he was ill.  One thing I do remember about Ringo, was this horrible old car he had.  Just as he was about to drive off after a session, the others used to jump on top of it and dance about on the bonnet!
After the Beatles had finished their session at the Cavern in the evenings, they used to go over to the Blue Angel with several friends or their date for the evening.  John’s steady was Cynthia, though she was not a frequent visitor to the Cavern.  George usually dated girls from the Cavern and Paul used to take out Rory Storm’s sister Irish, as well as having several other girlfriends.

It’s funny, but a lot of people say to me, “Don’t you think they used to look terribly scruffy in those days, and even quite unattractive.” I admit now that they look smarter, because they can afford better clothes, but I thought they used to look marvelous.  They only difference now, is that John’s got fatter and George has got thinner.  I like George best.  He was always my favourite, and judging by the songs he’s been writing, he’s changed.  He was always rather quiet, but shrewd – his songs sound like the work of a genius. 

Paul and John always bossed him around on stage.  Whenever George sang they danced around him and pulled faces and made jokes the whole time. John hasn’t changed at all.  People were always frightened of him, he was, and I suppose still is, very sarcastic and fantastically funny.  At lunchtime sessions he used to come on in a T-shirt with a tie around his neck, and a huge cap with big stripes.  And whilst he was singing, he used to twitch –on purpose.  One day Paul overheard two girl say, “What a shame—and he’s so young too!”

They used to talk about what they’d do if they made it.  George said he wanted an enormous bed with a motor to drive around the house, so that he’d never have to get out of bed!  Paul wanted a smoking jacket and John wanted a harem!

Their parents and family were very confident in them, and knew that they’d make it one day.
In fact, when “Please Please me” entered the charts, George bet his mother ten shillings that it wouldn’t get to number one.  And when it happened George grabbed hold of his mother and swung her around the room in excitement.

Even before they had a hit record, they were idolized by everyone in Liverpool.  The girls used to faint at their feet in the Cavern because of the heat, and the boys just looked at them whilst they played the death march – they were ever so funny.

I remember two very sad occasions.  One was before they went to Germany for the third time, and there was a big farewell at lunchtime.   Usually everyone used to scream and shout, but on that occasion John sang “To Know Her is to Love her” and there was dead silence –and tears.
The other occasion was when they reached number one with “Please Please Me” Bob Wooler made the announcement, and again there was silence instead of excitement.  It was only because everyone knew we were going to lose them for good.

Although it probably sounds selfish, we would have preferred it if the boys hadn’t got to number one –although deep down in the hearts we were very pleased for them, because it was what they always wanted and we now knew that George could have his big bed, Paul his smoking jacket and john his harem.  But since that memorable number one, the Cavern has never been the same – the enthusiasm is just not there anymore.  The whole reason for rushing down to the Cavern at lunchtime or after school and being the first there ended when they left. 

Admittedly other groups played there and many made names for themselves later on.  But they were just not good enough – nothing could replace the Beatles.

About a week after Pete Best was thrown out and Ringo came in, there was a slight nasty incident at one of the lunchtime sessions.  For some reason or other, there was a firm rule at the Cavern which stated that none of the fellows were allowed to wear jeans.  Anyway these toughs (who were often down there in jeans) called George over and started hitting him.  One punched him in the eye.  George turned round and shouted, “Go and get John,” thinking that John would come down and punch them back.  Anyway when John did arrive on the scene he just stood there laughing.  George had such a terrible black eye that he had to wear a patch for ages.  John and Paul kept joking about it and saying we’ll have to find somebody else if he can’t get rid of that black eye.

As far as their popularity went, John and Paul were always the front men and George was the guitarist.  John and Paul were very intelligent, and john was just fantastic at everything.  I suppose if I really sat down and thought about the old days, I’d be able to remember many more things, but what I have just told you, are the thing which I most remember about the Beatles.


  1. lovely story and " nothing could replace the Beatles"

  2. for the 1st time am reading all your cavern blogs and am loving each one - the snaps are beautiful as well