The Stories of Famous Bandmates’ First Meetings

On this day in 1957, two Liverpool teenagers met for the first time and would change the course of music history. John Lennon and Paul McCartney shared a passion for performing. Lennon’s youthful swagger and McCartney’s technical knowledge sparked a mutual respect and healthy competition that would lead them to join forces. Read the full story past the break, where we share the fascinating tales of other famous bandmates’ first meetings.

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When John Lennon Met Paul McCartney

John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s historic first meeting took place during the blazing summer of 1957 in Liverpool at St. Peter’s Church. The Woolton Parish Church Garden Fete — where the traditional crowning of the Rose Queen, a parade, and a dog show took place — was the setting for a series of performances by the Quarrymen skiffle group. The band’s singer and guitar player was John Lennon. McCartney was in the crowd and felt wowed by Lennon. “I just thought, ‘Well, he looks good, he’s singing well and he seems like a great lead singer to me.’ Of course, he had his glasses off, so he really looked suave,” the musician recalled in 1995. “I remember John was good. He was really the only outstanding member, all the rest kind of slipped away.” A mutual friend introduced the teenagers. Paul impressed a somewhat aloof John by performing Eddie Cochran’s “Twenty Flight Rock,” Gene Vincent’s “Be-Bop-A-Lula,” and a medley of Little Richard numbers. McCartney showed Lennon how to tune his guitar. A few weeks later, Lennon asked McCartney to join the Quarrymen, which evolved into the Beatles in early 1960.

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When Stevie Nicks Met Lindsey Buckingham

One of rock’s greatest romances and music partnerships, Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham met for the first time at a party during her senior year at Atherton High School. He was sitting on the floor strumming a guitar, singing “California Dreamin'” by The Mamas & the Papas. Nicks joined him for a duet. “When I first met him, he was going with somebody and so was I, but I fell totally in love with him. I was captivated,” Nicks said in 1983 of their first meeting. The future couple would meet again two years later in 1968, when Buckingham asked her to join his band Fritz. The group opened for major acts like Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. Nicks and Buckingham continued their music careers and romantic relationship after Fritz disbanded in 1972.

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When Keith Richards Met Mick Jagger

Childhood schoolmates in the 1950s, Keith Richards would meet Mick Jagger again years later on a train. Their mutual love of music, particularly R&B, rekindled the friendship. An 18-year-old Richards wrote his aunt Patty about his old buddy in a 1962 letter, describing waiting at the station with a Chuck Berry record:

“Anyways the guy on the station, he is called Mick Jagger and all the chicks and the boys meet every Saturday morning in the ‘Carousel’ some juke-joint well one morning in Jan I was walking past and decided to look him up. Everybody’s all over me I get invited to about 10 parties. Beside that Mick is the greatest R&B singer this side of the Atlantic and I don’t mean maybe. I play guitar (electric) Chuck style we got us a bass player and drummer and rhythm-guitar and we practice 2 or 3 nights a week. SWINGIN’.”

The boys played together as the Rolling Stones several months later.

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When Sid Vicious Met Johnny Rotten

John Simon Ritchie (Sid Vicious) met John Lydon (Johnny Rotten) at a school in London. They dropped out and spent their days hanging out at Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood’s iconic store SEX and various clubs in the city. Eventually they started squatting at a house in the Hampstead area, playing music on the streets for money. Lydon began to groom Ritchie’s new style:

“The other squatters hated us… because of the way we looked — short cropped hair and old suits. That’s when Sid [Vicious] started to come around to my way of fashion. I gave him his first decent haircut, which was the punk style as it soon became. You’d literally cut chunks of hair out of your head. The idea was to not have any shape to your hairdo — just have it fucked up. This was the beginning of it all.”

It was around this time that Lydon gave Ritchie his famous nickname (after Lydon’s pet hamster). Their reputations grew in punk circles, and they were invited to join the Sex Pistols several years later.

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When Dave Grohl Met Kurt Cobain

Dave Grohl dropped out of high school to join the band Scream when he was 17 years old. They toured extensively and made a stop in Seattle in 1990, where The Melvins’ Buzz Osborne took friends Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic to see them play. Nirvana released their debut album Bleach the year before, and they were becoming rising stars amongst the indie music scene. They invited Grohl to join them after an audition following Scream’s breakup. “He beats the drums like he’s beating the shit out [of people’s] heads,” Cobain would write in his diary soon after Grohl teamed up with Nirvana.

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When Salt Met Pepa

When Cheryl James (Salt) and Sandra Denton (Pepa) formed their all-female rap trio with Deidra Roper (DJ Spinderella) in the early 1980s, record deals were still scarce for hip hop artists, let alone an all-girl crew. The two women met at college and started working as telephone solicitors at Sears. Their famous co-workers included Martin Lawrence — who eventually opened up several of their shows while trying to find his footing as a comedian — and the members of the impeccably coiffed Kid ‘n Play. Their future producer Hurby “Luv Bug” Azor also worked there, eventually leading the women to a record deal.

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When Kim Deal Met Black Francis

After a trip to Puerto Rico during college, Charles Michael Kittridge Thompson IV — otherwise known as Black Francis — dropped out of school to start a band with classmate Joey Santiago. Francis placed a classified ad seeking a female bass player who was into Hüsker Dü and Peter, Paul and Mary. Singer-songwriter Kim Deal was the only person to respond, even though she didn’t play bass at the time. She shared Francis’ eclectic music tastes, so he invited her to join the band. The group tried to recruit Deal’s identical twin sister, Kelley, as drummer, but she moved to California instead. The new band chose the name Pixies from the dictionary at random and started playing shows in the Boston area.

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When Thomas Bangalter Met Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo

Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo met in 1987 while attending high school in Paris. They shared an appreciation of records and cult films. The friends formed an indie band with schoolmate Laurent Brancowitz called Darlin’, which mainly consisted of guitar-based songs. The name was inspired by a Beach Boys track. “The rock n’ roll thing we did was pretty average, I think. It was so brief, maybe six months, four songs and two gigs and that was it,” Thomas later recalled. One above average thing that did come out of the group was the seed for the duo’s future band, Daft Punk. A review of a Darlin’ release in Melody Maker dubbed their sound “daft punky thrash.” This amused the bandmates, who soon left Darlin’ to explore the world of electronic music.

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When Flavor Flav Met Chuck D

By the time William Jonathan Drayton, Jr. (Flavor Flav) met Carlton Douglas Ridenhour (Chuck D) at Adelphi University on Long Island, the child music prodigy had mastered 15 instruments, was a star in his youth church choir, dropped out of high school, and did jail time for robbery and burglary. Ridenhour was hosting a college radio show, and Drayton joined him. Their artistic vision quickly picked up outside the school. “Me and Chuck used to work for his father, delivering furniture for interior designers. We wrote the first Public Enemy album in a U-Haul truck,” Drayton told EW in 2006. Their demo “Public Enemy Number One” caught the attention of upcoming producer Rick Rubin, who signed the duo to his now famous Def Jam label.

Photo credit: Kate Simon
Photo credit: Kate Simon

When Lou Reed Met John Cale

The John Cale and Lou Reed incarnation of The Velvet Underground only saw two albums released (The Velvet Underground & Nico and White Light/White Heat), but the experimental and sometimes controversial records remain influential works. Cale was a promising fixture in the New York City music scene, playing viola in La Monte Young’s Theater of Eternal Music (The Dream Syndicate). He also joined John Cage for marathon piano experiments. Cale met songwriter Reed at a party in 1964. Their interest in avant-garde sensibilities led to a pre-Velvet project that soon evolved into the group named after a pulp novel by Michael Leigh. They grew to stardom under the management of Andy Warhol, with Warhol superstar Nico.