SPENCER LEIGH: And how did the evening go?
PADDY DELANEY: Okay. Ray McFall came down and he looked like someone from the KGB with a trilby and an overcoat down to his ankles. He was carrying a milk crate with six bottles. We had finished for the evening, and he was dropping the milk off for the next day. He said to me, ‘Pat, do you normally come to work five minutes late?’ I said, ‘I am only here for one night.’ He said, ‘Well, Chris said you would be working here permanently. He said that you would sort everything out.’ I said, ‘The Kelly family is going to be missing one member when I get hold of him.’
SPENCER LEIGH: Ray McFall would have just bought the Cavern from Alan Sytner and was changing it to rock’n’roll.
PADDY DELANEY: Yes, Ray had bought the Cavern from Alan Sytner but the police were getting ready to close it as they had been called out most nights of the week. There had been stories in the Liverpool Echo almost every night. Ray said, ‘I might have bought a white elephant.’ I said, ‘It might be a whole herd but I can clean the place up.’ He said, ‘Okay, I’ve given you £1 for tonight. How about if I give you £1.50 every night?’ That was good, so I started at the Cavern. I knew it should be ‘Members only’ and the members should all look respectable. I’d get a feeling about who to let him.
SPENCER LEIGH: So the membership depended on you!
PADDY DELANEY: It was a narrow doorway. I would always say to the doormen, ‘Stay in here as you’ve got the advantage. They can’t come in and drag you out as it is too narrow. If you go out, they can get round behind you and you will lose. They may say they are coming back to get you, but they never come back.’ I made a mistake myself as I went out one night. There were no lights in Mathew Street then, just a light outside the door, and I heard the boot going in and I heard the screams, it was a feller being kicked and I went over and bent down to help him to his feet. Next thing I knew, I got a QC bottle across the jaw from behind. I got up before they could do anything else but there were 10 of them. I fought them all the way up Mathew Street and into North John Street where there were a couple of fellers with Italian suits who said, ‘If they don’t get you, we will, you big bastard.’ One of them jumped at me and that was a mistake as he was off balance and I got him right between the eyes. I had to go to hospital with my jaw and his girlfriend accused me of bullying him. I said, ‘Say nothing, sweetheart, shut up. You’re lucky I only hit him once.’ I was in hospital for a fortnight and all the family were asking me to call it a day, but I had said I would clear the place up and that is what I intended to do. The place was cleared up and I was never in hospital again. People started coming down again, and they had great nights there. I must add that Ray McFall was a great bloke and he paid me for the two weeks I was in hospital.
SPENCER LEIGH: Your job was made a little easier as the Cavern wasn’t licensed.
PADDY DELANEY: But we still had problems with the Australian wine. Girls would put the flat flagon bottles on the top of their stockings. Some of the girls on the desk would take them into the toilet and search them. We caught a few like that. They would put the drink down their stockings and then give it to their boyfriends. They would pour the Whites into the Coke. At first I wondered why the lads were falling about the place, but then it hit me, it was the girls. I thought it was in the handbags but it was in the stockings.
SPENCER LEIGH: You were known for doing an impression of Al Jolson.
PADDY DELANEY: I was a great Jolson fan. They had ‘The Jolson Story’ at the Gaumont one night and the manager asked Bill Harry, who edited ‘Mersey Beat’, about me. Bill said that I could my Jolson thing on stage. I went there and when the movie had finished, they showed a trailer and put a dais on the stage. The operator put the spotlight on me and put on ‘April Showers’. I went into it and I got clapped. I went back to the manager’s office. I felt sick after it but he gave me £2. That wasn’t bad so I decided to do more of this and I did it in a couple of working men’s clubs. We went into the Coronation as a comedy group, seven of us. One of us was dressed as a clown, one of us as the guy in ‘Kung Fu’ and I was Jolson. I had a dark suit and a black face and wig. I had the LP of Jolson at the Kraft Music Hall, and I know every word of every introduction on that record. I could mime it word for word. I could have sung it but it worked as a mime. We went to the Boundary one Saturday night and it was packed and they played the first track with the orchestra and when I had finished, they were going ‘More, more.’ They let the LP run and I did ‘Rosie’ and ‘Mammy’, which set the place off. Pints kept arriving for us. What a night! I don’t do it now, but I still love Jolson. He was the world’s greatest singer and entertainer, and he would overrun like Ken Dodd.
SPENCER LEIGH: No doubt you would talk about the old songs with Bob Wooler.
PADDY DELANEY: Yes, definitely, and Bob was at the heart of music at the Cavern. He would give groups auditions and we only give them expenses. If they were good enough, then he would give them another booking at the full fee. The Beatles only got 65 shillings (£3.50) for their first appearance and they had to give Nell something too. They only had ha’pennies and sixpennies in their pockets.
At one lunchtime session, Paul McCartney came up to the snack bar. He wanted a cheese sandwich and it was sevenpence ha’penny for the cheese sandwich. I was talking to one of the lads and Paul asked me to lend him a ha’penny. He hasn’t paid me back yet.
A couple of years later John Lennon came into the Blue Angel, which is where I went for something to eat with a glass of bitter before I went home at 11.15. He wore a blue mohair jacket and jeans and he was sitting on a stool. He told me that they were playing in Bradford and it was a dead hole and he had come back here for the night. They had been playing the country and had done ‘Scene At 6.30’ and they had a ‘Welcome home’ gig at the Cavern on Saturday night. He bought me a bitter and a double Scotch and he had a wad of notes. I had to be in the ‘Mersey Beat’ office at 9am but John kept buying me drinks and Freddie Starr was performing. We were drinking until four in the morning. I got a taxi home, but I usually walked. It was getting light when it pulled into Beaconsfield Street and I said, ‘I’ll get you, Lennon.’ He was killing himself laughing. I couldn’t even see the lock on the door.
SPENCER LEIGH: How many people do you think they got in the Cavern? Some books say 1,100 but I don’t think it could be possibly be that.
PADDY DELANEY: No, about half that. I would get off the bus in Lord Street and go round the corner into Whitechapel and see the end of the queue for the Cavern. I would think, ‘It’s going to be one of those nights.’ I would walk past the White Star and the queue would be all the way up Mathew Street. It would three or four deep. I would say 400 and that’s it, but by some miracle, we would get them all in. You could see the steam coming out of the door, it was like smoke. Well meaning people walking across the top of Mathew Street would see what looked like smoke and ring the fire brigade from the North John Street phone box.