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Liverpool and The Beatles

The Beatles

With no multi-channel television, internet, iphones and ipads or online computer games and ‘Facebook’, it’s not hard to understand the importance of music to teenagers lives in the 1960’s, when none of the technological wonders that amuse us today existed. Music’s effect on popular culture is arguably something that only happened with the arrival of Elvis Presley in the 1950’s - before that it was just something to dance to and nothing else – people didn’t wear it on t-shirts or write it on their school exercise books!

In the  1960’s  we saw a pop band emerge that would transform the whole music industry, the way music sounded and how it impacted on our culture in terms of fashion and attitudes.  There was nothing like this band before them and there will probably never be anything like them again – ever. They were The Beatles – four lads from Liverpool who shook the world.

John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison began life performing in the house of drummer Pete Best’s in West Derby Village. It wasn’t until they started playing at the Cavern Club on Mathew Street in the city centre that they really started to be noticed – now with new drummer Ringo Starr.

The Cavern, a version of which still exists today (rebuilt a little further up Mathew Street) – was a dark, damp, hot and noisy club in a cellar in the 60s – perfect for the type of fast rock and roll that The Beatles began their careers playing. Lots of the other famous names of the day performed at The Cavern including Cilla Black. With their increasing local popularity they were soon signed up to a record company by manager Brain Epstein and in 1962 recorded their first single “Love Me Do” which started what became known as ‘Beatlemania’ – a huge popularity and fascination that had never been seen before or since.

Within a year of leaving the Cavern Club they had become a global phenomenon – creating masterpiece records that still sell in their millions today.  They have sold over 1 billion records and CD’s and have become the most loved and remembered group of musicians ever and it all started in a cellar in Liverpool. It just wouldn't be right not to feature the Beatles on this site so without any attempt at telling the 'Beatles Story' here is just a glimpse of the bands history.

The Beatles History

On July 6, 1957, John Lennon, the leader of a band called the Quarry Men, was introduced to Paul McCartney, through a mutual friend, Ivan Vaughan, at Woolton Parish Church, where the Quarry Men were scheduled to perform. Impressed by McCartney's ability to play and tune a guitar, Lennon soon asked McCartney to join the Quarry Men. McCartney accepted. Shortly after McCartney joined the group, he began to recommend an old school friend to Lennon. Lennon refused to even audition this friend because he was only 14. However Lennon finally relented, and on February 6, 1958 (19 days short of his 15th birthday) he auditioned George Harrison. After playing Raunchy Harrison became the newest member of the group.

 Johnny and The Moondogs.
Silver Beatles 1960 

The Beatles with Stuart Sutcliffe

Toward the end of 1961, Brian Epstein, whose family owned the furniture/record store NEMS, began to hear about the Beatles and their record My Bonnie, on which they performed as the backup group for another English performer Tony Sheridan. Brian checked into the record, and ordered some to sell. To Epstein's surprise, the records sold as fast as he could put them on the shelves. Eventually he decided to go see this group for himself. When he arrived at a club known as The Cavern he was amazed at what he saw. was full of guys like that at the time, but the Beatles had something else - charisma. By January 1962, Brian was officially their manager, putting the boys in suits, but keeping their long hair, gave them a look different from any other group around.

Stuart Sutcliffe
On April 10, 1962, bad news was forthcoming when the group heard that Stuart Sutcliffe had died in Hamburg of a brain haemorrhage. The following day, the Beatles flew to Germany and opened a seven-week engagement at Hamburg's Star Club. After several failed attempts at different recording studios, the Beatles were able to land a recording session with Parlophone. There was only one problem, the group' drummer Pete Best had to go. Not wanting the task of firing a friend the group asked their manager Brian Epstein to perform the task. Many have called them cowards, others thought they were jealous of his good looks, in truth, he didn't have the talent required of the group. The Beatles asked Ringo Starr, drummer for Rory Storm and the Hurricanes to join the group. Unfamiliar with this new drummer, Beatles producer George Martin refused to allow Ringo to drum and a session drummer named Andy White played for the group. Andy's career with the Beatles was short lived as the group insisted on Ringo for all future recording and  performances. With Ringo at their side the Beatles went on to conquer Great Britain. The craze that they caused was nothing Britain had ever experienced.

The Beatles in Hamburg, Germany - 1960 image

Towards the end of 1962, the Beatles broke through to the UK charts with their debut single, Love Me Do, and played the Star Club for the final time.

The debut was important, as it was far removed from the traditional "beat combo" sound, and Lennon's use of a harmonica made the song stand out. At this time, Epstein signed a contract with the music publisher Dick James, which led to the formation of Northern Songs.

On February 13, 1963 the Beatles appeared on UK television's Thank Your Lucky Stars to promote their new single, Please Please Me, and were seen by six million viewers. It was a pivotal moment in their career, at the start of a year in which they would spearhead a working-class assault on music, fashion and the peripheral arts.Please Please Me, with its distinctive harmonies and infectious group beat, soon topped the UK charts. It signaled the imminent overthrow of the solo singer in favour of an irresistible wave of Mersey talent. From this point, the Beatles progressed artistically and commercially with each successive record. After seven weeks at the top with From Me To You, they released the strident, wailing She Loves You, a rock song with the line Yeah, Yeah, Yeah that was echoed in ever more frequent newspaper headlines. She Loves You hit number 1, dropped down, then returned to the top seven weeks later as Beatlemania gripped the nation. It was at this point that the Beatles became a household name. She Loves You was replaced by I Want to Hold Your Hand, which had UK advance sales of over one million and entered the charts at number 1.

Releasing album after album and motion pictures, The Beatles were indeed on top of the world. But in August 1969 Lennon announced that he wanted a divorce from the group, the band was finished. He insisted, however, that the break up remain quiet. It was kept hidden until April 10, 1970 when McCartney decided to formally dissolve the group. Many blamed the break up of the Beatles on Yoko Ono and Linda McCartney. Others felt that the Beatles had run their course, and it was just their time. Whatever was the cause of their break up, it ended an era but left behind a legacy that will never be forgotten.

Liverpool Town Hall Civic reception 10th July 1964

Robert F Edwards
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