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Merseybeat's golden year recalled in new exhibition in Liverpool

Rare artefacts from the Merseybeat era – including newly-discovered song lyrics from Gerry Marsden – are going on show in an exhibition at Liverpool Central Library.

The lyrics of the unfinished number, A Girl Like You, were discovered after his wife Pauline offered several loans to curators of the Liverpool 1963 – How Did We Do It? show.

The words have now been put to song by Liverpool musician Dean Johnson.

Meanwhile the free exhibition, being staged in the historic Hornby Library at the William Brown Street venue until the end of August, also includes a telegram from John Lennon apologising to Cavern DJ Bob Wooler for infamously breaking his nose at Paul McCartney’s 21st birthday.

Wooler saw a specialist to determine the compensation and the specialist’s report is also on show.

The 13 cabinets of artefacts - include one dedicated to The Searchers - also include previously unseen records, contracts, flyers and posters, clothing and photographs, many of them loaned by Merseybeat musicians or their families.

The year 1963 was a key one for bands who emerged from the Liverpool scene including The Beatles, Billy J Kramer and The Dakotas, Gerry and The Pacemakers, and The Searchers who all dominated the UK charts – together spending an astounding 36 weeks at number one.

Other stars to emerge included Cilla Black, The Swinging Blue Jeans, The Fourmost and The Big Three.

The chart-topping songs from Merseybeat artists included Sweets for my Sweet, Bad to Me, She Loves You, I Want to Hold Your Hand and You’ll Never Walk Alone – the latter anthem the last of a hat-trick of number ones for Gerry and the Pacemakers.

Above: Images from the exhibition at Central Library. Top: Spencer Leigh in the exhibition with a picture of The Searchers playing Sweets for My Sweet in Deacon Street, Everton.

Carl Kenneally, exhibition co-curator and Lead Digital Archivist at Liverpool Central Library, said: “The exhibition was Spencer Leigh’s idea and given how much the Merseybeat era has been explored he set the tone by asking for items that people had never seen before.

"One day Pauline Marsden brought in the photograph of her husband, Gerry, which Brian Epstein had on his office wall. We noticed a handwritten lyric on the back of one of her items and she said: “Oh, Gerry would write songs on the back of anything.” That was a real wow moment.

“Thanks to Spencer’s connections and his ask for something unique, the exhibition provides a fascinating insight into those who were there at the heart of the scene. We have images and stories of what was a defining period of the 20th Century for Liverpool, the UK and the world.”

Spencer Leigh added: "I felt the city should be celebrating 60 years of Beatlemania and Merseybeat. The Beatles didn't do it all on their own - they were spurred on by the competition around them.

"People asked me 'what do you want?' And I said something I haven't seen before. Mike Pender (of The Searchers) said 'would you like my MBE?'!"

Liverpool 1963 – How Did We Do It? Is at Liverpool Central Library until August 31 and is free.


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