I have just come home from an amazing journey with the Swedish Parliament Beatles Society. I’ve walked in the footsteps of The Beatles and their early years in Liverpool. I’ve seen their homes and where they were born. I have seen what Paul saw in Penny Lane; the roundabout, the barber, the banker that didn’t wear a mac (I know why) in the pouring rain and the fire station with the clean machine. I’ve seen Johns art school and Pauls/Georges just next to his. I’ve had a beer or two in Johns favourite pub; the Ye Cracke and the Philharmonic Dining Rooms where he loved to eat. I stood on on the pavement outside Gambia Terrace and heard the true (?) story of how the Beatles name was invented.
I have met Dave Peters, the man who is the last remaining witness of that first meeting between John Lennon and Paul McCartney at the Woolton Village Fete in July 1957. John was playing with his skiffle group The Quarrymen and Paul was in the audience, brought by a common friend. I sat beside the Eleanor Rigby gravestone and I saw all the lonely people, overlooking where John played that very day.
I have written my name in the ceiling of The Cavern while hearing Beatles music beeing played. I’ve heard the stories about their early girlfriends and their jobs and their meeting places, trying to paint in my mind the palette of colours and sounds that made them what they are or was.
I talked to Pete Bests very nice brother Roag Best and heard about the early years from a different and maybe more direct angle. I have seen and admired Pauls rainbow and John Mexican/Aztek room and the forbidden carvings in the wall and roof. I have heard the stories from the Casbah Coffee Club where the Beatles performed for 18 months before they started at the Cavern. The tinyest little nook (vrå) you could ever imagine. How they fitted in there is a miracle. The story of the 15 shillings that they wanted and did not get, puts a lot in perspective for the rest of the Beatles story. A lot.
The Strawberry Fields is in my mind in many ways a melancholy story. ”No one I think is in my trea, I mean it must be high or low”… Johns whole childhood is, to say the least, very different and difficult. And to loose your mother twice as he did, must have put their mark on him for ever. Pauls loss was surely devastating and of different circumstances, their common grief must have made the bond even stronger. The rest of us can only guess. We also took the opportunity to visit the Paul McCartney Pub and raised a pint or two for the boys.
Because that’s what they were, just four incredible talented lads from the Merseyside in Liverpool, that made it very very big. Just a band, as John said.
Eh, yes, but no. Far from it actually.
- John Lennon letter to the McCartneys about Beatles split up for auction (telegraph.co.uk)
- I Was There… When The Beatles Played the Cavern Club, ITV, preview (telegraph.co.uk)