Sounds in the City

colourful exhibition board showing imagesof pop stars, text and records

“Before rock’n’roll I’d been into Country and Western music. Actually in Liverpool everybody used to play Country and Western. Anything with some real lyrics about a bit of trouble, or a bit of heartache.”

Billy Fury

Sounds in the City looked at and listened to the wide range of musical and cultural influences that shaped the sound that could be heard around Liverpool in the 1940s and 50s.

Country, jazz, blues, calypso and folk could all be heard in Liverpool in the 1940s. The city was known by some as the ‘Nashville of the North’ because of its boom in country music bands. Lita Roza (shown here) was Liverpool’s first singing star with her 1953 number one hit, '(How much is) that doggy in the window?' and was soon followed by Frankie Vaughan and Michael Holliday.

black and white photo of pretty dark woman in white dress
A portrait of Lita Roza. In 1953 she became the first British female artist to have a UK number one hit and was also the first UK number one by a Liverpool artist.

The American rock’n’roll invasion brought rebellion, danger and excitment. For many growing up in Liverpool, life and music would never be the same again. The Quarrymen emerged from this melting pot as did Billy Fury; Liverpool’s first and arguably Britain’s greatest ever rock’n’roll star.

black and white photo of young man with quiff singing into a microphone
Billy Fury, courtesy of Liverpool Daily Post and Echo