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!

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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.

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