Spotlight on Eric's club

26 August to 21 November 2004

Please note that this exhibition has now closed

Eric's exhibition logo, text reads 'Spotlight on Eric's'

On 1 October 1976 a new club opened on Mathew Street in Liverpool city centre. Despite closing its doors just four years later, its impact on the Merseyside music scene is legendary.

Eric's, like the Cavern Club before, provided a stage for talented local groups to explore their musical abilities and interests with like-minded people. The club staged music rarely heard in other city centre venues - everything from jazz, reggae and folk music to performance art and poetry, and especially punk.

Who ran Eric's?

Roger Eagle, Ken Testi and Pete Fulwell were the co-owners of Eric's. The trio, who had strong local music ties, bought out New Cavern Enterprises and The Revolution bar, renamed it Eric's, and the club became a permanent venue. Ken chose the Eric's name, wanting a simple Anglo Saxon title as opposed to other 'pretentious' club names like Tiffany's and Samantha's.

The three had an open door policy on the acts that played at the club, encouraging bands to form and perform. They also started a record company under the Eric's name, and produced the Last Trumpet fanzine. Another Eric's magazine, More or Less, offered practical advice to musicians.

Who played Eric's?

The list of groups who played Eric's reads like a Who's Who of punk/rock music, from Blondie and The Clash to The Jam and Ultravox. Little known groups like The Police and The Sex Pistols played Eric's on their way to stardom, with The Stranglers featuring on Eric's opening night. Such groups would later return to Liverpool, playing larger venues under the Eric's promotion.

Eric's greatest influence was on local groups. OMD, Echo and the Bunnymen, The Teardrop Explodes and Wah! Heat all played their first gigs there. Big in Japan were an Eric's success story who still influence today's music scene. Often described as a reverse supergroup, band members later had links with The Lightning Seeds, Frankie goes to Hollywood, Siouxsie and the Banshees, the KLF and the Cream nightclub.

When Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys formed OMD it was for a one-off show at Eric's. Pete Fulwell had other ideas. He introduced them to contacts at Manchester record label The Factory and a successful 18-year career ensued. Andy later went on to run Motor Museum Studios, creating chart toppers Atomic Kitten and working with up and coming local groups.

"OMD only existed because Eric’s existed."
Andy McCluskey

Credits

  • Thank you to everyone who contributed to the 'Spotlight on Eric's Club' display
  • Special thanks go to Paul Whelan