Photo: Ken, Pete and Museum Curator Karen O'Rourke remember the days when guitars ruled. Courtesy Museum of Liverpool Life.
A buzz in the crowd, feedback in the speakers, blasting guitar riffs and heckling from the audience - remember the first gig you went to? If it happened to be punk or new wave music this display, called 'A Spotlight On Eric's' will strike a chord.
Memorabilia from the nightclub that became a legend in just four years during the 1970s is on show at the Museum of Liverpool Life until 21 November.
The unassumingly named Eric’s was at the throbbing centre of a scene that sealed Liverpool’s reputation for musical trendsetting. Echo and the Bunnymen, The Teardrop Explodes, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark and Holly Johnson – to name a but a few – all began their careers in the club, which opened in 1976.
Owned by Ken Testi, Pete Fulwell and the late Roger Eagle, Eric’s PA system reverberated to the sounds of some of the most iconic groups of the decade, including the Sex Pistols, The Clash and The Police. It took no time at all for the city’s youth to latch on to the venue, with matinees for an underage crowd key to its success.
Photo: Eric's is a punk rocker legend...even though it closed after four years. Picture © Jonathan Hodgson.
Co-owner Pete said: “Roger, Ken and I found a fantastic music community building itself around us. Though it burned bright and short, there was nothing more important for anyone involved at that time – members, musicians, DJs, and everyone who worked there. The spirit still lives with us.”
The small, intimate club floundered when the bands who had brought it success saw their own stars start to shine on the national and international scene. Eric’s could not afford famous names’ fees, but concentrated on fledgling acts. Police also targeted the club as it was a draw for punks, and it was eventually refused a drinks licence. The club closed in March 1980 following a drugs-raid.
Photo: The owners and former DJ, Norman Killon, look back on happy days playing the latest tunes. Courtesy Museum of Liverpool Life.
Liverpool musicians were the poorer for the venue’s closure - especially given the way it fostered new acts and held those all-important afternoon shows for those too young to enter the club at night. However, in the short time it was open, Eric’s made a huge impact on Liverpool’s internationally recognised music scene and is still a significant name to a new generation of Liverpool musicians.
Co-owner Ken said: “In a few short years, Eric’s went a long way towards re-establishing Liverpool’s flagging international reputation as a world resource for popular culture. This is a good time to re-examine the Eric’s model with a view to re-establishing a viable platform for popular culture within Liverpool, in time for 2008.”
To celebrate the opening of the display, one of the original DJs will be playing a typical set from a night at Eric’s on 29 August, from 1 to 4pm.