FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE PART 85 (Breaking down the song “When I’m Sixty-Four” Part B) Featured Photographer and Journalist is Bill Harry

One would think that the young people of the 1960’s thought little of death but is that true? The most successful song on the  SGT PEPPER’S album was about the sudden death of a close friend and the album cover was pictured in front of a burial scene.

Francis Schaeffer’s favorite album was SGT. PEPPER”S and it included the song  WHEN I’M SIXTY-FOUR and he said of the album “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band…for a time it became the rallying cry for young people throughout the world. It expressed the essence of their lives, thoughts and their feelings.”  My question is: DID THE YOUNG PEOPLE OF THE 1960’s ACTUALLY THINK ABOUT THE DISTANT FUTURE AND THE REALITY OF DEATH? It is true that on the cover of SGT. PEPPER’S  there is a scene of the Beatles’ own burial.   

How Should We then Live Episode 7 small (Age of Nonreason)

The Beatles – When I’m Sixty-Four

Paul McCartney wrote this song about coming to the end of his life and evidently he thought about death even while a teenager when he first wrote it. Francis Schaeffer discusses the issue of death and how Solomon dealt with it in the BOOK OF ECCLESIASTES:

It is better to be dead, and worse to be alive. But like all men and one could think of the face of Vincent Van Gogh in his final paintings as he came to hate life and you watch something die in his self portraits, the dilemma is double because as one is consistent and one sees life as a game of chance, one must come in a way to hate life. Yet at the same time men never get beyond the fear to die. Solomon didn’t either. So you find him in saying this.

Ecclesiastes 2:14-15

14 The wise person has his eyes in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. And yet I perceived that the same event happens to all of them. 15 Then I said in my heart, “What happens to the fool will happen to me also. Why then have I been so very wise?” And I said in my heart that this also is vanity.

The Hebrew is stronger than this and it says “it happens EVEN TO ME,” Solomon on the throne, Solomon the universal man. EVEN TO ME, even to Solomon.

Ecclesiastes 3:18-21

18 I said in my heart with regard to the children of man that God is testing them that they may see that they themselves are but beasts. 19 For what happens to the children of man and what happens to the beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts, for all is vanity.[n] 20 All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return.21 Who knows whether the spirit of man goes upward and the spirit of the beast goes down into the earth?

What he is saying is as far as the eyes are concerned everything grinds to a stop at death.

Ecclesiastes 4:16

16 There was no end of all the people, all of whom he led. Yet those who come later will not rejoice in him. Surely this also is vanity and a striving after wind.

That is true. There is no place better to feel this than here in Switzerland. You can walk over these hills and men have walked over these hills for at least 4000 years and when do you know when you have passed their graves or who cares? It doesn’t have to be 4000 years ago. Visit a cemetery and look at the tombstones from 40 years ago. Just feel it. IS THIS ALL THERE IS? You can almost see Solomon shrugging his shoulders.

Ecclesiastes 8:8

There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither hath he power in the day of death: and there is no discharge in that war; neither shall wickedness deliver those that are given to it. (King James Version)

A remarkable two phrase. THERE IS NO DISCHARGE IN THAT WAR or you can translate it “no casting of weapons in that war.” Some wars they come to the end. Even the THIRTY YEARS WAR (1618-1648) finally finished, but this is a war where there is no casting of weapons and putting down the shield because all men fight this battle and one day lose. But more than this he adds, WICKEDNESS WON’T DELIVER YOU FROM THAT FIGHT. Wickedness delivers men from many things, from tedium in a strange city for example. But wickedness won’t deliver you from this war. It isn’t that kind of war. More than this he finally casts death in the world of chance.


“Remember Also Your Creator”

Ecclesiastes 11:7-12:7 (text); 1 Corinthians 15:50-58
© July 21, 2013 • Download this PDF sermon

Our text today paints a perspective view of our lives in this world. We are enjoy life in our youth, because time is so fleeting, things are so impermanent, that our older years come without warning. Time flies! How are we as Christians live our fleeting lives in this world? Are we to say with the Preacher, “All is vanity!” since none of us will ever escape the grave? No, not all is meaningless when we remember our Creator (verse 1).

So our theme today is, “Remember Also Your Creator” under three headings: first, ”In the Days of Your Youth”; second, “Before the Evil Days Come”; and third, “And the Spirit Returns to God.”

“In the Days of Your Youth”
Because of the seemingly pessimistic tone of Ecclesiastes’ perspective on the vanity of life, it is somewhat of a surprise whenever God is mentioned. In the last four verses of Chapter 11, the Preacher encourages us to enjoy life while we are young, when our lives are as sweet and bright as the sunshine. If we live many years till we’re old and near our “dark” age, we are to rejoice. But in the enjoyment of life, we sometimes“walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes,” without any regard for God’s law. So the Preacher warns, “But know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment” (Eccl 11:9). Only when we enjoy life within the bounds of God’s law is the pleasure lasting and not fleeting. Because without God in the picture, all pleasure is vanity.

When we're young, we jump off bridges, cliffs, and even planes. If we’re not jumping off high places, we climb high mountains.

When we’re young, the “vexations” of our hearts are few. We’re carefree, without much worry, and not many responsibilities. We don’t think about the future; we don’t make many plans. We live for the moment, the great moments of our youth. We jump off bridges, cliffs, and even planes. If we’re not jumping off high places, we’re climbing high mountains. We experiment with dangerous things—alcohol, drugs and bad company. We spend hours doing nothing but while away time. So we can do all these adventures, we strive as much as we can to keep our bodies in shape, to “put away pain.”

What pleasures do the youth enjoy that are acceptable and pleasing to God? Is it only the pleasures of eating bread, drinking wine, making the body strong and pain-free, and all things that the eyes and heart desire? No, most importantly, we are to keep ourselves—body and soul—holy and pure before God, “cleans[ing] ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God” (2 Cor 7:1). Again, Paul exhorts the youth:“So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart” (2 Tim 2:22). Instead of pursuing the ungodly desires and tendencies of youth, we are to pursue righteousness: faith, love and peace together with other believing family and friends, especially in the church. This is the only path to persevering in a life of holiness.

As Chapter 11 ends with a warning of God’s judgment, so Chapter 12 begins with an exhortation, “Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth.” What is it to “remember” God our Creator? To remember our Creator is to meditate on his name (Psa 63:6), his deeds and wonders of old (Psa 77:11), and the work of his hands (Psa 143:5). To remember God is to keep his law (Psa 119:55), his covenant, and his commandments (Psa 103:18). To remember God is also to turn to the LORD and worship him (Psa 22:27).

When must we remember our Creator? Only when we’re prosperous? Only when we’re in trouble? No, we are to remember him at all times, morning and evening:

It is good to give thanks to the LORD,
to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
to declare your steadfast love in the morning,
and your faithfulness by night (Psalm 92:1-2).

We are to meditate on all that the LORD has done for us in saving us and making us mature in our worship, in understanding his Word, and in our daily lives. We are to remember all the good gifts that he has given us so undeservedly, and enjoy them while we have them and while we have time.

Because our days of youth pass quickly, and our older days come to us quietly and unnoticed.

“Before the Evil Days Come”
Already in 11:8, the Preacher warns of many “days of darkness” ahead for all of us. Then he begins Chapter 12 with an exhortation to remember God “before the evil days come,” days of no pleasure to us.

Are these “evil days” days of our wickedness and lawlessness? No, for when we look at the whole passage of verses 1-7, we see that these “evil days” are days when people in their old age suffer afflictions. All of their capacities—physical, mental and emotional —weaken and deteriorate.

So in verses 2-7, the Preacher writes a figurative description of the aging process. Hebrew scholars see in these verses the most beautiful poem about aging in the Bible. Philip Ryken says, “this passage contains some of the most beautiful words ever breathed” by the Holy Spirit. 1 God honors and dignifies his people with this eloquent poem even in their old age and death, because “precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints” (Psalm 116:15). Although it is a somber poem, it makes us reflect on the inevitability of aging. Many of the metaphors are clear, but a few are difficult to interpret.

In verse 2, the failure of the sun, moon and stars to give light is a picture of the life of an old person getting dimmer and dimmer until the light is fully extinguished. Also, the afflictions of old age seem to have no end, like a storm with its rain and clouds that keep coming back after each short lull.

From verse 3, we are reminded of the TV show called “This Old House,” that features repairing and renovating old houses that are falling apart. In these verses however, the wearing out is not reparable or reversible. The “keepers of the house [that] tremble” refer to hands that tremble, much like those who have Parkinson’s disease. The “strong men are bent” points to the bones of the body that are weakened and bent with age, especially the legs and the back. Such is what we see in the elderly who have osteoporosis. The“grinders [that] cease” are teeth that decay. Today, there are dentures, but even these fall out of use by old people. “Those who look through the windows are dimmed” refer to failing eyesight, with its floaters, cataract and glaucoma.

Copyright 2012 by Darlene Slavujac Thau (

In verse 4, the Preacher sees “the doors on the street [that] are shut” as ears that are hard of hearing, so that the “sound of the grinding is low.”The ears are closed to the hustle and bustle outside the house. Hearing aids are needed to hear the pastor preach the Word of God. Conversely, the aged person “rises up at the sound of a bird”because he doesn’t sleep soundly anymore. “The daughters of song are brought low” symbolize vocal cords that are also failing. In the choir, old people’s voices shake, and they can’t sing the high notes any longer.

In verse 5, the Preacher illustrates physical changes among the aged. One is “the almond tree [that] blossoms.” In the springtime, almond trees are pale, so this could be the graying of old folks. Many men and women today try to hide this by coloring their hair. Another is the twilight of physical strength, like“the grasshopper [that] drags itself along,” not able to jump from place to place as it used to. Athletes age very quickly, retiring from sports only in their early- to mid-30s. When they reach their 60s, most people cease from all vigorous activities because of physical infirmities. Then there is the waning of youthful passions. “Desire fails,” which may include the loss of appetite for both intimate physical activities and good food. Most old people eat less and less, as their taste buds are not as sharp as they used to be, and their digestive system is less efficient.

Most of these afflictions of aged people are mentioned in 2 Samuel 19:31-36, where King David once invited his friend Barzillai to a royal feast in his palace in Jerusalem. Barzillai was honored because he helped David when he was fleeing from his son Absalom. But Barzillai declined, because he was very old and couldn’t travel to Jerusalem anymore, saying, “I am this day eighty years old. Can I discern what is pleasant and what is not? Can your servant taste what he eats or what he drinks? Can I still listen to the voice of singing men and singing women?” (2 Sam 19:35)

Six years ago, I attended our high school’s 40th Anniversary reunion. It was a great time of seeing friends and reminiscing our wild youthful misdeeds for the first time since graduation. But I noticed that most of our conversations eventually turned to our medicines and herbal supplements. It’s because we were all in our mid-50s.

Finally, the Preacher describes some of the emotions of old people. Older people not only deteriorate physically, but also mentally and emotionally. The elderly have many fears. “They are afraid also of what is high.” No more bungee-jumping or skydiving. No more pleasure in the wild rides of amusement parks. “Terrors are in the way” is a way of saying that they’re also afraid of going outside the house because of evildoers. They’re easy prey to pickpockets, swindlers, and robbers.

They fear of being a bother, of having nothing to offer to others. They fear that they don’t have enough retirement money that they would live in poverty. Their siblings are mostly gone, and their own children have their own families, and they’re alone. They fear the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, that they would lose their memory. Faithful believers are afraid that they would lose their faith and doctrine in their old age if they lose their mind. They have seen too many sound pastors and theologians go into errors in their older years. Feelings of insecurity are very common.

In the 60s, the Beatles wrote this song about the worries and insecurity of being 64:

When I get older losing my hair,
Many years from now,
Will you still be sending me a Valentine
Birthday greetings, bottle of wine?

Send me a postcard, drop me a line …
Yours sincerely,
Wasting Away.

Will you still need me, will you still feed me,
When I’m sixty-four?

Often, they also harbor feelings of guilt and regret. David prays in his later years, “Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions” (Psa 25:7). Have you ever noticed that older people often remember and lament their past sins against their own family and friends? Sometimes, they also have bitterness towards others and the way things have turned out for them, often dwelling on thoughts, “If only I had done this or that …”

The picture of old age is bleak. Is life worth living after age 80, 70 or even 60, with all its pain and afflictions? No wonder, the Preacher says at the end of Chapter 11 that all is vanity because “the days of darkness will be many” (verse 8).

This is why the Preacher exhorts us, “Remember also your Creator.” Life is futile and meaningless if there is no fear of God and remembrance of the Creator. We have hope only if we have something to look forward to beyond our afflictions in this life, and beyond death itself.

“And the Spirit Returns to God”
In the middle of his poem, the Preacher starts talking about death, “because man is going to his eternal home, and the mourners go about the streets” (verse 5e).

All the afflictions of old age finally come to an end in death, which the Preacher also paints so vividly with symbols in verse 6. Death is like a golden bowl, probably a lamp suspended by a silver chain, that breaks when the “silver cord is snapped.” It is also like a “pitcher [that] is shattered at the fountain,” or a “wheel broken at the cistern.”These three paintings depict containers that cannot hold oil or water because they are broken. They can’t give light or water that are so precious to life. Light and water of course often symbolize life itself: “We must all die; we are like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again” (2 Sam 14:14; see also John 4:13-14Rev. 21:6).

These pictures brought back a scene I once saw at the funeral of my aunt in Laguna. As the casket was brought out of the house, I saw a woman break a pot of water just outside the door. Maybe this practice came from the pictures in verse 6. Then, at the cemetery, I saw the little children being passed over the casket before it was lowered to the grave. Both of these superstitions came from the fear of the soul of the dead visiting the relatives. Another custom is walking visitors to the gate of the house, so they would not be next to die. All of these superstitions are because of fear: the fear of the dead, and the fear of death.

These verses are not encouraging and hopeful. The tone of the poem seems to be one of resignation, even hopelessness. But wait! The Preacher says in verse 7 that in death, “the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.” There is something beyond all the afflictions and the certainty of the death of man.

Earlier, the Preacher was not even sure where the human spirit goes after death, “Who knows whether the spirit of man goes upward?” (Eccl 3:21) Here, he is certain that the human spirit returns to God at death. So even the Old Testament writers affirm that God created man with two elements: a physical element, the body; and a non-physical element, the spirit. Sometimes the “spirit” is called the “soul.” For example, in Revelation 6:9, we read of the element of man that returns to God in heaven as a “soul”: “I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne” (Rev 6:9; see also Rev 20:4).

Ever since Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden, God cursed man with death, in which all humanity will surely return to dust from where they came. So the Bible often talks about a twofold division that happens at death, not only from this poem of the Preacher, but also in many other places, e.g., “the body apart from the spirit is dead” (Jas 2:26; see also Matt 10:28; Luke 23:46; Acts 7:59). 2

But the day will come when both body and soul of all believers will be reunited into one person. On the day of resurrection, our bodies will be raised from the grave and reunited with our souls in heaven. This is the hope that Paul speaks of when he says that when Christ returns, all believers will be clothed with imperishable and immortal bodies (1 Cor 15:51-53).

The Preacher speaks of our aging body as a house that is falling apart and eventually crumbling. Paul also speaks of our body similarly as only a temporary, earthly tent:

For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling … (2 Cor 5:1-3).

He says that not only human beings, but the whole creation also “groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (Rom 8:23)…In short, there will be no more tears, no more death, no more mourning, no more crying, and no more pain from all your earthly afflictions (Rev 21:4).


  1. Philip Ryken, Ecclesiastes: Why Everything Matters (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010), 269.
  2. See my article, “Dichotomy, Trichotomy or Polychotomy?” for a fuller discussion of the elements of man.


Or hanging out with George Martin:

George Martin and Paul

But you know, I never (well, rarely) find him more attractive than when he’s with his children (or adopted sort of nephew). To give credit where do, a lot of these photos were originally posted by the great [profile] nicole_21290, who must be the biggest McCartney photo archivist on the net:

Paul and Julian Lennon:





Paul and Linda’s daughter Heather, whom he adopted; the last photo, which shows adult Heather, is a rare one from last month, because she’s the shyest of the McCartney offspring and as opposed to her sisters not in the public eye:



Paul and his daughter Mary, who became a photographer like her mother:


Paul and his daughter Stella, the fashion designer:


Featured today is Journalist and Photographer Bill Harry

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Bill Harry

Bill Harry with his wife Virginia, 1964
Born 17 September 1938 (age 76)
Smithdown Road Hospital, Liverpool, Lancashire, England, UK
Occupation Journalist, P.R.
Spouse(s) Virginia Harry (née Sowry)
Children 1
Website Triumphpc

Bill Harry (born 17 September 1938), is the creator of Mersey Beat; a newspaper of the early 1960s which focused on the Liverpool music scene. Harry had previously started various magazines and newspapers, such as Biped and Premier, while at Liverpool’s Junior School of Art. He later attended the Liverpool College of Art, where his fellow students included John Lennon and Stuart Sutcliffe, who both later performed with the Beatles. He published a magazine, Jazz, in 1958, and worked as an assistant editor on the University of Liverpool‘s charity magazine, Pantosphinx.

Harry met his wife-to-be, Virginia Sowry, at the Jacaranda club—managed by Allan Williams, the first manager of the Beatles—and she later agreed to help him start a music newspaper. After borrowing £50, Harry released the first issue of Mersey Beat on 6 July 1961, with the first 5,000 copies selling out within a short time. The newspaper was published every two weeks, covering the music scenes in Liverpool, Wirral, Birkenhead, New Brighton, Crosby and Southport, as well as Warrington, Widnes and Runcorn. He edited the paper in a small attic office above a wine merchant’s shop at 81a Renshaw Street, Liverpool.

Harry arranged for the future Beatles’ manager, Brian Epstein, to see them perform a lunchtime concert at the Cavern Club on 9 November 1961. Epstein subsequently asked Harry to create a national music paper, the Music Echo, but after disagreements with Epstein about editorial control, he decided to become a P.R. agent; working for many solo artistes and groups, including Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, Procol Harum, David Bowie, Led Zeppelin and the Beach Boys, as well as many others.

Early years[edit]

Harry was born in Smithdown Road Hospital (now demolished), in Liverpool, Lancashire, on 17 September 1938. He came from a poor Liverpudlian background and was brought up in a rough neighbourhood near Liverpool’s dockyards.[1] His father (John Jelicoe Harry) was killed during the war on the SS Kyleglen British Steam Merchant ship none of the crew survived and he died on 14 December 1940 aged 25, the ship was torpedoed in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean by a German U boat. He attended the Catholic St. Vincent’s Institute, but had to get used to the priests dispensing corporal punishment on a regular basis. Because of his small stature, Harry was beaten by his classmates, being once kicked in the appendix and “left for dead”. His mother had no option but to transfer him elsewhere.[2]

Harry became interested in science fiction and read comics by candlelight (the house had no electricity), and eventually joined the Liverpool Science Fiction Society.[2] At the age of 13, he produced his own science fiction fanzine, Biped,[3] using a Gestetner machine to print 60 copies. His pen friend at the time was Michael Moorcock;[4] the writer of science fiction and fantasy novels. After winning a scholarship to the Junior School of Art in Gambier Terrace, Liverpool, Harry started his first school newspaper, Premier.[4]

Liverpool College of Art[edit]

The Liverpool College of Art at 68 Hope Street, Liverpool, which Harry, Lennon and Sutcliffe all attended

At the age of 16, Harry obtained a place at Liverpool’s College of Art at 68 Hope Street. After studying typography and page layouts,[5] he borrowed the college’s duplicating machine and published a newspaper called Jazz in 1958, which reported concerts at the Liverpool Jazz Society club, the Temple Jazz Club and the Cavern Club.[6] He also worked as assistant editor on University of Liverpool’s charity magazine, Pantosphinx, and on a music newsletter for Frank Hessy’s musical instruments store called Frank Comments.[4][7] The title was suggested by the owner, Frank Hesselberg, as a play on his own comments, but was abandoned after a few issues.[8][9]

Harry received a National Diploma in design while at the Liverpool Art College and became the first student in the new Graphic Design course, eventually winning a Senior City Art Scholarship.[10] Harry maintained that students at art college should be bohemian in their thoughts and actions and not like the “dilettantes and dabblers”, whom Harry disapproved of for wearing duffle coats and turtle neck sweaters.[1] One of the college’s artists and teachers, Arthur Ballard, later stated that Harry and Sutcliffe both overshadowed Lennon at college, explaining that they were both “extremely well educated, and very eager for information”.[11] Harry organised a students’ film society, where he showed Orphee, by Jean Cocteau and Salvador Dalí, and Luis Buñuel‘s, L’Age d’Or.[3]

Meeting Lennon had been a shock for Harry, as Lennon often dressed like a Teddy boy, and was a disruptive influence at the college.[2] Despite his misgivings about Lennon, Harry introduced him to Sutcliffe, who was a small, softly-spoken and shy student, who had painted a portrait of Harry.[12] The three often spent time together at the Ye Cracke pub in Rice Street, or on the top floor of the Jacaranda club (run by Williams, who later managed the Beatles).[6] Harry met his then 16-year-old future wife-to-be, Virginia Sowry, at the club.[13][14] Harry, Lennon, Sutcliffe and Rod Murray saw the poet Royston Ellis at Liverpool University in June 1960. Having been disappointed with Ellis’ performance, Harry proposed the idea that they should call the assembled quartet of friends the Dissenters, and make Liverpool famous: Sutcliffe and Murray with their paintings, Harry’s writing and Lennon’s music.[15]

Music and journalism[edit]

A fellow student, John Ashcroft, introduced Harry to rock ‘n’ roll records, and the members of Rory Storm & the Hurricanes and Cass & the Cassanovas. Harry carried notebooks with him, collecting information about the local groups, once writing to the Daily Mail: “Liverpool is like New Orleans at the turn of the century, but with rock ‘n’ roll instead of jazz”. He also wrote to the Liverpool Echo about the emerging Liverpool music scene, but neither paper was interested in stories about music that was popular with teenagers.[9] The classified ads in the Liverpool Echo for local groups were always under the heading of Jazz,[16] but the paper refused to change this policy, despite pleas from the promoters and groups who actually paid for them.[4] Harry planned to produce a jazz newspaper called Storyville/52nd Street and contacted Sam Leach, the owner of a club called Storyville. Leach promised to fund the newspaper, but failed to turn up for three meetings with Harry, leaving him no other option but to find another investor.[14] Harry thought starting a fortnightly newspaper covering Liverpool’s rock ‘n’ roll music scene would be more successful, and would differ from national music newspapers such as the New Musical Express and the Melody Maker, which only wrote articles about current chart hits and artists.[6]

Mersey Beat[edit]

Photographer Dick Matthews, a friend from the Jacaranda,[10] heard about Harry’s problems with Leach and introduced Harry to a local civil servant, Jim Anderson, who lent Harry £50. This enabled Harry to found Mersey Beat in 1961.[4] Harry decided to publish the newspaper every two weeks, covering the music scene in Liverpool, Wirral, Birkenhead, New Brighton, Crosby and Southport, as well as Warrington, Widnes and Runcorn. He thought up the name Mersey Beat by thinking about a policeman’s ‘beat’ (the area of duty), which had nothing to do with a musical beat.[10] Virginia gave up her accountancy/comptometer operator job at Woolworth’s[14] and worked full-time for £2.10/- a week (also contributing a Mersey Roundabout article), while Harry lived on his Senior City Art Scholarship funding.[8] Matthews photographed groups, while Anderson found a small attic office for £5 a week above David Land’s wine merchant’s shop at 81a Renshaw Street, Liverpool.[10][17] Anderson and Matthews helped with the move to the new office, with Anderson providing a desk, chair and an Olivetti typewriter.[8]

The original Mersey Beat office was at 81a Renshaw Street, Liverpool. (green shop front on the right)

Harry asked printer James E. James (who had printed Frank Comments), if he could borrow the printing blocks he used for photos, as they were too expensive for the fledgling company at the time.[16] Harry also borrowed blocks from the Widnes Weekly News, Pantosphinx and local cinemas, but contributed to charities by printing free charity advertisements at the side of the front cover page. After taking Virginia home to Bowring Park in the evening, Harry would often return to the office and work throughout the night, pausing only to go to the Pier Head to buy a cup of tea and a hot pie at four in the morning.[17]Virginia’s parents helped the paper during this time, as they paid for classified ads, and arranged for Harry and his future wife’s first photographs together.[14]

The first issue[edit]

Splitting the price of the newspaper (three pence), with retailers,[18] Harry arranged for three major wholesalers, W.H. Smith, Blackburn’s and Conlan’s, to sell Mersey Beat.[19] Harry personally delivered copies to more than 20 newsagents as well as to local venues and musical instrument and record stores, such as Cramer & Lea, Rushworth & Draper and Cranes.[10] The paper released its first edition on 6 July 1961, selling out all 5,000 copies.[17] The paper’s circulation increased rapidly as Harry started featuring stories about groups in Manchester, Birmingham, Sheffield and Newcastle, with circulation growing to 75,000.[17] As the newspaper’s sales rose, it became known as the “Teenagers Bible”. Local groups were soon being called “beat groups”, and venues started advertising concerts as “Beat Sessions”.[20]With circulation rising, the paper’s offices were moved downstairs to a larger two-roomed office. The Cavern Club’s doorman, Pat (Paddy) Delaney, was employed to deliver copies, a secretary, Pat Finn, was hired, as well as Raymond Caine to promote advertising space, [21]

Harry later said: “The newspapers, television, theatres and radio were all run by people of a different generation who had no idea of what youngsters wanted. For decades they had manipulated and controlled them. Suddenly, there was an awareness of being young, and young people wanted their own styles and their own music, just at the time they were beginning to earn money, which gave them the spending power. Mersey Beat was their voice, it was a paper for them, crammed with photos and information about their own groups, which is why it also began to appeal to youngsters throughout Britain as its coverage extended to other areas.”[6] Because of the employment situation in Liverpool at the time, The Daily Worker newspaper denounced the enthusiasm of younger people in Liverpool by saying “The Mersey Sound is the sound of 30,000 people on the dole.”[22]

Liverpool groups[edit]

Between 1958 and 1964, the Merseyside area had about 500 different groups, which were constantly forming and breaking up, with an average of about 350 groups playing concerts on a regular basis.[23] In 1961, Harry and the Cavern Club’s DJ, Bob Wooler, compiled a list of groups that they had personally heard of, which had almost 300 names.[24][25] In 1962, Mersey Beat held a poll to find out who was the most popular Merseyside group. When the votes were counted, Rory Storm & the Hurricanes were in first place, but after looking through the postal votes again, Harry noticed that forty votes were all written in green ink, in the same handwriting, and from the same area of Liverpool, so the dubious votes were declared void. This was suspected to have been Storm himself, but Harry had no idea that the Beatles had done exactly the same thing.[26]

The front cover of Mersey Beat(No. 13), showing the winners of the poll (photo of The Beatles by Albert Marrion)

The results were announced on 4 January 1962, with the Beatles in first place. The results were printed in issue 13 of Mersey Beat on 4 January 1962, with the front page announcing, “Beatles Top Poll!”[27]Such was the popularity of the poll, Rushworth’s music store manager, Bob Hobbs, presented Lennon and George Harrison with new guitars.[28] At the time, many groups in Liverpool complained to Harry that his newspaper should be called Mersey Beatles, as he featured them so often.[29]

Harry asked a local singer, Priscilla White, to contribute a fashion column after writing an article called “Swinging Cilla”, in which he wrote, “Cilla Black is a Liverpool girl who is starting out on the road to fame.” Harry’s mistake came about because he could not remember her surname (which he knew was a colour), but White decided to keep it as a stage name.[19][30] Two years later Harry arranged for her to sing for Epstein at the Blue Angel club, leading to a management contract.[31]

In late 1962, Harry wrote an article called “Take a look up North”, asking for A&R men from London to travel up to Liverpool and see what was really happening with the music scene, but not one record company sent an A&R representative to Liverpool.[32] Journalist Nancy Spain once wrote an article for the News of the World newspaper, stating that “Bill and Virginia Harry were Mr. & Mrs. Mersey Beat”, and when Bob Dylan visited Liverpool to appear at the Odeon, he specifically asked for Harry to act as his guide to the city.[14]

The Beatles and Brian Epstein[edit]

Harry often heard Lennon, McCartney and Harrison rehearsing or playing in the Art College canteen in the basement,[33] but after Sutcliffe joined the Quarrymen, Harry complained that Sutcliffe should be concentrating on art and not music, as he thought he was a competent, but not brilliant bassist.[34] As Harry and Sutcliffe were members of the Liverpool College of Art’s Student Union committee, they put forward the idea that the college should buy its own P.A. system for college dances,[35] which the Quarrymen often played at, but the equipment would later be appropriated by the group and taken toHamburg.[36] As late as 7 March 1962, the Students’ Union sent Pete Mackey to ask Lennon to either return the equipment or pay for it, but Lennon told him it had been sold in Hamburg. Harry asked Lennon to write a short biography of the Beatles for the first issue of Mersey Beat, which Harry titled, “Being a Short Diversion on the Dubious Origins of Beatles, Translated From the [sic] John Lennon”:[10][19][37]

Many people ask what are Beatles? Why Beatles? Ugh, Beatles? How did the name arrive? So we will tell you. It came in a vision – a man appeared on a flaming pie and said unto them, ‘From this day on you are Beatles with an “A”. ‘Thank you Mister Man’, they said, thanking him. And so they were Beatles.”[38]

Lennon was very grateful that Harry printed his ‘Dubious Origins’ piece without editing it and later gave Harry a large collection of drawings, poems and stories (approximately 250),[39] telling Harry he was free to publish whatever he liked (under the pseudonym of “Beatcomber”, which was appropriated from a Daily Express column, Beachcomber).[40][41]

Harry convinced Epstein to sell 12 copies of the first Mersey Beat newspaper at his North End Music Stores (NEMS), which sold out in one day, resulting in Epstein having to order more copies.[41] After ordering and selling 144 copies of the second issue,[42] Epstein invited Harry to his office for a glass of sherry, proposing the idea that he (Epstein), should write a record review column.[10] It was published in the third issue on 3 August 1961, entitled “Stop the World—And Listen To Everything in It: Brian Epstein of NEMS”.[43][16][19] Epstein saw numerous posters around Liverpool advertising concerts by the Beatles as well as in the second issue of Mersey Beat, which had “Beatles sign Recording Contract!” on the front cover, as the Beatles had recorded the “My Bonnie” single with Tony Sheridan in Germany.[10][42][44][45] Some months after its release, Epstein supposedly (as stated in his biography), asked his assistant Alistair Taylor about the single,[19]because a customer, one Raymond Jones, had asked Epstein for the single on 28 October 1961, which made Epstein curious about the group.[46] Harry and McCartney repudiated this story, as Harry had been talking to Epstein about the Beatles for a long time (being the group he promoted the most in Mersey Beat), and by McCartney saying, “Brian [Epstein] knew perfectly well who the Beatles were, they were on the front page of the second issue of Mersey Beat.”[10]

The telegram that Epstein sent to Mersey Beat to announce that he had secured the Beatles their first recording contract

The Beatles were due to perform a lunchtime concert at the Cavern Club on 9 November 1961, not far from Epstein’s NEMS store.[47] Epstein asked Harry to arrange for him and Taylor to watch the Beatles perform without queuing at the door.[48] Harry phoned the owner, Ray McFall, who said he would inform the doorman on the day, Delaney, to let Epstein in.[49] Epstein and Taylor bypassed the line of fans at the door and heard a welcome message announced over the club’s public-address system by Wooler:[50] “We have someone rather famous in the audience today, Mr. Brian Epstein, the owner of NEMS …”[51][52]

Lennon had once given Harry a collection of photos taken in Hamburg, showing Lennon standing on the Re-eperbahn reading a newspaper and wearing nothing but his underpants, performing on stage with a toilet seat around his neck, and one of McCartney sitting on a toilet. After Epstein became the Beatles’ manager, Lennon rushed into Harry’s office and asked for them back, saying, “Brian [Epstein] insists I’ve got to get them back—the pictures, everything you’ve got. I must take it all with me now.”[53] When Epstein finally secured a recording contract with EMI, he sent Harry a telegram from London to the Mersey Beat office to announce the news.[54]

The last issues and London[edit]

On 13 September 1964, Epstein approached Harry to create a national music paper, so Harry coined the name Music Echo,[17] and gradually merged Mersey Beat into it.[55] Epstein had promised Harry full editorial control, but then hired a female press officer in London to write a fashion column and a D.J. to write a gossip column, without informing Harry of his intentions,[17] leaving Harry with no other option but to resign.[55] The paper subsequently ran into financial problems, and Epstein had to merge it with another paper, becoming the Disc & Music Echo. When Harry and his wife moved to London in 1966,[17] he was already contributing a column for the magazine Weekend and also for the teen magazines Marilyn and Valentine. He then became the feature writer, news editor and columnist for Record Mirror (using various pseudonyms such as ‘Brenda Tarry’ and ‘David Berglas’), and wrote features for Music Now (under the name of Nick Blaine) for Record Retailer.

P.R. and present[edit]

Harry and his wife moved to London in 1966 and was engaged as a public relations (P.R.) for the Kinks and the Hollies. During the next 18 years he was the P.R. to many artists, including Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, Procol Harum, David Bowie, Led Zeppelin, the Beach Boys, Clouds, Ten Years After, Free, Mott the Hoople, the Pretty Things, Christine Perfect, Supertramp, Hot Chocolate, Suzi Quatro and Kim Wilde.[38] During his time working as a press officer, Harry started a monthly magazine called Tracks,[56] which reported the latest album releases, and another magazine, Idols: 20th Century Legends,[57] which ran for 37 issues, from 1998 to 1991.[58] Harry also compiled a 34-track compilation, Mersey Beat, for Parlophone records, which was released on 31 October 1983.[59]

Harry was presented with a gold award for a ‘Lifetime Achievement in Music’ by the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA) in 1994,[56] has taken part in over 350 international television/radio shows, and was hired byRediffusion to be programme assistant for the documentary Beat City. He was a programme assistant for the BBC‘s Everyman documentary about Lennon: A Day in the Life, and The Story of Mersey Beat. The British Council asked him to represent them in Hong Kong, promoting the Beatles.[56] Mersey Beat returned to publication in August 2009 with a 24-page special issue to celebrate the Liverpool International Beatle Week. He was an Associate Producer of the film The City That Rocked the World.[60] Harry and Virginia have a son, Sean Harry, who is an actor, director, and producer.[56][61]

Books written or co-written by Bill Harry[edit]

Harry once commented on his numerous books: “The hundreds of interviews I have conducted over the past 40 years have been utilised. I have always been a hoarder of clippings in addition to collecting magazines, fanzines, newspapers and books. I’ll never tire of it.”[62]


  1. ^ Jump up to:a b Spitz 2005, p. 103.
  2. ^ Jump up to:a b c Spitz 2005, p. 104.
  3. ^ Jump up to:a b “Beatle People – Bill Harry”. The Beatles Bible. Retrieved 7 June 2012.
  4. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e Harry, Bill. “The Founders’ Story”. triumphpc. Retrieved 7 June 2012.
  5. Jump up^ Charters, David. “Taking the pulse of Beatles generation”. Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 7 June 2012.
  6. ^ Jump up to:a b c d “Bill Harry”. Merseybeat Nostalgia. Retrieved 7 June 2012.
  7. Jump up^ “Hessy’s Music Store”. Rock mine. Retrieved 7 June 2012.
  8. ^ Jump up to:a b c Spitz 2005, p. 264.
  9. ^ Jump up to:a b “The Birth of Mersey Beat (p4)”. Bill Harry/Mersey Beat Ltd. Retrieved7 June 2012.
  10. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f g h i “The Birth of Mersey Beat (p5)”. Bill Harry/Mersey Beat Ltd. Retrieved 7 June 2012.
  11. Jump up^ Spitz 2005, p. 139.
  12. Jump up^ Spitz 2005, pp. 105–107.
  13. Jump up^ Pawlowski 1989, p. 37.
  14. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e “Mr & Mrs Mersey Beat”. Mersey Beat Lover 1. Retrieved 7 June2012.
  15. Jump up^ “Bill & Virginia Harry”. Bill Harry/Mersey Beat Ltd. Retrieved 7 June 2012.
  16. ^ Jump up to:a b c “How did the idea for Mersey Beat first originate?”. Beatle Folks. Retrieved 7 June 2012.
  17. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f g Shennan, Paddy (22 July 2011). “Bill Harry celebrates the 50th anniversary of Mersey Beat – the newspaper he created and edited”. Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 7 June 2012.
  18. Jump up^ Astley 2006, p. 141.
  19. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e Spitz 2005, p. 265.
  20. Jump up^ “About Mersey Beat”. Mersey Beat Nostalgia. Retrieved 7 June 2012.
  21. Jump up^ Harry 1984, p. 207.
  22. Jump up^ Harry, Bill. “The ‘This Is Mersey Beat’ Story”. triumphpc. Retrieved 7 June2012.
  23. Jump up^ Harry, Bill. “Mersey Groups and Artists of The Sixties”. Sixties City. Retrieved7 June 2012.
  24. Jump up^ “The Bands and Artists of Merseyside (1958–1964)” (PDF). Triumph pc. Retrieved 7 June 2012.
  25. Jump up^ “The Birth of Mersey Beat”. Bill Harry/Mersey Beat Ltd. Retrieved 7 June2012.
  26. Jump up^ Spitz 2005, pp. 287–288.
  27. Jump up^ “groups with guitars are on their way out”. Rare Beatles. Retrieved 7 June2012.
  28. Jump up^ “Liverpool City Centre (Rushworths, Whitechapel St.)”. Beatles Liverpool. Retrieved 7 June 2012.
  29. Jump up^ Hester, John. “Bill Harry (part 2)”. Beatlefolks. Retrieved 7 June 2012.
  30. Jump up^ “Bill Harry Q and A”. web archive. Retrieved 7 June 2012.
  31. Jump up^ Coleman 1989, p. 158.
  32. Jump up^ Spitz 2005, p. 363.
  33. Jump up^ Spitz 2005, p. 138.
  34. Jump up^ Spitz 2005, pp. 173–174.
  35. Jump up^ Astley 2006, p. 142.
  36. Jump up^ Spitz 2005, p. 176.
  37. Jump up^ Lennon, John. “Mersey Beat, July, 1961: Being a Short Diversion on the Dubious Origins of Beatles”. Beatle Tour. Archived from the original on 3 February 2008. Retrieved 7 June 2012.
  38. ^ Jump up to:a b Kelly, Lisa, Holmes, David. “Bill Harry and Mersey Beat”. Beatles No. 9. Retrieved 7 June 2012.
  39. Jump up^ Lennon 2005, p. 99.
  40. Jump up^ “Around and About by Beatcomber”. Bill Harry/Mersey Beat Ltd. Retrieved7 June 2012.
  41. ^ Jump up to:a b Cross 2004, p. 35.
  42. ^ Jump up to:a b Miles 1997, p. 84.
  43. Jump up^ Cross 2004, p. 36.
  44. Jump up^ Spitz 2005, pp. 264–265.
  45. Jump up^ Miles 1997, p. 88.
  46. Jump up^ Miles 1997, pp. 84–85.
  47. Jump up^ Frankel, Glenn (26 August 2007). “Nowhere Man”. Washington Post. Retrieved 7 June 2012.
  48. Jump up^ Spitz 2005, p. 266.
  49. Jump up^ James, Gary. “Gary James’ Interview with Mersey Beat Magazine Founder Bill Harry”. Gary James/Classic Bands. Retrieved 7 June 2012.
  50. Jump up^ Spitz 2005, pp. 266–268.
  51. Jump up^ Miles 1997, p. 85.
  52. Jump up^ The Beatles Anthology DVD (2003) (Episode 1 – 0:57:74) Harrison talking about Bob Wooler’s announcement.
  53. Jump up^ Spitz 2005, p. 289.
  54. Jump up^ Spitz 2005, p. 290.
  55. ^ Jump up to:a b “In the Beginning The Beatles and Me by Bill Harry”. Record Collector. Retrieved 7 June 2012.
  56. ^ Jump up to:a b c d “The Founders’ Story (p3)”. Bill Harry/Mersey Beat Ltd. Retrieved7 June 2012.
  57. Jump up^ Harry, Bill. “John Lennon in the Spirit World”. triumphpc. Retrieved 7 June2012.
  58. Jump up^ “The Magazine of 20th Century Legends”. moviemags. Retrieved 7 June2012.
  59. Jump up^ “London 5 June 2009”. Mersey Cats. Retrieved 7 June 2012.
  60. Jump up^ “The City That Rocked the World”. IMDb. Retrieved 7 June 2012.
  61. Jump up^ “Sean Harry”. IMDb. Retrieved 7 June 2012.
  62. Jump up^ Grant, Peter. “Beatles’ People – Bill Harry”. Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 7 June2012.


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