Calgary guitarist belonged to a Liverpool band that everyone was nuts over — and it wasn't the Beatles
Before he moved to Canada 43 years ago, Brian Griffiths was a guitarist and Liverpool legend
In Liverpool, back around 1960, there was one band managed by Brian Epstein that all the other Liverpool bands looked up to, and it wasn't the Beatles.
It was The Big Three, a Liverpudlian power trio managed by the same Epstein who also managed the Beatles, that blew hot and hard for a while, and then, like a lot of bands, broke up.
It turns out that Brian Griffiths, The Big Three's guitarist, has been living in Calgary for 36 years, a fact almost no one was aware of until a friend told filmmaker Todd Kipp a story he could scarcely believe.
That story can now be heard in the film that Kipp later made, Some Other Guys, which has its world premiere Tuesday night at the Calgary International Film Festival.
'He used to play with the Beatles'
"A friend of mine said to me one day, I know this guy and his father used to be in this band, in Liverpool and he used to play with the Beatles," said Kipp, in an interview with CBC Calgary News at Six'sRob Brown. "What would you think about making a film about this?"
Kipp agreed to meet Griffiths. The two men talked for three hours.
That's when Kipp realized a small slice of rock and roll history lived in Silver Springs.
'A real story that's never been told'
"All this stuff was coming out," Kipp said. "And I thought, this was more than just one of the many bands who happened to be in Liverpool — this was the band who were amazing musicians, and were with Brian Epstein — and had individually played with the Beatles, too, in a lot of other bands.
"I thought, wow, I've never heard of this band either, and this is a real story that's never been told and we're really getting to that point [in these guys' lives] where it needs to be told, or it's not going to be told."
Griffiths, the guitarist in the group, will be there when Some Other Guys premieres at the Calgary International Film Festival. Just don't expect him to turn a world premiere of a documentary about his youthful legend into any kind of social media showcase.
'We just loved to play'
"It's no big deal," said Griffiths. "This takes you back to the film, takes you back to who we were. We just loved to play. I've always just loved to play rock and roll.
"I studied classical guitar for 25 years, four hours a day — just wanted to do it. But I'm a rock and blues player. That's it. Get up. Play. I don't get up much now. And afterwards - whatever you want to do.
"It's great that we made it — [or] Todd [did]. But it's just who we were."
"It's like Ozzy Osbourne when he first did the reality show," he added. "That was Ozzy Osbourne. He wasn't acting. When we tell the stories, we weren't looking for any publicity. This was 50 years ago — when we were just kids."
And in an age where branding is an active verb, social media is everywhere, and everyone can be their very own YouTube channel, it's almost heroic to hear Griffiths explain why The Beatles shot into the pop stratosphere while The Big Three became talented, legendary cult classics who blew apart after a few years.
"As far as the publicity was considered, we weren't into that," Griffiths said. "That was one of the problems we had with Brian Epstein.
"Brian Epstein was great if you wanted to be a pop star or a pop band. We didn't want that. We just wanted to play.
"Whatever came of that, was to be what was to be."
'We weren't into photo shoots'
"But you had to change a lot of your personalities to suit Brian Epstein," he added. "Like the photo shoots. We weren't into photo shoots.
"There aren't too many pictures around of the Big Three," he said. "We were either in the pub, or just couldn't be bothered going."
[There's a scene of footage in the documentary of Epstein's secretary, saying, "The Big Three — the band that Brian Epstein couldn't control."]
- MORE CALGARY NEWS | To win Amazon, a city needs art, says Alberta economist
- MORE CALGARY NEWS | Board gamers break out of the basement for FallCon 30
The documentary is also filled with testimony from many British musicians, who described The Big Three in awed terms.
And Griffiths doesn't dispute the notion that, at one moment in time, his band could blow the doors off the Beatles.
"As far as musicians are concerned, we were on par with them or even better actually," he said. "Not my words, but other musicians, who were around at the time.
"We were the powerhouse trio."
- With files from CBC Calgary News at Six
Rob Brown, CBC News