Liverpool’s legendary Cavern Club is about to celebrate a landmark birthday.
The Mathew Street landmark turns 60 on Monday, January 16 – and Cavern bosses are planning a year of celebrations including concerts, albums and a new book.
The original Cavern, based in the cellar of an old warehouse, was opened by jazz fan Alan Sytner on Wednesday January 16, 1957 – on the opening night the headliner was the Merseysippi Jazz Band.
Of course it’s best known for its 60s incarnation as the pulsating heart of Merseybeat, and as the stage for one Liverpool band in particular.
The Beatles played the Cavern 292 times between February 9, 1960 and August 3, 1963.
But there’s more to the history of the club, which was closed in the early 1970s and resurrected a decade later, than just the Fab Four.
1. The inspiration for the Cavern when it opened in 1957 was the Paris jazz club, Le Caveau De La Huchette.
2. The Cavern did not have a licensed bar until 1967.
3. Ringo Starr was the first Beatle to play the Cavern on July 31 1957 with the Eddie Clayton Skiffle Group. The Quarrymen’s first date at the venue was August 7.
4. Comedian Ken Dodd was made the first honorary life member of Liverpool Cavern Club, in 1964.
5. Paul McCartney made an impromptu visit in 1968 with his new girlfriend Linda Eastman. The band Curiosity Shop were rehearsing and Paul decided to join them by helping out on the drums.
6. There are 33 steps down to the Cavern today as opposed to 18 when it originally opened
7. The famous Cavern stage wall was based on the work of the artist Mondrian.
8. In July 1965 the club was in financial trouble so Cavern boss Ray McFall had a marathon 12 hour non-stop session to raise the stakes. Twenty five bands gave their services free to help the club’s preservation.
9. Liverpool band Supercharge played the last night of the original Cavern in 1973 and they are playing the 60th anniversary on January 16.
10. Stevie Wonder played at the Cavern when he was 15.
11. The address of the Cavern Club is the same today as it was when it opened in 1957 and when it closed in 1973.
12. The entrance today is in exactly the same place as it was when it re-opened, after a brief closure, in 1966.
13. In 1966 it was re-opened by the then Prime Minister, Harold Wilson.
14. Suzi Quatro was the last major recording artist to perform at the Cavern Club during the period 1957-1973.
15. Thousands of bricks from the damaged archways of the original cellar area of the Cavern Club went on sale in 1983 at £5 each, complete with an authentication plate signed by former Cavern Club owner Ray McFall. Proceeds from the sale went to Strawberry Field Children’s home.
16. Before the Cavern reopened in 1984, more than 100 musicians from the 1960s Merseybeat era were invited to sign the wall at the back of the stage.
17. EMI released an album containing original Beatles and Merseybeat tracks to celebrate the reopening of the club in 1984.
18. The Cavern sign was blown down and destroyed during a storm in 1992.
19. One of the bands who appeared at the club in 1992 was a young group from Manchester called Oasis. Noel Gallagher later complained that playing the Cavern was a disappointment as it was 'like a wine bar'.
20. The Cavern Wall of Fame was created in 1997 to mark the 40th anniversary of the club.
21. Paul McCartney ended the last century by performing a rock and roll set on stage at the Cavern. Thousands of fans gathered in the city centre to watch the concert live on a huge outdoor screen and the concert had an estimated ‘net cast audience’ of 53 million.
22. The morning after George Harrison’s death in 2001, the Cavern opened a book of condolence which was signed by more than 5,000 of his fans and admirers.
23. In October 2005 the Arctic Monkeys supported by The Little Flames appeared at The Cavern Club. Tickets were £8. Two weeks later their first single went to Number 1.
24. Adele played the Cavern in 2011 and it was the first time she had sung in Liverpool, except for an earlier audition for LIPA.
25. John Lennon’s sister Julia Baird is a director of the Cavern.