The Beatles in Liverpool- In association with Merseyguide

'Beat' is Born

In 1959 Alan Sytner decided to sell the Cavern after moving to London with his new wife. The buyer was man called Ray McFall, an accountant and an avid Jazz fan, but notably a person who hated 'Beat' music - the very music that was about to take the world by storm.

By 1960 the Cavern was losing a lot of new customers to its competitors around the city - competitors who mainly played Beat music. McFall had a major dilemma on his hands. Should he continue to keep the Cavern as a predominant Jazz club (and lose custom), or to adopt the Beat phenomena and attract a younger crowd with more money to spend? The latter was accepted, but initially only as an experiment. Beat was allocated one night a week (Wednesdays) while Jazz continued to be played every other night. The first Beat night was headlined by 'Rory Storm and the Hurricanes' on the 25th May 1960. And although boycotted by the clubs older members, the night was a huge success. Further Beat nights followed.

'Four young men form Liverpool, England'
The year is 1961, Beat has now taken over Tuesday nights, some lunch times and Wednesdays at the club. Jazz and all its genres is slowly fading in the Cavern, and on Tuesday 21st March it is practically 'put to sleep'. The Beatles make their Cavern debut.

The band had just returned from Hamburg, Germany where it is said they technically came on leaps and bounds in their playing. The somewhat 'workhouse' like German clubs demanded bands to play up to eight hours a night, every night, which on anyone's terms is a lot of playing. The time in Hamburg was without a doubt beneficial to band's overall appeal. They looked better (leather clad), sounded better and essentially discovered how to pull in a crowd.

Their debut was an instant success with the crowds, and accordingly they were booked again (and again!). The band were immediately given three to four lunchtime slots per week as well as most weekends. Very quickly the Beatles began to develop a strong rapport with the crowds who just couldn't get enough of the band. In fact, in a matter of weeks the Cavern had to introduce pre-purchased tickets in an attempt to keep the Mathew Street queues at bay. This backfired somewhat on McFall, in that the exclusiveness of tickets quite simply increased interest, and thus the number of those hanging around outside the club. The Beatles had acquired their first prize - Liverpool.


21st March 1961
Beatles first Cavern gig

Evening Session:
Remo Quartet
Dale Roberts & the Jaywalkers
The Beatles

Beatles at the Cavern