Virginia and I used to go to Streates in Mount Pleasant to listen to local poets such as Phil Tasker, Roger McGough and Brian Patten. We’d usually start off from the Jacaranda and as we walked along Slater Street would note John and Cynthia and Paul and Dot kissing in shop doorways.
Streates was a small club, basically a coffee bar for people interested in poetry. As we listened to the performances of our poet friends, who could predict that the Mersey poets would become the most influential performance poets in Britain and their book ‘The Mersey Sound’ become the biggest-selling poetry book of the decade.
This particular scene is captured in Phil Bowen’s book ‘A Gallery To Play To’, a biography of Adrian Henri, Roger McGough and Brian Patten, the three main poets to emerge from the Mersey cultural revolution.
In my blogs I intend to feature and interview authors and their books about the Beatles and the Mersey scene.
I read ‘A Gallery To Play To’ when it was republished by Liverpool University Press in 2007 and decided to interview Phil, who had previously compiled a book of poetry about the Beatles in 1995 called ‘Things We Said Today: Poems About the Beatles’ Continue reading
The first issue of Mersey Beat made its debut on 6 July 1961, produced from a tiny little office in the attic of 51a Renshaw Street, above David Land, the wine merchant.
The only full time worker was my girlfriend Virginia who had given up her job to help me launch the newspaper. Money was tight. I’d received a loan of £50 from Jim Anderson, a civil servant friend of Dave Matthews, another friend who helped us to bring our dream to reality. Virginia was on £2.10s a week and I didn’t take any wages, but lived on the income I received from winning a Senior City Art Scholarship at Liverpool College of Art.
I had amateur experience of running magazines. I’d become a science-fiction enthusiast due to the influence of my cousin Ken Smith and had even joined the Liverpool Science Fiction Society. In my early teens I had produced my own fanzine Biped and illustrated various other fan magazines including Mike Moorcock’s Burroughsania. While at the Junior Art School I launched a duplicated magazine called Premier and when I entered Liverpool College of Art I issued a duplicated magazine simply called Jazz. I was next asked to help edit the university charity magazine Pantosphinx and also a music magazine for the Frank Hessy music store called Frank Comments. Continue reading
I was completely shocked and it was a surprise that I’d sooner not have had to take in when I just discovered that Cynthia had passed away due to cancer. I first knew her as Cynthia Powell, noticing her in the school playground of the Junior School of Art in Gambier Terrace, with her friend Phyllis. She then left the school. I believe it was due to the death of her father and next entered the Liverpool College of Art, which led her on a monumental life she’d never anticipated. Continue reading