Beatles sorrow: John Lennon bandmate’s heartbreak over ‘Fab Four’s lonely existence’

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Beatles fans across the globe will remember John Lennon today, on the 40th anniversary of his death at the hands of Mark Chapman. The singer-songwriter started out in a skiffle group, known as The Quarrymen, before he met Paul McCartney at 16 years old. This seminal meeting led to the band’s pursuit of rock and roll and the beginning of the Fab Four was etched into history. Mr Davis, who was part of that initial group, shared his memories and his sorrow for The Beatles due to the unmanageable fame with Express.co.uk. 

Mr Davis, who played banjo in the group, left shortly after the band’s decision to pursue rock and roll instead of skiffle because he wasn’t a fan of the genre.

He felt rock and roll was “cheap, nasty and cobbled together by Tin Pan Alley”, a collective of New York song publishers, to “separate youngsters from their money”.

While there was “no animosity” over his and the washboard player’s departure, John’s former group member was surprised by their change in musical direction. 

More than six decades on, Mr Davis doesn’t regret the decision to leave as he knew The Beatles struggled to savour moments of normality.

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He told Express.co.uk: “Having read a lot of musician biographies, a lot of them tend to believe their own publicity and people are forever buttering them up.

“They tell them how marvellous they are, hoping to rip them off so it must be, in many ways, quite a lonely existence.”

His words echoed comments from John’s half-sister Julia Baird, who told Classic Bands that The Beatles were “locked in a hotel room” for most of their tours.

She envied her sibling and considered him “lucky” to be able travel the world until he admitted that their excessive fame deprived them of living ordinary lives.

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Ms Baird recalled: “We don’t see the places that we go to. We have a fabulous room. We eat something. We drink something. We go on stage. We fly out. We fly in.”

Mr Davis, who later reformed with The Quarrymen, continues to tour internationally and last played in October, on John’s 40th Birthday in Germany. 

He admitted it was “nice to be famous for five minutes and then go back to obscurity”, something he was told The Beatles would have savoured.

During a Q&A session at a convention for the Fab Four, George Harrison’s sister Louise, revealed that the lead guitarist would have envied those moments.

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Mr Davis recalled telling fans: “I can walk down the street and nobody bothers me, I can go into a pub and have a pint. 

“Louise said, ‘You have no idea how much George would have loved to do just that.’” 

During Beatlemania, fans mobbed the stars outside of arenas and despite their security, Mr Davis felt they were lucky not to be “torn to pieces”.

He told Express.co.uk: “They certainly escaped by the skin of their teeth a number of times.”

Mr Davis said he “wasn’t jealous” of The Beatles’ success but was proud that a Liverpool band “had gone to London and wiped the floor” with other musicians. 

He added: “I thought it was fantastic and great to see that John was still the same cheeky blighter that we knew at school with the ‘rattle your jewellery’ comments.

“It was wonderful that some people from the despised provinces got down to London and had huge success.

“The more I read, the more I’m relieved, I don’t think I could have handled it better than these guys.”

To find out more about Rod Davis and The Quarrymen visit here.

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