We’d like to thank everyone who has picked up a copy of The Country of Liverpool, the latest book from Liverpool historian David Bedford which explores the country music heritage of Liverpool, UK, which has thrived from the 1950s to the present day.
David Bedford has recently been promoting the book with appearances on a number of podcasts, including the Tuddle Daily show. It seems that the book is picking up traction, with an increasing number of positive reviews cropping up all over the internet.
We though we’d share this one from Paul J. Clinton of Detroit, who had some very kind words to say about the book:
“The Beatles “Country” is not always what you might think… it’s not only just England. Their other real “Country” is known by just a few. David Bedford’s new book “The Country of Liverpool” is a ground-breaking perspective on the Beatles roots from the Liverpool Country music scene and the influence on it from the iconic American Nashville sound.
“His new, impeccable research and writing has uncovered vast and somewhat unknown influences from Liverpool’s “County” scene on the Beatles and other Merseyside groups, from the ’50 & ‘60s Phil Brady and the Ranchers the Hillsiders including today’s up and coming Liverpool county stars including Dominic Halpin (more about him, his projects and many others, too in this brilliant book).
“If you love country music history (from anywhere in the world including the U.K.), and the Beatles you will love this book!”
High praise indeed, thank you so much Paul!
‘The Country of Liverpool’ by David Bedford: pick up your copy today
Want to find out more about the rich country music heritage of Liverpool? You can pick up a copy of The Country of Liverpool by visiting the Beatles Bookstore. Keep a look out for the documentary film version of the book, which is scheduled for release later this year! You can follow us on Facebook and Instagram for regular updates.
If you’re a follower of ours on Facebook or Instagram, you will no doubt have seen us post updates on the production of ‘The Country of Liverpool‘ the documentary. Given that the premise is new to many people, we thought it was only right to dedicate a few posts to the book that the film is based on.
The following is an excerpt from a review from Octopus’ Garden magazine, in which writer Tom Aguiar talks about how the thriving country scene connected to the Fab Four in their early days.
“Fans of the Beatles are familiar with the group’s affinity for country music created in America. What many people don’t realize is that in the 1960s and up to today, country music experienced tremendous popularity in Europe as evidenced by its root in the skiffle craze that eventually developed into British rock and roll music. The interest of the Beatles and others is not as simplistic as records coming off the ships berthing in Liverpool. It is much deeper and more substantive.
“The earliest immigrants to the American colonies from Britain and Ireland brought with them folk songs, hymns, and primitive African blues. The songs told stories of love, war, legends, and more and were written with a regular rhythm generations remember and repeat easily. The early settlers came from Britain, Ireland, and Scotland, and found homes in the Appalachian Mountains. As time went on, the descendants moved to other parts of the new world and the songs began to evolve and develop into what eventually became all the splinter forms of the country music genre, from country and western to bluegrass and beyond.
“Bedford expertly describes the growth of country music in the US and how it is also firmly formed in the roots of rock and roll of the early 1950s in the music of Buddy Holly, Johnny Cash, and others. Interest in the country and western genre in both America and Britain also included western movies and American cowboys and it was a regular occurrence for British youth to attend Saturday movies to revel in their interest. Many Liverpool bands took names that were reminiscent of the American cowboy, as well.
“The cowboy image quickly evolved into the British rocker. Country and western music did not disappear with the advent of the Liverpool rock scene. Far from it. It had a strong following in Europe that continued to grow, despite slipping into the background. Country stars such as Phil Brady blossomed and grew in their own right and there were many, many clubs that specialized in country music.
“Bedford presents the story in a way that keeps the reader interested. His research skills are deep and impeccable. He uses old photos and posters as key parts of the story with a charm that adds to the book.
“David Bedford has tackled subjects, that other authors sidestep, in his books, such as Liddypool and Finding the Fourth Beatle, and presents topics that are new to readers. The Country of Liverpool is no exception and cements Bedford’s standing as one of the top Beatles historians of today. An excellent book and an excellent story told in a way that is interesting, educational, and just plain enjoyable.
Another must-have for Beatles, and music, fans.”
So there you have it! You can order your copy of ‘The Country of Liverpool’, in hardback or softback, from the Beatles Bookstore.
Adapted with permission from Octopus’ Garden fanzine, Volume 30, Issue #3, March 2021. Review by Tom Aguiar.
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
“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.
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.
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.
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!
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Get The Country of Liverpool – Volume 1
To get your copy of The Country of Liverpool, visit the product page here.
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
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
“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
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.