Sunday 22 September 2019



 Book Review of: 
 (2016, Jorvik Press) ISBN 978-0-9863770-4-4 
Softback. 176 pages

Like Graceland or the Abbey Road crossing, the Cavern Club in Liverpool’s Mathew Street is a shrine for Rock-music devotees. There’s been a lot written about Brian Epstein’s ‘Cellarful Of Noise’, books by Phil Thompson (1994) and Spencer Leigh (1984 and 2008) diligently chronicling the beat-by-beat history of the venue, and its role in Pop mythology. But from her first visit – in December 1960, ‘greedy for our fix of non-stop beat music’, mini-skirted Debbie was a regular there, so hers is a more personal account, her first-hand fan’s-eye gossipy chit-chat and fashion-notes have tactile authenticity. From resident DJ Bob Wooler’s ‘hi there, all you cave-dwellers’, to bassist Stuart Sutcliffe standing with his back to the audience ‘so no-one could see how he was playing’, and Pete Best ‘sultry, fiercely good-looking and oozed sex appeal’. They showcase more groups than Merseyside had dock strikes, according to Wooler. With Debbie and Sue running down to the Pier Head afterwards to catch the last bus home.

The added dimension is that – following Ray McFall’s bankruptcy (no.1 in the writ parade) and the original closure of the club in 28 February 1966, while still aged just twenty she became very actively part of the family concern that took over the lease. There’s a lot about those ‘magical and breathtaking’ moments, rich with photos and rare memorabilia. An opportunistic Harold Wilson is there for the re-opening, Solomon Burke, Long John Baldry, Edwin Starr and Chuck Berry (‘a wonderful musician but not a particularly nice man’) all play. They book Ike & Tina but only get the Ikettes. Paul and Linda call around. The Chants play, who later become chart-toppers as the Real Thing. The Iveys play, who become Badfinger after Dad Alf Geoghegan adds the ‘bad’ to Paul McCartney’s original name for them – Finger. Enjoying ‘Good Times Again’ until the club’s 1970 sale, and the dubious events surrounding the compulsory purchase order and demolition of the original site in 1972. Of course, the reconstructed Cavern is still a Mecca for Macca-fans, Beatles-aficionados, and tourists in general. I’ve been…

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