Cry For A Shadow

Paul, Arthur Kelly, George and John

I just came back from the Norwegian Beatles Festival, which was held in Bergen this weekend.

It started on Thursday with a screening of the documentary about Colin Hanton, John, Paul and George’s first steady drummer, which was very entertaining. At least for a Beatles history buff like me.

Sure, there were lots of talking heads, but I found it entertaining and they had made good use of photos and litte animated drawings to tell the story. It was nice to see some of the people you normally don’t get to see participating, like Arthur Kelly and Nigel Walley, telling their parts of the story. Speaking of Arthur Kelly, it was revealed that the photo above, with the pre fab Beatles in their western jackets was supposed to be a photo of the group, but Colin refused to be in the picture, so Kelly stood in for him, posing as the drummer.

The film was screened at Bergen Cinema, and I was the instigator to get the film to Bergen, when the deal about our initial plan to screen the May Pang film “The Lost Weekend – A Love Story” fell through. Bergen International Film Festival – BIFF – handled the screening and dealt with the distribution company.

Anyway, this wasn’t going to be about this film, but about the George Harrison – John Lennon composition, “Cry For A Shadow”. When I told my friend Thorsten Knublauch, author of the book “Mach Schau in Hamburg” that Pete Best was going to attend the festival, he wanted me to ask Pete a few questions.

The Beatles at the Indra Club in Hamburg, August 1960. Hand colourised by me, many years ago.

Some of Thorsten’s questions were about the colours in the photo above. Originally a sepia or black and white photo, this has been colourised by me and others a few times, but the jackets, described by George as “lilac” are usually wrong (blue!) in other, uninformed people’s colourisations. But Hubert Voorman, who did the colourisations for Thorsten’s book, also went with lilac.

But the jackets is one thing. We also knew which colours the instruments and the amplifiers was. So Thorsten wanted me to ask Pete what colour his tie was, his suit, the shirts and last but not least, what was the colour of the curtain backdrop in the Indra photos? Pete unfortunately, had no recollections of these details.

I was also instructed to ask Pete if he remembered whether the recording sessions for Polydor were all done the same day, or if it was done over two days. Again, Pete couldn’t remember.

With Tony Sheridan at the Top Ten Club.

I also asked Pete if the season at the Top Ten Club in the spring of 1961 was mainly them backing Tony Sheridan or if they were doing their own sets. Pete’s reply was that they did their own sets and only occasionally backed Tony. He also said that Stuart Sutcliffe was the bass player for this residency, even though Paul bought his first bass guitar during this Hamburg season. He mainly played the club’s piano or just sang.

Paul singing at the Top Ten Club, with Stuart behind him.

Yours truly and Pete at 2 AM in the bar. Photo: Rune Fjørtoft.

Finally, I had one more question for Pete. Thorsten told me that there were rumours in a forum who insisted that it was Tony Sheridan and not George Harrison who handled the lead guitar on “Cry For a Shadow”. Now this was something I had never questioned. It sounds like George and it’s his own composition (perhaps or perhaps not helped by Lennon). I have also met Tony Sheridan on several occasions when he was still around, and it never had occurred to me to pose that question. Although Sheridan always said, “George couldn’t play the blues”, regarding those sessions.

So I asked Pete about “Cry For A Shadow” and he told me the story.

– Someone was asking, “What is the Shadows’ biggest hit”?

– And George replied, “Oh, I know it. It’s this one”!

– And then he started playing “Cry For A Shadow”.

So they were performing the song at the Top Ten Club and it had gone down well. So well that when Bert Kaempfert heard it, he wanted them to record it at the Sheridan recording session. And it was indeed George Harrison playing that lead guitar.

14 Responses

  1. ROLAND Lestoquoit says:

    It’s all very interesting, and it made wish I had been there !
    You’ve been lucky in all sorts of way to have Pete with you !
    I was disappointed he wasn’t at Beatleweek in Liverpool.
    The event was a bit dull.
    So was the latest Beatle Day in Mons Belgium.
    Let us know please when the next Norwegian festival occur, I might think about it !
    Thank you for your always intereting blog.
    Every morning I check it even before an awakening cup of coffee !!
    from France
    By the way we have an interesting event to morrow at the BNF François Mitterand in Paris (the Bibliotheque Nationale de France)

  2. James Peet says:

    Thank you Roger! I love that colourised photograph, the familiar mistrusting expression on George’s face brought a smile to my face! I’ve always believed it’s George playing lead on Cry For A Shadow. It’s probably my favourite of the Hamburg recordings. The intro is beautiful.

    I haven’t been to a Beatles convention for ages, the Liverpool ones. I met Allan Williams and Alf Bicknell on my first convention, in 1992. Great characters. In later I met Alistair Taylor, Julia Baird and Louise Harrison. Only Julia is still around, sadly.

    Anyway, thanks again, Roger ;o)

  3. Rieks says:

    Was the Thorsten Knublauch book “Mag shau in Hamburg” ever published? If still available, then were?

  4. Greg says:

    I love reading about all these little bits of Beatle history. Without the efforts put forth, interviews, old pics and the like, Beatle history is lost. So, thank you!

  5. Thorsten Knublauch says:

    Thanks Roger – I am glad the question about the backing of Tony at the Top Ten was posted, too. I guessed and wrote this in Mach Schau aswell without having it mentioned anywhere properly – just because Tony was the star (but paid the same amount) – likely played just the main spot – and that there are only few photos of Tony and the Beatles on stage. Pete never mentioned in his books what exactly “we backed Tony Sheridan” meant and in some quotes by Tony it sounds as if they were one group. There weren’t for the full evening and I am glad I was right.
    Petes jacket was italian blue – whatever shade this had been and i imagined he did not remember the look of the clubs curtain – but it was a try anyway…
    I hoped he would remember the sessions days – it was his first recording – I still stick to what I reseached and wrote in my book that it was only one day – the Saturday.
    A pity I never had a chance to interview Pete myself so I am glad those important mysterys or rumours are solved.

  6. Kelley says:

    “Cry for a Shadow” seems like such an iconic representation of the time in which it was recorded. I’m glad to know it was George’s playing we hear on the record. I’m hoping “Pre Fab!” eventually becomes available to stream or purchase. It looks great!

  7. artie lee says:

    Nice piece, thanks Roger. I recall Pete telling the “Shadows” story at a q&a I attended 20 years ago. Obviously a happy memory for him.

  8. Blakey says:

    I had the pleasure of meeting Pete in 1988. A top bloke.
    I asked him if he thought there was another band who touched the world nearly as much as the Beatles. And Pete replied ‘U2, but it’s a different thing.’

    • Martín Aranzasti says:

      Hay dos bandas próximas a los Beatles, aunque las dos a cierta distancia. Mi opinión es que la más cercana fueron Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers… y por ahí, también en las inmediaciones, estaría Supertramp

  9. Leon Donaruma says:

    Great stories, thanks to you for the post. It seems that the Bergen Kino it’s a huuuuge place for movies, with Dolby Atmos and all that. Congrats for the encounter with Pete Best and I hope that the book of your friend aboute the Hamburg days will be rereleased.
    I read this blog daily,
    Cheers form Argentina

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