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55 Years Ago: Tommy Moore Quits the (Silver) Beatles

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The Beatles went through a lot of cruddy gigs, a fair amount of roster turnover, and a few name changes before they hit the big time — and drummer Tommy Moore, who was part of the lineup for a month after they became the Silver Beetles in May 1960, was one of the musicians later left to wonder what might have been.

Drafted by the band’s unofficial manager Allan Williams, Moore was older than the other members of the band, and that — as well as a reportedly turbulent relationship with his girlfriend at the time — may have contributed to his lack of patience for the life of hard travel and poverty the group endured at the time. As he later told a Portuguese magazine in an interview, he had to balance his own security against whatever dreams he may have entertained of rock stardom.

“I went to work for the Beatles through an advertisement I saw in a newspaper where Paul [McCartney] and George [Harrison] were looking for a drummer,” he recalled. “I joined the group but it was a tough living in the beginning. We did get an invitation for a tour in Scotland, a very tiring one … I needed something more secure. I abandoned the hobby of playing drums.”

According to the Beatles Bible, Moore quit without warning on June 11, 1960, leaving the other Silver Beetles to scramble around the city looking for him after he didn’t show up for sound check before that night’s gig — and when he refused to leave his “more lucrative job working a night shift at the Garston bottle works,” they were forced to take the stage without a drummer and ask the audience if anyone knew how to play drums.

Needless to say, the night didn’t end well for the band — the Beatles Bible notes that John Lennon “frantically called Williams, who drove over and gathered the group and their instruments before any harm could come to them” — but far brighter days awaited the future Fab Four. Sadly, Moore’s fate was far gloomier: Despite later efforts to resume his music career, he continued to struggle financially until suffering a fatal brain hemorrhage on Sept. 29, 1981.

“He works 10 hours a day for a small wage and he wishes to return to ‘show business’ and start all over again from the scratch,” observed the aforementioned profile piece. “While John Lennon drives his well-equipped luxury Mercedes 600, Tommy carries his cart full of bottles, whistling to ‘Get Back’ and other hits by his old friends, and that the only memory they have of him is that he was the only one that never believed in them.”

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