When Chas Newby taught maths at Droitwich Spa High School in the 1990s his students had little interest in his illustrious musical past.
“I was just some crusty old bloke who played in a band years before they were born,” said the man who joined The Beatles before they were famous. “It didn’t mean much to them.”
The children were more interested in the Spice Girls and Take That, explained the Liverpudlian who, in true rock and rock style, used to arrive at school on a Harley Davidson motorbike.
Aged 19, Chas played four gigs with The Beatles, sharing the stage with John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and drummer Pete Best, before he was ousted in favour of Ringo Starr.
After returning to Liverpool from a long stint learning their trade in Hamburg, Germany, bass player Stuart Sutcliffe decided he wanted a break from the band, and Best suggested Chas fill in.
Chas had played in a band called Blackjacks with Best, as well as Kenny Brown, who had been a member of The Quarrymen, an early incarnation of The Beatles featuring Lennon, McCartney and Harrison.
The four December 1960 gigs began at the Casbah Club, Liverpool, followed by the Grosvenor Ballroom in Liscard, then Litherland Town Hall, before returning to the Casbah on New Year’s Eve.
Chas, who was paid £1 for each of the four shows, can lay claim to being The Beatle’s first left handed bass player, before fellow leftie McCartney made the switch from rhythm guitar.
The following month Chas went back to college, unconvinced that he could make a living in music, while the Beatles, of course, went on to become the most famous group in the world.
Talking to the Sunday Mercury in 2012, he said: “To me it was just four gigs with a different band. Music was never going to be a living for me. I wanted to do chemistry. John, Paul and George, they just wanted to be musicians.
“At that time they weren’t performing their own stuff; it was just covers. I’d no idea that they’d been writing songs for years.”
After leaving college, Chas gained a masters degree in chemical engineering from Manchester University. In 1971 he and wife Margaret moved to Alcester, Warwickshire, after getting work with Kings Norton firm Triplex.
The company made windscreens for trains and aircraft and Chas worked there until 1990, when he retrained as a maths teacher at Warwick University, before starting his job at Droitwich Spa High School.
Chas insists he never regretted turning his back on The Beatles. “People sometimes don’t believe me when I say I’ve no regrets, but I really haven’t.” he said. ”I have enjoyed my life immensely.”
He turns 80 in 2021, but dad-of-two Chas still plays the bass today, with… wait for it… The Quarrymen. Tap here for a video of Chas and the band at BeatleFest in Mexico in 2019.