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In Folder: 780 LEI - Spencer Leigh Collection


A series of 12 programmes.


Series of 16 pop quizzes presented by Spencer Leigh featuring local teams starting 2 May 1988 with a repeat on 5 May 1988. Final programme 15 August 1988 with a repeat on 18 August 1988. All programmes lasted 25 minutes. Standard rules from the Merseyside Quiz League. First round was connecting pairs (say two albums from same artist); second round was recognising introductions to hit records; third round was on names, nicknames or the names of backing groups; fourth round was on lyrics: fifth, a group round identifying a speaking voice: sixth round on stage and films; seventh, a segue of four versions of a well-known song; eighth on dates – events with a choice of three; and a final quick-fire round with bell and buzzer.


From Mathew Street to Abbey Road Background notes to the BBC Radio Merseyside series from 2012. Compiled October 2021 by Spencer Leigh Aim – To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ first Parlophone single, ‘Love Me Do’. Background The trailer for this series of three one-hour programmes said: Fifty years ago, the Beatles had a creative and life-changing year which set them up for conquering the world. 1962 was the year in which Brian Epstein became their manager; 1962 was the year in which Ringo Starr joined the band; 1962 was the year in which John Lennon married Cynthia Powell; 1962 was the year in which they made their first Parlophone single; ‘Love Me Do’… …and 1962 was the last year in which they would regularly perform on Merseyside. You may have thought that there is nothing more to say about the Beatles, but you are wrong. In From Mathew Street to Abbey Road, a new, three part series of programmes on BBC Radio Merseyside, the Beatles’ historian, Spencer Leigh, looks at their story afresh, presents exclusive interviews, and reaches new conclusions. Transmission Part 1 Teenagers’ Turn Sunday 10 June 2012, 4-5pm Repeated 15 June 2012, 9-10pm Part 2 Someone To Love, Someone Like You Sunday 17 June 2012, 4-5pm Repeated 22 June 2012, 9-10pm Part 3 The Full Monty Sunday 24 June 2012, 4-5pm Repeated 29 June 2012, 9-10pm From Mathew Street To Abbey Road – The Broadcasts The Programmes The purpose was to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ first Parlophone single, ‘Love Me Do’. Although I was drawing on my past interviews, I was keen to have new material. There is the Southport councillor Sir Ron Watson who had seen the Beatles at the Cavern and elsewhere over 100 times; Walter Smith, who made Brian Epstein’s suits and then the Beatles’ and was still working in Queen’s Arcade; Roy Young who had played with the Beatles in Hamburg and was living in Oxford; Bobby Graham from Joe Brown’s Bruvvers, who says he was invited to join the Beatles; Monty Lister who presented the first recorded interview with the Beatles; and David John, a rock’n’roll singer from Preston, who in 1962 told the BBC how good the Beatles were - and the letter had been preserved in the BBC’s archives. There were commentators such as Mark Lewisohn and David Charters. As it was a predictable subject, I wanted surprises all along the way. The Contributors This series is a departure for me as I had been talking to the Granada TV producer Leslie Woodhead who said, “Don’t have too many people in a documentary as nobody gets to know them.” I’d previously been thinking, “Let’s have as many as people as we can as it shows how thorough the research has been.” I can also tell that I was hating the current documentary style of letting someone only say a sentence or two before they were interrupted. I was thinking – If this is a good story, then they can tell it without interruption. Oddly enough, no one criticised me for this, which is odd as I can see I had prepared my defence. The cuttings and comments from the BBC Written Archives and the Newspaper Library were read by staff members at BBC Radio Merseyside. Beryl Adams was Brian Epstein’s secretary. Episode 2 Tony Barrow was the Beatles’ press officer. Episode 1 Pete Best was drummer with the Beatles from 1960 to 1962. Episodes 1,2 Art critic Bryan Biggs manages the Bluecoat Art Centre. Episode 1 Joe Brown had a UK Number 1 with ‘A Picture of You’ in 1962. Episode 2 At the time Billy Butler was featured on the Spin-a-Disc panel for ITV’s Thank Your Lucky Stars. Episode 3 Howie Casey led the Liverpool band, the Seniors. Episode 1 Bruce Channel toured the UK and played the Cavern in 1962 on the strength of ‘Hey! Baby’. Episode 2 David Charters wrote for Liverpool Daily Post. Episodes 1,3 Craig Douglas was a UK hitmaker of the early 60s, best known for ‘Only Sixteen’. Episode 3 Dave Dover was a local musician, later with Colonel Bagshot. Episode 1 Horst Fascher was house manager at the Star-Club, Hamburg. Episodes 1,3 John Frankland was part of Kingsize Taylor and the Dominoes. Episode 3 Johnny Gentle was a Liverpool singer, signed by Larry Parnes. Episode 3 Bill Harry edited the Mersey Beat newspaper. Episode 2 Freda Kelly ran The Beatles Fan Club. Episode 1 Astrid Kirchherr was a photographer who befriended the Beatles in Hamburg and was engaged to Stuart Sutcliffe. Episode 1 Frank Ifield had a UK No.l with ‘I Remember You’ in 1962. Episode 3 Billy Kinsley was with the Merseybeats and Liverpool Express Episode 3 Billy J Kramer was managed by Brian Epstein. Episode 3 Cynthia Lennon was married to John Lennon. Episode 2 Mark Lewisohn is the world’s leading authority on the Beatles, outside of Paul McCartney that is. Episodes 1, 2, 3 Terry Lightfoot ran a Trad jazz band in the early 60s. Episode 1 Monty Lister interviewed the Beatles for hospital radio in 1962. Episode 3 Harmonica player Delbert McClinton came to the UK with Bruce Channel in 1962 and they played on Merseyside with memorable consequences. Episode 2 Fred Marsden played drums for the Pacemakers. Episode 2 Gerry Marsden led the Pacemakers. Episode 2 Record producer George Martin ran EMI’s Parlophone label. Episode 2 Jazz vocalist and commentator George Melly sang with Mick Mulligan’s Jazz Band. Episode 2 Harry Moss was a recording engineer at EMI. Episode 2 Denmark Street songwriter Mitch Murray wrote ‘How Do You Do It’. Episode 2 Jean Owen was one of the Vernons Girls, later Samantha Jones. Episode 3 Brian Poole fronted the Tremeloes and auditioned for Decca at the same time as the Beatles. Episode 1 Earl Preston was a Merseybeat vocalist, fronting the TT’s. Episode 1 Later a major playwright, Willy Russell was a young Cavernite. Episode 2 Mike Smith was a Decca record producer. Episode 1 Walter Smith was Brian Epstein’s tailor. Episode 1 Kingsize Taylor led the Dominoes. Episode 3 Sir Ron Watson saw the Beatles at the Cavern. Episodes 1,2,3 Starting in 1959, Marty Wilde was a leading UK hitmaker. Episode 2 Session musician Andy White played with the Beatles in September 1962. Episode 2 Rock’n’roll singer and pianist, Roy Young recorded with the Beatles in Hamburg. Episode 1


Background notes to the BBC Radio Merseyside series from 2002. Compiled February 2020 by Spencer Leigh Aim – The first radio series to explore the links between Hamburg and the Beatles. Background For many years I had been writing and broadcasting about Merseybeat. I’d had many conversations with musicians who had been to Hamburg and I knew the photographers, Astrid Kirchherr and Jürgen Vollmer, and the artist and bass player, Klaus Voormann as they had been in Liverpool at Beatle events. Indeed, it was their agent, Ulf Krüger, who suggested I should make some programmes in Germany. He could introduce me to the Rattles, a Hamburg band who had played at the Cavern, and Mary McGlory of the Liverbirds, who married a German musician and producer, Frank Dostal, the writer of ‘Yes Sir I Can Boogie’. He also knew Roy Dyke, a Liverpool drummer known for Ashton, Gardner and Dyke, who had settled in Hamburg and played in a blues band. I knew Horst Fascher who had spotted the Beatles’ talent and organised the entertainment at the Star-Club. Nowadays he came across like everybody’s favourite uncle, but I sensed that there was a tougher side and I wanted to put this key figure into perspective. Ulf Krüger gave me some contacts and I booked myself into a hotel on the Reeperbahn. Over four days I saw all the Beatle sites and conducted a dozen interviews. I was being told stories that I’d never heard before, and if I hadn’t heard them, it was odds on that they would be new to the listeners as well. There had been sporadic talks of an official link between Hamburg and Liverpool. It would have made sense as they were both sea ports with shared musical links. When this association had been first suggested, there was a two-hour, two-way radio programme between Liverpool and Hamburg on Radio Merseyside, presented by Steve Kay. It was rose-coloured and showed the best of both cities. The association never happened and it never would because there was an enormous stumbling-block. If tourists visit Liverpool to see the Beatles there are plenty of places for them to go and some locations are lovely, for example Menlove Avenue where John Lennon lived. On the other hand, all the Beatle locations in Hamburg are in one small area in St Pauli, notably the Reeperbahn and Grosse Freiheit. So far as I know, the Beatles never went into the city of Hamburg itself. The strip clubs and sex shows were still in St Pauli but were now controlled by East European businesses: still, it gave a flavour of what the Beatles and other bands experienced. There was no way this could be an area for family tourism and the planned Beatles museum was doomed to fail – and it did. Since then, there has been an attempt to clean up St Pauli but if it happens, then there will be nothing for the Beatle tourists. Germany Calling is hopefully what it was really like. For fear of legal action (or worse!), there were some stories that I couldn’t tell, but it is 95% of what I wanted. Germany Calling – The Broadcasts This was broadcast as a weekly series of eight 55-minute episodes, the first part being first transmitted on 2 June 2002. It was broadcast at Sunday teatime, an interesting slot for programmes as raunchy as these. There was a running joke at the station that Gerry Marsden talking about going to a brothel should be nominated for a Gillard Award. That is even more amusing than it sounds because Frank Gillard was the BBC director who banned the Beatles’ ‘A Day In The Life’. The script and the interviews were mine and the series was produced by Georgina Furnell, who seemed to enjoy the characters as much as I did. I wasn’t sure about the title. It seemed obvious but it worked okay. I was going to call one episode, Hamburg Throat, but that would have been a pun too far. Eight episodes was about right. I had, for example, about six people with tales of the transvestite Roxy Bar but the accounts were so similar that one was enough. The signature tune was ‘Cry For A Shadow’, an instrumental the Beatles recorded in Hamburg in 1961, and there were 64 speakers in the series. I didn’t interview Lord Woodbine (Harold Phillips) for the series or indeed for any other programme. I did talk to him a number of times but apart from going with the Beatles to Hamburg on that first trip, I could never pin down his involvement in the Merseybeat story. He certainly thought he was important as one day he rode up to me on his bicycle and said, “You’ve made a million pounds out of the Beatles and I want some of it.” I said, “Woody, if I’ve made a million pounds out of the Beatles, you could gladly have some of it.” Who made the Beatles? Growing up in Liverpool, I naturally thought that Liverpool made the Beatles but as I travelled around and talked to other people, I realised that there is no universal answer to this question. In Germany, I have met many people who have said that the Beatles wouldn’t have been the Beatles without Hamburg. Many Londoners feel that the capital city was the making of them and then again, there are New Yorkers who say that coming to America that made all the difference. In their own ways, everyone is probably right.



Background notes to the BBC Radio Merseyside series from 1981 Compiled December 2019 by Spencer Leigh Background In 1979 after making several one-off programmes and occasional short series for BBC Radio Merseyside, I decided to do something about the musical heritage on my doorstep. I was used to having 15 minutes with star performers before they went on stage for a magazine feature or radio programme but I was missing what was in front of me. I felt that if I didn’t do it, nobody else would. My intention was to talk to as many musicians from the Merseybeat era as I could find. I didn’t have any problem in convincing the manager, Ian Judson that this was worthwhile. In retrospect, I can see that he couldn’t possibly have paid a staff member to do this: I was to make the series for £30 a programme and that the rights to the interviews would be mine. I didn’t have a clear idea of where I was going, how many musicians I would interview, what sort of stories I would be getting or how I would structure such a series. I would see what I was getting and report back. The senior producer, Jenny Collins, later Jenny Voce, was very encouraging and she made the series with me. John Lennon was assassinated while I was doing the interviews. In the months previous, I had put out feelers to interview the Beatles individually but not had any response and after December 1980, there was no point in pursuing this. I didn’t want to use archive interviews and the lack of Beatle content enabled me to spend more time with the other acts. It was new territory as very little had been broadcast about the Merseybeat era itself. The concentration had been on the Beatles and it was often skewed. John Lennon’s development as a musician, I was sure, had very little to do with his Aunt Mimi. The Beatles, I was certain, were mostly influenced by their competitors, the bands around them. They had to be better than the Searchers or the Pacemakers and once they had conquered Liverpool, they expanded to the north-west, the UK, Europe, America and the world. I was allowed to borrow a Uher tape recorder whenever one was available although I soon decided to buy one of my own. The station provided the tape and I recorded over 200 five-inch spools. All the interviews were transcribed, although this is really pre-computers (well, pre-me having a computer) and I only have paper transcripts. Once the series had been broadcast, Radio Merseyside wanted the original interview tapes to be wiped clean in some fearsome machine and returned for reuse. I returned about half of them and now of course, I wish I hadn’t. For example, I was the only person ever to interview an early Beatles drummer, Norman Chapman. All that exists are a couple of clips in the first episode of Let’s Go Down The Cavern. I recycled the tapes of a 40 minute interview with Brian Epstein’s late brother, Clive, and so it is frustrating to hear the clips in this series. In terms of Liverpool’s musical history, Let’s Go Down The Cavern was unique and there has been nothing like it before or since, although I have returned to the subject, as listed later. Let’s Go Down The Cavern – The Broadcasts Weekly series of twelve 55 minute episodes, the first part being first transmitted on 30 May 1981 with a repeat the following day. The series was broadcast on a dozen local radio stations, which demonstrates that Merseybeat was not confined to the north-west. The series was re-broadcast by BBC Radio Merseyside in 1983 and a few changes were made. I re-recorded Freda Kelly to get better quality clips and brought things up to date but there were no radical differences. The changes were made to the master tapes and these are the spools in Liverpool Central Library and although they are in good condition, care will need to be taken with digitising them, as the sticky tape for making joins may have disintegrated. A total of 110 people contribute to the series and they were all connected to the scene in some way. I didn’t want any music writers or pundits, just the people who were involved. Indeed, I add little commentary myself, being mostly there to signpost who is speaking next. I am surprised by some of the omissions. I interviewed both Billy Butler (Cavern DJ and panellist on Thank Your Lucky Stars) and Bob Azurdia (writer, Mersey Beat and Melody Maker) but they’re not there in the series, although there is a story about Billy Butler. The show is very narrative-driven and what they said can’t have been appropriate. On the other hand, another Radio Merseyside presenter, Kenny Johnson, appears quite often. The final link in the series had to be changed for the 1983 repeat. Paddy Delaney, the Cavern’s doorman, had described walking up Mathew Street and noting a car park where the Cavern was, so that on the day of Lennon’s death, fans left flowers at a car park: where else could they leave them? John Lennon’s assassination had prompted the Liverpool architect David Backhouse to build a complex of offices and shops with a revitalised Cavern and an Abbey Road pub. It was the start of the Beatleisation of the city. By the time of the repeat, the Cavern Walks project was well under way. One reason for the repeat was that the radio station was selling original Cavern bricks in aid of Strawberry Field at £5 a brick. Cavern bricks now fetch at least £200 in Beatle auctions so I wish I had bought a wall. Royal Life, which built Cavern Walks, issued a free glossy brochure about the history of the site with many quotes taken from the radio series: again it was available from Radio Merseyside and copies now fetch £30. Just before the new Cavern opened for business, I invited as many Merseybeat musicians as I could muster to sign the wall at the back of the stage. Well over 150 musicians came to the Cavern and I met many Merseybeat musicians who were not in Let’s Go Down The Cavern, many of whom appeared in later programmes of mine. There were gatecrashers at the event as some locals realised they could get free drinks at the new Cavern instead of paying for them at the Grapes simply by pretending they had played in a beat group. Many musicians were meeting each other for the first time in years and this led to charity gigs and the Merseycats charity. A few years further down the line, several clips were taken from Let’s Go Down The Cavern and some fresh material added for a two-part series on Radio 2, fronted by Gerry Marsden. This was a travesty as Gerry used his presenter’s spot to comment on what was being said and even to settle old scores. As a Gerry Marsden showcase, it worked fine but the producer should have stopped him. Let’s Go Down The Cavern – The Episodes The structure of the series was broadly chronological. It was only while I was making the series that I discovered that many group members had unreleased tracks in their houses – and sometimes in their garages. After making the series, I made more of an effort to locate and broadcast them. There are some in the series, but there could have been more. The signature tune was a Big Three B-side, ‘Cavern Stomp’, which they wrote in half an hour. Most of the time there was no space to dance anything at the Cavern. The title Let’s Go Down The Cavern sounds like one of the Famous Five adventures and I quite like that but it is a phrase that Mike Hart barks out in his venomous ‘If You’ve Never Been in Love Before, You’ll Know There Are Bad Times Along With The Good’ (1972). Generally the musicians are full of praise for the Beatles but there are discerning voices like Kingsize Taylor and Jimmy Campbell. I was however careful that this series shouldn’t be ridiculous. Kingsize Taylor was convinced that Lennon and McCartney’s songs were mostly written by Tin Pan Alley tunesmiths because he had seen nothing to convince him that Lennon and McCartney had such talents. The views of such flat earthers weren’t included in the programmes. Merseybeat was very male-dominated but someone had to do the screaming. Hearing it now, I should have included more female voices. Also, when these white bands sang so much American R&B, I should have asked where the black musicians were. Most of the bars around Liverpool 8 featured jazz and there were few black acts – Derry Wilkie, Trevor Morais, the Chants and the Harlems. Both issues were addressed in a later series, Soup & Sweat & Rock & Roll.


Presented by Spencer Leigh I had been doing one-off programmes and series for BBC Radio Merseyside but in 1985 On The Beat was hopefully going to be a long-running weekly programme. In the trial run of five shows, I refer to it as “the first music show for the over 25s”, which must have been my remit for the programme. It doesn’t sound like me and I dropped it after the first run of five programmes. I never really had a strapline for the programmes: I simply made programmes that I would want to listen to myself and I succeeded in that as I’ve enjoyed revisiting the programmes for these notes. Hearing these five shows in September 2019, they seem something of their time. The music questions from listeners would be superfluous today as anyone today who had a question would check it out on Google. However, it was a good way to find out who was out there and emphasise that this show was conveying information. In the early years the live programme was generally recorded from a cassette machine in the studio, so they are master quality apart from cassette hiss. These cassette-recorded programmes were later transferred to CD so all the On The Beat programmes are on CD. The first five programmes were trial run, which I’m glad to say worked out okay. The title came from a Norman Wisdom film. The signature from the start and indeed for many years was an unreleased instrumental ‘Hernia’ by Joe Brown, who plays slide, mandolin and banjo on it, and to this day (2019) he hasn’t released it. Nice little tune too. I ask Joe about the track at the end of OTB 0110. When the interview is not live, there is a reference to where the original interview is located. MD minidisc T means the interview has been transcribed. PT partially transcribed (either a portion of it or notes). NT not transcribed. NK original interview not kept. For better or worse, I produced my own show although I could always ask Radio Merseyside staff if I had a problem. Listeners sometimes asked me how I got on with my producer and I say, “Fine. I sleep with him every night.” The show was commissioned by Radio Merseyside’s then-manager Ian Judson. He told me that doing a weekly show was a great commitment: you had to compile and present a show each week. I didn’t see any problem with that as I could always record a show if I wasn’t going to be around, and as my wife was often out riding horses, we were often doing different things. There was no budget for expenses but that didn’t bother me too much because as a quid pro quo, Ian gave me a note that the interviews were my property so I could use them wherever I liked. As it happened, I worked for Royal Life as an actuary and had many industry meetings in London. I reckoned that I could always slip in an interview or two by getting a later train. Jenny Collins offered me a tip: write ‘Smile’ at the top of a script, which helps you to sound friendly. I’m not sure that her husband, Steve Voce, who presented Jazz Panorama, heeded the advice. I did do that for a while and it helped. Anyway, when I interviewed Charles Aznavour, he said he distrusted performers who smiled on stage, so you never can tell.


Series of 16 pop quizzes presented by Spencer Leigh featuring local teams starting Wednesday 1 May 1994 with a repeat on Saturday 4 May 1994. Final programme 14 August 1994 a repeat on 17 August 1994. All programmes lasted 25 minutes. I don’t know why the celebrity voices (Rod Stewart and David Bowie in the first episode in 1994) hadn’t come from my interviews. Possibly they had come from national radio for use in local radio quizzes. Standard rules from the Merseyside Quiz League. First round was connecting pairs (say two albums from same artist); second round was recognising introductions to hit records; third round was on names, nicknames or the names of backing groups; fourth round was on lyrics: fifth, a group round identifying a speaking voice: sixth round on stage and films; seventh, a segue of four versions of a well-known song; eighth on dates – events with a choice of three; and a final quick-fire round with bell and buzzer. Tracey Cummins, Jean Catharell and Jane Waring were keeping score, perhaps the most important job. Signature tune was ‘Break Thru’ written by Geoff Taggart (Episode 8) and recorded by the Shadows.


A series of nine 25 minute programmes from 1988, each devoted to a Merseybeat group. There were no interviews but there was unreleased material which listeners would often be hearing for the first time. The title, which was perfect, came from the Big Three’s first single. I presume that the series was for the 25th anniversary of Merseybeat but I never say so.


Background notes to the BBC Radio Merseyside series from 2007. Compiled January 2020 by Spencer Leigh Aim – To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Cavern club in Mathew Street, Liverpool. Background I had broadcast many programmes about the Merseybeat era, notably the 12-part Let’s Go Down The Cavern in 1981. Despite its title, that series was about Merseybeat as a whole and although it contained plenty about the Cavern, that wasn’t its prime intention. This new series was intended as standalone but complementary, concentrating solely on the Cavern and going through the decades. For example, hardly anyone had done anything on its early years as a jazz club, certainly nothing substantial. The Cavern itself was hosting a celebrations for its 50th anniversary, which seemed a good opportunity for interviews, particularly for the final episode. However, I thought the concept of the 50th year celebrations were a little naff as the Cavern had not been around for eight of those years. When the Cavern was forced from its original location, it went across the road and then closed down, but its demise didn’t generate much comment in the city. The past was the past and there was no sense of musical history. I hate to say it but the assassination of John Lennon was the turning-point. One extraordinary fact that I discovered in making this series was that owning the Cavern was a poisoned chalice, which gave me my storyline. The club had had eight previous owners and none of them had left the Cavern positively. The Cavern, it seemed, was a way of losing money. However, I had faith in Bill Heckle, Dave Jones and George Guinness, the current owners, as they seemed to have both the heritage element and the new music right. That ventilation still had be sorted out…. Around the time of this series, an organiser of a jazz festival had complained that BBC Radio Merseyside had hardly mentioned his festival while other music festivals had been hammered home. Therefore, I didn’t want this to be an advert for the current Cavern as other club owners might legitimately complain. Although I looked for something negative about the current regime, they appeared to have it about right. For a start, the Cavern was free of the gangsters that had blighted so many Liverpool clubs. Bill Heckle felt that they were protected by the brand name as anything that happened in the Cavern would, ipso facto, be front page news. It must have been a matter of pride but I think I was determined not to repeat contributions from Let’s Go Down The Cavern, not that anyone would have noticed. Although they cover much of the same ground, I don’t think that any of the spoken content is the same. Through experience, my bullshit detector was working much better and there were some speakers in Let’s Go Down The Cavern who shouldn’t have had airtime; still, I suppose that’s all part of the story. (I would never make it but occasionally I run I’m A Loser in my mind, a documentary about those who exaggerate their role in the Beatles story.) I wanted this series to feel claustrophobic. What happened outside the Cavern was of little concern to this programme: it was the story of what happened down those dingy steps. Soup& Sweat & Rock & Roll – The Broadcasts This was broadcast as a weekly series of eight 60-minute episodes, the first part being first transmitted on Sunday 20 May 2007. It was on FM only because of live commentary from Rugby Superleague. It was not repeated which was sad as it contained information that was new and not available elsewhere, but there was now little space for lengthy documentary series on local radio. The script and the interviews were all mine but I had excellent help in producing the series from Colin Disley. There are 125 speakers in the series and I went out of my way to find the caterers, the organisers and the punters to give a comprehensive picture of what happened at the Cavern. The current trend for music documentaries is to have short bursts of speech so that stories are cut up, thus losing the art of the storyteller. There are several examples of brilliant raconteurs in this series including Willy Russell and George Melly who are allowed to tell stories without interruption. I am certain the interview material sounds better this way. As far as I know this series contains the only interview with the Cavern’s first owner, Alan Sytner, who ran a car dealership in Nottingham. He talked very well but he was a bit short of breath, indicating health problems. I felt he was rather dismissive of what he had started but not a bit of it. When he died, he wanted some of his ashes should be placed under the stage at the Cavern and that did happen. The signature tune is ‘Peter Gunn’ by the Remo Four.


Try To See It My Way Background notes to the BBC Radio Merseyside series from 1984. Compiled October 2021 by Spencer Leigh Aim – To celebrate the opening of Cavern Walks Background The architect Davie Backhouse had built Cavern Walks in conjunction with Royal Life. It was first major development for some years in Liverpool, but really the site was too small for a shopping centre. When the Cavern site was excavated, a huge pool was discovered underneath which created delays but created the image that the Beatles walked on water. It was opened in 1984. The new Cavern was in the basement, roughly where the original club had been but the site of the original entrance was now the fire exit. There was a back room as well and this was the stage that Paul McCartney played in 1999 to promote his Run Devil Run album. Above the Cavern on the ground floor was the Abbey Road pub, both the club and the pub being managed by Tommy Smith, the Liverpool footballer. I was once talking to him in the Cavern when troubled flared up. He said, “Excuse me”, threw the troublemaker out and then came back to talk to me. You didn’t need bouncers with Tommy Smith around. The two floors of shops included Liz and Jim Hughes’ Cavern Mecca, which was part fan club and part tourist centre. It is fondly remembered with an annual concert at the Cavern but they didn’t have the finances to make it work. A shame as they had the ideas. The Yellow Submarine, built for the London premiêre of the film in 1968, was on display. When the statue of the Beatles by John Doubleday was unveiled by Mike McCartney, he said, “Which one’s Paul?” A brilliant comment – the sculptor was going for an Everyman look – or possibly a John Doubleday look. The Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds café proved very popular but the shops themselves came and went, possibly because the leaseholders could never decide whether to have upmarket shops or a wider range. Both Cricket and Vivienne Westwood appealed to footballers’ wives. Above the shops were several floors of office space but these were largely empty. Acting together, BBC Radio Merseyside and Royal Life created a giant Beatles quiz which was available from the radio station and elsewhere. The prizes were shopping vouchers for Cavern Walks. I presented a weekly summer series about the Beatles, Try To See It My Way, which started on Saturday 26 May 1984 and continued for 12 weeks. It was my personal assessment of the Beatles, hence the title, The final part went through the Beatles Quiz, gave out the answers and announced the winners. Part 1 – A Backbeat You Can’t Lose It Part 2 – You Really Got A Hold on Me Part 3 – Here There And Everywhwee Part 4 – Dr Robert Part 5 – I’d Like To turn You On Part 6 – I Wanna Be Your Man Part 7 – All Together Now Part 8 – Got To Be A Joker Part 9 – I Me Mine Part 10 – Images Of Broken Light Part 11 – Strange Days Indeed Part 12 – Cavern Walks Quiz with winners


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