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The year was 1961 and John Lennon had been asked to contribute to the first every issue of a newspaper called ‘Mersey Beat’. Within his writings, Lennon answered the question of ‘how did the Beatles get theirname'; a man appeared on a flaming pie and told them that they would be known as Beatles with an A.
When John Lennon first formed a group he named them the Quarry Men, after the Quarry Bank school that he attended. Considering that Lennon was arguably the most rebellious boy at the school there is some kind of irony that he chose it as a name for his band. That group name lasted until October 1959 when it changed to Johnny and the Moondogs. The change came about because they had been asked to audition for the Carol Levis TV Star Search show at the Liverpool Empire and the regular template for popular band names was’Someone and the Somethings’. Lennon probably enjoyed having his name at the forefront of the groups name but it was a move that wasn’t to last.
By January 1960, Stuart Sutcliffe had joined the band and it was he who suggested they became known as the’Beatals’ as it was similar in name to Buddy Holly’s backing band ‘the Crickets’. In a letter written by Sutcliffe to a club where they hoped to get work in early 1960, the name ‘Beatals’ was first used. A short time later Paul McCartney sent a letter to Butlin’s Holiday Camp asking about employment; he wrote: “The group is known as The Beatals and is led by John Lennon.
In the Albert Goldman book ‘The Lives of John Lennon’ he claims that the name Beatles came from the film ‘TheWild One’. It was the name of Lee Marvin’s rival gang in the Marlon Brando motorcycle film. Although the film was released in 1954, it was actually banned in the UK until 1967 so it is highly unlikely that any of the Beatles would have seen it before they chose their name. It seems to be nothing more than a giant coincidence.
Paul McCartney noted in his authorised biography, ‘Many Years From Now’ that John Lennon and Stuart Sutcliffe approached himself and George Harrison with the new band name, so it definitely wasn’t Paul or George who came up with ‘Beatles’.
By May 1960, they had started calling themselves The Silver Beetles and then The Silver Beatles. Brian Casser of Cass and the Cassanovas suggested (after thinking of Treasure Island) calling them Long John and the Silver Beatles. By August of the same year, Pete Best had joined the group, they were on their way to Hamburg for the first time and they decided to just shorten the name to The Beatles. The rest, as they say, is history.
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P.S. This article was originally published by the same author on Triond on the 31st of October 2009 and can be found by clicking HERE.