by Debbie Greenberg
Anyone familiar with the Beatles history knows the importance of their tenure at the Cavern Club. They played the club 292 times during their formative years. And what could be said about the Cavern Club that hasn't been said before? Well, plenty actually, and it can be found in "Cavern Club: The Inside Story" by Debbie Greenberg. Most tellings of the Cavern Club end pretty much when the Beatles stopped playing there in 1963. But there is much, much more. Sure, the Beatle years are covered, but it is only half the story of The Cavern.
Like many Beatles fans who didn't grow up in Liverpool, my knowledge of the Cavern was minimal after the Beatles last gig there in 1963. Sure, I knew it was demolished in 1973 and a Cavern re-creation now sits on the original site. "Cavern Club: The Inside Story" fills in a lot of the missing information in my Cavern knowledge. For instance, I had no knowledge the Cavern Boutique, the souvenir shop, the Mersey Bar, or the weekly Cavern newspaper, "Cavern News". I had never heard of Cavern Sound Ltd. - a completely different legal entity from the Cavern club itself. It was a recording studio opened in late 1964 for bands to record demo discs.
The Cavern, under ownership of Ray McFall, closed 28 Feb 1966. Debbie was 20 years old when her father, Alfred Geoghegan took over ownership of the Cavern on April 18, 1966. She also had a modeling career while working at her father's butcher shop. She started full-time at the Cavern in late '67. Debbie had been a Cavern addict since the early '60s, seeing the Beatles in all their early lineups: Stu Sutcliff, Pete Best, and Ringo. From leather to the suits. She saw the Beatles debut at the Cavern on Feb 9, 1961 and their final Cavern gig on Aug 3, 1963. I love Debbie's descriptions of life at the Cavern in the early '60s, the fashions of the day, what is was like in the club, the characters there, and stories of people such as Bob Wooler and Paddy Delaney.
One of the most fascinating aspects of the book was the story of Alfred Geoghegan. His background story is truly inspiring, with his non-stop entrepreneurial ethic and boundless energy. Here's just some of his story: he was a qualified butcher who lost two fingers in a work accident; during the war he was an entertainer; he sold hand carved wooden toys; he was the inventor of "Bran-Nu" a shoe polish; he was a taxi owner/operator; he owned 3 butcher shops; he managed groups; he was a prolific songwriter, he started the souvenir shop at the Cavern, designing the items himself. he started the weekly Cavern newspaper, "Cavern News".
Liverpool Corporation set strict conditions for the Cavern redesign, including new stairs, toilets, & emergency exits. Debbie describes all the hard work of renovation to meet the opening deadline for the grand opening on Sat Jul 23, '66. Alfred rewired the electrics and did a lot of the renovation work himself.
There were other changes as alcohol and a kitchen were added. Previously, there had only been coca cola, hot drinks, soup & hot dogs at the Cavern. After the Cavern had its Grand Re-opening, it continued to thrive, with bands such as Chuck Berry, The Who, The Scaffold, The Iveys, Queen, & Status Quo. There is even a surprise visit from Paul McCartney and his then girlfriend Linda Eastman in 1968. But, you'll have to get the book to read it!
At its business peak in 1970, Alfred sold the Cavern. And you know the rest of the story: The Cavern was demolished in 1973. The sad part of the book is the knowledge that if Alfred had still owned The Cavern, it would not have been demolished. This is explained in the book.
All in all, this is an excellent addition to your Beatles bookshelf and highly recommended!