Beatles History Blog

Mike McCartney at Strawberry Field

Strawberry Field Liverpool is excited to announce the opening of Mike McCartney’s photographic journey of the Strawberry Field redevelopment, ahead of his book launch later this year.

Mike McCartney's Photos on Display at Strawberry Field, Liverpool
Mike McCartney’s Photos on Display at Strawberry Field, Liverpool

Unique Mike McCartney photographs go on display at Strawberry Field, Liverpool 

Strawberry Field Liverpool is excited to announce the opening of Mike McCartney’s photographic journey of the Strawberry Field redevelopment, ahead of his book launch later this year.  

Known professionally as Mike McGear, Mike is an outstanding performing artist and rock photographer who was a member of the groups The Scaffold and Grimms.   

Mike was persuaded by Lady Judy Martin to chronicle the redevelopment of Strawberry Field. This is his story: 

“I was asked by the Salvation Army…well mainly by Lady Judy Martin OBE actually (or Jude as I affectionately call her) to record the demolition of the old Strawberry Field homes and the rebuild of a brand new facility on the same site. At first I was reticent, as it was my brother’s group that made the Strawberry Field song famous…not my Scaffold comedy group, but when I discovered the amazing work that the Sally Army (as I affectionately call them) quietly get on with, I agreed to undertake the 2 to 3 year task! The trouble was how do you make the bashing down of old houses and the building of a new bricks & mortar one interesting to the public?! Well…here’s a start ! with this mini-exhibition of images to whet your appetite…hope you(s) enjoy! and hope u enjoy the Cafe, and the  Shop…AND the gorge gardens with the original Red Gates! ps if you see a lone Scouser roaming round the grounds in a mask…it’s not the Lone Ranger, or Donald Trump…it’s ME! Don’t 4get to say hello!” said Mike *McGear McCartney BEM  

Kathleen Versfeld, Mission Director at Strawberry Field said:  

“We are blessed to have the support of such wonderful people as Lady Martin and Mike McCartney. I know our visitors will be delighted to see Mike’s photographs. We can’t wait for the full collection to be made available in his planned book.” 

The new Strawberry Field Visitor Centre
The new Strawberry Field Visitor Centre

A special exhibition featuring some of Mike’s photographs will go on display in the Strawberry Field centre, alongside the visitor exhibition. The exhibition covers the interwoven stories of the Salvation Army, the children’s home, John Lennon’s childhood and the writing of Strawberry Fields Forever. The addition of the Mike McCartney photographs will offer a unique opportunity to visitors, with a never before seen insight into the redevelopment of the current site. Mike’s book, filled with an inspiring collection of images, will go on sale later this year. 

As a special offer to celebrate the re-opening, Strawberry Field’s visitor experience is priced at £7.00 per person until the end of September and under 16’s accompanied by an adult go free. NHS workers and a guest can also visit free of charge. Visitors will be guided around the stunning interactive exhibition where “Nothing is Real” using interactive media guides. The tour continues into the magical gardens where John played as a child, allowing visitors the opportunity to explore, unwind and dream in the place, which inspired one of the 20th century’s greatest songwriters.  

All funds generated by the visitor experience go towards funding a Steps to Work programme for young people with learning difficulties and other barriers to employment. 

To ensure safety during this time of Covid-19, visits to Strawberry Field must be booked in advance on 

Location – Beaconsfield Rd, Woolton, Liverpool L25 6EJ 

About Mike’s photos 

  • Mike has been documenting the new vision for Strawberry Field since the demolition of the 1970s building and the development of the new current centre. His photographs offer an insight into the new development, the vision and the journey, which have never been seen before. 
  • The exhibition on display showcases a selection of Mike’s images, with the rest being curated into a book, to be released by Mike later this year. 

Visiting Strawberry Field 

  • The centre is a welcome addition to Beatles tourism in the city, with responsible tourism at its heart. It is home to a brand new visitor experience, complete with visitor exhibition, café, shop and gardens, as well as a Steps to Work programme, which aims to help young adults with learning difficulties and other barriers to employment into work. 
  • Tickets to the visitor exhibition must be booked in advance and are currently on sale at a reduced price. More details available at 
  • The site is a short walk away from John Lennon’s childhood home in Menlove Avenue where he lived with this Aunt Mimi. 
  • Strawberry Field is open and accessible to everyone, thanks to its Changing Places toilet facilities please see our recent release: 

    Visiting during Covid-19 
  • Strawberry Field is running a special offer through August and September, all tickets must be booked in advance online
  • Visitor experience adult entry is just £7.00 at this time 
  • Under 16’s go FREE with paying adult 
  • Free admission with ID for NHS worker and guest – Strawberry Field is participating in Britain Unites – A nationwide initiative to thank our NHS, from the UK travel & tourism industry 
  • Imagine More Café is part of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme on Tuesdays/Wednesdays through August 
  • The popular Imagine More Café at Strawberry Field is open but with a difference. Tables must be booked in advance by calling 07407088968.  

Health and Safety 

  • We’re GOOD TO GO – Strawberry Field has been awarded Visit England & Visit Britain’s industry wide health & safety standard for visitors known as “GoodToGo”  
  • Visitors must book ahead to enable the team to control capacity across the exhibition, garden and shop. 
  • Social distancing of 2m must be adhered to on site. The site is currently operating limited visitor numbers. 
  • Temperature checks are being conducted upon entry. 
  • In line with the current UK government guidelines regarding wearing of masks, all visitors to the exhibition and retail store are kindly asked to wear a face covering in these areas. 
  • Media guides are disinfected before each use and touchscreen bags and disposable ear covers are available. 
  • Sanitising towers are available throughout the building.  
  • All facilities including toilets undergo strict cleaning throughout the day. 
  • Full details of health & safety standards can be found on the website

The Salvation Army and Strawberry Field 

  • The Salvation Army is an international Christian church and registered charity, which has been transforming lives for more than 150 years. Working in 131 countries worldwide, The Salvation Army offers friendship, practical help and support for people at all levels of need. In the UK and Republic of Ireland this work includes more than 750 community churches and social centres. Registered Charity Nos. 214779, 215174 and in Scotland SC009359, SC037691. For more information visit the website 
  • Strawberry Field was purchased by The Salvation Army in 1934. The organisation opened the site as a children’s home in 1936 and for nearly 70 years the site supported some of Liverpool’s most vulnerable children until it closed in 2005. 
  • A young John Lennon lived nearby and played in the grounds. It eventually inspired him to write the song Strawberry Fields Forever. 

    The grounds and interactive exhibition 
  • Visitors through the exhibition learn about the site’s history and connection with The Salvation Army, including exclusive insights into the former Salvation Army children’s home, John Lennon’s childhood and the writing and recording of the famous song, as told by John’s close friends and family. 
  • The Imagine More Café offers a tempting menu including breakfast, lunch and snacks, sourced from local producers. 
  • The shop stocks a wide range of exclusive Strawberry Field memorabilia. An online shop is also available 
  • The gardens, where John Lennon used to play as a child, offer a calm space for reflection and a place to explore spirituality. 

    Responsible Tourism 
  • Profits from the visitor centre help to fund the Steps to Work programme, which supports local young people, aged 18-25 with learning disabilities and other barriers to employment. The programme aims to remove barriers and support trainees into employment. The 12- 18 month employability programme includes an 8 week ‘work readiness course’ followed by 3, three month work placements with a local employer, which could include the Strawberry Field shop, visitor exhibition, café or garden. These work placements include two days a week at work and two days a week at The City of Liverpool College. 

The Virtual Chicago Fest Starts Today! My Schedule

The Virtual Chicago Fest starts today at 5pm (Chicago Time CDT) so it is gonna be busy at also slightly weird to make sure I turn up at the right time!


My first panel is tonight at 6.30pm (CDT) which is 12.30am (UK time), where I will be talking with Jim Berkenstadt (The Beatles Who Vanished) and filmmaker Simon Weitzman. Our discussion is about Filmmaking – our current and future Beatles film projects. Some exciting news and information to share.

The Virtual Chicago Fest - FRIDAY
The Virtual Chicago Fest – FRIDAY


Saturday is going to be busy, but great fun.

Firstly, the formal announcement of the new book I have written with Richard Porter and Susan Ryan: The Beatles Fab Four Cities.

Find out what it is all about at 1pm (CDT) which is 7pm (UK Time).

Then straight over to the Main Stage where I am interviewing Carol Phillips, daughter of the legendary Lord Woodbine, whose story has rarely been told, and then it is often wrong!

Don’t miss that at 2pm (CDT) which is 8pm (UK).

And finally on Saturday, a fantastic panel, which has been titled: “Black Artists’ Influence on The Beatles from Liverpool to the US”.

This should be an incredible panel presentation and discussion.

Virtual Chicago Fest - Saturday Schedule
Virtual Chicago Fest – Saturday Schedule


I get Sunday off so I can just enjoy the rest of the Fest! Hope you do too.

The list of special guests is amazing!

The Fest Guests
The Fest Guests


Virtual Tours? This is the future………now!

“A fantastic experience everyone should take the virtual tour ……it’s the future now.”

Liverpool Virtual Tours
Liverpool Virtual Tours

After my first two Virtual tours, the reviews are in. See what you think:

“If you ever wanted an exclusive Liverpool/ Beatles tour and were unable to get over to Liverpool, this is the place to go.  Renowned Beatles, biographer, David Bedford, takes you and a virtual tour from Penny Land to the Cavern Club in 2 hours of photos, videos and maps.  

But it’s not just a tour! David gives you insight into the homes of the Beatles, their early life and how they met.   Even if you have visited Liverpool in the past, like I have, you will not get the facts that David provides.  Brush up on your Beatles history, as David has some questions during this interactive tour! All and all this is a 5 star guided tour!!”

Join us on one of our Virtual tours around Liverpool, whether you want to discover the Beatles Liverpool or find out more about the history of Liverpool, with Liddypool author and guide, David Bedford.

“A fantastic experience everyone should take the virtual tour ……it’s the future now.” Plastic EP, Australia

“An excellent experience and a wonderful diversion from the pandemic. David is engaging, funny and endearing – highly recommended.” William Sibley

How does It Work?

When you join a tour you will be sent a unique link to join using Zoom. David will then conduct the tour live with you with the chance to interact, ask questions and be tested yourself!! Places are limited per tour, unless you want your own, VIP, tour, which is just for you.

“Fantastic job!!  I learned lots of new details!  Did not know the 27 Cedar Grove location!  Some other details that were really fun to know.  I will sign up again.  Great job.” Paul Clinton

Convinced? Come and Join Me

Come to Liverpool Virtual Tours and book your online Beatles tour now.

David Bedford

Join Me For a Virtual Beatles Tour of Liverpool

John Lennon on the Isle of Man
John Lennon on the Isle of Man

During the lockdown and pandemic, Beatles fans are not able to visit Liverpool for a Beatles tour.

So, instead of welcoming fans to Liverpool, I am hosting Virtual Beatles Tours of Liverpool online. The first ones are coming up this week, on 15th and 18th July, as well as 1st August.

Lots more tours to follow too.


Who is the “Man on the Flaming Pie?” How did Beetles become Beatles?

Paul McCartney's Flaming Pie
Paul McCartney’s Flaming Pie

Flaming Pie by Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney’s 10th studio album, Flaming Pie, was released in 1997 and one of his best albums, in my opinion. In 2020, it is about to be reissued with a deluxe boxset.

Changing Names – from beetles to beatles

When John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison decided they had had enough of the name “Quarrymen”, it was their latest recruit, Stuart Sutcliffe, who suggested a new name. In tribute to their hero Buddy Holly, whose group was called The Crickets, Stuart suggested “Beetles”. But how would it be spelled? In 1960, the group used many spellings, and variations, of the name Beetles. Interestingly, before calling themselves The Crickets, Holly’s group considered the name “Beetles” too. (Fab one hundred and Four)

the Beetles “Myth”

One often quoted myth can be debunked, which was quoted by George Harrison. The name was not inspired by the 1953 Marlon Brando film The Wild One, which refers to the rival gang led by Lee Marvin as “The Beetles”. The film was banned in England by the British Board of Film Censors until 1968.

The Man on the Flaming Pie?

So what about the “Man on the Flaming Pie”? Although Paul McCartney had an album and a song; “I’m the Man on the Flaming Pie”, he wasn’t. On Page 2 of the first issue of Bill Harry’s Mersey Beat, John Lennon wrote his biography of the origins of the group, which Bill Harry titled “Being a Short Diversion on the Origins of Beatles (Translated from The John Lennon).”

In it, Lennon wrote:

Many people ask what are Beatles? Why Beatles? Ugh, Beatles, how did the name arrive? So we will tell you. It came in a vision – a man appeared on a flaming pie and said unto them ‘From this day on you are Beatles with an ‘A’. Thank you, mister man, they said, thanking him.

Meet the real “Man on the Flaming Pie”

For years, many have scoffed at this as a bit of fun. However, there is a true story behind the “man on the flaming pie”, as detailed in The Fab one hundred and Four. His name is Royston Ellis, and he was a Beat Poet who visited Liverpool, and was backed by a group, known as The Beetles, at Liverpool University. I interviewed him for the book, and he told me the story of what happened in Gambier Terrace, looking every bit like a Beatnik paradise. He sat there with John, Paul, George and Stu, and discussed the possibility of them coming back down to London to back him as a beat group.

While there, they had an experience with a drug, of sorts, remembered by John later:

Beat Poet Royston Ellis, whom The Beetles, not Beatles, supported in Liverpool. Ellis was the man on the flaming pie
Royston Ellis

‘By the way, the first dope, from a Benzedrine inhaler, was given to The Beatles (John, George, Paul and Stuart) by an (in retrospect) obviously ‘English cover version of Allen – one Royston Ellis, known as beat-poet (he read poetry whilst we played 12-bar blues at the local in-place!).
So give the saint his due.
John Lennon

Record Mirror where Royston Ellis refers to the Beatles, but showing the spelling of The Beetles, and how they could come down to London
Record Mirror mentioning The Beetles

Whether it was under the influence of “Vicks” or not, Royston Ellis and John Lennon had a discussion about their group’s name. In a newspaper report, Ellise refers to the group The Beetles, and how he is hoping to bring them down to London as his backing group. “John and George liked the idea, though Paul and Stu were less keen.”

Beetles with an “A”

“I suggested that since they liked the beat scene and they were coming to London to back me, a beat poet, why not spell it with an ‘A’? I had bought a chicken pie and mushrooms for dinner. I might have had the money but I did not know much about cooking, and the result was that I overcooked the mushrooms and burnt the chicken pie. I have always assumed that gave rise to John’s reference to ‘a man on a flaming pie’ suggesting they call themselves Beatles with an A.” (Fab one hundred and Four)

And very soon afterwards, they settled on Beatles with an “A”, never to be changed.

For the full story of the Beatles names in 1960, and the interviews, see The Fab one hundred and Four: The Evolution of The Beatles.

David Bedford

Liddypod 11 – The Country of Liverpool

The Country of Liverpool
The Country of Liverpool

Liddypod 11

Liddypod is back after a short absence during the coronavirus pandemic and we have started with this new episode. My partner in podcast, Paul Beesley, interviews me as we discuss my upcoming new book, “The Country of Liverpool”. We have a good old chinwag about the country music scene in Liverpool, skiffle, The Quarrymen and The Beatles and how their roots are firmly in country music.



It Was 20 Years Ago Today – Fibromyalgia

Liddypool: Birthplace of The Beatles by David Bedford
Liddypool: Birthplace of The Beatles by David Bedford

It was 20 years ago today (almost) that, after being treated for rheumatoid arthritis for 2 years I went to see my doctor as I was ill yet again. He signed me off for 1 month. A month? That is ridiculous. But he was right. He hadn’t been trying to tell me for a few months that I couldn’t keep working like I was doing. I was a physical wreck. I hadn’t slept well for over 18 months, was constantly tired, my body was aching and I couldn’t think straight. That was June 2000 and I never returned to work again.


I was another 12 months before I was properly diagnosed. The consultant who had been treating me since September 1998 for rheumatoid arthritis was wrong. A second opinion from another consultant re-diagnosed me in less than 30 minutes. He told me I had fibromyalgia. Eh? Never heard of it!

YNWA – You’ll Never Work Again

My doctor told me straight, having been off work for 12 months already, that I would not be returning to work. I was, by then, 36 with three young children. Retiring at 36 sounds ideal, but I had worked since leaving school and was suddenly unable to work.

What is Fibromyalgia?

I am still learning about it all these years later. It is a syndrome which means that there are a collection of symptoms gathered together under the one umbrella term of fibromyalgia. The definition is fibro= fibrous tissues of the body, my=muscles, algia=pain.

The definition is given as: “A rheumatic condition characterized by muscular or musculoskeletal pain with stiffness and localised tenderness at specific points on the body.”

Main symptoms of the condition are:

1. Chronic fatigue

2. Joint pain, stiffness and disorders

3. IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)

4. Poor circulation and tingling in peripheries especially fingers and toes

5. Forgetfulness – short-term memory especially

6. Sleep disturbance

7. Lack of concentration

What I have learned over the years is that everybody who suffers with fibromyalgia has a variation in the symptoms.

My Fibromyalgia

What this means is that I have chronic pain in every muscles and joint in my body, 24/7, 365 days a year. However, the rheumatism aggravates it when it is just damp or raining. This causes every joint in my body to ache even more than it does usually.

One of the biggest changes was going from playing football, cricket and golf to not being able to walk 50 yards without pain in less than 2 years. That was a dramatic change to my life.

I haven’t had a good night’s sleep since the summer of 1998 – that is not an exaggeration either. I have tablets to help me sleep every night, but I never feel that I have had a good night’s sleep and always wake with a “hangover”.

I take about 16 tablets a day to keep me going and, after a while, you gain a tolerance to the pain, because you just get used to living with it. The associated conditions for me are generalised arthritis in my joints, diabetes (type 2) and high blood pressure, which all developed with the fibromyalgia.

The Cure?

There isn’t one! All they can do is treat the symptoms, hence the tablets.

Prescribing The Beatles

My doctor, the late Peter Griffiths, was an amazing support with coming to terms with living with fibromyalgia. He told me look for something that interested me and finding a new way to spend my day. It was then that I started writing about The Beatles and Liverpool for the London Beatles Fan Club, which became The British Beatles Fan Club, for whom I still write. Dr Griffiths encouraged me to pursue that, which got me out of the house and engaged mentally in following this as a hobby. It wasn’t until 2007 that I got a publishing deal for my first book, that became Liddypool. Little did I know how much that would change my life.

I loved the process of researching and writing Liddypool, so I wrote The Fab One Hundred and Four: The Evolution of The Beatles, again to critical acclaim. By now I was being invited to Beatles conventions in the UK and US especially. Amazing. I have jointly published a book with Beatles Biographer Hunter Davies, Finding the Fourth Beatle and working on 4 book projects at the moment. I was also engaged as the historian and Associate Producer for the documentary, Looking for Lennon. What a privilege.

Living with Fibromyalgia

So I still live with fibromyalgia and that is not going to change. Many people now know more about the condition than they did 20 years ago, though I am still learning about it. Celebrities like Morgan Freeman and Lady Gaga have helped to raise the profile of the condition, though there is still so much ignorance surrounding it, especially among the medical profession, which is tough.

BUT! I have made so many friends through having fibromyalgia and we help each other. That support is essential because it is a hard condition to describe. You can’t show somebody an x-ray, a blood test, a scan, to prove you have the condition. There is no physical test you can show anybody that says you have fibromyalgia.

Family and Friends

The support of my wife Alix, my daughters and extended family have been invaluable. I could not have done it without them. It also sorted out who those genuine friends were, because they were the ones who stood by me. Again, that has been invaluable. I have had so much encouragement and support it is truly humbling. Don’t be afraid to reach out.


if I hadn’t fallen ill and had to give up work, I would never have become an Beatles historian, author and researcher. I LOVE what I do. It has become my therapy and the best way to deal with a condition like fibromyalgia. I can do what I want, when I am able, and rest when I need to rest. Sometimes I over do it, and that knocks me out for a few days. But there is hope, if you are a sufferer too.

The End

As some Liverpool band once sang; “And in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love you make”.

All You Need Is Love – and a pocketful of pills too!

Useful Links

More information about fibromyalgia from the NHS is here

Help and support is available from charities like Fibromyalgia UK

How Little Richard Inspired The Beatles

Long Tall Sally by Little Richard
Long Tall Sally by Little Richard

With the news of the sad death of Little Richard, what was the true impact of this rock ‘n’ roll icon?

Long Tall Sally

“Long Tall Sally” by Little Richard was covered so many times over the years, but it was especially important to John Lennon, which is featured in a fantastic book by Michael Hill.

John Lennon: The Boy Who Became A Legend
John Lennon: The Boy Who Became A Legend

A few years ago, some friends of mine told me about Michael’s story and how it should be published, as it was such a good story. I was therefore more than happy to help it get published. His book, “John Lennon, The Boy Who Became A Legend“, tells the story of how Michael bought “Long Tall Sally” on a school trip to Amsterdam, brought it back to Liverpool and played it for John Lennon at Michael’s home. John’s reaction was silence, followed by an incredible quote:

John Lennon on Long Tall Sally

“Little Richard was one of the all-time greats. The first time I heard him, a friend of mine (Mike Hill) had been to Holland and brought back a 78 with ‘Long Tall Sally’. That’s the music that brought me from the provinces of England to the world. That’s what made me what I am.”

Michael’s story is unique, having been a friend of John’s from the age of 5 at Dovedale School continuing through Quarry Bank too. I recommend the book, which you can get here.

Long Tall Sally and The Beatles

The Beatles with Little Richard
The Beatles with Little Richard at New Brighton Tower Ballroom

The song features at some many important events throughout Beatles history. When Paul auditions for John on 6th July 1957 at the Woolton Fete, Paul performed some of “Long Tall Sally”. On the stages of Hamburg, it was an important part of their set.

When The Beatles returned from Hamburg in 1960, their iconic performance at Litherland Town Hall began with “Long Tall Sally”. When The Beatles travel to America in February 1964, they perform “Long Tall Sally”. At their last concert at Candlestick Park on 29th August 1966, their final song was “Long Tall Sally”. The song, in a way, defines The Beatles career.

Little Richard was a true rock ‘n’ roll hero for The Beatles and the rest of the world too.

When I Met Little Richard

I had the quite unexpected privilege of seeing Little Richard in person when I travelled to Memphis and Nashville a few years ago. I had heard that he was living in the Hilton Hotel in Nashville. I had checked my suitcase into the Hilton while I was sightseeing, before heading to Memphis.

When I checked my bag out, the door of the hotel opened, and in came Little Richard! I was dumbstruck, which doesn’t often happen. He was now in a wheelchair, but wearing a smart three-piece suit and tie, being pushed in his chair. I looked at him and he just looked up and smiled, so I smiled too and then he was wheeled away. I had seen one of my musical heroes close up. If only had the presence of mine to speak to him, but I was so shocked at seeing him I was unable to speak!

Little Richard will forever be connected with the birth of rock ‘n’ roll and The Beatles.

David Bedford

The Beatles Bookstore

The Beatles Bookstore
The Beatles Bookstore

Just Launched

So, if you haven’t seen it yet, I have launched a new website last week called The Beatles Bookstore. It is a collaboration between Beatles authors to support each other, and to showcase out books to the world!

We have author pages for each of the authors signed up and there are already nearly 30 books in the store.

Covid-19 Social Distancing

In the current climate, there are so few stores open and all the Beatles festivals have been cancelled, so this is a great opportunity for us authors to, hopefully, sell our books!

Free Book!

Just for singing up at The Beatles Bookstore you will be entered into a draw to win a signed copy of my book, “The Fab on Hundred and Four” for the month of May 2020.

Open 8 Days A Week

Please share the link and spread the word – The Beatles Bookstore is open 8 Days a Week!

Thanks for the support

David Bedford