Ken Brown RIP
Ken Brown was briefly a member of the Quarry Men, and although his short tenure ended acrimoniously, it did its part to help the group evolve into the Beatles. In August 1959, the Quarry Men were in limbo, not doing many gigs and on the verge of scattering as John Lennon went to art college and Paul McCartney prepared for his A and O level exams. George Harrison was playing in another group, the Les Stewart Quartet, which was scheduled to open a new club, The Casbah, in the basement of the house where Pete Best and his family lived. On the opening day, August 29, 1959, Stewart and the group’s bass player, Ken Brown, had an argument resulting in Stewart’s departure. Brown asked Harrison if he knew of anyone who could fill in; Harrison rounded up McCartney and Lennon. The Quarry Men were thus active again, with Ken Brown on bass, and played a Saturday residency at The Casbah for the next six weeks.
Brown’s stint in the Quarry Men ended in a childish dispute. One night Brown was too sick to perform, but the club’s proprietor, Mona Best (Pete Best’s mother), gave Brown his one-fourth cut of the band’s three-pound wage anyway. The other three didn’t think Brown should get paid as he hadn’t played, and he and the rest went their own ways. Brown formed a band with Pete Best on drums, the Blackjacks, to take over The Casbah residency. When the Beatles, formerly the Quarry Men, were offered a residency in Hamburg in 1960, they needed a drummer, and recruited Best, whose Blackjacks were about to break up anyway.
I was at the Casbah Club for it’s 50th anniversary last year, with the Pete Best Band and guests. Ken Brown was one of the guests who performed that night. I’m glad I was there, and I’m saddened by the news of his death. Ken, 70, was discovered at his home in Essex on Monday after a concerned relative had raised the alarm.