60 Years Ago: The Beatles Play Their Last Cavern Show

Few clubs are as associated with one band’s rise to stardom as Liverpool’s Cavern Club is with the Beatles. On Aug. 3, 1963, they played the tiny basement club on Mathew Street for the 292nd and final time.

The Beatles began playing the Cavern in February 1961, receiving £5 for a lunchtime session. Nine months later, a local record store manager named Brian Epstein, on a suggestion from a customer, attended one of their sessions and was so blown away by the group that he offered to become their manager.

By mid-1963, the band was working on their second album, With the Beatles – and the tiny Cavern had become too small to hold everybody who wanted to see them. The venue had a legal capacity of about 200, but some 500 fans crammed in to see their heroes headline a bill that also included local acts the Escorts, the Merseybeats, the Road Runners, Johnny Ringo and the Colts and Faron’s Flamingos, according to the Beatles Bible.

By the time the Beatles took the stage, the venue had become so sweaty that condensation ran down the walls and onto the stage. In mid-set the water got into the electrical system, causing a power outage. John Lennon and Paul McCartney broke out their acoustic guitars and played a song they wouldn’t release for another four years, “When I’m Sixty-Four.” The Beatles were paid £300 for their set.

In May 1973, the Cavern was closed and torn down to make way for the underground train system. Eleven years later, a replica of the club was rebuilt on much of the original site, and it remains a popular live music venue and tourist attraction.

Despite promises from Epstein, the Beatles never played the Cavern again. However, on Dec. 14, 1999, McCartney ended his tour in support of his Run Devil Run album of covers with a performance that was released on home video.

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