JOHN: If they want things like 'Sally' and 'Beethoven', we can do that standing on our ears. We might change the programme for the Olimpia tomorrow, and put it some of the early rock numbers we used to do in Hamburg and at the Cavern - like 'Sweet Little Sixteen' and things. Easy.
We have a lot to live up to, especially being top of the bill at the Olympia. If we opened the show and didn't do so well, then we wouldn't have too much to live down, particularly as there are other acts following us. But topping the bill - well, let's hope it all works out.64
GEORGE: In January 1964 we played several concerts in Paris. The French audience was dreadful.
WE HAD VISIONS OF ALL THESE FRENCH GIRLS, 'OOH LÀ LÀ,' AND ALL THAT, BUT THE AUDIENCE, AT LEAST ON THE OPENING NIGHT, WAS ALL TUXEDOED ELDERLY PEOPLE. AND A BUNCH OF SLIGHTLY GAY-LOOKING BOYS WERE HANGING ROUND THE STAGE DOOR SHOUTING, 'RINGO, RINGO!' AND CHASING OUR CAR. WE DIDN'T SEE ANY OF THE BRIGITTE BARDOTS THAT WE WERE EXPECTING.
RINGO: These boys chased us all over Paris. Before, we'd been more used to girls. The audience was a roar instead of a scream; it was a bit like when we played Stowe boys' school.
GEORGE: The sound went off in the hall all the equipment blew up because it had been fused by the radio people (who were broadcasting us live without telling us).
It was all very disappointing, although it was made up for by our having, for the first time in our lives, the most enormous hotel suites, all with grand marble bathrooms. I think we were given two adjoining suits, with rooms that went on for ever.
Bill Corbett, our chauffeur then and a very nice fellow, wanted to be with us in Paris, so he told us he could speak French. He said, 'Oh, yeah, I speak it fluently, Paul.' So we sent him over on the boat with the car, and we flew over and he met us there.
RINGO: He said, 'Yes boys, you don't want to go over there with those frogs, they'll con you into all sorts of things. Let me go over there and I'll drive you round and interpret.' And we, of course, being so naive, said 'OK'.
When we got to Paris he stopped a policeman, and the first words out of his mouth were, 'Oi! May I park ici?'
GEORGE: One of us asked him for some honey, because his throat was getting sore and he needed a soothing drink, and Bill went up to a waiter and said, 'Avez-vous... er, buzz-buzz?'
RINGO: We'd been done again. But Bill could get us anything - I remember once sending him for a selection of green socks. When George bought his house in Esher, with a swimming pool, he'd said to Bill, 'I'd like an eighty-foot diving stage.' And Bill had said, 'Sure, I'll have it round here in the morning, Mr Harrison. It will be right here. So anything we wanted, he was good at getting for us.
GEORGE MARTIN: When they were appearing at the Olympia Theatre I went over to Paris and arranged to record them in the EMI studio there. They were to record German versions of 'She Loves You' and 'I Want To Hold Your Hand'.
The German record company's head of A&R had told me that The Beatles would never sell records in Germany unless they actually sang in German. I was disinclined to believe this, but that's what he said and I told The Beatles. They laughed: 'That's absolute rubbish.' So I said,'Well, if we want to sell records in Germany, that's what we've got to do.' So they agreed to record in German. I mean, really it was rubbish, but the company sent over one Otto Demmlar to help coach them in German. He prepared the translation of the lyrics, and 'She Loves You' became 'Sie Liebt Dich' - not terribly subtle!
On the appointed day I was waiting with Otto at the studios and they didn't turn up. It was the first time in my experience with them that they had let me down, so I rang the George V Hotel where they were staying, and Neil Aspinall answered. He said, 'I'm sorry, they're not coming, they asked me to tell you.' I said, 'You mean to tell me they're telling you to tell me? They're not telling me themselves?' - 'That's right.' - 'I'm coming right over,' I said.
So I went to see them and I had Otto with me. I was really angry and stormed in to find they were all having tea in the centre of the room. (They were after all, very charming people.) It was rather like the Mad Hatter's Tea Party with Alice in Wonderland in the form of Jane Asher, with long hair, in the middle pouring tea.
As soon as I entered they exploded in all directions; they ran behind couches and chairs and one put a lampshade over his head. Then from behind the sofa and chairs came a chorus of: 'Sorry George, sorry George, sorry George...' I had to laugh. I said, 'You are bastards, aren't you? Are you going to apologise to Otto?' And they said, 'Sorry Otto, sorry Otto...'
They finally agreed to come down to the studio and work. They did record two songs in German. They were the only things they have ever done in a foreign language. And they didn't need to anyway. They were quite right. The records would have sold in English, and did.
NEIL ASPINALL: Whilst we were at the George V Hotel, a lot of exciting things were happening. As well as George Martin being there for the German recordings, Derek Taylor was around interviewing George for the Daily Express column he was doing for him. John was working on his second book, A Spaniard in the Works. At the same time they'd just got Dylan's first album and David Wynne was there, too; he did the sculptures of The Beatles' heads.
The Beatles played for three weeks at the Olympia, which apart from the Cavern and their stints in Hamburg, was the longest time they appeared at any single venue.
GEORGE: One of the most memorable things of the trip for me was that we had a copy of Bob Dylan's Freewheelin' album, which we played constantly.
JOHN: I think that was the first time I ever heard Dylan at all. I think Paul got the record from a French DJ. We were doing a radio thing there and the guy had the record in the studio. Paul said, 'Oh, I keep hearing about this guy,' or he'd heard it, I'm not sure - and we tool it back to the hotel.70 And for the rest of our three weeks in Paris we didn't stop playing it. We all went potty on Dylan.
The first time you hear Dylan you think you're the first to discover him. But quite a lot of people had discovered him before us.64
DEREK TAYLOR: I got to Paris in 1964 to do George's column. He said, 'To make this column interesting, let's go out. We'll go to a nightclub and we'll go up the Eifell Tower. We'll do French things.' They were new to travelling then. It was all new.
By Paris I was getting to be trusted, and one night John said to me, 'Are you pretending to be from Liverpool or something?' We were the last up and we'd had a few drinks and that's how the conversation took this difficult turn. I said, 'I don't know about pretending, but anyway, I am from Liverpool.' He said, 'Yeah, born in Manchester.' I said, 'Well, that's a narrow way of looking at it. At the moment I live in Manchester. A lot of people are not born where they happen to live later. I was born in Liverpool, lived in West Kirby; my wife's from Birkenhead.'
All this was local stuff, and it was surprisingly quick to get under that harsh exterior of John's to find a nice chap with whom (once you had proven you weren't from Manchester and therefore useless) you could have quite a pleasant conversation on a variety of subjects. None of which I remember, because we did get very drunk together. I enjoyed that night a lot, just him and me.
GEORGE: Besides the German versions of two songs, I remember recording 'Can't Buy Me Love'. We took the tapes from that back to England to do some work on them. I once read something that tries to analyse 'Can't Buy Me Love', talking about the double-track guitar - mine - and saying that it's not very good because you can hear the original one. What happened was that we recorded first in Paris and re-recorded in England. Obviously they'd tried to overdub it, but in those days they only had two tracks, so you can hear the version we put on in London, and in the background you can hear a quieter one.
GEORGE MARTIN: I thought that we really needed a tag for the song's ending, and a tag for the beginning; a kind of intro. So I took the first few lines of the chorus and changed the ending, and said, 'Let's just have these lines, and by altering the end of the second phrase we can get back into the verse pretty quickly.' And they said, 'That's not a bad idea, we'll do it that way.'
PAUL: PERSONALLY, I THINK YOU CAN PUT ANY INTERPRETATION YOU WANT ON ANYTHING, BUT WHEN SOMEONE SUGGESTS THAT 'CAN'T BUY ME LOVE' IS ABOUT A PROSTITUTE, I DRAW THE LINE. THAT'S GOING TOO FAR.
One night we arrived back at the hotel from the Olympia when a telegram came through to Brian from Capitol Records of America. He came running in to the room saying, 'Hey, look. You are Number One in America!' 'I Want To Hold Your Hand' had gone to Number One.
Well, I can't describe our response. We all tried to climb onto Big Mal's back to go round the hotel suite: 'Wey-hey!' And that was it, we didn't come down for a week.
RINGO: We couldn't believe it. We all just started acting like people from Texas, hollering and shouting, 'Ya-hoo!' I think that was the night we finished up sitting on a bench by the Seine; just the four of us and Neil. In those days we'd promise Neil Ј20,000 if he'd go for a swim. he'd go for a swim and we'd say, 'No, sorry.'
GEORGE: We knew we had a better chance of having a hit because we were finally with Capitol Records and they had to promote it. The smaller labels that had put out our earlier records didn't really promote them very much.
There had been cover stories on European Beatlemania in Life and Newsweek and other Magazines, so it wasn't too difficult a job for Capitol to follow through. And the song itself was very catchy, anyway.
JOHN: I like 'I Want To Hold Your Hand', it's a beautiful melody.70 I remember when we got the chord that made that song. We were in Jane Asher's house, downstairs in the cellar, playing on the piano at the same time, and we had, 'Oh, you-u-u... got that something...'
AND PAUL HITS THIS CHORD AND I TURN TO HIM AND SAY, 'THAT'S IT! DO THAT AGAIN!' IN THOSE DAYS, WE REALLY USED TO ABSOLUTELY WRITE LIKE THAT - BOTH PLAYING INTO EACH OTHER'S NOSES.80
GEORGE: It was such a buzz to find that it had gone to Number One. We went out to dinner that evening with Brian and George Martin. George took us to a place which was a vault, with huge barrels of wine around. It was a restaurant and its theme was... well, the bread rolls were shaped like penises, the soup was served out of chamber pots and the chocolate ice cream was like a big turd. And the waiter came round and tied garters on all the girls' legs. I've seen some pictures of us. There is a photograph around of Brian with the pot on his head.
It was a great feeling because we were booked to go to America directly after the Paris trip, so it was handy to have a Number One. We'd already been hired by Ed Sullivan, so if it had been a Number Two or Number Ten we'd have gone anyway; but it was nice to have a Number One.
We did have three records out in America before this one. The others were on two different labels. It was only after all the publicity and the Beatlemania in Europe that Capitol Records decided, 'Oh, we will have them.' They put out 'I Want To Hold Your Hand' as our first single, but in fact it was our fourth.
PAUL: 'From Me To You' was released - a flop in America. 'She Loves You' - a big hit in England, big Number One in England - a flop in the USA. 'Please Please Me' released over there - flop. Nothing until 'I Want To Hold Your Hand'.
JOHN: The things is, in America, it just seemed ridiculous - I mean, the iea of having a hit record over there. It was just something you could never do. That's what I thought, anyhow. But then I realised that kids everywhere all go for the same stuff; and seeing we'd done it in England, there's no reason why we couldn't do it in America, too. But the American disc jockeys didn't know about British records; they didn't play them, nobody promoted them, so you didn't have hits.
It wasn't until Time and Newsweek came over and wrote articles and created an interest in us that disc jockeys started playing our records. And Capitol said, 'Well, can we have their records?' They had been offered our records years ago, and they didn't want them - but when they heard we were big over here they said, 'Can we have them now?' We said, 'As long as you promote them.' So Capitol promoted, and with them and all these articles on us, the records just took off.
DEREK TAYLOR: I was now accepted by John. George and I had got along very well right from the start. He never did that 'you're from Manchester' stuff. He was anxious to please, and still is. If he is committed to something, he does it with enormous thoroughness. He has rather a 'Straight-ahead' way. So my 'in' through George was very comfortable. I didn't know Ringo at all then, and Paul stood back a bit - he was very nice though. We seemed to have a lot in common: Merseyside grammar school boys, different ages, but we sort of fitted.
It was obvious to me in Paris that they were going to be red hot. They'd reached Number One in the Cashbox chart with 'I Want To Hold Your Hand', and the mania was spreading ahead of them. I did George's final before-America column, a 'tomorrow the world' kind of thing: 'Tonight we conquered Versailles, and by implication, all of France fell... How New York will view our visit, we can only guess!'
But the Daily Express didn't send me to America. They said, 'We've got David English there, he's the American correspondent.' I thought, 'He doesn't know them, he doesn't understand them, I'm the only one who understands them, I know these people.' However, I was asked to help Brian Epstein with his book and we went down to Torquay for four days and wrote a pot-boiler - A Cellarful of Noise. And he said on the third day, 'I've had a lovely, lovely idea Derek, I want you to join us.'
I thought this was incredible. I'd given up the idea of joining them for the time being, thinking, 'If it happens, it happens.' So after about fifteen years on newspapers I dropped out and joined The Beatles as Brian's personal assistant, and eventually became The Beatles' press officer.
BRIAN EPSTEIN: We knew that America would make us or break us as world stars. In fact, she made us.64
RINGO: Things used to fall fight for us as a band. We couldn't stop it. The gods were on our side. We were fabulous musicians, we had great writers; it wasn't like a piece of shit was being helped, and things just fell into place. We were doing countries: we'd conquered Sweden, we'd conquered France, we conquered Spain and Italy; but we were worried about America.
George was the only one of us who'd been before and he'd been into record shops there and asked, 'Have you got The Beatles' records?' We had three out, on Vee-Jay and Swan, but nobody had them, or had even heard of us. He came back and said, 'They don't know us, it's going to be hard.' We were used to being famous by then, so we were worried about that.
But the deal went down with Capitol. Then Ed Sullivan was getting off a plane at Heathrow at the same time that we were getting off one from Sweden, saw all the fans at the airport and booked us on the spot. He didn't know us and we didn't know him.
All these forces started working so that when we landed in the US the record was Number One. We were booked five months ahead and you can't plan that kind of thing. We got off the plane and it was just like being at home, millions of kids again.
JOHN: We didn't think we stood a chance. We didn't imagine it at all. Cliff went to America and died. He was fourteenth on the bill with Frankie Avalon.67 When we cmae over the first time, we were only coming over to buy LPs. I know our manager had plans for Ed Sullivan shows but we thought at least we could hear the sounds when we came over. It was just out of the dark. That's the truth; it was so out of the dark, we were knocked out.64
GEORGE: I'd been to America before, being the experienced Beatle that I was. I went to New York and St Louis in 1963, to look around, and to the countryside in Illinois, where my sister was living at the time. I went to record stores. I bought Booker T and the MGs' first album, Green Onions, and I bought some Bobby Bland, all kind of things.
Before we left for America for that first Beatle visit, Brian Epstein had said to Capitol, 'You can have The Beatles on condition that you spend thirty dollars advertising them.' And they did. It was actually something like $50,000, which sounded enormous. That was part of the deal.
PAUL: I think the money was mainly spent in LA getting people like Janet Leigh to wear Beatle wigs and be photographed in them, which started it all. Once a film star did that, it could get syndicated all across America: 'Look at this funny picture; Janet Leigh in this wacko wig - the "moptop" wig.' And so the whole 'moptop' thing started there. And it did get us noticed.
There were millions of kids at the airport, which nobody had expected. We heard about it in mid-air. There were journalists on the plane, and the pilot had rang ahead and said, 'Tell the boys there's a big crowd waiting for them.' We thought, 'Wow! God, we have really made it.'
I remember, for instance, the great moment of getting into the limo and putting on the radio, and hearing a running commentary on us: 'They have just left the airport and are coming towards New York City...' It was like a dream. The greatest fantasy ever.
RINGO: IT WAS SO EXCITING. ON THE PLANE, FLYING IN TO THE AIRPORT, I FELT AS THOUGH THERE WAS A BIG OCTOPUS WITH TENTACLES THAT WERE GRABBING THE PLANE AND DRAGGING US DOWN INTO NEW YORK. AMERICA WAS THE BEST.
It was a dream, coming from Liverpool.
I loved it. The radio was hip and bopping, the TV was on, we were going to clubs. And they loved Ringo over there. That's why it was so great for me, because when we got to America it wasn't JOHN, PAUL, GEORGE and Ringo; half the time RINGO, PAUL, GEORGE and JOHN, or whatever. Suddenly it was equal.
NEIL ASPINALL: It has since been reported that their American record company had promised that every person who turned up at the airport would be given a dollar bill and a T-shirt. What really happened was that the receptionists at Capitol Records would answer the phone, 'Capitol Records - The Beatles are coming.' There was a lot of mention on the radio, too: 'The Beatles are coming!' It was the people handling the Beatles merchandise at the time who were offering the free T-shirt. I had no idea about that at the time, and it was nothing to do with the record company.
NEIL ASPINALL: George had tonsillitis and didn't go to rehearsals for The Ed Sullivan Show. I stood in for him so that they could mark where everyone would stand, and I had a guitar strapped round me. It wasn't plugged in (nobody was plying anything) and it was amazing to read in a major American magazine a few days later that I 'played a mean guitar'.
The Beatles recorded a set in the afternoon, which was to be broadcast after they left, and then played a live Ed Sullivan Show that night.
GEORGE: I had a bad throat and that's why I'm missing from the publicity shots in Central Park. There are pictures of just the three of them with the New York skyline behind. (The same with the rehearsal for Ed Sullivan: there are pictures of them rehearsing without me.) I could never figure out how, with swarms of people everywhere, with the mania going on, they actually did get out into the park for a photo session.
RINGO: The main thing I was aware of when we did the first Ed Sullivan Show was that we rehearsed all afternoon. TV had such bad sound equipment (it has still today, usually, but then it was really bad) that we would tape our rehearsals and then go up and mess with the dials in the control booth. We got it all set with the engineer there, and then we went off for a break.
The story has it that while we were out, the cleaner came in to clean the room and the console, thought, 'What are all these chalk marks?' and wiped them all off. So our plans just went out the window. We had a real hasty time trying to get the sound right.
GEORGE: We were aware that Ed Sullivan was the big one because we got a telegram from Elvis and the Colonel. And I've heard that while the show was on there were no reported crimes, or very few. When The Beatles were on Ed Sullivan, even the criminals had a rest for ten minutes.
PAUL: Seventy-three million people were reported to have watched the first show. it is still supposed to be one of the largest viewing audiences ever in the States.
It was very important. We came out of nowhere with funny hair, looking like marionettes or something. That was very influential. I think that was really one of the big things that broke us - the hairdo more than the music, originally. A lot of people's fathers had wanted to turn us off. They told their kids, 'Don't be fooled, they're wearing wigs.'
JOHN: If we do, they must be the only ones with real dandruff!
PAUL: A lot of fathers did turn it off, but a lot of mothers and children made them keep it on. All these kids are now grown-up, and telling us they remember it. It's like, 'Where were you when Kennedy was shot?' I get people like Dan Aykroyd saying, 'Oh man, I remember that Sunday night; we didn't know what had hit us - just sitting there watching Ed Sullivan's show.' Up until then there were jugglers and comedians like Jerry Lewis, and then, suddenly, The Beatles!
JOHN: They're wild; they're all wild. They just all seem out of their minds. I've never seen anything like it in my life. We just walk through it like watching a film. You feel as though it's something that's happening to somebody else, especially when you spot George and you think, 'Oh, that's George with all those people climbing all over him.'
They've got so many programmes and we got on all the news. It was ridiculous. At first we had no idea, then when we got the first couple of hits we thought, 'Well, this is it, we'll probably flop now.' But we just seem to go on and on and on. Never in a million years did we think anything like this.
They expect you to be a big-time star, but I think most people prefer us being the way we are. They come in biased. Then we'll just be natural with them and they seem pleased. That's all we do: if we're tired, we look tired, if we're happy, we're happy; we don't kid on. If we're feeling a bit 'off' that day, we say to them, 'I'm feeling a bit "off", I'm sorry, I won't be quick-witted.'64
PAUL: A new York DJ, Murray the K, was the man most onto the Beatle case; he had seen it coming and grabbed hold of it. Actually he was just a cheeky journalist who asked a few cheeky questions at the front of the press conference, instead of standing back and being aloof. His way was: 'Hey, OK, you guys? What do you think of... ?'
We were very impressed and we used to ring his radio show when he was on the air. We would give him all the exclusives because we loved him. And he had package shows on the road so he could talk about people like Smokey Robinson, who he'd met. Smokey Robinson was like God in our eyes.
GEORGE: I've often wondered how Murray could barge into the room and hang out with us for the entire trip. It's funny, really, I never quite understood how he did that.
RINGO: Murray the K was as mad as a hatter, a fabulous guy, a great DJ, and he knew his music. We practically killed him off, because he would come on the tour with us and hang about all the time we were up and about. Then we would pass out and go to sleep; and he would then have to start doing his shows. He was living on twenty minutes of sleep a night. We could see this man just go, disappearing in front of our eyes.
In New York there was him, and the DJ Cousin Brucie. Murray became the so-called 'fifth Beatle', because he was really big on playing our record: he helped to make it a hit.
NEIL ASPINALL: We were all pretty naive when we arrived in America. We didn't know about advertising and all of that. People were pulling all sorts of strokes. There would be a press conference with big billiards behind, advertising something or other, and we'd not notice.
In England at that time there was only one radio station, the BBC. In the States you had radio stations coming out of your ears and they were hit on by all the DJs. Murray the K was from WINS in New York City, but there were loads of them. They would follow the guys into the lift with their microphones and, as they'd be talking to them, the conversation would be broadcast out of their hand-held radios.
The Beatles would ask, 'What radio station are you from?' and the DJ would tell them, which would promote the station. Then the other stations would get uptight, but as The Beatles did it for everybody anyway (because they didn't know any different), nobody could really complain. And they'd listen to the radio all the time, and call to request records.
JOHN: We were so overawed by American radio, Epstein had to stop us: we phoned every radio [station] in town, saying, 'Will you play the Ronettes doing this?' We wanted to hear the music. We didn't ask for our own records, we asked for other people's.74 In the old days we listened to Elvis, of course, Chuck Berry, Carl Perkins, Little Richard and Eddie Cochran, to name but a few; but now we liked Marvin Gaye, The Miracles, Shirelles, all those people.
We do nothing else all day. We have a transistor each, all on at various volumes, and whichever record we like, we just turn that one up. It's great. They've started in Britain now - 'pirate ships', they call them - off the British coast. They're similar, in a more modified, British way. But you get good records all day, which you never got before. I love it.
It does seem a lot of advertising when you just come out here. I suppose you get used to it. People come to Britain (people that haven't got commercial TV) and see the advertising on TV there and think it's awful; you just get used to it.64
RINGO: I loved New York at that time. We went into Central Park in a horse-drawn carriage. We had this huge suite of rooms in the Plaza Hotel, with a TV on in each room, and we had radios with earpieces. This was all so fascinating to me. It was too far out; the media was just so fast.
I remember that on one of the TV channels they were showing Hercules Unchained, an Italian 'Hercules' movie. When we got up in the morning and put the TV on there would be Hercules doing his stuff in ancient times. We'd go out and do something and come back in the afternoon and I'd switch on and he would still be doing his stuff. And then we'd go out at night, and come back, and I'd switch on this one channel, and it would be the same movie! I thought I was cracking up. In fact, this one channel had a Movie of the Week, and they would just keep showing it again and again. At the end of the credits they'd just start it at the top.
This was too far out, coming from England, where we'd only had a TV in our house for a couple of years. Now here was a channel doing something crazy like this.
GEORGE: The thing that bothered me about American TV was that in the morning you'd get up and there'd be a football match on that obviously didn't take place in the morning; it's not the appropriate time of day.
There are some things that I refuse to watch at certain times of day I could never stand seeing I Love Lucy, and all those obviously night-time programmes, being on in the mornings. Or worse still, a movie at seven or eight in the morning. For me, movies don't come on until the evening.
NEIL ASPINALL: After Ed Sullivan, we got on the train to Washington. They had their own carriage full of press and agents and others. It was very cold.
RINGO: Being cheeky chappies saved our arses on many occasions, especially then, on the train to Washington, because the guys from the press had come to bury us. These reporters, being New Yorkers, would yell at us, but we just yelled back. When we got to know some of them they said, 'We came here to kill you, but you just started shouting back at us - we couldn't believe it.' Up until then pop groups had been milk and honey with the press: 'No, I don't smoke,' that kind of thing. And here we were, smoking and drinking and shouting at them. That's what endeared us to them.
JOHN: We'd learnt the whole game: we knew how to handle the press when we arrived. The British press are the toughest in the world - we could handle anything. We were all right. I know on the plane over I was thinking, 'Oh, we won't make it,' but that's that side of me: we knew we would wipe them out if we could just get a grip.70
I don't mind people putting us down; because if everybody really liked us, it would be a bore. You've got to have people putting you down. It doesn't give any edge to it if everybody just falls flat on their face saying, 'You're great.' We enjoy some of the criticisms as well, they're quite funny; some of the clever criticisms, not the ones that don't know anything, but some of the clever ones are quite fun.
The main thing that's kept us going when it's been real hard work is the humour amongst ourselves, we can laugh at anything - ourselves included. That's the way we do everything - everything's tongue in cheek. We're the same about ourselves; we never take it seriously.64
RINGO: We attended a miserable event in the British Embassy in Washington. In the early Sixties there was still a huge disparity between people from the North of England and 'people from Embassies'. They were all, 'Oh, very nice,' a bit like Brian Epstein, and we were, 'All right, lads, not so bad.' But we went, God knows why. Maybe because we'd suddenly become ambassadors and they wanted to see us, and I think Brian liked the idea that it was sort of big time.
We were standing around, saying, 'Hi, that's very nice,' and having a drink, when someone came up behind me and snipped off a piece of my hair, which got me very angry. Why was he carrying a pair of scissors? I just swung round and said, 'What the hell do you think you are doing?' He replied, 'Oh, it's OK, old chap... bullshit, bullshit.' That was a stupid incident: wanting to cut a Beatle's hair.
JOHN: People were touching us when we walked past, that kind of thing, and wherever we went we were supposed to be not normal. We were supposed to put up with all sorts of shit from Lord Mayors and their wives, and be touched and pawed like in A Hard Day's Night, only a million times more. At the American Embassy or the British Embassy in Washington, some bloody animal cut Ringo's hair. I walked out, swearing at all of them, I just left in the middle of it.70
PAUL: There were a lot of Hooray Henrys there, and we had never really met that kind before. We hadn't played arts balls or the Cambridge May Ball or anything like that; but we had heard about these guys who got a little stroppy after a few drinks: 'I say, play us a Rachmaninov Piano Concerto.' Oh, yeah, we love him...
There were a few of them at the Embassy. I remember girls wanting to cut bits off our hair, which was not entirely on - so there were a few little elbows in gobs.
NEIL ASPINALL: The Washington show was difficult because they were in a boxing ring with the audience all round and they had to play to all four sides.
They had to go to a different side of the stage for every song, so we had to keep moving the mikes. Ringo was sitting on a round turntable in the middle of the stage, which we also had to turn round - and the bloody thing got stuck! All this chaos was going on, but it was actually a good show for all that. After that gig, it was back to New York.
I found out twenty years later that the show had been filmed for subsequent telecasting throughout America. Kids all over the States had paid to go to theatres and watch it. So when they went back and toured America in August, a lot of the people in the audiences had already seen them live in concert, via the telecast. The Beach Boys were on as well, and another act; put together and relayed to cinemas.
PAUL: We played Carnegie Hall, because Brian liked the idea of playing a classical hall, and then we went to Miami and filmed the second Ed Sullivan Show.
Miami was like paradise. We had never been anywhere where there were palm trees. We were real tourists; we had our Pentax cameras and took a lot of pictures. I've still got of photos of motorcycle cops with their guns. We'd never seen a policeman with a gun, and those Miami cops did look pretty groovy. We had a great time there. We played at one of the hotels. They always had cabarets down in the basements of the big hotels. And we'd look down on the beach where the fans would write 'I love John' in the sand, so big we could read it from our room.
JOHN: But if we waved, somebody always said, 'Stop that waving, you're inciting them!'
RINGO: Now, this was just the most brilliant place I'd ever been to. People were lending us yachts, anything we wanted. There were two great things in Florida. One: I was taken to my first drive-in in a Lincoln Continental by two very nice young ladies. Two: a family lent us their boat and let me drive. It was a sixty-foot speedboat, which I proceeded to bring into port head-on, not really knowing much about driving speedboats.
JOHN: Once, in New Zealand, it was a bit rough, too, and I thought a big clump of my hair had definitely gone; and I don't mean just a bit. I was halfway on the ground and I thought, 'Hello, it must be like a raid when you get crushed.' They'd put about three policemen on patrol for about three or four thousand kids and refused to put any more on: 'We've had all sorts here. We've seen them all.' And they did see them all - as we crashed to the ground!64
GEORGE: There were offshore powerboat races being held and we got a ride on one contender. It had two V12 engines and really went quickly when you floored it. Only the back of the boat, where the propellers were, stayed in the water at high speed. The boat just stood up on end whilst we hung on. I enjoyed that.
NEIL ASPINALL: Ringo realised too late that you don't have brakes on boats and we just crashed into the jetty.
RINGO: They have those pretty rails on the front, and I bent the bugger all aver the place. But they didn't seem to mind, you know; they were just happy!
JOHN: We borrowed a couple of millionaires' houses there.64
PAUL: We'd told Brian we wanted a pool, and a guy from a record company had one. Looking back, it was quite a modest little pool for Miami. Not a huge affair. We would go round there in the afternoon and not get bothered. It was great - four Liverpool lads, you know: 'Get your cozzies on.' Life magazine was taking photos of us swimming.
I think, though, that we were hanging out with Mafiosi at that time. There was a critic giving us a hard time in the press; George Martin and Brian Epstein were discussing it when a big heavy guy came up and said, 'Mr Epstein, you want we should fix this guy?' - 'Er, no, that's OK.' That was the kind of crowd we were in: 'Yeah, I'm in the Mafia.' But we didn't know that: we just saw a nice man with a pool and a yacht. I must admit we were more interested in the yacht than in him.
At this stage, we started to meet people whom we'd only seen in newspapers and on film, and now we were rubbing shoulders with them.
GEORGE: Obviously we were having an effect, because all these people were clamouring to meet us - like Muhammad Ali, for instance. We were taken to meet him on that first trip. It was a big publicity thing. It was all part of being a Beatle, really; just getting lugged around and thrust into rooms full of press men taking pictures and asking questions. Muhammad Ali was quite cute, he had a fight coming up in a couple of days with Sonny Liston. There is a famous picture of him holding two of us under each arm.
RINGO: I sparred with Cassius Clay, as he was called then - I taught him everything he knew. That was a thrill, of course, and I was putting my money on Liston, so I really knew what was happening!
PAUL: We met a few people through Phil Spector. We met The Ronettes, which was very exciting, and various others, such as Jackie De Shannon, a great songwriter, and Diana Ross and the rest of The Supremes. They were people we admired and as we went on we met them all - all the people who were coming up as we were coming up. It was a matey sort of thing.
JOHN: We don't remember any of them, hardly.65
GEORGE: We met a few people who were famous that we didn't know. I mean, in America there were people - and there still are - who are really famous there, but whom you've never heard of in Britain. If you don't watch television or listen to the radio maybe, you'll never know who they are. A lot of people we met I certainly didn't know. And then there were the ones we met whom we did know, like The Supremes.
RINGO: Probably everyone has heard of Don Rickles now, but we hadn't in those days, and he was playing in the Deauville Hotel where we stayed. He was a vicious type of comedian. He would say, 'Hello, lady, where are you from?' and she'd say, 'Oh, I'm from Israel.' He'd go to another table, 'Where are you from?' They'd say, 'Germany,' and it'd be: 'Nazi, get out! What the hell is this?'
PAUL: Of course, he turned on us. We were all on one table with our policeman buddy, our chaperone (we had this one bodyguard who came everywhere with us; he was a good mate and we often went back to his house), and he started on him: 'Hey, cop, get a job! What's this? Looking after The Beatles? Great job you got, man; looking after The Beatles!' he went on, 'It's great. They just lie up there on the ninth floor, in between satin sheets and every time they hear the girls screaming they go "Oooohh".' Very funny, we thought. We were not amused, as I recall. Very cutting. I like him now but at first he was a bit of a shock.
GEORGE: We were all a bit taken aback. Also, we were trying to keep a low profile and suddenly he kept putting the spotlight on us, and embarrassing us. I think John felt a bit embarrassed, too, at the time. However, if we'd had him on our own terms we could have made mincemeat out of him.
He'd say, 'Nice people, these police. They're doing a great job.' And then he'd turn around and snap, 'I hope your badge melts.'
The manager of either Sonny Liston or Muhammad Ali was also watching the show and the fight was coming up, and Don Rickles would say, 'Well, if you ask me, Jack, I think the black guy will win.' And then suddenly he'd come back to our table and we'd be nervous, sitting there and he'd say, 'Look at that great personality!'
RINGO: He asked me, 'Where are you from?' I said, 'Liverpool,' to silence, and he said, 'Oh, hear the applause!'
GEORGE: He did a great bit at the end. He said, 'Well, I see we've got some Arabs in the back of the room and there's always talk about fighting amongst Arabs and Jewish people. I'd just like to say that really we appreciate each other, and there's no hard feelings, and just to show it, gentlemen, would you please stand up and take a bow.' They all obeyed, honoured at such a gesture, and Rickles dived on the floor going, 'Drrrrrrrrrr...' making the noise of a machine gun.
He turned out not to be that cool, though. He blew it all at the very end because he started apologising for everything he'd been saying, instead of just going off and leaving the buzz in the room.
RINGO: I had another disastrous evening in Miami. We went out to see The Coasters, who were heroes with 'Yakety Yak'. People were dancing to them in the club, and I just couldn't understand it. These were rock'n'roll gods to me, and people were dancing! I was just so disgusted. But The Coasters were great, and it was a thrill to see American artists. We'd never seen them before like this, in America.
GEORGE: When we were in New York, The Coasters were on there, and then when we were in Florida, they were there, too. Everywhere we went, even when we were in California, The Coasters were advertised.
There was a tendency in those days to have lots of different bands touring with the same name. Nobody knew who was who - they'd just go out and sing songs. I think there were hundreds of Shangri-Las and bands like that.
PAUL: All the excitement on that trip didn't confuse us, because the great thing about our career was that it had stepping stones. If we were going to get confused, it would have been when we became successful in the Cavern. We weren't confused there; it was a nice little local success. And when we were doing gigs like Peterborough Empire, that could have got confusing; but we took that also in our stride. Then we were on television shows and some important radio networks, and coped with all that, too; so America was really just a logical progression, only bigger and better than anything.
Americans all spoke with accents that we liked a lot and identified with. We felt we had a lot in common, phonetically. We say 'bath' and 'grass' with a short 'a' (we don't say 'bah-th'), and so do they. I think people from Liverpool do have an affinity with Americans, with the Gis and the war and that. There are a lot of guys in Liverpool walking around with cowboy hats. It is almost as if Liverpool and New York are twin towns.
RINGO: With my family, it didn't matter that we were now big in America. We were big in Liverpool and that was OK by them. It was just a carry-on from that. They didn't really care; I mean, once you'd played the Palladium you were set up in my family - that was it for them.
GEORGE: I didn't think beyond the moment during that US trip. I wasn't really aware of any change-over in our fame. I don't think I looked to the future much, I thought, 'We'll enjoy what's happening and go out there and do our thing.'
At first it was fun. We enjoyed it in the early days, but then it just became tiresome. When we went out on the first trip to America, it was the novelty of 'conquering' America. We went back later that year and toured, and then the next year we did another tour and by that time it was just too much. We couldn't move.
RINGO: GEORGE MARTIN HAS GONE DEAF IN ONE EAR. NOW HE CAN ONLY WORK IN MONO!
GEORGE MARTIN: The Beatles didn't get totally immersed in record production until later on, when they stopped touring. Until then, they didn't have time. They would dash into the studio and put down their tracks and then leave all the work to us.
The very first records we made were mono, though I did have stereo facilities. To make mixing easier I would keep the voices separate from the backing, so I used a stereo machine as a twin-track. Not with the idea of stereo - merely to give myself a little bit more flexibility in remixing into a mono. So the first year's recordings were made on just two tracks and were live; like doing broadcasts. With the great advance of four-track we were able to overdub and put on secondary voices and guitar solos afterwards. By the time we did A Hard Day's Night we would certainly put the basic track down and do the vocals afterwards. Invariably, I was putting all the rhythm instruments onto either one or two tracks (generally one track) so you would have bass lumped with guitar. It wasn't until later still that we began putting bass on afterwards as well, giving Paul the opportunity of using his voice more.
JOHN: WHEN PEOPLE START COMPARING US TO THE MARX BROTHERS, THAT'S A LOAD OF RUBBISH! THE ONLY SIMILARITY IS THAT THERE WERE FOUR OF THEM AND THERE ARE FOUR OF US.65
PAUL: For a while we had been thinking about making a film. We'd progressed to success in America. Now it was a film. We'd loved The Girl Can't Help It and we knew that you could make a rock'n'roll film. We'd seen those little American productions and, although they were low budget and not very good, they did have music and we always went to see them.
So we wanted to be in one, but we wanted it to be a good one. Most were knocked together with a loose story about a DJ who has to go around with a band. They were always terrible stories.
JOHN: We didn't even want to make a movie that was going to be bad, and we insisted on having a real writer to write it.67
PAUL: We were offered one early on called The Yellow Teddy bears. We were excited but it turned out that the fella involved was going to write all the songs, and we couldn't have that. But we were still interested in a film, so Brian started talking to people and came up with Dick Lester's name. Brian told us he had made The Running, Jumping & Standing Still Film, a short with Spike Milligan - a classic little comedy. We'd loved it, so we all said, 'He's in. That's our man.'
Dick came round to see us and we found that he was also a musician: he could play a bit of jazz piano, which made him even more interesting. He was American but had been working in England; he'd worked with The Goons, that was enough for us.
JOHN: WE WERE THE SONS OF THE GOON SHOW. WE WERE OF AN AGE. WE WERE THE EXTENSION OF THAT REBELLION, IN A WAY.71
PAUL: For the script, Dick Lester got hold of Alun Owen, a likeable Liverpool-Welsh playwright who had written No Tram to Lime Street, a very good television play with Billie Whitelaw.
JOHN: Lime Street is a famous street in Liverpool where the whores used to be. We auditioned people to write for us, and they came up with this guy and he was famous for writing Liverpool dialogue. We knew his work and we said 'all right'. Then he had to come round with us to see what we were like - he was like a professional Liverpool man - and wrote the characters.70
RINGO: Brian also got the producer, Walter Shenson; or Walter Shenson got him - everyone wanted to make the movie. And we started hanging out with Alun Owen. He came on part of our British tour and wrote down the chaos that went on around us and how we lived, and gave us a caricature of ourselves.
So A Hard Day's Night was like a day in the life; or, really, two days and two nights of our life. We'd go to the recording studio, then go to the TV studio; all the things that happened to us were put in, and he threw in parts for other people.
JOHN: That was a comic-strip version of what was actually going on. The pressure was far heavier than that.71 I dug A Hard day's Night, although Alun Owen only came with us for two days before he wrote the script. We were a bit infuriated by the glibness of it.
It was a good projection of one façade of us - on tour, in London and in Dublin. It was of us in that situation together, having to perform before people. We were like that. Alun Owen saw the press conference so he recreated it in the movie - pretty well; but we thought it was pretty phoney then, even.70
PAUL: Alun picked up lots of little things about us. Things like: 'He is late but he is very clean, isn't he?' Little jokes, the sarcasm, the humour, John's wit, Ringo's laconic manner; each of our different ways. The film manages to capture our characters quite well, because Alun was careful to try only to put words into our mouths that he might have heard us speak. When he'd finished a scene he would ask us, 'Are you happy with this?' and we'd say, 'Yeah, that's good, but could I say it this way?' I think he wrote a very good script.
GEORGE: There was one piece of dialogue where I say, 'Oh, I'm not wearing that - that's grotty!' Alun Owen made that up; I didn't. People have used that word for years now. It was a new expression: grotty - grotesque.
JOHN: We thought the word was really weird, and George curled up with embarrassment every time he had to say it.
GEORGE: I suppose he thought that being from Liverpool, he knew our kind of humour. If there was something we really didn't like, I don't suppose we would have done it - though by the time we got to Help! (in 1965) we were cocky enough to change the dialogue as we liked. Alun wrote a scene about us being harassed by the press - which was a real part of our daily duty. They would ask things like, 'How did you find America?' and we'd say, 'Turn left at Greenland.'
I think that was an important part of The Beatles - people associate humour with us. When all the new bands first came out, Gerry and the Pacemakers and others, nobody could tell who was who; one hit was the same as another, everybody got the same amount of coverage. So even if you had a hit you needed something else to carry you. The Beatles actually were very funny, and even when our humour was transposed to New York or somewhere else, it was still great. We were just being hard-faced, really, but people loved it.
EVERYONE IN LIVERPOOL THINKS THEY'RE A COMEDIAN. JUST DRIVE THROUGH THE MERSEY TUNNEL AND THE GUY ON THE TOLL BOOTH WILL BE A COMEDIAN. WE'VE HAD THAT BORN AND BRED INTO US.
And in our case the humour was made even stronger by the fact that there were four of us bouncing off one another. If one dried up, somebody else was already there with another fab quip.
RINGO: It was a lot of fun. It was incredible for me, the idea that we were making a movie. I loved the movies as a kid. I used to go to a hell of a lot, in the Beresford and Gaumont cinemas in Liverpool. I have great memories from Saturday-morning pictures. I'd be into whatever was showing: if it was a pirate movie, I would be a pirate, and if it was a Western I would be a cowboy; or I'd come out as D'Artagnan and fence all the way home. It was a great fantasy land for me, the movies, and suddenly we were in one. It was all so romantic, with the lights and coming to work in the limo.
I think because I loved films I was less embarrassed that the others to be in one; John really got into the movie, too. I felt a lot of the time that George didn't want to be there. It was something he was doing because we were doing it.
GEORGE: I don't know what he's talking about, I loved it! The only thing I didn't like was having to get up at five in the morning.
It was a very early start. We'd have to arrive and get dressed and have our hair and faces done. While all this was going on they would set up with stand-ins. They wouldn't call us until they were ready to rehearse us for a scene.
There was always so much happening that I never knew how many cameras there were. We didn't take too much notice of every detail - we were in the middle, surrounded by everything.
RINGO: Getting up early in the morning wasn't our best talent and there's an example of that in one scene: the one for which I got really good credit, walking by the river with a camera - the 'lonely guy' piece. I had come directly to work from a nightclub (very unprofessional) and was a little hungover, to say the least. Dick Lester had all his people there, and the kid that I was supposed to be doing the scene with, but I had no brain. I'd gone.
We tried it several ways. They tried it with the kid doing his lines and someone off camera shouting mine. Then they had me doing the lines of the kid and the kid going 'blah blah blah'. Or me saying, 'And another thing, little guy...' I was so out of it, they said, 'Well' let's do anything.' I said, 'Let me just walk around and you film me,' and that's what we did. And why I look so cold and dejected is because I felt like shit. There's no acting going on; I felt that bad.
GEORGE: There were some things that we made up as we went along (although I must say they don't look very spontaneous) - for example, the press conference scene. We made up a lot of answers and Dick Lester said, 'Keep that one, use that one.' He was very good like that.
JOHN: The bit in the bathtub was spontaneous. The idea wasn't; they just ran it and I had to do whatever I thought of in the background. Quite a lot of it is spontaneous. There were a lot of ad lib remarks, but in a film you don't get ad lib because you've always got to take it eight times. You ad lib something quite good and everybody laughs, the technicians laugh, and the next minute you're told to 'take it again', so your 'ad lib' gets drier and drier until it doesn't sound funny any more. We stuck quite a lot to the script, but some of the gags were us, or the director - he threw quite a bit in, too.64
RINGO: Most of it was scripted. What we did lose was the ends of scenes, because they'd put the four of us in a room and we'd all go off in different directions. We'd make things up because of our being comfortable with each other. And the problem with Wilfrid Brambell, a fabulous actor, was that once the scene had finished he just stopped. It looked stupid with the rest of us going, 'Blah de blah, yeah, and another thing...' while, as a professional, he was having nothing to do with it.
PAUL: We got on a train at Marylebone Station one day and the train took off - and suddenly we were in a film! And in the film there were little schoolgirls in gym-slips who were actually models, and we were quite fascinated with them - George even married one: Pattie Boyd.
It was a great day out. We filmed the scene where all the fans run into the train station then the train pulls off, leaving the fans, so then we could get on with the rest of the filming. The train took us somewhere and back, and we had all the scenes made.
JOHN: The train bit embarrasses us now. I'm sure it's less noticeable to people watching in the cinema, but we know that we're dead conscious in every move we make, we watch each other. Paul's embarrassed when I'm watching him speak and he knows I am. You can see the nervous bits normally in pictures: things like the end - you make that on one day, and on the next day you do the beginning. But we did it almost in sequence. The first [scene] we did was the train, which we were all dead nervous in. Practically the whole of the train bit we were going to pieces.
It's as good as anybody who makes a film who can't act. The director knew we couldn't act, and we knew. So he had to try almost to catch us off guard; only you can't do that in a film, you've got to repeat things over and over. But he did his best. The minutes that are natural stand out like a sore thumb.64
We were always trying to get it more realistic, make the camerawork more realistic. They wouldn't have it - but they made the movie so that's how it happened. It was OK. We knew it was better than other rock movies.70 The best bits are when you don't have to speak and you just run about. All of us liked the bit in the field where we jump about like lunatics because that's pure film, as the director tells us; we could have been anybody.
We enjoyed doing it, but we'd been the kind of people who didn't like musicals when all of a sudden a sudden a song started. We tried to get away from that - from saying, all of a sudden, 'How about a song?' - but we could only to an extent. It felt embarrassing to get into a number. There's a bit in the film where I say the American-musical cliché: 'Say, kids, why not do the show right here?' It was a joke originally that we threw in. Norman Rossington said it used to happen in all the old pop films. They'd be in the middle of a desert and somebody would say, 'I've got a great idea, kids, how about doing the show right here?' I stuck that bit in but it doesn't work; it looks as though I mean it. We thought the gag-line would break it down and everybody would get the joke and a number would follow.64
NEIL ASPINALL: Norman Rossington played me - little Norm. I liked Norm. He was a nice guy. He didn't talk to me about the part; he just went by the script, which was a bit embarrassing because it was nothing like the reality.
For The Beatles, the film was six weeks' hard work. They seemed to do everything in quick time. It wasn't just the movie - it was writing the music, recording the album and everything else that went into it as well.
John and Paul wrote songs all the time, but that doesn't mean that they would have fourteen or sixteen songs all ready to record. They had some and wrote the rest as they went along. It was a question of being in the studio on Wednesday writing one song, and by Friday having written a couple more. They were writing all the time, on planes, sitting for days in hotel rooms, by a pool, wherever. There were always guitars around.
JOHN: Paul and I enjoyed writing the music for the film. There were times when we honestly thought we'd never get the time to write all the material. But we managed to get a couple finished while we were in Paris. And three more completed in America, while we were soaking up the sun on Miami Beach. There are four I really go for: 'Can't Buy Me Love', 'If I Fell', 'I Should Have Known Better' - a song with harmonica we feature during the opening train sequence - and 'Tell Me Why', a shuffle number that comes at the end of the film.64
PAUL: That wasn't usually the way we worked, because we didn't write songs to order. Usually, John and I would sit down and if we thought of something we'd write a song about it. But Walter Shenson asked John and me if we'd write a song specially for the opening and closing credits. We thought about it and it seemed a bit ridiculous writing a song called 'A Hard Day's Night' - it sounded funny at the time, but after a bit we got the idea of saying it had been a hard day's night and we'd been working all the days, and get back to a girl and everything's fine... And we turned it into one of those songs.
JOHN: I was going home in the car and Dick Lester suggested the title from something Ringo had said. I had used it in In His Own Write, but it was an off-the-cuff remark by Ringo, one of those malapropisms - a Ringoism - said not to be funny, just said. So Dick Lester said, 'We are going to use that title,' and the next morning I brought in the song.80
GEORGE: Ringo would always say grammatically incorrect phrases and we'd all laugh. I remember when we were driving back to Liverpool from Luton up the M1 motorway in Ringo's Zephyr, and the car's bonnet hadn't been latched properly. The wind got under it and blew it up in front of the windscreen. We were all shouting, 'Aaaargh!' and Ringo calmly said, 'Don't worry, I'll soon have you back in your safely-beds.'
RINGO: I seem to be better now. I used to, while I was saying one thing, have another thing come into my brain and move down fast. Once when we were working all day and then into the night, I came out thinking it was still day and said, 'It's been a hard day,' and looked round and noticing it was dark, '...'s night!'
'Tomorrow Never Knows' was something I said, God knows where it came from. 'Slight bread' was another: 'Slight bread, thank you.' John used to like them most. He always used to write them down.
GEORGE MARTIN: It was the first film for which I wrote the score, and I had the benefit of having a director who was a musician. We recorded the songs for the film just as we would ordinary records, and Dick used a lot of songs we'd already recorded. 'Can't Buy Me Love', for example, which was used twice in the picture.
I had scored an instrumental version of 'This Boy' as part of the background music, and I used it for the sequence where Ringo is wandering by the river. We called it 'Ringo's Theme', and it got into the charts in America as an orchestral record - that pleased me somewhat. It was recorded and mixed using a four-track.
PAUL: The film had an American producer. It worked for American audiences and was an international success as well, but they altered one or two words for the American release. We had plenty of arguments about that. They'd tell us that an American audience wouldn't understand some English phrase. We said, 'Are you kidding? We watch all your cowboy pictures and you go "Yep..." and we know exactly what you're saying. The kids will figure it out,' and of course they did. They went to see it over and over again. We'd get letters saying, 'I've seen A Hard Day's Night seventy-five times and I love it!'
JOHN: The first time we saw it was the worst, because there were producers and directors of the film there, and cameramen and all the other people concerned. When you first see yourself on the big screen you watch yourself, thinking, 'Oh, look at that ear, oh, look at my nose, look at my hair sticking out...' and each one of us did that. By the end of the film we didn't know what had happened and we hated it.64
PAUL: I don't know what the exact deal was for the movie, but I recall we didn't get a royalty. We were given a fee. Looking back, it would have been better to have taken a small percentage. Our accountants got 3% and we were on a fee. But we didn't really care: 'We are artists, we don't look back...' We just figured, 'Get us some money, Brian. Get us the best deal you can.'
(I only ever once complained to Brian. We'd heard that The Rolling Stones got a slightly better deal at Decca than we did from EMI - sixpence a record or something. I complained to Brian. I remember it hurting him, too. It was a learning experience for me: don't do that again. It got to him a bit too much. And he was probably right as well: he had done so much for us and there was me bitching about a penny or two.)
RINGO: They'd started to plan the movie months before we actually did it, so we'd got a lot bigger by the time it was made, and by the time it came out we were huge.
When A Hard Day's Night was released, or even before that, we felt, 'Yes, we're established. We've conquered all these countries, we're selling a lot of records and they love us.' But I didn't feel like it was going to last forever. I never thought, 'It's going to end tomorrow,' or, 'It's going to go on forever.' It was happening now. I wasn't making plans for the future, we were on a roll, and we were all in our early twenties and just going with it.
GEORGE: I HAD MY TWENTY-FIRST BIRTHDAY WHEN WE GOT BACK, JUST AS WE WERE STARTING TO MAKE A HARD DAY'S NIGHT. I GOT ABOUT 30,000 CARDS AND PRESENTS - I'M STILL OPENING THEM. I'M STILL WEARING THE WATCH THAT I WAS GIVEN BY MR EPSTEIN.
JOHN: Paul got me a Wimpy and Coke for my twenty-first.64
DEREK TAYLOR: The Daily Express booked me to cover George's twenty-first birthday. I was supposed to stake it out and report on the guests, the food and so on.
At a press conference at the EMI studios, George chatted about the New Experience of Being Twenty-One. There was a great deal of whispering, about the party I supposed - but nothing more for the press. 'Sorry, Derek, know you're a friend of the family, but...' But writing George's column didn't entitle me to hang out at private parties.
GEORGE: John's book, In His Own Write, was published in March. Some of it came from his schooldays, from the Daily Howl, a comic full of his jokes and avant-garde poetry, but a lot of the book was new. It turned up in A Hard Day's Night. That was the best plug you could have for a book - to put it in a hit movie.
JOHN: It's about nothing. If you like it, you like it; if you don't, you don't. That's all there is to it. There's nothing deep in it, it's just meant to be funny. I put things down on sheets of paper and stuff them in my pocket. When I have enough, I have a book.
There was never any real thought of writing a book. It was something that snowballed.64 If I hadn't been a Beatle I wouldn't have thought of having the stuff published; I would have been crawling around broke and just writing it and throwing it away. I might have been a Beat Poet.65 What success really does for you is to give you a feeling of confidence in yourself. It's an indescribable feeling; but once you've had it, you never want it to stop.64
It's just my style of humour. It started back in my schooldays. Three people I was very keen on were Lewis Carroll, [James] Thurber and the English illustrator, Ronald Searle. When I was about eleven I was turned on to these three. (I think I was fifteen when I started 'Thurberising' the drawings.)
I used to hide my real emotions in gobbledegook, like in In His Own Write. When I wrote teenage poems, I wrote in gobbledegook because I was always hiding my real emotions from Mimi.71 And when I was about fourteen they gave us this book in English literature - Chaucer, or some guy like him - and we all thought it was a gas. Whenever the teacher got that book out we would all collapse. After that I started to write something on the same lines myself. Just private stuff for myself and my friends to laugh at.64
PAUL: I used to go round to Aunt Mimi's house and John would be at the typewriter, which was fairly unusual in Liverpool. None of my mates even knew what a typewriter was. Well, they knew what one was, but they didn't have one. Nobody had a typewriter.
JOHN: Then when the group started going on the road, I used to take out my typewriter after the show and just tap away as the fancy took me. Sometimes one of the others would say something, like Ringo thought of the film title, 'Hard Day's Night' - I used that in the book.64
I typed a lot of the book and I can only type very slowly, so the stories are short because I couldn't be bothered going on. And all my life, I never quite got the idea of spelling. English and writing, fine, but actually spelling the words... I'd spell it as you say it - like Latin, really. Or just try and do it the simplest way, to get it over with, because all I'm trying to do is tell a story and what the words are spelt like is irrelevant. And if it makes you laugh because the word is spelt like that - great. The thing is the story and the sound of the word.65
Then came the illustrations. That's the most amount of drawings I've done since I left college.64 I used to draw with almost anything; usually black pen, or an ordinary fountain pen with black ink. So when it came to doing the book I said, 'Well, I can draw as well, you know,' since they'd mainly taken just the writing; and the drawings were very scrappy because I'm heavy-handed. I draw like I write. I just start to draw and if it looks like something vaguely to do with the story, I do it.65
An awful lot of the material was written while we were on tour, most of it when we were in Margate. I suppose it was all manifestations of hidden cruelties. They are very Alice in Wonderland and Winnie the Pooh. I was very hung-up; it was my version of what was happening then. Sheets of writing and drawings got lost. Some I gave away. A friend, an American who shall remain nameless called Michael Braun, took all the remaining material to the publishers and the man there said, 'This is brilliant. I'd like to do this.' And that was before he even knew who I was.
There's a wonderful feeling about doing something successfully other that singing. I don't suppose the royalties will ever amount to much, but it doesn't matter.64 I like writing books. I got a big kick out of the first one. There was a literary lunch to which I was invited and at which I couldn't think of anything to say - I was scared stiff, that's why I didn't. I got as big a kick out of seeing that book up there in the writing world's Top Ten as I do when The Beatles get a Number One record. And the reason is that it's part of a different world.65 Up to now we've done everything together and this is all my own work.64
BRIAN EPSTEIN: John was guest of honour at a Foyle's lunch to mark the success of his splendid book. And made no speech. In answer to the toast, John stood, held the microphone and said, 'Thank you all very much; you've got a lucky face.' John was behaving like a Beatle. He was not prepared to do something which was not only unnatural to him, but also something he might have done badly. He was not going to fail.
JOHN: I had a holiday after we first made it big, in Tahiti.68 The sun's there if you want to go and get it - I don't give a damn about the sun. You go out to these places and waste your time lying on the beach; I did it with George for three weeks. We were as brown as berries and we got home and it had gone the next day, so what's the point? I didn't feel any healthier - I was dead beat.65
GEORGE: IN 1964 WE SEEMED TO FIT A WEEK INTO EVERY DAY. In May, John and Cynthia and Pattie and I went on holiday. By now we were so famous that we couldn't get on an aeroplane without everyone knowing where we were going.
BRIAN EPSTEIN: The Beatles' holiday was to be gloriously private. We hired a company and told them we wanted a fool-proof secret route plotting for four young men and three girlfriends and a wife. The men, we explained, would travel in pairs, the girls one pair, two singles. We wanted two destinations, at which two sets of couples would link up.
None of the arrangements were to be made by phone, and code names were created for the eight. Mr McCartney was Mr Manning; Mr Starr was Mr Stone. Their companions were to be Miss Ashcroft and Miss Cockcroft. Mr Lennon was Mr Leslie; and his wife, Mrs Leslie. Mr Harrison was Mr Hargreaves, and his girlfriend became Miss Bond. Manning and Stone, Ashcroft and Cockcroft were to holiday in the Virgin Islands; the Leslies, Hargreaves and Bond would go to Tahiti.
GEORGE: We took a private plane to Amsterdam and caught a flight going to Honolulu via Vancouver. After a long flight we got off the plane in Vancouver for twenty minutes while they refuelled, and by the time we reached Honolulu the whole American disc-jockey network had got us covered.
We had to stay in Honolulu for a couple of days awaiting the connection to Tahiti, so to get away from Waikiki we drove up to the north of the island to a beach where on one knew us. Then we flew to Tahiti, and at Papeete was waiting the sailing boat that we'' booked. We went to a couple of shops there, where John and I bought cool-looking, dark green oilskin macs.
We slept on the boat that night and started sailing first thing the next morning - but as soon as we were out of the harbour we got into a really rough channel of water. We had to keep the engine going, and the boat had just been painted so it stunk of diesel and paint. We couldn't go below because of the fumes, so we lay holding on to the deck. Soon Cynthia and I were feeling sick and puked everywhere. The day seemed long, but eventually, as the sun was setting, we anchored at the next island. We were so ill that we just got into our bunks and went to sleep.
The next morning I woke and looked out of the porthole. It was fantastic. At that time we'd hardly been anywhere out of England, and never to anywhere that was tropical. It was incredible; a smooth lagoon with the island in the background, with mountains and coconut palms. Five or six Tahitians were paddling an outrigger canoe, gliding across the calm sea. It blissed me out.
JOHN: We had to go through Honolulu to get to Tahiti and the outer islands. In Tahiti we were OK; we escaped there. Once we were on the boat, no one got near us - except for one fella from Sydney who we didn't speak to. He swam with us, saying, 'Can I come on your boat?' We said 'no' and he had to swim miles back!64
GEORGE: We had a great time swimming, snorkelling and sailing from island to island. John spent some of the time writing A Spaniard in the Works, and I remember coming up with a lot of little phrases while he sat at the table making it up and speaking it out. If anybody said anything it would go in the book.
JOHN: I'd get to some word, I'd get a sentence and it didn't work somehow, so I'd say to George, 'What's another word for "fly"?' and he'd suggest something.
I was writing 'The Singularge Experience of Miss Anne Duffield', the Sherlock Holmes piece; it was the longest one I'd ever done. I was seeing how far I could go. I would have gone on and on and made a whole book out of it, but I couldn't.
I read one or two Conan Doyle books when I was younger, but on the boat that we'd hired there was a set of them.65 There was nothing else on the boat but books (half of them were in French and half of them in English). Tahiti and all those islands - great, but I still got into reading. I read every book that was in English whether I liked it or not; through boredom, really. There just happened to be a big volume of Sherlock Holmes, a sort of madman's Sherlock Holmes where you get all the stories in one; and I realised that every story was the same.63 They're all pretty similar; and that's what I was doing, writing all of them into one.65 So I wrote one Shamrock Womlbs after three weeks of Sherlock Holmes in Tahiti.63
GEORGE: Cynthia and Pattie had long black wigs which they wore as disguises. John and I put their wigs on, and our oilskin macs, and made a little 8mm film about natives on an island with a missionary (John) who comes out of the ocean to convert them.
The holiday was fantastic, but after four weeks we'd had enough. By now we'd drifted further and further from Tahiti and didn't relish the thought of a long boat ride home, so we hopped on a flying boat and went back and spent a day around Tahiti. We then caught a Pan Am 707 coming from New Zealand which took us to Los Angeles. The four of us were the only passengers on the plane and I remember lying on the floor, sleeping, as we had so much space to ourselves. In Los Angeles we went on a bus trip that took us around Sunset Strip, Beverly Hills and all the stars' homes: 'On your left is Jayne Mansfield's house,' and all that.
We were only back in London for about a week before we left for Denmark, Holland, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand on tour. Soon we were back about a stone's throw away from where we'd just been in Tahiti.
RINGO: Paul and I went to the Virgin Islands. It was great. The funny part was that we'd been given John's and George's passports, and they'd been given ours. It was still: 'Oh, it's just one of them, give them any passport; they're all the same.' Somehow we got to Lisbon and were checking into hotel; Paul was wearing a disguise and the guy at reception said, 'Who's that?' looking at the passport suspiciously, 'That's not you.'
We had a 30-foot motor boat that we'd rented. It came with a captain and his wife, and a deck-hand. It was nothing palatial, but we cruised around having a great time. I was with Maureen, and Paul was with Jane Asher. Jane couldn't go in the sun and Paul got sunburnt one day and was screaming all night. Our bedrooms were either side of the passageway with only curtains dividing them, so you could hear everything.
We'd been already with Paul and Jane to Greece; we buddied up for a while. And Maureen and I went with John and Cynthia to Trinidad and Tobago in 1966. I never really went on holiday with George.
RINGO: We had the top five records in the US charts by April 1964, which was amazing.
PAUL: In June 1964, the world tour began. We went to Scandinavia, Holland, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand. Ringo missed part of the tour because he was in hospital with tonsillitis. We couldn't cancel, to the idea was to get a stand-in. We got Jimmy Nicol, a session drummer from London. He played well - obviously not the same as Ringo, but he covered well.
It wasn't an easy thing for Jimmy to stand in for Ringo, and have all that fame thrust upon him. And the minute his tenure was over, he wasn't famous any more: 'I was the guy who stood in for Ringo!' But he did great and Ringo joined us out in Australia when he had recovered.
RINGO: My illness was a real big event. It was miserable. I remember it really well: my throat was so sore, and I was trying to live on jelly and ice-cream. I was a smoker in those days, too. That was pretty rough, being hooked on the weed.
It was very strange, them going off without me. They'd taken Jimmy Nicol and I thought they didn't love me any more - all that stuff went through my head.
GEORGE: Of course, with all respect to Jimmy, we shouldn't have done it. The point was, it was the Fabs. Can you imagine The Rolling Stones going on tour: 'Oh, sorry. Mick can't come.' - 'All right, we'll just get somebody else to replace him for two weeks.' It was silly, and I couldn't understand it. I really despised the way we couldn't make a decision for ourselves then. It was just: 'Off you go.' - 'But Ringo must come with us.' - 'No, sorry, you'll get a new drummer.' As we grew older, I suppose, we would have turned round and said we wouldn't go; but in those days it was the blind leading the blind.
GEORGE MARTIN: They nearly didn't do the Australia tour. George is a very loyal person, and he said, 'If Ringo's not part of the group, it's not The Beatles. I don't see why we should do it, and I'm not going to.' It took all of Brian's and my persuasion to tell George that if he didn't do it he was letting everybody down.
Jimmy Nicol was a very good drummer, who came along and learnt Ringo's parts well. Obviously, he had to rehearse with the guys. They came and worked through all the songs at Abbey Road so he got to know them. He did the job excellently, and faded into obscurity immediately afterwards.
JOHN: It was some kind of scene on the road. Satyricon! There's photographs of me grovelling about, crawling about Amsterdam on my knees, coming out of whorehouses, and people saying, 'Good morning, John.' The police escorted me to these places, because they never wanted a big scandal. When we hit town, we hit it - we were not pissing about.70
We had them [the women]. They were great. They didn't call them groupies, then; I've forgotten what we called them, something like 'slags'.75
PAUL: The tour was generally not that different form the others. Hong Kong was different - it was all Army personnel, which was very funny. We had expected Asian people in Hong Kong, but the Army must have got the tickets first, or must have known about us (maybe the Hong Kong people hadn't heard about The Beatles). Each of us had a couple of suits made overnight, and we also had capes made there, which turned out to be disasters, because the dye in them ran so badly.
NEIL ASPINALL: We'd seen some students in Amsterdam wearing these capes. I found out where they got them from and bought some. They hired a 24-hour tailor to make up more, and they were the model for the ones that The Beatles later used in Help!.
JOHN: The first one we saw was in Amsterdam - when we were going through the canals, some lad had one on - but we couldn't get any. We could only get ones which weren't the right colour - green ones. So we had four copies made in Hong Kong.64
GEORGE: We were boating along the canals, waving and being fab and we saw a bloke standing in the crowd with a groovy-looking cloak on. We sent Mal to find out where he got it from. Mal jumped off or swam off the boat and about three hours later turned up at our hotel with the cloak, which he'd bought from the guy. When we flew from there to Hong Kong we all had copies made, but they were in cheap-material which melted in the rain storm at Sydney Airport.
The best flight I remember was that one to Hong Kong. It took several hours and I remember them saying, 'Return to your seats, we are approaching Hong Kong.' I thought, 'We can't be there already.' We'd been sitting on the floor, drinking and taking Preludins for about thirty hours and it seemed like a ten-minute flight.
On all those flights we were still on uppers; that's what helped us get through, because we'd drink a whisky and Coke with anyone, even if he was the Devil - and charm the pants off him!
JOHN: In Hong Kong, the paper said, 'The Beatles fought a losing battle against the screams.' Compared with other audiences, they were quiet.64
PAUL: As for the show, Hong Kong was a slightly flat performance in a smallish place. They behaved themselves, and it looked like a khaki audience. We played, but I don't think we enjoyed the show too much - although at least we could be heard.
JOHN: When they told us how well our records were going in Australia, we could hardly believe it. Naturally, we're looking forward to the visit. We had a marvellous time water-skiing in Florida, and everyone says the Aussie beaches are great.
I like to keep my work and my private life separate, which is why I keep Cynthia out of the picture. I took her to America, because a trip like that comes once in a lifetime, and she deserved it. I'd dearly have loved to take her to Australia, but the schedule looks too gruelling. My auntie came with us because she's got relatives in New Zealand I have never met. 64
PAUL: John's Aunt Mimi came to Australia with us, so he behaved himself for a change. She was a good woman, a very strong woman: she had a mind of her own.
The women in John's family were quite strong people. Mimi was very forthright and didn't mince her words. She always had a little twinkle in her eye over John, because she knew he was a bit roguish, and she let him do things - 'Boys will be boys.' She loved him as if he were her own son. But she would tell him off. And he'd say sheepishly, 'Sorry, Mimi.' There was no change in Mimi wherever she was. She was her own character and she was not going to be intimidated by anything. She died in 1991.
GEORGE: WE WERE WATCHING ON TV, AND THEY WERE SAYING, 'I WONDER WHY THEY'RE NOT COMING OUT TO WAVE.' THERE'S NO WAY WE COULD TELL THEM THAT WE DIDN'T HAVE ANY DRY TROUSERS!64
DEREK TAYLOR: Australia was the first big tour for me. it was all very exciting, but I think only a madman would have volunteered to join such a thing. I had no insight into what it would actually mean.
The boys in the band were happy enough to have me along. They were fine, which was a relief. They had a press officer, Tony Borrow, who was very suitable, but he'd got very busy because of all the other contemporary starts around the place. Brian had Billy J. Kramer, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Cilla Black and others - and they were all getting Number Ones by then. Busy times.
JOHN: We've never had more than one PR fella with us, ever. Brian's only got one for each of his artists, and they don't work together. Derek we've known for about a year, but he's one of those people that clicks as soon as you meet him.64
NEIL ASPINALL: When we arrived in Sydney it was pissing down with rain. We got off the plane and they put The Beatles on the back of a flat-back truck so the crowd could see them. They were carrying umbrellas and wearing the capes made in Hong Kong. The driver was doing one mile an hour, and John kept leaning over and saying, 'Faster, faster!' but he wouldn't go any faster. I was saying, 'Go faster - it's pouring down,' and he said, 'These kids have been waiting here for twenty-four hours to see these guys.'
Nothing was going to make this big Australian trucker go any faster. By the time they got to the hotel everybody was blue because the dye in the capes had run and soaked right through; they all looked like old Celtic warriors covered in blue dye.
JOHN: We were having hysterics, laughing. It was so funny, coming to Australia and getting on a big van, all soaking wet; we thought it was going to be sunny. We only got wet for about fifteen minutes, but the kids got wet for hours. How could we be disappointed when they came out to see us and stood in all the rotten wind and rain to wave to us? They were great, really great. I've never seen rain as hard as that, except in Tahiti. (It rained there for a couple of days and I thought it was the end of the world.)64
Australia was a high moment, like the first time in America: us appearing on every channel and ten records in the charts. This was another one. It's funny, but there were more people came to see us there than anywhere. I think the whole of Australia was there.71
We must have seen a million million people before they let us go. There was good security and everybody was happy and shouting, but we still saw everybody, everywhere we went - and nobody got hurt.64
GEORGE: I used to hate waving from Balconies. 'Wave,' they'd say. 'You've got to go and wave.' Derek used to wave for me out of hotel windows.
Paul was good at waving and signing autographs. We'd be waiting in the car: 'Come on, Paul, let's go. Where is he? Oh, bugger, there he is.' - 'Oh, yes, what's your name? betty. To Betty, love Paul.' - 'Come on and get in the fucking car. Let's get out of here!'
PAUL: Three hundred thousand people welcomed us to Adelaide. It was like a heroes' welcome. George waved too. That was the kind of place where we would go to the town hall and they would all be there in the centre of the city. If it had happened suddenly, overnight, it might have gone to our heads; but we had come up bit by bit, so it didn't (not too much). We were just very pleased that everyone had turned out.
We were still close enough to our Liverpool roots to know how it would feel, and what it would mean, if we had showed up in the middle of town to see a group; so we could feel it in their spirit. I think we quite enjoyed it all. It can get a bit wearing, but it certainly wasn't then.
We came in from the airport - it was the same in Liverpool for the première of a A Hard Day's Night, with the whole city centre full of people - and the crowds were lining the route and we were giving them the thumbs up. And then we went to the Adelaide town hall with the Lord Mayor there, and gave the thumbs up again. In Liverpool it was OK, because everyone understands the thumbs up - but in Australia it's a dirty sign.
RINGO: I hated to leave the other three. I followed them out to Australia and there were people at the airport, but I was on my own and just automatically I looked round for the others. I couldn't stand it. I met up with them in Melbourne. The flight was horrendous. It still is - they may have shaved a couple of hours off the flight, but it's still a hell of a long way. I remember the plane felt like a disaster area to me.
It was fabulous in Australia, and of course, it was great to be back in the band - that was a really nice moment. And they'd bought me presents in Hong Kong.
PAUL: SYDNEY WASN'T VERY GOOD WEATHER, WAS HE? I THINK IT MUST HAVE BEEN THE MONGOOSE SEASON.64
GEORGE: THERE ARE REEFERS ALONG THE WEST COAST, AREN'T THERE?64
JOHN: I THOUGHT IT WAS A KIWI BECAUSE IT STARTED POLISHING MY SHOES.64
JOHN: Melbourne was as wild as Adelaide, and I think that makes it equal. They were both about the wildest we'd ever seen. We never ask for civic receptions; we don't expect them. If people do it, we're flattered; but if they don't, that's that. There were crowds outside the hotel there. A lot of them got in - we'd find them in bathrooms.
We were all shoving our dirty rags into a case when I heard a knock on the window. I thought it must have been one of the others mucking around so I didn't take any notice, but the knocking kept on so I went over to the balcony - and there was this lad who looked just like a typical Liverpool lad. I knew before he opened his mouth where he was from, because nobody else would be climbing up eight floors. This lad - Peter - walked in and said, 'Hullo dere,' and I said, 'Hullo dere,' and he told me how he'd climbed up the drainpipe, from balcony to balcony. I gave him a drink because he deserved one and then I took him around to see the others, who were quite amazed. They thought I was joking when I told them.64
NEIL ASPINAL: There were people in the crowds, lining the streets, shouting out, 'I'm from Blackpool. If you go up there, say "hello" to our Bill.' But The Beatles were getting used to a lot of people. They'd been to Holland before Australia, with huge crowds on the banks of the canals, and the States as well.
GEORGE: We took photographs of them all - from the balcony, and on the back of the car in the motorcade. We were stunned, but happy that there was a nice feeling, and that we were popular there. Everybody was saying. There are more people here than came to see the Queen.' Well, she didn't have any hit records.
When we were flying in to New Zealand, it looked like England - like Devon, with cows and sheep. But in those days we were looking for some action, and there was absolutely nothing happening.
We were in the hotel room, sitting around eating fish and chips with peas, and watching television. And suddenly, at about nine o'clock at night, the channels all closed down. So we threw our dinners at the TV.
The most notable thing that happened in New Zealand (although it wasn't very good) was that the drummer from Sounds Incorporated had a girl in his room who tried to slash her wrists whilst he was out at the pub. I remember Derek panicking as the story was immediately on the wire service all over the world: 'Suicide Attempt in Beatle Hotel'.
JOHN: It was one of the quickest and most pleasant receptions we've ever been to. We went out onto a balcony and waved to the crowd, and some Maoris danced for us, and away we went.
The Lord Mayor was very nice and said, 'I wouldn't have blamed you if you hadn't come, with all the fuss they've been making round here about how much it's costing.'64
RINGO: I remember us standing on the roof of a building in one of the cities in Australia, and all the fans were down there, chanting. We were having fun with them and one guy, who was on crutches, threw his crutches away and went into: 'I can walk, I can walk!' What he felt I don't know, but it was as if he was healed - and then he fell right on his face. He just fell over. Maybe that's why it stuck in my head.
Crippled people were constantly being brought backstage to be touched by 'a Beatle', and it was very strange. It happened in Britain as well, not only overseas. There were some really bad cases, God help them. There were some poor little children who would be brought in in baskets. And also some really sad Thalidomide kids with little broken bodies and no arms, no legs and little feet.
The problem was, people would bring in these terrible cases and leave them in our dressing room. They'd go off for tea or whatever, and they would leave them behind. If it got very heavy we would shout, 'Mal, cripples!' and that became a saying - even when there were no handicapped people present. If there were any people around we didn't like, we'd shout, 'Mal, cripples!' and they'd be escorted out.
PAUL: John used to do the spastic impersonations on stage a lot. He had a habit of putting a clear plastic bag on his foot with a couple of rubber bands. Brian wouldn't like it - he had gone through RADA so he was straight showbiz and he wanted us to behave accordingly, not be too far out. But John would do his cripples impression just crossing a zebra crossing, which would make people stop.
We used to think certain words were very funny that out of teenage nervousness made us laugh: 'cripple', 'harelip', 'cleft palate', 'club-foot' - when a guitar came out, a Club 40, we used to call it a Club-Foot. A sign on the way down to London used to make us howl: 'Cripples crossing'. We used to think it was a place rather than an event.
I remember John and I, shortly after we'd listen to Gene Vincent's album, walking out in the street near Penny Lane and seeing a woman with elephantiasis, and it was so sort of terrifying we had to laugh. A lot of what we did was based in that. And that was the kind of thing that separated us from other people. It meant we had our own world. A world of black humour and of nervousness at other people's afflictions. The way we got through our lives was laughing at them.
GEORGE: John was allergic to cripples. You could see he had a thing about them; I think it was a fear of something. You can see in all our home movies, whenever you switch a camera on John, he goes into his interpretation of a spastic. It's not very nice to be afflicted, so John had this thing that he'd always joke about it. I think the reality was too much for him.
We were only trying to play rock'n'roll and they'd be wheeling them in, not just in wheelchairs in oxygen tents. What did they think that we would be able to do? I don't know. I think it was that those people whose job it was to push them around wanted to see the show, and this was a way to get in. It was a case of, 'How many have we got tonight, Brian?' We'd come out of the band room to go to the stage and we'd be fighting our way through all these poor unfortunate people.
John didn't like it. After a while, we used to call even normal people 'cripples', because most people are crippled in a way; in their brains, or in their legs. It's somewhere. Like John wrote: 'One thing you can't hide, is when you're crippled inside.' When you look at some of the old footage of John, and read In His Own Write, and with a few other clues in his lyrics, you can piece it together that he definitely had a phobia about it. Most people do. It's a question of, 'There but for the grace of God go I.'
JOHN: I don't think I'd know a spastic from a Polaroid lens. I'm not hung up about them. When I use the term 'spastic' in general conversation, I don't mean to say it literally. I feel terrible sympathy for these people - it seems the end of the world when you see deformed spastics, and we've had quite a lot of them in our travels.65
Wherever we went on tour, there were always a few seats laid aside for cripples and people in Wheelchairs. Because we were famous, we were supposed to have people, epileptics and whatever, in our dressing room all the time. We were supposed to be good for them.
You want to be alone and you don't know what to say, and they're usually saying, 'I've got your record,' or they can't speak and just want to touch you. And it's always the mother or nurse pushing them on you. They would push these people at you like you were Christ, as if there were some aura about you that would rub off on them.
It got to be like that, and we were very callous about it. It was just dreadful. When we would open up, every night, instead of seeing kids there, we would see a row full of cripples along the front. When we'd be running through, people would be lying around. It seemed that we were just surrounded by cripples and blind people all the time, and when we would go through corridors they would all be touching us. It was horrifying.70
In the States, they were bringing hundreds of them backstage, and it was fantastic. I can't stand looking at them. I have to turn away. I have to laugh, or I'd just collapse from hate. They'd line them up, and I got the impression The Beatles were being treated as bloody faith healers. It was sickening.65 It was sort of the 'in' joke that we were supposed to cure them. It was the kind of thing that we would say. I mean, we felt sorry for them - anybody would - but it was awful. There's kind of embarrassment when you're surrounded by blind, deaf and crippled people - and there is only so much we could say with the pressure on to perform.70
PAUL: I THINK THAT, PARTICULARLY IN THE OLD DAYS, THE SPIRIT OF THE BEATLES SEEMED TO SUGGEST SOMETHING VERY HOPEFUL AND YOUTHFUL. So, often, someone would ask us to say 'hello' to handicapped kids; to give them some kind of hope, maybe. But it was difficult for us, because part of our himour was a sick kind of humour. We were almost having to bless the people in wheelchairs; so there was this dual inclination going on for us.
JOHN: We're not cruel. We've seen enough tragedy in Merseyside. But when a mother shrieks, 'Just touch my son and maybe he will walk again,' we want to run, cry, empty our pockets. We're going to remain normal if it kills us.65
NEIL ASPINAL: After Australia and New Zealand it was back to England for the world première of A hard Day's Night in Piccadilly. Big crowds of people again. After London was the Northern première in Liverpool.
PAUL: I remember Piccadilly being completely filled. We thought we would just show up in our limo, but it couldn't get through for all the people. It wasn't frightening - we never seemed to get worried by crowds. It always appeared to be a friendly crowd; there never seemed to be a violent face.
We weren't really apprehensive about going back to Liverpool, for the other première. We'd heard one or two little rumours that people felt we'd betrayed them by leaving, and shouldn't have gone to live in London. But there were always those detractors.
JOHN: We couldn't say it, but we didn't really like going back to Liverpool. Being local heroes made us nervous. When we did shows there, they were always full of people we knew. We felt embarrassed in our suits and being very clean. We were worried that friends might think we'd sold out - which we had, in a way.67
GEORGE: I remember us flying up there. When we first started flying to London, we went on Starways Airline. We'd take off from Liverpool and go up over the Mersey, over Port Sunlight. I remember the first time I went on that flight: as the plane was hammering down the runway, the back window opened, right where I was sitting. I freaked out, thinking I was going to get sucked out. I shouted and a stewardess came down, got hold of the window and slammed it shut again. I think by the time we went up for the première they'd started using the Dakota turbo-prop planes.
PAUL: We landed at the airport and found there were crowds everywhere, like a royal do. It was incredible, because people were lining the streets that we'd known as children, that we'd taken the bus down, or walked down. We'd been to the cinema with girls down these streets. And here we were now with thousands of people - for us. There was a lot of, 'Hello, how are you? All right?' It was strange because they were our own people, but it was brilliant.
We ended up at Liverpool Town Hall on the balcony, with throngs of people - 200.000, in fact - all out there between the Town Hall and the Cavern. Very familiar territory for us.
JOHN: It was marvellous. I don't know how many it was - just enough to make it fantastic. And it was better when we were in the car, because we were right near them.
We had all been keyed up for days, wondering what sort of reception we would get. we never expected so many people would turn out. We thought there would be only a few people standing on the odd street corner. We heard that we were finished in Liverpool, you see. And after a bit we began to believe it and we thought, 'We don't want to go home if they're going to do that; we'll just sneak home to our houses.' And they kept on, saying, 'I've been down the Cavern, and they don't like you any more.' Of course, they were talking to people who hadn't even known us before anyway. We went back and it was one of the best ever.
What really delighted us more than anything is that everybody, from the top nobs down to the humblest Scouser, has been so nice and friendly and sung praise after, which I'm sure we really don't deserve.64
GEORGE: It was funny, because the roads I'd driven down all my life were lined with people waving. We stood on the balcony of the Town Hall for the civic reception and John did the salute.
NEIL ASPINAL: John got away with his Hitler bit on the balcony. Nobody seemed to pick up on it. John was always like that, a bit irreverent. Anybody in nerve-racking situations tends to do things to relieve the tension.
PAUL: Liverpool was the place we loved, and the reception was great. There was apparently a little bit of sour grapes on the day, but it served only to give the newspaper a story.
JOHN: THANKS FOR THE PURPLE HEARTS, HAROLD.
GEORGE: We had no reason to be guarded or defensive with the press because we were just having fun and it wasn't any big deal. So, consequently, when The Beatles did a press conference that was part of our charm. We were straightforward, down-to-earth and pretty honest.
JOHN: We were funny at press conferences, because it was all a joke. They'd ask joke questions so you'd give joke answers, but we weren't really funny at all. It was just fifth-form humour, the sort you laugh at at school. The press were putrid. If there were any good questions about our music we took them seriously. We were nervous, though I don't think people thought so.
Our image was only a teeny part of us. It was created by the press and us. It had to be wrong, because you can't put over how you really are. Newspapers always get things wrong. Even when bits were true, it was always old. New images would catch on as we were leaving them.67
We're past being bugged by questions, unless they're very personal - and then you just over-react: human reactions. There used to be one: 'What will you do when the bubble bursts?' We'd have hysterics, because someone always asked it. I'm still looking for the bubble.68
On our first [American] tour there was an unspoken thing that Mr Epstein was preventing us talking about the Vietnam War. Before we came back for the second, George and I said to him, 'We don't go unless we answer what we feel about the war.' We were being asked about it all the time and it was silly - we had to pretend to be like in the old days when artists weren't meant to say anything about anything. We couldn't carry it through, we couldn't help ourselves; things would come out even though there was an unspoken policy not to say anything.72 We spoke our minds after that: 'we don't like it, we don't agree with it, we think it is wrong.'68
GEORGE: We were always saying we should speak out about Vietnam, and I think we did at times. I remember talking to the press all the way round the American tours - we used to have them on the plane with us. I would be rabbiting on about everything. But, generally, in the early days there was that concept that pop stars shouldn't rattle their audience: you can't be married; don't let them see your girlfriend - and don't mention the war! Maybe we were naïve. Maybe there was a lot of stuff that people weren't ready for...
JOHN: All our songs are anti-war.64
GEORGE: I think about it every day, and it's wrong. Anything to do with war is wrong. They're all wrapped up in their Nelsons and their Churchills and the Montys - always talking about war heroes. Look at All Our Yesterdays. How we killed a few more Huns here or there. It makes me sick. They're the sort who are leaning on the walking sticks and telling us a few years in the army would do us good.64
GEORGE: ON TOUR THAT YEAR, IT WAS CRAZY. NOT WITHIN THE BAND. IN THE BAND WE WERE NORMAL, AND THE REST OF THE WORLD WAS CRAZY.
GEORGE: Everywhere we went, the police were putting on their display. Everybody got into the mania. You could make a film, just showing how idiotic everybody else was whenever The Beatles came to town.
In America, the police would be directing the traffic. They'd drive ahead of the motorcade; they'd come to a crossroads, put both hands up and blow their whistles. Then another bike would pass and go to the next link, but they'd all try to be flash, going in and out and racing up the road. They loved the feeling of: 'It's the President coming!' But they were all crashing, falling off. It was happening everywhere - even in Sweden! Wherever we went it was that kind of thing.
JOHN: We always called it 'the eye of the hurricane' - it was calmer right in the middle.71
NEIL ASPINAL: The film A Hard Day's Night and the soundtrack album were both hits by the time they got back to America for the August tour. America was now very aware of The Beatles and things were crazy. There were lots of people trying to touch the band. Everywhere they went, the local dignitaries would want to meet them, and would bring their children with them.
Sometimes they didn't have time for it, and it was much less disciplined than it was in England, because everything was bigger. If they were playing a stadium, the dressing room would be the players' locker room. It wasn't like the back of the Hammersmith Odeon where they could isolate themselves; you could get 200 people in a locker room. So, there would be five or six of us, the people from GAC (the tour agency), the security staff, the local promoter, people bringing food in and out - and bands wanting to say 'hello': The Lovin' Spoonful, The Grateful Dead and other bands.
PAUL: WE WERE GETTING A LITTLE CRAZY WITH IT ALL.
JOHN: It just really built up: the bigger that we got, the more unreality we had to face, the more we were expected to do - until when you didn't shake hands with a mayor's wife she starts abusing you and screaming, 'How dare they!'
There is one of Derek's stories where we were asleep after the session, in a hotel somewhere in America, and the mayor's wife comes and says, 'Get them up, I want to meet them!' Derek said, 'I'm not going to wake them up,' and she started to scream, 'You get them up or I'll tell the press!'
There was always that. They were always threatening what they would tell the press, to make bad publicity about us if we didn't see their bloody daughter with braces on her teeth. And it was always the police chief's daughter or the Lord Mayor's daughter; all the most obnoxious kids, because they had the most obnoxious parents. We had these people thrust on us and were forced to see them all the time. Those were the most humiliating experiences.70
RINGO: I found the tour madness exciting. I loved it. I loved the decoy cars and all the intricate ways of getting us to the gigs. It was just so much fun. Also, we were meeting a lot of great people, musicians and actors; and finding great bars. We could still go out. That was the amazing thing, we were not trapped. We went out all the time - well, I was out quite a lot.
JOHN: We just can't get out on our own - but we had seventeen years of being able to walk to the shops. Occasionally, one of us slips out on his own and we take a chance there, because people think we travel in fours all the time. When they see us on our own, they often don't recognise us.
People think fame and money bring freedom, but they don't. We're more conscious now of the limitations it places on us rather than the freedom. We still eat the same kind of food as we did before, and have the same friends. You don't change things like that overnight. We can't even spend the allowance we get, because there's nothing to spend it on. What can you spend on in a room?
When you're on tour, you exist in this kind of vacuum all the time. It's work, sleep, eat and work again. We work mad hours, really, but none of us would have it any other way. When I look back, I can't remember a time when I wasn't in the business - it seems years to me, now.64
RINGO: We would go to bars or clubs - or on police-car drives; drive with the cops. (The police were very good to us in those days, because they would take all the pills or stuff off the kids and give it to me. I loved the police!)
There was one time in San Francisco which was great. We went to a bar and Dale Robertson was there. I mean, Dale Robertson! It was, 'Hey, Dale, how you doing?' - 'I'm fine.' We were having a drink and then they said, 'OK, that's the end, everyone has to leave the bar.' California closes down at 2am; that's the end of the night. So they closed the bar and the barman and everyone went out and then we went back in and carried on. I loved all that.
I loved meeting Burt Lancaster, too. He was great. The first time in LA, we'd rented a huge house and I turned into a cowboy. I had a poncho and two toy guns and was invited over to Burt Lancaster's, and that was how I went. I was all, 'Hold it up there now, Burt, this town ain't big enough for both of us,' and he said, 'What have you got there? Kids' stuff.' Later he sent me two real guns, and a real holster: he didn't like me playing with kids' guns. I just wanted to be a cowboy.
He had an amazing house. It had a pool outside, but you could swim into the living room if you went under the glass. LA was a mind-blower. We used to walk up and down Sunset Strip; we'd get out of the limo and people would come up to us, but it was still quite cool. It wasn't like a crazy feeding frenzy; there would be a lot of 'hellos'. Of course, as it got into 1965/66 and substances came into play, the attitude was changing and it was cool to be cool, to just go shopping. Everyone would be pleased to see you walk down Sunset. And Sunset was great. We went to the Whisky A Go Go, and all the clubs.
JOHN: Something like Ringo's saying, 'Burt Lancaster's genuine,' sounds like a showbusiness or actors' or film stars' cliché, but it isn't. Because the people we meet and don't think are genuine we either don't meet or we don't mention on tape or we tell them that they're lousy.64
RINGO: We played the Hollywood Bowl. The shell around the stage was great. It was the Hollywood Bowl - these were impressive places to me. I feel in love with Hollywood then, and I am still in love with Hollywood - well, Beverly Hills, Hollywood, California. I prefer it to New York.
Hollywood has palm trees - there aren't many palm trees in Liverpool. The weather was hot and the lifestyle was really, really cool.
JOHN: Showbiz is a bit potty, and the whole of showbiz stuck in one area must be potty. We saw a couple of film stars: Edward G. Robinson, Jock Palance, Hugh O'Brian. We were expecting to see more. We were a bit choked.
The Hollywood Bowl was marvellous. It was the one we all enjoyed most, I think, even though it wasn't the largest crowd - because it seemed so important, and everybody was saying things. We got on, and it was a big stage, and it was great. We could be heard in a place like the Hollywood Bowl, even though the crowd was wild: good acoustics. There's a couple of places we've been heard quite well, better than we've been for years.64 But we don't want them quiet. There's no point in doing a show if they're just going to sit there listening - they can listen to their record. I like a riot.66
GEORGE MARTIN: I thought we should record the Hollywood Bowl concert, and I arranged for Capitol to provide their engineers. The technique we used was three-track, half-inch tape, and the separation wasn't too great. To begin with, we had the voices in the centre with a mixture of drums, bass and guitars on separate side-tracks. But pervading the whole lot was the enormous welter of screams from the audience. It was like putting a microphone at the tail of a 747 jet. It was one continual screaming sound, and it was very difficult to get a good recording.
PAUL: People were saying, 'Doesn't it drive you mad, all these girls screaming?' We didn't mind it, because sometimes it covered a multitude of sins: we were out of tune. It didn't matter - we couldn't hear it, nor could they.
GEORGE MARTIN: The Hollywood Bowl tapes weren't issued at that time. The Beatles didn't think it was right to do so; and it wasn't until 1977 that I dug them up, refurbished them and issued a record.
They were great as a live band, especially when you consider that one of their problems was that they couldn't hear themselves. In concerts today, everyone has a fold-back speaker at their feet, so that they can hear what's going on. They didn't have that in the days of The Beatles' live shows, so John, Paul and George would be standing at microphones in front of a screaming crowd of 60,000 and Ringo would be at the back on the drums.
Ringo once said to me how difficult following was: 'I couldn't do anything clever. I couldn't do great drum kicks or rolls or fills, I just had to hang onto the backbeat all the time to keep everybody together. I used to have to follow their three bums wiggling to see where we were in the song.'
RINGO: There was nothing else I could do through the numbers bar play the off-beat and try to lip-read where they were up to in the songs, or read by their movements where the hell we were. If I tried to do anything on the toms it was lost in the din. But it never disappointed me because when we toured in the Sixties, it was to sell records, which the fans could then go off and listen to and we would get our royalty, a penny a record.
GEORGE: ALL THE TOURS MERGE INTO ONE IN MY MIND.
We had Jackie De Shannon on tour with us; I remember playing guitar with her. we went to Los Angeles, where we stayed in a big old shady house in Bel Air. Somebody conned us into going to the Whisky A Go Go. It seemed to take us twenty minutes to get from the door to the table and instantly the whole of Hollywood paparazzi descended. It was a total set-up by Jayne Mansfield to have pictures taken with us. John and I were sitting either side of her and she had her hands on our legs, by our groins - at least she did on mine. We'd been sitting there for hours, waiting to get a drink; we had glasses with ice in them, and the ice had all melted. A photographer came and tried to get a picture and I threw the glass of water at him. He took a photo of the water coming out of the glass and soaking (accidentally) the actress Mamie Van Doren, who just happened to be passing. We got out of there; it was hell. We left town the next day, and I remember sitting on the plane, reading the paper and there was the photo of me throwing the water.
RINGO: Which any normal fella would do, but because George did it and he was in The Beatles, it got all that publicity. You go to a club and there's some little photographers with big cameras, and none of them say, 'Can I take a picture?' They run up and put their flash about four inches from your eyes and flash a dirty big light which blinds you.
JOHN: Anywhere we go we're going to get people coming up with their flashes. You take it once, twice, maybe three times and then you say, 'OK, whatever-your-name-is, have you dance yet? We're not going to do anything else, we're just sitting here, you've got all the pictures you need,' which is what happened in that club in Hollywood. We said 'go away' and he goes. But he comes back again. It's embarrassing for us, because they say, 'Oh, they're big headed, how dare they ask somebody to go away?' So the manager of the club comes up and says, 'Is he bothering you?' And we say, 'Yeah, will you just move him? Tell him to drop his camera; come over and join the table; anything, but stop flashing!'64
GEORGE: Before LA we went and played in Las Vegas, where Liberace visited us. I think the first four rows of that concert were filled up by Pat Boone and his daughters. He seemed to have hundreds of daughters.
There was all kinds of trouble in the States. There was everyone trying to sue us. There were girls trying to get into our rooms so they could sue us for totally made-up things. There was always this very peculiar suing consciousness. I'd never heard about suing people until we went to America.
We went to Key West from French Canada, where we'd thought Ringo was going to get shot. A Montreal newspaper reported that somebody was going to kill Ringo. Because they didn't like his nose or something? Because he was probably the most British of The Beatles? I don't know. Anyway, we decided, 'Fuck this, let's get out of town,' and we flew a day early, instead of staying the night in Montreal.
RINGO: Some people decided to make an example of me, as an English Jew. (The one major fault is I'm not Jewish.) Threats we took in our stride. I mean, suddenly there would be a few more cops; but this was one of the few times I was really worried. We were playing the gig and, as always, I was on a high-riser. I had the cymbals up towards the audience to give me a bit of protection; usually I had them flat on. I also had a plain-clothes policeman sitting there with me. But I started to get hysterical, because I thought, 'If someone in the audience has a pop at me, what is this guy going to do? Is he going to catch the bullet?' I found this was getting funnier and funnier all the time, and the guy just sat there.
GEORGE: We got on the plane to Jacksonville, Florida. But we found that there was a hurricane hitting Jacksonville, so they diverted us to key West, announcing, 'Fasten your seat belts. The runaway isn't big enough for this plane. We're going to have to go in with full reverse thrust.' This was on an Electra, a plane that we later discovered has a very high accident record. But we landed at Key West all right and had our day off there.
They said the hurricane had passed when we flew into Jacksonville, but it was as windy as hell and it was dark with very heavy black clouds all over. It had cleared a bit, but there were still turbulent winds, and as we were approaching we could see the devastation: palm trees fallen over and mess laying everywhere.
We'd discovered that there was a group of people following us around America, filming us, and we'd told them not to. They were in Florida and by this time we were saying, 'Look, we told these people to bugger off and they're here again and right out front.' They had actually been given priority with their camera, right in front of the stage. The winds were howling and there was Mal, nailing the drum kit to the platform, about ten or twelve feet off the ground; and we were really pissed that the film crew was there, so we said that we weren't going on. The promoters were getting stroppy with us, instead of kicking the camera people out. In the end Derek Taylor went on stage and was like Adolf Hitler up there, shouting to the crowd: 'These camera people are not wanted, they must be removed.' He was yelling, 'Do you want The Beatles on this stage?' - 'Yeah!' - 'Well then, do you want to get rid of the cameras?' - 'Yeah!' It was like a big Nuremberg rally, and I suppose the police and promoters thought that we were causing the trouble; but, even in those days, we knew there were some things you couldn't control.
There were riots in every city. Students rioting, blacks rioting; in Canada the French were trying to split from the British. Every place we went, there seemed to be something going on.
All the time, constantly, I felt frightened by things. I remember when we were going for that trip to America and they were saying, 'Oh, yeah, we're going to start in San Francisco with a ticker-tape parade.' That was once when I actually said, 'I'm not going.' I mean, it was less than a year since they'd assassinated Kennedy, and you know how mad it is in America. And with ticker-tape, somebody has got to sweep it up later. I don't like littering the streets, so I just said: 'I'm not doing that, I don't want a ticker-tape parade; it's silly.'
RINGO: I remember once looking into a mirror and saying to myself: ''Ere, it's not that big, is it?' You could say now I've come to terms with my nose. It's the talking point when people discuss me. I have to laugh - it goes up one nostril and out the other.65
GEORGE MARTIN: There had been death threats. I remember going to one of their concerts at the Red Rock Stadium in Denver where Brian and I climbed up on a gantry overlooking the stage, and we looked down at the boys below during the performance; and the amphitheatre is such that you could have a sniper on the hill who could pick off any of the fellows at any time - no problem. I was very aware of this, and so was Brian, and so were the boys.
JOHN: We get battered mostly by people trying to guard us - they get in the way half the time. They are always grabbing us and shoving us in the wrong thing. We have hysterics when they [the fans] get on stage. One got George, and I could hear all wrong notes coming out. He was trying to carry on playing - with a girl hanging round his neck! But I always feel safe on stage, even when they break through. I just feel as though I'm all right when I'm plugged in. 64
PAUL: I was got once by a cigarette lighter. It clouted me right in the eye and closed my eye for the stay. In Chicago a purple and yellow stuffed animal, a red rubber ball and a skipping rope were plopped up on stage. I had to kick a carton of Winston cigarettes out of the way when I played.64
JOHN: You feel a clonk on the back of the head and you look and it's a shoe. Then once one comes they all start thinking, 'Shoes: that'll attract their attention. If they get a shoe on the head, they're bound to look over here.' I always scout round looking on stage and tell Mal. He usually picks them all up at the end before the scavengers leap on and all the attendants pinch anything that's worth having.66
DEREK TAYLOR: From Dallas our next official stop was New York. Our secret interim destination was the Arkansas/Missouri border, where Reed Pigman (whose Lockheed Electra had been our travelling home for the last month) had a ranch.
GEORGE: We flew from Dallas to an intermediate airport where Pigman met us in a little plane with the one wing, on top, and with one or maybe two engines. It was so like Buddy Holly, that one; that was probably the closest we came to that sort of musicians' death. I don't mean it nearly crashed because it didn't, but the guy had a little map on his knee, with a light, as we were flying along and he was saying, 'Oh, I don't know where we are,' and it's pitch black and there are mountains all around and he's rubbing the windscreen trying to get the mist off. Finally he found where we were and we landed in a field with tin cans on fire to guide us in.
DEREK TAYLOR: After a night awake, dawdling through poker and cigarettes and beer into the early hours, we took our pick of some wild and rugged horses. Watched with amusement by Mrs Pigman, we chose our nags according to whim; Beatles first, aides next, Brian last because - alone among us - he did know something about riding horses.
GEORGE: With the concerts and the Beatlemania, after a while the novelty wore off and then it was very boring. It wasn't just the noise on stage, not hearing the music and playing the same old songs; it was too much everywhere we went. Even when we got away from the screaming fans, there were all the screaming policemen and the Lord Mayors and their wives and the hotel managers and their entourages.
THE ONLY PLACE WE EVER GOT ANY PEACE WAS WHEN WE GOT IN THE SUITE AND LOCKED OURSELVES IN THE BATHROOM. THE BATHROOM WAS ABOUT THE ONLY PLACE YOU COULD HAVE ANY PEACE.
DEREK TAYLOR: I was very, very good at helping the press and very anxious to oblige and let people in on the story and share it out. But there were too many people, tens of thousands, clamouring to get at the band. One weekend in America, 20,000 people phoned the switchboard in the hotel in New York to get through, and many of them did. To me. Just too much. Too many. Too often.
The Beatles handled that extreme pressure well. I didn't know then how difficult it was for them because, again, I had no time to get an insight into what it was really like.
I did make great demands on them, which they met somewhat, balcony-waving, etc.: 'Come on, guys, try and give them one more wave. Let's get you out there.' There were those moments when someone, George in particular, would rebel, would do that: 'Get your arm and bloody wave for me, I'm not going up there,' that sort of thing; or, 'I'm not meeting Shirley Temple!' - 'Don't shout, she's listening, she'll hear you.' - 'I don't care. I don't know Shirley Temple; she doesn't mean anything to me!'
JOHN: We make more money out of writing songs than we do out of appearing and running round waving and that.64
DEREK TAYLOR: George later said, 'If we'd known of, or were ready to be impressed by, Hedda Hopper or George Raft or Edward G. Robinson, we wouldn't have had the guts to go out. It was because we really didn't know a lot of those people, hadn't heard of them, that we weren't scared of them.' I, of course, had heard of them and was scared of them, so while The Beatles were pirates, I was still a bit middle class.
In the heyday of Beatlemania, there was a view that if you got to know The Beatles, your life would become sublime. It was a mania of some size. In 1964, because it was the first huge year, they did meet all kinds of people whom they would eventually shut out of their lives.
I still saw things as a journalist and got The Beatles to people in numbers, which is why I was really so good at the job, because I wanted to give the boys and the girls of the press what they wanted.
GEORGE MARTIN: I've seen the stresses to which they were subjected, and it was absolute hell. Wherever they went, there were hordes of people trying to get hold of them, trying to get their autographs, trying to touch them.
They were besieged by reporters, who aren't very nice people; they tend to use their elbows and feet to kick people, and each other, out of the way. I remember being escorted by police cars, or almost being kicked out of an aircraft by reporters who wanted to get on. Another time, I was in a lift, stuck between floors because too many people had crowded in.
It was just some giant three-ring circus from which there was no let-up.
The only peace they got was when they were alone in their hotel room, watching television and hearing the screams outside. That was about it. A hell of a life, really.
JOHN: Our life isn't like a tour, or like A Hard Day's Night, or any of those things. Only when we do that is all that created. When we're just living, it's calm. We never saw anything - just different rooms all over the place.68
If you're on tour, you don't get any time off. Even if we're touring America and it says 'a day off', you don't play that night, it's no good; because we're in the hotel room and to go out is a big operation involving the police and everything. And you're still 'on' because you're in contact with people who are looking at you and wanting autographs, or wanting a smile, or wanting something. So that's still a strain and still work.
You get used to it, like a prisoner must do. We play guitars, sing, have people round, play cards, draw; we do everything. Now and then, you get sick and tired - like anybody does; but no more sick and tired of it than I got sick and tired of school, or I got sick and tired of having no money.65
NEIL ASPINALL: Brian was very much in control; in control of what I'm not sure - but he was in control. If he said they were playing Milwaukee, then they were playing Milwaukee. Brian was the manager and if he booked an engagement they'd do it and complain afterwards: 'Don't get us a gig like that again,' or, 'We don't want to do a double-shuffle' - two gigs on the same night - 'it's getting too crazy to do that.' But the words would always be said afterwards and not before. If something was booked for The Beatles, they turned up and did it.
NEIL ASPINALL: I remember the Kansas after - for them to play an additioanal, unscheduled gig - kept coming up. It started out at $60,000 and they were saying 'no' because they had so few days off. Already that year they'd been to Paris, the States, appeared on the Ed Sullivan shows, come home and made the A Hard Day's Night record and movie. Then flown straight off on a world tour, and back to England for more concerts, TV and radio shows. And a visit to Sweden and straight after that an American tour.
They weren't getting any rest. A day off was precious; so if Brian wanted to fill one of their days off with an extra gig, they'd have to stop and think. To play thirty-five American cities was a big tour in those days. They'd play a gig on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, in different cities all over the States - flying in, hotel, press conference, gig, back to the hotel, flying out.
Brian had booked a 35-gig tour and they knew what they were doing and were committed to that. But to shove one more show in the middle was another story. So, The Beatles kept saying 'no', and the money kept going up. They agreed to do it in the end. The offer started at $60,000 and finally went to $150,000.
PAUL: Our days off were sacred. If you look at our 1964 timetable you can see why. I didn't realise until recently that we used to have a whole year of work, and then get something like 23rd November off - and then have to judge a beauty competition that day. So, by the time we got to Kansas City, we probably needed a day off. I can't actually remember falling out with Brian about him wanting us to work on a day off, we'd talk to each other rather than fall out.
DEREK TAYLOR: Occasionally The Beatles and I socialised with the public on tour. Just a bit. I wanted them to do it more. Ringo and Paul would, quite a lot - relatively so. George would do none of it. John would, if he was up all night. If you could keep him up be would do things first thing in the morning, which is when I couldn't get the others; so we used to stay up on pills and drink together a lot, and that's when we really got very friendly, in an extremely wholesome sort of way. It was the kind of friendship that men have when they are drinking together, whatever that means.
I think all of The Beatles enjoyed some of the touring. They liked meeting people like Fats Domino and others they met; they had quite a time.
PAUL: Fats Domino we admired. We met him in New Orleans. He had a very big diamond watch in the shape of a star, which was very impressive.
GEORGE: He was sweet, just like a little boy. On the tours we liked to listen to Tamla Motown: Marvin Gaye and the others. Stevie Wonder was just coming around in those days, and Ray Charles we'd liked from the Fifties. We were also meeting people like Chuck Berry and Carl Perkins.
And Indianapolis was good. As we were leaving, on the way to the airport, they took us round the Indy circuit, the 500 oval, in a Cadillac. It was fantastic. I couldn't believe how long the straightway was; and to be on the banking and see all the grandstands was great.
DEREK TAYLOR: They loved going to New York, when we stayed at the Del Monico Hotel, flying by helicopter into Forest Hills, the great tennis stadium. Those New York dates were exciting. They did enjoy that excitement, the city lights, the pace of events. Or so it seemed to me.
GEORGE: The Righteous Brothers were on stage singing 'You've Lost That Loving Feeling', when we came hovering over in this sodding big Chinook. All the people were up in the stands, pointing up to the sky, screaming and shouting, paying not a blind bit of notice to The Righteous Brothers - which pissed them off a little. In fact, they got so pissed off that they decided to leave the tour. Righteous indignation.
JOHN: Wherever we went, there was always a whole scene going. Derek's and Neil's rooms were always full of fuck knows what, and policemen and everything.70 All those people that went into Derek's room originally came with the intention of getting to our room, and they expect free drinks, free food, free anything that's going. You get to know them and can tell them apart from the others. Some of them are good fun because they are such clever imposters and con men. You can admire them; but all of them are just bums, and that's why they're in Derek's room and not ours.64 We had our four bedrooms separate to keep them out.
We had to do something, and what do you do when the pill doesn't wear off, when it's time to go?70
MAL EVANS: During that American tour each of us lost one and a half stone in sweat.
NEIL ASPINALL: We did have a laugh, and it was good, and though it got tense and tiring it didn't become a bore. We had a good time overall, and if anybody really got tense they took it out on me.
JOHN: We were bastards. You can't be anything else in such a pressurised situation, and we took it out on Neil, Derek and Mal. They took a lot of shit from us because we were in such a shitty position. It was hard work and somebody had to take it. Those things are left out, about what bastards we were. Fucking big bastards, that's what The Beatles were. You have to be a bastard to make it, and that's a fact. And The Beatles were the biggest bastards on earth.
We were the Caesars. Who's going to knock us when there's a million pounds to be made, all the hand-outs, the bribery, the police and the hype?70
DEREK TAYLOR: By the end of the US tour in September, Brian and I had a falling out. We actually fell out a lot, because I still had an independent spirit. I knew about trade-union rights and holidays and speaking your mind and that sort of thing. I knew also about blundering into situations which were not tactful, making commitments for one or other of them which, really, only a manager should do: 'Sure, John can give away a South Australian opal on camera.' - 'Well, that an engagement,' Brian said. 'How dare you commit John to giving away a South Australian opal on camera?' - 'I didn't realise.' - 'Well, you should have realised. You're usurping your power, and I didn't hire you for that, I hired you for this; you shouldn't be working with the boys, anyway, you should be with me all the time.' - 'Oh, this is crazy, I'm off!'
So, I left in New York. I resigned at the end of the tour, in September; but Brian made me work three months' notice, though, until just before Christmas. He tortured me by sending me to America on tour with Tommy Quickly and a song called 'The Wild Side Of Life'.
He made me work out my time, but he also asked me to stay, with, 'Derek... you and I, we do get along, when we get along.' - 'well, we do, Brian, but...' And it was such a relief to leave; I couldn't imagine why I'd ever wanted to join them. As long as we could still be friends, that was fine; let's get out of here and go back to newspapers.
So I went on to the Daily Mirror as a reporter, almost as just an ordinary reporter: happy, too.
JOHN: GOOD NIGHT, AND THANKS FOR THE BREAD.64
RINGO: IN NEW YORK WE MET BOB DYLAN. THAT WAS THE FIRST TIME THAT I'D REALLY SMOKED MARIJUANA AND I LAUGHED AND I LAUGHED AND I LAUGHED. IT WAS FABULOUS.
RINGO: Bob was our hero. I heard of him through John, who'd played his records to me. He was just great; he was this young dude with great songs. Songs of the time, poetry, and a great attitude.
PAUL: Bob came round one evening, whilst we were in New York. He was our idol. I had seen early programmes on Granada TV, when we were in Liverpool, about the New York beat Poets' scene, where he had been singing along with Allen Ginsberg. So we were into him as a poet, and we all had his first album with his floppy cap. I'm sure that's where the Lennon cap came from. John was a particularly big admirer. It shows in songs like 'Hide Your Love Away'.
JOHN: When I met Dylan I was quite dumbfounded. I'm pretty much a fan type myself, in a way; I stopped being a 'fan' when I started doing it myself. I never went collecting people's autographs or any of that jive. But if I dig somebody, I really dig them.71
'You've Got To Hide Your Love Away' is my Dylan period.74 It's one of those that you sing a bit sadly to yourself, 'Here I stand, head in hand...' I'd started thinking about my own emotions. I don't know when exactly it started, like 'I'm A Loser' or 'Hide Your Love Away', those kind of things. Instead of projecting myself into a situation, I would try to express what I felt about myself, which I'd done in my books. I think it was Dylan who helped me realise that - not by any discussion or anything, but by hearing his work.
I had a sort of professional songwriter's attitude to writing pop songs; we would turn out a certain style of song for a single, and we would do a certain style of thing for this and the other thing. I'd have a separate songwriting John Lennon who wrote songs for the meat market, and I didn't consider them (the lyrics or anything) to have any depth at all; to express myself I would write A Spaniard in the Works or In His Own Write, the personal stories which were expressive of my personal emotions. Then I started being me about the songs, not writing them objectively, but subjectively.70
PAUL: Vocally ad poetically Dylan was a huge influence. Lyrically he is still one of the best. Some of the long rambling poems he set to music are still some of my favourite pieces of work.
One thing that he did introduce us to was pot. I mean, we'd heard all the jokes: that the Ray Charles band had been at the Hammersmith Odeon and the cleaner said, 'He must be really tight, that Ray Charles - there are two of his musicians sharing a ciggy in the toilet!' We thought it was funny, but it wasn't us. Then Bob came round to our hotel, and he said to us, 'Here, try a bit of this.' It is very indiscreet to say this, because I don't know whether Bob is telling people he turned The Beatles on to marijuana. But it was funny.
JOHN: The drugs were around a long time. All the jazz musicians had been into heavy dope for years and years - it's just that they got in the media in the Sixties. People were smoking marijuana in Liverpool when we were still kids, though I wasn't too aware of it at that period. All these black guys were from Jamaica, or their parents were, and there was a lot of marijuana around. The beatnik thing had just happened. Some guy was showing us pot in Liverpool in 1960, with twigs on it. And we smoked it and we didn't know what it was. We were drunk.75
GEORGE: We first got marijuana from an older drummer with another group in Liverpool. We didn't actually try it until after we'd been to Hamburg. I remember we smoked it in the band room in a gig in Southport and we all learnt to do the Twist that night, which was popular at the time. We were all seeing if we could do it. Everybody was saying, 'This stuff isn't doing anything.' It was like that old joke where a party is going on and two hippies are up floating on the ceiling, and one is saying to the other, 'This stuff doesn't work, man.'
JOHN: Bob Dylan had heard one of our records where we said, 'I can't hide,' and he had understood, 'I get high.' He came running and said to us, 'Right, guys, I've got some really good grass.' How could you not dig a bloke like that? He thought that we were used to drugs.
We smoked and laughed all night. He kept answering our phone, saying, 'This is Beatlemania here.' It was ridiculous.64
GEORGE: We had a mutual friend, Al Aronowitz, whom we'd met first in 1963, who worked for the Saturday Evening Post. Al Aronowitz and Bob were part of a beatnik crowd. We had always liked Bohemians and beatniks. I still do - I still like anyone who is not the run of the mill. One of the things Al did was to take Beatles and Bob Dylan records to Russia and try to be subversive. He was a friend of Bob's and he phoned us up and said that Bob was around and we could all get together. He brought him over to the hotel. It was a real party atmosphere. We all got on very well and we just talked and had a big laugh.
PAUL: We had a crazy party the night we met. I went around thinking I'd found the meaning of life that night. I kept saying to Mal, 'Get a pencil and paper, I've got it.' Mal, who was a bit out of it too, couldn't find a pencil or paper anywhere. Eventually he found some and I wrote down The Message of the Universe and told him, 'Now keep that in your pocket.' Next morning Mal said, 'Hey, Paul, do you want to see that bit of paper?' I had written: 'There are seven levels.' Yeah, OK, maybe it didn't exactly sum it all up after all, but we had a great time.
Drugs have now become such a serious menace that it is very difficult to write about the subject; I don't want to influence anyone in this day and age - I've got kids of my own. (When we used to talk about it, it was a bit lightweight; you could talk about pot and wine as opposed to scotch and Coke.) But it is part of the truth.
JOHN: I don't remember much what we talked about. We were smoking dope, drinking wine and generally being rock'n'rollers and having a laugh, you know, and surrealism. It was party time.
I remember one little nugget. We were up one of these hotels in New York (he'd bring his demos every time he made a new record) and he'd be saying, 'Hey, John, listen to the lyrics, man.' - 'Forget the lyrics!' You know, we're all out of our minds, are we supposed to be listening to lyrics? No, we're just listening to the rhythm and how he does it.74
PAUL: I'm sure that the main influence on both Dylan and John was Dylan Thomas. That's why Bob's not Bob Zimmerman - his real name. We all used to like Dylan Thomas. I read him a lot. I think that John started writing because of him, and the fact that Bob Dylan wrote poetry added to his appeal. John was already doing it 'in his own right'. He was writing before he'd heard of Bob Dylan.
We were always interested in that kind of thing. We were slightly studenty. We used to make fun of the other bands who weren't. I received a poetry book once, in Hamburg: Yevtushenko. A girlfriend sent it to me. We were sitting in the communal dressing room, where everyone stuck their saxophones and equipment. We were waiting to go on, and a sax player from one of the other groups was knocking to come in. We said, 'Come in,' and we were all in various poses, 'Yeah, ah, ah,' as I was reading: 'The yellow flower graces thoughtlessly the green steps.' The guy was creeping past, 'Sorry, don't want to disturb you...'
The point was that we had a book of poetry; it was part of our equipment. It was part and parcel of what we all liked - art. John had been to art college. I had won a little art prize at school. (I was never very swotty but I occasionally did quite well in things. In 1953, there was a Coronation essay competition. All the kids in Britain were invited to write essays about the monarchy or something, to celebrate our Queen's glorious accession to the throne. And I won a prize: a book on modern art.)
I'm sure this kind of thing found its way into our music, and into our lyrics, and influenced whom we were interested in; people like Dylan. That's where it all led.
NEIL ASPINALL: After the American tour, it was back to Britain, to record the album Beatles For Sale, the single 'I Feel Fine' and to head off on another British tour of small venues, cinemas and theatres. I think the largest UK gig The Beatles ever played was Wembley Arena; it was mainly Odeon cinemas and the like.
GEORGE: In October 1964 we started another tour of Britain. We had a lot of shows booked from before, and so, having played huge stadiums in America, we were now coming back to Britain and playing the working men's club in Accrington for tuppence a month. After having some success, we still fulfilled the obligations that we had before we got really famous. That was one of the things everybody was proud of.
RINGO: It was the same in 1963. That was a great thing with Brian. If we'd been booked to play a small club anywhere, we still went and played it for the price agreed originally. We were honourable folk, and so was Brian. It was pretty strange, though, because we'd be playing in some daft dance hall in the middle of nowhere, and it would be packed. But we played all those gigs.
I felt we were progressing in leaps and bounds, musically. Some of the material on Beatles For Sale and the 1965 Rubber Soul album was just brilliant; what was happening elsewhere was nothing like it. It was getting to be really exciting in the studio. We did it all in there: rehearsing, recording and finishing songs. We never hired a rehearsal room to run down the songs, because a lot of them weren't finished. The ideas were there for the first verse, or a chorus, but it could be changed by the writers as we were doing it, or if anyone had a good idea.
The first form in which I'd hear a newly written tune would be on the guitar or piano. It's great to hear the progression through takes of various songs. They'd change dramatically. First of all, whoever wrote it would say, 'It goes like this.' They would play it on guitar or piano, singing it every time - they would be learning to sing the song while we were all learning to play it, over and over again.
Most of our early recordings were on three tracks because we kept on track for overdubs. That also kept us together as a band - we played and played and played. If one of them could sing it, the four of us could play it till the cows came home. There was none of this, 'We'll put the bass on later, or the guitars.' We put most of it on then and there, including the vocals. And songs were written anywhere.
PAUL: Recording Beatles For Sale didn't take long. Basically it was our stage show, with some new songs - 'Eight Days A Week', for example. I remember writing that with John, at his place in Weybridge, from something said by the chauffeur who drove me out there. John had moved out of London, to the suburbs. I usually drove myself there, but the chauffeur drove me out that day and I said, 'How've you been?' - 'Oh, working hard,' he said, 'working eight days a week.' I had never heard anyone use that expression, so when I arrived at John's house I said, 'Hey, this fella just said, "eight days a week".' John said, 'Right - "Oooh, I need your love, babe..."' and we wrote it. We were always quite quick to write. We would write on the spot. I would show up, looking for some sort of inspiration; I'd either get it there, with John, or I'd hear someone say something.
John and I were always looking for titles. Once you've got a good title, if someone says, 'What's your new song?' and you have a title that interests people, you are halfway there. Of course, the song has to be good. If you've called it 'I Am On My Way To A Party With You, Babe', they might say, 'OK...' But if you've called it 'Eight days A Week', they say, 'Oh yes, that's good!' With 'A Hard Day's Night', you've almost captured them.
So we would start with a title. I would turn up at John's house. He'd get up when I arrived. I'd have a cup of tea and a bowl of cornflakes with him and we'd go up to a little room, get our guitars out and kick things around. It would come very quickly, and in two or three hours' time I'd leave.
We would normally play it to Cynthia, or to whoever was around. We couldn't put it down on a cassette because there weren't cassettes then. We'd have to remember it, which was always a good discipline, and if it was a rubbish song we'd forget it.
JOHN: Everybody thinks you move pop stars into what they call 'the stockbroker area'. I don't know why other pop stars move into areas like that; I moved in because it was about the third house I'd looked at and I had to get out of a flat quick, and I didn't care where. I wanted to live in London, but I wouldn't risk it until it's quietened down.
[The house] is quite big. I only realise how big it is when I go home to Liverpool or visit relations and realise the size of my house compared with theirs. It's three floors. I've got one room with about fourteen guitars in it, twenty pianos, organs, tape recorders, everything. The next room's full of racing cars. The next room's got a desk in where I write and draw and the next's got one-armed bandits and football games and all those things that you put tanners in. The rest of the house is normal; but it's not big enough. I need a giant place.65
JOHN: 'Eight days A Week' was Paul's effort at getting a single for the movie. That luckily turned to 'Help!', which I wrote - bam! bam! like that - and got the single. 'Eight Days A Week' was never a good song. We struggled to record it and struggled to make it into a song. It was his initial efforts, but I think we both worked on it.80
'I'm A Loser' is me in my Dylan period, because the word 'clown' is in it. I objected to the word 'clown', because that was always artsy-fartsy, but Dylan had used it so I thought it was all right, and it rhymed with whatever I was doing.74 Part of me suspects I'm a loser, and part of me thinks I'm God Almighty.
'No Reply' was my song. Dick James, the publisher, said, 'That's the first complete song you've written it resolves itself.' You know, with a complete story. It was my version of 'Silhouettes': I had that image of walking down the street and seeing her silhouetted in the window and not answering the phone. Although I never called a girl on the phone in my life - phones weren't part of the English child's life.80
GEORGE: Our records were progressing. We'd started out like anyone spending their first time in a studio - nervous and naive and looking for success. By this time we'd had loads of hits and a few tours and were becoming more relaxed with ourselves, and more comfortable in the studio. And the music was getting better.
For this album we rehearsed only the new ones. Songs like 'Honey Don't' and 'Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby', we'd played live so often that we only had to get a sound on them and do them. But with songs like 'Baby's In Black', we had to learn and rehearse them. We were beginning to do a little overdubbing, too, probably a four-track. And George Martin would suggest some changes; not too many, but he was always an integral part of it.
PAUL: We got more and more free to get into ourselves. Our student selves rather than 'we must please the girls and make money', which is all that 'From Me To You', 'Thank You Girl', 'PS I Love You' is about. 'Baby's In Black' we did because we liked waltz-time - we'd used to do 'If You Gotta Make A Fool Of Somebody', a cool three-four blues thing. And other bands would notice that and say, 'Shit man, you're doing something in three-four.' So we'd got known for that. And I think also John and I wanted to do something bluesy, a bit darker, more grown-up, rather than just straight pop. It was more 'baby's in Black' as in mourning. Our favourite colour was black, as well.
RINGO: We all knew 'Honey Don't'; it was one of those songs that every band in Liverpool played. I used to love country music and country rock; I'd had my own show with Rory Storm, when I would do five or six numbers. So singing and performing wasn't new to me; it was a case of finding a vehicle for me with The Beatles. That's why we did it on Beatles For Sale. It was comfortable. And I was finally getting one track on a record: my little featured spot.
JOHN: I wrote 'I Feel Fine' around that riff going on in the background. I tried to get that effect into practically every song on the LP, but the others wouldn't have it. I told them I'd write a song specially for the riff. So they said, 'Yes, you go away and do that,' knowing that we'd almost finished the album. Anyway, going into the studio one morning, I said to Ringo, 'I've written this song, but it's lousy.' But we tried it, complete with riff, and it sounded like an A side, so we decided to realise it just like that.
George and I play the same bit on guitar together - that's the bit that'll set your feet a-tapping, as the reviews say, I suppose it has a bit of a country-and-western feel about it, but then so have a lot of our songs. The middle-eight is the most tuneful part, to me, because it's a typical Beatles bit.64
GEORGE: The guitar riff was actually influenced by a record called 'Watch Your Step' by Bobby Parker. But all riffs in that tempo have a similar sound. John played it, and all I did was play it as well, and it became the double-tracked sound.
JOHN: 'Watch Your Step' is one of my favourite records. The Beatles have used the lick in various forms. The Allman Brothers used the lick straight as it was.74
GEORGE: John got a bit of feedback unintentionally and liked the sound and thought that it would be good at the start of the song. From then on he started to hold the guitar to create the feedback for every take that we recorded.
JOHN: The record had the first feedback anywhere. I defy anybody to find a record - unless it's some old blues record in 1922 - that uses feedback that way. I mean, everybody played feedback on stage, and the Jimi Hendrix stuff was going on long before [him]. In fact, the punk stuff now is only what people were doing in the clubs. So I claim for The Beatles --before Hendrix, before The Who, before anybody - the first feedback on any record.
The B side, 'She's A Woman', was Paul's, with some contribution from me on lines, probably. We put in the words 'turns me on'. We were so excited to say 'turn me on' - you know, about marijuana, using it as an expression.
There was a little competition between Paul and me as to who got the A side, who got the hit singles. If you notice, in the early days the majority of singles - in the movies and everything - were mine. And then, only when I became self-conscious and inhibited, and maybe the astrology wasn't right, did Paul start dominating the group a little. But in the early period, obviously, I'm dominating. I did practically every single with my voice except for 'Love Me Do'. Either my song, or my voice or both. The only reason Paul sang on 'Hard Day's Night' was because I couldn't reach the notes - 'When I'm home, everything seems to be right. When I'm home...' - which is what we'd do sometimes: one of us couldn't reach a note but he wanted a different sound, so he'd get the other to do the harmony.
It wasn't resentment, but it was competitive. I mean, rivalry between two guys is always there: it was a creative rivalry, like there was a rivalry between The Beatles and the Stones. I used this 'sibling rivalry', from youth, to create a song. In that respect it was not a vivious, horrible vendetta, because it's not on that level.80
PAUL: The album cover was rather nice: Robert Freeman's photos. It was easy. We did a session lasting a couple of hours and had some reasonable pictures to use. We showed up in Hyde Park by the Albert Memorial. I was quite impressed by George's hair there. He managed to create his little turnip top. The photographer would always be able to say to us, 'Just show up,' because we all wore the same kind of gear all the time. Black stuff; white shirts and big black scarves.
RINGO: We'd all go to the same shop. I'd get the shirt in blue, and someone would get it in pink, and someone would get it in button-down. If you look at all the photos, we are all dressed in the same style because that's how it happened.
For example, with the famous round-necked jackets, we had our Thank Your Lucky Stars gig to do - the TV show - and we were somewhere around Shaftesbury Avenue. We saw the suits in a window and just went in and got them. We all got one, and suddenly that was a uniform. We were going to all these shops and buying little uniforms for ourselves. That's also why we looked like Beatles; beside the haircut, we were all looking the same.
JOHN: We're really pleased with the record and with the new LP. There was a lousy period when we didn't seem to have any material for the LP and didn't have a single. Now we're clear of things and they're due out, it's a bit of a relief.64
NEIL ASPINALL: No band today would come off a long US tour at the end of September, go into the studio and start a new album, still writing songs, and then go on a UK tour; finish the album in five weeks, still touring, and have the album out in time for Christmas. But that's what The Beatles did at the end of 1964. A lot of it was down to naivety, thinking that this was the way things were done: if the record company needs another album, you go and make one. Nowadays, if a band had as much success as The Beatles had by the end of 1964, they'd start making a few demands.
John once said, 'We gave the whole of our youth to The Beatles.'
If you look at the work schedule in late 1963, and right through 1964, you'll see it really was incredible. On top of the tours and the records and the film, they did a Christmas show and all the TV shows: Top of the Pops and Thank Your Lucky Stars and Around The Beatles (thirty-seven of them). And all the BBC radio shows (twenty-two). It was non-stop.
Brian was beginning to plan quite far ahead. At Christmas 1964 he would be planning the tour of America for 1965, trying to get a script together for Help!; and he would have been panning whatever other tours they were doing. Somebody would suggest, 'Can we have a holiday as well, Brian?' while all this was going on.
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