The Beatles Played Willy Street

Just as news reaches us of never-before-seen Beatles footage surfacing in Australia, we at Spoofing Willy are breaking a Beatles story of our own. It appears that the Beatles played a gig at the Chrystal Corner Bar on Willy Street in the early 1960s.

While traveling in Europe in 1946, Florence Coughlin, the owner of the Chrystal Corner Bar from 1938 to 1965, met and stayed at the home of Mary Pat (Mohin) McCartney in Liverpool, England. Well, Florence and Mary Pat just got to be BFFs, until of course Flo had to come back home. Mary Pat had two “wonderful little boys”, as Flo described them – “Paulie was 4 and Mikey was 2.”

In a letter written fifteen years later in early 1961, a man named Jim McCartney wrote to “Flo Coughlin” (by then it was Weber) saying that his wife, Mary Pat, died five years earlier. He wrote that his wife had always remembered Flo with fondness and spoke highly of both her and the time she spent at their home in Liverpool (except for the night they got drunk and, well…you know).

He was writing on behalf of his son, Paulie, now 19 years old.  Paulie had joined a musical group. He said they were very good, but that their manager was doing a crap job for the band.

For instance, he wrote that in the summer of the year prior, the band’s manager had arranged a residency for them in Hamburg and booked them to do a 3½ month gig in the red-light district. (I’ll bet the boys thought they scored big time.)

“The boys are young and one of them, a boy named George, is under-age.” Well, they got into some kind of trouble, Jim wrote, that resulted in arson charges. “Jiminy Cricket man, they just burned a bloody condom in the passageway – that’s all!”

What Jim was asking was for Flo to sponsor a trip for the boys to the United States so they can get away from home for a while. Jim would pay for the trip and their room and board. In return, the band would perform at her club. “They’re really good lads, they are, and a trip across the pond will do them good”, Jim wrote.

Well, Flo agreed and the band billed as Johnny and the Moondogs played the Chrystal Corner Bar in the summer of 1961. It featured Jim’s son, Paulie on bass, Johnny Lennon on rhythm guitar, Georgie Harrison on lead guitar and Pete Best on drums – nearly three years before a band called The Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show in February 1964.

The boys really must have wanted to keep that trip a secret.  It was never mentioned again, to our knowledge.  The only evidence that the trip and appearance of the band at the Chrystal Corner Bar ever took place is the photo featured with this post.  The details of the letter written by Jim MacCartney were provided by a source that wants to remain anonymous.

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