There’s still plenty more say about the Beatles
By Laura Davis, arts editor, Liverpool Echo
There’s a joke in Liverpool that everybody in the city has a Beatles story.
In reality, get chatting to someone who lived here during the Sixties and you’ll find they almost always have a tenuous link.
Either they went to school with one of the band or they lived around the corner. They remember going to St Peter’s Church Fete — but maybe not seeing the Quarrymen play there, or they used to watch The Beatles performing in The Cavern during their lunch hour.
Then there are those who found themselves playing a key role in the story of the band of four ordinary Scouse lads who went on to conquer the world.
These are the people Liverpool Echo is featuring on its new podcast, Beatles City — capturing the memories of those who were there at the very beginning.
When you hear our guests talk, vividly recalling the excitement of this extraordinary time in their youth, history springs to life.
Fan Club secretary Freda Kelly speaks warmly about how Paul McCartney’s dad insisted she call him ‘Uncle Jim’ and how Ringo’s mum described her as ‘one of the family’.
Pete Best’s voice lights up as he recalls the thrill of performing as The Beatles drummer in Hamburg — and cracks as he describes the moment he was told he been replaced by Ringo Starr.
I and my co-host, Ellen Kirwin, also wanted to share the unique perspective we have here in Liverpool, with the band’s fans all over the globe. To most people, the names ‘Penny Lane’ and ‘Strawberry Fields’ are song lyrics.
To us they are real places we pass going about our day-to-day lives. I drive past Strawberry Fields almost every day, slowing the car not in tribute to the Beatles Mecca but because you can never be sure whether a fan, caught up in the moment, will step backwards into the road.
Eleanor Rigby’s grave is just a few rows away from stone under which my great-grandparents are buried. Mathew Street is a short-cut on the walk from the bus stop to the office.
In Beatles City, we take listeners to those places to paint them a picture of what they are really like — and what they were like back when John, Paul and George were still learning to tune a guitar and when Ringo first held a pair of drumsticks.
In an upcoming episode, Quarryman Rod Davis (my uncle — there’s my tenuous link) will give us a tour of Woolton, to show how the area where John Lennon grew up was a place of pretty red-brick cottages and sandstone wall-lined roads rather than the bombed-out city imagined by so many fans who have never visited.
We launched Beatles City on Monday by simultaneously uploading three episodes, and will follow up weekly to make a season of 10. Within 12 hours, Apple had added it to its prominent ‘New and Noteworthy’ section, and over the first three days the podcast had nearly 2,000 listens.
Meanwhile, our Facebook feeds are clogged with posts by obsessed Beatles fans thanks to all the relevant groups we’ve joined in an effort to promote our work.
And Michael Pearson, who edits and co-produces the show with Matt Aldus, has bags under his eyes from staying up late to chat online with potential American listeners.
It has been a joy and a privilege to hear these stories and to pass them on to those who share our passion for The Beatles. And it’s exciting to be part of what is still a relatively new venture in digital journalism.