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.


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