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The Big Three

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Around the time the Beatles started recording, the Big Three were one of their biggest Liverpool rivals. Their then-novel power trio attack was anchored by drummer Johnny "Hutch" Hutchinson, who actually filled the drum set for the Beatles as an emergency replacement on a few gigs. Managed by Brian Epstein as well, the Big Three were renowned locally as a tough, R&B-inflected outfit, but were made to cover pop material more suited for Gerry & the Pacemakers on most of their singles. The group only managed to cut four singles in 1963 and 1964, as well as a Live at the Cavern EP that was the only official release recorded at one of the most legendary rock clubs of all time. A couple of these singles dented the British Top 40 briefly, but the original lineup broke up in late 1963; bassist Johnny Gustafson went on to join the Merseybeats for a time and played on three albums by Roxy Music in the '70s. While eyewitness accounts affirm that the Big Three were a powerful live outfit, they were unsuccessful at translating this energy to record, which doomed their status to a footnote of the British Invasion. ~ Richie Unterberger

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