Hessy’s – 1980s Liverpool Bands’ Handy ‘Go To’ Music Shop.
Above Photo: John Kirkham, Guitarist for Pink Military Stand Alone, onstage at Eric’s Club, Mathew Street, Liverpool in 1979. (Facebook)
If you carry out an internet search for Frank Hessy’s music shop in Stanley Street, Liverpool, you usually see only Beatles-related photos and articles. This is because Hessy’s, being around the corner from the Cavern Club in Mathew Street, was very convenient for 1960s Liverpool bands to resupply and repair their musical instruments.
Hessy’s most famous claim to fame in the Beatles era was that John Lennon’s aunt bought him his first guitar in the shop in 1957.
One of my personal irritations is the way Liverpool’s 1970s and 1980s Punk and New Wave scene has been largely ignored by the city’s tourism authorities. It has been almost forgotten in their rush to commercialise Mathew Street and to cash in on the Beatles story.
For example there’s still no plaque, no commemoration, no statue marking the old Punk and New Wave club Eric’s, which was the breeding ground for many important late 1970s and early 1980s bands, members of whom hung out or worked there.
These included the two I was in, Pink Military Stand Alone and Pete Burns’ Nightmares In Wax (before it changed its name to Dead or Alive), Elvis Costello, Echo and the Bunnymen, The Teardrop Explodes, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, A Flock of Seagulls, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Wah! Heat, the Spitfire Boys, Ian (later, the Lightning Seeds) Broudie and many, many others.
Hessy’s music shop also strongly featured in the life of this later Liverpool band explosion, because Eric’s Club was also located on Mathew Street, conveniently just around the corner from the shop. All the above-mentioned bands and many more Liverpool Punk and New Wave bands will have had some connection with Hessy’s.
I even mention the shop in Bombed Out!, my Punk and New Wave memoir. Before I got into the bands, I set about trying to learn to play the bass and bought a basic chord book from Hessy’s, making me all set for the wild ride recounted in the book.
I also bought replacements for my many snapped Rotosound Roundwound bass guitar strings there.
Back then I also used another music shop in Liverpool, the Plug Inn, because they repaired unrepairable musical equipment such as amplifiers for a lot cheaper than Hessy’s could. Back then, as I point out in the book, I was so broke that saving money on anything was the paramount priority in my short but eventful musical life.
Hessy’s had been part of the musical life of the city going back at least to the 1940s, and maybe even earlier. I’m sorry to see it has now gone forever, to be replaced by a posh jewellery shop, which I suspect today’s Liverpool bands don’t find as much need for.