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Unseen Merseybeat photographs unveiled at Museum of Liverpool

2 weeks ago

Unseen Merseybeat photographs unveiled at Museum of Liverpool
The Hollies performing at the Cavern Club (c) National Museums Liverpool

Sixteen previously unseen photographs of musicians from Liverpool’s vibrant 1960s Merseybeat era will be exhibited this June.

The display, titled Beyond the Beat, runs from 29 June – 3 November at the Museum of Liverpool and delves into the city’s nightclub scene immediately following the rise of The Beatles.

The exhibit will feature a series of never-before-seen photographs capturing the excitement and energy of Liverpool’s Merseybeat scene.

It will highlight bands that thrived in the wake of The Beatles’ monumental fame, showcasing both international artists who sought to perform in Liverpool and local bands aspiring to follow in the Fab Four’s footsteps.

Among the featured images are photographs of two currently unidentified bands, which curators are eager to identify.

John Lee Hooker plays the Cavern Club (c) National Museums Liverpool
John Lee Hooker plays the Cavern Club (c) National Museums Liverpool

Artists from rock and blues backgrounds including The Yardbirds, The Hollies, John Lee Hooker and Spencer Davis Group, feature in the display alongside local artists that performed during this important era. 

Following the stratospheric success of The Beatles and Liverpool’s Merseybeat sound, musicians would flock to play the clubs of Mathew Street, including some of history’s most influential American blues artists. 

Front and centre were an army of photographers, including Bill Connell and Les Chadwick from Liverpool studio Peter Kaye Photography. The company documented the performances and crowds that danced to the beat of the clubs during the swinging 60s. 

Museum of Liverpool purchased 912 negative strips from Peter Kaye Photography with photographs documenting many different elements of Liverpool life.  

From this selection of negatives, 16 never-before-seen images were chosen to go on display for the first time in Museum of Liverpool’s Skylight Gallery for Beyond the Beat. With hundreds more archived in the museum’s collections. 

UNKNOWN - A band performs at Iron Door (C) National Museums Liverpool
UNKNOWN – A band performs at Iron Door (C) National Museums Liverpool

Claire Hunter, assistant curator at Museum of Liverpool, said:

“The Beatles may have dominated Liverpool’s music scene in the 1960s, but following their departure from the stages of Mathew Street, hundreds of artists wanted a chance to walk in their footsteps. 

“This small selection of photographs, taken from a huge archive by Peter Kaye Photography,captures the essence of the Merseybeat scene. The energy of the clubs, the enthusiasm of the crowds and the power of the musicians to captivate their audiences. 

“Beyond the Beat looks past the Fab Four and at some of the local, national and international artists that made the city swing.” 

Alongside well-known acts and local bands, two unknown Liverpool acts feature in the display and Museum of Liverpool curators are keen to find out more about both bands. 

UNKNOWN - a band poses for a promo photo (c) National Museums Liverpool
UNKNOWN – a band poses for a promo photo (c) National Museums Liverpool

The unknown bands are both thought to be local musicians from Liverpool, but not much more is known about eithergroup.  

Museum curators are asking people with information about either of the unknown bands on displayto email beyondthebeat@liverpoolmuseums.org.uk

Beyond the Beat is on display and free to visit in Museum of Liverpool’s Skylight Gallery from Saturday 29 June until Sunday 3 November 2024.

For more info on Beyond the Beat at the Museum of Liverpool click here.

For the latest news across the city click here.

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