Rory Storm And The Hurricanes New Plaque To Be Unveiled At Cavern Club, Liverpool

Skiffle / Rock N Roll band Rory Storm And The Hurricanes are to be honoured with a new plaque in commemoration of their contribution to music.

Rory Storm was born Alan Ernest Caldwell 7th Jan 1938 in Liverpool.  Storm had a prolific stutter but it never effected his singing.

Originally calling themselves the Raving Texans, they changed their name to Rory Storm & the Hurricanes in 1959, taking on Ringo Starr as their drummer the same year. As the lead vocalist, Storm was known as an excellent showman, climbing up pillars to balconies. They were by some estimations the most popular band in the embryonic Liverpool rock scene as the 1960s began; they even managed to appear on the same bill as Gene Vincent in a 1960 concert at Liverpool Stadium, which was the biggest rock show that had ever taken place in the city up to that time.

In early 1962, Starr left the group for a while to play in Tony Sheridan’s band in Hamburg, but had rejoined the Hurricanes that summer, when they were playing at Butlin’s holiday camp in Skegness. He had become friendly with the Beatles during the Hamburg stints, and on a few occasions had sat in with them on drums. In mid-August 1962, he was asked by the Beatles to replace Pete Best, an invitation he of course accepted; he was a better drummer than Best and, just as importantly, far more compatible personality-wise with the Beatles’ attitude and sense of humor. Starr was replaced by Gibson Kemp, later to play in Paddy, Klaus, and Gibson, and to marry Astrid Kirschherr, who had been engaged to original Beatles’ bassist Stu Sutcliffe before Sutcliffe’s death in early 1962. Incidentally, Paul McCartney of the Beatles was the boyfriend of Rory Storm’s sister, Iris Caldwell, for a while around this time.

Yet this wasn’t the end of Rory Storm & the Hurricanes, although their position on top of the Merseybeat hierarchy was rapidly sliding, not just in light of the Beatles’ meteoric rise to international stardom, but also as numerous other Liverpool bands scaled the British and then American charts. In the meantime Storm couldn’t even get a record deal, although he and his band did record three tracks for the mid-1963 compilations This Is Mersey Beat Vol. 1 and This Is Mersey Beat Vol. 2. The British independent label that had issued these compilations also put out a single of two of these numbers, “Dr. Feelgood” and “I Can Tell,” in late 1963. These, however, illustrated at least part of the problems Rory Storm & the Hurricanes had in competing with other British groups by this time: their repertoire consisting wholly of covers of early American rock tunes and popular standards (on the compilations they had also done “Beautiful Dreamer”), and Storm’s high-pitched, nervously quavering voice lacked power and presence.

Yet Rory Storm & the Hurricanes did have one last shot on disc, putting out a single, “America”/”Since You Broke My Heart,” in late 1964. Interestingly, this was issued on Parlophone, the Beatles’ label, and produced by Brian Epstein, in his one and only venture into record production; in addition, Ringo Starr was at the session and added some miscellaneous percussion and backing vocals. Whether Epstein and Starr got involved with this single because they felt bad about Starr’s defection from the group and Storm’s failure to follow the Beatles into stardom is unknown, but in any case the record didn’t do well.

Storm’s band was quite instable and went through numerous lineup shuffles in the post-Starr years. In addition to not writing any of their own material, they suffered a further handicap: Storm apparently was uninterested in even learning new covers, playing much the same stuff in the mid-’60s as they had several years earlier. Rory Storm & the Hurricanes finally broke up in 1967. Rory Storm later became a disc jockey, but died under mysterious circumstances in September 1972. He was found dead in his house after combining alcohol with sleeping pills. His mother was also found dead in the home, leading to speculation that the pair had decided to commit suicide together. However another story goes that after being unable to sleep Storm had some sleeping pills, but not enough to kill him (proven after toxicology tests).  In the morning his mum found him dead and distraught with grief overdosed shortly afterwards. Some stories state his mum died of a heart attack later the same day. Some say he was down on his luck and had intended to kill himself with an overdose of whisky and pills. In any case his life was tragically cut short at the age of 34.

The original line up for the group was :-

Alan Caldwell – Vocals

Charles (Ty) O’Brien – Lead Guitar

Johnny (Guitar) Byrne – Rhythm Guitar

Wally Eymond (Lou Walters) – Bass Guitar

Richard Starkey (Ringo Starr) – Drums

Ex Hurricanes Lou Walters, Jimmy Tushingham and Vince Earle, along with Iris Caldwell (Rory Storms sister) appeared on stage in the world famous Cavern Club to receive a plaque which was put temporarily on the wall next to the stage.  Ex Roadie “Jamo” spoke along with Iris Caldwell after receiving the award.

For pics please visit the link below:

Jamo, Iris Caldwell, Lou Walters, Jimmy Tushingham and Vince Earle

For more information about Rory and The Hurricanes please visit the Wikipedia link below:-



Author: James O'Hanlon

Liverpool photographer and local history fan. I will attend events of varied types and post them on this blog.

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