The passing of Dennis Littler

In matching jackets: George, John and Paul. Also in the photo: Dennis Littler. Photo: Mike McCartney

One of, or perhaps THE first colour photo of the fledgling Beatles had an extra guest, who often gets cropped off when this photo is posted on social media: Dennis Littler. We just learned that Dennis has passed. Paul’s brother Mike McCartney took the photo on March 8, 1958 at 147 Dinas Lane, Liverpool. The event: the wedding reception of Paul’s 19-year-old cousin Ian Harris and his 16-year-old bride Jackie Gavin.

Paul, 15, played his first guitar, a Zenith Model 17 and John, 17, plays his first guitar, a Gallotone Champion. George, 15, is playing his second guitar, a Hofner President. Dennis, holding a half-pint of Guinness on the famous photo was the best friend of Ian Harris, whose mother was Paul McCartney’s “auntie Gin”.

Dennis had his own group at the time and recalled those days in a Daily Express article:

“…When Paul, John and George started rehearsing their own group at Aunty Ginny’s they actually looked up to us…They even pleaded to join us. We turned them down flat-too young and too inexperienced. They were all still at school. We were slightly older, we had been going longer than them…they all wanted to take it in turn to borrow my guitar. John had paid 30 bob (£1.50) for his battered guitar. Mine had cost £19 on hire purchase, which in those days was a fortune. In three weeks, Paul was playing better than I could ever hope to. It didn’t make any difference to him that he was left-handed and my guitar was not. He could play anything. After a few spins of Little Richard’s “Long Tall Sally” record he could knock out the right chords on the piano and make it sound right…”

In David Bedford’s book, “The Fab one hundred and Four: The Evolution of The Beatles from The Quarrymen to the Fab Four“, Dennis had this to say:

“Paul, George and John would often come to my house and play on my guitar, because it was a lot more expensive than the guitars they had, and obviously was a much better guitar too. I never performed with The Quarrymen, but rehearsed with them. I remember Paul coming to me one day and saying that he had worked out how to play ‘Butter y’ by Charlie Gracie and he played it perfectly. He had that knack of being able to pick a song up so quickly and it was obvious how good he was. He could pick up songs like ‘Long Tall Sally’ by ear, and sing like Little Richard too because he had such a great voice.
“When Ian got married, John, Paul and George were asked to provide some music, which is when the photo was taken by Mike McCartney, the first colour photograph featuring The Beatles. I am seen next to the wall with my glass of Guinness. I don’t remember much about the day I’m afraid.”

The guitar John, Paul and George took turn in borrowing from Dennis was an Antonia Acoustic. About another photo taken on the same occasion, Mike McCartney had this to say:

In those days colour film was very expensive so it would have been a special present from Dad to get the colour film for me. We used to get Dad a £1 cigar every year for Christmas and he would have got this as my gift. It’s brilliant to see their matching jackets in colour.

Make McCartney posted this on Twitter: Sad to hear that the luvly lad on the right in my ‘John, Paul, George &..Dennis!’ photo has just passed away. At least he will now be able to say High to George & Johnny RIP Den (Littler).

Dennis Littler with Mike McCartney in 2012. Photo from Mike’s book “Mike McCartney’s Early Liverpool” from Genesis Publications.

6 Responses

  1. Very nice article, with the quotes from Dennis himself. Thanks Roger.

  2. Tony Littman says:

    Does Mike McCartney really not know how to spell “hi”?

  3. Des Browne says:

    What a great photo..the very first Fab 4!

  4. Robert Earle says:

    I’ve had that photo framed and up on my wall for many years now. And yes, I had them crop Dennis out. Sorry, Dennis!

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