Paddy Delaney: Doorman at the Cavern Club during its Sixties heyday

First impressions count and during the Cavern Club's heyday in the 1960s, the first person you would see was the so-called "gentle giant", Paddy Delaney, standing in the doorway. He had come to the Cavern as its doorman in 1959 and after clearing out the rough element, he kept it trouble free during the historic Merseybeat years.

The Cavern, in the basement of a warehouse in Mathew Street in Liverpool's city centre, had opened in 1957 as a jazz club. Two years later, its new manager, Ray McFall, wanted to resolve its problems and hired Delaney, a former guardsman who worked at the Locarno, a Liverpool dance hall. Delaney's fee was initially £1 a night, but his prowess in the job meant that McFall quickly increased it to £1.10s (£1.50).

"I had read about the trouble with Teddy Boys in the Liverpool Echo," Delaney told me once, "and I knew I had to sort it out. I did get a broken jaw because someone came at me from behind, but I put five of them in hospital one night. My main rule was that when people were banned, they were banned for life. Too many clubs let them back after a week or so and then the trouble started again. I told Ray McFall that I could clean the place up, but it would take three months and I'd need more men. That's the story and I never looked back. I was there until it was demolished in 1973."

Delaney carried out his job very effectively: he knew how to resolve disputes and how to escort troublemakers off the premises peacefully. He once criticised me for calling him a bouncer. "Never call me that," he said. "I always thought that people were human beings and that they were paying good money to come and see the show and also paying my wages. Nowadays a fella who's never had a dinner suit on before thinks it's a licence to belt anyone who says a word out of place."

McFall and his DJ, Bob Wooler, soon took the club in the direction of beat music and the Beatles made the first of their historic 275 appearances in February 1961. The basement club, which only had one entrance (with incredibly steep steps), was frequently packed way beyond capacity. With its appalling ventilation and dreadful toilets, it was undeniably a health and safety risk, but no one complained.

Delaney's hero was Al Jolson and he would often perform or mime his songs in Liverpool pubs and clubs, even singing "Mammy" at the Cavern. "I used to like to jump on stage while the groups were packing up their equipment and do a few songs. One of my greatest fans was George Harrison. He used to sit down and listen to them."

Delaney let Brian Epstein into the club on 9 November 1961 to see the Beatles, paving the way for one of the most celebrated relationships in rock'n'roll history. Delaney also witnessed the Beatles' final appearance at the Cavern on 3 August 1963. "The crowds outside were going mad. By the time John Lennon had got through the cordon of girls, his mohair jacket had lost a sleeve. I grabbed it to stop a girl getting away with a souvenir. John stitched it back on. They may have altered their style elsewhere, but they didn't do it when they played at the Cavern. They were the same old Beatles, with John saying, 'OK, tatty-head, we're going to play a number for you.' There was never anything sophisticated about his introductions."

Delaney had a large family to support and as well as spending the daytime delivering the Mersey Beat newspaper he undertook various odd jobs to make ends meet. He also managed the beat group the Nomads and secured them a record contract with Decca, where they became the Mojos and had a Top 10 hit with "Everything's Alright".

The Cavern became a victim of its own success as McFall expanded too rapidly, leading the club into bankruptcy in 1966. Delaney organised a siege to keep out the bailiffs, and when the police came, he was the last to leave. The club reopened under new management and kept going for seven years, by which time it was a heavy metal venue and subject to a compulsory purchase order.

Delaney had a succession of jobs after leaving the Cavern – notably, patrolling Liverpool's parks – and he supported his wife, Margaret, a local councillor. He advised the architect, David Backhouse, on his plans to rebuild the Cavern, and the new premises opened in 1984. The Cavern's original entrance is now marked with a life-size photograph of Paddy standing in the doorway. "That's the story of my life," he would muse. "I've spent my whole life standing in a doorway."



Patrick Delaney, doorman: born 5 October 1931, Liverpool; married Margaret (deceased, four daughters, two sons); died Liverpool 7 February 2009.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: HR Assistant

£17447 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This organisation is a leading centre fo...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Case Handler

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Trainee Case Handler is requi...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Sales Apprentice

£15000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £20,000 - £60,000

£20000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence