Travel to Liverpool
THE LOCAL STORY
I ONCE HAD A BAND, OR SHOULD I SAY, THEY ONCE HAD ME
Allan Williams, owner of The Jacar-n anda Coffee Bar in Liverpool, was the first manager of the world’s favorite mop-heads. According to Williams, the Beatles were coffee bar bums who skipped lectures to hang out at The Jac, eating their beloved “bacon-butty” sandwiches and listening to the music they would come to dominate. Williams also recalled that when Pete Best kept the beat (not that interloper, Ringo), the group was smuggled into Hamburg as “students,” then deported when a 17-year-old George Harrison was busted for hanging out at 18+ clubs. Here are more of Williams’s memories.
LG: How did you meet the Beatles?
A: My wife and I had a coffee bar club. Because I was a rock n’ roll promoter, all the groups used to come to my place, mainly cuz I let them rehearse for free in the basement. I only knew [the Beatles] as coffee bar layabouts-they were always-bummin’ free coffee off of anybody I had complaints about the obscene graffiti that the girls were writing about the groups, and here these lads were from the art school and they could paint. I said, “Will you decorate the ladies’ toilets for me?” And the way they decorated them, I’d have preferred the graffiti, to be honest with you. They were just throwing paint on them as if they were Picassos.
LG: Sort of Pollock-style
A: Heh. Yeah
LG: And how did you become their manager?
A: I put this big rock ‘n’ roll show on. They came and saw me the next day and said. “Hey Al? When are you going to do something for us like?” And I said to them, “Look, there’s no more painting to be done.” And they said, “No, we’ve got a group.” I said, “I didn’t know that.” And they said, “Well, will you manage us?” By then
I had got to know them, and they were quite nice personalities-very witty. And I go, “Oh yeah, this could be fun.” And then I managed them.
Williams felt that it was their stint in Hamburg, and not Liverpool, that made the Beatles. He describes his falling out with the group as a disagreement over-what else?-contract disputes and general rock-star ingratitude.
A: I wrote them a letter saying that they appeared to be getting more than a little swell-headed and “Remember, I managed you when nobody else wanted to know you. But I’ll fix it now so that you’ll never ever work again.”
A: So that’s my big mistake, yeah. Heh. And on that note, we’ll finish.
at Aachen Hotel , 89-91 Mt. Pleasant, the winner of numerous awards. ( 709 3477. Breakfast included. Singles £28-38; doubles £46-54.) YHA Liverpool , 24 Tabley St. off The Wapping, has upscale rooms on three Beatles-themed floors. ( 709 8888. Kitchen available. Breakfast included. Laundry facilities. Internet access. Dorms £19, under-18 £14.) The International Inn , 4 South Hunter St. is clean and fun. Enjoy the lounge and adjoining cafe. ( 709 8135. Dorms £15; doubles £36.)
Trendy cafes and well-priced Indian restaurants line Bold Street and Hardman Street, while fast-food joints crowd Hardnon Street and Berry Street. Many eateries stay open until 3am. Country Kitchen , Drury Ln. dishes out cheap and delicious meals. Toasties, salads, and pasta cost a mere £1, and soup is just 75p. ( 236 0509. Open daily 7:30am-3:30pm.) Simply Heathcotes , 25 The Strand, Beetham Plaza, is simply elegant. Try the breaded veal escalope. (Entrees around £15. Open M-F noon-2:30pm and 6-10pm, Sa 6-1 lpm, Su noon-2:30pm and 6-9:30pm.) Tavern Co. , in Queen Sq. near the tourist office, serves burritos and taco salads (£5-7) in a wine-bar atmosphere. (Open M-Sanoon-llpm, Su 10:30am-10:30pm.)
MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR. The tourist office’s Beatles Map (£2.50) leads visitors through Beatles-themed sights, including Strawberry Fields and Penny Lane. At Albert Dock, The Beatles Story pays tribute to the group’s work with a re-creation of the Cavern Club and a yellow submarine. (Open Apr.-Oct. daily 10am-6pm; Nov.-Mar. 10am-5pm. £8, students £5.50.) The intimate Liverpool branch of the Tate Gallery, also on Albert Dock, contains a select range of 20th-century artwork. (Open Su and Tu-Sa 10am-6pm. Free. Special exhibits £4.) The Anglican Liverpool Cathedral, on Upper Duke St. boasts the highest Gothic arches ever built and the heaviest bells in the world. Climb to the top of the 100m tower for a view stretching to Wales. (Cathedral open daily 8am-6pm. Suggested donation £2.50. Tower open M-Sa llam-4pm, weather permitting. £2.50.) Neon-blue stained glass casts a glow over the interior of the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King, on Mt. Pleasant. Note the many modern sculptures that fill the chapels. (Open in summer M-F 7:30am-6pm, Sa-Su 8:30am-6pm; offseason M-F 8am-6pm, Sa 8:30am-6pm, Su 8:30am-5pm. Free.) The Liverpool and Everton football clubs intense rivals offer tours of their grounds. Bus #26 runs from the city center to both stadiums. (Book in advance. Everton 330 2277; tour £5.50. Liverpool s 260 6677; tour £8.50.)
COME TOGETHER. Consult the Liverpool Echo, an evening paper sold by street vendors, for up-to-date information on nightlife. Slater Street in particular brims with £1 pints, while on weekend nights, the downtown area especially Matthew Street, Church Street, and Bold Street overflows with young clubbers. John Lennon once said that the worst thing about fame was “not being able to get a quiet pint at the Phil.” Fortunately, the rest of us can sip in solitude at The Philharmonic, 36 Hope St. (Open M-Sa noon-1 lpm, Su noon-10:30pm.) The Jacar-anda, on Slater St. the site of the Beatles’ first paid gig, has live bands and a dance floor. (Open M-Sa noon-2am, Su noon-10:30pm.) Medication, in Wolston-holme Sq. offers the wildest student night in town. (Students only; bring ID. Cover £5. Open W 10am-2am.) The Cavern Club, 10 Matthew St. is on the site where the Fab Four gained prominence; today it draws locals for live bands. (No cover until 10pm, 10-llpm £2, llpm-2am £4. Club open M-W 6pm-midnight, Th 6pm-2am, F-Sa 6pm-2:30am. Pub open M-Sa from noon, Su noon-ll:30pm.)