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Author Topic: The beginnings of Paul McCartney's bass playing  (Read 49449 times)

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Xose

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The beginnings of Paul McCartney's bass playing
« on: June 18, 2010, 03:27:01 PM »

Hello,

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..."

500/5??:



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

Xosé

*Purchased for the club by Peter Eckhorn...
« Last Edit: June 18, 2010, 08:17:22 PM by Xose »
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Xose

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Re: The beginnings of Paul McCartney's bass playing
« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2010, 03:37:02 PM »

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 "...to 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?? ???

Xosé
« Last Edit: June 18, 2010, 08:17:41 PM by Xose »
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Xose

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Re: The beginnings of Paul McCartney's bass playing
« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2010, 03:53:24 PM »

And...

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:)

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« Last Edit: June 19, 2010, 10:46:13 AM by Xose »
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Xose

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Re: The beginnings of Paul McCartney's bass playing
« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2010, 08:00:44 PM »

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...”

Xosé
« Last Edit: June 18, 2010, 08:17:04 PM by Xose »
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Xose

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Re: The beginnings of Paul McCartney's bass playing
« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2010, 05:28:42 PM »

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..."

Xosé

* 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...
« Last Edit: June 19, 2010, 05:32:33 PM by Xose »
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Xose

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Re: The beginnings of Paul McCartney's bass playing
« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2010, 09:49:10 AM »

Sam Leach, The Birth of The Beatles, Gwynedd, Pharaoh, 1999, p. 49 (=about their debut at The Cassanova Club in Liverpool, in 1961, February the 11th...)



"...You're playing more of them than Paul does then..."

What was Sam Leach meaning?? Any thoughts??  ???

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« Last Edit: June 20, 2010, 09:53:34 AM by Xose »
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eroz0

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Re: The beginnings of Paul McCartney's bass playing
« Reply #6 on: June 20, 2010, 10:11:08 AM »

Ive no idea what he could mean. Maybe it was just a random thing he said, trying to make Stu feel better. I'm surprised that Paul didn't object and instead went along with it.

BTW, this thread is great. Thanks for putting all this info together.
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An Apple Beatle

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Re: The beginnings of Paul McCartney's bass playing
« Reply #7 on: June 20, 2010, 10:26:12 AM »

I reckon he is referring to the 'root' notes. In the beginning of playing bass for me, there was no way I could handle many riffs and such things but I could get by playing the root note of the chord. In this case Sam is trying to improve Stu's confidence by putting down Mr. Multi-instrument McCartney for being too fancy on the bass. It's a line to keep Stu inspired.

A great Chick Corea saying, 'It's not what you play, it's what you don't play.'
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Xose

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Re: The beginnings of Paul McCartney's bass playing
« Reply #8 on: June 20, 2010, 11:17:07 AM »

I reckon he is referring to the 'root' notes. In the beginning of playing bass for me, there was no way I could handle many riffs and such things but I could get by playing the root note of the chord. In this case Sam is trying to improve Stu's confidence by putting down Mr. Multi-instrument McCartney for being too fancy on the bass. It's a line to keep Stu inspired...

Thank you An Apple Beatle!! ;)

So, If I have rightly understood, Paul is playing MANY notes and Sam's saying is to keep Stu inspired. Ok. But...., what is playing Paul McCartney?? Bass or guitar??

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Re: The beginnings of Paul McCartney's bass playing
« Reply #9 on: June 20, 2010, 10:39:44 PM »

It's a bit confusing as it seems Paul would just fit in with what might be needed at the time,depending on available equipment. They would have got away with this in their earlier busking years. Their friendship seemed more important at the time. With a one string Rosseti unplugged I'm not sure what contribution he could have made but if it was plugged in he could 'ghost' basslines for Stu by increasing the bass control? Obviously Paul's musical knowledge was rated high by his band-mates and it was easiest for him out of them all to 'accomodate' his pals. Good buskers can get a sound out of almost anything. ;)
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Xose

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Re: The beginnings of Paul McCartney's bass playing
« Reply #10 on: June 20, 2010, 11:15:53 PM »

It's a bit confusing as it seems Paul would just fit in with what might be needed at the time,depending on available equipment. They would have got away with this in their earlier busking years. Their friendship seemed more important at the time. With a one string Rosseti unplugged I'm not sure what contribution he could have made but if it was plugged in he could 'ghost' basslines for Stu by increasing the bass control? Obviously Paul's musical knowledge was rated high by his band-mates and it was easiest for him out of them all to 'accomodate' his pals. Good buskers can get a sound out of almost anything. ;)


Oh yes. I have heard of a heavy metal group here in Spain that wanted their bass player with ONLY one string: the 4th. one, as they wouldn't need more...

The statement is a bit confusing, yes. But it seems that, by those days, Paul was using his Solid 7 as a bass with only three piano strings as in The Casbah photos dated one day later, 12 February 1961 (=according to Chazz Avery datation), and judging from all the quotes I have been uploading...





Who purchased Stu's Höfner 500/5 after his dead??

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« Last Edit: June 20, 2010, 11:31:16 PM by Xose »
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An Apple Beatle

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Re: The beginnings of Paul McCartney's bass playing
« Reply #11 on: June 20, 2010, 11:46:25 PM »

Apparently, Paul got his first bass at the end of April 1961 when Stu was ready to leave the band according to this.

http://webspace.webring.com/people/mj/joelcrowservo/HofnerBass.html
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Xose

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Re: The beginnings of Paul McCartney's bass playing
« Reply #12 on: June 21, 2010, 08:32:28 AM »

Apparently, Paul got his first bass at the end of April 1961 when Stu was ready to leave the band...

Yes: that's right. And maybe a little bit earlier (=mid-April). But, obviously, McCartney was playing bass much before, either with Stu's borrowed bass, or with his Rosetti Solid 7 converted to a bass by means of three purloined piano strings...

And another question is: who REALLY played bass at those Forthlin Road tapes where a bass sound is heard??

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Re: The beginnings of Paul McCartney's bass playing
« Reply #13 on: June 21, 2010, 08:57:45 AM »

And another question is: who REALLY played bass at those Forthlin Road tapes where a bass sound is heard??

That's a lot of questions in the whole thread plus some great research. If you listen carefully to the tapes made at Paul's bed- or bathroom, you can hear that the bass is sometimes out of rhythm and obviously played by a beginner. Even if Paul was playing a bass or whatever, I'm pretty sure it would have sounded better.

About your questions in the beginning of the thread: bands were mixed up in the Kaiserkeller days, but I'll have to check what bands were involved in that.
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Xose

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Re: The beginnings of Paul McCartney's bass playing
« Reply #14 on: June 21, 2010, 09:05:05 AM »

That's a lot of question in the whole thread plus some great research. If you listen carefully to the tapes made at Paul's bed- or bathroom, you can hear that the bass is sometimes out of rhythm and obviously played by a beginner. Even if Paul was playing a bass or whatever, I'm pretty sure it would have sounded better.

Yes, you are right.

How many songs do we hear WITH BASS at those tapes??

According to Walter Everett, The Beatles as Musicians. The Quarry Men through Rubber Soul, Oxford, OUP, 2001, pp. 43-44, they are the following:

- 'Cayenne'

- 'You Must Write Everyday'

- 'Well, Darling'

- 'I Don't Know'

- 'Come On People'

- 'I'll Be Leaving'

- Blues in A

- Blues in G

- Blues in A

- Blues in G

- 'Hallelujah I Love Her So'

- 'That's When Your Heartaches Begin' (="...Harrison bass line on Futurama..."

So.., what?? ???

Those tapes COULD pre-date Sutcliffe's into the band, as the guitar playing is not good enough to be dated in Spring 1960 (=by those days they were on tour with Johnny Gentle!!). So..., could the bass beginner be Mike McCartney?? (=either with a borrowed bass, or a guitar tuned down...)

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« Last Edit: June 21, 2010, 09:09:00 AM by Xose »
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Bobber

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Re: The beginnings of Paul McCartney's bass playing
« Reply #15 on: June 21, 2010, 09:16:05 AM »

Anthology dates the tapes 1960, with Stuart Sutcliffe on bass.
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Xose

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Re: The beginnings of Paul McCartney's bass playing
« Reply #16 on: June 21, 2010, 09:23:24 AM »

Anthology dates the tapes 1960, with Stuart Sutcliffe on bass.

Yes. But..., Anthology only encloses three pieces (=HILHS, Y'llBM and 'Cayenne') and "..suggests that the session dates from the spring or early summer of 1960, when the Beatles were having troubles finding a drummer...". But at some other recordings there is a drummer, supposedly Mike McCartney. So..., troubles finding a drummer?? What about Mike McCartney then?? Why does he (=if that 'he' is Mike McCartney) play at some songs and not at some others??

If you listen carefully, you can hear different sessions, different guitars (=some acoustics, some electrics), etc.

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Re: The beginnings of Paul McCartney's bass playing
« Reply #17 on: June 21, 2010, 09:57:37 AM »

Chazz Avery already suggests earlier in this thread that the recordings are from two different sessions. Where did you read about Mike McCartney? If the recordings where made at Paul's house, Mike might have available to bang a drum here and there. Obviously they did not consider him serious enough to be their drummer.
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Xose

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Re: The beginnings of Paul McCartney's bass playing
« Reply #18 on: June 21, 2010, 10:05:20 AM »

Chazz Avery already suggests earlier in this thread that the recordings are from two different sessions. Where did you read about Mike McCartney? If the recordings where made at Paul's house, Mike might have available to bang a drum here and there. Obviously they did not consider him serious enough to be their drummer.


Walter Everett considers that Mike McCartney played drums at those recordings (=those where a drummer is audible at).

At Mike McCartney, Mike Mac's white and black plus one colour, London, Aurum Press, 1986, these photos...





...have the following reading:

"...Paul's first trumpet from Cousin Ian and two guitars, plus my drums and banjo..."

???

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Re: The beginnings of Paul McCartney's bass playing
« Reply #19 on: June 21, 2010, 10:14:11 AM »

"...Paul's first trumpet from Cousin Ian and two guitars, plus my drums and banjo..."

The myth is that Paul traded his trumpet for a guitar, because he couldn't sing when he was playing the trumpet. This could of course be another trumpet...

Plus it's remarkable that if that is indeed Mike McCartney drumkit, it has a paper 'The Beatles' on the basedrum?
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