1958 (Revisited and Corrected)
Back in January 2007, I wrote a post on the recording of the Beatles' first-ever disc, "That'll Be the Day"/"In Spite of All the Danger." Proving that history is indeed bunk (and that anything published about the Beatles is quite possibly wrong), the Beatles histories I used for background turned out to be incorrect about many of the details of that recording. I know this because one of the original Quarrymen, John "Duff" Lowe, just wrote and set me straight.
So in an attempt to finally get something accurate on the Internet about an event that has become almost entirely consumed in myth, here's Mr. Lowe's account of the facts:
Of the five of us who made the disk, only 3 are still alive, Paul, Colin and me and since I doubt you've been able to talk to Paul, it must have been Colin who gave you the story and he obviously has a bad memory. On the other hand, perhaps Colin never came to rehearsals at Paul's (because of the noise his drums would have made in a terraced house and annoyed Paul's neighbours) and so FOR HIM, it might have been the first time he had heard In Spite of All the Danger (ISOATD).
I can assure you that ISOATD was rehearsed on a number of Sunday afternoons at Paul's house before we went to Percy Phillips to record it. The appointment was made with Phillips specifically to record two numbers, namely That'll be the Day and ISOATD. There was no question of anything being 'sprung' on anyone, except for perhaps Colin. John, Paul George and I were all perfectly happy with what we had to do. Paul had produced ISOATD at one of our regular rehearsals and we proceeded to learn it over 3 or 4 weeks with Paul being quite particular as to what we should play and how.
The original ISOATD runs to just over 4 minutes and because we were recording direct to disc (NOT to tape first) Percy was going frantic and dragging his finger across his throat telling us to finish the song, because he could see that we were going to record off the acetate and onto the middle. The run-off on the record is about 0.5 second before the arm lifts, it was that close. Please feel free to use this as an authoritative account of what actually happened.