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Author Topic: Ken Brown Has Died  (Read 3450 times)

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Bill Harry

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Ken Brown Has Died
« on: June 15, 2010, 10:24:48 AM »

Roag Best has just phoned me to say that Ken Brown died last night. He was found dead on the living room floor of his house and had been suffering from emphysema.

Here is a piece I had written about him.


BROWN, KEN. A Liverpool guitarist who played alongside a 16-year-old George Harrison in the Les Stewart Quartet in 1958, at a time when John Lennon’s group the Quarry Men were dormant.
     They were practising at a venue called lowlands when George’s girlfriend Ruth Morrison, mentioned that a new coffee club was opening nearby and they might be seeking a resident group. Brown went along to see Mona Best and secured the band a residency, due to begin when the club opened on Saturday 29 august 1959.
     Early that Saturday Brown went to Stewart’s house and sat in the lounge with Stewart and George. There seemed to be a bad atmosphere in the room and Brown asked Stewart what was up. Stewart accused him of missing practice and continued to argue after Brown explained that he’d been helping out at the Casbah in order to secure a place for them to play. Stewart accused him of receiving money for helping out, which Brown denied.
     Stewart told him, “I’m not playing there.”
     Brown asked George not to back out on him too, so George followed him out of the house, with Brown suggesting that they get a group together for that evening. George mentioned that he had two friends and would contact them.
     Brown waited patiently as the Casbah for two hours, then George returned with John, Paul and Cynthia.
     They decided to use the name of John’s group, the Quarry Men, and began their residency that evening. Among the numbers played were Three Cool Cats sung by John and Long Tall Sally, sung by Paul. Brown played Hofner guitar and the group used his ten-watt amplifier.
     The new club was the subject of a story in the local newspaper, the West Derby Reporter. It noted how Kenneth Brown, David Hughes and Douglas Jenkins had helped to decorate the club and make it shipshape, adding: “Kenneth Brown is also a member of a guitar group which entertains the club members on Saturday nights. The other members of the group, who call themselves the Quarry Men, travel from the south end of the city to play.”
     In 1965 Brown told a reporter how his days with the group came to an end during a dispute which took place six weeks after the group had got together:
     “One night, just as we were due to start a Saturday session, I felt a crippling pain in my leg. I could barely stand, but insisted on doing something, so Mrs Best asked me to take the money and the door and, for the first time, John, Paul and George played without me.
     “Just as everyone was going home I was in the club when Paul came back down the steps. ‘Hey, Ken, what’s all this?’ he said. ‘What?’ I asked him. ‘Mrs Best says she’s paying you, even though you didn’t play with us tonight.’ ‘That’s up to her,’ I replied, as Paul bounded back up the stairs, still arguing with Mrs Best. They all came downstairs to me. ‘We think your fifteen bob should be divided between us, as you didn’t play tonight,’ said Paul. So of course I didn’t agree. ‘All right, that’s it then!’ shouted McCartney, and they stormed off down the drive towards west Derby village, shouting that they would never play the Casbah again.”
     This left the club without a resident group, so Brown approached Pete Best and suggested they form a group on their own. The result was the Blackjacks, who began playing regularly at the club until Pete was approached by the Beatles to join them for their Hamburg trip. The Blackjacks were on the verge of splitting up as Chas Newby was soon to start college and Brown was about to marry his girlfriend, Marcia, and move to London.
     In December 1960, when Stuart Sutcliffe remained in Hamburg, Best suggested that Brown rejoin them as bass guitarist for some of their Liverpool gigs, even though he was then in London, but the other members vetoed the suggestion.
     Th last time that Brown saw the group was on 16 March 1963, when Neil Aspinall phoned him to say that they were in a jam as they’d run out of money and were due to appear in Sheffield the next night – could he lend them £20?
     Brown was to relate: “Eventually, I agreed and they all turned up at our flat. Neil came to the door, then Marcia, and I went down to the van to see the boys. I handed over the money, which they repaid it six weeks later.”
      Over August Bank holiday 1999, Brown joined Pete Best and Chas. Newby at the Casbah to celebrate the club’s 40th anniversary.

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Bobber

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Re: Ken Brown Has Died
« Reply #1 on: June 15, 2010, 11:36:36 AM »

That's a sad loss. My condoleances to Ken's family and friends.
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larainefan

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Re: Ken Brown Has Died
« Reply #2 on: June 15, 2010, 05:27:24 PM »

Just saw this on twitter.  We are so sorry to hear of Ken Brown's passing.
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62redux

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Re: Ken Brown Has Died
« Reply #3 on: June 15, 2010, 05:44:06 PM »

i met ken last august at the 50th anniversary (to the day..august 29 2009) of the opening night of the casbah....had pic taken with ken in the corner of the rainbow room ..same place ken is sitting in the pic with john and paul. to the day..aug 29, 2009.  had a few laughs...and i got chills to watch him play in the spider room. we parted with a hearty "see you next year ken...thanks for pulling those 3 other lugs together all those years ago..right here on this spot..this was a great day".   

In due time, the rest of the world of beatlenation will catch up with the legacy that Ken leaves behind. Heck, here in the USA, they barely know who he is.   

P.S. Hey bobber and pc31...sorry i haven't been aorund much but i do take a peak in once in a while. 
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Bobber

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Re: Ken Brown Has Died
« Reply #4 on: June 15, 2010, 09:30:13 PM »

P.S. Hey bobber and pc31...sorry i haven't been aorund much but i do take a peak in once in a while. 

No worries. I'm curious about that picture you got taken with Ken.
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Xose

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Re: Ken Brown Has Died
« Reply #5 on: June 15, 2010, 10:39:05 PM »

My condolences to Ken's family. Another bit of Beatles early history who goes...  :'(

Xosé
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Ligger

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Re: Ken Brown Has Died
« Reply #6 on: June 16, 2010, 12:01:40 PM »

They have the number one single in the UK,
and they need to borrow 20 quid from Ken Brown?

He had to have been an extremely gracious man. R.I.P.
« Last Edit: June 16, 2010, 12:10:32 PM by Ligger »
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Kevin

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Re: Ken Brown Has Died
« Reply #7 on: June 16, 2010, 12:42:19 PM »

They have the number one single in the UK,
and they need to borrow 20 quid from Ken Brown?

He had to have been an extremely gracious man. R.I.P.

Macca showing his mercinary tight fistedness early. Sometimes he seems capable of withering coldness.


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don't follow leaders

I am the Paulrus

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Former Quarrymen guitarist and Lennon/McCartney bandmate Ken Brown dies aged 70

Jun 15 2010

by Luke Traynor, Liverpool Echo

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-entertainment/the-beatles/the-beatles-news/2010/06/16/shock-death-of-ken-brown-the-man-who-brought-the-beatles-together-100252-26660415/2/


Ken Brown





A LIVERPOOL musician hailed as being responsible for bringing the Beatles has died.

Former Quarrymen guitarist Ken Brown was discovered at his home in Essex on Monday after a concerned relative had raised the alarm.

Police forced their way in through his front door and found the 70-year-old, who suffered from emphysema, lying on the living room floor.

It is thought he may have died five days earlier.

Ken played an integral part, in 1959, in persuading George Harrison to introduce his two friends - Paul McCartney and John Lennon - to form a new band.

And if history had been played out slightly differently, Ken himself might have been the bass player for the world famous Beatles.

In the late summer of 1959, he had an argument with his then bandmate Les Stewart after he secured a residency for them at new West Derby coffee club, The Casbah.

When Stewart refused to play there, George Harrison - who was also in the Les Stewart quartet - left with Ken and agreed to find two other musicians to play that night.

George turned up later with Paul, John and Cynthia, Lennon’s girlfriend.

They decided to call themselves the Quarrymen, Lennon’s original band, and that night played songs including Three Cool Cats and Long Tall Sally as Ken played Hofner guitar and the group used his 10-watt amplifier.

But things turned sour when Ken one night felt a crippling pain in his leg and was asked by Casbah manager Mona Best to instead take money on the door - allowing George, Paul and John to play together for the first time.

Hearing that Ken would be receiving fifteen shillings like the other three, Paul objected.

Beatles author Bill Harry told the ECHO: “McCartney shouted, ‘All right, that’s it then!’, and they stormed off down the drive towards West Derby village, shouting that they would never play the Casbah again.”

Ousted, Ken approached Pete Best and together they formed Blackjacks who played regularly at the Casbah until the Beatles approached Pete to join them on their life-changing trip to Hamburg.

Today, Roag Best, Pete’s brother, said: “We only found out about Ken on Monday night, Pete was sobbing on the phone when he told me.

“Ken was very quick-witted, he never lost his Scouse edge. It’s very rare you can put your hand on your heart and say, ‘that guy was brilliant’, he was just a lovely guy.

“He would laugh that John Lennon once borrowed £5 off him and that he was still waiting to be paid back.

“He took a real pride in what the lads achieved.”

Ken was living on his own in Essex, after moving away from Liverpool with his family as young man - upset to be leaving the region as Merseybeat music swept the UK.

Ken’s brother had repeatedly tried to phone his brother as they were soon to attend a wedding and after a series of failed to attempts to contact him he contacted the police.

Ken had been running a snooker club in Essex and still played the guitar, making recordings in a small studio in his house. He was due to join former bandmate Pete Best in Liverpool this August to play a one-off show at the Casbah club.

Mr Roag added: “Without Ken, the Beatles would not have been formed.

“And I’m sure if he had remained in Liverpool Ken would have been a household name. He was at the forefront of the music scene.”

The last time that Ken saw the group was on March 16, 1963, when he was phoned to be told the Beatles had run out of money and were due to appear in Sheffield the next night – could he lend them £20?

Ken once said: “Eventually, I agreed and they all turned up at our flat. Marcia {his fiancee} and I went down to the van to see the boys. I handed over the money, which they repaid six weeks later.”


« Last Edit: June 16, 2010, 11:20:51 PM by I am the Paulrus »
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62redux

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Re: Ken Brown Has Died
« Reply #9 on: December 09, 2010, 03:31:13 PM »

No worries. I'm curious about that picture you got taken with Ken.

good thing you weren't holding your breath for reply as i hadn't seen your comment til just now. I can send you the pic if you'd like.  Send PM perhaps. sorry for the delay here. On the other hand, i'm usually regularly active on the petebest.com message boards and those peeps.
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Bobber

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Re: Ken Brown Has Died
« Reply #10 on: December 11, 2010, 09:01:09 AM »

I would appreciate that.
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