At the beginning of the 1960’s Liverpool claimed its crown as the home of British pop. Around 350 bands across the city were playing a new sound. The Cavern club was at its centre, and is now the most famous club in the world. This new sound was Merseybeat, characterised by its catchy guitar based tunes and prominent drums, played with an emphasis on all four beats of a 4/4 bar. It is the basis of the rock music we know today.
Liverpool was well placed for a new form of music to emerge. A city in industrial decline, there was a sense of local solidarity. The large Irish population, with their strong musical traditions, had an influence on Merseybeat. It was also a major port with links to America, allowing access to American records – rock ‘n’ roll, blues, soul, jazz – and instruments like guitars, which could not be easily imported.
The bands that grew out of this musical explosion – The Beatles, Gerry and the Pacemakers, The Searchers – not only captured the city, but the nation, and then the world. They formed the core of the British Invasion, a wave of music to achieve success in America.
The legacy of Merseybeat lives on in the people of Liverpool. Fans of the football team, the red one, sing the Gerry and the Pacemakers’ inspirational hit You’ll Never Walk Alone before each game, holding their scarves aloft.