by Billy J. Shears
The Statue 4 Eppy concert is part of campaign to honour the Beatles manager in his hometown to raise £70,000 for a statue in his honour.
Strangely they exist for John Lennon, The Beatles & Billy Fury, Ken Dodd, Cilla Black & Bessie Braddock around Liverpool but not for Brian Epstein, the man who brought the Beatles, Gerry & the Pacemakers, Cilla Black and a host other Merseybeat bands to the World.
The sold out concert held at the Epstein Theatre in Liverpool was performed in two acts.
The show begin with a video message from Andrew Lancel who portrayed Brian in the acclaimed play Epstein: The Man Who Made the Beatles wishing everybody good luck.
Part one held together to a fashion by Billy Butler featured original Merseybeat artists from the 50's & 60's all backed by Cavern Club favourites the Shakers.
Taking care of business in the second half was Debi Jones. It featured Ian Prowse formerly of Amsterdam and amongst others the brilliant 13 year old Millie Courtney who had a number one in Nashville at the age of 12!
The fabulous Shakers opened the show with a high energy performance including a rousing version of My Bonnie. Most of the Merseybeat acts have been performing for over 50 years but that doesn't stop them performing with an energy that belies their years.
Cy Tucker still has a voice to send shivers down your spine. Although he didn't perform the classic 'My Prayer' his perfomance of the Beatles Help! as a power ballad was outstanding. He had already performed earlier at the Big House, the Vines on Lime Street.
Karl Terry is the ultimate showman who first formed a band called the Gamblers in 1956, eventually changing their name to Karl Terry & the Cruisers a year later. He performed a great version of 'See You Later Alligator' backed by The Shakers along with 'Cruiser' Ronnie Pilmmer on tenor sax. He packed more 'Mach Shau' into two numbers including doing the splits and dropping to his knees to imitate Ronnie's sax solos than a band does in a full set. Rock on Karl.
Beryl Marsden is considered by many to be the best female sixties singer to come out of Liverpool and with superb backing by the Shakers she ran through most of her well known songs including 'I forgot I recorded this' Breakaway, I Know & the Sha La La song Baby It's You.
When Ray Ennis retired as lead singer of the Swinging Blue Jeans it was the end of an era for me. He still had the voice, the looks:-) and was chairman of the EBC (Elbow Bending Club).
I believe he was performing with a local band under the name Ray Ennis' Swinging Blue Jeans but could never find trace of any gigs so to see he was on the Eppy bill was a highlight for me and he didn't disappoint.
His short set included my favourite Blue Jeans song 'You're No Good', Hippy Hippy Shake & Good Golly Miss Molly. Another special mention for the Shakers as there seemed a real connection with Ray especially on Hippy Hippy Shake when to the delight of Ray Ennis, Eddie Harrison produced two great solos.
Billy Butler who had done a sterling job bonding all the bits together for some reason misled the audience into thinking it was an interval and many people had gone to the bar before the Merseybeats appeared.
Many managed to get back to their seats but it still prompted Billy Kinsley to dedicate a song to all of you in the bar! The Merseybeats performed a brilliant set including Wishin' & Hopin', Sorrow & Let it Be Me..
Thomas McConnell opened the second act performing two songs including the wonderful Penny (Won't Help Me Down). It's also included on the four track Eppy single which Tom told everybody to buy. Good on you Tom.
Debi Jones introduced Millie Courtney as having had a number one hit in Nashville at the age of 12 and now she was going to entertain the capacity crowd in the Epstein Theatre at the age of 13!
She opened with a stunning version of the Beatles 'Eleanor Rigby', this was a little girl with a big voice. She followed that with her own composition 'The Way He Smiled at Me.' The crowd loved her and I'm sure we're going to hear a lot more of Millie in the coming months. She's already creating a buzz in Liverpool.
The MonaLisa Twins came over to Liverpool 10 months ago and are big Beatles fans. They played last year's Beatleweek and have a regular slot at the Cavern. Tonight they performed The Beatles This Boy followed by a cracking original beat number This Boy is Mine.
Finally, stalwart Ian Prowse took to the stage. Opening with the Amsterdam classic 'Does this Train Stop on Merseyside' before finally getting everybody back for a driving Twist and Shout with La Bamba thrown in for good measure!
A tremendous night finished with a screening of the video of the Eppy single Old Friend by The Eppy Centre.
LIVERPOOL ROCKS! - THE GREEN ROOM - Featuring The Dominoes, Beryl Marsden, The Undertakers & The Hideaways
by Billy Shears
We never need an excuse to visit Liverpool but it helps when an afternoon of Merseybeat at the Green Room and an evening with Karl Terry & the Cruisers at the ‘Big House’ Vines pub on Lime Street is on offer on Sunday
The Green Room is a cabaret club in the heart on Liverpool city centre, one of its co-owners is Ricky Tomlinson known for is portrayal of Jim Royle in the BBC’s The Royle Family.
The club features a host of top notch acts including comedians, top tribute acts and local Merseybeat bands from the 60’s.
On this Sunday afternoon Liverpool Rocks features The Dominoes, Beryl Marsden, The Undertakers & The Hideaways who played the Cavern Club more times than the Beatles.
Opening band The Dominoes features Sam Hardie on keyboards who’s an original ‘Domino’ and has been Merseybeatin’ since 1957. He leads the band through a series of rock’n’roll and Merseybeat standards from Bill Haley to Cliff Richard.
Sam’s driving keyboards are ably back by guitarist George Eccles and the remainder of the band.
Beryl Marsden started her singing career by appearing at the Cavern Club being a guest of the Undertakers. Ask anybody in
Liverpool and they’ll tell you that Beryl never had the breaks that Cilla Black had but is the better singer.
Whatever your view (I happen to think that both are great singers) Beryl is a brilliant performer while her set mixes the older
material with the new.
Her band today comprises of the Hideaways less Frankie Connor. I Know, Every Body Loves A Lover, an updated
version of Baby It’s You and a rousing version of Boys provide the backbone of an entertaining and energetic set from Beryl.
What can be said of the Undertakers?
As soon as original member Geoff Nugent screams out his trademark, ‘Too old to rock, to young to die’ the Undertakers perform a blistering set of material from their last album plus a splattering of new ‘old’ material thrown in for good measure.
Of the new material, ‘Annie’ a brand new composition by another original member Brian ‘saxaphone’ Jones is a heart wrenching instrumental superbly performed by Brian and the band dedicated and inspired by the death of his 12 year old grand daughter.
Shame Shame Shame is another cracker that appears on Geoff's new country album 'The Country Side of Me' while an instrumental version of Spanish Harlem again featuring Brian on sax is excellent.
The Undertakers are one of the best Merseybeat bands still playing today but they've been elevated to another level with the addition of a keyboard player.
Top of the bill today is the Hideaways who played the Cavern Club more times than the Beatles. The band includes local radio personality Frankie Conner, Dave Goldberg and the incredible falsetto vocals of Ozzie Yue. The tour de force is his fantastic version of The Velvelettes classic 'Needle in a Haystack'.
This was the fifth Liverpool Rocks and every show has been a sell out.
The Vines known locally as the 'Big House' on Lime Street hosts Merseybeat and on Sunday afternoon/night with regular gigs by Cy Tucker and Karl Terry & the Cruisers.
We arrive in time to catch the last set by King Karl, the 'Sheikh of Shake' as he was christened by Bob Wooler.
He still puts on an incredible show and performs the best in rock 'n' roll and Merseybeat. Talkin' Bout You, I Can Tell and the self penned Cigarettes, Cold Beer, Sexy Ladies all get a regular outing.
If you haven't seen Karl Terry & the Cruisers get yourself along to the Vines and see a Merseybeat original, you won't be disappointed and no excuse needed!
by Billy J. Shears
This was the first time that the Beatles played at the Tower Ballroom, Promenade, New Brighton Wallasey, Merseyside L45 on Friday evening, 10th November 1961..
The Tower that stood above this Ballroom before the war was the second largest iron tower in Europe. During the War the tower was dismantled, in anticipation that the iron would be required in the war effort.
Despite the fact that the iron was never used, the tower was never rebuilt, but the Ballroom remained and was capable of holding as many as 5000 people.
The promoter, Sam Leach, managed to persude 3000 people to come and watch his 'Operation Big Beat' which was basically a selection of five Liverpool bands pulled together to play at the one venue between the hours of 7.30pm and 1am.
As well as the Beatles, the other bands that played that night were Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, Gerry and the Pacemakers, The Remco Four and Kingsize Taylor and the Dominoes.
The Beatles first hit the stage at 8pm before leaving the Ballroom to complete a prior engagement, arranged by Mona Best, on the other side of the River Mersey at the Knotty Ash Village Hall, while the other bands remained at the Ballroom entertaining the audience. Once the Beatles had completed their additional engagement, they returned to the Ballroon and played a second spot at 11.30pm www.fincharie.com
So move forward 50 years and the Merseybeat Story held each month at Fort Perch Rock, New Brighton celebrates the events of 10th November 1961.
The day began at 1130 with a short walking tour conducted by local Beatles historian Ray O’Brien. He’s a great supporter of ‘the Rock’ and led a party of around 70 people to the original site of the entrance to the Tower Ballroom.
Once there local people recalled the days when the Tower Ballroom was a vibrant live venue with appearances by the
Rolling Stones, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Gerry & the Pacemakers & of course the Beatles.
The tour also took in the Kraal Club and the Chelsea Reach, venue for the ‘pub scene’ in the James Paul McCartney special in 1973. A member of the public had attended that night and revealed that he was supplied with free beer all night!
Later a plaque was unveiled by Sam Leach the promoter who brought the Beatles & a host of Merseybeat bands to the Tower Ballroom which resulted in a record crowd on the UK mainland as an estimated 4,500 people went to watch the Beatles 2nd show on the 24th November 1961.
So where better to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Operation Big Beat,than Fort Perch Rock the home of the monthly Merseybeat Story session.
I have never seen as many people crammed into the rock to join in the experience including three Merseybeat promotors in the same room, Allan Williams, Joe Flannery and the man responsible for the original Operation Big Beat in 1961, Sam Leach.
Hosted by 'our Harry' original Remo Four drummer Harry Prytherch who appeared on the original 'beat' we were treated to a great day of music with sets from Paul Hayes with his superb band from Morecambe, The Collection.
Guest appearances included appearances from local musician Susan Hedges and Merseybeat original Cliff Roberts along with the Rocks resident poet
Ron and a Merseybeat Hall of Fame induction for Tonty Booth who designed most of the original Merseybeat posters.
Top of the bill were the Dominoes with original member Sam Hardie leading the band through a superb set of Merseybeat & Rock n Roll covers.
It was a fantastic day at the 'Rock' and the 50th anniversary was truly celebrated in style by original Merseybeat stars and fans who made it happen.....