John Lennon once told The Liverbirds “girls don’t play guitars”: “We wonder if what he said was meant to test us… If so, it certainly worked”

The Liverbirds recorded two hit albums and played with the Rolling Stones, Chuck Berry, and others.

[L-R] The Liverbirds and John Lennon

Credit: Gunter Zint/K & K Ulf Kruger OHG/Redferns [L] and Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images [R]

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The Liverbirds became one of the world’s first all-female rock ‘n’ roll outfits when they formed back in 1963, and according to two surviving members, they were met with some scepticism from none other than John Lennon.

The band, which was made up of vocalist and guitarists Valerie Gell and Pamela Birch, bassist and vocalist Mary McGlory, and drummer Sylvia Saunders, first met The Beatles at the famous Cavern Club. Was Lennon’s remark intended to spur them on? It seems both McGlory and Saunders believe there’s a chance that was the case.

In a new autobiography, The Liverbirds: Our Life in Britain’s First Female Rock ‘n’ Roll Band, McGlory and Saunders share for the first time the band’s story in full, “capturing a lost era of liberation and rock ‘n’ roll, as they thrived in the vibrant Merseybeat music scene and formed a friendship that has endured through the decades”.

Within the book, they remember their encounter with the Fab Four (via Guitar World): “Bob Wooler [The Cavern’s compere and DJ] told them: ‘This is the Liverbirds, they’re gonna be the first all-girl group,’” McGlory and Saunders write. “‘What a great idea,’ said Paul, but Lennon was sarcastic. ‘Girls don’t play guitars,’ he said.

“After we left the dressing room we huffed, ‘The cheek of it! We’re going to prove him wrong,’” they write.

“It’s clear his feelings about women evolved, but we also wonder if what he said that day in the Cavern dressing room was meant to test us, provoke us into making a success of the band. If so, it certainly worked.”

Check out The Liverbirds below:

You can order a copy of The Liverbirds: Our Life in Britain’s First Female Rock ‘n’ Roll Band now.

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