NEWBERRY SPRINGS • A Newberry Springs man experienced a brief taste of fame recently when he went on tour playing bass with surviving members of the Quarrymen, the British music group that spawned three future Beatles.

Wayne Hartel, who works as a park ranger at Calico Ghost Town and also plays music in period dress at the attraction, knew the Quarrymen's road manager from his own session work with other groups in the 1970s and 80s and jumped at the chance to play bass on their recent tour.

Three original members of the Quarrymen — Rod Davis, Len Garry, and Colin Hanton — got together for a tour in conjunction with the release of "Nowhere Boy," a film that portrayed John Lennon's early pre-Beatle life in the working-class city of Liverpool. The Quarrymen played a brand of jazz and folk-inspired music called skiffle that could be played on cheap instruments with little skill.

Beginning on Sept. 21 in New York, the group would play after the film was shown in a number of vintage theaters across the country.

Hartel at first agreed only to play on West Coast dates, but the group's management wanted him for the whole tour.

"The people at Calico knew this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and let me go," said Hartel. "I rehearsed with the CD and soon I was New York."

Hartel toured for three weeks with the group at a grueling pace, especially considering some members of the group are in their 70s. The group played the kind of loose early rock 'n' roll songs that the Beatles cut their teeth on — "That'll Be the Day" and other cover tunes.  

Hartel said he enjoyed his time playing the role of the "token American" in the group, taking in stories of the group's early days.

"They said John was the prankster of the group," said Hartell. "The guys all had that same sense of humor the Beatles had."

Hartell said playing Radio City Music Hall before 6,000 people in New York was a highlight, along with meeting Yoko Ono and Pete Seeger.

"We were treated like kings everywhere we went," said Hartell, who had never been inside  a taxicab in his life before the tour. "Everything was first class — and all the old the theaters we played in were awesome."

Hartell is glad to be back at his usual gig playing at Calico playing for tourists, but said he is ready in case the Quarrymen come calling again.

 
Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4126 or adome@desertdispatch.com