Old chum recalls McCartney's school days

When Halifax resident Iain Taylor went to school in Liverpool, he had a classmate who drew guitars on the margins of his notebooks, sang Little Richard songs in the cafeteria and dashed across the road to play music with John Lennon after school.

Halifax man advised him there was no future in music

When Halifax resident Iain Taylor went to school in Liverpool, he had a classmate who drew guitars on the margins of his notebooks, sang Little Richard songs in the cafeteria and dashed across the road to play music with John Lennon after school.

His name was Paul McCartney and Taylor thought his musical ambitions were ludicrous, he told CBC News in an interview Thursday.

"I said to him: 'Surely there's no future in the music industry in Liverpool.'  It was all in London at the time and that seemed such a long way away," Taylor recalled.

Those were words he'd never live down.

"I used to tell my boys, 'Don't come to me for advice. I'm the one who told Paul McCartney there's no future in the music industry.' "

That school was the Liverpool Institute High School for Boys and McCartney later purchased it and turned it into the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts.

As McCartney prepares for a concert this Saturday in Halifax, Taylor was writing about his old alma mater.

His locker was right next to McCartney's and they shared a homeroom and subjects such as English and geography.

McCartney was not much of a student, Taylor, a retired history teacher, recalled. In fact, he left on a trip to Hamburg before the finals.

Taylor remembers McCartney as "quite a character."

"I still have very vivid memories that I'm trying to put down in this history of the school. He was very artistic, a left-hander, and he wasn't particularly good in the early part of his school days with mathematics and science. He hated organized sports and games. He was a bit of an anarchist and wouldn't participate," Taylor said.

Unlike his pal George Harrison, who was always in trouble with the teachers for one reason or another, McCartney seemed to fly under the radar.

"He seemed to excel verbally in being able to mimic the teachers, but do it quietly so the teachers didn't hear but everybody else did. He was kind of a rebel," Taylor said.

Harrison and McCartney were among the youngest boys to hang out in the smokers' corner, a spot out of sight of the teachers.

"George Harrison was beaten many times for many things. Paul McCartney was usually quite skilled at negotiating his way around things without feeling the consequences," Taylor said.

The cafeteria had an interesting reverb and McCartney spent his lunch hours drumming out Little Richard songs.

'Brilliant musician'

"It was clear even at this time that he was a brilliant musician because the two of them, John Lennon and he, had met a couple of years before and formed this group and they were playing at local church halls and things like that," Taylor said.

After school, he'd go across the road, to Lennon's flat, to play guitar.

Taylor remembers the day they hit on a name for their group.

"He said: 'I think we've got the name' and he wrote it out. There was a groan. We thought it was a terrible pun and it would never catch on," he said.

The name was, of course, the Beatles.

The school was officially reopened by Queen Elizabeth in 1996 as a training ground for a future generation of artists.

McCartney's hand in its creation was one of the key reasons for his knighthood.

Also known as "Paul McCartney's Fame School," it has plans for branches around the world.

With files from Phlis McGregor