Liverpool Honors Humble Start for The Beatles
While traveling, it’s amazing what you can stumble across while moving from point A to B(eatle).
I had just wrapped up covering the TT races on the Isle of Man. The ferry took riders, race fans and tourists from the Isle’s port back to Liverpool and the same shipyards that gave birth to Titanic. I waited for the bikers to ride out of the ferry’s hold and onto the streets of the city before I disembarked and started the couple mile walk from the docks to the intercity rail station that would take me back to London.
I took a zig-zag course through the Liverpool streets in the late afternoon – blending in which work day weary commuters. I was exhausted after chasing motorcycles around the Manx course, dragging my luggage behind me. I walked with my head down.
Glancing up to get my bearings en route to the station, I found myself in a gloomy, brick-lined alley. The sign said Mathew Street. My first thought told I was only 10 minutes from the station with plenty of time to catch my London train. Then, that street name rang a bell — a very musical bell.
Matthew Street is the longtime home of The Cavern Club – the humble underground bar that opened in 1957 to host small, aspiring local acts like The Beatles.
All I had been looking for was the quickest route to a train, and I’d stumbled into music history. This is where The Beatles got their start and played their early gigs, so it’s hallowed, historical territory for fans of the British band. Tourists stroll Mathew Street armed with cameras on their own or as part of a walking tour. The official Beatles Museum sits right around the corner. It’s not a tourist attraction in every sense of the word.
But, my serendipitous march into the birth of The Beatles reminded me how so many big, international personalities, creations or events start small. Now The Cavern Club is a destination full of 1960s paraphernalia. But, in 1963, it was a dive bar off the beaten path in downtown Liverpool. Its cramped, dark confines are no different from any other black box bar with a tiny stage anywhere else in the world.
As I left Mathew Street and Beatles history behind to catch my train, I knew the circumstances that brought me to it constituted one big stroke of luck — but just not as much luck as John, Paul, George and Ringo found there.