Sitting at a 1950s upright piano in Paul McCartney’s childhood living room seems like an imposition — especially when all I can do is clunk the keys randomly.
But it’s also extraordinarily thrilling to be here on the eve of a three-part documentary, The Beatles: Get Back, directed by Peter Jackson, starting tomorrow on Disney+.
This long-awaited fly-on-the-wall film will take everyone back to the final chapter of The Beatles. But stepping inside Macca’s terrace house at 20 Forthlin Road, five miles from the city centre, helps you relive the days before the frenzy of Beatlemania.
Beatlemania: Statues of the band on the Liverpool Waterfront. Rob and his family posed alongside the Fab Four on their tour
I am here with my wife and our 13-year-old son on the first stop of a tour of Beatles sights in Liverpool.
The house, in the suburb of Allerton, is now run by the National Trust. McCartney and his younger brother Mike closely advised the Trust on every detail, so it has a wonderful 1960s authenticity, from the choice and positioning of the furniture, to the curtains and threadbare rugs.
One mile away at Menlove Avenue is Mendips, John Lennon’s semi-detached home where he lived with his aunt Mimi and uncle George Smith.
The house was bought by Yoko Ono in 2002 to save it from falling into private hands. She then donated it to the Trust.
It is eerie to stand in Lennon’s sparse upstairs bedroom. Framed on the bed is a touching letter from his widow Yoko. ‘Everything that happened afterwards germinated from John’s dreaming in his little bedroom,’ she writes.
Rob enjoyed taking ‘a deep dive into The Beatles Story museum’, pictured
From the house, we see the spot where John’s mother, Julia, was killed by a car in 1958 when John was 17. Then, we take ourselves down to Strawberry Field, the grounds of a grand house where he played as a child. It is now a newly refurbished Salvation Army centre.
We then jump in a Fab 4 Taxi to go here, there and everywhere with our cheerful driver Phil on lead vocals. An extended playlist of Beatles anecdotes tumble out with a smiley flash of golden molars. He takes us to George and Ringo’s homes, and then to Woolton for Penny Lane and Eleanor Rigby’s grave at St Peter’s Church. Across the road we stand in the exact spot where John and Paul first met on July 6, 1957.
Our tour runs at a helter-skelter pace, so we relax later in the Lennon Suite at the Hard Days Night Hotel — complete with a white baby grand piano — before hitting the city centre. We pose alongside the bronze statues of the Fab Four in the docks, before a deep dive into The Beatles Story museum nearby. Then we walk to Mathew Street, home of the original Cavern Club, which is still a popular basement music venue.
Our final gig is just down the street at the new Liverpool Beatles Museum, owned by Roag Best, half-brother of legendary former Beatles’ drummer Pete. They have the same mum — Mona — but Roag’s dad is ex-Beatles executive and Macca’s childhood buddy Neil Aspinall.
There are drum kits, rare signs, costumes, McCartney’s lighter, Brian Epstein’s fountain pen, letters, and original 1960s merchandise galore. There’s even an Apple plastic bag and some wood flooring that supported Pete’s drum kit.
Even the most arbitrary artefact connected to The Beatles gains reliquary status in Liverpool.
Quite right, too.