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56 Years Ago: John Lennon Meets Paul McCartney

Hulton Archive, Getty Images

The first time John Lennon met Paul McCartney, Lennon was about ready to go onstage with his band the Quarrymen. One of the group members knew McCartney from school, so he introduced him to his bandmates. Lennon was 16; McCartney was 15. It was July 6, 1957, and the most significant meeting in rock history was about to go down.

The six-piece Quarrymen were setting up for their 8 p.m. performance in the garden of Liverpool’s St Peter’s Church. After chatting for a few minutes, McCartney showed Lennon how to tune his guitar. He then played a few classic rock ‘n’ roll songs — including cuts by Gene Vincent and Little Richard – to show Lennon what he was capable of.

Then the Quarrymen performed. “I just thought, ‘Well, he looks good, he’s singing well and he seems like a great lead singer to me,’” McCartney said of Lennon’s performance to Record Collector magazine in 1995. “Of course, he had his glasses off, so he really looked suave. I remember John was good. He was really the only outstanding member, all the rest kind of slipped away.”

Incidentally, that Quarrymen show was recorded on tape and sold for approximately $120,000 in 1994.

After the show, the Quarrymen, along with McCartney and another pal, went to a pub, where they lied about their ages to get served. Lennon was so impressed with McCartney’s natural talent and knowledge of music that he and the other members of the group later asked McCartney to join them, even though Lennon was a bit hesitant to invite such a powerful figure into his group.

A year later, George Harrison joined the band. By early 1959, everyone else had quit, leaving the trio of Lennon, McCartney and Harrison without a real group. Within a year, they picked up another member, a drummer and renamed themselves the Beatles. You know the rest.

Next: Top 10 Beatles Songs

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