Beatles urban myth about hidden Liverpool mural shattered
Oct 29 2011
A MUSICAL urban myth passed down over the decades in Liverpool can finally be shattered today.
A rumour has persisted for 40 years that a mural hidden in a city nightclub was part of Beatles history. Well-established Gossip suggested the vibrant wall art was created by fifth-Beatle Stuart Sutcliffe and lay safely concealed.
And during a recent major facelift of nightspot Magnet, designers found the artwork seemingly created by the Fab Four’s original bassist.
The mural emerged in all its glory after a wall was knocked down in the basement of the Hardman Street venue.
It shows a dancing scene painted in vibrant colours, with quiffed-haired musicians playing African drums.
Excited club bosses, aware of the rumours, thought they had discovered rare, and potentially invaluable, Beatles memorabilia.
Over the years, visitors and historians have visited the two-floor club to ask about the secret mural.
Magnet owners contacted Liverpool museum experts to try and verify the supposed Mop Top creation. But after investigation by the ECHO, it has been established as a well-trodden Liverpool legend.
We tracked down former disc jockey Norman Killen, now a Walker Art Gallery employee, who has deconstructed the urban myth once and for all.
The art is not the work of the abstract artist, poet and musician Sutcliffe, who died suddenly in Hamburg in 1962.
It was painted in either 1964 or 1965 and was on show when the basement premises was a nightclub called The Sink, which opened a year earlier. The artist behind the creation is still unknown, along with what it is supposed to be depicting.
Another mural exists in Magnet, close to the stage, this one a reproduction of the Down And Out album cover by Blues singer Sonny Boy Williamson.
It shows a resting black man propped up against a wall, drinking from a bottle of beer or wine.
Again the artist is unknown, although he undoubtedly knew Neil English, owner of The Sink and coffee shop The Rumbling Tum above. Later when the premises became a Greek restaurant, Norman went downstairs to inspect the mural which was later covered in plasterboard when the eatery turned into Magnet many years later.
A former DJ at The Cavern, Norman, 63, from Wavertree, told the ECHO: "These rumours do grow up over the years and then get retold. Initially, it was that John Lennon painted it, now it’s shifted to Stuart Sutcliffe.
"This story is well-known, it never seems to go away. But I can categorically state there is no mural painted by The Beatles in the Magnet."
The suggestion Lennon may even have created the mural has been overruled as the singer would have left for London by 1962, before the club’s opening.
Johnny Mellor, Magnet’s artistic director, was aware of the story 10 years ago, during his time in charge at the club.
He said: "Someone came downstairs in 1998 and said there was a mural behind the wall painted by Stuart Sutcliffe.
"But I wasn’t about to knock the wall down to have a look. Once though, there was a hole due to some damp and I could see something when I peered through.
"Recently, During the refurbishment, the wall came down and the mural was there.
"I’ve actually plastered over it now, along with the second mural, as I couldn’t put the redesign on hold any longer.
"Whoever painted it, maybe they can come forward and the truth can be known."