Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting Ian Wright, the famous popular music photographer, and his wife as I was boarding the Queen Mary in Long Beach. Mr. Wright is currently working on a book about the Liverpool and popular music connections of the Cunard Yanks, as many old Cunard crew members were and still are known in Britain.
The vast majority of the crew members of the Queen Mary and the Queen Elizabeth were from Liverpool, the home port of Cunard. And Liverpool was also ground zero for the revolution that overtook the popular music world in the late 1950's and the early 1960's. (Two of the Beatles' fathers were Cunard Yanks who worked as dining room stewards aboard the Cunard Queens.) The story that Ian painted of the role of the Queen Mary and the Queen Elizabeth, veritable cities at sea, played in the cultural revolution that shook the popular music world was amazing. The Liverpool connection, the New York Bronx connection, the role of the shortages following World War 2, and the coming together of crew in the gritty Pig n' Whistle aboard the Queens all came vividly to life.
Wright's book hopefully will be published next year in time for the 50th anniversary of the Beatles and have a profound impact on our understanding of the cross cultural role the Queens played in mid-20th century popular music history.
It is sad to note that there is no professionally staffed archival department on the Long Beach Queen Mary to house the trove of material Mr. Wright has uncovered. Nor does the library of the City, owner of the Queen Mary, play any active role in overseeing these important archives. The University of Southern California Long Beach has likewise taken no active interest in the curatorial approach used in running this culturally important ship.
I hinted at the history that remained to be uncovered when I wrote about the Pig and Whistle on the Queen Mary some years ago. See: http://www.sterling.rmplc.co.uk/visions/pig.html. Perhaps some day Long Beach will take the steps necessary to more fully understand and to celebrate the shared anglo-american history of the great liner that they bought in 1967.
(For more detail on Ian Wright see: http://www.onthebrinkoffame.com/htdocs/about_ian_wright.html.)