The Mersey River Boys


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Born of austerity and a love of American folk, Skiffle was basic, direct and thrillingly raw. A kind of ‘make do and mend’ pop. But then this was a make do and mend time. Post-war Britain was a drab, bankrupt and almost broken country. Cities were still littered with bomb sites and rationing was still in place until 1954.

The musicians who emerged from the skiffle scene read like a virtual who’s who of British pop music: The Quarrymen (which became The Beatles), The Detours (which became The Who), Cliff Richard,  Jimmy Page (later of Led Zeppelin), Martin Carthy (later of Steeleye Span), Dave Gilmour (later of Pink Floyd), Mark Knopfler (later of Dire Straits) and Graham Nash (later of the Hollies) all found inspiration and nominal success in this new scene. .  Indeed, the skiffle movement, which started with “Rock Island Line,” prefigured both the British rock-and-roll scene and the English folk scene, putting guitars in the hands of numerous players and teaching them to love American blues music.

Lorna Skingley at the BBC is looking for help! She is currently working on a new radio documentary series called ‘The People’s Songs: The Story of Modern Britain in 50 Records’ to be broadcast next year on BBC Radio 2.

She needs to chat to people with personal memories of the skiffle era, as part of her research.  From hanging out in coffee bars, listening to skiffle on jukeboxes or playing in bands, to memories of the end of rationing and day to day life in the post-war decade.  She wants to hear from skiffle fans, regular visitors to venues such as The 2i’s Coffee Bar and those with memories of the highs and lows of life in the post-war decade.

If you can help her email address is


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