I feel as though I was more part of the second wave of the Liverpool Music scene and not of the TRUE Mersey Sound era which was the Beatles, Gerry, Billy J. Kramer etc: but I still remember how much a part of the whole Mersey scene you and your paper were.
I am sure it was one, if not the main instigator of all the future music papers. However, I still feel privileged to have played a main part in the story of the Cavern having been in two bands that played there probably as many times as anybody: the Klubs and Strife.
The Cavern despite whatever anybody says or thinks, will always be one of the most special places in the history of popular music.
My first recollections of the club was of my older sister who worked in the City Centre telling me that she went to this club in her lunchtime and it was the new “in thing” with beat groups, and one in particular called the Beatles. I was too young to go, but from that first impression it always had this lure of “must go and see it”.
It was probably only two years later at the age of 17 that I was actually performing on that very stage. How the first gigs came about I can’t really remember, perhaps it was due to the fact that in 1964 the Klubs had just won “The Swinging UK Trophy” on the Isle of Man which was a national competition run by Radio Caroline with the trophy being presented by Jimmy Saville and the band earning a spot on Granada television..
My first impressions of the club were obviously coloured by the very fact that I was in awe of being in this world famous place where the most celebrated and greatest group in the world had been playing.
After we had played there a few times the reality of the gig started to unfold. Getting the gear in was always a nightmare: you had to park right at the front door and take it through the crowd waiting to get in, down a very steep flight of slippery stone steps across an equally slimy stone floor to a pathetically small stage in an arch. Thank God I was only 5ft 6!
Setting up any sort of P.A. system was a nightmare because if you put the speakers at the front of the stage in the arch, nobody could see the players on the left or right and you deafened everybody on the front row, of the rows of wooden benches directly in front of the stage. If you put them in the arches either side of the stage, the band couldn’t hear a thing. It was probably the most inappropriate setting for any group to perform, you also had people watching you in the arches at the side of the stage who would only hear drums and guitars and be looking at your back most of the time.
As a five piece band it was always quite cramped on stage and when we eventually went down to a three piece it was fine. The changing room was at the back left hand side of the stage and had a door which led into a rat infested alley which was gated and never used, but the rats quite often came into the band room where it was warm and old bits of food were left lying around.
We all had to use this room and it didn’t matter how big a star you were, you had to share. This was actually one of the things I liked most, because it gave the opportunity to talk to other bands and the top stars and in a lot of cases made lasting friendships despite the rivalry. The DJ’s such as the legendary Bob Wooler, Billy Butler and Robbie Rave also became friends and there were so many really talented local bands and musicians that I still feel privileged to this day that I was part of it all.
It was in these early days that the Klubs soon started building their reputation in Liverpool and at the Cavern in particular despite the mainly soul orientated music scene at this time. We had to choose our songs carefully with a lot of covers of Stones, Who, Kinks, Pink Floyd and occasionally introducing our own songs whilst most of the other bands were playing ‘Knock on Wood’, ‘Stand By Me’ and ‘I’ll Be There.’
The owners of the club at that time were two local businessmen, Alf Geogehan who had a butchers shop at the far end of Smithdown Road and Joe Davy who had a bakers shop in Wallasey. I remember Alf had a Humber Hawk which seemed huge because he was only small and Joe had a beautiful Old Mercedes with a cream metal dashboard and steering wheel.