The Cavern Club would become a regular venue for Beatles shows while they remained a Liverpool secret. Once Beatlemania took hold, however, they rarely played in their home city again.
7 August 1957 is commonly believed to be the first date The Quarrymen played at the soon-to-be-legendary venue. The other acts on the bill were Ron McKay’s Skiffle Group, Dark Town Skiffle Group and The Deltones Skiffle Group.
The Cavern Club was owned by Alan Sytner, who played at the same golf club as the Quarrymen’s manager, John Lennon‘s schoolfriend Nigel Whalley. It was through this connection that the nascent band got their first show at the venue; Sytner had heard the group perform at the Childwall Golf Club.
Skiffle was a breeding ground for musicians – one or two of them became jazz musicians, but more ended up doing rock ‘n’ roll. I knew John Lennon quite well as we lived in the same area: he lived 400 yards up the road from me. He was 16 and arrogant and hadn’t got a clue, but that was John Lennon.
The Cavern, Spencer Leigh
The Cavern had opened earlier in the year on 17 January. It was primarily a jazz club which played host to occasional evening ‘Skiffle Sessions’. However, The Quarrymen’s set didn’t go down well. They began with Come Go With Me, followed by Hound Dog and Blue Suede Shoes.
We did some skiffle numbers to start off with at the Cavern but we also did rock ‘n’ roll. John Lennon was passed a note and he said to the audience, ‘We’ve had a request’. He opened it up and it was Alan Sytner saying, ‘Cut out the bloody rock ‘n’ roll.’
The Cavern, Spencer Leigh
Although a member of The Quarrymen at this time, Paul McCartney was away at scout camp on this day and so did not play.
The date of The Quarrymen’s Cavern début was brought into question by group’s then banjo player Rod Davis during a BBC radio interview in August 2011.
Davis told Spencer Leigh, the presenter of Radio Merseyside’s On The Beat, that on 29 July 1957 he went on holiday to France, meaning that the band couldn’t have played the Cavern show on 7 August. Davis claimed that the group’s début at the club was actually before this date.
The general compilations unashamedly say they’ve gone by the adverts in the [Liverpool] Echo. But there were things called the Skiffle Sessions, on which only the leading group was named like the Swinging Blue Jeans and people like that. And no question about it, I played three or four times at the Cavern and it was definitely before August. Because in August, I was in France. And I’ve got a passport to prove it.