In the summer of 1961, at their very first meeting at NEMS, Bill Harry told Brian Epstein that there were literally hundreds of groups in Liverpool providing entertainments of every kind—every day of every week. So many bands—professional and amateur—and musical, comedy, and poetry events—that it literally cried out for someone to gather up all the details—about all the goings-on—in a timely and trusted fashion—and find some vehicle to inform the public about the seemingly never ending flood of entertainment happening all over Merseyside.
Thus was born Mersey Beat—Merseyside's Own Entertainments Paper—that not only became required reading for anyone and everyone involved in the local music scene, but also gave name to the unique sound coming out of Liverpool—Merseybeat.
Gerry and the Pacemakers, Rory Storm and The Hurricanes, The Big Three, and 'Kingsize’ Taylor and The Dominoes were widely considered to be the top groups on Merseyside—and so it’s only natural that I turned to them to star alongside The Beatles in The One After 9:09
Rory Storm and The Hurricanes
Rory Storm was a brilliantly extroverted entertainer—born way before or after his time. And despite having a serious stammer—which disappeared as soon as he started singing—people said his voice was right up there, with ‘King’ Elvis. Always dressed to shock in bright blue or yellow suits—gold or silver lame—his bleached blonde hair combed into an exaggerated quiff on stage with a huge plastic comb—this legendary Liverpool figure never failed to drive crowds wild.
Ringo Starr joined the Hurricanes in 1958. And at the turn of 1960s they were considered one of the top bands in Liverpool. Rory died, unexpectedly, in Liverpool, in 1972.
Rory Storm (Alan Caldwell) – Vocals | Charles ‘Ty’ O’Brien - Lead Guitar | 'Lu' Walters (Wally Eymond) - Bass Guitar | Johnny ‘Guitar’ Byrne - Rhythm Guitar | Ringo Starr (Richard Starkey) - Drums |
The Big Three
The original power trio—The Big Three were regarded with awe on Merseyside. They had the biggest bass amplifiers of any group—designed by original band member Adrian Barber—an electronics wizard. Nicknamed ‘Coffin’ amps—he made one for Paul McCartney. After a successful 1962 tour, Barber stayed on at Star-Club in Germany and was replaced by Brian Griffiths, one of Liverpool’s foremost guitarists.
The Big Three were signed by Brian Epstein and recorded Some Other Guy—for Decca—followed in 1963 by the EP ‘Live at The Cavern’—now using Vox and Fender Amps.
However, record success eluded the group and they and Brian Epstein parted company.
Johnny Hutchinson - Drums/Vocals | Johnny Gustafson - Bass Guitar/Vocals | Adrian Barber (until 1962) replaced by Brian Griffiths - Lead Guitar/Vocals |
Gerry and The Pacemakers
In the early 1960s, Gerry and The Pacemakers worked the same grueling Liverpool-Hamburg circuit as The Beatles. On Merseyside, their following was more than a match for their rivals and, sometimes, even bested it, which explains why, in 1962, they were the second group to be signed by Brian Epstein.
In 1963, with George Martin as their producer, they had three consecutive No.1 UK Hits: How Do You Do It | I Like It | You’ll Never Walk Alone.
Gerry Marsden also wrote most of the group’s subsequent hits: It’s All Right | I’m the One | Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Cryin’ | Ferry Cross the Mersey.
Gerry Marsden still performs worldwide to great acclaim.
Gerry Marsden – Guitar/Vocals | Les McGuire - Piano |
Les Chadwick - Bass Guitar | Freddie Marsden – Drums |
'Kingsize' Taylor & The Dominoes
‘Kingsize’ Taylor and The Dominoes—named for the great Fats Domino—were one of Liverpool’s most popular bands—‘Kingsize’ widely considered one of the best vocalists on Merseyside. The wonderful Cilla Black sang with the group on numerous occasions. In 1962 the group appeared at Star-Club, in St. Pauli, and proved so popular, they were offered a residency. The group later played various clubs in Hamburg, Kiel, and Berlin, before returning to the UK for Chuck Berry’s 1964 Tour.
They appeared on television, were signed by Decca—had a No.1 Hit in Germany—but failed to make any real break through—after which, the group disbanded.
Ted (‘Kingsize’) Taylor - Lead Guitar/Vocals | Sam Hardie – Piano | Dave Lovelady – Drums | Bobby Thompson - Bass Guitar | John Frankland - Rhythm Guitar |