In 1951, on Hamburg Farm in Lexington, KY, a foal had a rough birth and its life was in danger due to poor breathing. Legendary horseman, John A. Bell III, was on site and poured a shot of whiskey down the throat of the struggling foal. Through the night, the young horse made a dramatic recovery and was aptly named Never Say Die.
Three years later, after experiencing some success in England, Never Say Die was entered into the biggest race in the world, the 175th running of the Derby Stakes at Epsom Downs (aka the Epsom Derby). In front of a shocking 250K spectators, including Queen Elizabeth II and Sir Winston Churchill, Never Say Die, at 33-1 odds, beat out 22 other horses to become the first American-born horse to win the race in over 70 years.
Meanwhile on the other side of England, a woman in Liverpool named Mona Best had fallen in love with the name and story of Never Say Die. On a daring leap of faith, she pawned all of her jewelry to literally “bet it all” on Never Say Die at 33-1. With her new fortune, she purchased a historic Victorian home in Liverpool to transform it into a music venue. The basement was a low-key stage for up-and-coming musicians called the Casbah Coffee Club.
The opening night of the Casbah Coffee Club featured a band called The Quarrymen. The band-members, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison were each paid 3 pounds for their weekly gig. The Quarrymen actually hired Mona Best’s son, Peter Best to be their next full-time drummer. Best was eventually replaced by Ringo Star.
Rock and Roll history was forever changed by a band’s humble beginnings in the Casbah Coffee Club and the shocking upset victory of Never Say Die, a horse who may have never run a race without that fateful sip of whiskey on that cold Kentucky night.