Music is probably the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions Liverpool. The Guinness Book of Records even declared the city the “World Capital City of Pop” in 2001, due to the fact that “acts from Liverpool have had more UK chart number one hit singles (54) per capita than any other city worldwide.”
“Merseybeat” is what made the city’s music scene iconic. It can be defined as a “hybrid of American Rock & Roll, R&B, and British skiffle” and flourished in the beginning of the 1960s. Billy Fury and The Beatles somehow started it before other bands like Gerry & the Pacemakers, Billy J. Kramer, and The Searchers imitated them. Famous artists emerged in Liverpool in the following decades including Cilla Black, A Flock of Seagull, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, and more recently Miles Kane. Their respective careers have too often been overlooked in favour of The Beatles’, but it is important to highlight the fact that they were all heavyweight in the music industry. Indeed, Billy Fury “scored more hit 45’s in the 60s than the Beatles,” The Searchers “knocked The Beatles off the number one spot” of the record chart in 1963, and Frankie Goes to Hollywood “dominated British music in 1984” with hits such as “Relax” and “Ferry Cross the Mersey.”
The Beatles’ Liverpool
Despite the fact that a lot of artists have begun their career in Liverpool, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr are the ones associated with the city in our collective unconscious. The whole Liverpool City Region – Liverpool, Halton, Knowsley, Sefton, St Helens, and the Wirral Peninsula – is filled with various locations that have a connection with The Beatles, and numerous places to visit such as The Beatles Story, the world’s largest permanent exhibition purely devoted to the lives and times of The Beatles. It is important to lay emphasis on the fact that even when it comes to The Beatles, numerous locations are often overlooked, and there is to see all around the city. A large portion of Liverpool’s economy is revolving around The Fab Four, as “their music heritage generates seventy million pounds” for the local economy every year. Beatles guided tours, and most importantly the International Beatleweek Festival have indeed been attracting thousands of tourists for around twenty years.
Liverpool City Centre
Some of the most iconic Beatles landmarks are within walking distance of the city centre including Rosebery Street – where The Quarrymen, John Lennon’s first band, performed for the first time in June 22, 1957 – the Liverpool Town Hall – where thousands of fans greeted The Beatles when they returned to Liverpool on July 10, 1964 – and the Hard Day’s Night Hotel – the world’s only Beatles inspired hotel, opened in 2004. The most unexpected places can happen to have relations to The Beatles. Indeed, Lennon Studios, Liverpool University’s student accommodations used to be the Liverpool Maternity Hospital, where John Lennon was born on October 9, 1940.
You can also have a drink in the same pubs where The Beatles hung out and sometimes performed such as The Jacaranda and Ye Cracke, which was frequented by students from the Liverpool Art College, including John Lennon and Stuart Sutcliffe – who were living nearby at 3 Gambier Terrace – as well as Cynthia Powell, whom Lennon married in 1962 at the Mount Pleasant Registry Office before moving to 36 Falkner Street, which belonged to their new manager, Brian Epstein. Epstein’s name may not ring any bell, but he has had a tremendous impact on The Beatles’ career from the moment he took them under his wing, and Liverpool paid him homage on February 22, 2015 with a plaque memorializing his birth home, 4 Rodney Street. The city had already dedicated the European Peace Monument to John Lennon on what would have been his 70th birthday.
But the neighbourhood that looms the largest in The Beatles’ legend is probably the Cavern Quarter, where the famous Cavern Club is located. It is incredible to think that it has seen 292 performances by The Fab Four! It is opposite the Cavern Pub, which was inaugurated in August 1994 as a tribute to its illustrious neighbour. The Cavern Quarter has also many Beatles-themed pubs to visit including The White Star and The Grapes were John, Paul, George and Ringo would often drink after their gigs at the Cavern. Several Beatles-related sculptures are scattered around Mathew Street including Tommy Steele’s representation of “Eleanor Rigby” and Arthur Dooley’s “Four Lads who Shook the World”, which is made of a “Lady Madonna”, small dolls of the band, a verse from “Imagine” and a passage from The Bible.
John Lennon’s mother, Julia, lived with her partner and their daughters at 1 Blomfield Road in Allerton. Her son often paid her a visit and held some of The Quarrymen practice sessions in her home before she died on July 15, 1958. She was buried in Allerton cemetery soon after.
Paul McCartney’s childhood home, 20 Forthlin Road, is also located in this suburb.
The Epstein Guest House belonged to Brian Epstein’s father, Harry, before it was turned into a hotel. It is located next to the Anfield Stadium.
Brian Epstein’s childhood home, 197 Queen’s Drive, is located in the affluent suburb of Childwall. Most of The Beatles’ successes can be attributed to this renowned manager and music entrepreneur, and as Paul McCartney said: “If anyone was the Fifth Beatle, it was Brian”.
Ringo Starr was born Richard Starkey on July 7, 1940 in the south of the city at 9 Madryn Street. His family moved to 10 Admiral Grove when he was six, and attended the nearby St Silas Primary School until the age of fifteen. His mother, Elsie, worked in the Empress Pub, which was also located on Admiral Grove. Ringo Starr used a picture of this pub on the cover of his 1970 album “Sentimental Journey”.
Brian Epstein was found dead in August 26, 1967 as a result of an “incautious self-overdoses” of sleeping pills. He was buried in the Everton Cemetery in Fazakerley.
George Harrison’s family moved to 174 Macket’s Lane in Halewood in 1962, and lived there until 1965. Fans quickly found this address and often harassed them.
Stuart Sutcliffe was a very gifted painter. He attended the Liverpool Art College with John Lennon. They quickly became best friends and moved in together. After he sold his first painting, Lennon convinced him to buy a bass so that he could join The Beatles and go to Hamburg with them. This is where he fell in love with a young photographer called Astrid Kirchherr, and decided to settle with her in Germany. He died of a cerebral haemorrhage in April 10, 1962, and was buried in Huyton Parish Church cemetery.
The Quarrymen recorded what would become The Beatles’ first original song in Percy Phillips’ Recording Studio in Kensington. Interestingly, “In Spite of All the Danger” is the only song to credit only Paul McCartney and George Harrison. At that time, the band was also composed of John Lennon, Colin Hanton on drums and John Lowe on keyboard.
Kensington also has streets named after John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr and Pete Best, The Beatles’ first drummer.
Litherland Town Hall is located in the north of Liverpool. The Beatles performed here right after they returned from Hamburg in December 1960. Fans got so hysterical that it has often been said that it is where Beatlemania was born. Ironically, it is now a hospital.
Paul McCartney’s world famous song “Penny Lane” has been inspired by an actual street and district located in the Mossley Hill suburb of Liverpool. As Paul McCartney said in Barry Miles’ Many Years From Now, “Penny Lane was the depot [he] had to change buses at to get from [his] house to John’s and to a lot of [his] friends. It was a big bus terminal which [they] all knew very well”.
Paul McCartney also sang in the choir of St Barnabas Church which stands at the junction of Allerton Road, Smithdown Road, and Penny Lane. His brother’s wedding took place in the same church in 1982.
Several schools The Beatles attended are also located in Mossley Hill, including Quarry Bank Grammar School (later renamed Calderstones School) and Dovedale Junior School, which were respectively attended by John Lennon from the age of eleven, and John and George Harrison.
The Beatles performed at Lathom Hall under the name “The Silver Beats” in May 14, 1960. They played here ten more times later in January and February 1961.
The Blenheim Lakeside Hotel is situated close to Sefton Park, Liverpool’s largest park. It was the family home of Stuart Sutcliffe in the 1960s. His family continued to live there after he passed away in Hamburg.
From 1946 to 1955, Paul McCartney’s family lived in two different houses in Speke: 72 Western Avenue and 12 Ardwick Road.
George Harrison’s family also moved to the area in the 1950s, and settled on 25 Upton Green.
George Harrison was born on February 25, 1943 in the house his parents settled in after their marriage in 1930, 12 Arnold Grove. Harrison’s siblings – Louise, Harry and Peter – were also born at home.
John Lennon’s first home, 9 Newcastle Road, is also located in the same suburb.
Beatles’ fans regard the Casbah Coffee Club as the place where everything truly began for The Beatles. It belonged to the mother of the band’s first drummer, Pete Best, so they got to decorate it and perform here often before leaving for Hamburg.
Paul McCartney’s mother, Mary, died of a breast cancer on October 31, 1956 and was buried in Yew Tree Cemetery in West Derby.
Ringo Starr played with The Beatles for the first time in August 18, 1962 in Hulme Hall, Port Sunlight.
John Lennon spent most of his childhood in Woolton. He stayed with his aunt Mimi and her husband George in Mendips, a beautiful semi-detached house on Menlove Avenue. Throughout his time here, Lennon often played with his friends in the garden of the Strawberry Field Salvation Army orphanage, which was located on the corner of the street. It later inspired him to write the song “Strawberry Fields Forever”.
It is to be highlighted that the most important meeting in the history of pop music happens in this suburb, as John Lennon and Paul McCartney met during St Peter’s Church’s dance on July 6, 1957. The graves of Eleanor Rigby and John Lennon’s uncle, George Toogood Smith, can also be found in St Peter’s graveyard.
- “Cities around the UK are being urged to promote music heritage tourism in the same way as Liverpool.” The Beatles Story., 2015. Web. 17 Nov. 2015.
- « Frankie Goes to Hollywood. » AllMusic., 2015. Web. 27 Nov. 2015.
- « History. » Billy Fury Story. 2015. Web. 27 Nov. 2015.
- <"Merseybeat." AllMusic., 2015. Web. 14 Oct. 2015.
- « Music of the UK. » China Daily., 2015. Web. 23 Nov. 2015. <http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/hellochina/hellobritain2009/2009-08/29/content_8632690.html
- « The Searchers’ Story. » The Searchers. 2015. Web. 27 Nov. 2015.