The Little-Known Story of the Re-opening of The Cavern on 23rd July 1966: An Eyewitness Account
The Cavern Re-opens
The Cavern had failed to keep going in the wake of The Beatles’ success with owner Ray McFall being declared bankrupt. In stepped Debbie’s father Alf Geoghegan and friend Joe Davey: Debbie was asked by her father if he should buy it! Guess what she said? A grand re-opening was planned.
The Prime Minister Harold Wilson and VIP Guests
After months of working all the hours that God sent the day of the re-opening of the original Cavern Club finally arrived. The Prime Minister Harold Wilson, resident of No 10 Downing Street would metaphorically turn the key to another famous No 10.. My dad, (Alf Geoghegan) and Joe Davey had bought the lease to the Cavern in March 1966 when the previous owner (Ray McFall) went bankrupt.
Saturday 23rd July 1966
The day arrived and the world’s press was waiting. The red carpet was laid down on Mathew Street and a red ribbon hung across the entrance to the Cavern. Inside, champagne was on ice and canapes were prepared. At 12.15pm the resident of No. 10 Downing Street would metaphorically turn the key to another famous No. 10. Liverpool’s famous pop shrine was to be given a new lease of life.
Excitement and anticipation quickly overcame our exhaustion when the police opened the barriers for the Lord Mayor’s shiny black limousine which pulled to a gentle stop outside the club. Excited chatter burst into a crescendo of cheers and whistles as the chauffeur opened the door for Harold Wilson to alight, followed by his wife Mary and his son Giles with the Lord Mayor close behind. The police held the press back as they surrounded the car and converged towards the entrance of the Cavern, all vying for the best shots.
The World’s Press
Mathew Street was bursting at the seams with throngs of people eager to catch a glimpse of the V I P’s and celebrities that were arriving for the grand re-opening. Harold Wilson, followed by distinguished guests made their way down to the Cavern stage for the speeches and the unveiling of the commemorative plaque. The World’s Press simultaneously switched on their light meters and the surge of electricity caused the lights to fuse.
Is There an Electrician in the House?
None of the microphones worked and my dad had to shout from the stage “Is there an electrician in the house.” From somewhere in the darkness a voice answered, ‘I know where the electrics are, I’ll sort it.” We never knew who this saviour was until fifteen years later: that is a whole story in itself!
The ceremony resumed and the celebrations began.
The VIP Guest list
An eighteen-hour star studded marathon followed in three sessions. The Hideaways kicked off the entertainment, followed by numerous local bands and acts included Billy J Kramer, Marty Wilde, George Fame, Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky Mick and Titch, The Bachelors, The Searchers ,The Fourmost, The Merseys, Solomon Burke, Rufus Thomas, The Scaffold, and The Pete Best Combo.