November 5 1964
It hardly seems four years ago since I decided to start MERSEY BEAT. Still a member of Liverpool Art College along with JOHN LENNON, I decided to produce the paper because I knew that so many of the close friends of mine who were in groups really needed such a publication.
In a little office in the same building where we are still situated, I started to set-up and plan the first issue. With a loan of some money from JIM ANDERSON, who had faith in the paper, DICK MATTHEWS as a photographer, and VIRGINIA as the only full-time member of the staff, MERSEY BEAT was launched.
As I was still a student, I had to rush to the office during lunch breaks and at dinner hours to write material - and almost every day I arrived to find JOHN LENNON, PAUL McCARTNEY and GEORGE HARRISON hard at work, writing material, answering the phone and attending to visitors.
It was a modest first issue - with a 'unique' article by JOHN LENNON, which was the first article on the Beatles ever published, an article on CILLA BLACK entitled 'Swinging Cilla', the first detailed article to be printed about the Cavern, and various other items.
I felt so proud of the paper and knew that the days spent talking with the Beatles, the Big Three and other groups about the project, the many hours of hard work, the frustration, the fight to get the paper off the ground, was all worth the effort.
The publication was unique and there was nothing quite like it anywhere else in the world - and although there have been many other publications following the same outlines and ideas of MERSEY BEAT, I hope the paper still remains that much different.
Publishing MERSEY BEAT has not been easy. For most of the four years it has been a continual struggle, battling against prejudices, fighting for recognition, hoping that the never-ending drawbacks would all be overcome.
I could never have continued the publication were it not for the tremendous efforts and help that numerous people who have also had faith in the paper have given me. RAY McFALL in particular has been so responsible for keeping the publication alive - and he knows that I will be eternally grateful.
Yes, MERSEY BEAT has had some unique items - a fashion column by CILLA BLACK - a regular series of columns from JOHN LENNON, record reviews by BRIAN EPSTEIN, and a short series of brilliant articles by BOB WOOLER which were so vitally interesting to all the Mersey groups.
Many people may not realize that MERSEY BEAT has been virtually a 'miracle' in the publishing world. In an effort to create a paper that was alive, vital and different - I defied all the rules. MERSEY BEAT's influence in the early days of the Liverpool Beat Scene was considerable - in actual fact, I considered that the paper belonged to the Mersey groups, something that would show their talents to the country at a time they all went
Yes, in those early days MERSEY BEAT was the main factor in the creation of the Liverpool Scene - and what this paper achieved for Liverpool has never been really acknowledged, except from the mouths of the people involved in the show-biz scene, for no other newspaper or periodical would ever mention the fact.