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Front cover of the best-selling anthology The Mersey Sound which featured Adrian Henri, Roger McGough and Brian Patten

Adrian Henri (10 April 1932 – 21 December 2000) was a British poet and painter[1] best remembered as the founder of poetry-rock group The Liverpool Scene and as one of three poets in the best-selling anthology The Mersey Sound, along with Brian Patten and Roger McGough. The trio of Liverpool poets came to prominence in that city's Merseybeat zeitgeist of the 1960s and 1970s. He was described by Edward Lucie-Smith in British Poetry since 1945 as the "theoretician" of the three. His characterisation of popular culture in verse helped to widen the audience for poetry among 1960s British youth. He was influenced by the French Symbolist school of poetry and surrealist art.


Life and career

Adrian Henri's grandfather was a seaman from Mauritius who settled in Birkenhead, Cheshire, where Henri was born. In 1938, at the age of 6, Henri moved to Rhyl.[2] Henri studied art at Newcastle and for a short time taught art at Preston Catholic College before going on later to lecture in art at both Manchester and Liverpool Colleges of Art. He was closely associated with other artists of the area and the era including the Pop artist Neville Weston and the conceptual artist Keith Arnatt. In 1972 he won a major prize for his painting in the John Moores competition. He was president of the Merseyside Arts Association and Liverpool Academy of the Arts in the 1970s and was an honorary professor of the city's John Moores University. He married twice, but had no children.

His career spanned everything from artist and poet to teacher, rock-and-roll performer, playwright and librettist. He could name among his friends John Lennon, George Melly, Allen Ginsberg, Willy Russell, John Willett, and Paul McCartney. Unlike McGough and Patten, Henri turned his back on the trendier London scene, and chose to remain in Liverpool, saying there was nowhere he loved better.

His numerous publications include The Mersey Sound, with McGough and Patten—a best-selling poetry anthology that brought all three of them to wider attention—Wish You Were Here and Not Fade Away.

He was the leading light of a band, The Liverpool Scene, which released four LPs of poetry and music. He was a firm believer in live poetry reading, and read his poetry at many and varied venues as well as holding poetry workshops at schools and colleges. One of his last major poetry readings was at the launch of The Argotist magazine in 1996.

He died in Liverpool aged 68 following a long illness. Shortly before his death, he was awarded the Freedom of the City of Liverpool in recognition of his contribution to Liverpool's cultural scene. He also received an honorary doctorate from the University of Liverpool.

He described his early philosophy as If you think you can do it and you want to do it — then do it.

The Liverpool Scene

The Liverpool Scene was a poetry band, formed around 1967, which included Adrian Henri, Andy Roberts, Mike Evans, Mike Hart (ex Liverpool Roadrunners),[2] Percy Jones and Brian Dodson. Four LPs were issued with Henri's poetry heavily featured. The first one was produced by Liverpool DJ John Peel, who was then working on the pirate radio station Radio London. Despite his support, the album achieved little success, as did the other three. Public performances by the band included a (financially unsuccessful) 1969 tour[2] when they opened for Led Zeppelin. Henri was described in performance as "bouncing thunderously and at risk to audience and fellow performers, the stage vibrating out of rhythm beneath him." [1] The Liverpool Scene disbanded in April 1970.[2]

The albums were:

  • The Incredible New Liverpool Scene
  • The Amazing Adventures Of
  • Bread On The night
  • St. Adrian & Co., Broadway and 3rd
  • Heirloon (rarities and outtakes)

There were at least three "best of" albums and two non-LP singles Love Is/The Woo-Woo and Son, Son/Baby.

See also


  1. ^ Adrian Henri, poet, 68
  2. ^ a b c d Bateman, David, "Adrian Henri: Singer of Meat and Flowers", in Wade, Stephen (ed.) (2001). Gladsongs and Gatherings: Poetry and Its Social Context in Liverpool Since the 1960s, pp. 73-81. Liverpool University Press. ISBN 0853237271.

External links



Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Adrian Henri (10 April 1932 – 21 December 2000) was an English poet and painter from Liverpool, best known as one of three poets in the best-selling anthology The Mersey Sound. (The other two were Brian Patten and Roger McGough.) They became known during the 1960s as part of the boom for the city brought about by The Beatles.


  • Tonight at noon
    Supermarkets will advertise 3d EXTRA on everything
  • You will tell me you love me
    Tonight at noon.
  • This is the morning that we burnt a cardboard hat
  • Well I woke up this mornin' it was Christmas Day
    And the birds were singing the night away
    I saw my stocking lying on the chair
    Looked right to the bottom but you weren't there
  • Love is feeling cold in the back of vans
    Love is a fanclub with only two fans
  • Without you ghost ferries would cross the Mersey manned by skeleton crews
  • Prostitutes in the snow in Canning Street like strange erotic snowmen
  • The daughters of Albion
    taking the dawn ferry to tomorrow
    worrying about what happened
    worrying about what hasn't happened
    lacing up blue sneakers over brown ankles
    fastening up brown stockings to blue suspenderbelts
    • "Mrs Albion You've Got a Lovely Daughter", from The Mersey Sound (1967)
    white bird lying unnoticed in a corner
    splattered feathers
    blood running merged with the neonsigns
    in a puddle
    Masks   Masks   Masks   Masks   Masks

External links

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