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Legendary Liverpool club Eric’s is having a reunion more than 40 years after it closed for good

2 months ago

Legendary Liverpool club Eric’s is having a reunion more than 40 years after it closed for good
Eric's

The basement club on Mathew Street was the epicentre of music in the late ‘70s, not just in the city but across the country.

The Eric’s reunion will be at District on Jordan Street on Saturday April 27 from 8pm til late and it promises to be something to remember.

Massive names including The Sex Pistols, The Clash, Blondie and The Stranglers all played there and it was the inspiration behind some of the biggest bands to come out of Liverpool at the time like Echo & The Bunnymen, OMD, Dead or Alive and The Teardrop Explodes.

Eric’s was open for less than four years but just like The Cavern opposite it, it left behind a big legacy and some amazing memories for the crowd who got to experience it for themselves and those who just wished they had.

Former Liverpool Art College student John Harbourne went almost every week when it first opened and remembers it well.

He’s one of those organising a reunion at District in the Baltic Triangle, the club created by one of Eric’s best-known regulars, now a cultural champion for Liverpool, Jayne Casey.

Eric's Reunion.
Eric’s Reunion.

He explains: “There’s an Eric’s 77 group on Facebook and we started meeting up again through that. We arranged our first big reunion 10 years ago at District and I hadn’t seen some of those people for 40 years but there was just a kinship and a real warmth between us because we’ve all got that similar backstory. 

“We hadn’t got together again since before Covid but the memories of 2014 were popping up so that’s what instigated this reunion.”

The night will feature three Eric’s era DJs Norman Killon, Andy Carroll and Bernie Connor, and John says it’s for a new generation of music lovers as well as the club’s devotees. 

“People who went to Eric’s bring their kids who are in their 20s and there’s always the cool undercurrent who’ll come along and see the older ones who were cool in the day. 

“It’s just spreading the word and I think that’s what Roger Eagle (one of Eric’s original three co-owners) liked – to spread the word, spread music and see what came back.”

The Moondogs, managed by John, outside Eric's
The Moondogs, managed by John, outside Eric’s

For John, discovering Eric’s in 1976 was like finding his tribe. 

“At art school in Liverpool at that time we had a sort of 50s revival going on and I remember word got around, just before Christmas 1976, that Deaf School who were two years ahead of me were playing in this club. 

“Because I was into 50s rock and roll I didn’t really want to go to a punk rock club but when I got down the stairs the first thing I heard was Norman playing real Jamaican dub, and I thought ‘wow, what’s this?’.

“From then on Eric’s jukebox was my musical education. Roger Eagle was a great mentor and motivator and his jukebox was so eclectic, everything from Charlie Parker, to very rare rockabilly, lots of soul, RnB, Jamaican dub.

“Eric’s was somewhere that kids who didn’t always feel they fitted anywhere else fitted. I didn’t like nightclubs, the disco floors and dancing round handbags weren’t for me, but for our crowd Eric’s was like an extension of the art school. 

John Harbourne, aged 21, photo by Peter O;Halligan in 1977
John Harbourne, aged 21, photo by Peter O;Halligan in 1977

“There was never any trouble and it was really accepting of incredible diversity; it didn’t matter what colour, creed, sexual persuasion you were, everyone got on well. Pete Burns, Holly Johnson and Jayne Casey all felt amongst friends.

“And there were so many in the Eric’s crowd who formed their own bands, it must have been like skiffle in the 50s, there was the same sort of feeling in the late 70s in Liverpool.

Eric’s wasn’t just legendary for its crowd and its gigs – 75p for members, £1 for non-members – regulars can’t forget the unique atmosphere either.

“I don’t think people would accept the smell and the squishy carpets we did in those days,” says John. “It was basically just the basement of a warehouse that got flooded every now and then and the men’s toilets were unbelievably horrible. But once it got warmed up with the sweat of all those bodies nobody cared.”

The Eric’s reunion will be at District on Jordan Street on Saturday April 27 from 8pm til late and it promises to be something to remember.

“Even though it wasn’t around for that long, Eric’s always felt important to us,” says John. “We felt like we were a new wave, it was a new Liverpool. We used to say, ‘these are the days’, and it was an absolute joy to be there.”

Will you be going to the Eric’s reunion? For the latest news in Liverpool click here.

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