Monthly Archives: September 2016

Records and Rebels of the 60s at the Victoria and Albert Museum

You Say you Want a Revolution? – Records and Rebels 1966-1970 is a fab gear new exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum – and a must visit for Beatles fans.

During the years covered by the exhibition, the Beatles wee arguably at their collective peak, and not surprisingly, feature prominently in the exhibition, including many items never seen in public before. A highlight is a display about Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, featuring the original Sgt Pepper uniforms worn by John Lennon and George Harrison; the cut outs of Oscar Wilde and Edgar Allan Poe, that are seen on the album cover; the lyrics of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, handwritten by John; and Within You, Without You, Handwritten by George; and one of Georges own sitars. This area of the exhibition is worth the admission money on its own!

The Beatles memorabilia doesn’t end there – Yoko and Olivia have donated lots of their late husband’s mementos, including the jacket worn by John on the ‘Our World’ TV broadcast of ‘All You Need is Love’, and a purple velvet jacket worn by George on the Frost programme. Then right at the end of the exhibition, the jacket John wore on the ‘Imagine’ video. This really got to me.

One item that’s exhibited which isn’t quite what it seems is a white suit, that the exhibition book says was the one worn by John Lennon on the Abbey Road crossing, for the iconic album cover shoot. However, the book says it was designed by Ted Lapidus, when John’s Abbey Road suit was designed by Tommy Nutter in Savile Row. The suit might have belonged to John, but it wasn’t the one he wore that day.

Overall, there must be at least 25 Beatles handwritten lyrics dotted about the exhibition, surely the most ever seen in one place.

But of course, there is much more to the exhibition than just the Beatles. A highlight is certainly the Woodstock Room, where you can watch the film of the iconic festival on a huge screen, lounging on beanbags, and surrounded by loads of mementos from the various bands and artists that took part, including Roger Daltrey’s stage outfit, Pete Townshend’s broken guitar.

As well as all these stage suits and instruments etc, the exhibition includes hundreds of album covers from the period, which are very much works of art in their own right, and great concert posters.

The exhibition is not confined to music by any means. There are sections on fashion, art, politics, early computers, and space travel.

I must have spent at least 2.5 hours in the exhibition, and will definitely go back again. I came out feeling like I’d just smoked a massive joint! A very hippy, trippy, show!

 

George Harrison's Sgt Pepper suit
George Harrison’s Sgt Pepper suit
The Exhibition poster
The Exhibition poster

An Interview with Jeni Crowley

A few years ago, I was privileged to meet Jeni Crowley. She worked for the Beatles Fan Club in London, was on the Beatles Magical Mystery Tour coach, and worked at the Beatles Apple Shop on Baker Street. Jeni agreed to give me an interview about her time with the Fabs, the first time she had been interviewed by anyone about this incredible time in her life. Here it is below:

 

Were you a Beatles fan from an early age?

The first time I heard them was Love me Do. I lived in London. A friend of mine went down to the fan club and told me they needed help at any time. I used to go after school or in the school holidays. We used to go to the top floor and there would be sacks and sacks of mail and my job was to sort it out into different areas. Later on I was promoted and came down to the main floor and was answering the phones etc. As you know there are a lot of forged autographs around, done by the fan club people, and I became John Lennon! I was doing it since I was around 13 years old.

Who was the boss?

There was a lady know as Anne Collingham, Who was really a lady called mary Cochran, and Bettina Rose. They were given names. I don’t know why. When I came along my real name was Jean, but when the vacancy came along, there was already a lady called Maureen, and they said you can’t have Jean and Maureen, is there another name you go by? An aunt of mine used to call me Jennifer, so I became Jeni.

We ran the Fan Club as Maureen and Jeni. We used to write the newsletters. The offices in Monmouth Street were above a dirty bookshop and that’s where I used to go in my school uniform and change in the ladies loo on the first floor.

It closed and went to Argyle Street, then went back to Liverpool with Freda Kelly, so the actual fanclub in London folded, and Freda took it back over, and the only London area club was the one I was running with Maureen. In 1967 I suddenly got a message that Brian Epstein wanted to see me. I’d been told you don’t cross Brian Epstein. I didn’t know what I’d done. Maureen had given an interview to the press. It was around the time The Beatles had said they weren’t going to tour any more. The press had come to my house to ask me what I thought about this – and I said it was up to the Beatles. Maureen had been really irate about it though. Brian called me in to say ‘ What about this article? And I said I didn’t know anything about it. I said that I didn’t say anything to the press but the press said I was devastated and was weeping etc. Brian was brilliant, he told me how to handle the press, what to say and that if anything came up in the future I was to go to him. However, he called Maureen in and sacked her!

Brian was very protective of the Beatles.

Within a few weeks Brian had died and Magical Mystery Tour came up. I had been doing some publicity for the Bee Gees with Tony Barrow. Tony sent a telegram to the fan club area secretaries, including me, asking if we’d like to be in this film! We didn’t have a phone at the time. I ran to the phone box and said ‘No I can’t – I’m going back to school on Monday!’ I was 16 and was going to go to art college. But my dad came in from work and read the telegram, and said if you want to go, you should go. He was a big music fan. I ran back to the phone box to ask if anyone had taken my place. They said no, so on the Monday we just met up. Of course we had no mobile phones, noone knew where we were going or who with. They could have lost their daughter, but didn’t seem too bothered!

I had wanted to be a journalist and above the fan club was Disc and Music Echo, and there was a journalist there called Christine, who gave me a press pass. I used to go to Ready Steady Go and Top of the Pops and interview various people. So I had met various pop stars and was quite blasé about it. My autograph book is chocker! So to meet the Beatles wasn’t such a big deal. When I did meet them Paul was the first one – we were waiting for the coach in Alsop Place, he just said Hello. The other 3 got on at Virginia Water and we just struck up conversations. The first thing I really remember was going to a restaurant, just after we picked them up. It seemed really posh to me. The four fan club secretaries sat apart in a corner by the door. I ordered a cheese sandwich. I waited and waited for it to come and it didn’t. On the way out George came along and said ‘Have you eaten?’ and I said no, my sandwich didn’t come. George went through the doors to the kitchen and brought the chef out and said ‘She ordered a cheese sandwich!’ – as if I was someone very special. I didn’t forget that. The next day we sat in different places on the coach and he came and sat next to me and we started talking about philosophy, India etc. That was me on the inside looking out. He said ‘I’ll show you what my life is like’ We were coming into the hotel in Newquay, and as we were coming along I saw a few people, and looked the other way and saw more people. As I turned back it was as if the pavement had opened up and people emerged hitting the side of the coach and banging in a frenzy. George looked at me and I was absolutely shocked and he said ‘Now do you see and that really hit me. I thought my goodness, this is their life, and in some ways I am responsible for this life as a fan. It was a strange way of living, but all they knew. I felt very honoured, looking out and being a part of this little set.

They made it up as they went along didn’t they?

We didn’t know what we were doing! Paul was in charge. Sylvia stayed behind at one stage with John and George to film on the beach, and I went off with Paul and Ringo, and there is a scene where I am sitting behind Ringo and his Aunt Jessie. Ringo was ad-libbing, and we were all laughing and Paul said ‘I don’t want you laughing! I had to sit there deadpan.

Paul was very professional and without any doubt was the leader. That really showed. I went to see Backbeat at your recommendation, and thought it was absolutely brilliant, and I could see then where Paul stood in the scheme of things and that’s how it was – Paul saying I want this to be a success, this is what we are going to do.

We saw two previews of Magical Mystery Tour, one just for the fan club secretaries, at which John and George came along too. A couple of days later there was a fancy dress party with everyone there, where it was shown again. I remember that at the party I really felt like a drink of water, and grabbed a glass, and it turned out to be vodka! I spent the first part of the party on the floor of the ladies loo! George’s mum took me under her wing and said ‘OK, I’m going to look after you now. She wrote letters to me later and said she was going to adopt me! The party was great, I got to dance with Lulu, Robert Morley played Father Christmas. He was a famous actor and I had to go and sit on his lap!

The first time to see Magical Mystery Tour on my own with my family around me, we were waiting for something like A Hard Day’s Night and it didn’t happen, and I remember feeling quite embarrassed as I didn’t know what it was about.

We had an open invitation to Abbey Road. On the last day of filming at West Malling, John said they were recording and we should come along whenever we liked! I checked it out with George and he said it was OK too. That was the first time I was in there watching and hearing them sing – I sat there and thought – ‘Wow – it the Beatles!

They were recording I Am the Walrus. I went in with John Lennon, and as I walked in I saw Cliff Richard and shouted at John ‘There’s Cliff!’ like a crazed fan.

I was sitting behind a soundproof screen and some girls came in. A little while later George came up to me, and asked if it was OK if your friends leave. I said ‘What friends?’ And they said those girls over there. I said I didn’t know them. They’d come in and said they were with me!

I fell asleep in the studio as it was very late at night – I heard someone say ‘She’s asleep!’ And it was Ringo. George came along with a cup of tea and some biscuits. It was 3 o’clock in the morning! George got me a taxi to make sure I got home. He gave me a kiss goodbye as I got into the taxi. The taxi driver got down to Trafalgar Square without saying a word, and he then said ‘Do you know that was one of the Beatles?’ I said ‘really? I thought it was the milkman!’

George used to talk to me about getting hold of a book called ‘Autobiography of a yogi. This was while we were still on Magical Mystery Tour.

There was one occasion when we were in Abbey Road and they were passing around joints. It was passed to me, but George took it out of my hands and said, “She doesn’t need it, she’s the only person who’s got the philosophy without the drugs. I was very touched he saw that in me. That’s a great memory carry with me.

George had asked me a few times what I was doing and I said I was still at school. He said ‘what do want to be at school for? He said to me why don’t I come to work at Apple? They had opened the shop, and Jenni Boyd was leaving, so by this time I said Oh, all right then, so I went to work in the Apple shop. I stayed there until the ‘great giveaway’. I went to Savile Row a few times too, and got given the ‘Two Virgins’ album for my 18th birthday. I left it on the train as I was too embarrassed to take it home! I gradually lost touch with the Beatles after that.

What was the Apple shop like?

‘Magic Alex’ was around with his ‘dream machine’ in the back room. It was a strange place. There was Caleb – The manager of the shop, and a few people who I wondered whether they should be there or not! The Fool came in quite regularly and made me a coat. They had a basement flat where they made some wonderful creations. The flat was in Montagu Square.

To get into the shop you had to hold a handle in the shape of a hand. George and Ringo came in a lot, and Yoko, and Kyoko, with her nanny. One day I was in the shop when Ringo came in. We were walking down the stairs and we realised it was like ‘Your Mother Should Know’ – we both starting singing it and he danced me down the stairs. Pattie and Jenni used to come in regularly. To me, though, it was just a job, not particularly out of the ordinary. It was the inside looking out thing again. The outside world looked freaky to us and we were protected.

Was it sudden when it closed down?

Yes, we didn’t know a thing! Though I’d had bad vibes – I was having my lunch break one day, when I felt that I must go home. I had this feeling that something awful was going to happen, but we had no idea. As I went out the door, John, Yoko and some others came in and ransacked the place, taking anything they wanted. The next day they just said to give everything away. I got up to serve someone and they took my chair! They said we could take anything before it goes. I got the doll. They were called Clarence and Clarissa, for some reason, and there was a baby Clarence and baby Clarissa. I had all four, but gave three of them away. Clarissa had red hair, like Jane Asher, they were based on the Beatles partners. I’ve still got Clarence. He’s a bit grubby now though.

I have one of the labels. It used to have clothes attached.

After the shop closed, I could have got a job at 3 Savile Row, but I wasn’t pushy and thought it was time to move on.

Jeni Crowley and friends outside the Apple Shop in July 1968 - waiting to be picked up to attend he Premiere of Yellow Submarine
Jeni Crowley and friends outside the Apple Shop in July 1968 – waiting to be picked up to attend he Premiere of Yellow Submarine
Jeni with John Lennon during the filming of Magical Mystery Tour
Jeni with John Lennon during the filming of Magical Mystery Tour

The Beatles Come to Town!

Here is the original ‘Beatles Come to Town’ film -as made by Pathé News,  shot at the Manchester ABC, Ardwick on November 20th 1963. I was one year old a day later, so unfortunately wasn’t there! Excerpts from the film are used in The Beatles, Eight Day’s A Week, the Touring Years, but rather strangely, the audio has been replaced on some of it by audio from the Beatles Live at the Holywood Bowl! Why??

This was filmed on 35mm, especially to be shown as a short film in a cinema, before the main feature came on. The newsreels gave the audience news and information before television became widely available. However, by the 1960s, it was getting rather out-dated. However, I also love the commentaries by Bob Danvers Walker – a legend of British broadcasting.

 

 

The Beatles Live in Melbourne 1964

Although there was some ‘new’ colour footage from this gig in ‘The Beatles Eight Day’s a Week – the touring years, I think it was a missed opportunity not having more from this amazing show from Melbourne in 1964.

The scenes in Australia were if anything more riotous than in the US. When the Beatles arrived in Adelaide, something like half the population lined a motorcade from the airport to their hotel!

I think this is one of the best filmed Beatles performances. Unlike Shea, the sound has not been ‘doctored’ – ie there have been no overdubs made, yet the Beatles sound great! For me, You Can’t Do That and Long Tall Sally are the stand out songs.

I especially love the end of Long Tall Sally, when a guy looking exactly like John Lennon, manages to get on stage, and shakes John’s hand in the middle of the song!!

Hopefully, in the not too distant future, we will get an official DVD of The Beatles full concert performances. If we do, this show must be included.

 

September 24th 1941 – Remembering Linda McCartney

Remembering Linda McCartney, who was born on September 24th 1941 – 75 years ago today.

I met Linda with Paul on many occasions. I think the nicest was in June 1983 outside MPL. I had a day off work, and it was a lovely summer’s day, and I decided to meet a couple of Beatles friends in Soho Square. We thought Paul might be at MPL, that overlooked the square, but that would have been a bonus, as it was such a nice day to lounge about in the square.

We were in luck though, as Paul and Linda were indeed at MPL, in seemingly in very good spirits. They came to the window a couple of times and Paul saw us, and did silly dances for our benefit. When they were due to leave, Paul and Linda beckoned us over. They were very chatty and relaxed. I had a copy of Mike McCartney’s then new book ‘Thank U Very Much with me and I asked Paul and Linda to sign it, and they gave me huge autographs on the title page. I also had a camera with me, and Linda asked whether I wanted a photo, and called Paul over to pose especially for me :>)

A few months later I met Mike McCartney at the Beatles convention in Liverpool, and got him to sign the book too. When he saw I already had it signed by Paul and Linda, he wrote ‘and well done’ under his autograph.

Linda was very much the love of Paul’s life, and I’m sure he will be thinking of her too today.

 

Paul and Linda at MPL
Paul and Linda at MPL
The autographs of Paul, Linda and Mike McCartney
The autographs of Paul, Linda and Mike McCartney3

Guide to the Beatles London – available in print or as an EBook

Guide to the Beatles London by Richard Porter is now available in print,
on Amazon Kindle, and iBooks Store!
It has been fully revised since the print version, with many more places, stories and photos!

The sixties were a fun time when everything came together, and London was fab – it really was then, … it was really jumping. And there were The Beatles and the pirate radio stations and all that, and a general loosening up. Of course the war had gone by then and rationing had finished so people started throwing their legs in the air and having a good time. It was a good place to be, around London, in the sixties.Kenny Everett, DJ and producer of the Beatles Christmas records

About the Book

 

  • walking tour of Beatles sites in Central London and also details of sites further out from the centre
  • maps and directions how to get there
  • an essential souvenir of the London Beatles walking tours, plus an independent guide to many more Beatles places in London not visited on the tours
  • scores of previously unpublished and rare photos, including The Beatles at their homes and in Abbey Road Studios
  • stories from people who worked with the Beatles, including Alistair Taylor, Brian Epstein’s personal assistant, top record producer Alan Parsons and top DJ Kenny Everett
  • written by Richard Porter – professional Beatles tour guide, former editor ‘Off the Beatle Track’ magazine and renowned Beatles expert
  • unique content and professional design make it an ideal momento of your trip to London, or a special present for your Beatle fan friend!

 

Contents: The book is divided into the followings sections

 

  • The Story of The Beatles in London. A chronological history from their first visit to London to their break-up.
  • A walking tour of The Beatles London. A three hour walking tour around major Beatles locations in Central London.
  • Drive My Car. Other Beatles locations in and around London.
  • Further Information for Beatles Fans. More information of use to Beatles fans coming to London.

 

Places included in the book include Abbey Road Studios, the former Apple building at 3 Savile Row, the Beatles homes, offices, recording studios and many others. However, the book is more about the people that frequented the buildings, rather than the buildings themselves.

Guide to the Beatles London in available at the Beatles Coffee Shop, or online at http://www.beatlescoffeeshop.com/shop/product.php/2/guide_to_the_beatles_london__guide_book_by_richard_porter

Reflections on The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – the Touring Years

I have been lucky enough to see the film 3 times at the cinema, including the Gala Premiere, along with Paul, Ringo, Yoko, Olivia and many others.

I first saw the film at Picturehouse Central in London, which is right next to the London Pavilion, where A Hard Day’s Night, Help! Yellow Submarine and Let it Be all had their London premieres, so a very suitable location. It was a very big screen and great sound.

There was quite a bit of footage I had never seen before – the best being a press conference where George is seen using John’s hair as an ashtray while smoking a cigarette! There were also snatches of fan shot ‘home movies’ of gigs, including brief footage from Hammersmith Odeon in 1965.
Another great moment was when Paul talked about Ringo playing with the Beatles for the first time, and the others just looking at each other and thinking ‘Wow – this really works’! He got really emotional when he said this too.
As well as newly filmed interviews with Paul and Ringo, there is also footage of interviews with George and John, so like the Anthology, we get the views of all four.

I enjoyed the film. Well, watching the fabs for 2 hours can’t be anything but! However, I thought it could have been better. I was rather surprised at the poor quality of some of the film footage, and I didn’t like that some of it had been colourised. In my opinion, if something was shot in black and white, that’s how it should stay, especially as the colourisation looked very artificial at times.
I didn’t really learn that much that I didn’t know before, but as it says in the production notes “first and foremost, it is a film for those who were “not there”, especially the millennials.”

I also thought it was certainly made for an American audience, who believe the Beatles first ever performance was the Ed Sullivan Show. Well, actually they’d done thousands of gigs before this, and I thought this part of the Beatles career was covered much too quickly. I also noticed that the likes of Bill Harry, Sam Leach, Tony Bramwell Freda Kelly, and Allan Williams get credit for their assistance in the film, but are not seen in it. Hopefully, their interviews will be included as extras on the DVD

For me the best bits of he film was the footage from ‘Beatles Come to Town’ in Manchester in 1963, Shea Stadium 1965 and ‘Don’t Let me Down and ‘I’ve Got a Feeling’ from the Apple Rooftop in 1969. Of course, one could say that the rooftop concert shouldn’t have been included, as it wasn’t from the ‘touring years’ – but the sound and picture quality were amazing, so I will let them off! Don’t Let Me Down seemed to be the same footage as seen on the Beatles One DVD, but I’ve Got a Feeling had lots of different camera angles not seen before. (Note to Apple – your next Film/DVD release must be Let it Be!!)

The Beatles The Eight Day’s a Week, the touring years is a great way to introduce the Beatles to new fans. I would certainly recommend all fans to see it, but if you are a big fan like me, don’t expect to learn too much :>)

Footnote – don’t leave the cinema before the end of the credits, because over them we are treated to sections of the Beatles 1963 Christmas message! (Another ‘potential’ release, please, Apple!)
Also it was a very nice touch that the film was dedicated to the memory of Sir George Martin, and also to Neil Aspinall, Mal Evans and Brian Epstein.

Second Viewing

I saw Eight Day’s A Week for the second time at another preview screening at the Dolby Cinema in Soho Square, which is 3 doors away from MPL (Paul McCartney’s HQ) I was hoping Paul might turn up to watch it – but didn’t.

I suppose I enjoyed the film more this time than on the first viewing. I knew what to expect, and just enjoyed the great footage. I could see that director Ron Howard was trying to show how the Beatles were in the eye of a hurricane in the crazy touring days, and on this level, the film worked well.

The Premiere

I wasn’t expecting to attend the premiere, as Apple said it was full up. However, I decided I would go along anyway to soak up the atmosphere. That lunchtime though, I had a text from David Stark to say he had a spare ticket, and would I like to go. Talk about a no-brainer question.

Waiting for the show to begin
Waiting for the show to begin

I went down to Leicester Square about 3 hours before the premiere started, to soak up the atmosphere and to meet many old friends. When I arrived, the premiere workers were taking the covers off the blue carpet (not red!) and giving it a good clean with hoovers!

One of the nicest things about being there was to meet Gary and Vanda Evans. Gary is the son of Mal, of course the Beatles roadie. We had a lovely chat and I heard some great stories. Gary and Vanda are a lovely couple too, and I’m very pleased they saw the premiere. I also met up with Freda Kelly, who ran the Beatles Fan Club in Liverpool

premierefreda

Me with Gary Evans
Me with Gary Evans

We went into the cinema quite early, and watched Paul and Ringo arrive on the big screen. Paul wore the same jacket (designed by Dougie Millings) that he wore to the premiere of A Hard Day’s Night in 1964!  Before it began, Paul, Ringo and Ron Howard gave short speeches about the film.

Paul and Ringo arriving at the premiere
Paul and Ringo arriving at the premiere

There was great excitement in the cinema, with lots of reaction to parts of the film, and a round of applause at the end. Paul, Ringo and many of the other celebrities left just before the end of ‘Eight Day’s a Week, which might be why the planned showing of The Beatles Live at Shea Stadium didn’t happen.

The DVD of Eight Days A Week is to be released in the UK on November 21st (my birthday!). The deluxe version will include a booklet and about 90 minutes of bonus material. It’s good that many of the interviews with Liverpool people, like Freda Kelly, and Alan Williams.  The DVD can be pre-ordered at https://www.amazon.co.uk/Beatles-Eight-Touring-Years-Deluxe/dp/B01LTHLQ0K/ref=sr_1_1ie=UTF8&qid=1474488772&sr=81&keywords=beatles+eight+days+a+week+dvd

Richard Porter is a professional Beatles tour guide in London and former editor of the London Beatles Fan Club magazine. For more info on his tours, see www.beatlesinlondon.com

September 20th 1969 – John tells the others ‘I’m Leaving the Beatles!

On September 20th 1969, the Beatles held a meeting in the boardroom of Apple Corps at 3 Savile Row. The meeting was called to sign a new contract with EMI/Capital that Allen Klein had negotiated. Even though Paul McCartney hated Klein, he was happy to sign the new improved contract.

Things came to a head when the Beatles started talking about their plans for the future. Paul McCartney thought they should go back to basics, and go back to playing in small clubs and pubs. As Paul said said in the Beatles Anthology book:  “I’d said ‘I think we should go back to little gigs – I really think we’re a great little band. We should find our basic roots, and then who knows what will happen? We may want to fold after that, or we may really think we’ve still got it.’ John looked at me in the eye and said: ‘Well, I think you’re daft. I wasn’t going to tell you till we signed the Capitol deal’ – Klein was trying to get us to sign a new deal with the record company – ‘but I’m leaving the group!’ We paled visibly and our jaws slackened a bit.”

Everyone knew at that point the the dream was over. Even though both Ringo and George had walked about before, and came back, everyone knew that John wouldn’t change his mind. However, John was persuaded not to make his departure public, as deals were still being done.

After the meeting, Paul went up to his farm in Scotland with Linda, who was heavily pregnant with Mary, and hardly went to 3 Savile Row again. His absence was part of the reason the ‘Paul is dead’ rumour grew so quickly.

In the end Paul announced he was leaving the Beatles on April 10th 1970. As John remarked at the time, there was no Beatles to leave.

London Beatles and Rock Tours this week

Busy week on my Beatles and Rock and Roll tours this week:

Tuesday 11:20am – Beatles In My Life from Marylebone Station
Wednesday 2pm – Beatles Magical Mystery tour from Tottenham Court Road
Thursday 11am – Beatles Magical Mystery tour from Tottenham Court Road
Friday 2pm – Rock and Roll London from Tottenham Court Road
Saturday 11:20am – Beatles In My Life from Marylebone Station
Sunday 11am Beatles Magical Mystery tour from Tottenham Court Road

There is no need to book for tours, just turn up at the meeting points before the times stated

For more details see http://www.beatlesinlondon.com

An Interview with Kenny Everett

During my time as the President of the London Beatles Fanclub, and the editor of its’ magazine ‘Off the Beatle Track’ I got to meet and interview many great Beatle People.  Perhaps the highlight was interviewing the great Kenny Everett. Kenny talked to me about how he was sent to the US to cover the Beatles 1966 US tour, and how he spent a couple of days with John Lennon at Kenwood.

There are quotes from this interview in Kenny’s official biography :>)

An Interview With Kenny Everett

In June members of the LBFC went to Capital Gold’s Beatlemania party on Paul’s 50th birthday and helped sell tickets for the event. As a return favour Gill Woods at Capital asked me if there was anything they could do for me. At this point I felt a bit cheeky and asked if it would be possible to interview Kenny Everett, not thinking for one minute that it would be possible. However Gill said she would see what she could do. A day later she rang back and said that Kenny had said yes ! I then rang Capital’s press officer, Norman Divall, to arrange a date. Two weeks later I found myself at the Capital studios in Euston Road talking to one of England’s most famous D.J.s. Kenny was really patient and friendly and told some great stories as you can read for yourself below:…

  • How did you get onto Radio London?

Well, it was pure luck actually, they had just thought of the idea of broadcasting into England from a boat; it had never been tried before. And I was getting fed up of living in Liverpool, and I tried for a job at the B.B.C. but they said ‘ No, no we’ve already got two D.J.’s – we don’t need any more’. Those were the days when they didn’t play many records. So I went up to London anyway to see what was going on, and the pirates had just sailed in, about a week before, and they were pleading for disc jockeys, so I just happened to be there when they were pleading, and I said ‘Oh, will this do?’ and I gave them a tape of me doing daft bits and pieces, chatting away into a microphone, and they said ‘ Oh perfect, come aboard !’ and that was it really, I was on board the next day. So how’s that for luck !

  • I believe one of the assignments you did for Radio London was to be sent over to America for one of the Beatles tours….

The greatest day of my life. I had a phone call from the boss… I was sitting in my flat…we used to spend two weeks on the pirates and then one week off…and I was sitting around twiddling my thumbs, and the phone rang, and it was Alan Keene, who was the Programme Director of Radio London, and he said to me ‘How would you like to go to America ?’ And I’d never been before, and I nearly died of happiness. And he said ‘we want you to go to over there and do loads of shows,’ and I thought, Oh fabulous, America – New York, Chicago, L.A… ‘What’s the purpose of it ?’ He said, we’d like you to follow the Beatles around, 32 cities in 40 days. And I couldn’t reply because I’d fainted! It was just the best thing. A trip to the States, free, total luxury in fab hotels, and mingling with my idols! So it was just the best phone call ever possible.

  • Wasn’t it sponsored by Bassets…?

…the jelly baby people, yes; you know the reason for that do you ? Well someone threw one at Ringo at one of their gigs, and he leaned over and picked it up and he ate it, and the next gig they did there was millions of jelly babies flying over the footlights, and Mr. Basset heard about this and he thought, ‘hey, that’s a good idea!’ So he sponsored my trip to America, God bless him ! I guess it was lucky they didn’t throw something else at them…. …like a condom ! That might have been awkward .

  • Was this the ’66 tour ?

Yes it was. That was the tour with all the problems with all the ‘Beatles are bigger than Jesus Christ’ stuff. Oh was it ? We didn’t have any problems on the tour, apart from trying to get eaten by a million fans in every town, and they kept rushing the bus and bashing on the side of the van, and running across the fields to the guitars. But apart from that it as very well behaved. Everyone just screamed and that was it.

  • What were the Fabs’ reaction to you? Presumably you’d met them a number of times.

No, we’d never met before, I remember getting on the plane to go to America, and I heard Paul McCartney’s voice saying,’Which one’s Kenny Everett ?’ and we introduced ourselves and that was it.

  • I believe you also edited their Christmas records.

Yes, that’s right, I was very honoured.

  • How did that come about ?

I was on the BBC by now, and I think I was the only DJ that really spent a lot of time in the studio messing around with tapes. I was quite friendly with the people that managed them, and one of them said one day ‘we’ll give you a lot of tapes of them messing around and we’d just like you to edit them and present them in to a jolly floppy disc.’ That was such an honour, I mean, it wasn’t given to me as an honour, it was just ‘Here, can you make something of these ?’ But I considered it to be a great honour as they could have chosen anybody. So that was fun to do. I have all the out- takes at home ….

  • I was going to ask you about that… is there much of interest ?

Actually, there’s not much that I didn’t use, because it was so good I used it all you see. It was just them messing around with a guitar. …There’s a couple of tunes that they did on the Christmas tapes that could have been made into records… ‘Christmas Time is Here Again’. That could have been made into a Christmas record. I was once in Abbey Road Studios when they were recording I am the Walrus and I was sitting down listening to John rasping away…because you know they were very tired, it was coming to the end of the day, about 11 o’clock at night…and he was singing away about ‘standing in the English rain’ and he pressed the switch and said ‘ Oh doesn’t this remind you of that time we walked around the golf course’ – because I went to his house once and we walked around in the rain, and I said ‘Oh, just shut up and start singing again !’ And the producer George Martin said ‘ No we can’t go on, your voice will collapse,’ If you listen to the record it really is on the edge of collapse , but they were so prolific, they wanted to get as much stuff done as possible. They couldn’t just stop producing music. They wouldn’t even stop for a sandwich hardly. ‘No let’s do it now !’ It was all pouring out. It was well after midnight and they never went to bed. But it was a great occasion, it’s not often that you get to sit at John Lennon’s feet when he is creating a number one.

  • Did you go the clubs with the Beatles in the 60’s ?

Well, I’d see them around. Those were the days when you’d sort of bump into them. I think they were the last pop people who actually had a good time, go places, and stay out all night and be silly. Nowadays it’s a huge business and there are rotweillers between the group and the audience. That was the last time that rock stars used to go down into clubs, just to dance the night away. The sixties were a fun time when everything came together, the fashion thing, that all suddenly happened, and London was fab – it really was then, it wasn’t all dirty and disgusting with people living in boxes, it was really jumping. And there were the Beatles and the pirates and all that, a general loosening up. Of course the war had gone by then and rationing had finished so people started throwing their legs in the air and having a good time. It was a good place to be, around London, in the sixties.

  • Did you get to be really friendly with John in that period?

Not really, no. Because we were both always so busy during that period. I went to his house once. We were leaving a club in Margaret Street, The Speakeasy. Those were in the days when Traffic would play, just get up out of the audience and do a set. John was there and we went outside after we’d finished clubbing, and he said, ‘Do you want a lift ?’ and I said ‘Yeah, I live in Lower Sloane Street’ And he said “Oh great, we’ll drop you off.” So I jumped into the back of this gigantic thing… and it was Terry Doran driving , with one arm out the window and one finger on the wheel, he was a maniac ! When we got to Lower Sloane Street he went straight past my house and I thought ‘Oh, well, I’d rather be in this car than in my house.’ So I just kept quiet in the back and before we knew it we were in Weybridge at his house and I stayed for a couple of days. It was rather fun. It was a gigantic place, it’s not the sort he’d want now if he were still alive, it was a stockbrokery sort of place, mock Tudor monster and yards of lawn. There was an occasion in the house when there was a girl spotted at the door. She’d somehow climbed over the wall. And someone said, ‘Oh John, there’s a fan at the door’ and he walked all the way down the path and chatted to her for a while and then just gently led her out and said goodbye. And I thought that was very pleasant, he could have had her shot or unleashed the odd dog. But he went out to speak to her, that was rather sweet.

  • I believe you met Brian Epstein a few times?

Oh yes, I knew Brian before he was famous. He used to own a couple of shops in Liverpool, one called NEMS and one called Epstein’s. I used to work in an advertising agency and i used to take copy to him to approve. Then he suddenly discovered these four wandering geniuses and said ‘Hey, let’s get famous!’ and the next thing I know is this person I’d been taking advertising copy to was riding around in a 10 mile long car. It was so funny how it came together because after knowing him in the advertising world there I was 15 years later, standing in his house in Chapel Street with the Beatles all dressed in bows and beads at the Sergeant Pepper launch. It was a fabulous party, every single person in the universe was there. I remember them standing up against the fireplace, bonkers, they couldn’t string two words together.

  • Yes, I’d heard John was a little bit…

…A little bit ! He was on Mars! Those were the days, if you took a little something it was fun. then a lot of people went too far and started throwing themselves off buildings so all the fun has been taken out of it.

  • Weren’t you the first DJ to play Sergeant Pepper ?

Well I was the first DJ to play Strawberry Fields Forever. I first heard Sergeant Pepper in George’s house. He had a low slung white goes-on- forever house in Esher. And a bunch of us including Tony Hall from Deram records was invited to George’s place to hear this new album. He had an acetate of it. He put it on the gramophone, and we all sat around and this thing started and blew us away, we were completely gone and on another planet, it was a quantum leap, and we thought, ‘music can stop right here, nobody is ever going to produce anything better than this, so all musicians can go back to bed now’, it was the best thing we’d ever heard ! And George said ‘It’s quite good isn’t it ?’ The night before they’d all had a party, and they’d decided to get spray cansof coloured paint and spray ‘God is Love’ and other things all over the walls of the house, this wonderful million dollar house,and they sprayed flowers, and words all over it in a stoned orgy the night before. He’d woken up the next morning to get the milk in and had horror written all over his face at what they’d done.

  • I believe you were involved in John and Yoko’s message to the world in about 1978 ?

Yes, I’d forgotten about that. I got a call from Yoko. She said ‘An angel’s been speaking to John, would you like to tell the world ?’ It was highly embarrassing, because I knew as soon as rang the newspapers and told them ‘an angel has been hovering over John’s shoulder and here’s what she said’ that there would be a giggle and a guffaw. But they printed it of course. Well they printed bits of it.

Richard Porter