Visitors also "meet" the Beatles' manager, Brian Epstein, in a re-creation of his family's NEMS music store, where he was working when he first heard about the band. It was Epstein who suited and booted the Beatles, persuading them to ditch their leather jackets and quit smoking and chewing gum on stage. He took them to the United States in February 1964, where they appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show. From there, of course, their faces were everywhere - including buttons, stockings, cushions, TV trays, and lunchboxes, which are also on display here.
A second building, about a 10-minute walk away, features black-and-white images of the band on tour in 1963 and '64, as well as an exhibit about how Elvis Presley influenced the Beatles, along with costumes worn by the King.
The Beatles Childhood Homes tour
The most intimate experience for Beatles fans takes you into the childhood homes of John Lennon and Paul McCartney. At the first stop, guide Miriam McCauley, a friendly woman with a short brown bob, greets guests at the gate of 251 Menlove Ave., where John Lennon was raised from age 5 by his Aunt Mimi and Uncle George.
Lennon seemed to have had a happy childhood here in this light, airy upper-middle-class home, and his experiences would later inspire him to write "Strawberry Fields Forever." "John had a treehouse in an elm tree, and he could see into Strawberry Field, which was a Salvation Army boys' home," McCauley says. His aunt would scold him for peeping over the fence, to which he replied, "It's nothing to get hung about."
Inside the house, which Yoko Ono bought and donated to the National Trust in 2003, it's like a mid-20th-century time capsule, restored to look as it did when Lennon was a boy. The walls are filled with old photos and his childhood drawings, and copies of his report cards are displayed on Mimi's old desk in the drawing room. "He has too many of the wrong ambitions and his energy is too often mislaid," one teacher wrote in angry red ink at the bottom of one.
The tour continues at the somewhat more humble lodgings of Paul McCartney. In this two-story redbrick terraced house, Lennon and McCartney wrote about 100 of the Beatles' early tunes, and they often practiced together in the living room and dining room. Photos taken by McCartney's brother, Michael, capture some of these early private moments, providing a poignant, personal glimpse at the budding young superstars.
The Magical Mystery Tour
Get your ticket to ride for a two-hour bus excursion that covers the most important Beatles landmarks in Liverpool, with photo stops at Penny Lane, Strawberry Field, and in front of the boyhood homes of Paul McCartney and George Harrison. You'll also pass by John Lennon's childhood home, through Ringo Starr's old neighborhood, now sadly boarded up in a derelict portion of town, and along Church Road. It was here, at St. Peter's Church hall, that Lennon first met McCartney on July 6, 1957, changing the course of musical history.
The Casbah Club
At the Casbah Club, Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, and original drummer Pete Best, along with bass guitarist Chas Newby, performed as the Beatles for the first time in Liverpool in 1960. The band played 90 shows here and helped paint and decorate the club, which was run by Best's mother, Mona, in the basement of their home. Fans can arrange visits and see the band's original artwork, with one of the Best family - usually Pete's youngest brother, Roag - leading the tour.
Music seems to pour from every doorway on Mathew Street, a lively pedestrian avenue flanked by bars in the heart of Liverpool. The original Cavern Club, where the Beatles played nearly 300 times, closed in 1971, but a replica Cavern Club has sprung up across from Lennon's statue. For anyone who wants to see, hear, and yes, smell, the sweaty enthusiasm of Beatlemania, this is as close as you can get. The Cavern Club Beatles, who look and sound amazingly like the Fab Four, play here every Saturday night.
Further down Mathew Street, pop into the Grapes for a pint at "the Beatles' boozer," which offers live entertainment "eight days a week." A photo in one wood-paneled room shows the quartet drinking in a cozy niche where you, too, can grab a seat if you're lucky.