Bill Harry's Mersey Beat Days

"Live" At The Cavern

Recordings on site at the Cavern itself over the years have been few and far between, due to the fact that the original place proved to be an acoustical nightmare. 

The Beatles were actually recorded at the Cavern on Thursday August 23 1962; a few days after Ringo joined the band. There had been so many letters sent by fans to Granada Television pleading with them to feature the Beatles that a TV team was sent down during the lunchtime session, led by director Dick Fontaine. They were filmed performing two numbers, Some Other Guy and Kansas City-Hey-Hey-Hey although the quality was deemed unsuitable and it wasn't screened at the time. When the Beatles became famous, Granada opted to show it, although only film of 'Some Other Guy' has survived.

Interestingly enough, at the end of the film, one fan is heard to cry "We want Pete!" 

It is the only film in existence of the Beatles performing at the Cavern. 

Some Other Guy - The Real Beatles "Live" Sound

Editors Note: This is the very rare re-recording done the day after the film, as the original soundtracks wasn't good enough

Some Other Guy - The Beatles "Live At The Cavern"     

 Rory Erased

Which reminds me of the time in the late 1970s when I met Iris Caldwell backstage at a Rod Stewart concert. Iris is the sister of legendary Liverpool singer Rory Storm. Tragically, Rory died in 1972. I was chatting with Iris and lamenting the fact that few recordings of the Hurricanes were in existence. She told me that she had a tape of the Hurricanes performing a complete show on stage at the Cavern - when Ringo Starr was still their drummer.

She mentioned that it had been recorded on a domestic tape recorder, but I said it didn't matter, would she like me to arrange for it to be released as an album? She said 'Yes.' 

I contacted Abbey Road Studios and they were very excited and said that they would use their technical facilities to enhance the recording. 

Iris then phoned me to say she had checked out the tape. It began with Bob Wooler on stage at the Cavern announcing, "And now, the Golden Boy himself: Rory Storm..." and then the rest of the recording was a radio programme of a Cliff Richard show.

Apparently, without anyone realising it, Rory's mother Vi had just taken the tape and recorded a radio show over it. 

You can imagine our disappointment that a genuine album of Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, with Ringo, performing live at the Cavern was lost to posterity. 

Beautiful Dreamer - Rory Storm & The Hurricanes  

George Martin had considered recording the Beatles debut album at the Cavern under the title 'Off The Beatle Track', but decided against it because of the technical difficulties (he later released an album by the George Martin Orchestra covering Beatles numbers which he called 'A Hard Day's Night: Off The Beatle Track'). 

The Big Three

The Big Three at the CavernOne of the leading Liverpool bands, the Big Three penned and recorded 'Cavern Stomp' as the flipside of their June 1963 release, 'By The Way', issued on Decca F11689. The following year they actually recorded an EP on stage at the club called 'The Big Three At The Cavern', which was issued in July 1964 on Decca DFE 8552.

By this time the Big Three was led by original drummer Johnny Hutchinsonwho had allegedly turned down the offer of becoming the Beatles drummer. 

'The Big Three At The Cavern' featured the tracks What'd I Say, Don't Start Running Around, Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah and Reelin' And A Rockin



Don't Start Running Away - The Big Three       

The Decca A&R (artists and repertoire) man who recorded the session was Noel Walker, a Liverpudlian and former leader of Noel Walker's Stompers, a local Trad band who had appeared frequently at the club. Walker was also to record a live album at the Cavern, issued by Decca as At the Cavern. Another recording manager who was to produce live recordings at the Cavern was John Schroeder, who recorded an Alexis Korner album for Oriole.

Like Rory Storm & The Hurricanes, the Big Three were never captured on record to their advantage. Johnny Hutch was to comment, "The best record we ever did was Cavern Stomp which was a load of rubbish that took me five minutes to write." When commenting on the recording of the EP, he said, "Over 1,000 people were screaming and shouting, and I don't think there have ever been so many people in the Cavern. The sweat was pouring off the walls. I was here and the crowd was there, and I couldn't hear what I was playing. It was unbelievable and the EP didn't turn out bad for what it was." 

The Big Three were also featured on an album 'At The Cavern', in which Bob Wooler introduced them on record as 'the boys with the Benzedrine beat.' By that time there had been personnel changes and they comprised Johnny Hutchinson and two former members of Faron's Flamingos: Faron and Paddy Chambers. They performed several numbers live, but only 'Bring It On Home To Me' was included and the other tracks have since been lost. 

The album 'At The Cavern' was issued on Decca LK 4597 in March 1964 and featured nine acts, only four of which were from Liverpool.

They comprised the Big Three with Bring It On Home To Me, Lee Curtis with Jezebel and Skinnie Minnie, the Dennisons with Devoted To You and You Better Move On and Beryl Marsden with Everybody Loves A Lover.

Jezebel - Lee Curtis  

The other five acts were from various other British cities and were Dave Berry & the Cruisers, Bern Elliott & the Fenmen, the Fortunes, Heinz and the Marauders.

Dave Berry commented, "I'm probably giving away recording secrets now but it wasn't like today where an album is recorded live in concert. When I was there, Decca were recording about four bands and the audience had to stand around for hour upon hour. It was very tedious and boring for them, and a lot of the applause on that album was taken from other recordings. 

The album was re-released in 1985 as Recorded Live At The Cavern on the See For Miles label (SEE 58), with the bonus of the four tracks from The Big Three Live At The Cavern closing Side Two. 

The complete track listing is: Side One: 'Doctor Feelgood', 'Keep On Rolling', the Marauders; 'She's Sure The Girl I Love', the Fortunes; 'Everybody Loves A Lover', Beryl Marsden; 'Devoted To You', 'You Better Move On', the Dennisons; 'Somebody To Love', 'I Got A Woman', Heinz; 'Little Queenie,' Dave Berry & the Cruisers

Side Two: 'Diddley, Diddley, Daddy,' Dave Berry & the Cruisers; 'Bring It On Home To Me', the Big Three; 'Skinnie Minnie', 'Jezebel', Lee Curtis; 'I’m Talking About You', 'Little Egypt', Bern Elliott & the Fenmen; ‘What'd I Say?' 'Don't Start Running Away', 'Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah', 'Reelin' And Rockin'', the Big Three. 

A compilation album containing all Big Three tracks recorded at the Cavern was issued by Edsel Records in 1982 on ED 111, entitled 'Cavern Stomp.' 

On November 3 1963 Cavern owner Ray McFall bought the premises next door to the Cavern, extended the width of the club and began building a recording studio, Cavern Sound, which opened on October 15 1964 with £10,000 worth of equipment. The studio handled demonstration tapes, tape-to-disc transfers, master recordings, pressings, pressings for distribution to major labels and recordings for commercial radio. 

It was run by engineers Peter Hepworth and Nigel Greenberg and the first recording at Cavern Sound was by the Clayton Squares. The second release was an EP, 'Pantomania' by the Roadrunners. This was a limited edition of 5,000 copies in aid of Liverpool University's Rag Week in February, 1965. Issued on Cavern Sound 2 BSN L7 it featured 'Cry, Cry, Cry', 'The Leaving Of Liverpool' and some comedy material from students.

The RoadRunners - Cry, Cry, Cry      

This was the only recording (except from some Hamburg material) by the group regarded as Liverpool's top R&B band. When George Harrison was judging a Beat contest at Liverpool's Philharmonic Hall, a fellow judge was Dick Rowe. I was sitting directly behind them at the time. George was telling Dick that he'd seen a great group in Richmond called the Rolling Stones. He said, "They're almost as good as our Roadrunners.' Rowe left the hall before the competition had ended to rush down to London where he signed the Rolling Stones.

I always wondered why, if George considered the Roadrunners a better R&B group than the Rolling Stones, why Rowe didn’t bother to at least check them out. 

Cavern Sound recorded 'Liverpool Today - Live At The Cavern', which was released on Ember NR 5028 in September 1965 featuring Liverpool bands Earl Preston's Realms, Michael Allen and the Richmond, with introductions by Bob Wooler. 

Another record 'An American Sailor At the Cavern' was penned by local seaman Tim McCoy and recorded by Country Music group Phil Brady & the Ranchers and issued in March 1965 on Cavern Sound IMSTL2. 

When the new Cavern was rebuilt on the site of the old club in 1968, EMI Records prepared a special album 'Tribute to the Cavern' which was sold exclusively at the club during the year. Issued on CAV1, it contained the following tracks: Side One: 'Bad to Me', Billy J. Kramer & the Dakotas; 'Hello Little Girl', the Fourmost; 'You'll Never Walk Alone', Gerry & the Pacemakers; 'Hippy Hippy Shake', the Swinging Bluejeans; 'Little Children', Billy J. Kramer & the Dakotas; 'You're No Good', the Swinging Bluejeans; 'It's For You', Cilla Black; 'Ferry 'Cross The Mersey', Gerry & the Pacemakers.

Side Two: 'Love Me Do', the Beatles; 'I Saw Her Standing There', the Beatles; 'Twist & Shout', the Beatles; 'She Loves You', the Beatles; 'Money', the Beatles; 'I Want To Hold Your Hand', the Beatles; 'Can't Buy Me Love', the Beatles and 'A Hard Day's Night', the Beatles. 

Listen to  More Rare MerseyBeat Tracks




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