McCartney Times

Mersey Beat Magazine – Bill Harry

Mersey Beat Magazine – Bill Harry

Mersey Beat Magazine

81a Renshaw St, Liverpool L1 2SJ, United Kingdom

I know this is a publication, rather than a location, but it has played such an integral part of the Mersey scene throughout its emergence, that I thought you would at least like to know more about it. Today there’s is a cozy little Cafe called 81 Records which holds up the tradition as a coffee bar and record shop with open mics and live music. Tel: +44 151 707 1805

It was the brainchild of Bill Harry, who was there right from the beginning. He worked in the midst of it all, writing reviews and generally supporting the Liverpool scene.

Bill Harry was a student at The Liverpool College of Art, and began by writing for Frank Hessy’s music column, and progressed to starting his own publication, with the help of a 50 quid funding from Dick Mathews, whom he met at The Jacaranda Coffee Club.

They rented a little office above a Wine Merchant’s shop (now 81 Records) at 81 Renshaw Street. And his Assistant was his girlfriend Virginia (now his wife of many years), presumably unpaid! Doing it for love instead of money.

They distributed 5,000 copies of their first edition in July 1961, and distributed it via various music stores and book shops. Brian Epstein evidently ordered 12 copies of the first edition, and it sold out in no time, So by edition 2, he needed 12 dozen copies, so they knew they were on their way.

Poor Virginia was swamped, and evidently, the Beatles themselves would drop by the office from time to time to help her out, answering phones etc.

The Beatles were strongly featured in every issue, with photographs supplied by Paul’s brother Mike McCartney.

As time went on, various business troubles muddied the waters, and it eventually merged with another London entity, and finally disappeared. But scousers, and music lovers everywhere will always regard it as a very important part of the early history of the Mersey scene.


Map Link:

81 Records’ website:

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