August 1981- My First Beatles Convention in Liverpool

In August 1981 I attended my first annual Beatles convention in Liverpool – but certainly not my last – since then I’ve been to 35!

I had been a Beatles fan for about five years – but didn’t know many other fans. It was through a penpal that I heard about the Beatles convention to be held in Liverpool in August 1981. I was amazed that such a thing existed and arranged to go. My parents thought I was absolutely mad. It has to be said that Liverpool had a bad reputation at the time and not seen as the tourist destination it is today. Also, there had been serious riots in the city just a few weeks before. But I went anyway – and it was a real life-changer.

The convention was due to take place at the Royal Court Theatre, but was moved to the Adelphi at the last moment when the Royal Court flooded.

I distinctly remember entering the Adelphi Hotel and seeing 1000 like minded fans there – I was not alone! I had felt something of an outsider at school etc – but as soon as walked in to the convention I felt ‘at home’. I was amazed at he number of dealers there – and guest speakers who knew the Beatles, including the legendary Victor Spinetti, who appeared in three of their films.

It was only a few months after the murder of John Lennon, and for me the highlight of that convention was when Victor Spinetti unveiled a statue of John and everyone spontaneously sang Give Peace a Chance. It was a really moving moment.

I enjoyed myself so much I missed my last train home to London! I had no money for a hotel room, so I spent the night in the lounge of the Adelphi. Many of the guest speakers were having post convention party and asked my to join them – so I spent many hours in the company of Victor Spinetti, former Beatles manager Allan Williams, and Cavern DJ Bob Wooler.

The next morning I was standing outside the Adelphi, preparing to walk back to Lime Street Station, when I saw Victor again. I asked him if he was heading back to London – but he said he was about to be picked up by a friend. I wish I had stayed around talking to him – as I later found out that the ‘friend’ was Paul McCartney!

When I finally got home to London I starting reaching out to other fans, and was delighted to meet a group of like-minded people in London. In 1982, 15 of us travelled up to Liverpool from London.

Since 1981 I have only missed 5 conventions. In that time I have met people there from all over the world – some of whom have become life long friends, but this year decided not to go due to lack of money, and the ongoing threat of Covid – but all being well, I will be back next year!


2 thoughts on “August 1981- My First Beatles Convention in Liverpool”

  1. Matt Donovan says:

    Wonderful story. I appreciate your work, as do so many.
    Hope to see you on a Beatles Walk next time I’m in London!

  2. Paul Snowdon says:

    Hey Richard, lovely article. This event for some reason popped into my head today so I looked it up on the internet – I too attended…as a seven year old with my two Beatles fan parents and younger brother. We had spent the weekend in London and caught the train up to Liverpool for the convention. I can remember bits and pieces about it – being in a big scary place , watching a screening of Magical Mystery Tour, my Dad sneaking me and my little brother in because he’d only paid for 1 room for two people and most memorable of all, finding an unopened packet of cigarettes on the floor near a dark stairway and being spotted with my find by some bloke who promptly persuaded me to swap the smokes for a sheet of Beatles stamps. I have some photos of our weekend in London and probably even of the train journey up but unfortunately none in The Adelphi (camera film was expensive in those days I suppose !).
    All the best, Paul.

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