Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Beatles and Raymond Jones

The stuff of legend: Forty-six years ago (October 28, 1961), an 18 year-old man by the name of Raymond Jones entered NEMS record store in Whitechapel, Liverpool, to place an order for a local band's German-only 45 of "My Bonnie." NEMS manager Brian Epstein, who prided himself in having a copy of every record available, had never heard of this single nor the band who recorded it: Liverpool's own Beatles.
The next day, two girls stopped by NEMS and asked for the same record. Epstein inquired further about this group and made a plan to visit the Cavern to watch them perform...Over the years, many people have tried to refute the existence of Raymond Jones, citing that Epstein invented the character in his mind. Sam Leach and Alistair Taylor have both claimed to be the "Raymond Jones" who ordered "My Bonnie." However, Merseybeat expert Spencer Leigh was able to track down the real Raymond Jones and interview him for Mojo magazine. The article can be found in the fantastic book, The Beatles: Ten Years that Shook the World. According to Jones: "I never wanted to do anything to make money out of the Beatles because they have given me so much pleasure. I saw them every dinner-time at the Cavern, and they were fantastic. I never heard anything like them...I used to go to NEMS every Saturday to buy records by Carl Perkins and Fats Domino because I heard the Beatles playing their songs....Brian Epstein said to me, 'Who are they?' and I said, 'They are the most fantastic group you will ever hear.' No one will take away from me that it was me who spoke to Brian Epstein and then he went to the Cavern to see them for himself. I didn't make them famous, Brian Epstein made them famous, but things might have been different without me" (p. 21). Jones produced a letter from Brian's staff, thanking him for the tip concerning the Beatles.
In this post, I've included a picture of the real Raymond Jones; pictures of the Cavern's interior; and a wonderful picture of a drunk Mike McCartney with Pete Best and new buddy Brian Epstein, taken sometime in 1961

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