Bill Harry, founder and editor of the music newspaper Mersey Beat that was on the scene at the dawn of The Beatles and chronicled their historic rise to fame from its infancy, told Beatles Examiner he is working diligently to preserve his Beatles archives and find a permanent home for them in Liverpool. “It was the loss of so many items from Merseyside over the years which first inspired me to approach Neil Aspinall at Apple to suggest a Beatles Archives,” he said. “He eventually turned the idea down. I also had meetings at John Moore’s University regarding a Beatles and Mersey Beat Archive, but nothing came of it, so I started it up myself.”
Harry said that years ago Johnny Byrne of the Hurricanes had collected an invaluable collection of Mersey Beat memorabilia, but when Byrne passed away, it was sold around the world. “Cavern disc jockey Bob Wooler had a huge collection of Beatles and Mersey Beat items, but they have now been selling on the internet and vanishing from Liverpool,” he said. “Liverpool auctions are also selling off memorabilia which is being dissipated around the world. Most recently, Harry Prytherch of the Remo Four passed away and I’m sure his large Beatles/Mersey Beat collection will find other homes.”
The solution is a Liverpool archive of Beat memorabilia. “There needed to be a collection which would eventually find a permanent home in Liverpool, which is eventually where my vast collection will settle,” he said. “During various moves I made over the decades, much of my own collection had to be left behind due to lack of space. Currently I rent a storage unit and have been buying items on the internet for the past few years to add to my collection. In addition, fans from around the world who have heard about the archive have sent me films, photographs, fanzines, magazines and clippings.
“I have thousands of items stored away in plastic boxes including original manuscripts such as Allan Williams’ original book which was ghosted by Bob Azurdia; hundreds of letters from people such as Neil Aspinall, Derek Taylor and Bob Wooler; videos of virtually every televised appearance by the Beatles; audio tapes of interviews; DVDs, vinyl singles and albums and CDs of virtually everything ever recorded by original Mersey Beat groups.”
He says there are also over 500 photos he took of groups myself, still unpublished, and several hundred Beatles photos, at least 200 of them unpublished. In addition, there are nearly 1,000 interviews with Mersey musicians, over 1,000 books, more than 1,000 fanzines and hundreds of magazines. There are also photos of the various displays from the original Beatles City, photos from the opening night of the new Cavern; posters, leaflets, invitation cards, group business cards and thousands of other items.
Featured with this story in the slide show are three images from Harry’s Mersey Beat Awards Show at the Majestic Ballroom, Birkenhead. He say it was “when I gave the Beatles their first-ever award as the Mersey Beat Poll Winners of Most Popular Group in the North West of England.”
He says he would like Beatles fans to help me in retaining Beatles history for posterity by contributing items such as clippings, articles, fanzines, DVDs, CDs etc. They could do this and still retain their originals by perhaps sending me photostats of clippings and articles, some fans might like to donate items they had intended getting rid of.”
About the project, he says, “This is an archive I set up some years ago to protect Beatles and Mersey Beat items for posterity and to have them eventually find a home in Liverpool, probably at one of the universities,” he said. “The Beatles and Mersey Beat Archive will never been broken up and will one day find its permanent home in Liverpool.”