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Memory and music – early life with the Beatles (also featuring Rolf Harris); Liverpool as Beatletown; the Cavern versus Eric’s Club, and the bands I saw there.
Nothing is real – the making of ‘Strawberry Fields’, the making and unmaking of the Beatles.
Sergeant Pepper; the Beatles virus; Random and Surrealism (featuring John Cage, William Burroughs, Charles Manson, Trent Reznor).
I buy my first Beatles albums in Birkenhead’s Skeleton Records, get drunk with the owner, then watch a pointless Beatles programme on TV.
The Beatles in my car, then on my iPod along with everything else.
…the night I first saw the Beatles…
My early memory of the Beatles on TV and the text of this comic weirdly coincide, because the word BEATLEMANIA was actually coined on October 13, 1963, the day of my fourth birthday.
...my story of me. It tells of a carefree childhood...
Self and brother at Arrowe Park. I am wearing one of my three 'wigwam suits' of short-sleeved shirt and matching shorts. This being a black and white image, it's not possible to tell whether this is the red one, the blue one or the orange one.
…at one end of the street was a bronze statue of an early period John Lennon…
…the photo on the cover of the “Rock ‘n’ Roll” album…
This photo was taken in Hamburg in the early 60s. The blurred figures are George Harrison, Stu Sutcliffe and Paul McCartney.
The album contains no Beatles songs, and was released in 1975 after Lennon was sued by American publisher, entrepreneur and mobster Morris Levy. For copyright infringement after a fragment from a Chuck Berry song Levy owned was included in the Abbey Road track ‘Come Together’.
As part of an out-of-court settlement, Lennon was obliged to include three Levy-owned songs on his next album, which turned into the covers LP Rock ‘n’ Roll, produced by Phil Spector. The story of its recording, production and release is just as convoluted, nightmarish and ridiculous as you might expect, if not more so.
…FOUR LADS WHO SHOOK THE WORLD…
The main sculpture is by local artist Arthur Dooley (1929-94), who started out as a welder at Cammell Laird shipyard in Birkenhead.
Dooley produced a large number of religious sculptures, including works in both of Liverpool’s cathedrals and a number of local churches. He also created a malevolent modernist miniature bronze of Satan that captivated me from an early age on visits to the Williamson Art Gallery, Birkenhead.
…its bust of Jung leaning out of the wall, and LIVERPOOL IS THE POOL OF LIFE carved underneath, whatever that means...
An explanation can be found in Jung's book Memories, Dreams, Reflections (1927):
I found myself in a dirty, sooty city. It was night, and winter, and dark, and raining. I was in Liverpool... I had the feeling that there we were coming from the harbour... we found a broad square dimly illuminated by street lights, into which many streets converged. The various quarters of the city were arranged radially around the square.
In the centre was a round pool, and in the middle of it a small island. While everything round about was obscured by rain, fog, smoke and dimly lit darkness, the little island blazed with sunlight. On it stood a single tree, a magnolia, in a shower of reddish blossoms. It was as though the tree stood in the sunlight and was at the same time the source of light.
My companions commented on the abominable weather, and obviously did not see the tree. They spoke of another Swiss who was living in Liverpool, and expressed surprise that he should have settled here. I was carried away by the beauty of the flowering tree and the sunlit island, and thought, “I know very well why he has settled here.” Then I awoke.
…I had a vision of unearthly beauty, and that is why I was able to live at all. Liverpool is the “pool of life.” The liver, according to an old view, is the seat of life.
The original sculpture was apparently made of plaster, and didn't last very long. A much less interesting bronze one later took its place.
…a club called Eric’s…
I once had an Eric's T-shirt, but it was too small so I got rid of it. I also had a wonderful photo-montage poster, but my parents got rid of it during a clear-out while I was at university. All I have now is the badge. And some flyers.
…at Eric’s between April 1978 and March 1980…
…what I bought was a set of Sex Pistols drinks coasters…
...“Jukebox at Eric’s”...
...“Sit Down! Listen To This!” is the only book you can buy about Roger Eagle...
…the place in Liverpool is called Strawberry Field, without the –s at the end…
This image of the gatepost was taken on my Magical Mystery Tour bus trip around Beatles sites in Liverpool. The text on the plaque reads:
STRAWBERRY FIELD REPLICA GATES
These gates were replicated and meticulously handcrafted by Jim Bennett
and donated to The Salvation Army 2011.
We can manufacture these magnificent Replica Gates to your specific size.
This postcard is presumably a photo of a Beatles tribute band, performing in front of a projected image of the Strawberry Field gatepost. Liverpool. Nothing Is Real. Apart from the Strawberry Field gatepost.
…a reproduction of a mosaic from Pompeii, made by Italian craftsmen as a gift and including the single word IMAGINE...
…once a Beatle, always a Beatle. Always a poster, figurine, tea towel, ashtray, wig, pair of pyjamas…
The plate and the plastic figures are original Beatles products.
The masks and the mosaic were photographed recently in Liverpool's Albert Dock. The mosaic, made from over 15,000 jelly beans, was created to celebrate the success of the jukebox musical 'Let It Be'. Boxes of jelly beans featuring the mosaic were also on sale.
…this cover looks and feels like the music sounds…
The original gloomy and slightly disrturbing artwork by Patrick (John Byrne).
…I daringly visited Skeleton for the very first time and bought a David Bowie badge…
...while I was in Birkenhead visiting my parents...
Skeleton Records in its fourth (I think) location. I rediscovered Skeleton back in 2007, but these pictures were taken on a subsequent visit in 2019.
The staircase from street level up to the shop itself is papered with LP covers, one of which is a warped, discoloured Music In A Doll's House by Family, the album that made the White Album become the White Album.
On this visit, amongst other things I bought a CD copy of Camembert Electrique by Gong. I still have the LP, purchased at Skeleton in early 1977.