They may not have set the charts alight like the Beatles – but Rory Storm and the Hurricanes were trail-blazers on the Liverpool music scene in the 1960s.
Storm had a hand in bringing the Beatles together, set up one of city’s first beat clubs and was one of the first Liverpool artists to play Hamburg’s Kaiserkeller.
The Hurricanes even brought rock ‘n’ roll to the Cavern Club when it was well and truly a jazz and skiffle venue.
It was at Hamburg that the Hurricanes’ drummer stepped in to take part in a recording session with John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison in October 1960.
The drummer’s name was Ringo Starr, formerly Ritchie Starkey.
Although the tracks recorded in that session have been lost, Starr’s presence was prophetic.
The Beatles’regular drummer, Pete Best, had only popped out to buy some drumsticks, but two years later he found himself replaced by Starr in the Fab Four’s line-up.
Storm was also involved in George Harrison joining the Beatles as the budding guitarist first auditioned for the Quarrymen (later the Beatles) at Storm’s Morgue Skiffle Club in Broadgreen.
Storm, whose real name was Alan Caldwell, was born on the Oakhill Park Estate, Stoneycroft, in January 1938 to window-cleaner Ernest ‘Ernie’ George W Caldwell and his wife Violet, nee Disley.
Ernie had music in his veins as he used to sing to patients at Broadgreen Hospital where he was a part-time porter.
Storm’s sister Iris, herself a stage performer, married singer Shane Fenton, later to be known as Alvin Stardust.
As well as music, Storm’s major passion was athletics. He’d often run home from concerts rather than catch the bus – and once held the Pembroke Athletics and Cycle Club steeplechase record.
He was a strong swimmer and footballer too, captaining the Mersey Beat magazine’s soccer team.
In March 1958, Storm – then employed as a cotton salesman – opened the Morgue Skiffle Club in the cellar of a large Victorian house in Oakhill Park, Broadgreen.
He’d formed his own skiffle group which he wanted to call Dracula and the Werewolves, but settled on the Raving Texans.
The group played alongside the Quarrymen in the Morgue’s black painted rooms until the club was shut down by the police in April 1958 after complaints about the noise.
Storm reopened the club a few weeks later and then met Ringo Starr at a talent contest. He was in a group called Darktown Skiffle at the time.
Starr, then Starkey, played his first concert with Storm and his band at the Mardi Gras at Mount Pleasant, Liverpool, in March 1959.
With their new drummer on board, the band adopted the name Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. Completing the line-up was Johnny Byrne on rhythm guitar, Ty O’Brien on lead guitar and Lu Walters on bass. Storm was lead vocalist.
The group caused a scene at the Cavern Club in January 1960 when they belted out Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On by Jerry Lee Lewis as one of their numbers. Back then, the Cavern was a jazz and skiffle club and an angry audience threw coins at the stage.
The Hurricanes were fined six shillings by the club’s management – but they didn’t mind. They collected more in coppers left on the stage floor!
After a stint playing the Rock ‘n’ Calypso Ballroom at the Butlins holiday camp in Pwllheli, the band took up an eight-week residency at Hamburg’s Kaiserkeller in October 1960. They replaced another Liverpool band, Derry and the Seniors.
The Hurricanes alternated 90-minute sets with the Beatles, apart from the fateful morning of Saturday October 18th 1960 when Lennon, McCartney and Harrison crammed into a small booth at the Akoustik Studio in Kirchenallee for a recording session.
Starr joined them to form the classic Beatles’ line-up for the very first time.
The three tracks recorded and now lost were Fever, written by Eddie Cooley and Otis Blackwell, September Song by Kurt Weill and the George Gershwin’s Summertime.
Storm and the Hurricanes released only two singles themselves. They were Dr. Feel Good in 1963 and a 1964 version of the West Side Story song America, produced by the Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein.
In spite of Epstein’s influence, it failed to trouble the charts.
*Hundreds of remarkable pictures from around Britain during World War II will feature in Clive Hardy’s latest book The Home Front – 1939 to 1945, available soon from publishers iNostalgia. Watch out for more details on how to order your copy soon.