“The Day we bought the cavern”

The Beatles on stage at the Cavern
The Beatles on stage at the Cavern

When the Cavern closed on 28th February 1966, it looked as though the club’s days were over. However, in stepped Joe Davey and Alf Geoghegan. Alf’s daughter, Debbie Greenberg, recalls the day they got the keys!

Despite his training as an accountant, Ray (McFall) was notoriously bad at keeping records both for Mersey Beat and the Cavern. The Official Receiver asked for offers for the lease and our offer of £5,500 was the highest bid received. Finally, on Monday April 18th 1966, my parents and Joe and Kath Davey took over the Cavern.

What Have We Done?

I will never forget that day and the mixed emotions among my family. I was ecstatic and couldn’t contain my excitement. My mother, however, did not share my enthusiasm and faith in the project, but I knew Dad was quietly excited about what lay ahead.

“What have we done? We have poured all our life’s savings into an empty old cellar,” Mum moaned.

I could tell she was already regretting it. Dad was fifty-six years old when he embarked on this new venture, yet he had the determination and energy of an eighteen-year-old.

Once negotiations with the Official Receiver to take over the lease were concluded – and the cheque had cleared – Dad and Joe collected the keys. Now we were in business. This was the point at which dreams came face to face with reality.

With some trepidation, we opened up the door on the ground floor of No. 8 Mathew Street to find a reception desk area, several offices and a very dark and dusty space.

Dark, Cold, Musty and Damp

The View from the Cavern Stage
The View from the Cavern Stage

A corridor at the rear of the reception area led to four offices to the right. We were equipped with torches, as we didn’t know where the light switches were. Dad found a switch in the corridor and tried turning it on but nothing happened. It was possible, we thought, that the electricity had been switched off at the mains but it was also possible that it had been cut off for non-payment. It was dark, cold, musty and damp.

We continued cautiously, one behind the other with out torches, and at the rear of the large empty space we discovered a wooden staircase which led down to the the studio once owned by Cavern Sound Ltd.

On ground level at the rear was a large metal door which, after several attempts to find the right key, we finally managed to open. Behind it was an external light-well, no bigger than six by four feet, surrounded on three sides by sixty-foot-high walls.

To the left was a huge sheet of metal about ten feet high which, on closer inspection of the plans, revealed a concealed iron gate. This led down a 100-yrad passageway to a T-junction with alleyways leading right to Harrington Street and left to Mathew Street, where metal gates secured the exits.

The Smell of Dead Birds

The smell of dead birds and bird droppings in this enclosed space was overpowering. Art the risk of the smell following us, we left the door to the light-well ajar to throw some light into the rear of the building, as we continued our trek of discovery.

Descending the wooden staircase to the recording studio, we could immediately see that a lot of money had been spent to create a professional soundproof studio where many of the Liverpool groups had come to record demo discs.

A Secret and Wondrous Place

Daylight hit us as we emerged from No. 8 on to Mathew Street. We then walked several yards down the street and Dad opened the roller shutter to No. 10 the main entrance to the club. Still by torchlight we descended the eighteen stone steps into the Cavern. For me it was re-entering a secret and wondrous place, a spine-tingling moment.

To actually own the Cavern was both magical and breath-taking. I had only been in the Cavern when it was full to bursting with people and pulsating with music. But even though it was eerie, empty and very smelly, this hallowed ground retained its mystique.

Tapping Our Feet to the Beat

At the top of the stone steps I paused to remember how we would wait there, impatiently tapping our feet to the beat of the Mersey Sound, eager to reach the bottom and be part of this action. As we slowly descended, I was amazed to see that the small wooden table and chair that functioned as the pay desk were still in place, covered in dust.

The rows of wooden chairs in the central aisle facing the stage had been haphazardly replaced in untidy rows, probably after being used to barricade the main entrance the night the cavern was closed down.

Either side of the central aisle were arched tunnels where, if you were lucky enough and early enough to grab a centre row seat, you could get a fabulous close-up view of the group on stage. You could practically touch them and also talk to them and make requests, with every performance like a private party.

Slightly Eerie

The empty stage looked slightly eerie but in my mind’s eye it was alive with a group rocking and bouncing around to the unmistakeable Mersey beat. Visions of the Beatles in their leather gear danced in my head.

Dad, not so overwhelmed by nostalgia, was eager to throw some light on our inspection. “Stay here while I see if I can locate the main switchboard.” He looked in cupboards behind the coffee bar but found nothing. He then found another cupboard under the stairwell.

“This looks promising.” He opened it up.

“Yes, got it! Fingers crossed the electric hasn’t been cut off.”

We held our breath as he pulled the heavy metal lever down and cheered when the lights came on.

Owning the Cavern

Pad and pen in hand, Dad was already working out what had to be done to make this place a success again. My mother followed us around in total disbelief, tut-tutting that he had been crazy enough to put their money into some dirty smelly old cellar. I had to smile inwardly at the look of utter disdain on her face as she struggled to come to terms with owning the Cavern.

It did stink after being locked up for over a month with no disinfectant added to the toilets to mask the stench, but after a few swift inhalations you got used to it. I watched Mum’s nose wrinkle in disgust at the smell. Nobody needed a closer look to actually check on the toilets – and anyway there was no going going back now.

Joe and Kath Davey followed us around, taking everything in but not saying much. Kath looked just as bewildered as Mum. Joe, who couldn’t write and who used to sign his cheques with a cross, relied totally on Dad to make notes and draw plans of the club.

No. 8, No. 10 and No.12

It transpired that they had bought the lease of not just No. 10 Mathew Street, the original Cavern Club, but also No. 8 and No. 12. The site was enormous, stretching almost as far as The Grapes on the opposite side of the street, the pub where the Beatles ad most of the Liverpool groups used to drink.

No. 12 Mathew Street was bricked up between the arches of the far left wall of the Cavern. We wouldn’t have known that it existed but for the fact that we had a copy of the building plans We decided to leave No. 12 sealed up for now. If we needed room to expand in the future, we had extra space available next to the old Cavern premises.

The small coffee bar at the front of the club was still in place, tired and dusty with plastic cups on the serving counter and litter strewn on the floor – remnants of the final marathon session on 28th February. Rodents had long since seen off any discarded food.

We made our way down the left tunnel to the band-room where, outside the door, was an upright piano. The bailiffs had either missed it or deemed it worthless. My sense of breathless anticipation returned. We followed Dad into the band room.

Had Dad really Bought the Cavern?

The Hideaways at the Cavern
The Hideaways at the Cavern

“Wow!” I was covered in goose bumps. This is where the Beatles and all those great groups had sat and joked with one another and changed into their stage clothes before climbing the two wooden steps through the arch on to the stage.

This was a first for me – I had never been in the band room, just sneaked an occasional peek from the tunnel. This tiny space, no bigger than eight by ten feet, oozed pure excitement. The walls were covered in signatures and quips from the Beatles, Gerry and the Pacemakers, the Mersey Beats, the Searchers, the Hideaways, the Fourmost, the Big Three, the Undertakers and many more. I was mesmerized by this scrawled record of rock history, which gave me hope that we could rekindle the spirit. Was this actually happening? Had Dad really bought the Cavern?

Bob Wooler

Bob Wooler with the Big Three in the Cavern
Bob Wooler with the Big Three in the Cavern

The turntable and microphone Bob Wooler used for announcements were still in place, under s dust blanket, to the right of the steps that led on to the stage. I couldn’t resist climbing on stage. Looking out into the dimly lit tunnel where I had often been packed in with hundreds of other fans, I finally experienced the band’s eye view of the Cavern.

The old cloakroom to the right of the stage, where Cilla Black used to take the coats, was still intact but Dad already had plans to relocate it upstairs in No. 8.

With all the light switches now working, we breathed a sigh of relief that we now had power in both buildings. Mum immediately contacted Merseyside and North Wales Electricity Board and asked them to send an inspector to read the meters to ensure we would only be liable for power consumed from that date.

Ventilation and Emergency Exit

Liverpool Corporation imposed strict conditions for building improvements. Most important was the provision of new toilets connected to the main drains and improved air extraction and ventilation so that it would no longer feel like a sauna when the club was full. Also crucial was a new emergency exit so patrons could be rapidly evacuated.

Cavern Club: The Inside Story

This is just one of the amazing stories in Debbie Greenberg’s book, Cavern Club: The Inside Story.

Get Your Copy Now

The Secret of the beatles?

The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show
The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show

A new kind of Beatles Book?

To date more than two thousand books have been published about the Beatles and the steady stream of new books continues. All these books describe the story of the Beatles.

Some superficially others in more detail.

Search for the Secret of The Beatles Success

Until now, there has been no book trying to discover the secret of the Beatles. A book trying to explain their off-the scale fame, trying to explain why they were so influential, and why their music, after all these years, still sounds crisp and fresh.

With a historic phenomenon like the Beatles, it is important to describe what happened, in order to document it for future generations.

But when you have done that, and with more than two thousand books we have done more than a thorough job, it is time to start explaining the phenomenon.

The book The Beatles Era, a Quest for the Secret of the Beatles, by the Dutch author Peter Eijgenhuijsen does just that.

Get your copy now

The Beatles Era
The Beatles Era

the beatles break-up? let it be.

Invitation the The Beatles "Let It Be"
Invitation the The Beatles “Let It Be”

Author David Stark, whose book It’s All Too Much has recently been added to the Beatles Bookstore, is a guest of Sean Styles on BBC Radio Merseyside at 12.20pm GMT tomorrow (9th April), talking about the Beatles break-up, which was effectively announced by Paul on April 10th 1970, as well as the Let It Be album & film.

“I was invited to the world premiere at the London Pavilion in May 1970 even though I was just 17 and still at school – this was a very nice gesture by Apple & the group, who I’m pretty sure sent me the tickets as an extra consolation prize for not being able to fulfil their promise of sending me free tickets to the Beatles’ abandoned live TV show in January ’69.

“Of course the group played the Apple rooftop show instead, while my eventual consolation prize was an advance copy of Abbey Road, plus a great letter from Peter Brown at ‘Beatles & Co.’ also signed by Ringo.”

Letter from Apple to David from Peter Brown, signed by Ringo
Letter from Apple to David from Peter Brown, signed by Ringo

“Bookstore members can also listen to & watch a short video on YouTube which is an excerpt from my narration of “It’s All Too Much” talking about these events with relevant images.”

It’s All Too Much book sample

GET YOUR COPY OF DAVID STARK’S “IT’S ALL TOO MUCH”

It's All Too Much
It’s All Too Much

23rd March 1961 – the beatles at the cavern

The Beatles at the Cavern in 1961
The Beatles at the Cavern in 1961

WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO SEE THE BEATLES AT THE CAVERN?

“I couldn’t get enough of the Cavern,” says Cavernite and author Debbie Greenberg. “I would go there for every lunchtime session from Tuesday to Friday. There were two sessions, from 12 to 1pm and 1.15pm to 2.15pm. The later one was always the best – and then I would go back again at night for more.

Debbie Greenberg
Debbie Greenberg with Paul McCartney

“We were greedy for our fix of non-stop beat music. The club didn’t look like much from the outside. After dodging the fruit lorries delivering to the Fruit Exchange opposite and the lunchtime shoppers, we queued to get in through a small door in the wall of a towering brick warehouse at 10 Mathew Street.

DOWN INTO THE CAVERN

“Once we descended a steep flight of well-worn stone steps to a small landing, where a few more steps led to a man seated at a small wooden table taking the entrance fees. I paid a shilling to become a member of the Cavern Club entitling me to an admission discount at each visit – which in my case was most days. The heat and noise would send your senses reeling as you stepped through those cellar arches. It was enthralling and unbearably hot.

“The Cavern’s identity began to change at the start of the new decade. Rock ‘n’ roll slowly replaced jazz and the Cavern became the heart that have Mersey its beat.

THE BEATLES DEBUT

“We watched the Beatles debut at the Cavern at the lunchtime session on 9th February 1961. We were blown away. The Beatles were different, their music was incredible, their appearance raunchy, their energy infectious. They just oozed excitement.

OFF TO HAMBURG

The Beatles on stage at the Top Ten in Hamburg
The Beatles on stage at the Top Ten in Hamburg

“Six week later on 23rd of March, after a lunchtime session at the Cavern, they jumped on a train at Liverpool’s Lime Street Station on their way to Hamburg for the second time, having previously played there in 1960. This time they sped off out of our lives for four months. We missed them but still went down to the Cavern to watch other groups, like Gerry and the Pacemakers, the Swinging Blue Genes, the Remo Four, the Big Three, Kingsize Taylor and the Dominoes and many more. They were all fabulous groups but they weren’t the Beatles.

BACK HOME AGAIN

“News soon spread around Liverpool that the Beatles were back from Hamburg and were to be guests of the Swinging Blue Genes at the Cavern on Friday 14th July 1961 for their welcome home appearance.

“Everybody wanted to see them. They were already by far the best group in Liverpool. Everything about them was exciting and intoxicating. They seemed to be infused with even more vigour and passion than before. The transformation was unbelievable, with their gyrating hips, humourous banter on stage and sexy outfits – clad in tight black leather with black Cuban heeled boots.”

The Beatles on stage at The Cavern in 1961
The Beatles on stage at The Cavern in 1961

“Their repertoire was now wide-ranging, making them stand out from other bands. Their sound was unique and addictive, their energy palpable. Liverpool had never seen or heard anything quite like them. Sue and I made sure we were at the Cavern for every one of their performances after that. They appeared every Wednesday night and every Monday, Wednesday and Friday lunchtime.

“The Hamburg connection proved the ultimate testing ground for many Liverpool groups. On some nights, groups would be expected to play at the Top Ten Club or Kaiserkeller or later on the Star Club for up to seven hours with only s ten-minute break every hour.

“Those sessions transformed Liverpool groups into totally professional outfits. None more so that the Beatles. It turned them from talented amateurs into the band of bands, as Klaus Voormann described them. The Cavern was soon packed every time they played. Bob Wooler booked them and they received £5 for their debut (£1 each). At that time, Stuart Sutcliffe was playing bass guitar, although not very well, and he would play with his back to the audience so no one could see how he was playing.”

READ MORE IN DEBBIE GREENBERG’S BOOK CAVERN CLUB: INSIDE STORY

Cavern Club - The Inside Story
Cavern Club – The Inside Story

David Stark – guided london tour

David Stark's Tour of London
David Stark’s Tour of London

This Sunday 14th I’ll be guesting on a special virtual Beatles Tour of London with guide & expert Richard Porter, visiting various iconic locations as mentioned in the book.  We’ll be “passing by” Abbey Road Studios, Hammersmith Odeon, the London Pavilion Cinema, the Saville Theatre, the Apple building at 3 Savile Row, John & Yoko’s flat at 34 Montagu Square among many other London locations, as well as Aunt Mimi’s house in Dorset.

The tour starts at 7.00pm GMT (12 noon EST), entry is £10. These Zoom tours are always a lot of fun and also give participants a chance to ask questions along the way. Book in advance here, your Zoom link will be sent before the tour starts.

Meet The Beatles: David Stark’s London, Sunday March 14th

www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/meet-the-beatles-david-starks-london-tickets-143756526641

Best wishes,

David

GET YOUR COPY OF DAVID’S BOOK NOW

It's All Too Much

LEt me take you down – travel with sandi

Exploring Fab Four Landmarks by Sandi Borowsky

What is like for an American Beatles fab to travel to the UK and walk in the footsteps of The Beatles? Meet Sandi Borowsky, who did just that and has captured the essence of Liverpool and London as she takes you on her pilgrimage.

Here is an interview with Sandi talking about her incredible book.

Review

“Sandi Anne Borowsky’s Exploring Fab Four Landmarks is spot on!
With vivid descriptions of her surroundings and adventures, plus colorful, close-up photographs (taken by the author, herself), we feel like we are traveling through England right alongside her!

She takes us on a tour of important Beatle landmarks, as well as places we wouldn’t expect to see (from a very special bathroom to a sudden shocker at Strawberry Fields! Read about it in this book!). We learn how resourceful Sandi is and of her absolute love, love, love of coffee…and ice (find out in these pages!)!

We come to know her friends or “mates” (both old and new) and the warmth and good humor of the British people, through Sandi’s retelling of conversations and events. One of Sandi’s friends and her grandmother even knew Ringo (Sandi’s favorite Beatle!)and his “mum!”

“Love one another” and peace us Sandi’s wish for us all. She hopes you have as much fun reading about her absolutely Fab adventures as she did having them!

So let the movie in your mind begin!”

Howard Cohen, November 29, 2019

GET YOUR COPY NOW

Exploring Fab Four Landmarks
Exploring Fab Four Landmarks

Beatles, cowboys & country music

Paul McCartney, Arthur Kelly, George Harrison and John Lennon
Paul McCartney, Arthur Kelly, George Harrison and John Lennon

The Country of Liverpool: Nashville of the North by David Bedford: A Review

“Fans of the Beatles are familiar with the group’s affinity for country music created in America. What many people don’t realize is that in the 1960s and up to today, country music experienced tremendous popularity in Europe as evidenced by its root in the skiffle craze that eventually developed into British rock and roll music. The interest of the Beatles and others is not as simplistic as records coming off the ships berthing in Liverpool. It is much deeper and more substantive.

“The earliest immigrants to the American colonies from Britain and Ireland brought with them folk songs, hymns, and primitive African blues. The songs told stories of love, war, legends, and more and were written with a regular rhythm generations remember and repeat easily. The early settlers came from Britain, Ireland, and Scotland, and found homes in the Appalachian Mountains. As time went on, the descendants moved to other parts of the new world and the songs began to evolve and develop into what eventually became all the splinter forms of the country music genre, from country and western to bluegrass and beyond.

1950s, Westerns and Cowboys

British children of all ages were obsessed with cowboys!
British children of all ages were obsessed with cowboys!

“Bedford expertly describes the growth of country music in the US and how it is also firmly formed in the roots of rock and roll of the early 1950s in the music of Buddy Holly, Johnny Cash, and others. Interest in the country and western genre in both America and Britain also included western movies and American cowboys and it was a regular occurrence for British youth to attend Saturday movies to revel in their interest. Many Liverpool bands took names that were reminiscent of the American cowboy, as well.

“The cowboy image quickly evolved into the British rocker. Country and western music did not disappear with the advent of the Liverpool rock scene. Far from it. It had a strong following in Europe that continued to grow, despite slipping into the background. Country stars such as Phil Brady blossomed and grew in their own right and there were many, many clubs that specialized in country music.

Posters, Tickets and Clipping

“Bedford presents the story in a way that keeps the reader interested. His research skills are deep and impeccable. He uses old photos and posters as key parts of the story with a charm that adds to the book.

Memorabilia from Phil Brady's scrapbook
Memorabilia from Phil Brady’s scrapbook

The Country of Liverpool
The Country of Liverpool

“David Bedford has tackled subjects, that other authors sidestep, in his books, such as Liddypool, The Fab One Hundred and Four and Finding the Fourth Beatle, and presents topics that are new to readers. The Country of Liverpool is no exception and cements Bedford’s standing as one of the top Beatles historians of today. An excellent book and an excellent story told in a way that is interesting, educational, and just plain enjoyable.

Another must-have for Beatles, and music, fans.”

Tom Aguiar

Adapted with permission from Octopus’ Garden fanzine, Volume 30, Issue #3, March 2021. Review by Tom Aguiar.

beatles Authors on the history of rock ‘n’ roll show

The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show
The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show

Hello everyone,

Here’s the recording of my radio show I did on the Beatles with four authors. I didn’t get a chance to record the show because it wasn’t connected, so one of the guests, Gary Fearon recorded it for me.

The radio show on The History of Rock and Roll today was interesting but got some good interviews with the authors.

David Bedford was good on his books on Liddypool on Liverpool and different landmarks, The Fab One Hundred and Four on the musical evolution of The Beatles, Finding the Fourth Beatle on different drummers and The Country of Liverpool on Country music. He’s really good to talk to.

Mark Brickley is excellent on Postcards From Liverpool, he met Paul McCartney and Ringo in Los Angeles in 2012, been to different Beatle Fests, different Beatle landmarks, he interviewed Jackie Lomax, James McCartney, Ron McNeil of the Fab Four, Pete Best and few others, and he discussed on the music as well.

Gary Fearon is informative the Beatles solos and behind the songs on his book After Abbey Road, and Paul Ferrante is interesting on 30 Minutes in Memphis based on Beatles live performances in Memphis from 1966.

I like you to please bear with me that there’s been some technical issues because of the new radio board and there’s some parts are not connected and not programed, you can hear me but I sound a little low, I sounded ok, you can hear music, but the background isn’t connected, only you can hear the front, and for the phone system I can’t answer or say hi to the guest, because when they call in they’ll go live on the air, there won’t be an opportunity to talk before they’re live on the air.
So I have them call on my cell to say hi and then have them call the radio number.
It was unexpected.

I like to apologize for this issue.
Thanks for your understanding.

LISTEN NOW

Meagan Pease

WHAM-O!!!

Dear Sir or Madam, will you read our books?

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