Bill Harry (born 17 September 1938), is the creator of Mersey Beat; a newspaper of the early 1960s which focused on the Liverpool music scene. Harry had previously started various magazines and newspapers, such as Biped and Premier, while at Liverpool’s Junior School of Art. He later attended the Liverpool College of Art, where his fellow students included John Lennon and Stuart Sutcliffe, who both later performed with the Beatles. He published a magazine, Jazz, in 1958, and worked as an assistant editor on the University of Liverpool‘s charity magazine, Pantosphinx.
Harry met his wife-to-be, Virginia Sowry, at the Jacaranda club—managed by Allan Williams, the first manager of the Beatles—and she later agreed to help him start a music newspaper. After borrowing £50, Harry released the first issue of Mersey Beat on 6 July 1961, with the first 5,000 copies selling out within a short time. The newspaper was published every two weeks, covering the music scenes in Liverpool, Wirral, Birkenhead, New Brighton, Crosby and Southport, as well as Warrington, Widnes and Runcorn. He edited the paper in a small attic office above a wine merchant’s shop at 81a Renshaw Street, Liverpool.
Harry arranged for the future Beatles’ manager, Brian Epstein, to see them perform a lunchtime concert at the Cavern Club on 9 November 1961. Epstein subsequently asked Harry to create a national music paper, the Music Echo, but after disagreements with Epstein about editorial control, he decided to become a P.R. agent; working for many solo artistes and groups, including Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, Procol Harum, David Bowie, Led Zeppelin and the Beach Boys, as well as many others.
Harry often heard Lennon, McCartney and Harrison rehearsing or playing in the Art College canteen in the basement, but after Sutcliffe joined the Quarrymen, Harry complained that Sutcliffe should be concentrating on art and not music, as he thought he was a competent, but not brilliant bassist. As Harry and Sutcliffe were members of the Liverpool College of Art’s Student Union committee, they put forward the idea that the college should buy its own P.A. system for college dances, which the Quarrymen often played at, but the equipment would later be appropriated by the group and taken to Hamburg. As late as 7 March 1962, the Students’ Union sent Pete Mackey to ask Lennon to either return the equipment or pay for it, but Lennon told him it had been sold in Hamburg. Harry asked Lennon to write a short biography of the Beatles for the first issue of Mersey Beat, which Harry titled, “Being a Short Diversion on the Dubious Origins of Beatles, Translated From the John Lennon”