The official grand opening of the Strawberry Field Forever Bandstand took place in Liverpool on 2nd May 2023. The Bandstand has been donated by Honorary Patron, Cliff Cooper, CEO of Orange Amplification.
It sits in the original Strawberry Field garden in Liverpool where John Lennon, as a child, used to jump over the wall into the grounds of the children’s home and listen to the Salvation Army band play. Written by Lennon, the song ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ featured on the double A-side single with Penny Lane.
Designed to be one of the most technologically advanced bandstands in the world it features cutting edge computer lighting and sound equipment with facilities for broadcasting, multi-track recording, streaming and full internet use. It also incorporates Bluetooth technology which allows visitors to enjoy performances via wireless headphones.
The new Strawberry Field Forever Bandstand is based on the drum featured on Peter Blake and Jann Haworth cover of the iconic Sgt. Pepper album sleeve – a concept conceived and developed by Mick Dines. The interior is decorated with artwork by famous Paintpop artist James Wilkinson https://www.paintpop.com/ . The Bandstand floor features a black and white mosaic similar to the John Lennon Imagine memorial laid in Strawberry Fields, Central Park, New York but three times larger. The mosaic is made from more than 390,000 carefully selected and cut pieces of marble imported from the USA, specially hand made for the floor of the bandstand.
Strawberry Fields has been in the care of the Salvation Army since the 1930’s and today is a centre where young people can join the organisation’s Steps to Work programme. The Salvation Army is a cause close to Cooper as a result of the help the organisation gave his late father when he returned from the First World War helping him find work.
All money raised for events on the bandstand helps support the Salvation Army’s ‘Steps at Strawberry Field’, a series of programmes which provide employability skills training and valuable work placements for adults with learning difficulties and other barriers to employment.
Cooper was at the official opening of the new Strawberry Field Bandstand along with Vice Lord Lieutenant of Merseyside, Robert Owen, High Sheriff of Merseyside, Dr Ruth Hussey, CB OBE and other dignitaries including the Lord Mayor of Liverpool cllr Roy Gladden, Julia Baird, John Lennon’s sister and Major David Taylor, the Salvation Army’s divisional leader for the North West. Performing on stage were Ruby J, Brooke Combe and Logan Paul Murphy.