Brian Doyle at The American Scholar:
On a spring day in 1964, a boy walked into the Oldfield Hotel in the London suburb of Greenford—or perhaps the White Hart Hotel in Acton, or perhaps an unknown pub on London’s North Circular Road; fact slides so easily into myth—and demanded an audition from the band playing there that night.
The boy was 17 years old. He was the drummer for a surf band called the Beachcombers. He hit his drums so hard that six-inch nails had to be driven through the base of his kit into the stage to keep it from wandering off when he played. He had been playing drums for five years. He had first tried the bugle, but then he heard the American jazz drummers Gene Krupa and Philly Jo Jones, and he was enlightened, so he switched to the drums and practiced in a music store with a kindhearted and probably hard-of-hearing owner. At age 14 he quit school altogether and got a job repairing radios. Part of the reason he quit school was that his teachers thought he was a dolt: “Retarded artistically, idiotic in other respects,” wrote his art teacher.