20 forthlin road

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“A memento from 20 Forthlin Road one damp and foggy late-November night in 1958. At the end of a riotous recording session, Derek Hodkin helps John, Paul and George come up with a new name:

THE POLECATS

THE RAVENS

THE BLACKBIRDS

THE JACKDAWS

THE JAYBIRDS

The Ravens is the only name underlined, so it was probably favourite for a while, but the last of the five evidently sparked a new mode of thinking because, above all of them – in larger letters, dominant – Hodkin wrote JAPAGE 3. The Japage 3 had their debut at brother Harry Harrison’s wedding reception in the saloon bar of Childwall Abbey Hotel, 20 December 1958.” Lewisohn, Mark. The Beatles - All These Years - Extended Special Edition: Volume One: Tune In.

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“There’s a million ways to write, but the way I always used to write was with John and it would be across from each other, either in a hotel bedroom on the twin beds, with an acoustic guitar and we’re just looking at each other. He’d make up something, I’d make up something and we’d just spin off each other. The nice thing for me, I’ve said it a million times, but it’s always my big memory, is seeing John there, him being right-handed, me being left-handed, it felt to me like I was looking in a mirror.

“But it was a great way to work and because we were kids together, and we’d known each other since our teenage years, we’d developed a way of working that would be one of would start an idea, and the other one would spin off it. 

“[…] I know I can never have a better collaborator than John. That is just a fact. It’s inescapable. So I don’t try and escape it. I just know there’s no way I can find someone now who’s going write better stuff with me than I wrote with John.”

[Paul, BBC Radio 6 Music, 23rd March 2017]


Pics: Paul and John composing in the front room of 20 Forthlin Road, c. October 1962. Legend says they’re writing I Saw Her Standing There. Photos by Mike McCartney.

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George Harrison in the back garden at 20 Forthlin Road, Liverpool, 25 March 1963.
After the photo session at the McCartney family home, they went on to Sefton Park, where the famous “jump” photos were taken.

Photos: Dezo Hoffmann

“This was a Record Mirror assignment. A girl had sent a picture to the paper of four young boys with long hair, complaining that we never did features on Liverpool bands. So I went up to Liverpool and they knocked me for seven. They were so fresh, so full of vitality and fun and so honest.” - Dezo Hoffmann on The Beatles, With The Beatles: The Historic Photographs of Dezo Hoffmann

I remember the great excitement at 20 Forthlin Road where we had the phone out in. I still remember the phone number: Garson 6922. George still remembers it. It’s ingrained. John and I used to play pranks with our tape recorder: record stuff, then ring up people and play the tape recorder to them and record their answers on another tape. We were supposed to be making demos. We made one for Mr. Popjoy, who was one of John’s teachers from Quarry Bank. We had a message that said, ‘That Mr. Popjoy?’ then there was a wait for some reaction. ‘I’m calling about the bananas.’ Then there was another pause. We’d put that to the speaker, call his number, and the minute we heard him answer we’d switch our recorder on and it would talk to him. We had a mike at the hearing end and we would record that, so we didn’t know quite what he’d said until it was all finished but we could hear something going on. Then we’d just cut him off and listen back to it. It was great. ‘Popjoy here. Yes? Can I Help? Bananas? What bananas? I haven’t ordered any bananas!
—  Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now with Barry Miles
We used to sag off school together and go back to my house because there was nobody home in the afternoons. We’d sit around smoking and talking and then we’d play a bit on my dad’s piano and our guitars. We would try different songs that neither of us knew, and John would teach me the ones he knew and I would show him the ones I knew. But, actually, we ended up playing a lot of Buddy Holly’s stuff, mostly because he had the least number of chords and we could get through them. We wrote a lot of songs then like ‘Love Me Do’ and 'Too Much About Sorrows.’ There was a lot from then, about 100 that we've never recorded.
—  Paul McCartney on John Lennon and early songwriting at 20 Forthlin Road, Liverpool

The first ever film of John, Paul and George together in 1958 has been discovered! But before you get too excited - that’s it above. 

This film - a Liverpool police recruitment film shows a clip from the police show on the grounds of the Police Training College, headquarters of the Liverpool Mounted Police, which so happened to be at the back of 20 Forthlin Road. In 1958 John’s best friend, Pete Shotton was training to be a policeman and took park in the show. John, Paul, (probably) George and Paul’s brother, Mike watched it from the shed roof in Paul’s back yard and have been captured on film here. 

“Wow! That could definitely be us. It was a really big occasion in Liverpool and that’s what we used to do every summer – take deckchairs and climb onto the concrete shed and watch a free show. And I think there is every chance John would have been there that year – absolutely. His friend, Pete Shotton, was a police cadet. And George could easily have been there, too. It’s bloody mad – absolutely fascinating and unbelievable!”

[Mike McCartney, Liverpool Echo, 7th March 2017]

This is a story they also tell you if you take the National Trust tour of Forthlin Road. The film was posted on YouTube and labelled as 1950, but further investigation by a Liverpool Beatles historian has discovered it was 1958. Here’s the full film, but it’s a blink and you miss it scene, found at approx. 34:30, cued below.

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Pictures of the inside of Paul’s home at 20 Forthlin road. The first one is Paul standing next to the pipe at the back of his house, the same one I showed in the post below of him Climbing.

The back door that Paul is standing next to led into the kitchen ..then you could go straight out the kitchen and down the hall that led to the front door and the stairs or right before the front door you can turn right and go through a door that was the main family room. BUT you could also from in the Kitchen turn right and go through a door that led to a dining room… from there the dining room had another door that went into the family room.. can walk a circle on the lower level.

THE LAST PICTURE is Paul’s bedroom upstairs with a window looking out towards the  front.