The Birth of the Beatles

The Birth of the Beatles

Percy Phillips started cutting discs for members of the public, as well as for actors from the Liverpool Playhouse, who often stayed in the first-floor boarding rooms above the studio, who were sometimes asked by Phillips to record monologues and poems. These included the actors John Thaw, Richard Briers, and the ventriloquist Ray Alan.

For the first couple of years, Phillips made music compilation discs for local businesses such as the local ice rink or cinema, men singing songs for loved ones, children playing an instrument, or even a neighbour’s dog howling along to piano accompaniment. As the record shop and studio took over the business, he had a brass plate made which he put on the wall just outside the front door, and had labels made for the discs, but changed the design of the disc label every year. By 1957, Phillips was recording more and more groups of young men with guitars, basses, washboards and drums, who played skiffle.

Ron Wycherly (a.k.a. Billy Fury) recorded several songs onto disc in the studio, including, "I'm Left You're Right She's Gone", "Playin' For Keeps", "Paralyzed" and (all previously released by Elvis Presley) as well as, "Have I Told You Lately That I Love You" (Lulu Belle and Scotty). Fury's mother sent the songs to impresario Larry Parnes, which started her son's singing career. Johnny 'Guitar' Byrne (from Rory Storm and The Hurricanes) and singer Paul Murphy recorded a version of "Butterfly" and "She’s Got it" in the studio on 22 June 1957, and Byrne later played the recording to George Harrison.

The most famous recording made at Phillips Sound Recording Services is by John Lennon’s Liverpool skiffle group, the Quarrymen. The 10inch aluminium and acetate disc was cut by Percy Phillips (according to the Studio Log) on the 12th July 1958, at a cost of eleven shillings and three pence (11/3). There is some debate about both the date and the price of the recording, as the various people who were there have different recollections.

The commemorative Blue Plaque on the front wall of 38 Kensington claims it was 14th July 1958. But it is generally agreed by the remaining Quarrymen, that it was Saturday 12th July 1958. According to the Studio Log, the cost of the session was 11/3. John Lowe of the Quarrymen remembers it costing 17/6. 17/6 was the price of a recording made first onto tape and then onto disc, which allowed some room for mistakes by the performer. But as the Quarrymen didn’t have enough money between them, they had to play directly onto disc, so the price was almost certainly 11/3. This famous recording contains two songs by the Quarrymen (John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, John Lowe and Colin Hanton), playing three acoustic guitars, piano and drums. This is the only disc the Beatles ever made in Liverpool. On the 'A' side is the Buddy Holly song ‘That’ll Be The Day’ and on the 'B' side Paul McCartney and George Harrison's first ever composition (and indeed the only song they ever recorded that was credited to the two of them only) ‘In Spite Of All The Danger’.

Other customers of Phillips' studio included The Swinging Blue Jeans, Brian Epstein, Freddie Starr, Willy Russell, Liverpool F.C. supporters club, and players from Everton F.C.. Denny Seyton and The Sabres recorded "Little Latin Lupe Lu" (Bill Medley) in the studio in 1963.Phillips closed the studio in 1969, the record shop in 1974, and died in 1984, at the Royal Liverpool Hospital.

The recording of The Quarrymen acetate and the site of Phillips' Sound Recording Services was commemorated on 26 August 2005, when a Blue Plaque was unveiled by two of The Quarrymen (Lowe and Hanton) on the front of the house. Record Collector magazine valued the Beatles related disc (still owned by McCartney) at a value of £200,000 in their 2016 "Rare Record Price Guide."