Johnny ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson has passed away. Mersey Beat legend. He was 78.
Johnny Hutchinson, also known as Johnny Hutch, was a Liverpudlian rock and roll drummer of the late 1950s and early 1960s, during the same time that The Beatles rose through the ranks of British rock bands. Hutch’s group, The Big Three, were rivals of the Beatles, and his opinions of them were not the highest; one early remark he made was that the Beatles “weren’t worth a carrot.”
Feelings aside, Hutch sat in with them during a 1960 audition, keeping a beat until their then-drummer Tommy Moore could arrive. Mersey Beat magazine editor, Bill Harry, claimed that the vacant drummer position in The Beatles when Pete Best was dismissed was initially offered by Epstein to Johnny, who Epstein later managed. Knowing The Beatles had secured a record contract, Hutchinson turned down the job, saying, “Brian asked me to join the Beatles and I said, I wouldn’t join the Beatles for a gold clock. There’s only one group as far as I’m concerned and that’s the Big Three. The Beatles can’t make a better sound than that, and Pete Best is a very good friend of mine. I couldn’t do the dirty on him”. Johnny did play for The Beatles when Pete Best never turned up on the evening of his dismissal, and two subsequent bookings, until Ringo Starr could join The Beatles from Rory Storm and the Hurricanes.
For many, Johnny and his band, The Big 3, defined the Cavern sound. Following his success with the Beatles, manager Brian Epstein signed up the Big Three. Their big-time career was limited, though, and the band disliked the image crafted for them by Epstein, parting ways with him in mid-1963. A year later, the Big Three disbanded, and Hutchinson retired from music. He had attended International Beatleweek a number of times over the last few years and always had many great stories and memories to share, many of his time filling in on drums for The Beatles.