October 18, 2018

Liverpool: Home of the Fab Four

by Steve W

Anyone who knows us knows that we are huge fans of The Beatles, so it was with great anticipation that we arrived in their home city of Liverpool. England's largest seaport, it was a center of trade until the late 1800's, when the port was too shallow for the large ships that were being developed. The port was closed in 1972, but over the last few decades, the city has been rejuvenated as a tourist and shopping destination. Liverpool One is a huge pedestrian-only complex of restaurants and stores that extends for many city blocks. Lots of modern buildings mixed in with older ones and, like everywhere we go, lots of construction of new buildings.

Liverpool City Hall

Royal Liver Building

Note the Gothic church among the modern buildings.
The Cunard Building, home of the shipping company
As the shipping business deteriorated, the living conditions of the Liverpudlians grew worse and worse. It was into this environment that four young men were born and raised. While their individual circumstances differed somewhat, they all used music to escape their dreary surroundings and to become an international phenomenon. As such, many of the sights in Liverpool focus on The Beatles and the music that came from Liverpool.

Liverpool is located on the Mersey River, so this became known as the Mersey Sound, with bands like Gerry and the Pacemakers ("Ferry 'Cross The Mersey"), The Searchers ("When You Walk In The Room") The Swinging Blue Jeans ("The Hippy Hippy Shake"), and many others. The Beatles also opened the door to America for other bands such as The Dave Clark Five, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Them, The Zombies and other groups that were part of the British Invasion of the 1960s.

On the waterfront is a statue of Billy Fury, one of the first pop stars in the 1950s and sometimes called the British Elvis. At one point, The Silver Beatles auditioned to be his backup band.

You can also get a great view of the Mersey River and the far side of the bank, with boats still traveling back and forth between the shores.

Ferry 'Cross the Mersey
The waterfront is also the home of the Museum of Liverpool, which had an exhibit on John Lennon while we were there.
A message from John and Yoko
The Beatles Story is a museum devoted solely to the group, with narration by John's sister, Julia Baird, and audio clips from others close to the group, like Sir George Martin, Cynthia Lennon (John's first wife and mother of Julian), and Patti Boyd (who was married to George Harrison and later to Eric Clapton), as well as The Beatles themselves. It presents chronologically the story of how the four members got together, including stories about previous members Pete Best and Stu Sutcliffe. There are pictures, audio clips and videos (although none of actual performances by the group) that document the historic rise of the group, including some recreations of important events.

A call sheet from the Cavern Club, showing "The Quarrymen" (the name the group used before The Beatles) and "Rory Storm and The Hurricanes", which featured a drummer named Ringo Starr.

A recreation of the stage from The Cavern Club

The poster that inspired John Lennon
The original gate from Strawberry Field (not "Fields")

A new member of the band!
We also visited the British Music Experience, located in the Cunard Building, which presented an overview of British music from the 1940s to the present, with an audio guide and displays of instruments, costumes, album covers and sheet music broken down into various eras. There is also a "studio" where visitors can take short audio-visual lessons and play instruments along with popular songs.

In many cities we visit, there is often a large cathedral, and this was no exception. The Liverpool Cathedral is the largest cathedral in Great Britain.

The main altar

Looking towards the back of the church.

Details of the ceiling
Built in the neo-Gothic style, the church has both traditional and modern artwork, some of it to the chagrin of the more conservative members.

The Good Samaritan

 It has a tower that can be climbed with an observation deck with views of the entire city.

The next day, it was back to The Beatles, with a bus tour of Beatles'-related sights, such as inspirations for their songs and some of their homes.

Roll up for the mystery tour!

"Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes."

The current gate at Strawberry Field. Note the graffiti, which is encouraged.

"Let me take you down, 'cause I'm going to..."

Mendips, where Lennon lived as a teenager with his Aunt Mimi.

The McCartney family home

"When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me"
No Beatles tour is complete without a visit to The Cavern Club. Built on the site of the original, the walls are lined with photos of the artists who played there, a virtual Who's Who of rock and roll.

The original backdrop to the stage. How many artists do you recognize?
Across the alley from the Cavern is a statue of John Lennon.

As close as we'll get to hangin' with a Beatle!
Around the corner from the Cavern is the Hard Day's Night Hotel, with statues of all 4 members on the outside of the building.

Although our visit was short, it was packed with sights to see and enjoy. If you are a Beatles fan visiting the UK, Liverpool is a must-see destination.

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