Advertiser Life My close encounter with Paul inspired new novel
WEST Lancashire author John Winter has used his experiences of life in Liverpool for his new book.
Blame It On The Beatles... And Bill Shankly is set in 1960s, post-war Liverpool.
Liverpool FC are stuck down in Division Two, looking up at the mighty Everton, and for Tony and his teenage friends life is predictable and dull.
Then The Beatles and Bill Shankly come along. And everything goes completely crazy.
John, who lives in Aughton, was born in Liverpool and was a student in the city during the 1960s.
Although the characters in the story are fictional, much of the novel is based on fact.
John was lucky enough to meet Paul McCartney in 1968 when he made a secret visit to The Cavern Club.
“It was towards the end of October, in the midafternoon, when a figure wearing a full-length, dark coat wandered into The Cavern Club in Mathew Street.
“His face was partly hidden by a hat with a wide, floppy brim.
“At the time I was combining my university studies with writing pop songs, and I was sitting at a piano in the club with my cowriter.
“The hat was removed and the figure introduced himself to us as Paul McCartney, before going to fetch his new girlfriend, Linda, who was waiting outside in the car.
“He told us he was showing Linda round his old haunts in Liverpool and that the press mustn’t find out.
“Linda asked Paul to play Hey Jude, which had just been released as a single, so he sat down at our piano and did exactly that.
“Back in 1968 it was like meeting God!
“I did mention it to a couple of friends some days later but they wouldn’t believe me. So I gave up talking about it.
“I even started to think I must have imagined the whole thing.”
The story of Paul’s unannounced visit to The Cavern that October afternoon remained untold for a long time.
It is now included in the book.
And for anybody doubting that the visit took place, there are a couple of black and photographs from 1968 just by the bar in the reopened Cavern Club.
They show Paul and Linda in the club, and Paul playing the drums with a Liverpool band called Curiosity Shop who were rehearsing on stage that afternoon.
John said: “Through my song-writing I got to know quite a few of the musicians and poets who were putting the city on the map.
“Faith Brown recorded a couple of my songs when she was still performing as a singer with her two brothers.
“As did David Hamilton, the Radio One DJ.”
Blame It On The Beatles... And Bill Shankly describes the teenage years of Tony and his friends, who watch as music and football transform the city.
In just a few short years The Beatles become four of the most famous people on the planet, and Liverpool FC emerged from the Second Division to hold their own with the best in Europe.
“As far as I’m concerned,” John said, “Bill Shankly was a genius who inspired players and fans alike, and turned Liverpool into champions.
“To me it feels very much the same with Jurgen Klopp right now.”
The background to the story is the vibrant and exciting Liverpool of the ’60s.
Less well-known places like The Casbah in West Derby and The Jive Hive in Crosby, as well as the small recording studio that Percy Phillips ran from his terraced house at 38 Kensington, feature in the book, alongside famous sites such as The Cavern and The Kop, Penny Lane and Strawberry Field.
“Many books have been written about The Beatles,” John said. “But I don’t think very much has been said about the effect of all this sudden fame upon the city, and upon the ordinary people who were just trying to get on with their lives.
“It was an amazing time to be young and living in Liverpool.
“But as can often be the case with sudden and unexpected fame, the effects were complicated.
“Mostly they were positive. But not always.
“That’s what interested me, and why I decided to make the characters fictional. It allowed me to show what they were feeling about what was going on in the city and in the wider world.
“And it wasn’t just The Beatles. There was Bill Shankly and Liverpool FC, and all the other Liverpool bands.
“And Liverpool poets such as Adrian Henri, Roger McGough and Brian Patten, along with acts like The Scaffold with Paul McCartney’s brother, Mike.
“It was a tidal wave of popular culture which had a massive effect upon the city and its people.
“And half a century on the effects still reverberate.”
For those who weren’t lucky enough to have been there, Blame It On The Beatles.. And Bill Shankly tells you what it was like to be a teenager, living in Liverpool, at that time.
It is available now from bookshops and online. RRP £8.99.