The Hurricanes at Butlins: Rory Storm, Ringo Starr, Ty O'Brien, a Butlins' redcoat, Lou Walters and Johnny Guitar
Sunday 26th June 2016 (12 - 5pm). A tribute to Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. £2 on the door, Live music from great bands.
Performing are: Phil Jones, The Rockin 60s, The Biz, Still Standing. Plus guest Artistes. (MC Dave Jamo Jamieson) Rory's sister Iris Caldwell is making the trip up here for the event. Also attending are Hurricanes Walter Eymond and Jimmy Tushingham. Other Merseybeat legends will be in attendance. Anthony Hogan will have a number of copies of his Hurricanes book 'From A Storm To A Hurricane' on sale, get it signed by the author and ex Hurricanes. A great afternoon remembering a fantastic band. Spread the word.
Reason enough I thought, to finally venture beyond that big hippy at the door....
Since opening in 1884 as a social club, Seaforth's Lathom Hall has seen use as a cinema, a factory for the Icilma Face Cream Company, a stained glass windows workshop, a NAAFI storeroom and a school kitchen before becoming a dancehall in the 1950s. After the hall was closed following complaints by local residents the premises became a Royal Naval Association Club.
When the present owner Brian Corrigan took ownership of the Lathom in 1989 the building was derelict but with a lot of hard work and the help of his son Dean he began to revamp the entire premises.
On entering the hall that garish hippy outside immediately makes more sense. Brian is a massive collector of memorabilia, particularly items related to the Mersey Sound and Hollywood movies and the entire club is full of it, from floor to ceiling. As soon as you enter the bar it takes a moment to take it all in. There's so much to look at it's hard to focus. I'm still undecided as to whether the overall effect is intriguing or simply bizarre but it's certainly unique!
Above the bar are busts and masks of various characters from the Star Wars films, plus complete lifesize statues of Darth Vader, C3-P0, R2D2, Yoda, Jar Jar Binks amongst others.
Turn back and look over the entrance and there's a replica of the famous Hollywood sign, accompanied by a number of characters from Marvel comics and horror films.
At the side of the new stage in the centre of the club are life-size figures of Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Louis Armstrong. I also spotted James Dean, the Terminator, Freddie Krueger, Rocky Balboa and the Simpsons (!)
Also on display are two sets of Beatles heads which Brian bought off eBay and a lock of Elvis Presley’s hair, framed, with a certificate of authenticity. Truly he is one collector who doesn't know when to stop and if it brings him pleasure why should he?
Of course, one major item of Beatles related memorabilia was already in situ when Brian bought the Lathom - the original stage that the Beatles performed on. This area of the club has been turned into the Beatles bar with plenty of Beatles related books and paraphernalia behind it. Alongside is a glass cabinet containing a lifesize Sgt Pepper display, reportedly a big favourite with tourists. I'm not surprised, it's actually really impressive. Visitors can sit in this area with their drinks and watch the action on the new stage in comfort.
My previous blog was all about The Beatles at the Lathom but the reason I finally entered the club was to attend a launch party marking the publication of Anthony Hogan's book 'From A Storm To A Hurricane' the story of Ringo's other group.
From the Book blurb:
Rory Storm and the Hurricanes were one of the top bands in Liverpool between 1959 and 1962, bigger even than The Beatles. They shared the bill with the Fab Four on many occasions in their home city and in Hamburg, and their first drummer was none other than Richard Starkey – better known as Ringo Starr – who left the Hurricanes to join the Beatles.
The Hurricanes were leading lights of the burgeoning 'Mersey Sound' and a pulsating live act, led by their charismatic front man, Rory Storm. Born Alan Caldwell, Rory was a natural performer who wooed crowds with his stage antics, once even diving from a swimming pool high board halfway through a song. But, despite the band’s huge local following, fame somehow passed them by.
Frontman Rory suffered from a crippling stammer and, though unaffected while on stage, it seemed to deter record companies. As their fellow Liverpudlians enjoyed huge international success, Rory Storm and the Hurricanes drifted into obscurity, finally ending in tragedy.
Anthony Hogan has painstakingly researched the lives and careers of Rory Storm and The Hurricanes in this fascinating and moving account of one of the great untold rock ’n’ roll stories, featuring over 100 photographs, many unseen before in public.
A good crowd had turned out for an afternoon of memories and music, compered by Dave "Jamo" Jamieson, Rory's friend and sometime roadie for the Hurricanes.
After writing about Rory's sister Iris Caldwell in my post about Balgownie - The Morgue Skiffle Cellar - I was looking forward to seeing the girl who'd once caught the eye of both George Harrison and Paul McCartney. I arrived just as Jamo introduced her to the stage, wearing a Rory Storm and the Hurricanes t-shirt.
Iris Caldwell on stage with MC for the day Dave "Jamo" Jamieson, Rory's Roadie.
Iris Caldwell 26 June 2016
Iris welcomed everyone to the Lathom, talked about her brothers' band and plugged the new book reminding everyone that if they bought it today they would be afforded a unique opportunity to have it signed by the author and surviving members of the Hurricanes, and of course Iris herself.
Looking towards the original stage where the Beatles played.
The gentleman in the leather jacket with his back to the camera on left is Walter Eymond, better known as "Lou Walters", bass player and vocalist in the classic line-up of Rory Storm and the Hurricanes (Alan "Rory Storm" Caldwell, "Johnny Guitar" Byrne, Charles "Ty Hardin" O'Brien, Lou Walters and Richard "Ringo Starr" Starkey). See the photo at the top of this post.
Lou should be well known to Beatles fans. In October 1960 while both groups were working in Hamburg Lou decided to record a few songs at the Akustik studio in Kirchenalle 57.
When the session took place on 15 October 1960 Lou was accompanied by Ty, Johnny and Ringo from his group, and John, Paul and George from The Beatles.
After recording "September Song" and "Fever" with his fellow Hurricanes Lou recorded a version of Gershwin's "Summertime", backed by the three Beatles and Ringo, making it the earliest known recording featuring all of the fab four.
Unfortunately no surviving copies of the disc are known to exist.
And what did Rory think of all this?
Lou Walters: Rory had a gob on as he was not asked to sing.
Iris Caldwell with Walter "Lou Walters" Eymond, bass player in her brother's band (photo: Paul Frost)
There was a great atmosphere all afternoon and it was lovely to see how accomodating everybody was when asked for photographs and autographs. Clearly Iris was very proud of her brother, full of energy and keen for the event to be a success, posing twice with me for photographs because the camera failed on the first attempt and borrowing my pen to sign copies of Anthony's book which seemed to be flying off the proverbial shelf.
Iris Caldwell, sister of Al Caldwell (Rory Storm), girlfriend of George Harrison, Paul McCartney, Frank Ifield and wife of the late Shane Fenton (Alvin Stardust). An absolutely lovely lady.
Having purchased a copy of the book the only difficulty I had was working out what the Hurricanes looked like today. After he'd signed my book "Rock On, Health Love and Money" (because "that's how Johnny Guitar always signed") I turned to Jamo for help. "Well there's two Hurricanes at the bar now" he said, identifying Jimmy Tushingham and Vince Earl.
I approached Jimmy first and asked him to sign. "I'm not used to this" he said, "because I never made it" (the big-time) and then added the word "Drummer" after his name so I'd know who he was. A nice quiet guy. Jimmy joined the band in February 1964, finally bringing some stability to the group after a number of drummers had filled the position for short spells in the aftermath of Ringo's departure.
Anthony Hogan, author of From a Storm to a Hurricane, Hurricane's drummer Jimmy Tushingham, Iris Caldwell and Vince Earl.
Vince Earl was involved in the Merseybeat scene of the 1960s, first as the singer of Vince Earl Talismen and later Vince Earl and the Attractions. He later played with both Rory Storm and the Hurricanes and a group from the Wirral called the Zero's who had a regular spot at the Majestic Ballroom in Conway Street, Birkenhead.
I knew none of this when I first saw him as the character Ron Dixon in the Liverpool based Soap Opera "Brookside" in 1990, a role he would play until the show's sad demise in 2003.
He's also appeared in another couple of Liverpool classics - "Boys From The Blackstuff" and the film "No Surrender" as well as being a stand up comedian.
A later version of the Hurricanes, clockwise from top: Vince Earl, Jimmy Tushingham, Rory, Ty and Johnny.
He was keeping himself low key at the bar with Jimmy until he was pressured into getting up on stage by Jamo. Not that he needed much persuasion!
The surviving Hurricanes: Lou Walters, JimmyTushingham, and Vince Earl
Dave "Jamo" Jamieson at the bar, Walter Eymond (Lou Walters) on stage (below)
The superbly coiffured Lee Curtis with Jimmy Tushingham (above) and in conversation with Lou Walters (below). I saw Lee perform at a Beatles convention in about 1988. He looks exactly the same!
Here's some footage of Rory Storm
and the Hurricanes in action in 1963
As promised live music was featured all afternoon, with most acts performing 50's rock and roll and Merseybeat era songs. A notable exception was the excellent Phil Jones, formerly of the group Afraid of Mice but known to me as the writer and performer of the should have been a massive hit "Johnny and Marie" - there was a time in the late eighties and early nineties when you couldn't walk into a bar or pub in Liverpool and not hear that song. Or at least in the places I went to. Phil joked that it wasn't often these days that he was the youngest on the bill.
Anthony Hogan and Iris Caldwell
I had a brief chat with Anthony about the book and my walks around Broad Green looking for "Balgownie". He told me that Iris was living in a house opposite the old site in Oakhill Park at the time both Rory and their mother Violet passed away. It must have been a dreadful time for her.
I remarked that it was a shame that "Hurricaneville", the family home at 54 Broad Green Road was no longer there but I understood why someone would want to build a new house on the site given the tragic circumstances that occurred there. I was pleasantly surprised, shocked and possibly stunned, when Anthony told me the original house was still there - I'd been looking at the wrong one!
I can feel another trip to Broad Green coming soon - that house is full of Beatles' stories. I wished him good luck with book. I'm presently about half way through it and he's done a great job. I've even learnt of a few more locations around Liverpool with a Ringo connection.
Vince Earl with Iris Caldwell (above) and on stage with Jimmy on drums (below)
All in all a great afternoon, it was nice to meet Iris and the members of Hurricanes and celebrate one of the greatest figures in Merseybeat. As a venue Lathom Hall has really grown on me. I was advised to come back on a Thursday night when the Mersey Rats - original former members of the Mersey beat era bands come together for a rock 'n' roll jam night which packs the place out. One other thing, if you think from these photographs there's a lot of memorabilia on display would you believe there's another floor underneath packed with more horror film props and collectibles!
All the photographs in the Lathom without my watermark were taken by Paul Frost who has kindly given me permission to use them here. If you're on Facebook have a look at Paul's page "I Love Liverpool The City" - if it's happening in Liverpool Paul's usually there to photograph it. There's loads of old photos on there to enjoy too. Thanks Paul :)
See more at: https://www.amberley-books.com/from-a-storm-to-a-hurricane.html#sthash.9ZSAMh6w.dpuf