While My Guitar Gently Weeps
The Tragic Story of Rory Storm & the Hurricanes

By Bill Harry  

Rory Storm and Johnny at ButlinsOn January 2 1964 Mersey Beat ran a story called 'The Ghost Of Ringo Haunts This Group.' : "Virtually every night of the week, Rory Storm & the Hurricanes perform at venues in the North. But something seems to be missing. Rory, Ty, Lu and Johnny seem to swing together, but the drummer always seems to be the odd one out.

"It has been this way since August 1962 when Richard Starkey left the group.

"Says Rory: 'Ringo was with us for more than four years. When the group first started, only ourselves and the Bluejeans were known on the Mersey scene - we were the first rock group to do the rounds.'

"At the time Ringo was a member of the group, the Hurricanes were regarded as one of Merseyside's leading outfits, and in the first Mersey Beat poll they were placed fourth.

"During the four or five years Ringo was with us he really played drums - he drove them. He sweated and swung and sung.

"'Ringo sang about five numbers a night, he even had his own spot - it was called 'Ringo Starrtime.' Now he's only a backing drummer. The Beatles' front line is so good he doesn't have to do much. This is not the Ringo Starr who played with us.

"When Ringo first joined the Hurricanes (we were called the Raving Texans then) he didn't have any rings and we just called him Ritchie.

"During our first year at Butlin's we all chose fancy stage names and that's when he became Ringo Starr.'

"Since August '62 the group has had a great deal of bad luck as far as finding a suitable replacement is concerned. Drummers from Preston, Newcastle, London and numerous Merseyside musicians have occupied the drum seat with the group - yet Ringo's place remains vacant.

"Gibson Kemp, Brian Johnson, Keef Hartley, Ian Broad, Trevor Morais - the names of the drummers who have appeared with the Hurricanes continues to lengthen.

"Without a suitable regular drummer the group can't practice or rehearse, and they can't gain the enthusiasm they once had.

"But whatever happens, Liverpool's 'Golden Boy' has been on the local scene for seven years - and he'll be around for some years to come."

Keef Hartley joined the Hurricanes on August 1963. He'd formerly been with Preston's Thunderbeats. Then he joined Freddie Starr & the Midnighters, later leaving Liverpool to join the Artwoods and then John Mayall's Bluesbreakers.

Rory Storm & the Hurricanes appeared on scores of bills alongside the Beatles, particularly at the local ballrooms and town halls, ranging from Lathom Hall and Litherland Town Hall to Hambleton Hall and Knotty Ash Village Hall. Initially they were the bill toppers, then they shared bills, then they were billed second to the Beatles. Several books about the Beatles seem to be under the impression that the Beatles got to know Ringo only in Hamburg, but they were appearing at the local 'jive hives' together and knew each other well. A selection of the gigs in which Rory Storm & the Hurricanes appeared with the Beatles follows:

Rory Storm with Beatles George Harrison and Ringo Starr In 1961 dates included the St. Valentine's Night 'Rock Ball', Cassanova Club, Tuesday February 14; Hambleton Hall, Wednesday February 15; Cassanova Club, Saturday February 18; All-night session, Liverpool Jazz Society Saturday March 11; Liverpool Jazz Society (billed as Rory Storm & the Wild Ones - this outfit also appeared at lunchtime sessions at the Iron Door - as some members of the Hurricanes had day jobs and Rory used different members in this group), Wednesday March 15; Litherland Town Hall, Thursday September 21; Operation Big Beat 11, Tower Ballroom, Friday November 24; Tower Ballroom, Friday December 1; 'The Davy Jones Show', Tower Ballroom, Friday December 8.

In 1962 dates included 'Twist At The Tower', Tower Ballroom, Friday January 12; St. Patrick's Night Rock Gala, Knotty Ash Village Hall, Saturday March 17; 'A Night To Remember', Tower Ballroom, Friday April 6; Queen's Hall, Widnes, Monday September 3; Queen's Hall, Widnes, Monday September 10; 'The Beatles Show', Rialto Ballroom, Thursday September 6; 'Rory Storm's Birthday Night', Tower Ballroom, Friday September 21; 'Little Richard At The Tower', Friday October 12.

Rory Storm & the Hurricanes remain a Liverpool legend and there have been no fewer than three stage plays about Rory. Cilla Black has said, "Rory Storm & the Hurricanes was the first group I sang with."

Drummer Dave Lovelady of the Dominoes said, "One night at St. Luke's Hall was an absolute sensation. Rory Storm came in with Wally, who had got the first bass in Liverpool. There was always a bass on American records, but we'd never seen one, and here was Wally with a Framus four-string bass guitar. The groups crowded round in amazement when they opened with 'Brand New Cadillac', this deep-booming sound was tremendous."

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