Tommy was great at 'Buddy Holly' songs and at some of the so-called R&B that made up the classic Mersey sound and I remember quite a heated discussion with Brian over coffee in the Kardomah Cafe basement, with Paul and George present, about what Tommy should record, my suggestion being two of the classics as nobody had yet done this. Brian, however, insisted on Lennon & McCartney originals and, of course, had his way as usual. I have often thought that Tommy was the unlucky one in the NEMS stable and haven't changed my mind.
Over the years I kept in contact with George Harrison and eventually persuaded him to become a trustee of a conservation charity of which I was also a board member. One of the last times I saw him was in 1966 at a reception by Prince Charles for the trustees at Highgrove House and George clearly remembered the conversation with Brian as well as a rag week stunt I tried to
organize to kidnap the Beatles and hold them to ransom (and at the same time get them to judge our Panto Princess competition) but poor Brian went berserk and threatened George and Ringo, who were all for the idea, with being in breach of their contracts if they went along with such as stunt, so we had to call it off at the last minute. I always suspected that the real problem, was that Brian
realized that we were going to ask him to pay the ransom.
I have fond memories of the couple of years I was involved in the 'scene', working occasionally as a 'stewart' as Brian insisted on calling us ( he found the word bouncer rather distasteful) at the Cavern, on the Royal Iris or at NEMS events at Southport, Widnes and the New Brighton Tower (I still remember the wonderful Little Richard concert and Joe Brown at the Tower) and managing the Challengers. I recall your little office (it was on Renshaw Street, wasn't it?) and the advice you gave me when I was editor of Pantosphinx one year.
As a final thought, I also recall those terrific Mersey Beat awards evenings when everyone got together, they were what Mersey Beat was all about. After one of them in Birkenhead (Majestic Ballroom), I recall Clive Epstein taking me for a late meal back in Liverpool and being pulled over for speeding at about 4am in the Mersey Tunnel when the only cars in the Tunnel were us in Clive's white Jag or Roller (I only remember the colour) and the police.
I would hate to end up, however, without a mention of Rory Storm, a great person who was also one of the losers finally. I used to turn out occasionally for the Mersey Beat 11 and I recall the last time I saw him. I was leaving Wembley Stadium the year Liverpool beat Leeds in the Cup Final and saw a familiar face yelling at me. It was Rory and we danced and sang 'you'll never walk alone' all the way down Wembley Way onto the tube and into central London. It was one of those moments you never forget and I was so sad when I learned about his death.
Editor's Note: David graduated from Liverpool in 1966 and took an MSc degree a year later. He then went to the University of Seville in Spain and on to the University of Reading where he received a PhD degree in 1971. In 1974 he became director of the Plant Science Research Institute and Botanic Gardens in Las Palmas in the Canary Islands and has remained there ever since.
He has been actively involved in conservation science and nature protection and is currently a member of the World Conservation Union's Plants Conservation Committee and of the advisory group to the General Secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. He also chairs the International Advisory Board of BGCI. David received the Sir Peter Scott Merit Award for 'Scientific contributions to Conservation' in 1982, the Cesar Manrique Prize for Environment in 1996 and the International Award for Excellence in Conservation from the state of Texas in 2003. He is an Honorary Citizen of Fort Worth, Texas (like most Scousers he was always a bit of a cowboy at heart!) and became an MBE in 1989.