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The Quarry Men’s (The Beatles) First-Ever Recording, ‘In Spite of All the Danger,’ Is the Only Song With a ‘McCartney-Harrison’ Writing Credit

Showbiz CheatSheet logo: MainLogo Showbiz CheatSheet 3/4/2023 Hannah Wigandt

In the late 1950s, before The Quarry Men became The Beatles, and years before Ringo Starr joined the band, completing what would become the Fab Four, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Colin Hanton, and John “Duff” Lowe recorded their first-ever recording.

Although some might think “In Spite of All the Danger” is an early John song, Paul initiated it with George’s help. Therefore, it is the only song with a “McCartney-Harrison” writing credit.

The Beatles | Hulton Archive/Getty Images © Provided by Showbiz CheatSheet The Beatles | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

How The Quarry Men formed

In the late 1950s, John formed a skiffle group called The Quarry Men, named after his school, Quarry Bank High School. Later, in July 1957, the band performed at the Woolton Village Fête at St Peter’s Church. They were playing The Del-Vikings‘ “Come Go With Me” when Paul arrived.

Eric Griffiths was on the guitar, Colin Hanton played the drums, Rod Davies a banjo, Pete Shotton a washboard, and Len Garry a tea-chest bass. Later, John and Paul’s mutual friend, Ivan Vaughan, introduced them.

In The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present, Paul wrote that he played “Twenty Flight Rock” by Eddie Cochran, his “party piece.” A few days later, John had Shotton ask Paul to join the band. After a week of thinking about it, Paul agreed.

Shortly after, Paul told John about George and his guitar-playing skills. John was hesitant to invite George to join because he was younger than them. However, John couldn’t deny how good George was at his instrument.

However, they had trouble keeping a drummer. “For a while we even started telling people the rhythm came from the guitars,” Paul wrote in The Lyrics. He explained it was hard to find someone who owned a drum kit. Hanton was The Quarry Men’s drummer for the most part.

So, The Quarry Men became John, Paul, George, Hanton, and Paul’s school friends, John “Duff” Lowe, who played the piano. At some point in 1958, The Quarry Men, who would become The Beatles in about four years, wanted to make their first-ever recording.

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The Beatles’ first-ever recording is the only song with a ‘McCartney-Harrison’ writing credit

Paul wrote that he and his band found an ad for a little recording studio owned by Percy Phillips in Kensington, Liverpool. Before taking the half-hour bus trip to the recording studio, each of The Quarry Men came up with a pound to cover the five-pound cost of the shellac demo.

Phillips’ place turned out to be a small room with only one microphone. The soon-to-be Beatles then waited their turn to make their first-ever recording. They rehearsed it once and only had one shot at recording it. They chose Buddy Holly’s “That’ll Be the Day” as the A-side. Their “self-penned epic,” “In Spite of All the Danger,” was the B-side.

“John and I had already started our writing careers, and we had a few songs at that time,” Paul wrote. “He had a couple and I had a couple, and when we got together we fixed each other’s songs up, and they still, in fact, remain unrecorded, which is probably a good thing because they weren’t very good songs.

“We’d play it for all our relatives and say, ‘Look at this. This is what we did.’ We were quite thrilled just to hear ourselves on a record because we’d never really done that before.”

Paul said the most important thing to know about “In Spite of All the Danger” is that it is the only “McCartney-Harrison” writing credit on record.

“This was really before we understood writing credits,” Paul explained. “George made up the solo but some of it did come from John. It was the first song we ever recorded, the first thing on which our names appeared, the first official recording of what later became The Beatles.”

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The Quarry Men’s (The Beatles) first-ever recording is not John’s ‘cry for help’

Paul also touched on where The Beatles’ first-ever recording came from. Many people believe “In Spite of All the Danger” is a “cry for help, that it somehow reflects John’s angst about everything, which really got bad when his mum Julia died very shortly after we recorded the song; it might even have been only days afterwards,” he wrote.

However, in the case of their first-ever recording, John was not involved at the start. Paul wrote, “I realize that many of our songs, especially the very old ones, are thought to come from me, as in ‘I Saw Her Standing There,’ which did start with me, with John helping me fix a couple of lines. It’s true that while some of these songs did start from me, and others began with John or us collaborating.”

Whoever wrote “In Spite of All the Danger,” it’s one of The Beatles’ most important songs.

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