Original Quarrymen banjo player says first Cavern show anniversary is a mistake – and remembers how McCartney took his job
An original member of the band which went on to become the Beatles says the date of their first show at the iconic Cavern Club has been recorded wrongly in history books – and it’s partly his fault.
Banjo player Rod Davis, who was replaced by Paul McCartney soon after the Quarrymen started gigging, agreed with archivists who suggested the group first performed in the LIverpool venue on August 7, 1957.
But he recently realised the date was wrong: the skiffle group had already played the Cavern by then.
Davis tells the BBC: “No question about it: I played three or four times at the Cavern and is was definitely before August.
“I have my dad’s passport which says, ‘Entry to Bolougne, July 29, 1957,’ so I was definitely not at the Cavern on August 7.”
He has photographic evidence too, in a roll of film shot by his dad which recorded the Quarrymen’s first ever show at a church fete a few weeks earlier.
“On the same strip of film was my family with my uncle who lived in Epping – we stayed the night with him before we went to France,” Davis says.
“Despite telling Beatles biographers that I remembered the gig, I didn’t, so I’m as much to blame as everybody else.
“Some biographers say they’ve gone by adverts in the Liverpool Echo, but there were skiffle sessions where only the leading group was named. We played dates at the Cavern at which the Quarrymen were not advertised by name.”
Davis recalls the moment he realised McCartney had taken his place in the band. “The famous meeting with Lennon and McCartney was on July 6, and a couple of weeks after that I remember practising at John’s Aunt Mimi’s house.
“I turned up and there was a guy there I didn’t know. I said to John, ‘Who’s this?’ and he said, ‘That’s Paul – he’s come to listen to us practise.’
“By then they’d obviously offered him the banjo player slot. If I hadn’t been such a rubbish banjo player, Paul McCartney wouldn’t have been in the group.”