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The Cavern beat goes on
The Cavern beat goes on
LIVERPOOL -- It was raucous, hot and sweaty -- the way good
rock 'n' roll should be.
The crowd thronged toward the stage where a band smoked
cigarettes and guzzled pints of beer as they played guitar
and drums. And play they did.
It was one of the least pretentious performances we'd
watched in a bar in a while. No strutting, flashy clothes
or attitude. These guys just threw back their heads and
sang and played. But then again, this was the Cavern --
which bills itself as the most famous club in the world.
My buddy and I pushed through the crowd to the bar for
another pint. "What's the name of the band?" he asked the
"How do I know, mate? A thousand nameless bands have
Not to mention a few big names as well. Some 42 years
ago, on Nov. 9, 1961, Brian Epstein strolled into the
Cavern to catch a lunchtime performance. His record store
had been blitzed with requests for records by a group that
hadn't made any. So he came to hear and watch the Beatles
for himself, and quickly became their manager.
Two years later the Beatles had grown too big to play the
Cavern. But the buzz had elevated the club to legend
status. It soon attracted musicians like the Yardbirds,
Eric Clapton, the Rolling Stones, John Lee Hooker, Howlin'
Wolf, Gene Vincent, Manfred Mann, the Kinks, The Who and
The Cavern shut down in 1966 but soon reopened with a new
owner. Wishbone Ash, Thin Lizzy, Supertramp and Judas
Priest played during the early 1970s. But the Cavern closed
again in May 1973 because British Rail needed the
subterranean land for an extension to Liverpool's
The Cavern reopened in the early 1980s. It was hoped the
basement club would still be intact, but the structure had
collapsed. The new club was built metres from the first, a
true replica -- they even used the original bricks.
This Cavern is still going strong. It even rocked to the
music of Paul McCartney for the first time in almost four
decades in December 1999. Three hundred fans crammed into
the basement to watch McCartney at his 281st appearance at
the Cavern. As the night wore on, however, McCartney noted
it was not quite the same club he remembered.
"It's over there somewhere, buried under that heap of
rubble," said McCartney.
Close enough for rock 'n' roll.
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