We recently installed a very special object in the Wondrous Place gallery at the Museum of Liverpool, to commemorate a Liverpool basement venue which had a legendary impact on the Merseyside music scene.
Opposite the site of the original Cavern Club, the music club Eric’s was also situated in Mathew Street. Opened in 1976 by Roger Eagle and Ken Testi – later joined by Pete Fulwell – Eric’s was only in existence for four years but the influence of the club and Roger Eagle, was massive.
Although Eric’s was known nationally as a ‘punk club’, Roger promoted and supported all kinds of music, as well as performance art and poetry. Ken Testi rightly described Eric’s as ‘a platform for popular culture’ in the 2009 book ‘Liverpool Eric’s – all the best clubs are downstairs, everybody knows that…’.
Everyone played Eric’s: The Clash, Iggy Pop, The Sex Pistols, Siouxsie & The Banshees, The Cramps, a double bill of The Ramones and Talking Heads, The Damned, as well as Alexis Korner, Bert Jansch, Richie Havens, Sonny Terry & Brownie Maghee. There were early gigs by Manchester’s The Fall, and Joy Division. The genre-defying band Deaf School played Eric’s, as did local big-band Supercharge. And there was always Doreen Allen on the door. Eric’s official opening night was 1 October 1976, featuring The Stranglers.
Eric’s was an education. There was the Eric’s jukebox, and DJs such as Norman Killon played an eclectic mix of music. There was a wild assortment of ‘regulars’. A generation was inspired to form bands and get up on stage; Holly Johnson, Spitfire Boys, Echo & The Bunnymen, Wah! Heat, The Teardrop Explodes, Ian Broudie, Bill Drummond, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, The Yachts, Pete Burns and countless others did just that.
Jayne Casey onstage with Big In Japan: “I’m up here now, you’re next!”
Around 30 years later, Mark Rees re-visited Mathew Street and was shocked there was no mention of the club’s existence. As a young teenager he had been a club member,and had seen bands such as Adam and the Ants, The Clash, and The Teardrop Explodes at the Saturday matinees at Eric’s. He knew Eric’s was more than just ‘a club’.
Mark contacted Jaki Florek (who compiled the ‘Liverpool Eric’s …’ book with Paul Whelan), and they embarked on a mission to commemorate Eric’s.
Culture Liverpool, part of Liverpool City Council kindly funded the plaque, and although options were explored to put it in Mathew Street, the Museum of Liverpool was considered a safe place to display it, where visitors could learn more about this special venue which played a pivotal role in the city’s music history.
Also on display in Wondrous Place other objects related to Eric’s include:
- Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark 1978 poster for their first ever gig
- Holly Johnson’s ‘Dunbar Suit’, designed by Vivienne Westwood, 1993
- Eric’s jacket, circa 1978
- Ian Broudie’s membership card for Eric’s, about 1977
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