The Beatle who never was

Joaquin Henson - The Philippine Star
The Beatle who never was
Hanton plays the drums with the Quarry Men featuring Paul McCartney and John Lennon.

LIVERPOOL — It was supposed to be the usual one and a half-hour, hop-on, hop-off ride on a double-deck bus taking tourists around this English port city. The itinerary included stops at Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields, two subjects of Beatles songs with pass-throughs of the homes where John Lennon and Paul McCartney grew up.

What made the trip interesting was guide Chris Hough’s historical anecdotes not just on the Beatles but also on the city. Hough is a musician in his own right, fronting a group called the Ukulele Uff Trio which specializes in classic jazz and Hawaiian music. He plays the uke and sings. Hough formed the trio in 2012 but the current lineup including Pete Price and Bill Leach has been together only the last three years. The trio has cut two albums so far and is actively performing in gigs. During the bus ride, Hough serenaded the passengers with two songs while playing the uke.

Quarry Men drummer Colin Hanton, now 85.

One of Hough’s disclosures was McCartney made up the music of When I’m 64 as a 14-year-old for his father Jim to whistle to. It wasn’t until 10 years later, in 1966, when McCartney put in the words to complete the song for the Sgt. Peppers album.

A memorable stop on the bus ride was Penny Lane where Hough led the passengers to the road sign for picture-taking. Then, Hough spotted an elderly man walking down the street and immediately, called him out. The man turned out to be Colin Hanton who was the drummer with the band Quarry Men in the late 1950s when Lennon, McCartney and George Harrison started to play beautiful music together. Hanton, now 85, was introduced to the passengers, posed for pictures and shared stories about his days with Lennon, McCartney and Harrison.

That’s me and my wife Menchu on Penny Lane St.

It was in 1956 when Lennon formed the Quarry Men. Hanton joined as the drummer and later, McCartney and Harrison came on board. The band performed at Liverpool’s Empire Theater, street gigs, school shows and the fabled Cavern Club. Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, Hanton, and keyboards player John Lowe cut the first record featuring the three future Beatles.

After a performance on Jan. 1, 1959, Hanton was never contacted again to play with the band. There had been an argument among the members and a shake-up was inevitable.

Bus tour guide Chris Hough, known as Ukulele Uff, serenades the passengers.

Hanton moved on to do carpentry and upholstery, eventually drumming again in 1997 at a Quarry Men reunion without the Beatles. Lennon, McCartney and Harrison invited another drummer Pete Best to take over from Hanton and Best was later replaced by Ringo Starr to become the Beatles.

“No regrets,” said Hanton. “I’d spoken with John a few times after we parted ways but never with Paul or George. When we reformed the Quarry Men, we did tours in the UK, US, Germany, Japan, and Russia and recorded three albums.”

The double-deck, hop-on, hop-off bus that takes tourists around Liverpool and Beatles sites.

In the 2009 biopic “Nowhere Boy,” actor Sam Wilmott portrayed Hanton.

“I may not have become a wealthy rock star but I was very happy,” said Hanton in the book Pre-Fab which he co-authored with Colin Hall. “I’d married Joan whom I loved. We had a good home and I was doing well at work. I could walk the streets of Liverpool unrecognized and unbothered, without an escort but if ever I’m asked to tell my story, I could raise an audience for there were few other folk who have a story quite like mine.”

vuukle comment


  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with