Whilst there have been many bands who you could argue a case for possessing that quintessential Liverpool character, one band will always be synonymous with this vibrant and pulsating city, The Beatles. And although it seems as if every corner shop and market stall offers tourist style Beatle memorabilia, there are a number of places that the discerning music fan will wish to visit to truly walk in the shoes of its most famous sons.
The Cavern Club, Matthew Street
The bands early years in particular saw them play every basement club and pub backroom across the city but one venue more than any other is forever linked with the band. From their first appearance at The Cavern Club after their return from playing the arduous Hamburg circuit, they played no less than 292 times between 1961 and 1963. It is also where Brian Epstein first watched them perform before deciding to manage the band and around this time it also employed a young cloakroom attendant called Priscilla White, soon to change her name and find fame as Cilla Black. The venue is not only a hot spot on the Beatles nostalgia trip but it is again a live music venue on the breaking bands circuit.
The Grapes, Matthew Street
And if you do decide to catch a new band hoping to soak up a bit of the magic from playing The Cavern Club, then why not have a drink before hand in The Beatles favourite hangout, The Grapes, just a few doors down from the club. The club was not allowed to sell alcohol in those early days and so The Grapes became the unofficial bar and after show place to go.
St Peter’s Parish Church
If you want to get back to where it really all started then on 6th July 1957 Paul went to hear John’s then band, The Quarrymen, play at a village festival at this church in nearby Woolton, within walking distance of John’s then home in Menlove Avenue. Also of interest is the fact that the church cemetery is the resting place of one Eleanor Rigby. Newcastle Road and Penny Lane John spent the first few years of his life at 9 Newcastle Road, near the busy Penny Lane roundabout. There is indeed still “a shelter in the middle of the roundabout” as well as a barbers shop and a bank and Paul was a choirboy at the near by St Barnabas Church. Cynthia Powell, the future Mrs Lennon, also lived in the area and worked at a Woolworths store about a five minutes from the roundabout.
Strawberry Field was and remains a Salvation Army Children’s Home not far from Menlove Avenue and the area around it was thickly wooded world of escape that local children would play in. Strawberry Fields Forever and Penny Lane were released as a double A side single in 1967 and together offer a touching and nostalgic tribute to John and Pauls formative years.