Category Archives: Interviews

With Alan Parsons Inside Abbey Road Studios

From the Archives of the London Beatles Fanclub  Magazine.

In September 1991, I was asked to do an interview with a Japanese satellite TV channel about my London Beatles Walks. I had only been doing them for a few years, and was delighted and flattered to be asked. I was even more delighted when I was told that the interview would take place INSIDE Studio 2 at Abbey Road, and that I would be interviewed the same time as Alan Parsons!

After we gave our interviews to the TV station, I rather cheekily asked Alan if I could interview him for the London Beatles Fanclub magazine, and he agreed! Here is that interview:

I believe you first met the Beatles at Saville Row, during ‘Let it Be’. Can you tell me how that came about?

I must have originally been sent down the day ‘Magic Alex’s’ console was put in. Glyn Johns was trying to get some noise ouyt of it! Everybody was waiting to start filming but basically, as we all know, the whole thing was a complete farce, nothing worked.

What was basically wrong with it?

It looked like it had been made by a 12 year old. All the holes had been roughly filed out, things were held together with one screw and nothing was on a straight line and it was banged together with bits of wood and chewing gum – it was an horrendous looking object!  It was advanced in its concept, but the execution of the concept left a great deal to be desired. It was two days later that I was brought in to work with Glyn Johns with the Abbey Road equipment.

Was Glyn Johns producing?

No, he was engineering. George Martin was very much in attendance, though he didn’t show his face every day. As often happens, he had other records to make as well. It must be emphasised, however, that it was very much a recording of an event at Apple, there was little in the way of production tricks. It was just the group in front of their instruments and record what happens, although when Phil Spector got his hands on it, it was far from that.

What was your actual role?

Tape operator – also coffee maker and cigarette buyer!

Just a few days after you became involved,t he famous rooftop session occurred – when did you first know about that?

The night before! They said ‘Let’s play in front of an audience’. ‘OK, when and where?’ ‘Why not play on the roof tomorrow!’ In normal circumstances, of course, it would have been crazy, but this was the Beatles.

An hour before, we were testing the mikes and it was a very windy day and the mikes were making a horrendous noise. I had to run out to Marks and Spencer to buy some stockings to hang on the mikes to stop the wind getting in. It was very strange walking into the lingerie department and them saying ‘What size do you want’ and me saying,  ‘Doesn’t matter’ ‘What colour?’ ‘Doesn’t matter’. I think they thought I was about to rob a bank!

Did you have any problems recording the roof top session?

Well, I was actually up on the roof. I was just on the other end of a communications system to sort out any problems. I had a wale of a time. I didn’t really have anything to do once everything was up and running and so I was just watching them play – it was brilliant. Everyone was buzzing.

I believe you did a lot of work on the Abbey Road LP. What was the atmosphere on that like?

Tense. There were various personal incompatilities between certain parties and their wives.

I think everyone was amazed the ‘Abbey Road’ LP was so good, considering the atmosphere it was recorded under. Was that down to George Martin?

I think it was a lot down to the individual writers. As you know, Paul sang on songs by Paul, John sang on songs by John…. However, the most noticeable things about the Abbey Road album is that they weren’t working together very much. They tended to come in and do their bits individually. But I was more involved in the later stages, John Kurlander did the early tracks.

Was the medley on side 2 recorded to fit together, or was that done afterwards?

A bit of both. It was just called ‘The Long One’ at the time. I wasn’t there at the conversation which led to the piecing together of it, but it was very much considered as one piece. It was worked one and always listened to as one piece. We were always running off rough mixes of it as a whole piece as it had developed to the end of that day and everyone would take it home to listen to it.

I believe you were present in the studio the last day all four Beatles were in the studio together?

What actually happened that day?

The banding of the album.

Oh yes, I remember it distinctly. Tony Hicks of the Hollies was also there to hear it. I was also present the day the Abbey Road cover was taken.

Have you worked with a Beatle since?

Yes, ‘Red Rose Speedway’ was the main time, and I went on tour with Wings on the European tour in 1972 – I was recording it. I’m not sure what happened to that. There were very interesting versions of ‘Hi Hi Hi’ on that with a different rhythm. I always preferred the live version and told Paul he should have recorded it like that.

When was the last time you worked with a Beatle? 

A year and a half ago [circa 1993] with Paul at my own studio. which came to nothing. We were just experimenting together in the studio to see if anything came out of it, but nothing did.

A few years later, Alan Parson took over as Managing Director of Abbey Road Studios, and I had a meeting with him about the possibility of setting up a shop for the studios. It didn’t happen until much later….

Then in late 2015, I attended a lecture that Alan gave in Studio 2, mainly about his work with Pink Floyd on ‘Dark Side of the Moon’. It was nice to meet him again. 

Blogger Richard Porter with Alan Parsons in the control room of Studio 2, Abbey Road Studios, November 2015.

 

Blogger Richard Porter is a full time Beatles tour guide in London. For more info on his tours, see http://www.beatlesinlondon.com

 

Alistair Taylor – The Beatles ‘Mr Fixit’

Alistair Taylor was Brian Epstein’s personal assistant at NEMS. He accompanied Brian to the Cavern Club when he met the Beatles for the first time. He then became an integral part of ‘NEMS Enterprises’ and after Brian’s death, General Manager of Apple. His time with the Beatles was only ended when he became one of the victims of Allen Klein. In this interview from 1995, Richard Porter talked to the Beatles ‘Mr Fixit’ at the Heroes of Alma pub, just around he corner from Abbey Road Studios, where the Beatles used to drink after recording sessions. Before the interview, Alistair had gone to Abbey Road to be reunited with George Martin for the first time in many years. 

What do you remember of your first meeting with the Beatles?

It was on November 9th 1961. He had imported the record by Tony Sheridan and the Beat Brothers (really the Beatles) and it had sold like crazy. One day, Brian came in and said ‘Do you remember that record we sold by the Beatles?’ I said ‘Of Course’ and he said, ‘Well, they are playing at the Cavern Club today, at lunchtime, let’s go to lunch and call at the Cavern’.

So we went to the Cavern. Ghastly place. We went in suits, like I’m wearing today, and there were these four ghastly youths up on stage, wearing black leather jeans, black jackets, smoking and drinking, and so loud. Brian and I sat at the back, we only heard 4 or 5 numbers, and they were so charismatic and so exciting. What really struck us was the final number, which Paul announced that they had written. It was ‘Hello Little Girl’. It was a damn good number.

We went to lunch, and Brian asked my what I thought of them, and I said, ‘I thought they were bloody awful but absolutely incredible.’ We talked a bit more, and Brian said ‘I’m thinking of managing them’. I said ‘My god, you’re kidding!’ He said, If I do manage them, would you come in with me? Who do you work for, me or NEMS?’ I said, ‘I work for you’. So he said, ‘If you come with me, I’ll give you two and a half per cent of the Beatles’ earnings’. I replied, ‘I couldn’t possibly accept that Brian’. I had no money to put up and I knew it would be very expensive. I said all I wanted was a better salary and that’s all.

That was my intro into the boys.

In the early days Brian wanted to clean up the Beatles act and put them in suits. Do you remember any friction about this?

Not at all – although it has often been said. I was surprised when John Lennon said about this in his ‘Rolling Stone’ interview. However, at that point, if Brian had said jump off the Liver Building into a bucket of custard, and you will have a hit record, they would have done it. It’s all very well resenting it in hindsight, but at the time they were more than happy.

You went to work for Pye  for about a year and came back to your first taste of ‘Beatlemania’. What do remember about  that day?

I had been back with Brian for about a week, and Brian said, ‘I’ve just spoken to the boys, and they’re thrilled you’re back with us. They’re playing at the East Ham Granada on Saturday night and will you go along because they’d love to see you again.

At the end of the show, they asked me back with them. They had a flat in Green Street at the time. I didn’t know what was going on, and when they closed with ‘Twist and Shout’ they had the limo by the stage door. I got in the front of the car, and Ringo got his foot stuck in the door. There were about 3,000 people lining the route and I could see the line of policeman breaking. Finally, we got Ringo in the car and it shot off and I saw the line had broken, and wondered what I’d let myself into. It was quite a terrifying experience and we hurtled into Green Street with a police car in front, and another behind. I got used to it very quickly though.

Tell us how you one deputised for John Lennon at an awards ceremony. 

Brian had forgotten about it and it was about 10 o’clock in the morning of the ceremony. I rang John, but he refused to go, so then I rang Paul. He was living with the Asher’s and Mrs Asher answered the phone and said they’d been out late the night before, and she could not disturb him. So I rang back a while later and she said she wouldn’t wake Paul. I said it was urgent and I’d take the blame if Paul made a fuss. Paul was the PR man, and I explained the situation, and he asked what time we were due, and I said 5 minutes ago. He told me to pick him up about 20 minutes later. When I arrived he was waiting and looking totally immaculate, shaved, great suit etc. We hurtles down to the Savoy Hotel and took him to the door and said I would arrange to pick him up afterwards. However, he said I was to come in with him, and if I didn’t, he wouldn’t go in either. So I agreed. Everyone in pop was there. There were three empty seats at the top table. I saw Dick James at another table and said I would sit there. But Paul insisted I sit at the top table. I walked up and sat down and everyone was wondering who I was. David Frost gave us a life home in his Merc.

How did you get the nickname ‘Mr Fixit’?

The boys by now could not walk down the street like you and I can. So I became the person who went to get them a packet of fags or whatever. I got the reputation for doing the impossible, things that the Beatles or Brian thought could not be done.

Was Apple really set up for tax reasons?

Brian Epstein didn’t want to know about Apple. The Beatles had vast bank accounts and were advised to reduce the tax burden. We had to submit plans of how to invest this money so we could save three of four shillings in the pound – which of course with their money was a substantial amount. So we set up what was laughingly called ‘the executive board’ to plan how to invest this money. I was on the board along with Neil Aspinall and Pete Shotton, and we just kicked around plans and ideas. The first real idea was to open a chain of greetings card shops. They are now on every street corner, but they were unheard of in those days. So we finally thought this was a good idea and we put it to the Beatles. They just sat there for a moment, and then John said, ‘What a f****g boring idea. We had been weeks on this so one of us asked them to come up with something better. So that’s how ‘Apple’ as it became, evolved from that meeting. Really the whole thing was crazy, but it was their money.

How did Brian Epstein die?

Accidental overdose. He was on two particular tablets, and one was building up in his stomach and one passing through, and that particular night, he took two tablets instead of one.The number of times I’ve had to say to people, no, he did not commit suicide. Apart from me, the only people that we there were the doctor and Joanne Newfield, Brian’s PA. I was with the doctor when we smashed the door down. On the bed was a plate of chocolate digestive biscuits and by the side of the bed was a half empty bottle of bitter lemon. There was no booze around and one the side table were about six of seven bottles of tablets, all had plenty of pills in them and had their lids screwed on. My argument is that if you are going to commit suicide, you don’t take a few pills and take the trouble to screw the lids back on. I’ve read stories ’til I’m blue in the face about how a suicide note was found. I’m the guy that was in the room, and there wasn’t one.

How did the ‘This Man has Talent’ ad come about?

Paul stopped by my flat in Montagu Place, which was an ‘Apple’ flat. He said, ‘I’ve got this great idea. We are going to put an ad in NME to get some tapes of music into Apple’. Finally we hit on this idea of a one man band. We wanted a straight guy in a bowler hat. Paul looked at me and said ‘Well, we’ve got a straight guy, do you have a bowler hat?’ It just so happened I did. We went down to Soho to hire a one man band and did the photo session. I was miming and it wasn’t working, so Paul said, ‘Sing a Beatles song’ So I tried that and he said ‘Forget that!’ – it was a disaster area. So in the end, that picture is of me singing ‘When Irish Eyes are Smiling’ – badly.

Was ‘Apple’ really as chaotic as people said it was – was it ‘The Longest Cocktail Party?

Yes, that was a wonderful book, incredible. I had nothing to do with music, and certainly not the Beatles, for years, and I went to America, and someone showed the book to me. I just flipped through it and read bits, and just laughed and laughed. It was brilliant.

Tell us about your adventures at High Park, Paul’s farm.

No-one in the office knew that Paul had bought the farm. Then one day he came in and asked if I would go up for the weekend. I It had a clapped out old farmhouse that Paul wanted to knock down and wanted me to find a suitable spot to build a new one. So I went up and plodded around and realised the Scots aren’t stupid because the current location was the only place to build a farmhouse. It was windy even on a calm day. I took some photos and came back and told Paul it was the only place. Paul asked what it was like and after I showed him the photos he thought it was great and said let’s go up. So myself, Jane and Paul flew up. He said he wanted it to be spartan and asked me to organise some second hand furniture. We then built furniture ourselves, and found some potato boxes and asked me to go into town and buy some nails and things and we built a settee and some bedside cabinets.

We flew Martha up, and she was as good as gold. A car met us at the airport and we were driving along. Martha is an old English Sheep Dog, but had lived in London, never been in the country, and never seen a sheep. We turned up the lane to the farm and into a field of sheep, and Martha went spare. We had the window half open and she had her head half way out the window.

What is your abiding memory of Apple?

I was trying to run a sensible business and in a way I shpt myself in the foot again, after turning down the 2.5%. I was getting exasperated as money was flowing out like there was no tomorrow. I managed to get the four lads together and said we need a top business man here. So off they went and three of them got Allen Klein and I was sacked – end of Beatle career. For about 15 years after I was sacked I didn’t want to know about pop music and sold more of my Beatles records.

I believe you had a reunion with Paul McCartney recently?

I went to the ‘Let it Be Liverpool’ concert, which was a bit sensational. To hear 25,000 people on the banks of the Mersey singing ‘Hey Jude’ and ‘Give Peace a Chance’ was an unbelievable memory.

I know Geoff Baker, Paul’s publicist, and he said I should come back and meet him. However, it was too late to organise passes and all the business and so I just went up to the gate and asked for Geoff Baker. The girl came back and said here are two tickets. I asked whether they would get me backstage and she said they were just for the concert. I told her that Geoff Baker was going to organise it for me to meet Paul. I had to explain who I was, and she went off again. There were other people trying to do the same and she came back and out these badges on us. I had a gold one and they got red ones. There were two marquees, one saying ‘press and VIPs and one for family. I just followed the others to the press tent and the girl said ‘No, Mr, Taylor, you go to the other one.’ By now time was running out and there was no sign of Paul but I saw Linda and followed her and there was Paul surrounded by a big circle of people with chains on, like Mayors. I stood at the back and I saw Paul’s eyes flick around, he’s always done that, and he suddenly say me and everybody stopped. I didn’t know what to expect and just walked forward and put out my hand and said ‘Hi fella’. He said ‘Come here’ and there were big hugs and commented on our grey hair, who had the most. It was nice. He said to one of his aides to get hold of my address, but I haven’t heard from him from that day. It is very sad. But it was nice while it lasted.

Alistair Taylor reunited with Paul McCartney in Liverpool
Alistair Taylor reunited with Paul McCartney in Liverpool

 

Note from Richard Porter: I got to know Alistair very well during the 80s and 90s. I even guided some Beatles tours of London with him. One day we went to 24 Chapel Street, where Brian Epstein lived, and died. It was the first time Alistair had been back since that sad day in August 1967, and Alistair was very moved. 

Alistair passed away in 2004, and is much missed by all Beatles fans. 

Blogger Richard Porter, guiding a Beatles tour of London with Alistair Taylor
Blogger Richard Porter, guiding a Beatles tour of London with Alistair Taylor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kenny Everett and the Beatles – an Update

I’ve just found out that BBC Radio 2 are broadcasting a special show on Kenny Everett’s relationship with the Beatles. I wonder if they are going to include any of the interview I did with Kenny in 1992, as I believe I am the only person who interviewed him just about the Fabs. You can read the interview below at http://blog.beatlesinlondon.com/an-interview-with-kenny-everett/

The show, presented by Paul Gambaccini, will be broadcast on BBC Radio 2 on the 21st December at 10pm. 

Tea with the Rutles!

In 1995 I had the great pleasure of interviewing Nasty, Stig and Barry of the Rutles, otherwise known as Neil Innes, Rikki Fataar and John Halsey. Their new album ‘Archeology’ had just come out and I talked to them at the Virgin Records headquarters in London. Here is the article I wrote from that interview – as it first appeared in Off the Beatle Track in 1996.

The Rutles – Mythology

For those who weren’t around in those heady days of the 60s, here is a brief history of the Rutles – as told by Gilda Radner in ‘All You Need is Cash’

‘The Rutles were an English pop quartet of the 60s who set the foot of the world a tapping with their catchy melodies, wacky Liverpool humour and zany off the wall antics, epitomised by their films ‘A Hard Day’s Rut’ and ‘Ouch!’ Dirk and Nasty, the acknowledged leaders of the group were perfectly complemented by Stig, the quiet one, and Barry, the noisy one, to form a heart warming, cheeky, loveable, talented, non-Jewish group who gladdened the hearts of the world. In 1962 they played the Cavern, after that they spent several months in Hamburg. Then in 1962 they released their first single, ‘Twist and Rut”.

The Rutles went on to be a legend in their own lunchtime but things started badly when they started their own business, Rutle Corps. The idea was for people to help themselves. Unfortunately people helped themselves to Rutle Corps’ money for years. In the end things got so bad within the group that Dirk and Nasty got married. Rutle Corps started losing more money than the British Government. At the last meeting of Rutle Corps 134 legal people and accountants filed into a small 8 by 10 room. At the end only 87 came out alive. Savile Row had taken its toll on the best merchant banking brains of a generation. Luckily that’s not too serious. However during the legal wrangling and public bickering ‘Let it Rot’ was released as a film, record and a lawsuit. In December 1970 Dirk sued Stig and Nasty; Barry sued Dirk; Nasty sued Stig and Barry; and Stig sued himself accidentally. It was the end of an era. However, amid squabbles and lawsuits, the band were recording a new album. The project was abandoned and the master tapes were buried. Literally.

As was widely reported at the time, all of the tapes were placed in a time capsule and buried in a secret location. Announcing that action, a spokesman for The Rutles stated that this was “to thwart bootleggers. And tax authorities.” Furthermore, the capsule would “stay buried for a thousand years.” He added that the album wouldn’t be released unless it was “discovered by archaeologists or whoever digs these things up.” This led to Rutles fans dubbing the interred recordings the ‘Archaeology’ tapes.

Asked why the legendary tapes have been dug up by The Rutles themselves, a mere 26 years later, Rutles member Ron Nasty stated simply, “Things change.” All further queries have been referred to the band’s accountants.

The new Archaeology album comes at a time when interest in The Rutles is at an all-time high. Many of today’s hottest bands, including Oasis, Pulp, Blur, Smashing Pumpkins, Gin Blossoms, and Soul Asylum, cite The Rutles as a major influence.

Not addressed in The Rutles announcement is whether the band will reunite to record any new tracks or perform live. Apart from their famous rooftop concert, seen in the ‘All You Need Is Cash ‘ documentary, the band has not given a public performance since 1966.

The Rutles Reunion – the Real Story

In September 1994 there was an official celebration of Monty Python’s 25th anniversary held in Los Angeles. It took the shape of a film and TV festival – and included the presentation of various spin-off projects – including the Rutles film.

As an adjunct to the festival Neil Innes performed a show of Rutles music – in character of Ron Nasty. Teaming up with local Beatles Tribute band, The MopTops, the concert was jokingly billed as a performance by Ron Nasty and the New Rutles. The show, held at the legendary Troubadour club in Los Angeles, was an immediate sell out, and a second show was added – which also sold out.

Critical and public acclaim was glowing – and was a major factor in inspiring this first-ever reunion of the original performing Rutles. (the Los Angeles Times Review of the show described the concert as ‘Fabulous! Beatles music from a parallel universe! Among the stars in attendance at the shows were new Beatles producer Jeff Lynne, Julian Lennon, Seal and Spinal Tap member Harry Shearer. Long time Neil Innes friend and Rutles fan George Harrison was unable to attend the shows – but sent a special greeting to be read to the audiences – and insisted on Innes giving him a first hand account of the shows when he returned to England.

In Rutles mythology, the ‘Archaeology’ album consists of disinterred tapes of the group’s abandoned last album – which had been buried in a time capsule. In reality the album was freshly created in the spring and summer of 1996. Neil Innes reassembled all of the original team responsible for creating the original Rutles music.

Multi-instrumentalist Ricky Fataar, who in recent years has been the studio and touring drummer for many top musicians, including Bonnie Raitt and Boz Scaggs, returned to reprise his Stig O’Hara role. On the new album, he contributes lead and backing vocals, guitars and drums. Drummer John Halsey returned to perform as the Rutles own Barry Wom -and contributes both drumming and his distinctive Barry Wom vocals. Neil Innes, who again wrote all of the words and music of the 16 new Rutles songs, contributes lead and backing vocals, guitars and keyboards.

Interestingly the ‘Archaeology’ album has a genuine parallel with The Beatles ‘Anthology’ albums it affectionately lampoons. Original ‘4th Rutle’ – guitarist/singer Ollie Halsall, who was the key fourth musician in the recording of the original album, passed away tragically at the age of 43 – in 1992. In preparing material for this new album, Neil Innes uncovered master tapes of the rehearsal sessions he had organised in 1977 to prepare the Rutles for their album. Buried within these tapes he discovered two complete songs which had been fully rehearsed and performed – but which were not subsequently recorded for the album. He also discovered a backing track to a third song – which had not been completed.

Since all the tracks were very in line with the new material he was writing and assembling for the new album – and, with added poignancy, featured the original Rutles line-up – he decided to incorporate the tracks in the new album. The two completed songs – We’ve arrived! (And to Prove it We’re Here) and Now She’s Left You were left intact – including humorous false starts – and were simply restored. The uncompleted backing track was used as the basis for a new song entitled Unfinished Words.

The Archeology LP

The ‘Archaeology’ is a very enjoyable album. Neil Innes’ personal style is a lot more evident on the Archaeology than on the original LP – especially in the lyrics. In fact Neil wrote a number of the songs long before the second Rutles LP was thought of – he even sung a few (i.e. Eine Kleine Middle Klasse Music) on his 1980s TV show ‘Innes Book of Records’. However in those days the songs didn’t have a Beatlesque backing. The LP opens with perhaps the most obvious Beatles ‘copy’ – Major Happy, which is based on Sgt Pepper. It even starts with an orchestra warming up. Major Happy segues into the Barry Wom sang tune called Rendezvous. Not surprisingly it is based on With a Little Help from my Friends but with a few piano bits similar to Good Day Sunshine. The harmonies on Rendezvous are spot on – certainly a feature of the entire album. The call and response section here is funny. When the backing singers start answering Barry sings ‘who invited you to sing along?’ and when they sing ‘We were only trying to help’ Barry sings ‘I don’t want any help!’

The next song Questionnaire strongly resembles I am the Walrus musically – but here is where the similarities end – the song is very Innesesque song -sung from the point of view of a questionnaire.

We’ve Arrived (and to Prove it We’re Here) was one of the outakes from the first LP. It’s based around Back in the USSR (complete with airplane noise). It’s obvious this version wasn’t meant to be the final take as there is a false start and the ‘ooos’ are incredibly out of tune. However if anything the fun the band are having more than makes up for this. The atmosphere on the track is very similar to And Your Bird Can Sing on ‘Anthology 2’.

Lonely Phobia is an acoustic based track and one of my favourite tracks on the ‘Archaeology’. The musical style isn’t so easy to pin down to one Beatles song as others – in fact it sounds almost Wilburyish. The backing tracks for Unfinished Works were recorded by the original Rutles and Neil Innes built this new song around them. It has nonsense lyrics and mentions legendary unreleased Beatles songs like Colliding Circles and Pink Litmus Paper Shirt..Incidently, these song titles were made up by Martin Lewis, a Beatles afficionado who is also great friends with the Rutles.

Easy Listening is a classic Ringo/Barry Wom song -a bit like Act Naturally. It’s an incredibly catchy song and you’ll be singing the chorus for days after hearing it.

Now She’s Left You was the second complete song from the original sessions -it’s an early period Beatles pastiche and very catchy. Knicker Elastic King has a classic Neil Innes lyric with a backing similar to Penny Lane, and I Love You is early period Beatles. Eine Kleine Middle Klasse Music is an old Innes song which he sang at the Liverpool Beatles Convention a few years ago – as is Joe Public. Here Eine Kleine sounds like Come Together and Joe Public like Tomorrow Never Knows. Shangri-La is the first single from the LP and an obvious one at that. An incredibly catchy song with a backing that is almost a condensed version of the whole of the ‘Sgt Pepper’ LP. The long singalong fadeout at the end is a cross between Hey Jude and All You Need is Love (or should that be Love Life. This song deserves to be a hit but whether it will get the necessary airplay remains to be seen.

The last two tracks I Don’t Know Why and Back in 64 are a bit of an anti-climax but overall the LP is great and highly recommended. The Pre-Fab Four are back with a vengeance.

Tea With the Rutles

It was a great honour to meet the ‘prefab three’ over tea and biscuits at Virgin Records recently. Stig, Nasty and Barry (alias Neil Innes, John Halsey and Rikki Faatar) chatted about the old days of the Rutles and the new ‘Archeaology’ LP. It was a very amusing half hour with the three guys and with them regularly going in and out of character it was like interviewing six people.

I first asked the Rutles how they got together. Nasty said ‘according to Eric Idle we bumped into each other at a quayside and discussed haircuts’
‘We still do’ added Barry, ‘especially from my salon days’
‘We spend too much time talking about hair which is why we’ve taken so long to put out another album’ said Nasty.
I asked them whether they had something to say to Brian Thigh, the guy that turned down the Rutles.
‘Yeh, thanks for the pizza – keep the change’ said Nasty.
‘Don’t forget to set your runner bean flowers in cold weather’ said Barry.

I then asked the Rutles about what they’d been doing since the Rutles. Barry said ‘I had a hair dressing Empire, the Hackney Empire. However after a berserk lady customer run amok with hot curling tongs and I suffered a terrible injury I sold the empire.

Stig said ‘I’ve been with lots of airlines since ‘Air India’ When asked whether he was still with Arthur Sultan, the Surrey Mystic, Barry butted in ‘No, he’s mainly under the influence of red wine!’

Nasty is no longer with Chastity but they became firm friends after she gave up the Nazi stuff. She changed he name to Gwen Taylor and went on to become a famous and very talented actress.

Neil Innes (as himself) told me that George Harrison was a big influence on the original Rutles film. ‘He was in on it up to his neck!’ said Neil. ‘George thought of all the Fabs it would be great idea to have a jokey biography because pressures on them at that time to get back together were emormous and unbearable – it wasn’t a very pleasant time for them. The others also saw the fun of it and agreed to let us have footage’. George also arranged them to see the original ‘Long and Winding Road’ film. ‘It was a great help’, said Neil, ‘ because the true story makes you very depressed – so that’s why it needed a silly band to tell the story’.

George has also been supported of the Rutles comeback. ‘Like all The Beatles’,said Neil, ‘they want to get everything out of the cupboard and say ‘that’s it,that’s us!’ We we said to him about the Rutles, because lots people were asking me about us doing something, he said ‘It’s all part of the soup’.

Of course it is no coincidence the ‘Archaeology’ is coming out close to the Beatles ‘Anthology’. However as Neil remembers, ‘The last Rutles LP came out the same day as Paul’s ‘London Town’. At the press conference he gave they were just asking him about the Rutles. I did apologise to him about it. This time it doesn’t matter though as we’re all cleaning out our cupboards’.

The similarity between the Rutles and The Beatles is no coincidence, but led to a strange thing happening. ‘A guy from NME rang me up one day and said, ‘Mr Innes, we’ve got in our possession a Beatles bootleg and there’s a Rutles song on it. What have you got to say?’ I said ‘What’s it like?’ They played it to me over the phone and it was the version of Cheese and Onions I did for ‘Saturday Night Live’

Both John Halsey and Neil Innes had encounters with the Fabs before the Rutles. ‘I met Paul McCartney once in a Wimpey Bar in Piccadilly in 1964’ remembered Barry. ‘I was a teenager then. It was a Sunday night and the bar was packed. Paul walked in and was looking around for somewhere to sit and saw 2 chairs at our table at came over. We chatted for a while and he said it was nice to meet us and paid for our burgers and shakes. When we left we got as many funny looks has he did. As soon as we walked out a stranger came up to us and said ‘I’ve got two tickets to the London Paladium for tonight to see Sammy Davis, would you like them?’ So I saw met Paul McCartney and saw Sammy Davis in the same night. I’ve been up to Piccadilly every week since but nothing’s happened!’

Neil Innes was part of the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band. He remembers how they got to appear in ‘Magical Mystery Tour’. ‘It was through Mike McCartney’ said Neil, ‘The Bonzos and Mike’s group ‘The Scaffold’ used to bump in to each other a lot at gigs and became friends. Mike suggested to Paul that this silly band would be good for the film so we went along. Viv used to hang out with John Lennon a lot in clubs. It was at a club that Viv was moaning to Paul that our producer only let us spend two hours on each track and they weren’t finished. So Paul came down and produced ‘I’m the Urban Spaceman’ for us and did a great job.’

We finally got around to talking about the ‘Archeaology’ LP. Neil said the main inspiration to do it was from Rutles fans. ‘It was nice that people kept the Rutles music alive’ he said. ‘Because the Fabs were putting out the Anthology people asked us if we were going to do anything. This time around though we have have to acknowldege The Beatles did exist – the first time we didn’t to tell the story’.

Some of the tracks on the ‘Archeaology’ were written some time ago. ‘Shangri-la is as old as Cheese and Onions ‘ said Neil. Knicker Elastic King. was in ‘The Innes Book of Records’ and part of Rendevous was written when I was in the Bonzos – but I didn’t finish it then.’ This time the songs are more in Neil’s style than before. ‘You’ve got to remember that the first time we had to be accurate to the story. There were obvious musical signposts in the Beatles career. This time we had more freedom and we didn’t spent so much time trying to sound like old fashioned recordings.’

‘We really missed Ollie Halsall who sang on the first one, but we’ve got him on the archive tracks. We’ve done the best we can singing wise between us but he had the best singing voice of all of us. Though it’s widely tipped that Barry Wom is going to be made male vocalist of 1997’ ‘I’ve been nominated for a Granny!’ Inturrupts Barry.

When asked about the possibility of live performances Neil said ‘It depends on how the LP goes – but we could certainly do the songs live’. ‘Its been 20 years since the last LP’ said John, ‘If we wait any longer we’ll be making dead appearances! Here they are – the Rutles dead on stage!’

The video for Shangri-la was recently done in the US. However Neil said ‘Its a bit of a mess but hopefully there’s something there in the edit. Lots of people said they’d like to be in the video and we thought it would be nice to have some lookalikes too. We had Columbo, Madonna, Woopie Goldberg, Rod Stewart, Pat Boone…’ ‘No he was real!’ added John. There is a possibility of Rutles TV appearances in the UK and US.

All too soon it was time to say goodbye. While the interview was going on Rikki Faatar (alias Stig) was living up to his ‘quiet one’ image by laying on a sofa. he was suffering from jet lag. When I asked for some pictures, rather than Rikki having to get up John and Neil joined him on the sofa!

Neil’s final message was ‘We’re very happy to be together again’ while John said ‘This LP is dedicated to John, Paul, George and Ringo’.

The Rutles after a long tea session
The Rutles after a long tea session

Blogger Richard Porter is a professional London Beatles Tour Guide. For more info on his tours, see http://www.beatlesinlondon.com

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

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