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(back to Music Travel)
Cavern Club (10 Mathew St)
The Cavern opened in January 1957 in the basement of an old warehouse. At first it specialized in "trad" and Dixieland jazz, which was very popular with students at the time. The club owners started booking young "beat music" groups to play during intervals between the jazz bands, but soon the rock bands were headlining, supported by the jazz bands.
A major reason for the Cavern's enourmous popularity with teenagers (who could not get into pubs) was that the club could not get a license to serve alcohol. The lack of a liquor license also gave the club more flexibility in opening hours, so the Cavern started running lunchtime shows during weekdays, which became wildly popular with young workers in the city centre. The Beatles played at these lunchtime sessions a couple of times a week.
The Cavern’s DJ, Bob Wooler, exposed the local musicians to the latest discs from America, and he also introduced the Beatles to Brian Epstein (who went on to take them to fame as their manager).
The Cavern was demolished in the early 70s (demonstrating an impressive lack of imagination by the city council) and the site is now a car park. In the 80s, the site was excavated, the original bricks retrieved, and the Cavern Club was reconstructed in loving, tacky, detail, as part of the nearby Cavern Walks shopping mall (next door at number 8).
Erics / Rubber Soul (9 Mathew St)
Eric’s opened in 1976 and immediately became the focus of Liverpool’s punk rock scene. The club attracted young local hipsters like Ian McCulloch (later with Echo and the Bunnymen), Bill Drummond (of KLF fame), Jonathon Cope, Holly Johnson (from Frankie Goes To Hollywood), and Ian Broudie (producer and mastermind behind The Lightning Seeds).
The club was located directly across the street from the car park that was once The Cavern.
Jacaranda Club (23 Slater Street)
Alan Williams opened the Jacaranda in 1959. He was hoping to cash in on the popularity of local beatnik coffee bars. To create the right kind of bohemian ambience in his new club. He got a couple of young art students to paint murals on the wall. The students were John Lennon and Stuart Sutcliffe, who played in a local band, the Silver Beatles, who were eventually hired to play as support to the clubs regular stars … a Jamaican steel band.
In the early 60s, a German club owner visited the Jacaranda to book the steel band to play at his club - the Kaiser Keller - in Hamburg. However, Williams persuaded him to also book some of his other regular bands, including the Silver Beatles. The long sets in the clubs of the Reeperbahn and tough German audiences transformed the bands that played there into very tight musical units.
When the Jacaranda club reopened in 1994, the new owner discovered Lennon and Sutcliffe's murals hidden behind layers of paint and had them restored.
NEMS (12-14 Whitechapel)
Brian Epstein was managing this branch of the family music business, when he noticed that a large number of young fans were looking for a record, recorded in Germany by an obscure local group called the Beatles. Epstein sought out the group, signed on as their manager, and the rest was history. The store now houses a hi fi shop.
Brian Epstein’s House (36 Falkner St)
John Lennon stayed here briefly with his bride Cynthia in 1962. During his stay, Lennon wrote the song "Do You Want To Know A Secret", which was reportedly about Brian Epstein.
Blue Angel Club (108 Seel St)
Alan Williams, who managed the early career of the Beatles before Brian Epstein appeared on the scene, owned the Blue Angel. The club, which opened in the late 50s, was targeted at an older crowd who liked modern jazz, and was one of the few places in town where musicians could get a late night drink after closing time. The club became famous for its late night jam sessions, and when Merseybeat became big, it was the place where agents from the London record companies courted local bands. After many years the bar is still open for business as the Blue Angel.
John Lennon and Stuart Sutcliffe’s Flat (3 Gambier Terrace)
Lennon and Sutcliffe shared this flat in the early 60s, while they were poor art students. Lennon and Sutcliffe had met each other at a local student pub, Ye Cracke (13 Rice Street). According to some stories, Lennon and Sutcliffe had to burn their furniture in winter just to keep warm.
The movie Backbeat - which was about the early years of the Beatles - included some scenes from Gambier Terrace, but they were filmed in a house further up the street, which had better views of the local church out the rear window.
Lennon and Sutcliffe studied art at the John Moores University (Cnr Hope and Mount St). Just down the road, Paul McCartney and George Harrison studied at the Liverpool Institute in Mount St.
Strawberry Field Childrens Home (Beaconsfield Rd, Woolton)
Strawberry Fields was a Salvation Army children’s home, located just around the corner from John Lennon’s childhood home at 251 Menlove St. Today, the original building has been demolished, but the gateway remains - the original name plate is still attached and the gate is covered in plenty of Beatles related graffiti.
Penny Lane (Mossley Hill)
Penny Lane is a busy shopping street just around the corner from Dovedale Primary School (Dovedale Road), which was attended by a young John Lennon. The street became the subject of a Beatles hit single in 1967. The barber shop, bank and firestation, which are all mentioned in the song, are real places in the street. In the forty years or more since the song was a hit, the street signs have been endlessly souveniered by fans, and the city council has now stopped replacing the stolen signs.
Eleanor Rigby's grave (St. Peter's Churchyard, Wooton)
Despite the existence of a real gravestone marking Eleanor Rigby’s last resting place, there is no evidence that this is any more than a co-incidence. Some have suggested that Paul McCartney named the song in tribute to actress Eleanor Bron - which he combined with the name of a wine and spirit warehouse he saw while visiting Jane Asher in Bristol. The fictional Ms Rigby is also commemorated by a statue in Stanley St, which was created by UK rock and roll pioneer Tommy Steele.
Paul McCartney’s House (20 Forthlin Road, Allerton)
This was Paul McCartney's childhood home from the age of 13; his family moved several times before they finally settled here (including spells at: 10 Sunbury Road, Anfield; 72 Western Ave, Speke; 12 Ardwick Rd, Speke; and 92 Broadway Ave, Wallasey). McCartney lived here with his father and brother Michael (his mother, Mary, had died in 1956). The British National Trust now owns the house.
John Lennon’s House (251 Menlove Ave, Woolton)John Lennon spent his childhood here with his Aunt Mimi following the divorce of his parents. His mother Julia looked after the young Lennon until he was 5 years old (at 9 Newcastle Rd, Mossley Hill), but eventually handed him over to the care of her sister. Lennon lived with his Aunt until he went to London in the early 60s. Some years later, Lennon bought his Aunt Mimi a bungalow in Bournemouth.
Lennon was born in the maternity hospital in 29 Oxford Street, and went to school at the Quarry Bank Grammer School (now the Caulderstones Community Comprehensive School, Harthill Rd)
Lennon regularly visited his eccentric mother at her house in 1 Bloomfield Rd, Garston, until she died in a road accident outside the Menlove Avenue house in 1958. The cover of the Oasis single “Live Forever” shows a blurred picture of the house.
George Harrison’s House (25 Upton Green, Speke)
This was George Harrison's childhood home (he was born at 12 Arnold Grove, Wavertree in 1943). The Harrison family moved to Speke in 1949, and lived here until 1962, when George bought the family a new home at 174 Mackets Lane.
Ringo Starr’s House (10 Admiral Grove, Toxteth)
This was Ringo Starr’s childhood home. Young Ringo (Richard Starkey) moved here with his mother when he was 3 years old. After the divorce of his parents, his mother could not afford the rent (the sum of 15 shillings a week) for their original house at 9 Madryn St in Dingle, where young Richard was born in 1940. The rent in Admiral Grove was a much more reasonable 10 shillings a week. Richard’s mother eventually remarried, and the Starkey’s lived here in Admiral Grove until 1963.
The Cashbah Club (8 Haymans Green, West Derby)
The club was opened in 1958 by Pete Best’s mum, in the basement of their rambling 19th century house. It was a regular venue for the Quarry Men and the Silver Beatles, and one afternoon in 1961, it was the scene of a fateful meeting between the Beatles and Brian Epstein, at which he convinced them to let him manage them.
Spike Island (Mersey Estuary)
The Spike Island festival in 1990 at Spike Island marked the zenith of the "baggy" generation: 28,000 attended the concert, to see the headliners the Stone Roses. Baggy referred to their taste for ill-fitting clothes. Their musical preferences were for indie guitar rock but with a funky rhythm section, and their drug preferences were for ecstasy.
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