Beatles History: Anniversary of Cavern Club Opening
The most famous club in the world started out as a mere imitation of another venue. When jazz enthusiast Alan Sytner returned home to Liverpool from Paris's jazz district, he wanted to recapture the feel of the City of Light's Le Caveau club. After a bit of searching – and excavating – he managed to find the perfect spot, an old air raid shelter on Mathew Street, in an area largely known for its wholesale produce markets. On this date in 1957, he opened his own Le Caveau, The Cavern Club.
The Cavern opened to the stylings of the Merseysippi Jazz Band, a veteran Liverpool ensemble who favored the music of Louis Armstrong. The club was popular with the local jazz scene, which took delight in the seedy ambience of the barrel-vaulted ceiling and the low lighting. Over the course of the next three years, most of the big names in British jazz played at the Cavern.
In addition to the more traditional forms of jazz, a slightly bastardized form also crept in the door. Skiffle was a hybrid of jazz, blues, folk and country music, played largely on homemade instruments. For kids in post-war England, it was an easy musical form to latch onto. After Lonnie Donegan took the nation by storm in 1956 with "Rock Island Line," kids everywhere were forming their own skiffle bands. The Cavern gave a handful of these bands a stage. Among them was a group called The Quarrymen, fronted by a young John Lennon. more on this story
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