Monday, 16 January 2017

60 Years of The Cavern Club

The most famous club in the world, Liverpool's Cavern Club opened it's doors for the first time 60 years ago today.

The original club (now sadly demolished) opened in a basement of a fruit sellers warehouse on Mathew Street, a backstreet in Liverpool on the 16th January 1957. The club was originally a jazz club, inspired by the cellar nightclubs of Paris.

Later that same year, a local Skiffle and Rock and Roll band, The Quarrymen, were booked to play the club. On the 7th August, 1957 The Quarrymen - John Lennon's original band - played the Cavern for the first time. The band argued about their set list prior to the performance. Skiffle was tolerated at the jazz club, but Rock and Roll was a no-no. After the first song, Lennon called to his bandmates to start the Elvis Presley song, Don't Be Cruel. Banjo player, Rod Davis warned Lennon not to play it, but he started the song, forcing the others to join in. Halfway through the song a note was passed to the stage; 'Cut out the bloody rock and roll!'

Paul McCartney's Cavern Club debut was on the 24th January 1958, and George Harrison a bit later - on the 9th February 1961. Ringo Starr first played the Cavern as drummer for Rory Storm and The Hurricanes. When the club was sold in 1959 to Ray McFall, it was reopened as a beat and rock and roll club. The first beat night was 25th May, 1960, with Rory Storm and The Hurricanes on the bill.

The Beatles played the Cavern Club a total of 292 time - so the legend goes, and the club's name has become synonymous with Beatles and the start of Beatlemania. It was also at the Cavern Club that Brian Epstein first saw the band and decided he would become their manager.

Following the break up of the Beatles, nostalgia for the club waned and it was sadly closed in 1973 and the original club was filled in to make way for a new Mersey Rail line (which never happened).

But the story wasn't over for the Cavern. Liverpool FC player Tommy Smith took over the club in 1984 and it was rebuilt, using many of the original bricks. The club survived in its new guise until 1989 when financial reasons forced it to close again. It was taken over by present owners Bill Heckle and Dave Jones in 1991 and reopened.

In 1999 Paul McCartney returned to the Cavern to play his last gig of the 20th century in the place where it all began (well, nearly, just to the right of it a bit).

Today, to mark the anniversary a new statue of Cilla Black - who worked as a cloakroom girl at the club in the sixties before going on to be the only female singer managed by Beatles manager, Brian Epstein - was unveiled on Mathew Street, situated where the original Cavern Club entrance was. Artist, Tony Booth, who created many posters for the original Cavern Club and for Brian Epstein's artists, created the pictured poster to celebrate 60 years of the Cavern. Sadly, Tony Booth passed away last week, just days before the anniversary. His son Lee remarked how he began and ended his career with posters for the Cavern Club.

16th January 1957 - 16th January 2017. Here's to the next 60 years of The Most Famous Club In The World.