1. John Lennon’s pre-Beatles skiffle group, The Quarry Men, made a record in the summer of 1958 that features Paul McCartney and George Harrison and cost 17 and sixpence to make.
2. The 16-year-old Lennon sung lead on the four tracks they recorded, which included Buddy Holly’s “That’ll Be the Day” and the McCartney-Harrison composition “In Spite of All the Danger”.
3. It was Stuart Sutcliffe, John’s art school friend who was drafted in as bass player, who came up with the name “The Beatals”.
4. The first proper recording the band made was “Cry for a Shadow”, a Lennon-Harrison instrumental number in the style of The Shadows. It was recorded in Hamburg on 22 June 1961 with Pete Best on drums, in the assembly hall of an infants’ school.
5. So keen were they to distinguish themselves from The Shadows that The Beatles didn’t use Fender guitars until 1965.
6. During their lengthy stints of playing to drunk sailors and prostitutes day and night in Hamburg between 1960 and 1962, The Beatles (unknowingly) once ate horse for their Christmas dinner.
7. When they first arrived in Hamburg in 1960, then still teenagers, The Beatles lived in a cinema. Lennon said: “We would go to bed late and be woken up the next day by the sound of the cinema show. We’d try to get into the ladies’ first, which was the cleanest of the cinema’s lavatories, but fat old German women would push past us.”
8. Harrison was deported from Germany for being underage.
9. During a 56-night residency in 1960 at Hamburg’s Kaiserkeller, the band played four sets every day – 7.30–9pm, 9.30–11pm, 11.30pm–1am, and 1.30–2am – seven days a week.