Johnny Hutchinson

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Any good, thorough history of the Beatles' early years, or about the late-'50s/early-'60s music scene in Liverpool, is certain to mention the name of Johnny Hutchinson -- or Johnny Hutch, as he was usually…
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Any good, thorough history of the Beatles' early years, or about the late-'50s/early-'60s music scene in Liverpool, is certain to mention the name of Johnny Hutchinson -- or Johnny Hutch, as he was usually called. The Liverpool-based Hutchinson was regarded by many as the best rock & roll drummer in the city in the late '50s, and the music and reputation of the Big Three, of which he was a member, bore this out, at least as far as live performances. He was not just the drummer but, in many ways, was thought of as the core of the band, and the R&B-based trio was actually a more successful rival to the Beatles at the start of the 1960s. Most people in Liverpool who cared to make judgments about such matters believed that the Big Three would be signed to a recording contract first, and probably launch a successful national career before anyone else (and certainly before the Beatles). That didn't happen, the group's devotion to R&B and power trio-type sound being a little different from what the mass public in England -- even among teenagers -- wanted in late 1962 and 1963. They did try to grab a piece of the Merseybeat boom that was jump-started by the Beatles, but the Big Three never made it commercially, even with the management of Brian Epstein to guide them, and the latter proved a very awkward fit.

Hutchinson, for his part, actually sat in with the Beatles on a pivotal 1960 audition -- and getting him to do so was considered quite a coup for the band at the time. And after they were signed to Parlophone in mid-1962 -- but before they recorded -- he filled the drummer spot in the Beatles during the weeks between original drummer Pete Best's firing and the arrival of Ringo Starr, who was still a member of Rory Storm & the Hurricanes. For a variety of reasons, however, including their mixing of pop elements with rock & roll and R&B -- and probably some personal friction -- Hutchinson never seemed to like the Beatles much as a band, or thought much of their music, and never kept his feelings a secret. He left music in the second half of the 1960s, after the Big Three split up.