"I’ve decided to begin writing regular blogs, but rather than just have my own blog site, I thought I would send each blog to different sites who were interested in displaying them – hence my travelling blog.
This concept makes it’s debut on my friend Bill Hart’s website Lanky Beat."
Bill Harry: October 2010
Twist & Shout.
Writing a feature in Mojo magazine about Led Zeppelin, Charles Shaar Murray begins, “ Liverpool . Don’t talk to me about Liverpool . Name me two world class groups who came from Liverpool.” He then dismisses Gerry & the Pacemakers and says the world class groups came from the Home Counties in the south.
Charles was a tiny tot when the Mersey scene erupted, so he misses the point. There may not have been any world class groups from Britain at all if it weren’t for the musical revolution that occurred on the banks of the Mersey .
It was not only the Beatles, it was the Liverpool Sound or the Mersey Sound as a musical revolution which inspired the youngsters of Britain to become artists and musicians, just as Lonnie Donegan’s skiffle inspired the youth of the 50s.
Murray may not have realised it but at the time there were no rock programmes on television, no vast stadium concerts, no rock continually on the radio and television. If there had been, a few more world class groups would have emerged from Liverpool .
The city was the catalyst, the spark that ignited contemporary popular music. As a result the scene developed and those artists from the Home Counties were able to take advantage of the work by the pioneers from Liverpool who opened the gates for them.
If some of the Mersey groups had the advantage of the scene later on, with its international appeal, launched by the Beatles with the British invasion, then things might have been different.
The music scene in Britain had also been controlled by London , but Newcastle ’s the Animals and Manchester ’s Herman’s Hermits were both discovered at the Cavern. Groups from the provinces were inspired by the Liverpool scene. The entire Hamburg explosion wouldn’t have happened but for the Liverpool bands.
Yes, there might have been more world class groups, but for various missed opportunities. The late Colin Manley was one of Britain ’s unknown guitar heroes, arguably one of the best British guitarists of the decade (Brian Griffiths was a genius on guitar too) – just as Kingsize Taylor & the Dominos were the best rock ‘n’ roll band in Britain during the decade. The Big Three could have given Cream a run for their money and Howie Casey & the Seniors were sensational. Other brilliant artists included Mike Hart and Jimmy Campbell, people Charles wouldn’t have known about.
The London scene was eager to take the control back from these upstarts from Liverpool and the provinces. The national press saturated coverage of the Dave Clark Five, saying ‘the Tottenham sound was taking over’, that the Beatles were on the wane. Where is the Tottenham sound now? (Incidentally, DC5 might never have happened if they hadn’t copied Faron’s Flamingos ‘Do You Love Me’, which the London record company put on Faron’s ‘B’ side when it was obviously a potential No. 1)
When George Harrison told Dick Rowe that he’d just seen the Rolling Stones and said “they are almost as good as our Roadrunners,” Dick didn’t rush to sign Liverpool’s top R&B band, he rushed to London and signed the Stones. Who knows, but for that, it might have been the Roadrunners who became a world class band!
So Murray ’s basic premise is flawed – Liverpool itself was the world class image that still captures the imagination and ‘Mersey Beat’, the phrase I created, is now part of the English language. The Guinness Book of Records declared Liverpool ‘the capital city of popular music’ because it is the only city in the world which has produced 54 No. 1 chart hits! It was also chosen as Europe’s City of Culture.
Incidentally, take the year 2004: Gerry & the Pacemakers toured Australia from August 1 – 23, then embarked on a British tour from September 1 to October 29, America from November 3 to 23, Hong Kong and China from December 9 – 17 and from February 1 2005 – May 3 2005 Gerry was back touring Britain.
If that’s not world class, what is? How many Western bands have toured China ? Gerry was the first Liverpool act to top the British charts and created chart history by becoming the first artist ever to have a hat trick of No. 1s with his first three records, he also created a new chart record when he topped the charts with two different versions of the same number ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ (which became a major football anthem). Now West End musicals about top artists such as Abba, Queen and Rod Stewart are becoming
a standard feature – but don’t forget that Gerry was there first almost ten years ago with the West End Musical ‘Ferry ‘Cross The Mersey.’
Gerry had a heart bypass operation in 2004 yet embarked on a 10 month world tour. He’s a hero, even if Charles Shaar Murray doesn’t like him!
Bill Harry: November 2011
Had a nice chat recently with Ann-Marie Opone. Anne-Marie is the daughter of the late Norman Chapman who became a member of the Silver Beatles during the summer of 1960 for an all but brief time.
When drummer Tommy Moore left the group following a gig at the Jacaranda coffee bar on Monday 13 June of that year, John, Paul, George and Stuart were desperate for a replacement. They were pondering over the problem one night while sitting in the coffee bar when they heard the sound of drumbeats from across the street. Almost directly opposite the Jacaranda in Slater Street was a picture-framing establishment. Norman Chapman worked there as a picture-framer and renovator, and played drums as a hobby, practising on a hire-purchase kit in the offices of the firm in the evenings.
They went into the street, trying to find where the sound was coming from. They knocked on the doors of the National Cash Register Office and Chapman popped his head out of an upstairs window of the building. They offered him the position of drummer with the band. Chapman, an imposing six-foot-two in height, accepted the job. However, he only managed to appear with them on three Saturday night gigs at the Grosvenor Ballroom, Birkenhead, on 18 and 25 June and 2 July, before he was called up for National Service and was conscripted for two years in Kenya and Kuwait. In later years he was to say that he did not regret being ‘called up’.
Norman actually worked as a picture-framer in the store almost directly opposite the Jacaranda. This was where I went in 1960 to have my one and only oil painting framed. Although a student at the Art College , I’d never been on the oil painting course, so had no idea how to paint in oils, but I did have one effort and painted a portrait of Virginia. It struck me that it was likely that Norman was the one who framed it for me.
Ann-Marie told me that just prior to joining the Beatles, Norman got married, although the marriage broke up a few years later when she was a baby and she never got to know her father again until she met him when she was in her twenties and they became quite close.
She told me that he began his own picture-framing business in Southport , which could have become quite lucrative but for the fact that he didn’t bother charging for many of the jobs he did!
He continued playing drums and was a member of a trio when he died of lung cancer in July 1995 at the age of 58.
Ann-Marie told me that she had Norman’s drums, the very set he played on the gigs with the Silver Beatles, but as she didn’t really have the space at home to store them, she gave them to the Jacaranda club in Slater Street, where they are currently on display, along with a photo of Norman.
It’s interesting to consider the drum seat of the Beatles. When they were the Quarry Men they didn’t have a drummer. The first one they considered was Tommy Moore, a fork-lift truck operator who joined them for a short time in early 1960 and left them following their brief trip to Scotland backing Johnny Gentle, when he discovered that he had only profited from the tour by £2 and he left the group in June. Tommy died of a stroke in 1981 soon after joining a local jazz band.
Incidentally, during the Wyvern Club audition in May, he turned up late for the appearance before promoter Larry Parnes and Johnny Hutchinson of the Big Three reluctantly sat in for him. Johnny was also to sit in for a few gigs with the Beatles following Pete Best’s sacking, but he said he would have refused to join them if asked. In fact, Brian Epstein had considered him as the replacement for Best.
Kingsize Taylor & the Dominoes offered £20 a week to Ringo Starr of Rory Storm & The Hurricanes if he’d join them, but the Beatles offered him £25 a week!
Mersey Beat Newspaper
50 Year's On: A Tribute.
Bill Harry, along with his wife Virginia, founded the Mersey Beat Entertainment Magazine on 6 July 1961. Hence, the name 'Mersey Beat' was duly born.
Now - almost fifty years on - the famously iconic name still slips easily from the lips of generations of music fans the whole world over. The name, both then and now, has since captured perfectly and aptly the rapidly changing times, the underground musical movement and the youth cultures of a unique
As things began to move fast the Mersey Beat name was soon upstaging two other well-known and well-used media names of the time: Mersey Sound and the Liverpool Sound; both of which had preceded it from 1958 onwards.
Back then Bill moved smartly and quickly. He realised almost instantly its true value, the iconic status and high esteem with which this name was being held. To him, Mersey Beat was something very personal and intrinsically special. He then simply and promptly registered the Mersey Beat name and is still its current copyright owner.
MERSEY BEAT July 1962 www.liverpooldays.com MERSEY BEAT May 2009
The Mersey Beat name now carries on into the early years of the new millennium in the ultra-modern electronic shape and form of a couple of new web site where Mersey Beat memorabilia and other such merchandise can be purchased on-line. www.mersey-beat.com
Bill Hart: October 2010
Bill Harry Books
"I've chosen three books from the many Bill Harry publications.
The first recalls the day I first met Bill & Virginia Harry in The Beatles Story's mock-up Mersey Beat
Press Room. The second secures a fitting tribute and commemoration to John Lennon in 2010 and the third represents Bill Harry'swork's-of-life-time in just one single book - and what a book that is! - 'Fab'."
Bill Hart: October 2010
1. Liverpool: Bigger Than The Beatles
I attended a Bill Harry's Book Launch at The Beatles Story in The Albert Dock, Liverpool in March 2009 where I met the Mersey Beat legend for the first time. Bill has written many books and hundreds of articles over the years and this: Liverpool: Bigger Than The Beatles was his latest at the time. The book concerns and promotes the many other important artiste's and ethnic music maker's of the years before and after a band called The Beatles put Liverpool’s name foremost on the world’s musical map in the 1960’s.
2. In My Life - Lennon's Liverpool - By Bill Harry誼ኆ>
His bang-up-to-date latest offering neatly compliments the 70th Birthday Anniversary being held in Liverpool for the John Lennon Season: 9 October - 9 December 2010.
3.The Beatles Encyclopaedia - By Bill Harry
In his much acclaimed and definitive Beatle's Encyclopaedia - first published in 1992 - Bill Harry continues its stupendous year-on-year growth by adding even more facts to the already whopping 1200 page collection. Revised in 2000, there is yet more still to come. Look-out for news on Lanky Beat. The new version is out soon.