Book review of Spencer Leigh’s ‘The Beatles in Liverpool’

By Gillian G. Gaar

Spencer Leigh
The Beatles in Liverpool: The Stories, The Scene and the Path to Stardom
Chicago Review Press

This book is similar in style and design to Leigh’s “The Beatles In Hamburg,” released in 2011 by the same publisher. It’s like a scrapbook filled with interesting anecdotes and photos about The Beatles’ early years.

The Beatles in Liverpool by Spencer LeighAs a longtime Liverpool resident, as well as the author of numerous Beatles books (and an occasional “Goldmine” contributor as well), Leigh is able to write about the city and its music scene with authority. The images in the book are especially fascinating. There are reproductions of John Lennon’s early writing in the Quarry Bank school publication “The Quarry”; a program for a school play in which Paul McCartney had a small role; an alternate shot from The Quarrymen’s June 9, 1957, show at a Liverpool street party, one of the group’s first performances; the picture of John Lennon’s college flat that ran in British newspaper “The People” captioned as an example of “Beatnik Horror”; a page from a short play Lennon wrote with Stuart Sutcliffe and Rod Murray (another college friend); and other unique items.

There are a number of lesser-seen photos mixed in with the familiar ones, and care has been taken to use vintage shots, giving you a real feel of the early-’60s era. Along with the main narrative, there are separate sections covering other topics: The day John and Paul met; the historic Dec. 27, 1960, Litherland Town Hall show; a profile of Brian Epstein and so on.

It’s a good companion to the Hamburg book, and it’s just as enjoyable.

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