When the Beatles released their debut single Love Me Do in October 1962, I was an eight-year-old junior school pupil and by the time I had reached my sixteenth birthday and left school, The Beatles had officially split!
Just eight years apart but growing up during those formative years listening to one of the greatest rock and pop bands during my early teens has left a mark on my musical appreciation for the band. I never saw The Beatles live, I did see Paul McCartney in Birmingham during the early nineties but nevertheless I have always been a fan of The Beatles, their music, films, books, personalities and imagery.
I have been to Liverpool many times before visiting several sites associated with The Beatles, but I had somehow missed the Liverpool Beatles Museum, situated on Mathew Street right in the Heart of the Cavern Quarter.
The Liverpool Beatles Museum should not be confused with The Beatles Story which is in the Royal Albert Dock. This museum is a private collection of over 300 rare & authentic items documenting the early days in Liverpool & Hamburg, the years of Beatlemania, through to the final days of touring and the start of the bands pioneering studio recordings. What a discovery it turned out to be!
Several years ago, I had the good fortune to visit The Casbah Coffee Club which is often overlooked by many Beatles fans on their pilgrimage to Liverpool, yet it played a crucial part in the early history of the band.
My guide that day was Vincent “Roag” Best, the son of The Beatles road manager Neil Aspinall and Mona Best, mother of the original Beatles drummer Pete Best.
It turns out that The Liverpool Beatles Museum belongs to Roag who has been a collector of Beatles memorabilia for over thirty years. It is now the largest singularly owned authentic Beatles collection in the world, spread over three floors highlighting key moments and music in the history of the band.
My family connections to The Beatles have inspired me to collect, store and cherish the items that will be on display. The time is now right for me to share them with the public, so that they too can hear the stories and share the memories we’ve all held so dear since the Beatles began.Roag Best – Son of Neil Aspinall and brother to Pete Best
The other notable association is that Roag’s brother is Pete Best who as everyone knows was a member of the Beatles for two years from 1960 – 1962. Pete was on the drums from the very beginning at The Casbah Coffee Club and was in Hamburg, the Cavern gigs and finally the Abbey Road Studios.
Their mother was Mona Best who began the Casbah Coffee Club which was the first rock and roll club in Liverpool. The “Mother of Merseybeat” provided the Beatles/Quarrymen with a venue in which to practice, play and perform in.
This museum opening is a landmark occasion in Beatle’s history and an incredible new showcase – not to be missed by any serious Beatles fan.Pete Best – Former Beatles drummer
Roag has amassed a huge collection of authentic and previously unseen rare memorabilia, such an extensive collection that many items will be reserved for future display. Items on display include, Pete Best’s Premier drum kit, the earliest ever colour footage of the Beatles performing, personal letters written by Mona Best, the original police log documenting the security arrangements for the Ed Sullivan Show, original seats from Shea Stadium, props from Help, Hard Day’s Night and Yellow Submarine, John Lennon’s Sergeant Pepper medals, Paul McCartney’s mic & bass guitar speaker, The cello from ‘I Am the Walrus’, George Harrison’s Futurama Grazio guitar, Ringo’s Ludwig snare drum and stool, Lennon’s harmonica, Beatles’ business card, the group’s gifts to Mona Best, the Apple boardroom table plus clothes, letters, telegrams, posters, flyers, jewellery and so much more.
The exhibition is constantly being added to and has now grown to become the greatest Beatles’ experience available in the world today.
I found the Liverpool Beatles Museum to be a real eye opener and should thrill the thousands of Beatles fans who visit, whether they are new to the band and its history or like me having grown up listening to their music. Many Beatles fans may not know about The Quarrymen, The Silver Beatles and Pete Bests earlier band The Black Jacks but this Museum helps put the history of the band into some perspective.
The key advantage is that the museum is in Mathew Street, next door to The Grapes, which as every hard-core Beatles fan will know is where Pete Best informed Neil Aspinall that he had been released from the band after his meeting with Brian Epstein. The Cavern Club is also just a few metres away.
The three floors are organised in chronological order starting at the very beginning on the ground floor rising to the later years on the third floor. Visitors will also notice the colour and music changes as you pass up through the floors. Black & White photographs and early recordings such as “Love me do” on the ground floor up to the vibrant psychedelic colours of Sgt Peppers `Lucy’ on the higher level.
My Beatles encyclopaedic guide Sam
My guide around the Museum was Sam who appeared to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of The Beatles. He answered every question I asked him including `Why he thought Pete Best had been given the elbow from the band”
The museum is full of items which you will never get to see anywhere else. I was walking through history! What drives people to have the foresight to keep old concert tickets & other ephemera; tickets, tour schedules, posters, letters and newspaper cuttings which at the time are trivial pieces yet fifty years later become treasured items documenting the history of the world’s most prolific and successful bands of any era?
Many of the items on display are simply priceless and irreplaceable. The Museum doesn’t seem to mind you taking photographs either which has got to be a bonus although I struggled to get many good shots myself due to the lights reflecting on the glass. Make sure you sign your name on their white wall of fame, look out for The Travel Locker!
I walked through the rooms in awe, and took my time poring over the items on display. My wife was pleased to note chairs had been positioned on every floor so that visitors can stop and rest whilst considering the items you have just looked at and listening to the music. It really is difficult not to sing along to these now familiar songs to all of us.
There is also a small shop on the first floor selling gifts & souvenir items of your visit at very reasonable prices including photos autographed by Pete Best!
Tee shirts for sale in the shop
I must admit that this collection is in my opinion better than Beatles Story. I am impressed that the Liverpool Beatles Museum has collected a full range of memorabilia going back as far as the 50’s. This must be one of the most unique collections of Beatle artefacts in Liverpool if not the world! Formerly known as The Magical Beatles Museum this poster describes where the collection came from.
I was amazed at some of the material on exhibition here. Much of it, must be said, is linked to the Best family members in one way or another, but that is what this museum is all about. Look at The Beatles family tree or the family tree of rock in Liverpool & Merseyside and the names Best and Aspinall is inextricably linked with many musicians, bands and singers of the city, country & world of rock music.
Coming Apart: The latest addition to the 1967-1970 floor on the day I arrived was this maquette sculptured by Andy Edwards who also made the iconic Beatles statues at the Pier Head, Liverpool.
By all means visit the cities other Beatles sights & attractions, get your selfies with the sculptures & statues, singalong to your favourite Beatles songs by the tribute acts in the Cavern but make sure you check out the Liverpool Beatles Museum to view some of the most authentic and personal items associated with The Beatles and former members of various line-ups linked to the days of pre- Beatlemania and beyond.
I really enjoyed my visit because I thought I had seen much of The Beatles material and already heard all of the stories about the band and its members, but this museum taught me that there is always so much more to find out and surprise me. The Museum is beautifully organised and the guides a real bonus. The presentation of materials is bright and informative, not stuffy.
I am forever exploring the history of The Beatles and the Liverpool Beatles Museum was simply Magical. I learnt so much more about the band I did not know before my visit.
Some fans of the band like the pre-mop top period others the Lonely-Hearts Club band but whichever part of the bands history and music you like, I can guarantee you will find something of interest to you here.
If you’re going to Liverpool and, like me, you love the Fab Four in their entirety and endlessly fascinating, you should pay a visit to The Liverpool Beatles Museum or simply put, The Beatles Museum, in my opinion.
23 Mathew Street
Telephone: 0151 236 1337 or 0151 236 8333
Credit: Featured Hamburg Photograph – Astrid Kircherr