Founding member of the Quarrymen dies age 64
by Martin Lewis
Feb. 1 ,2005
Eric Griffiths - a schoolmate of John Lennon - and fellow founding member of the Quarrymen (the group which eventually became the Beatles) has passed on at the age of 64.
Eric was born in October 1940 - the same month and year as John Lennon - and at the age of 11 they were both enrolled in Quarry Bank Grammar School in Liverpool. Eric was in the same school 'house' as John. In 1956, when John became interested in skiffle music (an English hybrid of folk, country, and blues music played primarily on homemade instruments - that was the precursor of British rock 'n' roll) Eric was one of the schoolmates who John invited to form a band with him. The others were fellow Quarry Bank schoolmates Rod Davis and Pete Shotton; Len Garry who went to school with Paul McCartney at the Liverpool Institute - and another local lad - Colin Hanton.
Eric was playing guitar alongside John in that original 6-piece lineup on the fateful day in July 1957 when Paul McCartney came to see the band - and formed the friendship with John that would result in him (and subsequently George Harrison) joining the Quarrymen - the group that eventually metamorphosed into the Beatles.
As the Quarrymen became more driven musically toward becoming a serious rock 'n' roll band the original schoolmate members - who had joined their mate John mainly for a lark - slowly dropped out - and in 1958 Eric left the band.
Eric reunited with the other surviving founders of the Quarrymen in July 1997 for a special 40th anniversary celebration in Liverpool of the Woolton Village church fete where John Lennon and Paul McCartney met for the first time. Following that reunion - the five founding members of the Quarrymen reformed and ever since have been playing their music all over the world - recording two albums in the process. Eric became an enthusiastic member of the reformed Quarrymen (though 40 years had elapsed since he'd played the guitar!) and he became very popular among those who saw the group perform over the past 7 years. The author Hunter Davies (who in 1968 had written the authorized biography of the Beatles) was so impressed with the story of the reformed group that he wrote a biography of them published in 2001 - titled simply "The Quarrymen."
With no prior symptoms to warn him, Eric was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last November. He spent his last months very courageously putting his affairs in order to lessen the burden on his family. He died at home in Edinburgh, Scotland on Saturday January 29th.
Eric is survived by his wife of 40 years Relda (who he married at Woolton Parish Church in 1964) and three sons. Eric and Relda moved to Edinburgh, Scotland in 1972 - and had lived there since then.
Funeral arrangements are pending - with next Monday (February 7th) being the probable date.
A tribute page will be set up soon on the Quarrymen's official website: http://www.OriginalQuarrymen.co.uk
Eric Griffith's biography can be viewed at http://www.OriginalQuarrymen.co.uk/html/eric.html
John Lennon was very picky about his school friends and surrounded himself with those who were smart and funny. Eric Griffiths was shyer and more introverted than Lennon - but no less sharp. And he retained a dry mordant wit all his life. He will be missed - not just by his family and close friends - but also by the worldwide extended family of Beatles fans who know that the Beatles had its earliest roots in 1956 when John Lennon press-ganged his closest schoolmates into a little skiffle group called the Quarrymen. John's schooldays pal Eric Griffiths was a part of that fabled history...