This week we’d like to welcome back our special guest blogger Dr. Art Robert! The good Doctor is a long time contributor to SMS, a respected music critic and 60’s music historian! This week Dr. Robert applies his considerable wit and wisdom to the challenging and complicated question “What if John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr had never met” ? We could speculate for days, but we’d prefer to turn it over to our old friend and resident 60’s music authority! Here’s Dr. Art Robert with the curious question… “What if John, Paul, George and Ringo had never met?
The Beatles, or the Fab Four as we affectionately referred to them in the 60s, were a true phenomenon. Their coming together produced a synergy that catapulted them to the very top of the music Stratosphere . But what if John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr never met? Or if they had met, what if they had never gotten off the ground? It almost happened! It’s intriguing to ponder the alternate trajectories their lives might have taken. Here’s a thoughtful exploration of how things could have panned out for each of them.
Before Ringo Starr joined the Beatles, Pete Best was the drummer for the band. Best was let go from the group in 1962, and there are a few reasons cited for his dismissal. One reason was his drumming style, which some members of the band and their producer, George Martin, felt wasn’t a good fit for their evolving sound. As Martin once said, “I simply didn’t think that Pete Best was a very good drummer”. Another reason was the perceived lack of chemistry between Best and the rest of the band, as well as his quiet demeanor, which contrasted with the more outgoing personalities of Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison. Perhaps because of this, it is easier to imagine Ringo’s potential career arc, if say, Pete Best hadn’t been such a tough hang.
Ringo Starr, the more affable drummer, had a pre-Beatles stint with Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. In a 1964 interview, Starr commented, “I had a good job with Rory, but I wanted to be in the Beatles”. Had he not joined the Beatles, Starr would have no doubt continued playing with other bands, contributing his steady beat and warm personality to each project. Although he might not have become a household name like Lennon or McCartney, his influence on the music scene would still have been felt.
George Harrison, the so-called “quiet Beatle,” was often overshadowed by Lennon and McCartney. He also has a bigger claim than Ringo to the possibility of having still made himself a household name, even if he had been on his own. After all, he was a highly skilled guitarist with a penchant for exploring Eastern philosophies and spirituality. Had he not been a part of the Beatles, it is hard to imagine Harrison choosing a life that didn’t dovetail with his passion for music and spirituality. Although he may not have achieved the same awesome level of fame, his unique voice and contributions to music would have been still been appreciated.
Paul McCartney, with his innate gift for melody, would have certainly found a home for himself in the thriving music scene of the 60s. As McCartney himself said, “If I couldn’t have been in the Beatles, I would have been in the Shadows.” This quote, taken from an interview with BBC Radio 4, makes it pretty clear that McCartney (as I’m sure everyone reading this agrees), would have made his mark somewhere – he just had too much talent and desire. He could have written songs for other artists or found success in another band. At the very least, I think McCartney would have been an extraordinarily successful songwriter.
John Lennon, the boundary-pushing rebel, is the hardest one to analyze. His raw, edgy songwriting resonated with the masses and he was by far the most charismatic of the Beatles. Yet John could also be reckless and impatient – without the astounding success of the Beatles’ which catapulted John into a pop culture phenomena and gave him such a platform – it’s unlikely he would have anywhere near the same stature today. Yet there’s also no doubt that he was perhaps, more than any other, the key ingredient of the Beatles meteor-like cultural impact.
In conclusion, we can only speculate about what might have happened had these four talented musicians from Liverpool never joined forces. Each of them brought their unique skills and personalities to the table, and it is likely that they would have made their mark on the music world in one way or another. The Beatles changed the course of music history, but the individual talents of Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, and Starr would have left an impact even without their collective success.
Big SMS Thanx to Dr. Art Robert for contributing todays piece. But how say you ?What are your thoughts about this very intriguing concept ?