Last Updated : 30 Aug 2009



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Many people trace "rock and roll" back to DJ, Alan Freed, who in 1951 used the phrase in the title of his new radio show in Cleveland, Ohio and popularized the term.   However, "rock and roll" had been used in the title of recorded popular songs before then.   This includes a song by the Boswell Sisters in the 1930s. Yet if we go back even further, there is evidence that the term "rock'n'roll" was used earlier in sea shanties:- "Oh do, me Johnny Bowker..." "Come Rock'n'Roll me over".   On this basis perhaps Liverpool could really be the "Rock and Roll City"? [see Music Timeline]

Lita Roza - the first British female number 1 as well as the first Liverpool artistRegardless, Liverpool has certainly made a name for itself in association with music. While "Howie Casey & The Seniors", a group in which comedian Freddie Star sang, is reputed to be the first Liverpool group to have made a record, Lita Roza became the first Liverpool artist and first female in the UK to have a number one hit record with "(How Much Is) That Doggies In The Window" in 1953. However, she was making records even before the record "hit parade" started on the 14th of November 1952. 1951 saw one of her biggest hits “Allentown Jail”, recorded with the Heath Band.

The "Merseysound" starting in the late 1950s has had an influence throughout the world. It was born out of British Skiffle Music and developed into something new capturing influences from across The Atlantic. Bill Harry, the founder of the "Mersey Beat" newspaper, described the Liverpool Sound as comprising three guitars with drums and with the guitarists - lead, base and rytham all up front doing harmony vocals. This was a characteristic of groups like The Beatles and The Searchers.

In 1957 Alan Sytner opened the Cavern in Liverpool's Matthew Street. He had got the idea in Paris when he saw a venue called "Le Caveau Francais". As wells as The Beatles and many other rock groups of the time, acts at his Cavern included Louis Armstrong before he sold the business in 1959.

Brian Epstein, then manager of NEMS record store became the Beatles manager in 1961 and is largely responisble for their commercial success. He went on to manage other artists also. Another of his acts "Gerry and the Pacemakers" made history by being the first act to get a number one hit with all of their first three singles.

In 1963, Liverpool performers dominated the UK music charts.

Beyond the "swinging sixties", Liverpool continued to be active in music with bands like Echo and The Bunnymen, Teardrop Explodes, Orchestral Manouevres in the Dark (OMD) and Frankie Goes to Hollywood during the seventies and eighties. 1976 was particularly noteable year for Liverpool artists with The Real Thing, Liverpool Express, Our Kid and others all reaching the UK Top 30. Courtney Love (ex singer with the band Hole and daughter of Grateful Dead manager Hank Harrison) lived in Liverpool with Teardrop Explodes band member Julian Cope during the late 1980s.

Liverpool bands and groups have continued throughout the nineties and into the 21st century more recently with acts like Atomic Kitten.