It was then time to leave and we headed to our home-away-from-home,
Liverpool! Yeah!!!!! We arrived at the Britannia Adelphi hotel,
checked in quickly and got settled in. This regal hotel is
centrally located to everything in Liverpool. Shortly thereafter,
we headed over to LIPA (Liverpool Institute for the Performing
Arts, also known as Paul's "Fame" school). Here,
various bands including "The Nurk Twins" played
to what looked to be a packed house. That was the name John
& Paul called themselves at an impromptu gig on April
24, 1960. I didn't go, but I heard mixed reviews about the
show. After LIPA, many made their way down to the Cavern for
live music and ale.
To start our first full day in Liverpool, I had a great breakfast
and left the group. I went to the Walker Art Gallery to see
the five Paul paintings on display. I found one of Stu Sutcliff's
paintings there, too. The paintings were okay. I give Paul
an "A" for effort and style, but he is much better
singer and songwriter than painter. I then ventured off for
some local shopping, and leisurely enjoyed my personal walk
I should mention that throughout the week, Pete Best had press
conferences and book signings at various locations. I tried
to get into the press conference at the
Cavern, but didn't succeed. Pete was promoting his new book,
"The Beatles: The True Beginnings." He also had
a signing at The Beatles Story exhibition at Albert Dock.
There are two new exhibits at The Beatles Story worth mentioning.
One is a George Harrison memorial wall, covered with letters,
pictures, poems and drawings left by fans worldwide. You had
a chance to add to it and have it become part of a permanent
memorial for George. Also, there is a Lennon exhibit with
a centerpiece of Lennon specs, called "A Look Through
The Eyes of Lennon." It's a bit weird but worth seeing.
You walk in and lights go off and you look through large cardboard
specs to see video of images of the 60's, while you hear John's
song "Love." In the afternoon, I went with some
friends to see the auction preview at LIPA, and had a drink
at Ye Cracke pub, where John and Cynthia often met. Later,
I had a late lunch in Penny Lane at the Sgt. Pepper Bistro.
Our waitress, who was from Ireland, said she was Rosie O'Donnell's
While I was doing my own thing, the tour group boarded the
Magical Mystery Tour bus for the Eddie & Les show. Eddie
"the Walrus" Porter serves as the guide and Les
does the driving and feeds Eddie all the straight lines. They
present the tour perfectly, mixing elements of history,
local lore, comedy and sensitivity.
We were joined on-board by a camera crew from Granada TV/London
Weekend Television, filming for the Discovery's Travel Channel.
Perhaps we'll be on TV as part of their Beatles England travel
special if and when it ever airs. We gave them some great
footage, that's for sure. The members of "British Export"
look gear dressed in their "early years" costumes,
and the camera crew captured all the female tour-members chasing
the boys down a quiet, suburban street. Along the way, we
visited all the homes, schools and early hangouts of John,
Paul, George, Ringo, Stu and Pete. We saw Mendips, Strawberry
Field, Penny Lane and got our first glimpse of the recently
re-named John Lennon Airport (formerly Speke). We were able
to go inside, and we took pictures of the John Lennon statue.
The airport's motto: "Above us only skies." It was
a gorgeous day.
That evening we walked over to the Royal Court Theater to
see two of America's finest bands, "1964 The Tribute"
and "American English." They performed the "Red"
and "Blue" albums with some extras thrown in. It's
hard to imagine better sounding or looking acts than these
two. The special guest of the evening, Louise Harrison, was
very diplomatic by calling the two lead guitarists in the
bands her "baby brothers." Sadly, Louise quickly
undid any of her good will with some ill-chosen comments.
She began begging for peace in the world, which is always
cool. But Americans in the crowd were stunned into silence
when she continued to ramble, begging America and President
George Bush to stop dropping bombs (!) on innocent people.
Huh? Needless to say, she was approached about it and claimed
she didn't realize she had said anything wrong. Shocked as
we were, we didn't let Louise's misguided and off-the-wall
rantings affect our good time.
Later that evening was the first of three late-night live music
parties in the hotel's grand ballroom. Some bands from Argentina
performed at what was billed the "Argy Bargy" party.
The final band was the most memorable: "Sam Buttera."
I don't know what that means, but I'll try to describe the band.
They were a heavy metal, art-rock rock quintet with a lead singer
that looked like Mick Jagger, sang like Barry Gibb on steroids,
and hit notes that could've cracked glass. Anyone who ever saw
the band will not easily forget them, especially their rendition
of "Don't let Me Down." To pay for their flights
back to Argentina, the band sold copies of their CD, and fans
gobbled them up at five pounds each. Tour-member Dave, who was
thoughtful enough to give fellow travelers custom-made cassettes
as gifts (what a nice gesture - thanks Dave!), cited Sam Buttera's
unique but somewhat bizarre show as one of the highlights of
The next day was full of activities. You could have either gone
to see Pete Best at Beatle Story, spent the day indoors at LIPA
for the Beatles Auction (which I did) or you could've spent
the sunny day outdoors for a "Stones vs. Beatles"
concert at nearby Chavasse Park. The latter featured Beatles
and Rolling Stones tribute bands on stage, surrounded by carnival
rides and booths with cotton candy and ice cream for sale. There
was also a small record convention taking
place at the Bluecoat Chambers hall, with a few Beatle dealers.
At the auction there were some 315 lots up for bid, including
original concert programs and signed business cards. A hand-written
poem by Ringo was one of the most desired items. I was high
bid on some Paul press kits and a MerseyBeat newspaper dated
when I was a year old. I got into a bidding war with a guy named
Jim Turner, who turned out to be one of the publishers of Spencer
Leigh's new book on Bob Wooler (the original Cavern Club D.J.,
who passed away not too long ago). He said he wanted to buy
the paper from me and would send me the book with all the promo
stuff in it. The Discovery Channel, who had been filming us
as the week went on, interviewed me about it. Tour member Dan
O really splurged - he shelled out 65 pounds for Beatle mothballs!
the auction, I went out with friends to eat and do more shopping!
The evening was spent once again at the Royal Court Theater
for the "Solo Years Concert," headlined by a tribute
to George Harrison by "Hare Georgeson" (Liverpool's
Ric Allan). Bob Bartley fronted "Banned On The Run"
for their Paul tribute, Jon Keats led his "Instant Karma"
Lennon band, and Chris Tassone came back for his Ringo clone
show. Then it was back to the Adelphi ballroom for more themed
Beatlesmusic. This time the Swedish Beatle band "Lenny
Pane" stole the show.
Sunday is Convention Day. All day we heard bands, watched rare
videos, enjoyed guest speakers, and bought merchandise off of
dealers from "across the universe." A focal point
of "Beatles Week," the convention is where you see
everyone who has come to Liverpool from all over the world.
There were thousands of fans and more Beatle-related celebrities
than at any other convention - anywhere. We met Allan (Beatles
1st manager) Williams, Julia (John's sister) Baird, Alf (Beatles
chauffeur) Bicknell, Gordon (Beatles tailor) Millings, Spencer
(Beatles author) Leigh, Shannon (Beatles artist), Louise (George's
sister) Harrison, Sam (Beatles promoter) Leach and others. Charles
and Rene both had tables with merchandise, and "Krazy"
Kenny was selling his t-shirts and tie-dyes (if you've been
to a convention or a "1964" concert, you probably
already know Kenny). At the convention, I was interviewed by
Simon Wells, a writer covering the convention for "Beatles
Monthly" magazine. He wanted to speak to one person who
has been on the tour many times (me) and one person who was
on the tour for the very first time (my new friend Joanne).
He also interviewed Charles, and suggested to him that we visit
London's Krishna temple on our next
tour to England, since it was donated by George in 1973. By
the way, this year's Liverpool Beatles Convention was dedicated
The convention never really ended. Instead, it segued into the
"Unplugged" Festival with bands performing in less
formal situations. I went to see "British Export."
Great show guys!
The day after the Convention was the Mathew Street Festival.
This event is awesome, and the weather was perfect! In every
pub and on every street corner you hear Beatles music (or you
could hear a Stones, Bee Gees, Who or Abba cover band). On the
main Beatles stage was our boys, "British Export"
(another super performance!) followed by "1964 A Tribute."
What a double shot! Whereas "1964" are the big boys,
seasoned pros and flawless, "British Export" capture
the young, energetic Beatles. They complimented each other in
more ways than one. The Pete Best Band played too.
I broke away from the music fest with my friend Joanne to see
the Lennon "Magic Eye" exhibit on display at a gallery
at Albert Dock. This was the large tile thing that John had
in his swimming pool in the home he shared with Cyn in Surrey.
It has an eyeball design in the center and a star burst design
One could never get enough Beatles music, so after dinner it
was back to the Royal Court for Britain's premiere band, "The
Bootleg Beatles." True veterans, they were England's cast
of "Beatlemania" originally, and they're as good as
ever. Late-night music at the Adelphi ballroom continued with
"Cool Britannia" night featuring "Cavern"
and "Ringer." Perennial players, they rocked the house!!!
Most everyone slept late the next day. For me, it was off to
explore once again the Liverpool Art Institute, where I saw
some really cool Beatles art done by some students. My two favorite
paintings were one of Brian Epstein and one of Paul from about
1970 when he had a beard and mustache and long hair. It was
then on to the Jacaranda Club for a drink. We got a surprise
treat of seeing the basement where the Beatles played. It still
has a restored painting that Stu did, and this design was put
on a tee shirt that I purchased. The band area was like hole
in the wall with benches all around the little square room with
an arch entry.
That evening was one of tour's true highlights: our VIP farewell
party at the Casbah Club. We took many group photos outside
under the Casbah's original Coca-Cola sign. Pete Best and his
brothers were kind and patient enough to pose for all our photos.
We got Pete's new book autographed by not only Pete but also
his two brothers (Roag and Rory) and also Ken Brown, one of
the original Quarry Men. After entering, the Best family had
a nice buffet prepared for us with salads and fruit and chicken
and little sandwiches.
A duo was on hand to perform Beatles and Mersey tunes for us.
We begged and pleaded and finally coerced Pete into drumming.
He played for three songs. Our fearless leader, Charles, took
the mic to sing with them on the last one. He was bit nervous
sharing the stage with Pete but he had fun and that's what was
important. It was such a great night, and Pete and his family
were very gracious hosts.
It was late when we got done at the Casbah, but not too late
to either catch the final set by The Overtures' sixties music
at the Cavern or go across the street to the Cavern Pub to hear
Scotland's "Itchycoo Park" do songs from The Rutles
to solo Beatles to Buddy Holly to Badfinger. Steve Macdonald
(who used to sing with Ringer, and was our host the year before
when we toured Scotland) sang with these guys. The Cavern
Pub has lots of pictures and memorabilia from The Beatles, Pete
Best, Cynthia Lennon and even BonJovi and Bryan Adams. Oh what
I hated the idea of leaving Liverpool so much, I subconsciously
hid my airplane tickets home in my main suitcase and not in
This was my 11th year and each year it seems to get better and
I am thankful again to all the great new friends I made and
new places I discovered. As tour member Michele pointed out,
this year's trip was absolutely amazing, and every city on our
journey had spectacular highlights.
Next year is the 20th anniversary of Charles hosting these wonderful
tours, and he and Danny are planning some very special events,
guests and activities. I always think the tours can't be beat,
yet every single year they're "getting better all the time."
One thing is for sure, I will be back next year!!!!!!