by Steven G. Farrell
A new Beatles museum opened this summer in Liverpool. The Magical History Museum is located on Mathew Street and was opened by Roag Best, son of Neil Aspinall and Mona Best, and brother to original Beatles drummer, Pete Best.
I was delighted to be finally able to catch-up with the busy Scouser after he had returned from a week of performances over in Norway. I wanted to share my interview with my fellow Beatles fans in honor of the memories of the Beatles and what is currently going on across the pond in the old port city that birthed Beatlemania so many years ago!
Q: Who came up with the concept for the Magical Mystery Tour Museum and
how long was it in the planning stage?
Roag Best: Well, actually it’s called The Magical History Museum and the concept was mine. A concept which was inspired not only by my family, but by my collection of Beatles memorabilia. I had been thinking about doing a museum for around seventeen years. However, I only started trying to make it a reality about ten years ago. And so it began! Unfortunately, the big stumbling block was finding a space big enough to house the collection.
Q: Where is the museum located? What about the price?
Roag Best: The Magical History Museum is finally exactly where I wanted it to be. We are situated in the middle of Mathew Street in Liverpool. The street is obviously part of the history of the Beatles, for it used to be the home of the famous Cavern Club, the place where Brian Epstein discovered the lads. It literally took me ten years to pry the building away from its’ past owner. The dream finally became a reality. The admission into the museum varies: fifteen pounds for adults, seven fifty for those under sixteen, and ten for groups of ten or more. It’s free admission for those five years old and younger. I think that covers all of the prices.
Q: How many exhibits does the museum contain?
Roag Best: I have around 1,200 items in my collection which I am constantly adding to. It really has become a passion. This museum houses three hundred items at any given time. We intend to rotate the collection.
Q: Could you tell us something about the process of locating these items for the
Roag Best: There’s been a lot of different variables. Many items were given to me by my mother Mona Best, my brother Pete Best, the original drummer of the Beatles, and also my father, Neil Aspinall, who began as their roadie and became the managing director CEO of Apple Corps and the Beatles’ company. Other items were sourced by me. It’s been and continues to be the life of a rock n roll detective.
Q: Do you have a favorite among all of the exhibits?
Roag Best: I love the whole collection. I have too many favorites to name just one. But it’s all really very impressive!
Q: Can you tell us about the building itself? For example: does it factor in the Beatles’
story in any way?
Roag Best: The building that houses the museum does factor in the Beatles’ story (besides the Cavern Club being in the cellar). Part of the building is still used as The Grape Pub, the Beatles’ watering hole when performing in the city center (the Bests are part owners of the current pub).
Q: How many people contributed to the museum and would you care to share
any of their stories?
Roag Best: No contributors as such. The collectibles have come from my good self. However, we have John Lennon’s garden furniture on loan from a good friend of mine and also four proofs of the Beatles’ animated characters in Yellow Submarine on loan from Pete Dick, the DJ who hosts the radio show Beatles and Beyond.
Q: When did the museum open its doors and could you tell us about who has
come to visit?
Roag Best: The Magical History Museum opened its’ doors on the 19th of July 2018. Since the opening we have been visited by Beatle fans from all over the world. The most famous being Steven Van Zandt of the E-Street Band and The Sopranos. He’s a legend in his own right.
Q: How was it performing live music at the museum with your brother Pete and
the band? Will there be any return engagement?
Roag Best: It was great fun! Only two hundred people were there on opening night, so it was a small, compact but very appreciative crowd. But we all love playing be it 200, 2,000, or 20,000. Our enjoyment doesn’t diminish by attendance. There’s no plan for a return engagement. We performed for the opening night and now it’s open.
Steven G. Farrell is a Professor in the Speech & Theater Department at Greenville Technical College in Greenville, South Carolina. His Beatles’ novel, “Mersey Boys,” was recently filmed as a ten-minute concept film by Celtic Badger Media Films of Clare, Ireland. His website is located at www.celtic-badger.com