Mersey Memories One
At Lennon’s House
Paul Tennant of Focal Point recalls: “During late 1967 or maybe early ‘68 my partner Dave Rhodes and I were staying at John Lennon's house. Another guest at the house that time was the one and only Magic Alex, well his English was not the best. We spent the evening having a few drinks and dare I say it - a little smoke! And then we all retired to bed. I seem to remember Terry Doran and John Lennon went out somewhere, leaving only Dave, Alex and myself in the house.
“Then, some time in the middle of the night the phone went and my friend Dave awoke and answered it. It seemed that it was Mick Jagger on the phone asking "Where the F..k is Alex?" Dave said ‘hang on’ and came to wake me; we then tried to wake Alex. He was completely out of it. Dave went back to the phone and carried on the conversation with Mick. "Alex, should have been here in the studio, where the f..k is he, go and wake him." Again we tried but to no avail, he was dead to the world. Dave explained it to Mick and put the phone down to another torrent of abuse.
”Next morning Alex came down for breakfast and said he had forgotten all about the session, and not to worry. He then offered Dave and me a lift into London, which we accepted. He was driving a 3 litre Jaguar. Well to say it was an experience was an understatement, he was the worst driver in the world. Then to top it all he was involved in a collision with another car. He ran straight into the back of it. The driver got out and started to give Alex a hard time. But Alex being Alex, started to talk in Greek, which left the other guy bewildered and poor old me had to go and sort it all out.
Happy days, oh happy days.”
Johnny and Eddie
Johnny Gentle was on Eddie Cochran’s last show at the Bristol Hippodrome, before Eddie was killed in a car crash on his way to Heathrow.
Johnny arrived at the scene of the crash as the ambulance was driving away to the hospital. Johnny didn’t
realize at the time that it was Eddie in the ambulance, and asked the driver of the breakdown truck if he had any petrol as he was running low and in those days there were no all night motorway petrol stations and most garages closed at 10.o’ clock.
The breakdown truck driver who was about to tow the wreck away suggested Johnny could siphon the petrol from the wreck which he did and managed to get enough out to get him back to London.
Since the death of Eddie, there has been an Eddie convention every year at Chippenham where the accident happened. It has grown over the years to quite a big annual event and Johnny appears quite often the most recent being in 2004 where Johnny played alongside stars such as Little Richard, Bill Haley’s Comets, Buddy Hollies Crickets, Charlie Gracie and English Rockers Marty Wilde, Terry Dene, Vince Eager and Tommy Bruce etc.
Johnny uses three Liverpool lads - Alan Stratton (bass), Jeff Taggart (guitar) and Raphael Callaghan (harmonica) whenever he is asked to do any gigs. Johnny reckons they are three great musicians who play Johnny’s repertoire with vocal backings added.
The Beatmakers were an unusual group who made a single appearance at Litherland Town Hall on 19 October 1961. Promoter Brian Kelly had booked the Beatles, Gerry & the Pacemakers and Karl Terry & the Cruisers.
As a bit of fun, both the Beatles and the Pacemakers decided to combine into one group called the Beatmakers. They joined forces on stage, with Gerry Marsden wearing George Harrison’s leather outfit and George, who played lead, wearing a hood. Paul McCartney played bass and wore a nightie, and Freddie Marsden and Pete Best played one drum each.
Lennon and Lennon
John’s cousin Stan Parkes relates this background to the photograph of John and a little boy, because it was incorrectly captioned “Visiting a long lost relative in New Zealand” in Geoffrey Giulliano’s book ‘John Lennon.’
“This was taken at Callender in Perthshire, at the Roman Camp Hotel, the Beatles hideaway hotel where my mother, Jan and myself took John up to join the others after the Edinburgh Concert in 1963.
“The little boy was taken to be introduced to John and photographed with him because the little boy was also named John Lennon.
“Many years later, when this little boy became a man, he immigrated to Canada. John was playing a gig either in Canada or in the USA, just by the Canadian border. The little boy went to see John and introduced himself to him. He asked John if he remembered meeting him in Scotland. John did and they had a great time together chatting over old times. I believe John kept in touch with him over the years.”
Neil Foster of the Delacardoes remembers Frank Hessy, owner of the famous Liverpool music store: “Frank Hessy I knew by sight, of course, as I bought all my stuff from his shop. One vivid memory: I was in the shop once and I saw him trying to put an alto sax back on a top shelf. As he was so short, it was difficult and he became very annoyed as the sax kept falling forward. In the end, he suddenly lost his temper with it and slammed it back viciously against the back wall. I remember thinking: ‘Glad I don’t play alto!’ He must have damaged it by his action.
“Jim Gretty I also knew by sight and he once took over a booking at the Starline Club, Windsor Street, that we couldn’t do. He was a sort of one-man band
specializing in C&W and a bit of a rough-and-ready bloke. I remember a sax-playing friend of mine complaining about him once and saying, “He’s practically illiterate, that chap.”