“Chuck Berry’s manager said, ‘Nobody’s allowed to play any Chuck Berry songs.’ We started Roll Over Beethoven – he ran onstage and tried to stop us”: The Liverbirds played alongside the Beatles and the Rolling Stones – and paved the way for women in rock

L-R Mary McGlory, Pamela Birch, Sylvia Saunders and Valerie Gell of Liverpool band The Liverbirds pose for a group portrait outside the Star Club c 1963 in Hamburg, Germany
(Image credit: K & K Ulf Kruger OHG/Getty Images)

Mary McGlory's enthusiasm for playing bass has never faltered. It's been more than 60 years since the birth of her band The Liverbirds, a UK four-piece who would become peers of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and The Kinks but never attained the same worldwide commercial success.

Yet Valerie Gell (guitarist and vocalist), Pamela Birch (guitarist and vocalist), Mary McGlory (bassist), and Sylvia Saunders (drummer) are etched in history, as the Liverpool band paved the way for women in rock at a time when there weren’t many women playing in bands.

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Janelle Borg

Janelle is a staff writer at GuitarWorld.com. After a long stint in classical music, Janelle discovered the joys of playing guitar in dingy venues at the age of 13 and has never looked back. Janelle has written extensively about the intersection of music and technology, and how this is shaping the future of the music industry. She also had the pleasure of interviewing Dream Wife, K.Flay, Yīn Yīn, and Black Honey, among others. When she's not writing, you'll find her creating layers of delicious audio lasagna with her art-rock/psych-punk band ĠENN.