Merseycats on stage for sell-out party gig; Drummer Best tops charity bill.
ONE of Merseyside's most popular charities - the Merseycats - is approaching its 20th anniversary by celebrating with its biggest annual Christmas party.
Original Beatles drummer Pete Best will top the bill with his band for the sell-out gig at the Devonshire House Hotel, on Edge Lane, tonight, which will be attended by Merseybeat fans from all over the world.
It's an indication of how influential the charity, which has raised thousands of pounds for sick and underprivileged children, has become since its foundation in 1988.
It sprang from what was supposed to be a one-off fundraising gig held at the New Montrose club in memory of Merseybeats drummer John Banks.
"So many old faces and Merseybeat fans from all over the country turned up that we thought that instead of making it a one-off we should meet up on a regular basis," explained Joey Bower, one of the founder members, along with Dave Lovelady, who are still going strong as part of Merseybeat legends The Fourmost, also on this weekend's bill.
Originally they intended to call the charity the Mersey Rats, after the showbusiness charity, the Water Rats.
"But they objected, so we became the Merseycats instead, which was a far better name anyway," said the guitar/vocalist.
"Another founder member, Don Andrew, created Ambrose Mogg, our great Merseycat logo, and we've been going from strength to strength ever since."
He added: "I'm amazed at how so much has happened in the past 20 years.
"What's been especially great, apart from raising all the money for needy kids, is that so many of the old bands from the Merseybeat era have got back together and stayed together after reforming to perform at Merseycat gigs."
Joey promised that The Fourmost will be playing all their 60s hits, including the John Lennon-composed, Hey Little Girl, on the night.
"There have been people from all around the world who have been trying to get tickets and on the night there will be parties over from Japan and Sweden and I'm sure they'll find the trip worthwhile.
"Musically speaking, it's fantastic to be working alongside Pete Best again - I have every admiration for him.
" It's also great that, after being invited to play the very first Merseycats Christmas gig, in 1989, we're still around to have been invited back again to play for a second one, 19 years later!"
From left, Billy Hatton, Dave Lovelady, both of The Foremost; Frieda Norris, John Clucas, secretary; Wally Shepherd, chairman; Kay Kelly, treasurer; Geoff Nugent, of The Undertakers and Joey Bower, of The Fourmost Picture: MARTIN BIRCHALL/mb221208merseycats-1