The Beatles for sale : harvesting heritage in Strawberry fields

by Ingrid Solhaug

Institution: University of Oslo
Year: 1000
Keywords: VDP::250
Record ID: 1285373
Full text PDF: https://www.duo.uio.no/handle/10852/16167


Abstract This text is based on my six months long field work in Liverpool during the first half of 2009, and it focuses on the Beatles related tourist industry in this northern English city. Liverpool is a port town with a troublesome recent history; after centuries of prosperity it was hit incredibly hard by the developments in the post-Fordist era and the tough financial climate in the 70s and 80s. Thousands of unskilled workers lost their jobs, the city experienced a massive depopulation and increasing poverty, and Liverpool became a symbol of everything going wrong in the England of the 1980s. At this point it became evident that the city needed to look in new directions to turn the negative trend, and around this time local entrepreneurs began to realise the potential resting in Liverpool connection to the 1960s band the Beatles; a group consisting of four Liverpudlian lads whose popularity is pretty much unprecedented in the history of music. As time passed the iconic status and massive impact of this world famous group became increasingly evident, and as it would turn out people from all over the world were willing to travel far to see the places where the band members grew up. An entire tourist industry based on the group started to emerge, and today this industry is booming. It has played a vital part in the renewal of Liverpool, which is now a city on the rise. The tourist industry is made possible because the Beatles were such an important group that many have a near-religious relationship with the band, and for these tourists a trip to Liverpool becomes similar to a pilgrimage. But the actors in the Beatles related tourist industry also manipulate the history of the band, creating versions that are beneficial for themselves by highlighting certain elements of the Beatles history and actively ignoring others. They shape a discourse of the band that help aiding their own agendas; but as different actors in the industry can have different motives there sometimes arise a struggle over discursive power.