The Beatles in Liverpool
This distinctive northern English city was the birthplace of the Beatles, who changed rock music forever using recording techniques unheard of at the time.
The Fab Four became counterculture icons who defined the look and sound of the 1960s, but despite their international success, they remained true sons of Liverpool. The city remains a site of pilgrimage for fans more than half a century after the Beatles' early gigs here. Liverpool may no longer be the rough, postwar city the Beatles grew up in, but it makes the most of its connections to Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. John and Paul's childhood homes, Mendips and 20 Forthlin Road, are in south Liverpool; both are National Trust sites. You can take in a show at Mathew Street's (re-created) Cavern Club, where the band played in its early days, or tour Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields, and other mop-top nostalgia spots. Located on two sites at Albert Dock and Pier Head, the Beatles Story museum provides a state-of-the-art overview of the group's career.
"I knew the words to 25 rock songs, so I got into the group. 'Long Tall Sally' and 'Tutti Frutti,' that got me in. That was my audition." —Paul McCartney
"Paul wasn't quite strong enough, I didn't have enough girl appeal, George was too quiet, and Ringo was the drummer. But we thought everyone would be able to dig at least one of us, and that's how it turned out." —John Lennon
Follow in the Footsteps
See the Main Sights
The three key shrines of Beatle-dom in Liverpool are John and Paul's childhood homes in south Liverpool and the legendary Cavern Club on Mathew Street downtown, where the Beatles were discovered by their future manager Brian Epstein in 1961. A combined ticket for both Beatle homes includes a bus between the city center and the two sites.
Check out the Beatles Story
At two venues at the Albert Dock and Pier Head, entertaining scenes re-create stages in the Fab Four's lives—from early gigs in Germany and the Cavern Club to each member's solo career—with 3D computer animations, band artifacts, and more.
Choose the Right Tour
The two-hour Magical Mystery Tour (www.cavernclub.com) departing from the Albert Dock (Anchor Courtyard) is a great way to zoom around Penny Lane, Strawberry Field, and other landmarks it would otherwise be difficult to find. Liverpool Beatles Tours (www.beatlestours.co.uk) can cram in every Beatles haunt on three-, four- or five-hour or full-day tours. Other options are private guides or personalized tours.
Go to Beatleweek
The annual International Beatleweek (www.internationalbeatleweek.com) is usually held the last week in August. Attend John and Yoko fancy-dress parties; listen to Beatles tribute bands; and check out record fairs, exhibitions, and conventions.
When these four local rapscallions appeared on the Liverpool pop circuit in the early 1960s, they were just another group of lads struggling to get gigs on the city's "Merseybeat" scene. What followed was extraordinary: Beatlemania swept over fans around the world, including the United States, which the group first visited in 1964. Before their 1969 breakup, the Beatles achieved phenomenal commercial and creative success, bringing bohemianism to the masses and embodying a generation's ideals of social liberation and peace. They reinvented pop music, bridging styles and genres as diverse as Celtic folk, psychedelia, and Indian raga; starring in epoch-making movies such as A Hard Day's Night and Help!; and causing such hysteria they couldn't even hear their own guitars on stage. Though adulation followed them everywhere, the Beatles remained obstinate "Scousers," showing a grounded charm and irreverent humor characteristic of their native city.