Blog

“The Country of Liverpool” Nominated for Top Award

The Country of Liverpool book has been nominated for an ARSC award

The Association for Recorded Sound Collections

The Country of Liverpool: Nashville of the North“, David Bedford’s latest book, has been nominated for a prestigious award in the US.

The ARSC Awards for Excellence

The Awards for Excellence are presented to authors and publishers of books, articles, or recording liner notes, to recognize outstanding published research in the field of recorded sound. In giving these awards, ARSC recognizes the contributions of these individuals and aims to encourage others to emulate their high standards and to promote readership of their work. A maximum of two awards is presented annually in each category—one for best history and one for best discography. Certificates of Merit are presented to runners-up of exceptionally high quality.

The Country of Liverpool: Nashville of the North

The book tells the story of the country music scene in Liverpool in the ’50s and ’60s, when Liverpool was referred to as the ‘Nashville of the North’, due to it having the biggest country and western scene in the UK.

We’re glad that this is a story that resonates not just with Liverpudlians, but also with our country-loving friend across the Atlantic.

The Beatles

The Beatles as Cowboys
Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr of the Beatles 1964 © 1978 Gunther

Of course, we cannot look at the history of country in Liverpool without examining how the Fab Four fit in to the picture. The book covers the country music roots of The Quarrymen and The Beatles, with over 20 Beatles songs with country roots. We also follow Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr as they travelled to Nashville in the 1970s to record country songs.

Phil Brady

Phil Brady with Hank Walters (Centre)
Phil Brady with Hank Walters (Centre_

At the heart of the book is the career of Liverpool’s own Phil Brady who, following the formation of his first incarnation of the Ranchers in 1962, became the #1 country artist in Britain. He also travelled to Nashville in 1968, where he met with Willie Nelson, George Hamilton IV and many other country legends.

Discover these stories for the very first time by ordering your copy of ‘The Country of Liverpool’ today.

Get Your Copy of the Book

The Country of Liverpool
The Country of Liverpool

The Country of Liverpool Film

Dominic Halpin on stage
Dominic Halpin on stage

Work has already started on the new documentary film based upon the book, where we will follow Dominic Halpin as he goes on a journey into Liverpool to discover the story of the country music scene.

Check out this preview clip below, in which Dom speaks on country, skiffle, and the musical and cultural connections between the two.

You can follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for updates on the film We recently shared a couple of preview clips from the upcoming documentary, and will continue to do so over coming weeks.

FIND OUT MORE HERE

Production of The Country of Liverpool film is ongoing. If you’d like to get involved and contribute your story, please message us on any of our social media channels (listed above), or email our publicist Alex Holbourn at alex@thecountryofliverpool.com.

The Country of Liverpool – Volume 2 COMING SOON!

“The Country of Liverpool: Nashville of the North” (published 2020) told the story of the evolution of the country music scene in Liverpool from the 1950s, as Liverpool established the biggest country and western scene in the UK. It also told of the influence of country music on The Beatles, while also following the career of Phil Brady, who rose to become the #1 country act in Britain.

The Beatles as Cowboys
Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr of the Beatles 1964 © 1978 Gunther

While I established the roots of the scene and featured Hank Walters & the Dusty Road Ramblers as well as The Hillsiders, it was impossible to tell the whole story, even in 400 pages! There are so many great country acts; groups, duos and solo artists, that couldn’t be covered in just one book.

Volume 2: “Return to the Country of Liverpool”

In this second volume, I basically want to feature every country artist from Liverpool! Yes, I know that isn’t easy, but that is the plan. I especially want to throw more light on the newer generations of country and Americana artists coming out of Liverpool.

Robert Vincent, Hannah Rose Platt, The Hillsiders, and author David Bedford

It’s understandable that Liverpool is known by many as a pop city – for example, we have produced more number one singles than any other British city outside of London. However, we are confident that more people will come to recognise the country connection.

Featured Artists: The Hillsiders and Charlie Landsborough and many more…….

Just as I featured Phil Brady and the Ranchers in Volume 1, there will be a feature on Liverpool’s most successful country group, The Hillsiders, featuring Kenny Johnson, with his groups Sonny Webb & The Cascades, The Hillsiders and Northwind.

Charlie Landsborough, Merseyside’s most successful solo country artist will also be featured as he tells you his incredible story of becoming a star in both Liverpool and Nashville.

Over in Nashville, Siobhan Maher Kennedy, once of Liverpool band River City People, has carved out an incredible career over in Nashville and has an incredible story to tell.

Along the way, there have been countless artists and groups who never had a recording career, but have been the backbone of the Liverpool country scene for decades. I want to give credit to every single one.

Recent Successes – Robert Vincent

The latest successful Country artist from Liverpool is Robert Vincent, who recently won the UK ALBUM OF THE YEAR and ARTIST OF THE YEAR at the AMAUK Awards (The Americana Music Association UK).

As well as having a strong country music heritage, Liverpool is still producing great country music to this day!

How Can You Help?

I want your to hear your stories; see your photographs, tickets and memorabilia for this new book. If you can help tell the complete story of The Country of Liverpool, please get in touch with me.

List of Country Artists – So Far!

To see the list of country artists that I have compiled so far, visit this page – COUNTRY ARTISTS & GROUPS – I list them alphabetically. Are there any others I have missed? Please let me know.

Help Make The Film

We are working on the documentary film of the book, in which we will tell the whole story of how Liverpool became “The Nashville of the North”. We have already lined up many interviews and features. Keep in touch with the film project here.

Liverpool and Nashville

Since the end of 2019, I have been in discussions on both sides of the Atlantic to twin Liverpool with Nashville, due to our country connections. Liverpool is already twinned musically with Memphis, so it makes sense for Liverpool and Nashville to be similarly twinned. Talks were going well when Covid hit, which has slowed things down. Fear not – the talks will progress again soon!

Make sure you subscribe to keep up to date with the next book and the film. You can also follow us on social media – see the graphic below for details.

We post regular production updates on all of our social media channels

Get The Country of Liverpool – Volume 1

The Country of Liverpool
The Country of Liverpool

To get your copy of The Country of Liverpool, visit the product page here.

Phil Brady: The Life of Liverpool’s Country Hero

Phil Brady and the Ranchers at the 21 Club
Phil Brady and the Ranchers at the 21 Club

Phil Brady was born in the Dingle, a suburb of Liverpool that lies a stone’s throw away from the city centre. Just like his neighbour Ringo Starr, Phil always loved his country music.

Phil Brady’s First Group

In June 1962, the newly-married Phil Brady formed his first group, a trio that he put together with Frank Peters and Sid Chadwick. However, they soon discovered that the balance wasn’t right with two rhythm guitars, and so Sid left. With Phil being the only singer, he wanted a bass player and a steel guitar player too, to thicken the sound. Tommy Bowness joined on bass, with Rae Owens on lead guitar, and Frank Peters playing steel guitar. The Ranchers were born.

1963 – 1964: Phil Brady and the Ranchers

Phil Brady and the Ranchers
Phil Brady and the Ranchers

At the beginning of 1963, they changed their name to Phil Brady and the Ranchers, partly because it sounded better, but also because Phil was the only singer, and did all the bookings. They would keep this name for most of Phil’s career. This was the time that they undertook their apprenticeship around the Liverpool clubs.

They gained a residency at the Blue Angel every Monday night. The Blue Angel was one of the most popular clubs in Liverpool, owned by the Beatles’ first manager, Allan Williams. On Tuesday, it was The Chequers Club on Seel Street run by Roy Adams, who later owned The Cavern; Wednesday it was the Four Winds at 1, Manestys Lane, Liverpool. On Thursdays, they played at the Marine Club on the Dock Road and then at the weekend, they played at Brian Kelly promotions around the north end of Liverpool. Kelly, who had promoted The Beatles at venues like Litherland Town Hall and the Aintree Institute, was putting on dances with a mixture of beat music and country, where Phil came into contact with legendary Cavern DJ Bob Wooler and many of the local Merseybeat bands.

Phil Brady, Country, and Merseybeat

Phil Brady and the Ranchers on the same bill as Gerry Marsden
Phil Brady and the Ranchers on the same bill as Gerry Marsden

“We did a lot of venues with Merseybeat bands where there were country bands also. Freddie Starr,” who became a huge television star in the UK, “used to come to the Blue Angel after he had finished elsewhere. We started at 12 and finished at 2am. Freddie said; ‘can I get up with you?’ and he used to do Elvis impressions and Jim Reeves, playing the fool! Great guy and great performer, and the crowd loved him. Rory Storm used to come in and get up on stage with us too.”  

“Over the years, I have played with a lot of musicians, and have been very fortunate that I have had so many great players. We never normally rehearsed, as most of the rehearsals were done ‘live’ on stage, though for complicated songs with lots of chords and complex arrangements.” As with most bands, tracking the changes in musicians is even more complex than some of those songs.

Hank Snow, Willie Nelson and more

Hank Snow, Willie Nelson and Phil Brady
Hank Snow, Willie Nelson and Phil Brady

Along the way, as well as playing with some great musicians in his band, he met, and toured with, some of the greatest names in Country music, like Willie Nelson, Slim Whitman, Hank Snow, Buck Owens, Hank Cochran and Jeannie Seely, while recording in Britain as the Number 1 Country music band, and also visiting Nashville, where he met many country stars and made several television and radio appearances.

Not bad for a boy from the Dingle, in the town becoming known for Merseybeat and The Beatles.

The Country of Liverpool: The Film

Phil Brady’s story will be one of those featured in the new Country of Liverpool Film. The film is currently being produced by Brightmoon Films, the makers of Looking for Lennon. You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for production updates.

The Country of Liverpool: The Book

Phil Brady’s story is told in The Country of Liverpool book. Get your copy from this website today!

The Country of Liverpool
The Country of Liverpool

The Beatles Childhood Years: Baked Beans & TV Westerns

The Beatles childhood: Baked beans and TV Westerns

Why did the Liverpool lads become obsessed with Country Music and America?

The Beatles’ childhood years, along with most young boys of their generation, were hugely influenced by all things American. This was an influence that would soon become an obsession that lasted a lifetime.

While conducting research for the book, I started a conversation with a writer from Manchester called Gary McMahon. He was asking about the television programs and movies that The Beatles would have seen.

Baked Beans and Westerns: Staples of The Beatles Childhood

From the TV Times, January 1959
From the TV Times, January 1959

From that conversation, we started a dialogue about the shows and films that these lads were watching and how Liverpool, in a way, was the “last frontier”.

Gary developed this theme and the conclusion was that during The Beatles’ childhood, they were exposed to a plethora of “Cowboy” shows and films, plus radio, for 6 days a week. Gary then trolled through the TV listings guides and was amazed at how many different American shows there were in Britain at the time. These shows, plus many cartoons from the TV magazines are displayed in the book, in a chapter written by Gary, entitled “The Last Western to Lime Street”.

From the TV Times, February 1959
From the TV Times, February 1959

The Milkybar Kid

Independent Television networked regional studios in the mid-Fifties, but depended on American series to compete with BBC TV until the regions developed productions.  Britain transmitted two television channels for ten hours a day in black and white. A typical Northern Edition for the independent channel, TV Times, 11-17 January 1959, listed six Western series in a week.  BBC added another, and a film.  ITV was already Americanised with commercials.  Honky-tonk piano cued a jingle closed by a harmonica: the Milkybar Kid cowboy peddled white chocolate on TV looking like John Denver’s kid in 1961, whose anachronism looked both ways.  

Four Feather Falls

Michael Holliday in Four Feather Falls
Michael Holliday in Four Feather Falls

Granada TV transmitted to the North West its own singing guitarist sheriff in 1960, Gene Autry-style — Gerry Anderson puppet series, Four Feather Falls.  The singer behind the puppet was Michael Holliday, Liverpool born and raised.  He sounded like Bing Crosby but had cowboy kudos since his first single, ‘The Yellow Rose of Texas’ in 1955.

Before cinema, before radio, Liverpool witnessed Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show decamp in 1891 and 1903.  Maybe it started there, many veterans of the Great Sioux War in feather headdress: Chief Flying Hawk, Joe Black Fox, Charging Thunder, Bad Bear… Six decades rolled by and a Manchester band was presented and named as Native American Indians.  By the time Brian Epstein signed their treaty with Billy J. Kramer, the Dakotas tribal name went with the territory.

Johnny Ringo

Ring fingers highlighted his drumming, an instrument with next to nothing to do in Country & Western. That is, unless you count coconut clip-clops, but Richard Starkey’s nickname suggested a black-hat cowboy.  Johnny Ringo was a historical character in Gunfight at the OK Corral in 1957 — whose actor played what amounted to the same pseudonymous badass, same storyline, in My Darling Clementine in 1946 — and by 1959 Johnny Ringo was a CBS TV series.  Starr, whose surname pinned a sheriff’s badge on a showbiz contraction of Starkey, fulfilled an ambition in a 1971 spaghetti Western.  

6th July 1957 – Where It All Started

What was on TV the day John Lennon met Paul McCartney?

Discover more about the Beatles’ “cowboy” generation in The Country of Liverpool: Nashville of the North.

The Film

From the TV Times, March 1959
From the TV Times, March 1959

As you can see, the Western was absolutely ubiquitous during the young Beatles’ formative years. It’s no wonder they went on to fully embrace all things Americana during young manhood.

We will also be exploring this topic in the forthcoming documentary film, The Country of Liverpool. Find out more about the film here. You can follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for regular production updates.

David Bedford

Exploring The Country of Liverpool

The Country of Liverpool is an exhaustive work linking Country and Western and Rock’n’Roll, between America and Liverpool.

The Beatles as Cowboys
Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr of the Beatles 1964 © 1978 Gunther

John Lennon biographer Jude Kessler has reviewed “The Country of Liverpool” for Culture Sonar:

“For 50 years, the well-worn tale of 1950s American music imported into the port city of Liverpool, England, via the Cunard Yanks has been the standard explanation for the “rise of the Beatles.” But in his new book, The Country of Liverpool, author David Bedford (LiddypoolThe Fab One Hundred and Four) views this simplistic theory as a bit like putting the cart in front of the horse.”

The Quarrymen
The Quarrymen

Jude concludes that:

The Country of Liverpool is an exhaustive work linking Country and Western and Rock’n’Roll, between America and Liverpool. Bedford’s book proves that long before The Beatles set foot on the Ed Sullivan Stage on 9 February 1964, the United States and Liverpool were already joined by a common love affair with Irish-inspired Bluegrass, Folk, Skiffle, and Country and Western, all of which led directly to the birth of Rock’n’Roll and the Mersey Beat.

This is that complete story.

-Jude Southerland Kessler (author of The John Lennon Series)”

Read the full review here:

Get your copy of the “The Country of Liverpool” now

The Country of Liverpool
The Country of Liverpool

Find out about the New Documentary Film too