Boris Claims London, Not Liverpool, Made The Beatles

Andy Thornley
By Andy Thornley Last edited 53 months ago
Boris Claims London, Not Liverpool, Made The Beatles

Boris JohnsonBoris Johnson has inadvertently provoked a debate on a London centred brain-drain by claiming that the capital ‘made’ The Beatles, rather than their native Liverpool.

Never one to shy away from a sound-bite, Johnson is quoted as saying: “The greatest band in the world came from Liverpool, but in the end they recorded their stuff in London and it was London that helped propel them around the world.” He made the comments last night in a speech to the London School of Economics entitled ‘London, The Gateway to Britain’.

While others might argue it should be a who rather than where made The Fab Four, such as producer George Martin or manager Brian Epstein, Boris was effectively saying that if you’re from a provincial village, town or city, you can only reach a certain level before you need to move to the capital to continue your career on the same trajectory.

It’s part of Boris’ job to blow the proverbial trumpet for London, and love him or loathe him, he does blow it an awful lot. However, it’s fair to say his comments probably won’t go down well on Merseyside. Nor on the other side of the pennines, where Grimsby MP Austin Mitchell recently lamented that London is sucking the life out of Britain.

Boris has not enjoyed the greatest relationship with those of a Scouse persuasion after comments about the Hillsborough disaster in a Spectator article that also claimed Liverpudlians ‘wallow’ in a ‘victim status’ following the murder of Ken Bigley in Iraq.

Boris was editor of the magazine at the time and was later ordered to apologise by then Tory leader Michael Howard on a grovelling trip to Merseyside. We don’t think he’ll be visiting again anytime soon however.

Image by John Kortland from the Londonist Flickr pool.

Last Updated 10 December 2013


And what about Hamburg?

Kevin Brown

Exactly Kajoch. That's where they honed their craft and found their voice.

Kernow In The City

Aren't you capable of coming up with a more recent example Boris? That was over 50 years ago when the only decent studios were in London and the music industry was almost entirely based there. These days bands can buy their own technology and record anywhere in the country before selling their music online through the likes of Bandcamp etc.


The Beatles had no choice, once they had achieved national recognition they had to go to London because that was, and is, where the power base of the music industry is centered, Rather than claiming undue credit Boris might try to use his few remaining brain cells to question why London has such a poisonous influence in so many areas of UK life.
Following his warped reasoning would he also agree that Tom Jones, Richard Burton and Cary Grant owe more of their fame to the U.S than the UK? Of course he wouldn't
London, and its throttling of the rest of the UK, is the problem not the solution. This doesn't happen in other countries, In the U.S the Beatles would have had to go to New York (where John Lennon ended up) or Los Angles, not Washington. Most successful modern countries don't concentrate all power culture and wealth in one city like we do in the UK.


Bill Harry, the founder of the UKs first local music paper, Merseybeat, in the early 1960s wrote letters to the over centralised UK media based in London. He told them to go to Liverpool and report on the music scene there. He told them that what was happening in New Orleans in the early 1900s with jazz was happening in Liverpool with roll n roll. Of course they ignored him.

The London music scene at the time was appalling and Liverpudlians generally ignored London looking to the USA. Being a massive port, thousands of Liverpool seamen would stream back from the USA with the latest US records, clothes and styles. London did nothing artistically to create the 1960s British music scene that took over the world. London had nothing to offer - only studio recording facilities. Even the London based Kent band, The Rolling Stones, had their first hit with a Lennon/McCartney song. George Harrison was no big fan of Abbey Rd studios rarely using the studios after The Beatles split, yes they were so good.

Only Paul McCartney lived permanently in London. John Lennon, Ringo Starr and George Harrison lived outside not wanting to know the city except for business.

London made a lot of money out of Liverpudlians for sure, a point not mentioned by mayor Johnson. I live yards from the Abbey Rd studios and see a procession of Beatles fans from all over the world make the pilgrimage 365 days a year. More visit the Beatles sites in Liverpool than go to Abbey Road. They would go anywhere the studios are, being in London is just incidental. If cheap and plentiful airline travel had happened 5 years earlier than it did, you may have found the Beatles and the many Liverpool bands may have chosen New York to record in, not London. The mixed cosmopolitan background Liverpudlians would have felt more culturally at home amongst New Yorkers than anyone from London or the Home counties.

Liverpool has had a vibrant music and arts scene for decades attracting many from all over the UK and the world, complete with its own studios and no longer needs London. London was just a vehicle for the Liverpudlians at the time. No more.