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The beginnings of Paul McCartney's bass playing

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I would like to start this new topic with the aim of getting your help and thoughts.

Some facts:

Alan Clayson - Pauline Sutcliffe, Backbeat. Stuart Sutcliffe: The Lost Beatle, London, Pan Books, 1994, p. 91:

"...Up at the Kaiserkeller, the group's [Derry & The Seniors] hours off caused the crowd to thin. Custom was lost, Koschmider presumed, to the hated Top Ten and entrampment ny Sheridan for the rest of the night. It was a bit unreasonable to expect Wilkie's boys to work around the clock without a rest but, discontinuing the juke-box, Bruno bridged the gaps by extracting the saxophonist and pianist from the Seniors, and Sutcliffe from the Beatles, and bringing in a German jazz drummer from another club. Stuart's borrowed the Seniors' instrument while the Beatles restructured their act [at Indra] with left-handed Paul playing the absent member's bass upside down..."

VERY interesting, as this was the very beginning of Paul playing bass. Remember that the Indra was closed by the police on Tuesday 4 October 1960...

Derry & The Seniors line-up when they arrived in Hamburg in 1960 was Howie Casey (saxophone), Derry Wilkie (vocals), Jeff Wallington (drums), Billy Hughes (rhythm guitar/vocals), Brian Griffiths (lead guitar) and Phil Whitehead (bass). But..., which type of bass did Whitehead play in Hamburg at those days??

- 500/1??:

"...According to an article by musician Iain Hines, which accompanied this photo in a January 1965 issue of 16 Magazine, this photo was taken the night Paul and Pete were arrested by the Hamburg police for the infamous fire incident. Hines claims this band was hastely thrown together to fill The Beatles' spot..."


Framus Star??:

The Jets at The Top Ten Club, Hamburg, July 1960. The front line left to right: Pete Wharton (bass), Colin Melander (guitar), Tony Sheridan (guitar), Rick Hardy (guitar).

Top Ten's Double Bass*??:

Tony Sheridan & The Jets at Top Ten in 1961


*Purchased for the club by Peter Eckhorn...

But the question is: did McCartney REALLY decide to take over on bass in late 1960 if...

1) he had at his dispossal Stu's 500/5?? (=Alan Clayson - Pauline Sutcliffe: "...the Beatles restructured their act [at Indra] with left-handed Paul playing the absent member's bass upside down...")

2) he could use his Solid 7 as a bass?? (=Harrison's letter to Stu dated 16 December 1960: "...It's no good with Paul playing bass, we'd decided, that is if he had some kind of bass and amp to play on!...")

3) they could use Chas Newby + a borrowed Höfner bass to play at gigs?? (=McCartney: "...The way I'd been brought up, my dad had always hammered into us to never get in debt, because we weren't that rich...")

4) playing bass wasn't cool?? (=McCartney: "...None of us wanted to be the bass player. It wasn't the number one job: we wanted to be up front. In our minds, it was the fat guy in the group who nearly always played the bass, and be stood at the back. None of us wanted that; we wanted to be up front singing, looking good, to pull the birds...")

IMHO, McCartney was 'forced' to take the bass in April 1961 because he was the only one who hadn't got a guitar by then (=the Soild 7 was not longer there). After that, he led bass playing " be up front singing, looking good, to pull the birds...", as we can listen at Polydor recordings...

But he played bass from time to time while in Hamburg (=Stu's 500/5 and maybe his 'Solid_7_converted_to_a bass'). Why?? Because George was the lead guitarist, John was the band leader -and owned a new Rickenbacker- and Stu wasn't there sometimes. So, Paul was THE one to play that role (=same he did in Liverpool with drums and at Top Ten in April 1961 with the piano...)


Now, another picture surfaces:

Peter Stone, "An interview with The Beatles' Chas Newby", Beatlology Magazine (September/October 2007), pp. 8-13:

"...CN:...And funny enough, that's exactly the same as Red Sails In The Sunset. I can remember, even Paul must have, I guess, been listening for the bass line that he wanted in a particular song. And, I can remember him playing it, because bear in mind we were both left-handed and so we had a certain affinity. But I can remember him playing it on his guitar and then showing me the notes that he wanted me to play for Red Sails In The Sunset and Hallelujah, I Love Her So. But with all the others, there wasn't that sort of problem, because they were basically... 12-bar blues and just play the bass line like a boogie-woogie, like a left-hand on a piano.

P.S.: It's intriguing that Paul was interested, even back then, in the bass lines.

CN: All I'm saying is that he was the one who told me what he wanted to hear. Whether it was just the bass line or whether he told the others what he wanted to hear, I don't know. I'm not aware of that. But, he was the one in those two particular songs. He made sure that I knew what it was he wanted..."

The interview is very interesting and full of very good info about those historical days at the end of December 1960. But what we can conclude from Chas Newby words is that Paul McCartney was playing bass lines with his Solid 7 at those days, and he was VERY sure of the bass lines he wanted for -at least some- group songs...

Thoughts?? ???



Stuart Sutcliffe, letter to Susan Williams in Liverpool, Autumn 1960 in Hamburg (=apud Pauline Sutcliffe - Douglas Thompson, Stuart Sutcliffe & his lonely hearts club, London, Pan Books, 2001, pp. 90-91):

"...I've just had to buy another amplifier for my guitar which is costing £120. I'm paying it weekly at £7 but unfortunately my boss won't sign the HP papers - but I have the amplifier!..."

This is doubtlessly Gibson GA-40 Les Paul later bought by Harrison off Sutcliffe. What I'm wondering is Sutcliffe remark "...I'm paying it weekly at £7 but unfortunately my boss [Bruno Koschmider] won't sign the HP papers...". So..., does this mean that they could get the gear -maybe via a deposit- BEFORE signing HP papers??  ???

If so, this could explain what happened with McCartney's HP date for his Solid 7, and also why McCartney purchased Selmer Truvoice Stadium amp off George by December that year...  roll:)


Stuart Sutcliffe, letter to Ken Horton in Liverpool, Autumn 1960 in Hamburg (=apud Pauline Sutcliffe - Douglas Thompson, Stuart Sutcliffe & his lonely hearts club, London, Pan Books, 2001, p. 89):

"...I've just decided that at Christmass I pack in rocking and join the club again...When I come home at Christmass it'll be for good, also without guitar probably - I'll sell it if I can..."

Pete Best - Patrick Doncaster, Beatle! The Pete Best Story, London, Plexus, 1985, pp. 41-42.

"...Sometimes Paul wouldn’t even have his guitar plugged in...Paul, with possibly only one string on an unplugged guitar...”

Dave Ravenscroft, private email dated 23 February 2010:

"...I spoke to Wally [Shephard] about the bass and he does remember Paul playing it [the Rosetti Solid 7] at those early dates in [January] 1961, but he couldn't really remember any detail. He does recall - just like my friend Dave Williams did - that Paul was playing it without plugging it in to his amp and that he played it high up on his chest. The vocal microphone he used was then picking up the sound of Paul hitting the strings with his plectrum, which came out through the speakers like a dull clicking sound...”


Dave Ravenscroft, private email dated 1 February 2010:

"...I have just spoken to a friend of mine [Wally Shephard] who played on the same bill as The Beatles on several occasions in and around Liverpool. He clearly remembers Paul playing the Rosetti during a show at the Aintree Institute in early 1961 (January)* and that it only had a few strings on it. However, he is fairly certain that he did not have it plugged into an amp at all and that he was using it as just a 'prop'..."

Dave Ravenscroft, private email dated 5 February 2010:

"...I have asked my friend again about the time he saw Paul with the three-string bass [Aintree Institute in January 1961] and he says that there probably was no bass at all, as you said, because Stu was not with them on that show. They were so loud anyway that it did not really matter about there being no bass!..."

Dave Ravenscroft, private email dated 23 February 2010:

"..So, although there was no actual bass, what he [Paul] was playing [Rosetti Soild 7 high up on his chest] did get amplified through the vocal microphone. Wally also remembers that their overall sound was different without Stu Sutcliffe, which seems to suggest that Stu was not that bad a bass player as everyone thinks..."


* According to several sources they played Aintree Institute in January 1961 on Saturday 7, Friday 13, Saturday 14, Wednesday 18, Saturday 21, Friday 27 & Saturday 28...


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