The Fifth Beatle: Now it really starts

Now that the huge excitement of being on The One Show is over, the BBC have returned to Salford, and the keyboard and guitars have been packed away, it’s time for the serious business of getting people making music.

It started with a Cultural Champions steering group a few months ago. “It’s time to create something” we were told.

After staring slack-jawed and trying really, really hard to be super-creative, we decided to re-group in a café and try to bash out some ideas. Organised to within an inch of our lives by über-efficient Champion of yore, the indomitable Barbara McGrouther (she even brought flipchart paper and felt tips) we set about throwing ideas in the hat.

If you’ve ever watched The Apprentice, you’ll be familiar with the ridiculousness of ‘the brainstorm’. Ours even, at one point, included the words ‘Muzik 4 Da Kidz.’ Oh, how we laughed. And despaired a little.

Where it all began

But out of the general nonsense flying about, a few key ideas came out that were actually not bad. John wanted to get people who’d put their instruments quietly away under the bed, in a cupboard or in the attic to dust them off and start to make music again. We called this the ‘When I’m 64 Group’. I talked about Eric’s and the music I associated with the place. While the ideas may have been vague, the passion to see something come of it was tangible.

Then a couple of weeks ago, we got an email telling us that the BBC’s One Show was looking for community based ideas that may have needed some help. My fellow Culture Champ, John, told them about his idea and within days, Carrie Grant and a film crew were in town ready to kick-start the project.

Scouring the streets of Liverpool looking for musicians, Carrie managed to put together her ‘super group’ of John, former Culture Champ, Paul, on the flute and four guitarists. They also dragged me in as an unbelievably nervous backing singer when I called round to drop a t-shirt off for John. The things Cultural Champion-dom does to you!

We rehearsed for 4 hours and then were thrown into a live performance of ELO’s Livin’ Thing on stage at Eric’s while Jeff Lynn and Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber watched from the One Show studio.  No pressure there, then.

Our Super Group L-R: Paul, Jamie, Derek, Carrie Grant, Carl, me and John

By the time we got to perform, the nerves were gone and we just went for it, performing the lovely acoustic arrangement of the song that John and Carrie had put together.  Once it was done, we went for a much needed snifter, hugged each other furiously and went our separate ways.

But that wasn’t the end of  it. Oh, no. It’s just a beginning.  John will be running weekly jam sessions for anyone who wants to dust of their instruments at Knotty Ash Youth & Community Centre every Friday from 19 October 2012.

You can contact John about his weekly sessions at Knotty Ash Community Centre by emailing

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