In Spite of All the Danger

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"In Spite of All the Danger"
In Spite of All the Danger Label.jpg
Original 78 rpm acetate
Song by the Quarrymen
from the album Anthology 1
A-side"That'll Be the Day"
Released20 November 1995 (UK)
21 November 1995 (US)
RecordedPhillips Sound Recording Service, Liverpool, 12 July 1958
GenreSkiffle, country blues
Length2:44 (Anthology 1)
3:25 (Original acetate)[citation needed]
LabelApple Records
Songwriter(s)Paul McCartney and George Harrison
Producer(s)Percy Phillips

"In Spite of All the Danger" is one of the first songs recorded by the Quarrymen, then consisting of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, pianist John Lowe, and drummer Colin Hanton.

The song was written by McCartney and Harrison and is the only song to credit the two alone. It is believed to have been recorded on Saturday 12 July 1958[1] (three days before Lennon's mother's death). However, that recording date is disputed by the group. The recording was made at Percy Phillips' home studio in Liverpool (see 1958 in music), and cost 17 shillings and six pence (87.5p).


Along with their cover of Buddy Holly's "That'll Be the Day" recorded at the same session, these songs were the first recordings made by what would become the Beatles. The only other previous recording of the Quarrymen in performance was a reel-to-reel tape-recording made by an audience member on 6 July 1957, during the Quarrymen's last set for the 1957 Rose Queen garden fête at St. Peter's Church, Woolton, Liverpool.[2][3] This was made on the very day on which McCartney first met Lennon, but before he was a member of the group.

McCartney has claimed to have written the song: "'In Spite Of All The Danger' was actually written by me and George played the guitar solo! We were mates and nobody was into copyrights and publishing, nobody understood — we actually used to think when we came down to London that songs belonged to everyone.... I remember we all went down on the bus with our instruments – amps and guitars – and the drummer went separately. We waited in the little waiting room outside while somebody else made their demo and then it was our turn. We just went into the room, hardly saw the fella because he was next door in a little control booth. "OK, what are you going to do?" We ran through it very quickly, quarter of an hour, and it was all over. I think we paid £5 for that. It was me, John, George, Colin Hanton on drums and Duff Lowe, five of us ... I sang the lead, I think so anyway. It was my song. It's very similar to an Elvis song. It's me doing an Elvis ... I'm a bit loath to say which! ... It was one that I'd heard at scout camp when I was younger and I'd loved it."[4]

Most commentators conclude that the Presley song used by McCartney as a model was "Tryin' to Get to You", which was included in Elvis's first UK album, back in 1956, and which includes the line "In spite of all that I've been through." Chris Ingram says it was "clearly inspired" by it,[5] and John C. Winn says it was "fashioned after" it.[6]

Musical structure[edit]

The song is in the key of E and follows a standard I (E chord)-I7-IV (A chord)-V7 (B7 chord)-I-IV-I progression.[7] Here the harmonic development initially arises with the move (in bar 5 on "I'll do anything for you") to a subdominant or IV (A chord built on the 4th degree of the E major scale), but without the intervening range of chords prolonging harmonic tension that so characterised later Beatles songwriting.[7] The resolution back to the tonic comes as the V chord (B7 in bar 8 on "you want me to") shifts to the I (E chord on "true to me").[8]

History of the recording[edit]

The tape was wiped after being pressed on a 10-inch disc. Only one copy of the "That'll Be the Day" and "In Spite of All the Danger" recordings was made, and each band member kept the acetate disc for a week. Lowe was the last to have it, keeping it for nearly 25 years. In 1981, Lowe attempted to sell it at auction, but McCartney intervened and purchased it from him. McCartney had engineers restore as much of the record's sound quality as possible and then made approximately 50 copies of the single that he gave as personal gifts to family and friends. In 2004, Record Collector magazine named the original pressing the most valuable record in existence, estimating its worth at £100,000, with the 1981 copies made by McCartney coming in second on the list at £10,000 each.

Public release[edit]

"In Spite of All the Danger" was not released to the public until it appeared on 1995's Anthology 1 collection along with "That'll Be the Day."

McCartney played the song throughout his 2005 world tour and would continue to perform it through 2018's Freshen Up (tour).

The song's recording was depicted by The Nowhere Boys in the 2009 biopic Nowhere Boy which was accurate even to the 17/6d charge for the recording session. The band also perform "That'll Be the Day," although it was cut out of the film and is available as a deleted scene on the DVD and Blu-Ray releases.[9] These versions of the two songs can be heard on the film's soundtrack.[10]



  2. ^ THE SOURCE - The Savage Young Beatles - 6 July 1957 - Woolton Parish Church
  3. ^ Atkinson, Malcolm. "The Quarry Men's First Recordings". Abbeyrd’s Beatle Page. Archived from the original on 11 May 2008. Retrieved 29 June 2008. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  4. ^ Mark Lewisohn. The Beatles Recording Sessions. Harmony Books. New York. 1989. The Paul McCartney Interview. (accessed 24 December 2012)
  5. ^ Chris Ingham, The Rough Guide to the Beatles, Rough Guides, 2009.
  6. ^ Way Beyond Compare: The Beatles' Recorded Legacy, 1957-1965, Three Rivers Press, 2008, p.2.
  7. ^ a b Dominic Pedler. The Songwriting Secrets of the Beatles. Music Sales Limited. Omnibus Press. NY. 2003. p22
  8. ^ Dominic Pedler. The Songwriting Secrets of the Beatles. Music Sales Limited. Omnibus Press. NY. 2003. p23
  9. ^
  10. ^
  • Phillips, Peter. "The 10inch aluminium and acetate disc was cut by Percy Phillips (according to the Studio Log) on the 12th July 1958". "" (Accessed 2 November 2010).
  • Barnes, Anthony. "It cost 90p to make. But the first Lennon/McCartney disc is now worth £100,000". Belfast Telegraph, 1 November 2004. (Accessed 15 June 2006).
  • Cross, Craig. "In Spite of All the Danger". Retrieved 7 October 2005.

External links[edit]