“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.

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

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

Farewell Hank Walters, The Father of Country Music in Liverpool

If you come from Liverpool, then the chances are you will know the legend that is Hank Walters and His Dusty Road Ramblers. If you’re not from Liverpool, then you have probably never heard of him.

Hank Walters
Hank Walters

If you come from Liverpool, then the chances are you will know the legend that is Hank Walters and His Dusty Road Ramblers. If you’re not from Liverpool, then you have probably never heard of him.

For the last three years, I have been researching and writing my latest book, “The Country of Liverpool: Nashville of The North”, which details the country music scene in Liverpool from the 1940s on, the country roots of the Beatles and the biography of Phil Brady. The book is due out soon.

The Country of Liverpool
The Country of Liverpool by David Bedford

When it comes to tracing the country roots of Liverpool, you soon discover why we were known as The Nashville of The North, with the biggest country music scene in Europe.

Hank Walters, born William Ralph Walters in 1933, is rightly accepted as the father of Country music in Liverpool. He picked up the nickname of “Hank” due to his love of Hank Williams. His love of Jimmie Rodgers, the father of country music, got him into trouble at school.

Jimmie Rodgers

“There was a program that came on the radio called Morning Star and they played Jimmie Rodgers. I was fascinated by his voice. I listened to the whole
program, which finished about 8:50am, and then I ran to school. When I got there, the headmaster said; ‘Where you been?’, because if you were late you used to get the stick in those days – so I got a good belting with the stick – and I said; ‘I’ve been listening to Jimmie Rodgers’. He said; ‘Well you tell Jimmie Rodgers that when I’ve finished with you, I will give him the same!”

Hank Williams

Ralph picked up the accordion at the age of 10 and became one of the best accordion players in Liverpool. “The first Hank Williams record in Liverpool was bought by me,” insisted Ralph. “Actually I got it off the jukebox at the Bluebird Cafe and the manager pinched the record. I was so madly in love with the record and before he could change the record over he stole it off and gave it to me. It was ‘Lovesick Blues’. So this was about 1949.

“He gave me the record, but it was all scratched and he said; ‘they won’t miss it’. I went and got a catalogue and ordered a new one and it was on MGM; it was printed in the EMI catalogue as the “Lovesick Belles”; a misprint. And I drove the neighbours mad with this record.” (Good Old Boys Episode 2)

When a teacher, Isaac Savelow, put together a “Hillbilly band” for the school’s Christmas Concert, Ralph formed “Spike Walters and his City Slickers” (after Spike Jones), which became Spike and the Hillbillies. They played in local pubs and social events. He spent every Saturday afternoon in a record shop, spending his money on Hank Williams records. In 1948 he left school and began work at
Kardomah Tea Blenders, then for a tyre company – The Biro Rubber Company – on Aintree Road. In 1951 he did his two years of National Service in Chester with the King’s Regiment.

When on National Service in Middle East, Ralph returned from one sortie looking dishevelled. His CO told him and his friends when they walked in all covered in sand that they looked like a group of “Dusty Road Ramblers”, and so he used that name for his group! The band played in the Sergeant’s Mess. Then, in 1951, on a radio show, Round The Bend, the band’s first radio broadcast coming from the Canal Zone. In 1953, Ralph came home from the army.

Over the following decades, Hank Walters became a regular fixture on the local club scene and inspired many other local musicians.

Hank on the record

Hank appeared on records and wrote many original songs, carrying on performing for as long as he could, including with his daughters.

It has been a pleasure to research his life and career and speak to many local musicians who knew him.

Hank Walters, King of the Country of Liverpool
Hank Walters, King of the Country of Liverpool

On 27th January 1992, Ralph received the “Special Award for Services to Country Music” at The Tent Public house in Huyton.

Hank had been in poor health for a while and last time I saw him, it was at Phil Brady’s birthday party last year.

RIP Hank Walters.

You can pre-order “The Country of Liverpool: Nashville of The North” now

The Country of Liverpool
The Country of Liverpool

When The Beatles Were Cowboys

The Beatles’ country fascination went beyond their music. The cowboy imagery was as appealing to the fab four as it was to countless other young men who had grown up on westerns. David Bedford writes about the time they got to saddle up and live out their dreams.

When The Beatles were cowboys
Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr of the Beatles 1964 © 1978 Gunther

ON 19TH SEPTEMBER 1964, in the middle of their enormous American tour, The Beatles needed a rest. After their appearance at the Dallas Convention Center during their 25 date US tour, they celebrated Brian Epstein’s 30th birthday on Reed Pigman’s ranch in Alton, Missouri. They landed at the little Walnut Ridge, Arkansas, airport.

Beatles Country: Reed Pigman’s Ranch

The Beatles spent the weekend at Reed Pigman’s ranch, riding on horseback and playing at being cowboys.

Young Reed Pigman, who was 14 years old at the time, remembers their stay well. “They dressed up in their very best cowboy outfits,” Pigman said. Ringo also had a tooled western belt with his name on the back, a gift from Elvis Presley. They also went swimming and drove go-karts. “They went nuts with all the freedom they had,” Pigman said.

Walnut Ridge


When I visited Walnut Ridge in 2017, I met many lovely people, one of whom was Carrie Mae Snapp, the older sister of mayor Charles Snapp. Like all the locals, they made us so welcome. Carrie Mae was a witness to The Beatles short time in Walnut Ridge and took some incredible photographs during their stay.

George Harrison heading to the plane in Walnut Ridge
George Harrison heading to the plane in Walnut Ridge

After a few days, the fab four then returned to the airport and left Walnut Ridge behind, jumping back into the screaming whirlwind that was the band’s touring years.

The little town of Walnut Ridge has an annual Beatles festival – Beatles At The Ridge – which I visited in 2017. What a fantastic festival – a time when the whole town shuts down and celebrates The Beatles.

Read the full story and see all the unique photographs of The Beatles in The Country of Liverpool. The book will be made into a film in 2021 – follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates on production.

David Bedford