Liverpool's Cavern Club marks 50th anniversary of Beatles’ first ever show
LIVERPOOL’S Cavern Club took centre stage when hundreds of fans marked the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ first ever performance at the iconic Mathew Street venue. The Mersey Beatles tribute band played a free one-hour lunchtime concert, similar to the one that the Beatles would have played on their debut on February 9, 1961. The milestone, which sparked worldwide media interest, was marked with a full day of events and entertainment at the Cavern.
Among the audience yesterday was Alex McKechnie, from Crosby, who as a 16-year-old messenger boy witnessed that first Beatles performance at the underground club. At that time, the stage act of the group - whose line-up still included drummer Pete Best - mainly comprised covers of rock ‘n’ roll standards by the likes of Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Buddy Holly.
Mr McKechnie said: “I can’t relate to it being 50 years ago. There were only about 30 people in the audience for that first lunchtime concert. “I had no idea then they would become so big. I was convinced they would become bus drivers! “The vogue at the time was for solo artists like Billy Fury and Marty Wilde, not groups. “But the Beatles were different. They had a rapport with the audience, and whereas all the other bands were well-behaved, the Beatles were all in leather and were more like the first ever punk band. “They were a lot of fun on stage, and they had a very carefree attitude. They didn’t just play the songs.”
Mr McKechnie, who went on to play bass guitar in a number of local bands, had already seen the Beatles in action several times at the Aintree Institute and Litherland Town Hall. He said: “The people who came to see them at the Cavern were the real fans. That’s why it was a good atmosphere.”
The concert on February 9, 1961, was the first of 292 appearances the Beatles made at the club. with which they are now so closely associated. Between that first performance, and the last one on August 3, 1963, they rose from a struggling band with a mainly local following to the brink of worldwide fame. The Cavern was the scene of some of the most important milestones in the Beatles’ history, such as their future manager Brian Epstein seeing them play for the first time, and fans’ anger at the sacking of Pete Best, who was replaced by Ringo Starr.
Cavern owner Dave Jones said that the first performance was “not only a key event in the club’s history, but the start of an association between the Cavern and the Beatles that will remain forever.” He added: “They became the Cavern’s house band. This is where they learnt their trade and the importance of the club cannot be underestimated.”
Beatles fans at the Cavern share their memories
Anne McKenzie, 25, from Aigburth said: "Most of my family used to come to the Cavern Club and met the Beatles, so I have grown up with their music. I love their music and I have everything that they have done. I am always listening to them. Other young people should listen to them because their music is timeless; it still relates to how people feel now."
Margaret Price, 64, originally from Edge Hill said: "When I left school at the age of 15 in July 1961 I got a job at Debenhams on Lord Street. "We heard the girls in the office talking about the Beatles so me and some others followed them to the Cavern Club in our lunch hour one day and found this underground world of rhythm and blues. It was just fantastic - like coming to a party for an hour every day. "We never thought for a moment they would be as big as they have become." "I fell in love with George Harrison and we followed them everywhere they went. It was just completely magical. We were captivated and we wanted to see them all the time. The music just resonated with us. We went to see them so much that we got to know them quite well when they were in the Cavern and Paul or George would always give us a lift home if they saw us walking."
"There was one time when I fainted at a gig because the Beatles had played at lunchtime and the evening and I didn't have time to eat. Paul and John ended up driving me home, but I was so frightened of what my Dad would do I wouldn't let them in. The next day, John embarrassed me from the stage by telling everyone the story." "They were so young when I knew them. John was always different and never ordinary, Paul was always very sociable and wanting to please everybody and George was just so mysterious - I thought he was wonderful. I never got to know Ringo and soon after they catapaulted to success." "When I look back now I can put myself right back to then and I can live in that magical time at the Cavern. It has always stayed with me and always will."
Hazel Price, 71, from Hough Green, Widnes said: "We were courting at the time that we first saw the Beatles at the Cavern Club on a Friday night in the summer of 1962. Back then when you came down the steps it was terrifying, they were so steep and it was pitch black inside. "I remember coming down the steps and it was absolutely buzzing with people. Everyone was jumping up and down to the music and we had never heard or seen anything like the crowds and excitement of the night. The music was just fantastic." "We are still really big fans of the Beatles and have come over here especially for today. This is the first time we have been back to the Cavern Club since we saw the Beatles all those years ago."
Brian Ellis, 60, from Heswall said: "We have always been fans of the Beatles and if you got a few pints down me I'd sing Hey Jude because it's my favourite. It really was ground breaking music - raw, pacey and with some real bite to it."
Sue Ellis, 60, from Heswall said: "We loved their music but we had no idea that they would be as huge as they have become and still be around all these years later."http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-news/local-news/2011/02/10/liverpool-s-cavern-...
50th anniversary of The Beatles' Cavern debut
9 February 2011 Last updated at 13:46 GMT Help It is the 50th anniversary to the day that The Beatles played their first gig - at the Cavern Club in Liverpool.
The original Cavern was demolished in the 1970s to make way for a shopping centre, but there is a replica club nearby and it is holding a variety of tribute events. Dave Jones, who organised the anniversary event, told the BBC: "It's great for us, it's great for the city and it just demonstrates how evergreen the music of The Beatles is."
One fan said he came to Liverpool 20 years ago after meeting John Lennon in a Tokyo coffee shop, and has stayed ever since. He told the BBC: "I especially like the lyrics, especially those that John Lennon wrote - they fit with oriental culture as well."http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-12401427