It's a hard days fight! The Cavern Club Liverpool v The Hard Rock Cafe
IT’S A HARD DAY’S FIGHTJOHN, PAUL, GEORGE, RINGO, DAVID & GOLIATH
Liverpool’s legendary Cavern Club is going to court in a bid to end a 20-year David and Goliath row over who is entitled to own the rights to its name – ‘the place where it all began’ or a Hard Rock cafe in Boston, Massachusetts, where Brian Epstein didn’t discover The Beatles.
The Liverpool clubwhich is visited by more than 750,000 Beatles pilgrims each year argues that the giant Hard Rock group has no right to claim ownership to the name which it trademarked ‘Cavern Club’ in the US very shortly after The Cavern Club itself indicated that it was aiming to do so.
Trademark battles have raged with the Hard Rock since 1994 but the billion-dollar burger chain which has more than 175 outlets in 55 countries won’t budge on its refusal to accept the whole of music history’s acknowledgement that The Cavern Club is synonymous with the tiny Liverpool basement where The Beatles phenomenon was born – and not with a room in the Boston Hard Rock which is used for music playing and billiards.
Now the owners of the Liverpool club – who include John Lennon’s sister – are to ask a Florida court to throw out the Hard Rock’s undeserved claim to the Cavern Club name.
The lawsuit is being filed in Florida because Orlando is the base of the Hard Rock Corporation. Florida is also the home of the Seminole Tribe of Native Americans who bought the Hard Rock chain in 2007 for $965 Million.
The chairman of the Seminole Tribal Council, James E. Billie, is a highly-respected musician who performs under the name Chief Jim Billie. The Cavern Club is appealing to him as a Grammy-nominated musician to personally intervene, light-heartedly offering ‘if we can work this out we’ll give you a gig where The Beatles played’.
‘We are sure that as a musician Chief Jim Billie will see the history and the right to our claim,’ said Cavern Club director Bill Heckle.
‘This trademark row began long before the Seminole Tribe took ownership of the Hard Rock, so we don’t consider it’s of their making.’
He added, jokingly: ‘If Chief Jim Billie instructs the Hard Rock to try to see it our way not only will right be done but we’ll put him and his band on at The Cavern Club as part of the deal.’
The Hard Rock has registered the US rights to use the Cavern Club name for any room at its outlets in the US and Mexico. The principal outlet currently promoting a ‘Cavern Club’ on the premises is the Hard Rock café in Boston, where the name is used to promote a billiards room that is also used as a live music venue. The Hard Rock also has another ‘Cavern Club’ in Las Vegas.
The walls of the Boston ‘Cavern Club’ are covered with memorabilia of rock bands including Aerosmith, Nirvana, Bon Jovi, Van Halen, The Grateful Dead and Donna Summer – none of which bands ever played at the real Cavern Club in Liverpool.
‘It is absurd for a billiards room in Boston to be passed off as having anything whatsoever to do with the history and heritage of music’s most famous club in the world,’ said Cavern Club director Dave Jones in Liverpool.
‘The Boston Hard Rock is also selling merchandise not only with the words Cavern Club on it but also bearing an image of the facia of the real Cavern Club in Liverpool and an image of Beatles boots. It’s an outrageous insinuated claim to an association with fame that has nothing whatsoever to do with them.
‘The Cavern in Liverpool is a historic British landmark and, formusic, a world heritage site. The Beatles played at The Cavern 292 times, they didn’t play once at a billiards bar in Boston.
‘Paul McCartney made music history and headline news aroundthe world in 1999 by deliberately marking the end of the Millennium with a gig at The Cavern in his hometown of Liverpool. He said at the time ‘I want to end the Millennium by playing where it all began’. He didn’t say ‘I wish I could mark this historic moment by playing at the Boston Hard Rock where beggar-all began’.
‘The Cavern Club in Liverpool is not universally known as the most famous club in the world for nothing; The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Yardbirds, The Kinks, Elton John and many, many others all played here as they were becoming famous, The Cavern in Liverpool is the birthplace of rock and we own that birthright.
‘We even had Chuck Berry in The Cavern Club because, like the other 750,000 visitors that The Cavern has each year, he wanted to see the birthplace of it all. I was in his car outside the club talking to him about the nostalgia, but at no point did he ask me for directions to the Hard Rock in Boston.
‘In recent years, Jake Bugg, The Wanted and Jessie J have all played the Cavern and Adele launched her second album here. The Arctic Monkeys, Oasis and Travis did gigs here too and all of these bands chose to play here because The Cavern in Liverpool is an acknowledged centre of the rock and roll scene.
‘The Hard Rock does not need the rights to the name of the Cavern Club for its massive business to succeed and we are very much the David in this battle against Goliath, we’re no threat to the Hard Rock.
‘But although no music fan in their right mind would believe now that a Boston burger café has anything to do with the history of The Beatles and the legacy of rock music, what could happen in the future if we do not fight for right and for our rights?
‘If this dispute is not put right, perhaps in some decades’ time kids might be confused into believing that the four lads who actually changed the world from a cellar bar in Liverpool instead started out at a Hard Rock. And that would be a travesty of history and a tragedy for music heritage. The Cavern doesn’t look for a fight, it’s not in our nature, but we owe it to every music lover on the planet to get this put right.’
- May 20
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