Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Beatle People: Bill Harry

Bill Harry (born in Liverpool, England) is the creator of Mersey Beat, an important magazine of the 1960s focused on Liverpool music scene. He attended Liverpool College of Art with John Lennon and Stuart Sutcliffe. Harry was the founder and editor of Mersey Beat, a weekly pop newspaper documenting the Liverpool scene. The publication is best known for being the first to feature a then-new band called The Beatles in the early 1960s.

Early years

Harry was interested in science fiction, and joined the Liverpool Science Fiction Society, producing his own fanzine, Biped. After winning a scholarship to the Junior School of Art, which was in Gambier Terrace, Liverpool, he started his first magazine, Premier.

Harry entered the Liverpool College of Art at 16, and in 1958, whilst still at the college, he started the Jazz magazine, which reported concerts at the Liverpool Jazz Society club, the Temple Jazz Club and The Cavern Club. He also worked on the University charity magazine, Pantosphinx, and for Frank Hessy's music store magazine called "Frank Comments." Fellow art students Lennon, Sutcliffe and Rod Murray saw the poet Royston Ellis at Liverpool University, and later met in a Liverpool pub, Ye Cracke. Being disappointed with Ellis' performance, Harry proposed the idea that they should call the assembled quartet of friends The Dissenters, and make Liverpool famous: Lennon with his music, Sutcliffe and Murray with their paintings and Harry with his writing, Sutcliffe and Harry were on the Student Union committee, and put forward the idea that the college should buy its own P.A. system for the college dances (which The Quarrymen played at) although the equipment would later be appropriated by the band, and taken to Hamburg. After Stuart Sutcliffe joined The Quarrymen, Harry complained to Sutcliffe that he should be concentrating on art and not music, as he thought that Sutcliffe was a competent but not brilliant bassist.

Mersey Beat

A local civil servant, Jim Anderson, lent Harry £50, and Harry founded the "Mersey Beat" magazine in 1961, which ran stories about the local Liverpool music scene. The Beatles' name was supposedly first noticed by Brian Epstein in issues of Mersey Beat, and on numerous posters around Liverpool, before he asked Harry who they were, as Harry had previously convinced Epstein to sell the Mersey Beat magazine at NEMS). (The Beatles were featured on the front page of Mersey Beat's second issue). The Beatles had recorded the "My Bonnie" single with Tony Sheridan in Germany, and some months after its release Epstein asked Alistair Taylor about it in NEMS. Epstein's version of the story was that a customer, Raymond Jones, walked into the NEMS shop and asked Epstein for the "My Bonnie" single, which made Epstein curious about the group.

The Beatles were due to perform a lunchtime concert in the Cavern Club (a dark, damp, and dirty basement) on 9 November 1961, not far from the NEMS store. Epstein asked Bill Harry to arrange for Epstein and his assistant Taylor to watch The Beatles perform, and Epstein and Taylor were allowed into the club without queuing, with a welcome message being announced over the club's public-address system by Bob Wooler, who was the resident DJ.

Sutcliffe started dating Astrid Kirchherr, and Harry later said that when Kirchherr walked in the room, every head would immediately turn her way.


Harry has also worked as a publicist, providing public relations for such acts as Led Zeppelin, Suzi Quatro, Free, The Arrows, and Hot Chocolate.

He is a critically acclaimed author, receiving the Gold Badge Award from the British Academy of Composers and Songwriters in 1995.

Bill is currently Chief Consultant to Rock and Pop Shop, the memorabilia company which produces replica issues of Mersey Beat magazine as well as many art prints of the Mersey Beat front covers and other images from the original magazines.

Books written or co-written by Bill Harry

* Arrows : The Official Story Everest Books 1976 ISBN 0-903925-61-3
* Mersey Beat: The Beginnings of The Beatles Omnibus Press 1977 ISBN 0-86001-415-0
* The Beatles Who's Who Aurum Press 1982 ISBN 0-906053-38-2
* Beatlemania Virgin Books 1984 ISBN 0-86369-041-6
* Paperback Writers Virgin Books 1984 ISBN 0-86369-021-1
* The Book of Lennon Aurum Press 1984 ISBN 0-906053-74-9
* Ask Me Why Javelin Books 1985 ISBN 0-7137-1635-5
* Beatles For Sale Virgin Books 1985 ISBN 0-86369-097-1
* The Book of Beatle Lists Javelin Books 1985 ISBN 0-7137-1521-9
* The McCartney File Virgin Books 1986 ISBN 0-86369-157-9
* Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band Atalanta Press 1987 ISBN 187004908X
* The Ultimate Beatles Encyclopedia Virgin Books 1992 ISBN 0-86369-681-3
* Jan Olofsson: My 60s Taschen 1994 ISBN 3-8228-8915-6
* The Encyclopedia of Beatles People Blandford Press 1997 ISBN 0-7137-2606-7
* The Best Years of The Beatles Headline 1997 ISBN 0-7472-7762-1
* Whatever Happened to ... Cassell 1999 ISBN 0-7137-2675-X
* The Beatles Encyclopedia: Revised and Updated Virgin Books 2000 ISBN 0-7535-0481-2
* The John Lennon Encyclopedia Virgin Books 2000 ISBN 0-7535-0404-9
* The Paul Mccartney Encyclopedia Virgin Books 2002 ISBN 0-7535-0716-1
* The George Harrison Encyclopedia Virgin Books 2003 ISBN 0-7535-0822-2
* The Ringo Starr Encyclopedia Virgin Books 2004 ISBN 0-7535-0843-5
* The British Invasion Chrome Dreams 2004 ISBN 1-84240-247-1


1 comment:

peace! said...

come and read :)
beatles fan-fic