Half a photo
Half a hitherto unseen photo was recently published in a John Lennon group on Facebook. It is a photo from December 8, 1961 and shows The Beatles (well, actually just John and Pete) backing singer Davy Jones at the Cavern Club. The West-Indian born Jones grew up in Canada, and had moved to England in the late fifties. This is likely just a rehearsal session for the evening’s gig, because in all the other photos from this session with Jones, Paul is sitting down while playing his bass guitar. In this photo though, the chair is vacant and he has left the Höfner lying on top of it. So perhaps he’s just gone off to the gent’s? Still, the gig is identified as a lunchtime session, so it may be an actual concert for the area’s work force.
At the famous Liverpool Stadium concert on 3 May 1960, when Gene Vincent appeared with several Liverpool groups following the death of Eddie Cochran, one of those artists on the bill was the black singer Davy Jones,
Davy Jones returned to Liverpool at the end of 1961 and during The Beatles’ appearance at Sam Leach’s second “Operation Big Beat”, he got up on the stage as an unannounced guest and sang two numbers with the group.
This was shortly followed by two official appearances. First, Jones was booked by club owner Ray McFall to appear at The Cavern Club on Friday 8 December 1961. Since he was a solo singer, Jones needed a backing band, so McFall arranged for The Beatles to support him. The session was photographed for Liverpool’s music paper Mersey Beat, and is the one we have these photos from.
That same evening, Leach was promoting another event at the Tower ballroom in New Brighton and once again had Jones on the bill. As at The Cavern, The Beatles were booked to support him. Leach had advertised Jones as the Saturday Spectacular television star and highlighted Jones’ status as a successful recording artist.
While in Liverpool, Davy Jones may have introduced cocaine to The Beatles. At least, he did do that to Cavern Club DJ Bob Wooler: “We didn’t have a strong drug scene by any means. Originally, it was just purple hearts, amphetamines, speed or whatever you want to call it. When The Beatles went down south, they sometimes brought back cannabis and gradually the drug scene developed in Liverpool. There was a rare instance of cocaine when Davy Jones, a black rock ‘n’ roll singer who’d been with The Beatles in Hamburg, appeared at the Cavern. He was a Little Richard/Derry Wilkie type, very outgoing and bouncy. His big record was an oldie, Amapola, and its lyric about the ‘pretty little poppy’ must have appealed to him”.
“Alan Ross, who was a local compère, brought Davy down to the Cavern, and that was when I had cocaine for the first and only time in my life. I told Davy Jones about my sinuses, and he said, ‘This’ll clear it.’ Alan Ross gave me a smile of approval, I tried it… and nearly hit the roof. There was laughter galore, and I rushed out into Mathew Street, trying to breathe the effects out. I remember Pat Delaney saying, ‘What’s wrong, Robert?’ and I said, ‘Nothing, I’m just a bit giddy.’ The Beatles welcomed Davy Jones with open arms, so I’m sure the drug-taking didn’t stop with me. That is the common factor with The Beatles – whatever was going, they wanted to be a part of it.”
From Spencer Leigh’s book, “The Cavern – The Most Famous Club in the World“
Davy Jones’ biggest hit was “Amapola,” a rocked-up version of a popular jazz standard from the late 1930s. While he never became a huge star, he had a minor following that led him to playing packed dates at concert halls around the UK. He released an LP in 1968, “Sookie Sookie” as Davy Jones And The Voodoo Funk Machine, as well as a few singles.
Photos by Dick Mathews. You can view all the photos from this day at the excellent Savage Young Beatles website.