Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Cavern

The Cavern Club, a rock and roll club in Liverpool, England is best known as the venue where the Beatles, in their early days, gained a steady following of young skiffle and rock and roll fans. It is also the club where Brian Epstein discovered them. It opened its doors on January 16, 1957 under the ownership of Alan Sytner, who modeled the club on those in the jazz district of Paris. The first act to perform in The Cavern was the Merseysippi Jazz Band, the name being a play on words joining the Mersey and Mississippi Rivers (the Mississippi River used because of New Orleans reputation for jazz).

Skiffle was the current craze in Liverpool in 1957, however, skiffle being a mix of folk, country, and rock performed with acoustic guitars, a washtub bass, and drums. Sytner booked the Quarrymen, a skiffle/rock group headed by a very young John Lennon, into The Cavern for a performance in 1957. (See the sitemap below for more information on the Quarrymen.)

Sytner frowned upon rock and roll--he wanted jazz and nothing else--but Lennon urged his fellow band members to play "Don't Be Cruel" on their opening date on August 7, 1957. Sytner protested, but the audience was receptive, however, and the band continued to play The Cavern. McCartney first played the club on January 24, 1961, with Harrison making his debut appearance on February 9, 1961.

Sytner sold the club to Ray McFall in 1959, after which blues bands and "beat groups," as they were known, began to play The Cavern regularly. Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, featuring Ringo Starr on drums, played The Cavern on May 25, 1960. In 1961, the club had become so popular that lunchtime performances were scheduled.

Under the name of the Beatles, Lennon's group (with McCartney, Harrison, and Best) played the club in February of 1961 after returning from a stint at the Kaiserkeller Club in Hamburg. As Beatlemania spread in 1962, the club could no longer safely accommodate the large audiences, and the Beatles, now signed to Parlophone and touring England, appeared less frequently until their spot was taken by the Hollies. Their last appearance at The Cavern (after approximately 290 performances) was on August 3, 1963. By then, the Beatles had recorded "She Loves You" and were on their way to new heights--and America.

The club was shut down in May of 1973 due to construction work on the Mersey subway system. In 1984, The Cavern was rebuilt on roughly the same site using as much of the original construction materials, such as bricks, that could be found. The club operated until 1989, when it closed due to financial difficulties, only to be reopened in 1991. The front room is open to the public and tourists (some of them arriving on the now-famous MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR BUS) and features a sound stage for various acts. The back room has a state-of-the-art sound system. The club features acoustic music, classic rock, and tribute bands.

Other groups to have performed at The Cavern in its heyday were Queen, Elton John, the Rolling Stones, the Who, the Kinks, and the Yardbirds.

Paul McCartney returned to The Cavern in December of 1999 to promote his back-to-basics rock and roll album, Run Devil Run.

For more information on The Cavern Club, consult the sitemap below under SITES RELATED TO BEATLES HISTORY

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