Week in August
May 31, 2009
By Steve Marinucci
Mersey Beat, the Liverpool music paper that was at the center of
Beatlemania and coverage of the Beatles during the '60s, is returning
to publication in August with a special 24-page issue to tie into
Liverpool's Beatle Week.
Bill Harry, the founder, editor and publisher of the paper that gave
the Liverpool sound its name since its inception, says Mersey Beat,
which first published in 1961 and at one time had John Lennon as a
columnist, hasn't been a regular publication since the mid '60s, but
it's something he has considered previously.
"I decided to end Mersey Beat as a publication in 1965," Harry said
in an email. "Basically, Brian Epstein wanted me to run a national
music paper and wasn't really interested in it being Mersey Beat, so
I devised another publication for him which I called Music Echo.
However, there was so much editorial interference that it was doomed
and I decided to leave. The publication had been in the black, but
after I left I believe Brian lost so much money on it he merged it
with Disc and it became Disc & Music Echo."
"Over the years I have been asked many times to re-launch Mersey
Beat," he says. "I did agree when Clive Epstein suggested that I
re-launch the publication and he would back me as my partner. At the
time, he had engaged me to be press agent for a group called Motion
Pictures he was co-managing with Sid Bernstein, but he seemed keen on
the vision of a new series of Mersey Beat newspapers. Work began and
he found me a Liverpool printer, but sadly, Clive died prematurely in
a skiing accident. He was a very nice man who I liked very much.
"This was at a time," he continued, "when I was still engaged as a
press agent in London and was still representing many artists from
Led Zeppelin to Suzi Quatro. My next publication was called Tracks.
It was a monthly glossy focusing on the latest album releases. I then
launched another publication called Idols.
A new era began for Mersey Beat in the late '90s when it went online.
"Mersey Beat remained on my mind and in 1999, I launched it online on
www.mersey-beat.com This version was focused on the original issues
between 1961 and 1965. There was an archive or the original material,
all the features written by the Beatles themselves and Brian Epstein,
features on all the original Mersey groups and special photo sections.
"Three years ago," he says, "I launched a sister site
www.merseybeat.co.uk, which contained a merchandise section and also
covered the Mersey music scene from the fifties to the present day. I
will be continuing with both sites, including more material every
week. There are approaching 1,000 features on both sites and Beatles
material even their closest fans won't have seen before.
Local events in Liverpool, including one honoring Gerry Marsden of
Gerry and the Pacemakers, led to his decision to bring Mersey Beat
back this year.
"I was asked to publish a small special issue to tie-in with
Liverpool Soundcity and issued an eight-page edition in May this
year, also tying in with Gerry Marsden being made a freeman of the
city of Liverpool," Harry says."So many people have been pressuring
me to re-launch Mersey Beat again that I have decided to publish a
24-page issue to tie-in with the Liverpool Beatle Week in August.
And Harry says he's thinking about publishing additional issues.
"Of course," he says, "the main pressure has been for me to re-launch
in and continue it as a monthly publication, but I am holding off
that idea for the present, although I am open to publish several
further editions as 'specials' focusing on specific themes of the
Beatles and Mersey scene."