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What's In A Name?
by John T. Marck
 


Did you know that The Beatles went through eight names before deciding on The Beatles? Learn all about each of their former names here!



What's In A Name?

So what were The Beatles before they became The Beatles? Did you know that the group tried eight different names before becoming The Beatles? Now you can learn all about the names the most famous group in recording history used.

In the beginning, in March 1957, the skiffle group was known as "The Black Jacks." At this time it consisted of John Lennon and his best friend from high school, Pete Shotten. However, this name lasted only about a week when John Lennon renamed the band "The Quarry Men," named after their school, Quarry Bank High. As "The Quarry Men," the band consisted of John Lennon on guitar and vocals, Pete Shotten on the washboard, Rod Davis on banjo, Eric Griffiths on guitar, and Colin Hanton on drums. Additionally there were several people who played bass guitar. They were Bill Smith, Len Garry, Ivan Vaughan, and Nigel Whalley.

John Lennon Meets Paul McCartney

On July 6, 1957, "The Quarry Men" played at an annual garden festival at St. Peter's Parish Church in Woolton, not far from John Lennon's home on Menlove Avenue. During their concert, one of the audience members was a young man named Paul McCartney, who was there with a mutual friend of John's, Ivan Vaughan. While "The Quarry Men" were setting up for another concert at the church that evening, Paul was introduced to the members of the band by Ivan. While with the band, Paul picked up a guitar and began to play one of Lennon's favorites, "Twenty Flight Rock." This impressed Lennon, but what impressed him even more was that Paul knew all the lyrics to the song, and wrote them down for John, as Lennon was bad at remembering lyrics. A few weeks past since this night when Pete Shotten went to Paul and asked him if he would like to join the group, and Paul agreed. Although Pete asked Paul to join on behalf of Lennon, John had mixed emotions in asking Paul, as he knew Paul was just as talented as he was, and wondered if maybe Paul was competition.

Another Famous Name Joins the Group

From this point, "The Quarry Men," now consisting of John, Paul, Eric Griffiths, Len Garry and Colin Hanton would now add another member on February 6, 1958. This person was the fourteen-year-old friend of Paul's named George Harrison. Although George was four years younger than John, and he looked upon him as a youngster, George was a wonderful guitar player. To prove his ability to John, he played the instrumental song "Raunchy," and did it perfectly. In a short time, Eric Griffiths was removed from the group, replaced by George. "The Quarry Men" continued on until about October/November 1959 when they became "Johnny and the Moondogs."

Now as "Johnny and the Moondogs," the group consisted of John, Paul, George, Colin Hanton, and John Lowe. It would be under this name that the group recorded what could be broadly considered the first Beatles' song, although two of the members would soon leave. The group recorded two songs, "That'll Be The Day," and "In Spite Of All The Danger." Interestingly, these two songs would not surface until long after the Beatles' broke up, upon the release of their "Beatles Anthology, Volume 1."

During this time John and Paul began their song writing careers, and wrote numerous songs. Some from this early period that everyone knows are: "Love Me Do," " One After 909," "Hello Little Girl," and "When I'm Sixty-Four."

From "Johnny and the Moondogs," they evolved for two days only, with the name "The Nerk Twins." This came about on April 23 and 24, 1960, when over an Easter holiday break, John and Paul worked at the Fox and Hounds Bar in Caversham, Berkshire owned by Paul's cousin Elizabeth Robbins. Strangely, for working behind the bar, Elizabeth and her husband Mike allowed John and Paul to play a few songs for the patrons. Without microphones, they sat on stools and entertained the audience, when Mike fondly called them, "The Nerk Twins."

Sometime during the early part of May 1960, their name changed to "The Beatals." The group now consisted of John, Paul, George, and John's friend Stuart Sutcliffe. According to Lennon, he named the band "The Beatals," for two reasons. First, he liked Buddy Holly's band "The Crickets," and wanted an insect sounding name, but also wanted to incorporate the name "Beat" in the title. Not sold on this, Lennon would try several other variations. Later on May 10, Lennon came up with "The Silver Beetles." This still used the insect theme, and lasted until June 1960. During this time, Lennon changed the name back on May 14 to "The Silver Beats." Still not sold on a name, Lennon changed the name again in early to mid June 1960 to "The Beatles," this time using a distinctive spelling. He changed the spelling so as not to have the insect connection, while at the same time maintaining the insect name sound.

On month later in July 1960, Lennon again changed the name, this time back to "The Silver Beatles." This lasted until August 16, 1960, when the name was changed back to "The Beatles," and the rest as they say is history.

So, let's take a quick review of the names again:

The Black Jacks

The Quarry Men

Johnny and the Moondogs

The Nerk Twins

The Beatals

The Silver Beetles

The Silver Beats

The Beatles

The Silver Beatles

The Beatles

So there you have it - the history of the names used by The Beatles.

Copyright John T. Marck. All Rights Reserved. This article and their accompanying pictures, photographs, and line art, may not be resold, reprinted, or redistributed for compensation of any kind without prior written permission from the author.

NOTE: All song titles contained herein are Copyright Northern Songs. All Rights Reserved. International Copyright Secured. All information contained in this article, except song titles, group names and photos, Copyright 2000 by John T. Marck.