On 16th January 1957, The Cavern Club opened. Discover a rare photograph and the inside story of the world-famous Cavern Club.
“The above is the poster that Tony Booth produced for the Cavern Club during the summer of 2016 in preparation for the club’s 60th anniversary celebrations in January the following year. It really showcases the range of styles and creativity of a unique, unsung lettering artist who certainly played an important part in the marketing of music history. Posters and flyers were the social media of the sixties and they helped create the legends of the era.”
Debbie Greenberg saw The Beatles at every performance in the ’60s at The Cavern, before her father went on to buy The Cavern. In her book, Cavern Club: The Inside Story, she talks about the opening of the Cavern Club in January 1957.
The Opening of The Cavern Club: 16th January 1957
“Alan Sytner ran The Cavern strictly as a jazz club but starting in 1957 he allowed skiffle groups to play, getting very annoyed if any of them tried to play rock ‘n’ roll. The Quarrymen Skiffle Group, precursor to the Beatles, first played the Cavern on a date no-one can pinpoint in mid 1957 and again on 7th August 1957, only weeks after John Lennon met Paul at St. Peter’s Church Garden fete in Woolton Village.
John upset Sytner by playing rock ‘n’ roll numbers. Paul didn’t appear with them, though he’d just been recruited. He was away at Scout Camp with his brother Mike in Hathersage, Derbyshire. While at camp, Mike broke his arm when he fell out of an oak tree he was climbing.”
Rare, Unpublished Photograph of The Cavern
Debbie recently uncovered the following photograph of Joyce Lee, showing The Cavern Club in early 1957.
“In 1959, Alan moved to London and left his father, Dr. Joseph Sytner, to run the club until a buyer could be found. Ray McFall was a clerk with the Sytner family’s accountants and occasionally sat in at the Cavern cash desk. His offer of £2,750 to buy the club was accepted, and he officially took over the Cavern on 31st October 1959.”
The 60th Anniversary of The Cavern Club Opening
On the 60th anniversary of the Cavern Club in 2017, Debbie and her husband Nigel met with the star of the night, 70s pop star Gilbert O’Sullivan, who played a fantastic set in front of an exclusive packed Cavern crowd.
Debbie also posed with former Beatles Fan Club Secretary, Freda Kelly.
The Inside Story of The Cavern
To discover this and so many more amazing stories about the famous Cavern Club, read Debbie’s book:
Gerry Marsden was seen by The Beatles as one of their main challengers in the early days of Merseybeat in Liverpool. With his group, The Pacemakers, he was signed by Brian Epstein and recorded ‘How Do You Do It’, a song which had been rejected by The Beatles, taking it to the top of the charts in the UK and doing the same with his second record, ‘I Like It’. He became the only person to have topped the UK charts with their first three records when his uniquely emotional version of a ballad from the musical ‘Carousel’ reached Number One in the autumn of 1963.
You’ll Never Walk Alone
‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ is still played before every home game at Anfield Stadium, the home of Liverpool Football Club, but those of who were lucky enough to have been there the first time it was played will never forget it.
It was mid-October 1963. We stood on the Kop to watch Bill Shankly’s Liverpool team play against West Bromwich Albion, a team from the Midlands who were nicknamed ‘The Baggies’. It was a historic moment in the rise to glory of Liverpool Football Club.
“And now for our next record.” The voice of the announcer came from the Tannoy high above our heads. “It’s the first time we’ve played this one. Into the Top Ten at Number Seven, it’s Gerry and The Pacemakers with their version of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’.”
The song could have been written for us. The words carried a message that reached deep into the heart of every single Liverpool supporter. Twenty-five thousand voices on the Kop were united in belief as red and white scarves were held aloft between raised arms. It was the perfect anthem for a crowd.
Gerry and the Pacemakers
The roar as the record came to an end was for Gerry and The Pacemakers. It was for Liverpool Football Club and the mighty Reds. It was for our city. Every one of us knew at that moment that we were part of the greatest football family in the world.
From that day ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ was our song. Nobody was going to take it away from us. Ever. A magical genie had been let out of the bottle. Gerry Marsden had stolen the show.
His glorious anthem had transformed Anfield. The Baggies never stood a chance.
Bill Shankly and his mighty Reds were now invincible.
“Ferry ‘Cross The Mersey”
Gerry Marsden continued to live on Merseyside with his wife, Pauline, and their two daughters even after he had achieved international fame. In his self-penned hit song ‘Ferry Cross The Mersey’ he was clearly speaking from the heart when he sang, “This land’s the place I love; and here I’ll stay.”
He had fallen for Pauline, who ran his fan club, back in the sixties. She had previously been going out with George Harrison, but The Beatles had gone off to play in Hamburg. Gerry was a wonderful raconteur, and he would tell the story of how he spoke to George when The Beatles got home from Hamburg.
“I’ve got some good news and some bad news for you, George. The good news is that while you were away in Germany, I’ve fallen in love. The bad news is it’s with your girlfriend.”
Everyone said Gerry Marsden was a lovely man who remained unaffected by fame. Over the years he raised many millions of pounds for charity, supporting those who had been less fortunate than him in their lives.
Fifty-seven years ago this November (1963), December, into January 1964 and February, Beatles merchandising got jump-started.
NEMS (the band’s management company), not wanting to get involved with merchandising, organized a subsidiary company named Stramsact. They were to handle the U.K. and the rest of the world licensing rights for merchandise. Stramsact created its own subsidiary company called Seltaeb (Beatles spelled backward) to take care of licensing products in the U.S.
For the most part, starting in November, the licensing of everything from jewelry, dolls, shirts, games, egg-cups, blankets, chairs, food, perfume, fabric, garters, pompons, calendars, bedspreads, wigs, and much more started. Beatlemania, carried over to store shelves, was reaching a new level! Mass merchandising around the world would never be the same!
Back in the ’60s, parents all over the world were buying Beatles-related Christmas presents for their children and those children now have their own children and grandchildren too!
However, Brian Epstein was not the first candidate for the position of Beatles manager. A Liverpool-based promoter called Sam Leach, who regularly organised dances and live shows in local venues, frequently hired the Beatles. As he was giving them regular work and they were all very good friends, he suggested he should become their manager.
The group agreed and on the strength of a handshake with John Lennon, the group’s leader, he thought he’d secured the position as their first manager.
The Beatles Play Aldershot
On the 9th December 1961 Sam booked the Palais Ballroom in Aldershot, about forty miles outside London. He paid for a full-page ad in the Aldershot News and expected a good turnout for the gig. However, he had paid by cheque and the newspaper would not insert the ad until the cheque had cleared.
The cheque didn’t clear in time and on that night only 18 people turned up to see the Beatles.
After the hiccup at Aldershot everything was going very well for a few weeks until Brian Epstein stepped into the frame. The Beatles, ever eager to climb the ladder of success, were tempted by Brian’s obvious wealth and promises of fame and fortune. With a heavy heart John Lennon had to break the news to Sam that they had signed with “Eppy”.
It seems incredible to think that it is 40 years since John Lennon was senselessly murdered in New York outside the Dakota building. I was 15 at the time and remember it clearly. My alarm/clock/ radio went off at the same time every morning. This time, on 9th December in the UK, the usual jingle music wasn’t playing on BBC Radio Merseyside. I just heard the radio click, and a voice saying, “John Lennon is dead…..” The rest was a bit of a blur. I was stunned.
At Least He Was 40
It is strange but I remember thinking that at least he was 40. After all, I was 15 and 40 seemed old. When I reached 40 and had 3 young children, I realised how young 40 was. It made it all the more poignant.
Let us try and remember the positives about his life and what he contributed to this world and our lives.
At the Beatles Bookstore, we are fortunate to have several authors who have been writing about John and studying his life.
Jude Kessler has dedicated many years, and has many in front of her, as she covers his whole life, in her own unique style.
One of those people who knew John personally in his formative years is Michael Hill. Michael became friends with John at Dovedale School aged 5, and accompanied John to Quarry Bank School. It was Michael who introduced John to the music of Little Richard, a moment that John said changed his life. Read his incredible story in “John Lennon: The Boy Who Became A Legend.”
A brand new book to the Beatles Bookstore is “To Know John Lennon” by Aidan Prewett, which is a fascinating collection of interviews from people who personally knew John Lennon as Aidan tells us more about the real John Lennon.
If you want a different take on the John Lennon story, then Tony Broadbent’s great book, “The Only After 9:09”, named after John’s great rock ‘n’ roll song. It is a mystery story, joining fact with fiction into a great story!
Beatles Historian David Bedford to Release New Book
LIVERPOOL, England – Renowned Beatles historian and author David Bedford – a Liverpool native and lifelong resident of the city – is releasing his new book on 1 December, 2020.
The first of its kind, The Country of Liverpool delves into the strong yet often overlooked influence of country music on the Beatles. At the center of the story is Phil Brady, a Liverpool music legend who became the UK’s #1 country artist, and his personal scrapbook of memories.
“Phil’s story is essential to the country music scene in Liverpool,” says Bedford. “In fact, a lot of that story is untold – and its roots are at the heart of the Beatles’ recording career. The Quarrymen, the group that became the Beatles, were rooted in the skiffle music of Lonnie Donegan; the skiffle was rooted in American country and folk music. And John Lennon was a huge fan of country legend Hank Williams, too.”
That influence followed the band throughout their career and even after their breakup. Ringo Starr’s solo music probably leans the most towards country, though Paul McCartney and Wings and the others had their moments as well. As Bedford says, “Even die-hard fans of the Fabs and their solo work might be surprised at some of the country influences they didn’t realize were there.”
Bedford, who grew up in the Dingle near where Starr was born and also attended the same primary school as Starr and Alf Lennon (John’s father) did, has dedicated his life’s work to the music of Liverpool. He was a founder of the British Beatles Fan Club, is the author of multiple books including Liddypool, The Fab One-Hundred and Four and Finding the Fourth Beatle, and was associate producer on the film Looking for Lennon.
Kevin McManus, Head of UNESCO City of Music in Liverpool, wrote the foreword for The Country of Liverpool and said, “This is a must-read not just for those interested in country music but for anyone with even a passing interest in Liverpool’s rich music history.” Beatles scholar Kenneth Womack, author of Solid State: The Story of Abbey Road and the End of the Beatles and John Lennon: 1980, says The Country of Liverpool “provides a superb, granular history of Liverpool’s affinity for country music and roots music.” And John Lennon Series author Jude Southerland Kessler calls it essential for “Beatles fans and music scholars alike.”
The Country of Liverpool is 408 pages with full-color photos, and is available from Amazon and on beatlesbookstore.com. A select number of limited-edition signed copies are also available through: thecountryofliverpool.com
The Country of Liverpool
You can get the book in either Limited Edition Hardback, Softback and Black and White Softback too.
David Bedford is represented by 910 Public Relations, and is available for interviews, book signings, and speaking engagements. Copies of his book are available for review upon request. For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
BBC Radio Merseyside, still the most popular regional radio station in the UK, launched on 22nd November 1967. Debbie Greenberg remembers:
On 22nd November 1967, the Cavern hosted the launch party of BBC Radio Merseyside on the Mersey ferry, Royal Daffodil. The boat sailed at noon from the Pier Head. Dad (Cavern owner Alf Geoghegan) was the first person to be interviewed on Radio Merseyside by Keith Macklin.
An icy wind was blowing as we sat shivering on a wooden seat on the ferry’s top deck. It was slightly warmer on the enclosed lower deck where Keith and DJ Tony Wolfe played sixties music. Local groups – the Detours, Excelles, Tremors and King Bees – entertained us with live music, as guests drank and danced to keep warm.
Author Joyce Isaacson shares a glimpse into her fascinating book, based on the story of the band, Badfinger.
The Pink Panther? Peter Sellers?
What can possibly be in Heaven now? Will the Pink Panther strike again? Yes, this segment of Wish You Were Here: Heavenly Encounters was inspired by Peter Sellers. Also, this segment is inspired by Tom Evans, Pete Ham, Mal Evans and the Beatles.
“I’m so charged, I don’t feel I need to go home,” I told meself flying to Level Four. “I’m going to visit an old friend.” First, I meditated on the house. Nobody is home? I never see this in Heaven. I knocked as loud as I could.
The door opened.
I wanted to blurt out what I witnessed, but…
“Hi, Paul. A friend and I went to the park where you perform. How come we didn’t see you there?”
Paul Buyers wore a smoking jacket and a white scarf wrapped around his neck. Hmm. I remember the first time I met him in Heaven years ago. He had paintings he created of all his wives doing different household chores. I also recall that I convinced him to leave his house for a more a more lucrative venture doing Shakespeare in the park.
“Please, come in.”
We sat on his cloth-checkered couch.
“I haven’t even put the show together yet.”
“Why? You’re the master of comedy, I know.”
“Let me show you. If you come this way.”
I followed Paul into one of his bedrooms. Me mouth was agape because I couldn’t believe what I saw. “Blimey! I’m surprised! I see videotapes in boxes and a decent twenty-eight-inch TV and finally a VCR. When did you get all the VHS stuff?”
“A couple of months back.”
“What do they have?”
“I got all kinds of movies at this place called Video Unlimited; you won’t see them anywhere else. Let me put one in the telly.”
“Does it show actual programs from Earth?”
“No, just recorded things.”
I sat on a chair as Paul pressed the play button. I don’t dare tell Paul about me angel telly since Gabriel only picked a select few for me to tell.
The program came on. Right away, Duck Broth.
“Yes, the Larks Brothers at their finest, Tomas.”
“So this is what you have been doing instead of your show at the park?” Me eyes stared at the screen.
“Don’t worry, my boy, inspiration comes in many ways.”
“I hope you’re right.” What will Gabriel think of me watching the telly? Will he come back? I can’t believe Paul and I are watching a tape that Paul owns while looking at the TV screen. The funny part is, I don’t need me tea break on Level Four. While watching, the laughs unfolded.
“This is a new, interesting situation. Where on your level can I find this place, Paul?”
“After the movie, I will take you.”
I reached into me pocket and pulled out some gold coins. “How much do they cost, besides the telly and the VCR?”
“The gold coins in your hand will cover it.”
I put the coins back in me pocket and put the gem in me hand, lighting up the whole room. Wow, it even makes the telly look dull.
“Put whatever it is away,” Paul said, a bit annoyed. “I had never seen a stone that bright before. What incarnation was that?” Paul asked as he paused the tape.
“It’s a stone. I picked it up on a beach on Level Five. It’s brighter than a diamond. I wanted to make it a necklace. The jeweler said it can’t be cut. Sometimes, I think it resembles the jewel in the movie Rescue. There’s more to the story. We should watch the tapes. It will help you find material for the one-man show at the park.”
“Can I see that diamond again?” Paul Buyers asked me before we left his house to go to the Unlimited Video.
“Sure.” I took the stone out of me pocket again. “It isn’t a diamond, although, it sure shines like one and/or more. I’m told it is some kind of brilliance stone from somewhere around the Garden of Eden.”
Paul put his face near the rock. “You know, you could fetch some pretty pounds for this, Tomas.”
“Even though I almost bloody well tripped on this stone, I don’t want to sell it. I’ve grown very comfortable with it.”
Paul stood up. “It sounds reminds me of the gem in The Pink Tiger.”
“Yes, I remember the movie.”
“Quite.” Paul made a small grunting noise.
I put the stone back in me back-left pocket.
“Shall we go, Tomas?”
“You know the directions; you lead the way.”
Instead of flying, we walked to Level Four. I remember, Al Alvers, a friend of The Silver Crickets. He produced Str8Up’s first album and is on me level, and I have not seen him in a while. I didn’t include him in me rock finding and, of course, I was stuck in that cave for three months. He must think I fell off the face of Heaven. Maybe he is just busy producing groups.”
“You’re kind of quiet, me friend. Is all this overwhelming you?”
“Oh, I was just thinking about a friend I haven’t talk to in a while.”
“Oh, you mean Paul Lamb.”
“That’s always on me mind, Paul, but I was thinking about Al Avers.” I told Paul what happened with Paul Lamb.
You have to think positive. Heaven can surprise you. Well, we are almost there.”
I can’t believe this is happening. Can this be true, videotapes in Heaven? Can Paul Lamb be there?”