Monday, August 8, 2011

BeatleMania 50 Years On

My avid Beatle fan friend, Janet, approached me about going to Liverpool to see the sites and sounds of The Beatles. As someone who isn’t a big fan, but who is a tourism student who has just completed a dissertation in celebrity and music tourism, I couldn’t resist.

We arrived in Liverpool at 11am on a Sunny North Western Day (for a change), unfortunately we arrived in a Northern Rail train, one of the worst transport providers in the UK. It took over an hour to arrive on a slow shack of a carriage, which stopped at nearly every station available between Preston and Liverpool.

Upon arrival, we realized we had no idea where to go to get to the Beatles Story Museum; after asking the Travel Office, we were told it would take us over half an hour to get to the Albert Dock from the station; it took us no more than 15 minutes.

It was magnificent walking through Liverpool, a city that has had such regeneration over the years; much of this has been down to being nominated Capital of Culture. Liverpool has transformed into a modern city but still hosts some magnificent historic architecture; Albert Dock (home to The Beatles Story) is a prime example of development.

Upon arriving at the museum, I was surprised at the £12.50 entry fee to the museum (especially since most museums today have no entry fee) but I’m glad to say that it is worth every penny. From birth to death, along with the continued living legacy of The Beatles, the museum covered everything. With some amazing artifacts, such as original recording contracts, awards and birth certificates. There was also an Elvis exhibition, which held artifacts such as his clothing and shoes that have been let out of Graceland for the first time.

With inspiration for their hit songs and the details of how the Beatles made it to such high levels of success, the museum truly covered the story of The Beatles; they also featured many of the artists they have inspired over the years.

My only criticism was that there was no mention of Michael Jackson within the museum; this is not just because I am an avid Jackson fan, but more for the fact that he had a huge musical relationship with The Beatles, especially Paul McCartney, who wrote many hits together such as The Girl Is Mine and Say, Say, Say. Michael Jackson even owned some of the back catalog of Beatles tracks up until his death in 2009, when he returned the music to Paul. Now his name may have not been mentioned to overshadow the legacy of The Beatles or it could have been down to his turbulent friendship with Sir Paul in the final decades of Jackson’s life, but some mention should surely have been noted.

I will say this, however, The Beatles Story Museum is there for everyone. You do not have to be a fan of The Beatles to enjoy this museum. It is significant within the history of music and is a must see for any music fan. They have inspired musicians world wide, some of whom you may not have even considered.

The museum ended with a beautiful tribute to John Lennon with an Imagine area with his famous grand white piano, glasses and lyrics displayed across the museum. It was an elegant and moving tribute to a man who before going to the museum, I knew little about.

After leaving the museum, we traveled over to St Mathew Street to The Cavern Club, which is described as The Most Famous Club in the World. The Beatles were the first performers at The Cavern and led to the club becoming one of the most popular choices for the world's greatest artists to perform. Outside is a very subtle statue of Lennon resting casually against the Wall Of Fame, which lists the many artists who have played over the years from Elton John and Stevie Wonder, to Oasis and Arctic Monkeys; it was hard to find anyone who hadn't played there!

We entered The Cavern and walked down into the club, which is still open today. The bar is propped open and ready to serve and bands still continue to play day and night for punters. It was unbelievable how tiny the club was compared to today’s extensive arenas and stadiums, which host our most famous artists. The lack of security surrounding the stage was the most interesting; it would be doubtful that such famous acts could play there today with fan hysteria. It must have been amazing for the performers who play there today to be on a stage which has held some of the world’s greatest musical performers.

What I liked the most was how this famous club, which boasts so much musical history, is hidden in a tiny back street in Liverpool city centre. Liverpool quite rightly got the Capital of Culture because it has an amazing history of culture, not only from The Beatles but other musical legends and a whole host of British comedians and writers whom have come from this great city.

I am so glad that I chose to go to Liverpool and would suggest it to any music fan. It is certainly fitting for many of my American friends, whom I would gladly escort there to be entertained with the North West’s musical legacy; many Americans certainly filled the museum on the day of our arrival. Many people slate celebrity culture, but in terms of The Beatles and Liverpool’s musical history, I say Let It Be.

‘’I don’t think anyone comes close to The Beatles, including Oasis’’ – Brian May

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