Saturday, September 16, 2006

Beatles Club Was Given Protected Heritage Status

The Casbah Coffee Club was given Grade II Listed status on the recommendation of conservation body English Heritage. The designation means the venue, which still contains original artwork and musical equipment, is of "special architectural or historic interest" and cannot be demolished. Bob Hawkins of English Heritage said the club was "in a remarkably well-preserved condition with wall and ceiling paintings of spiders, dragons, rainbows and stars by original band members along with 1960s musical equipment, amplifiers and original chairs.

In the early part of 1959 Mrs Best (Mo) watched a television programme about a coffee bar in London, it was called The Two Eyes Café and with a constant stream of London beat groups it was proving to be very successful. There was nothing like it in Liverpool. An idea was born, and the very next day Pete Best and Rory Best with a host of friends began to clear the cellars of their large Victorian house. The venue that was to become the Casbah.

They were going to have their own coffee bar, they were going to have Liverpool beat groups playing there and it was going to be called The Casbah Coffee Club. George had two friends who weren't doing anything. They were John Lennon and Paul McCartney. The group was formed and they performed as The Quarrymen on the opening night of the Casbah.

The Quarrymen disbanded. John, Paul, George, and their latest recruit Stuart Sutcliffe had gone through name changes and avery lack lustre tour of Scotland. They still came to the Casbah regularly to socialise. It was here that they watched ex-band membe Ken Brown with his new group The Blackjacks, featuring Pete Best, perform.

Paul McCartney made the approach for Pete Best to join the Silver Beatles. They had an offer to play in Hamburg, Germany. Pete auditioned, passed with flying colours, and became a member of the group. The week leading up to their departure for foreign shores the group rehearsed relentlessly at the Casbah. Somewhere between Liverpool they agreed the 'Silver' should be permanently dropped from the band's name.

On the 17th of December 1960 The Beatles played their first Liverpool date at the Casbah. They blew the roof of the place, the audience couldn't believe what they were seeing, and so it was that Beatle mania began.

The building, still owned by the Best family, features murals and paintings by members of the band and by Lennon's first wife, Cynthia. After many years, the Casbah is once again open to the public. The Casbah is only 3.5 miles from Liverpool city centre and easy to get to by car, taxi or bus.


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