When the Beatles first came to London, they immediately started socialising with London celebrities. As well as going to clubs, the Beatles would of course go to people’s homes. A regular venue was Flat 44 Stafford Court, Kensington High Steet, where Alma Cogan and her mother and sister lived. The Beatles met Alma when they appeared on Sunday Night at the London Palladium on January 12th 1964. Alma was not admired by the Beatles before they met. In fact John Lennon used to make horrible jokes against her and pull crazy expressions on his face to try to imitate her. However, their attitude changed when they met her in person. They all got on like a house on fire, and Alma invited them all back to her flat that she shared with her mother and sister, in Kensington High Street.
The Beatles certainly weren’t the first showbusiness stars to visit Stafford Court. Other celebrities that had gone there included, Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant, Sir Noel Coward, Ethel Merman, Danny Kaye and Sammy Davis Jr.
Ironically, it was John Lennon that got on with Alma the best. In fact, it has been alleged that they embarked on a secret affair. Cynthia Lennon said to a would-be biographer that she didn’t lose John to Yoko Ono, she lost him to Alma Cogan.
It wasn’t long after they met that Paul McCartney played a tune to Alma and her sister, Sandra, that he had in his head when he had woken one morning in his bedroom in the Asher family home.
As he sat playing the still wordless tune to Alma and Sandra, their mother Fay walked into the living room and asked if anyone would like some scrambled eggs. McCartney sang the words on top of the melody, improvising for the next line: “Oh baby, how I love your legs.”
When Paul finally got around to writing proper words to the tune, it became ‘Yesterday.
As well as at the London Palladium show, the Beatles and Alma Cogan also appeared together on the top pop TV show ‘Ready Steady go’. John Lennon was supposed to introduce his alleged lover’s new record ‘Tennessee Waltz’ but inexplicably got her name wrong – calling her ‘Alma Warren’, mixing up her name up with that of a plugger for EMI records.
Brian Epstein also had a close friendship with Alma. There was even speculation that they were to marry, especially after he took Alma home to Liverpool to meet his parents. However, of course, Brian was gay.
Tragically, Alma Cogan died from Ovarian 26 October, at the age of 34. It’s said that John Lennon was devastated. Two weeks later, in a vulnerable state, John met Yoko Ono…
Blogger Richard Porter is a professional Beatles tour guide in London. For details on his tours go to http://www.beatlesinlondon.com