The Quarry Bank school song contained the words "Quarrymen, strong before our birth", and this probably gave John Lennon and Pete Shotton the idea for their name. The Quarry Bank motto was "Out of this rock, you will find truth" -
You will often see their name split as QUARRYMEN -
So what was it that led to hundreds of new groups appearing almost overnight in Britain? It was skiffle, which is a musical style that came from America, played mainly by black musicians, and dating back to about the 1920s.
Lonnie Donegan was the man responsible when his record, “Rock Island Line” hit the UK top ten in 1956, and made it to number 1 in the US. Skiffle groups started springing up out of nowhere, because you didn't need much technology or expertise, musical or otherwise. The basic line-
The standard instruments were a guitar, banjo and washboard.This was supplemented by the tea chest bass. This has been described in various books, but rarely accurately. It was a square packing case that used to contain the tea being shipped over to this country, hence tea chest. It was upturned, painted, and then a brush handle was strung to the box, and as it was pulled tight, you would twang the string, making the sound reverberate in the sound box at the bottom.
The craze didn't last long, as "Rock Island Line" was knocked off the top of the US charts by Elvis, with "Heartbreak Hotel". Rock 'n' Roll was here to stay, and by the end of 1957, skiffle was already on its way out. And so, like many other teenagers, a group of friends in Woolton decided to form a skiffle group of their own, not realising where it would lead.
The Quarrymen were formed in the middle of 1956 -
Eric seems to remember it being a lad called George Lee at school who initially suggested forming the skiffle group, but what happened to him nobody knows! To be formed at school, it had to before mid-
John was then the instigator, who formed them with his schoolmates from Quarry Bank School -
Initially there was John on guitar and vocals, with Pete Shotton on washboard -
They sought out the only person they knew at school who had a guitar -
Another Quarry Bank pupil they knew was their friend Rod Davies who had acquired a banjo, so he was in.
Pete's shelter was a good place to practice, as was John's mother Julia's house, Eric's house and sometimes at Rod’s house too.
At his house one afternoon, Eric suggested a friend and near neighbour of his called Colin Hanton -
After toying with the name "Blackjacks" (see Dingle -
The school song became lampooned by them -
"Quarrymen, strong before our birth
straining each muscle and sinew
Toiling together, Mother earth
conquered the rock that was in you"
Maybe some other lines were more prophetic:
"Quarry of manhood, Quarry Bank,
Rock of the lives before us"
Pete Shotton also says that a reason they chose that name is because of the massive stone Quarry in Woolton, situated off Quarry Street (see Woolton -
Pete said, “Since our native Woolton was pocked with sandstone quarries, and most of us attended Quarry Bank School, The Quarrymen seemed as good a choice as any.”
So in that sense, living in the shadow of the quarry, they were also 'Quarrymen'.
Read about every Quarrymen member in the book