The ‘Beatle’ airbrushed from rock music history

He was an early mentor to Lennon and McCartney, so how come few know about ‘Lord Woodbine’? Angela Cobbinah is on the case

HE was once described as the man who put the beat into the Beatles but when the musician, Harold “Lord Woodbine” Phillips, was invited to see a play about the Fab Four at the Liverpool Playhouse in 1992 he saw that he had been airbrushed out of a backdrop photo with the band in Germany in 1960.

As an early musical mentor to John Lennon and Paul McCartney and one of the organisers of the Hamburg gigs that would help launch the Beatles into stardom, he was bitterly disappointed. “It really hurt me,” he said. Maybe the great Beatles publicity machine did not want any black man associated with their boys.”

The story is recounted by James McGrath who’d first come across the Liverpool-based calypso singer, songwriter and music promoter during his PHD research into Lennon and McCartney. “The Beatles were often referred to as ‘Woodbine’s boys’ because of how he guided them through their formative musical years. They played in his club and he was absolutely crucial in their going to Hamburg,” McGrath said in a talk on Phillips.

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