Rod Davis

L to R: John Lennon, Colin Hanton, Rod Davis

Rod Davis was born in Liverpool in 1941 and lived for his first twenty years in the village of Woolton, about six miles south of the city centre. Somewhere around 1946 John Lennon went to live with his Aunt Mimi and she sent him to Sunday school at the local church, St. Peter's. John joined a class of a couple of dozen kids which included Pete Shotton, Nige Walley, Ivan Vaughan and Geoff Rhind and Rod himself, all of whom would play a part in the story of The Beatles.

In 1952 he started at Quarry Bank School, and found himself in the same year group as John, Pete and another Woolton lad, Eric Griffiths. Inspired by hearing Lonnie Donegan's recording of "Rock Island Line" blaring from a record shop, he pestered his parents to buy him a banjo or a guitar (Donegan played both). Finally he wore them down and boasted about his new banjo in school next day, whereupon Eric asked him to join the budding skiffle group which was soon to become the Quarrymen. Virtually all of our repertoire was pinched wholesale from Donegan who had become a top star during 1956.

In the very early days the group played at Youth Clubs and in the interval at local dances. A breakthrough came in January 1957 when the Cavern opened its doors for the first time and the Quarrymen were invited to play there several times with Rod on banjo. Their two most famous gigs of this era for which photographs still survive were Rosebery Street in June and St Peter's Church Fete on 6 July 1957, the fateful day when John met Paul and the Beatles really began.

The Quarrymen were becoming more of a Rock 'n' Roll outfit and as a banjo player Rod didn't fit in too well so he drifted out of the group during the summer of 1957 and by the autumn Paul McCartney had taken his place in the lineup.

After leaving the Quarrymen Rod decided to learn the guitar and so with his brother Bernie they sold their old electric train set and bought a Spanish guitar. As they knew the principles from the banjo, they soon learnt enough guitar chords and became very interested in folk music, both from the British Isles and from America. Rod stayed on at Quarry Bank into the sixth form until December 1960 when he won a scholarship to Cambridge University to study Languages where he became a member (and eventually President) of the University St. Lawrence Folk-Song Society. He soon became a Bluegrass addict and began to play mandolin and fiddle. After Cambridge he went to teach English in Regensburg in Bavaria from '63 to '64 where he played banjo in a trad jazz band.

Back in Liverpool in '64 Rod became a member of the Bluegrass Ramblers, playing mandolin and fiddle. They appeared on "Opportunity Knocks", hosted by Canadian Hughie Green but alas opportunity didn't knock! He taught French and Spanish until 1968 when he became an expedition driver for a company called Minitrek Expeditions, taking trips to Russia, Turkey and across the Sahara desert.

In 1970 he married one of his former passengers and settled down behind a desk, working for holiday companies in the London area whilst taking a post-grad Marketing qualification in his spare time. He developed his Old Timey Fiddle technique in a well-known musicians' hangout in Chalk Farm in London, a pub called "The Engineer ".

In the early 1980's he played guitar for a Tex-Mex band called the Armadillos with Tony Engle (of Topic Records fame), appearing at folk festivals and folk clubs throughout the country. In the mid 1980's with some friends from Liverpool they revived the name of the Bluegrass Ramblers which became a very successful band, playing Britain's top Bluegrass Festival at Edale and supporting big US names such as the Johnson Mountain Boys when they played in London.

In the mid 80's he met his new partner, Janet, and they soon became very keen windsurfers, racing in the London Region and National events. He also started lecturing in Tourism at Uxbridge College, moving later to Brunel University where he lectured in Tourism and Marketing until his retirement in 1996.

In 1997 after a 40th Anniversary Party at The Cavern they revived the Original Quarrymen of 1957, with all five members of the band who were on stage with John Lennon the day he and Paul McCartney first met. Since then the group has played dozens of gigs on both sides of the Atlantic and also in Russia and Japan. They produced two cds containing Skiffle and Rock 'n' Roll played in the same style as in 1957 with washboard and tea-chest bass, followed by a dvd in 2009. The Quarrymen are still playing the occasional gig even now in 2014!

Having been first a teacher, then a university lecturer, Rod is very much at home entertaining an audience with tales of how the music scene developed in the mid fifties and of growing up in Liverpool and attending the same school as John Lennon and playing in his first group. In late 2009 he toured Canada with bluesman Guy Davis, performing a 45 minute set peppered with anecdotes – see reviews below.

Rod's talk involves members of the audience learning at first hand how a Skiffle Group functions, getting them sitting in on washboard and the tea-chest bass as he plays guitar, re-creating the early days of the Beatles. Visiting students from the USA, music students from Brunel University, groups of German Beatles fans on holiday in Britain, fans at Liverpool's Cavern and at Beatles Conventions and many more have been fascinated and amused by this unassuming old man and his memories.


A Grammy Nod for Guy Davis! (November 30, 2017)

Martin Simpson to Tour Canada in October 2019 (November 29, 2017)

Quartette Christmas Coming to the Maritimes (November 15, 2017)

Ten Strings And A Goat Skin Touring Central Canada (November 11, 2017)

Vishtèn Touring Western Canada This Month (November 8, 2017)

The Young'Uns to Tour Canada in November (October 31, 2017)

Tony McManus Headed for Western Canada (October 1, 2017)

England's Moulettes Touring Canada in October (September 23, 2017)

JMI Signs Wales' Calan! (September 22, 2017)

Guy Davis to Tour Canada in October/November (September 18, 2017)

Claire Lynch Returning to Maritimes in October (September 13, 2017)

Two JMI Artists Included in the Top 50 Guitarists of All Time (July 26, 2017)

JMI Signs England's The Transports (July 25, 2017)

Sylvia Tyson and Cowboy Junkies to Headline Kingsville Music Festival (July 17, 2017)

Ten Strings And A Goat Skin to Headline Mammoth Canada Day Show in Thunder Bay (June29, 2017)

JMI signs Austin's Band of Heathens (June 27, 2017)

Claire Lynch US and Canadian Summer Dates (June 26, 2017)

Guy Davis to Tour Western Canada with Fabrizio Poggi in 2018 (June 26, 2017)

Moulettes Summer Dates (June 20, 2017)

Young'Uns Canadian and Overseas Summer Dates (June 20, 2017)

England's "Best Folk Group" to Tour Eastern Canada (June 20, 2017)

Black Umfolosi Touring Canada in July (June 19, 2017)

Ireland's The Henry Girls to make the Canadian Debut (June 19, 2017)

From PEI to New Zealand – Vishten's Busy Summer & Fall (June 19, 2017)

Guy Davis' Very Busy Summer (June 12, 2017)

James Keelaghan's Summer Schedule (June 12, 2017)

Jonah Blacksmith to Perform in Western Canada in July (June 10, 2017)

Ten Strings And A Goat Skin's Busy Summer (May 30, 2017)

James Keelaghan to Tour the Maritimes with Dave Gunning in January of 2018 (May 29, 2017)

Ray Bonneville's Song Family (May 17, 2017)

James Keelaghan Heading West in April (March 19, 2017)

Goitse Western Dates in March (February 22, 2017)

Quartette has Two Northern Ontario Shows in February (February 15, 2017)

Ten Strings And A Goat Skin Part of Official State Visit to the Kingdom of Sweden (February 13, 2017)

Two Major Award Nominations for Ten Strings And A Goat Skin (February 11, 2017)

Three New Central and Western Canada Tours from JMI! (January 25, 2017)

Quartette Christmas to Tour Atlantic Canada in 2017 (January 23, 2017)

Ray Bonneville to Tour Central and Western Canada in 2018 (December 20, 2016)

Triple Grammy Award Nominee Claire Lynch to Tour Central Canada Next Fall (December 14, 2016)

Grammy Nomination for JMI's Claire Lynch (December 6, 2016)

Ten Strings And A Goat Skin Awarded Album of The Year With Penguin Eggs Magazine (December 5, 2016)

Quartette Christmas Set to Tour Ontario and Western Canada (October 30, 2016)

Coig Christmas to Tour the Maritimes (October 22, 2016)

Ten Strings And A Goat Skin Headed West in November (October 15, 2016)

Ten Strings And A Goat Skin – Flying On Top Of The World (October 14, 2016)

JMI Signs Denmark's Jonah Blacksmith (October 3, 2016)

James Keelaghan in Alberta & BC in October (September 25, 2016)

Guy Davis Returns to Western Canada in October (September 24, 2016)

Black Umfolosi to Tour Canada in February 2018 (September 24, 2016)

Three Fantastic New Tours! (August 26, 2016)

Strawbs to Tour Central and Eastern Canada in the Fall (August 15, 2016)

Black Umfolosi Coming to Alberta and BC (July 22, 2016)

Young'uns Are Headed to Canada (July 13, 2016)

CBC's Tom Power Picks Moulettes as Best Act at Winnipeg Folk Festival (July 12, 2016)

Vishtèn has Busy Summer in Canada and America (July 9, 2016)

Ten Strings And A Goat Skin’s New Video Pays Homage to the Worker (July 9, 2016)

Claire Lynch En Route to the Maritimes (June 22, 2016)

Steve Earle and Shawn Colvin Cover Sylvia Tyson (June 22, 2016

Ten Strings And A Goat Skin Have Busy Summer (June 22, 2016)

The British Are Coming! (June 22, 2016)

Còig to Spend most of July in Ontario (June 13, 2016)

Award Winning Music Executive Bernie Finkelstein Joins Tablerock Media Board of Directors (June 9, 2016)

Oysterband Coming to Canada in July (June 9, 2016)

Dublin's Irish Music Magazine Gives High Praise to Goitse (June 7, 2016)

See News page for more JMI news.