Rory Best pictured at Casbah Club; PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
It was 60 years ago today that a club known as the “Birthplace of the Beatles” opened in Liverpool, England — and no, we’re not talking about the Cavern Club.
The Casbah Coffee Club was opened on August 29, 1959 by Mona Best, mother of the Beatles’ original drummer, Pete Best. Located in the cellar of the Best home, the Casbah was inspired by the famous 2i’s Coffee Bar in London, where British pop legend Cliff Richard had been discovered. Mona conceived the place as a members-only club for her sons Pete and Rory and their pals.
The pre-Beatles band The Quarrymen, which included John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ken Brown, went to the Casbah to see if Mona would book them to play. She said yes, but noted that she needed to finish painting the place first. All the Quarrymen, as well as Lennon’s future wife Cynthia, painted the walls with various decorations, which can still be seen today.
The Quarrymen played a “residency” of seven weekend concerts from August 29 through October 1959, attracting hundreds of fans to the tiny, non-air conditioned cellar. Other local acts, such as The Searchers, Gerry & the Pacemakers and Cilla Black also performed at the Casbah.
It was at the Casbah that Lennon and McCartney persuaded Stu Sutcliffe to buy a bass and join their band. It was also where they recruited Pete Best, who’d been playing the club with his own band, The Black Jacks, to play drums for the group, who’d renamed themselves The Beatles in 1960.
Mona closed the club in June of 1962; The Beatles were the last group to perform there.
In 2006, the Casbah was designated an historic building and given an official “blue plaque” marking its status. It’s now a tourist attraction.
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