Join David Bedford and Richard Porter as they take you on a magical mystery virtual tour through some of the famous, and not-so-famous, venues that the Beatles played.
Starting at Quarry Bank School for their first performance and ending with The Beatles on the rooftop at Savile Row, you will see rare and previously unpublished photographs and stories, as well as a couple of rare video interviews too.
The Country of Liverpool is an exhaustive work linking Country and Western and Rock’n’Roll, between America and Liverpool.
John Lennon biographer Jude Kessler has reviewed “The Country of Liverpool” for Culture Sonar:
“For 50 years, the well-worn tale of 1950s American music imported into the port city of Liverpool, England, via the Cunard Yanks has been the standard explanation for the “rise of the Beatles.” But in his new book, The Country of Liverpool, author David Bedford (Liddypool, The Fab One Hundred and Four) views this simplistic theory as a bit like putting the cart in front of the horse.”
Jude concludes that:
“The Country of Liverpool is an exhaustive work linking Country and Western and Rock’n’Roll, between America and Liverpool. Bedford’s book proves that long before The Beatles set foot on the Ed Sullivan Stage on 9 February 1964, the United States and Liverpool were already joined by a common love affair with Irish-inspired Bluegrass, Folk, Skiffle, and Country and Western, all of which led directly to the birth of Rock’n’Roll and the Mersey Beat.
This is that complete story.
-Jude Southerland Kessler (author of The John Lennon Series)”
Ever wanted to travel to see The Beatles’ Liverpool, Hamburg and London?
Now is your chance.
Join David Bedford and Richard Porter as they take you on a virtual trip to walk in the footsteps of The Beatles through Liverpool, London and Hamburg.
24th January 2021: Venues Rare and Famous
Virtual Beatles Tour of some of the famous, but some lesser known, venues that The Beatles played in their career in both Liverpool and London.
28th February 2021: Visit Hamburg
Join Beatles guides David Bedford and Richard Porter as they take you on a virtual tour around Hamburg. Visit more than just the famous Grosse Freiheit locations, as we take you on a Virtual Tour of the studio where The Beatles recorded “My Bonnie” and where many iconic Beatles and Stuart Sutcliffe photographs were taken.
One of Sam’s closest friends and allies was Terry McCann, who acted as bouncer, driver and, on 9th December 1961, drummer with The Beatles in Aldershot. According to McCann: “I started working for Sam after going to Samson and Barlow’s one night. I went up the stairs and there was Sam being threatened by these two men, and one of them had Sam by the throat. Well, crash, bang, wallop and one of them tumbled down the stairs, so Sam offered me the job as a bodyguard.” (DB interview 2015) It was through his contacts that Terry arranged the gig at Aldershot’s Palais Ballroom for Sam and The Beatles. Sam needed it to work out well but, as history has recorded, it was anything but a success.
The Palais Ballroom, Aldershot
The Beatles’ Aldershot disaster is the stuff of legend. The Palais Ballroom was situated on the corner of Queens Road and Perowne Street. The original venue had burned down and a new building was erected on the site. Sam Leach had billed the event as a “Battle of the Bands”:
Although two other bands were also billed to appear, this was a bit of advertising bluff as no groups other than the two headliners had been booked. Featuring a bar and a buffet, entrance was only five shillings. It all sounded so good.
Unfortunately, as history records, only around 18 people turned up to see The Beatles. Not even The Jaywalkers showed. According to Sam, “If you believe everyone who said they were there for The Beatles, we would have had 500 people!” The failure has been blamed on Sam’s “bad cheque” not clearing with the newspaper which led to the lack of advertising, but Sam denies that. There was no problem with the cheque, other than Sam being a new customer, so the newspaper didn’t run the advert.
A new twist in the story occurred in 2013. Sam explained: “Alan Hope from Screaming Lord Sutch’s band told me that they had a gig the same night near ours in Aldershot, and they played regularly in the same venue we were playing in. So he went round tearing my posters down, and rang the local paper and said the gig had been cancelled. That’s why the other band didn’t turn up. He was boasting to my mate Terry McCann, and I saw him here recently, and he admitted it to me in front of my cousin; then of course he tried to backtrack.”
Terry concurred that there was a deliberate attempt to sabotage the performance. “Sam went out and found that the posters I had put up a few days before had been torn down. They unloaded the equipment, and set up the gear, waiting for the crowds to flock through the doors. And they waited, and waited. Sam Leach’s answer was to head over the road to the pub and invited people to come over. He brought them bottles of beer that can be seen in Dick Matthews’ historic photographs. Leach also stopped people in the streets to come in and see what was happening, to try and make the numbers up. It didn’t work.”
To add to the merriment, Terry McCann had a brief stint as the Fourth Beatle. “Terry got up and played drums,” recalled Sam. “It might have been in the interval, because The Beatles played for three hours with only a quarter-of-an-hour break, and they were all messing around.” (DB interview 2015)
McCann laughed when he started retelling the stories surrounding that famous event. “That was a debacle,” he exclaimed. “We left Liverpool at 6am, and of course there were no motorways back then. We went through a small village on way down, and saw a traditional tea room with the ‘old dears’ (old people) in there. We went in, the lads in their leather jackets and jeans, and we got chased out! But John had a pin on him, so he scratched ‘The Beatles were here. John.’ That could be worth a few bob if that was still there!”
Shall We Dance?
Pete Best, like the other Beatles, remembered the night with some fondness due to the fun they had: “Halfway through one number, George and Paul put on their overcoats and took to the floor to dance a foxtrot together, while the rest of us struggled along, making enough music for them and the handful of spectators. We clowned our way through the whole of the second half. John and Paul deliberately played wrong chords and notes and added words to the songs that were never in the original lyrics.” (Beatle!)
Pete Best Sings
But then Pete decided it was time to sing, which meant they needed a drummer. Usually this was Paul, but not on this occasion. Terry McCann had very clear memories of the night: “Everything had gone stupidly wrong, but the lads did their usual stuff. Anyway, Pete Best had got up to sing a couple of songs, so I got on the drums and played for a couple of numbers and we just messed about a bit. That was a night to remember. I can’t remember what songs we did, just the usual chart songs from the set.”
This wasn’t the first time that Terry had sat in as a drummer, though he never considered himself a drummer or played in a group. “I lived in the Isle Of Man with my auntie when I was evacuated,” Terry said. “I got stuck in the Scout Cubs, and they had a full kit there, so I played drums. When I was in the army, I used to box for the Battalion. Upstairs, over the gym, was where the band practiced, so I was shown how to play drums; four to the bar with the right hand, one with the left, and so I used to go up and play there.
“I knew how to keep a simple beat, but I wouldn’t class myself as a drummer. When the drums were set up and the place was empty, I would get behind the kit and have a good old bash. I could do a great solo and could give it some stick when I was on my own! I played at a couple of weddings, but never regularly in a group. I got the nod to sit in for the odd 20 minutes or something, like with Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. I played at the Tower Ballroom when Ringo was the drummer. His girlfriend was there and he fancied a break, so I jumped up and drummed for around 20 minutes or so to give him a break.”
After the gig and Terry’s brief appearance as The Beatles’ drummer, there was a football match with ping-pong balls. “Lennon kept kicking me,” said Sam, “and I was on his side! One girl said to me ‘I’ve never seen a band like this before’. I think word got out for the next week.”
There were a few locals who turned up and were less than impressed. Irene Stoker was a regular at The Palais in those days, but didn’t stay for long that night. “It was probably quite early and there weren’t many people there,” she recalled. “The Beatles were sort of strumming on their guitars. They were on the edge of the stage and one of them even got off at one point. One of them called The Palais a village hall and we said it’s not a village hall and that we had some good groups up here. We stayed for two or three dances, but got fed up with them and left. We didn’t think they were very good. I just thought they were showing off. So we went to the nearby Havelock pub for a drink and then on to the Central Club and ended up having a good night.”
That was the last she expected to ever hear of The Beatles, but of course they would soon appear in the national and international media. “The next time I heard about The Beatles was when I saw a magazine or newspaper article about them,” she said. “I suppose it must have been 1963. At first I thought it can’t be that group that played up The Palais, but I recognised them from the picture.” She did notice that there had been some changes from the group that had played at the Palais. “Paul McCartney had hardly changed,” she observed. “I remember thinking, well they won’t last very long!” Obviously not a good judge, because she walked out of the concert in Aldershot, and then wrote them off in 1963. However, at least, along with only a few people, she could claim to have been there. “It’s a funny thing, whenever I’ve told people that I saw The Beatles play in Aldershot before they were famous, they have always looked at me as if to say The Beatles wouldn’t have played here.” They did, but maybe they shouldn’t have played there. (GetHampshire 9th December 2016)
The Last Throw
But Lennon wasn’t finished and wanted to leave his mark on Aldershot. Sam recalled: “John was going to throw a brick through the window and I stopped him, and I said, ‘I’ll do it’, and took the brick off him, but then Paul stopped me from throwing it!” By anyone’s standards, it was a disaster and they were rightly frustrated. However, as a testament to their professional attitude, the Beatles played their whole set and entertained the few people who had turned up.
The Blue Gardenia?
Terry McCann had made friends in London, one being Liverpool star Brian “Cass” Casser (also known as Casey Jones), who now lived in the capital city. “We went on to see Cass,” said Terry, “and I got us all some fish and chips from a van, then we went to Casser’s club.” Casser, who had left Liverpool under a cloud of “woman troubles”, had started running rock ‘n’ roll nights at the Blue Gardenia club, which became the All-Nighter after midnight. Although it has been claimed that all of The Beatles got up on stage that night, Terry remembers it clearly: “George was the only one who got up and jammed that night, because he was a talented guitarist who could play with anyone.”
The Beatles Return to Liverpool
After a long night, it was time to head back to Liverpool. “Sam had hired this car with a driver, and I had the rented van,” recalled Terry. “John and Paul sat up front with me, with George in the back and poor Pete on the floor of the van! Then we ran out of petrol; it sort of ‘filled up again on its own’ at 3 o’clock in the morning!” It wasn’t quite a miracle, though, as Terry explained. “In the old petrol pumps, there was a little round piece of tin with one screw in it at the front of the pump. If the electrics went wrong, you could loosen the screw, and then, using the winding handle from car, you could manually get the petrol. So John Lennon got the handle and we filled the van again. I said that I had a fiver left and put it through the door; at least that is how I tell it!” It was an eventful day. (DB Interview 2015)
Read the full interview and more about The Beatles in Aldershot in Finding the Fourth Beatle
Beatles Experts present an interactive “Real John Lennon” Virtual Tour
Renowned Beatles experts and tour guides David Bedford and Richard Porter are joining forces for a special, one-off, joint virtual tour, where they take you on a trip through John Lennon’s Liverpool and London, sharing little-known stories and facts through a live presentation, videos, photos and audio.
This interactive Virtual Tour is on Sunday 29th November at 7pm (UK TIME)/ 2pm (EST) and lasts for approximately 2 hours. There will be a chance to answer some quiz questions and have a chat about what John Lennon means to us all.
We will be covering:
Lennon’s homes in Liverpool and London
How he met Paul, George and Ringo
The songs about Liverpool and London life
Moving to London
Abbey Road, Please Please Me and beyond
How his death changed Liverpool and London forever
The impact and legacy of his life and work
Come and Join Us
Come and join our special presentation and celebrate the life of John Lennon.
When John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr first appeared on a record – in October 1960
Wally Eymond, whose stage name was Lu Walters, was the bass player and second vocalist from Rory Storm and The Hurricanes. Walters was an accomplished ballad singer with the group and the opportunity to commit his voice to record was too tempting to resist.
During his band’s eight-week residency at the Kaiserkeller in Hamburg, Allan Williams arranged a recording session for Saturday 15 October 1960 at the Akustik Studio, which was a small booth on the fifth floor of 57, Kirchenalle (The Klockmann-House). Williams asked John, Paul and George from The Beatles to play and sing harmonies for Walters on the recording.
Pete Best was in town supposedly buying drumsticks, so Ringo played drums, which was the first time John, Paul, George and Ringo played and recorded together. There are conflicting reports as to which songs were recorded and these may never be resolved as the documentation and the original discs have long since vanished. Beatles historian and author Hans Olof Gottfridson has studied the evidence for that day.
In a 1963 edition of Mersey Beat, it is claimed that three separate acetates with the individual songs “Fever”, “September Song” and “Summertime” were recorded. Gottfridson concluded that “Fever” was probably recorded at the session, but there is no evidence that it made it onto disc. However, there is a photograph in Allan Williams’ book, The Man Who Gave The Beatles Away, which shows a 78 rpm record with the words “Beatles and Wally Demo” and “Summertime” across the label. In Mersey Beat, both Lu Walters and Johnny “Guitar” Byrne from the Hurricanes supported the claim that “September Song” was also recorded.
Bill Harry, writing in Mersey Beat, recalled that, to his knowledge, John, Paul and George only backed Lu on “Summertime”, whereas Johnny “Guitar” Byrne and fellow Hurricane members Ty O’Brien and Ringo Starr backed Lu on “September Song” and “Fever”.
“The B-side of the acetate contained no music,” observed Gottfridson. “Instead, it comprised commercials for goods sold by the Klockmann Company who had a leather bag store in the bottom floor of the building.”
Investigating these early recordings often means relying on the memories of men who were swept up in the craziest times of their young lives. They had neither the time nor the desire to maintain extensive diary notes for the benefit of inquisitive fans over fifty years later. Johnny “Guitar”, who kept a brief day-to-day diary, simply recorded on 14 October 1960: ‘Wally and Beatles going to make a test recording tomorrow.’ At least this confirms the date of the recording. Sadly, Byrne’s diary entries cease on that day until the end of December 1960.
In March 1962, Lu left Rory Storm to join Derry and The Seniors, but by September of that year, he had rejoined the group when the Seniors split up. His time with the Hurricanes lasted until February 1965 when he finally quit the group for good to concentrate on his career as a psychiatric nurse.
Wally (Lu) still lives in the Merseyside area and is a frequent visitor at local rock ‘n’ roll nights.
So, for the first time, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr appeared on record for the first time. If only we still had the record!
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.
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.”
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.
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 www.strawberryfieldliverpool.com
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 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 https://www.britainunites.co.uk
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 www.salvationarmy.org.uk
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 gardens, where John Lennon used to play as a child, offer a calm space for reflection and a place to explore spirituality.
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 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.
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.
I get Sunday off so I can just enjoy the rest of the Fest! Hope you do too.
“A fantastic experience everyone should take the virtual tour ……it’s the future now.”
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