Burning love – Beatles and Elvis cities strengthen links

Musical links between the cities that gave birth to The Beatles and Elvis Presley are being strengthened.

Memphis has donated a plaque to Liverpool which will be unveiled on Mathew Street in Liverpool on Wednesday 6 November – close to the Cavern Club where the Fab Four played many gigs and were first spotted by Brian Epstein.

It is the latest development in a 15-year friendship arrangement between the two cities, which began in 2004 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s first record being cut.

In 2011, venues in Liverpool and Memphis became Rock ‘n’ Soul Mates in a transatlantic link up between the two cities to encourage tourists to explore the connections between the English and American cities whose music and history have helped to shape the world.

Elvis and The Beatles famously met just once, in 1965 at Presley’s Bel Air mansion, with John Lennon later describing himself as being “terrified” during the encounter as he was their idol. Lennon said that his influence on the band was such that “without Elvis, there would be no Beatles”.

Representatives from Memphis and Liverpool will gather to unveil the plaque at lunchtime on Wednesday.

It comes as a consultation is underway on a masterplan aimed at transforming the epicentre of Liverpool’s musical heritage.

The draft Spatial Regeneration Framework (SRF) for the Cavern Quarter, includes Mathew Street and nearby Williamson Square.

The draft SRF contains a range of recommendations to help attract new investment and to enable the council to steer the future use of existing buildings in the area. The document aims to address a recent tourism report that called for the city to curate a clearer proposition around Liverpool’s pivotal role in the story of popular and contemporary music.

A UNESCO City of Music, Liverpool’s music heritage industry – which is centred around The Beatles – is now worth more than £90m a year, but the tourism report found visitors are increasingly looking for a quality experiential visit.

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said: “Liverpool and Memphis are two global music cities whose appeal transcends generations.

“Over the last few years we have been working really hard to develop visitor and business opportunities which connect and promote our great cities and incredible musical heritage.

“I welcome this gift from Memphis that will be yet another attraction for tourists on Mathew Street, as we work to enhance this historic area and improve the visitor experience.”

Kevin Kane, President and CEO of Memphis Tourism said: “Memphis and Liverpool share the spotlight as two iconic global music cities.

“This plaque made in Memphis placed on Matthew Street outside the world famous Cavern Club cements the unique and lasting bond between our cities.

“Together, we are in great company and inspiring each other and music artists all over the world.”

Michael Eakin, Chair of the Liverpool City Region Music Board, said: “Liverpool and Memphis are two of the world’s great music cities and we welcome this formal recognition of that shared status, and of the continuing strong musical links between our cities.

“This plaque celebrates the great musical heritage of Liverpool and Memphis, and also the fact that both are vibrant and creative musical cities today, always looking forward and continuing to produce great talent.”

Peter Hooton, Chair of The Beatles Legacy Group, said: “Beale St, Memphis is the birthplace of the ‘Blues’ and the Cavern in Mathew St is the birthplace of modern popular music – what better way to commemorate the legacy and links between these two iconic music cities that helped shape music and will continue to do so for generations to come?”

Drop in consultation events about the SRF are taking place at the One Stop Shop in St Johns Market on Friday 8 November from 10am-3pm, and Tuesday 19 November at RIBA North at Mann Island from 2-5pm. More information can be found at https://liverpool.gov.uk/cavernwilliamson