Saturday, June 03, 2006
The cloudburst doesn't last all day
Seems my love is up and has left with no warning
But it's not always gonna be this gray
By Al Aronowitz
NEW YORK - Come walk with George Harrison in New York's parade, brightening the city's sidewalks as he leaves a trail of doubletakes behind him, a long-bearded figure in faded denim while the sun puts a halo through the spray of his flowing hair. When George smiles, golden palaces materialize on the hillsides of your brain. Poor George, the forgotten Beatle, seeking asylum in our garbage air, a refugee from Paul McCartney's declared war on his brethren.
Why is George in New York? He really has no answer to that question. He awakes before dawn for his first full day in our town, a victim of London's sunrise, only five hours away but still clinging to him like the last few burning words that Paul had spoken into his ear over the telephone. The sparkle in George's eyes blinds you to the jet fatigue on his face. I take him a borrowed guitar and he sings me a song he has written: ". . . Sunrise doesn't last all morning . . ." I tell him I feel privileged to hear it.
It has been 18 months since George was allowed in this country, barred because of a marijuana bust of questionable notoriety. Would they have done the same to Princess Margaret? The Beatles are another kind of royalty, and maybe George has come just to celebrate the fact that he is permitted to. "I had to pick up my visa, anyway," he says. Of course he will spend time with Allen Klein, the Beatles' business manager, but on this day Allen is at the funeral of his 74-year-old father. "Allen is the first to really take a personal interest in me," George says. There is no bitterness when he talks of Paul. There is only hurt.
Our first stop is at the cigar store at 54th and Broadway to buy sunglasses. Derek Taylor, the Beatles' press officer, is with us, talking about how unexpected Paul's attack had been. "He was only supposed to write out information explaining how he made his album," Derek says. "Instead he hands us this interview with himself asking questions such as would he miss Ringo. It was entirely gratuitous. Nobody asked him that question. He asked that question of himself."
Outside the cigar store, a black woman with a shaved head is arguing with a white woman who has objected to her appearance. "Stay out of it, wench!" the black woman shouts, walking away. "Well, that's New York for you," Derek says. George is amazed at the city's floor show. "Om Hari Om," he begins chanting, like somebody crossing himself after just seeing something awful. "Gopala Krishna, Om Hari Om . . ." At the Underwriters' Trust Co. across the street, a teller refuses to cash one of Derek's traveller's checks. The guard looks at George suspiciously. "How are you today?" he says.
Ah, New York, you give with one hand and pick pockets with the other. At every street corner, George watches the parade. "If I saw any one of these people in England, I'd think they were sick," he says. "But in New York, they all look like that." He talks about the time he visited here before the Beatles became famous. He stayed at the Pickwick and took a trip to the Statue of Liberty. Is there a city alive with more garbage in the streets? George wonders where Lee Eastman, Paul's father-in-law, lives.
At Kauffman's on E. 24th St., George buys some shirts. Charles Kauffman, one of the owners, also sells him a white denim outfit, saying, "I think I've just revolutionized the music industry." Derek says the whiteness drains all the color out of George and hands him a bright scarf. Kauffman stands there with a tweedy smile. "Just call me Chuck," he says. George asks Chuck if he is any relation to Murray the K. Back in the car, George brushes his long hair out of his face, pinning it behind his ears. He talks about how much Allen Klein has done for Apple Records. "I wish he was our manager nine years ago," he says. For the first year of Apple's existence, Paul ran the company almost single-handedly and Apple lost more than $1 million.
We head down Second Ave. past the theater where Oh! Calcutta is playing. Derek wants tickets but doesn't know if he can cross George's puritanical streak. John Lennon wrote one of the skits for the play, but George remains silent. On the sidewalks, we notice that none of the girls looks very healthy in this part of town. Ah, New York, is this a way to treat such an honored guest? "Om Hari, Om," George chants. According to the figures, the Beatles earned a total of $17,000,000 in their first seven years. Since Allen Klein took over, the Beatles have earned $17,000,000 in seven months. "How could anyone have anything bad to say about Ringo?" George says. I ask him if there's a group he'd like to tour with. "Yes," he says, "the Beatles."
You can see from the way George looks up at the emerald towers that he can feast on New York as well as anyone who comes here just to sit in the audience of the Johnny Carson Show. As a Beatle, the best he could do was to visit the city under house arrest. George dances down the sidewalk like a kid on a field trip but he also knows you can't get to heaven on an express elevator. A member of the parade? They look at him, most of them not even knowing who he is but because his glow tells them he is somebody. The spires of the city point to vanity, but George finds God in the streets.
"Everybody's doing, all the time," he says, "and it's very difficult to stop doing, but that's my ambition. I thought after moving into my new house, I wouldn't do a stroke. Instead, I'm here. If you don't just go out, you don't get in trouble." Trouble? We walk into Hudson's on Third Avenue, where they're always too busy to wait on you if they don't feel like it. George wants a pair of crepe-soled work shoes, but the blond-haired kid in the cellar footwear department refuses to budge until George goes back upstairs, looks in the window and gets the catalogue number of exactly what he wants. "You can't have me pulling out a dozen pair of shoes just to find the right one," the kid says. George hasn't been treated so rudely since the last time Paul McCartney talked to him.
Back in the car, George laughs and wonders if he shouldn't also have bought a baseball bat to carry into the next store he visits. "Om Hari Om," he chants, this time under his breath, "Gopala Krishna . . ." George talks about the road he is on, knowing it must lead to God. The Beatles? As a director of Apple, he had to sign a letter which he wrote with John ordering Paul not to release his McCartney album on a day that would conflict with the release of the next Beatles record, Let It Be. When the letter was finished, Ringo had volunteered to deliver it because he didn't want Paul to suffer the indignity of having it handed to him by some impersonal messenger. At Paul's house, he gave the letter to Paul and said, "I agree with it." Then he had to stand there while both Paul and his wife, Linda, screamed at him. When Ringo returned from delivering the letter, he was so drained his face was white.
Inside Manny's music store on W. 48th Street, all the kids buying instruments crowd around George like Little Leaguers on a visit to Mickey Mantle. "I've got a lot of toys for you to try out," says Henry, one of the owners, and he breaks open a box with an electronic mixer that can make your voice sound like horns or cellos or strings or a bassoon. George samples a few guitars while everybody listens. When Miriam Makeba and Stokely Carmichael walk in, Henry pulls George over and introduces them. Miriam smiles sweetly. Stokely offers a stiff hello. George borrows an electric guitar and a practice amp and we head uptown for a look at Central Park. In all these years, George has yet to set foot in it. "They tell me the best time to visit it is after 11 PM," George says, and he laughs.
When we get there, we walk into the zoo, but have to turn back. "You can't make it?" I say. "No," says George. The squirrels look as if they are dying, the grass seems to be gasping for breath, the foliage is cancered. "Now I know what Bob Dylan meant by 'haunted, frightened trees,'" George says. We walk back to the car discussing where to go for lunch. Derek wants some place where he doesn't have to look into Anglo-Saxon eyes. Riding in the car with George, I could see him laughing at the city like some holy man just in from the mountains. Where else can you witness sin in all directions only to see it committed by clowns? Ah, George, you were the first Beatle I ever met back there in 1964, and now look at you, with your Indian guru's hair flowing over your shoulders like wisdom from a fountain.
On the dashboard radio, American troops are crossing the border into Cambodia, and Paul's Rubicon suddenly becomes a trickle in the gutter. George listens to the news and starts chanting his mantra, "Om Hari Om." What can you expect from a country that had refused to buy his Doris Troy record? We decide to go to the Brasserie on E. 53rd Street, and on the way we pass a girl in a tight jersey dress swinging her way up Lexington Avenue. She isn't wearing a bra and we have to rush around the block for a second look. "Tell her I'll put her into the movies," George chuckles. Ah, New York, your squirrels suffer from emphysema, but you're still a garden. We pass her again just in time to see a man in a checked jacket come up from behind. Through the open window, Derek hears the man ask her, "Where are you from?" We pull away laughing. "Where are you from?" Derek keeps repeating, "Where are you from?" At the Brasserie, George tells the waitress he's a vegetarian and she orders him grilled filet of sole. I ask George what he wants to say about Paul. "I don't want to say anything about him, really," he answers. At the Brasserie, the tables are all empty except for that handful of fortunate who can afford the leisure of sitting over lunch at 4 PM. "The thing about Paul," George says, "is that apart from the personal problem of it all, he's having a wonderful time. He's going riding and he's got horses and he's got a farm in Scotland and he's happier with his family and I can dig that." The waitress brings the filet of sole and George digs in. He'd rather talk about his own house, Friar Park, a 40-room mansion in a 36-acre estate in Henley on Thames.
For 16 years it had been a convent and someone had found it necessary to protect the nuns' sensitivities by painting clothes on all the bare bottoms of the seraphim that decorate it. There are secret passageways and two lakes connected by a series of grottoes and an Alpine garden and a maze you can actually get lost in and electric light switches that have friars' faces smiling at you. You click the friars' noses to turn on the lights. "It also has a thousand telephones that won't ring," George says. "It's like a horror movie but it really doesn't have bad vibes. I've got over any of those dark corners in the back of my mind. It's had Christ in it for 16 years, after all."
He orders espresso and when it arrives he realizes he should have asked for cappuccino. Instant Karma. It's been a long road from Liverpool's Cast Iron Shore to saying that he still loves the Maharishi, but George is a religious man. "We're all just characters in the same play, aren't we?" he says. "And He's writing the script up there." One of India's greatest wise men had once told George that success had come too cheaply for him, but now George knows it was meant to be that way. We lean back in our chairs and talk about the first time we met, I, a writer for the Saturday Evening Post, and George just arrived from England to promote Beatlemania. It had been on the Beatles' second day in New York and George was alone in his room at the Plaza, bedded down with a sore throat while the others went to Central Park to pose for pictures and then over to the Ed Sullivan Show to rehearse for the next night's performance. His sister had let me in to see him and I had found him with his throat wrapped in a towel and a transistor radio in his hands, raising and lowering the volume according to his interest in the conversation. As for me, all I could do was pace the floor, unable to speak until I demanded a glass of scotch and got it. Afterwards, George had told me he thought I was some sort of a junkie weirdo. Now we laugh about it. "You kept asking me, 'what's bugging you?'" George remembers. "You wouldn't say a word until I gave you the scotch and then you kept asking, 'I want to know what's bugging you?'"
Outside the sun hangs overhead mellow and benevolent, almost enough to make New York's chuckle, but then how can concrete crack a smile and not come tumbling down? "I thought after I moved into my new house, I'd take a year off and do nothing," George says again, "but here I am getting ready to make my own album in two weeks. The point is that we're all of us writing too much now to put it all onto one Beatle record anyway." On the sidewalk afterwards, someone with a mustache comes up and asks George if he's George Harrison. "No," George answers and the mustache walks away. "We've got to explain to them that we're not these bodies," George laughs.
In the car again, we pass a group of Hare Krishna chanters dancing down Fifth Avenue with their shaved heads and yellow dhoties. George has already produced two records by their London counterparts from the Radha Krishna Temple and he now has three of them working at Friar Park. George jumps in his seat when he sees them. One of the reasons he's come to New York is to find out why their records aren't selling.
It isn't that he's sick and tired of being Beatle George. It's just that he knows he's stuck with it. Paul can have his quarter of Apple, but he'll have to leave the core. George talks about the days when the Beatles were touring and he remembers flying to Seattle in a Constellation so out of practice that they had to burn open the luggage hatch with an acetylene torch. "Everyone else on the tour got off, they refused to fly on it, but we - we just sat on the floor and got wiped out," he says. "We didn't give a damn."
On the radio, they're playing Paul's album now. George may be the youngest of the Beatles but his attitude toward Paul is the same as a big brother trying to wait out a kid's tantrum because the kid can't get the candy he wants. He talks about the last time Paul spoke to him on the phone. "He came on like Atilla the Hun," George says. "I had to hold the receiver away from my ear."
We look for a parking space and I race another driver to get one, nearly knocking over someone on a motorbike. George is appalled. "That's New York for you," I explain. He steps out of the car, a tall, gaunt figure who once conquered the world, with the help of three partners. "It's great being a tourist," he says, and I suddenly remember the song he sang that morning:
Darkness only stays a nighttime
In the morning it will fade away
The daylight is good in arriving at the right time
You know it's not always gonna be this gray
Michael Lindsay-Hogg: Tony, Denis is going to be worried about the footage again, don’t tell him you’re shooting.
Paul: No, no, we’re not shooting.
Michael: Tony, don’t tell him you’re shooting, tell him a lie.
Paul: He knows that little red light’s shooting.
John: Good evening!
?: We got some more casting to do this afternoon Paul?
John: Welcome to panorama.
Peter Sellers: Hello there.
Peter: How are you? Nice to meet you.
Paul: We need your help.
John: Pull up a star’s seat.
Paul: We’d like to do a little introduction for the Ed Sullivan Show.
Peter: Oh yeah. Very good.
John: We’ve been lucky enough this evening to secure the talents of Mr. Peter Sellers here, who’s going to give us “Number Three.”
Peter: Yes. Number three, folks, number three. Number three.
John: How about that, folks? That was “Number Three” from Peter Sellers! Now onto the next round.
Peter: Number three, folks. And there’s more where that came from.
John: It’s not often you get a chance . . . If we ask him really nicely, he’ll probably do “Number Five.”
Peter: Yes, I might. [laughs]
John: Over to you, Peter!
Paul: He is doing “Number Five.”
Peter: I can’t count that far these days.
John: Never mind.
Peter: I used to be able to. [laughs] So, what are we . . .
Paul: This is the. . .
John: It’s a documentary of how the Beatles work.
Michael: It’s a spontaneous documentary.
Paul: This is just. . .
Kevin: Uh, M.L.H.?
Kevin: You’re wanted on the pipe.
Michael: On the telephone? Okay.
Paul: You meet everybody on film these days to keep them at their ease, you know. We meet a lot of film people.
John: We want to share with the world what we have Peter, and this is what we have.
Yoko: Or what we haven’t.
John: We feel we shouldn’t keep it all to ourselves, we should spread it out, you know.
Peter: Yes, yes, yes.
John: You und- . . . you know what I mean.
Peter: In line with the new thought, yes.
John: Oh yes.
Paul: Number nine.
Peter: [laughs] Yeah. I’m notoriously bad at this type of thing.
Paul: You noticed we are too. It’s half of the fun. Whoever gets the worst joke. . .
Ringo: Not me.
Ringo: Not me, son.
John: Of Eamonn Andrews’ flow of these situations.
Paul: I think you’re vain, untalented, and singularly unglamorous.
John: And also, I should get my hair straightened.
Paul: Wake up, Lennon.
John: Wake up, Lennon, it’s about time.
Peter: What . . . what are we discussing at this moment? What’s the . . .
Paul: The film.
Yoko: The issue.
Paul: What would you like, Denis?
Joe McGrath: Say hello to your dad!
Ringo: Hello, father!
Peter: Oh, hello Youngman. Ah, that’s an interesting . . .
Paul: Don’t tell me it’s a plug, don’t tell me it’s a plug. Yes.
Peter: You’re the casting director again . . .
Ringo: Don’t tell me it’s a plug.
Paul: Part Phoenix for the Anglican vicar.
Peter: [laughs] That’s very good, very good.
Paul: Music by Fender? Athen by guard? There’s just no stopping us. No, it’s the sets, you know, they inspire me.
Joe: Any music now?
Paul: No, no. At the moment?
Paul: No, not really. We’re just . . . it’s a script conference.
Joe: Yeah, I heard the interview.
Paul: No, this is . . . we just sort of sit here and allow ourselves to be embarrassed, about this time every day. We just sort of put ourselves through the torture of being filmed. Having nothing to say, and just sort of wiggling nervously. This is the film, I think we’ve got the format, you know. Just a line of chairs. . .
John: If I could change the tempo a little now, and go into a faster kind of number, called. . .
Denis O’Dell: We were going to ask John to the mixing of the film, at the end.
Peter: Number nine, there you go.
Ringo: A tape for them.
Paul: A little something we’d like to ask you, John.
Ringo: Or for us, being in the film.
John: What kind of tape?
Paul: Now, I had another idea, which is Ringo could do it himself.
Ringo: Like “number nine.”
John: Oh sure, you know.
John: It depends how much you’ve got, you know, and how long you want.
Denis: Yeah, it’s not that much, it’s about . . .
Paul: John doesn’t deliver the goods. John is known not to deliver the goods.
John: Denis O’Dell deals where I get ten per cent if it’s shown in Afghanistan, otherwise I don’t get anything. But if you want some sounds . . .
Denis: Well, this is okay, because this is ten per cent of it shown in Mars. This one, because it is in Mars.
John: Well, I’m a progressive, Denis, as you know, and I have great hope for the future.
Denis: That’s why we came here, number nine.
John: How long do you want?
Denis: I think it’s about a minute and a half.
John: A minute and a half? Well, we just made it.
Denis: Two minutes, though, John.
Denis: And it’s exactly that. Because that was super.
Denis: Yeah, great.
John: I specialize in that field, you know?
Denis: Yeah, great. Tops in his field.
John: Oh yes. Ninth best-dressed male pop singer in the world, you know, you’re talking to. No mean city, yes.
Peter: No nervous breakdowns.
John: Look out Tom Jones, I say.
John: I do, you know.
Peter: Don’t mention that to me. I went through that the other night.
Ringo: Has it been on?
Ringo: When is it on?
Peter: I did it.
Ringo: It’s on?
Peter: Oh, it was murder. It was stop and start all the way. No, I don’t know. And when I turned my cut on there was nothing left. [laughs] I went through in silence.
Denis: No, it’s no use. I’m leaving.
John: That’s my fear.
Peter: What’s that?
John: Doing a Mickey Rooney, or a Joe Louis. Wrestling on the Eamonn Andrews Show. They’ll pay your tax back. A fortunate position to put ourselves in.
Paul: We’ve still got our trade.
John: Yeah. How do you get out of it?
John: You just sort of roll out.
Peter: I think the best way is to put the phone down and say, “no thank you,” you know.
Paul: Jimmy Edwards speaking.
John: This is an answering service and I refuse to answer.
Yoko: This is where it is, isn’t it?
John: Oh, no that’s got to go to the office.
Yoko: So how shall we do that?
John: Uh, Kevin, Joe?
John: Oh, this has got to go to the office now, actually.
Yoko: To Derek, right?
John: To Derek.
Ringo: Can we have some tea?
John: Unaccustomed as I am to pubic hair, I’d just like to say. . .
Peter: That’s very kind of you all, but I must be off.
Paul: This is the bit they always cut. About this time.
Michael: No, no, keep it in.
John: It’s the most exciting thing that’s happened.
Yoko: There’s no business like no business.
Michael: Like show business or there’s no business like writing to the Hogg.
John: Would you like to run through your lines, you two? I’d love to see it.
Ringo: I’d like to see them.
John: Oh, you haven’t seen the lines.
Ringo: I saw last year’s lines.
Peter: Last year’s lines were great.
Ringo: Yes. They were the funniest lines, I hope we keep to them. All right, Joe.
Paul: Meet with Mac, the new Stones?
Joe: What was that?
Ringo: I was just talking about you.
Joe: What? What did you say?
Ringo: I said, “Hello Joe.”
Joe: I knew I heard that somewhere.
Paul: It’s a happiest belated Hogmanay for Marmalade.
Joe: Scottish Marmalade.
Paul: It’s a bra feeling, it’s enough to make haggis grow legs. But tonight we’ll celebrate on Irish whiskey, said Gene Pitney. I’m the only Sassenach in the group.
John: I married her because she was there, says Gene Pitney.
Paul: Says Marmalade. Says Tiny Tim.
John: Of course, if it wasn’t for Negroes, we wouldn’t be here, you see. None of us, no. That’s what they forget.
Cameraman: Roll 143A slate 244A.
John: Is it Ethel?
Joe: Is Miranda there?
Denis: They don’t get any smaller, Mike.
Michael: No, would you like one?
Denis: No thanks. Don’t think I could keep my balance with them.
Peter: Well, I’d like to let you fellows. . .
John: Peter, it’s been. . .
John: You know, a long time I’ve been . . .
Peter: John, I really. . .
John: Remember when I gave you that grass in Piccadilly?
Peter: I do, man, it really stoned me out of my mind. It’s really Acapulco gold, wasn’t it?
Peter: That was really fantastic. I’m not selling any, right now. I’m sorry.
John: No, which they have now given up, you know, as stated by Hunter Damier [sic] in the Beatles’ actual life story.
Peter: [laughs] Well, I’m sorry about that fellows, but I, you know, I find it if I’d known I was going to see you quick I would have had some on me.
Peter: Because I know how you love it.
Paul: Yeah, yeah.
Peter: Sure, I dig.
Paul: Sure. Gotcha Pete.
Peter: You got it? And. . .
Paul: Can you dig it?
Peter: Oh yes, dig it dig it.
Paul: Got it.
Joe: Do you want to make the scene for the gents’ lavatory?
Peter: That’s a groove, as they say. Well guys, see you.
John: Bye bye.
Paul: Too much, Pete.
John: Way out.
Peter: Way out.
John: Just don’t leave the needles lying around, you know, we’ve got a bad reputation now with John getting busted and that. I know what it’s like for showbiz people, they’re under a great strain and they need a little relaxation.
Ringo: That’s why he’s going to bed.
John: It’s a choice between that and exercise, you know, and drugs win hand down, I say hand down.
Yoko: Well, shooting is exercise.
John: Shooting is exercise, oh yeah.
Ringo: Especially for the birds.
The Beatles were his life. He was their mate, driver, skivvy — even co-musician. Mal Evans's diaries, seen here for the first time, reveal the everyday secrets of pop's greatest band
Mal Evans began the 1960s as a Post Office engineer in Liverpool. By the end of the decade, he'd appeared in three out of five Beatles films and was an occasional musician on their albums. It was Mal playing the organ on Rubber Soul, Mal who sounded the alarm clock in A Day in the Life. On Abbey Road, it was Mal, not Maxwell, who banged the Silver Hammer.
Part of the Beatles' small but exceptionally protective inner sanctum, Mal was one of just two witnesses at Paul McCartney's first wedding. Among the hundreds of claimants to that threadbare title "fifth Beatle", he was arguably the most deserving. Wherever the Beatles went, Mal would never be far behind.
In the 10 years he spent as their road manager, Mal was blessed with a greater insight than most into the group's spectacular rise, their domination of pop in the middle years, and their painful implosion in a welter of recriminations. Throughout the decade, he kept a series of diaries and wrote an unpublished autobiography; all of this has until now remained unseen, part of an archive that went missing when Mal himself died in bizarre circumstances in 1976.
For many years, an ever-growing number of Beatles historians have regarded the Mal Evans archive as the holy grail. Last year, rumours surfaced that it had turned up in a suitcase in a Sydney street market (not true) and that it contained outtakes of unreleased Beatles songs (ditto). The reality is rather more prosaic: 10 years after Mal's death, Yoko Ono was told about a trunk full of his effects that had been found by a temp clearing out files in the basement of a New York publisher; she arranged for them to be shipped back to his family in London. Among those effects were the diaries, which his widow, Lily, kept for years in an attic at her home.
Together with some photographs, most of them taken by Mal himself, they amount to a fascinating collection: the unwitting historic recollections of a Forrest Gump of a man, who by sheer good fortune ended up in the right place at the right time.
The story, inevitably, begins in Liverpool. A keen rock'n'roll fan, Mal would while away what he called his "extended lunchtimes" at the Cavern Club before putting in a brief appearance at the Post Office and then heading off to his house in Hillside Road, Mossley Hill.
In 1961 he had married a local girl, Lily, whom he had met at the funfair at New Brighton. Their first child, Gary, was born in the same year. Mal's life was settled, mundane and ordinary; nobody could have predicted that the bizarre twists and turns of his life in the next 15 years would lead to a premature and avoidable death at the hands of the police in California.
At the Cavern, Mal was soon noticed by the Beatles, who had a lunchtime residency at the club. George Harrison felt that Mal, at 6ft 3in, would make an ideal bouncer. He was also of an exceptionally gentle disposition, and Harrison was canny enough to realise that this too would be useful in the years ahead.
In the first few pages of his 1963 Post Office Engineering Union-issue diary, which includes information about Ohm's law and Post Office pay rates, he reflects upon his good fortune. Looking back on the previous year, he writes: "1962 a wonderful year... Could I wish for more beautiful wife, Gary, house, car... guess I was born with a silver canteen of cutlery in my mouth. Wanted a part time job for long time — now bouncing... Lost a tooth in 1962."
With this, Mal sets the tone. We soon find he is more Pooter than Pepys. As the Beatles' road manager — and trusted implicitly by all four — he is presented with an "access all areas" ticket to one of the best parties of the century. Yet somehow he never quite realises it.
The year 1963 is crucial for the Beatles, ergo for Mal. At the start of the year it is becoming clear that working with them, particularly on tour, is a more engaging diversion for him than family life in Mossley Hill. The band, now managed by Brian Epstein, are beginning to realise their potential. Mal drives them to London for one of their early BBC appearances, and later they make the most of the capital.
January 21, 1963: "Lads went shopping. Paul and George bought slacks. George a shirt in Regent St. This was before the Sat Club recording and we lost them for a while. Back to Lower Regent Studios for recording talent spot. Met Patsy Ann Noble, Rog Whittaker, Gary Marshall, a really good show. Also on the bill was a Birkenhead singer. At about 8.15 the boys went to Brians room in the Mayfair for a Daily Mail interview. I parked the gear and joined them later... We left London at about 10 o'clock, stopping at 'Fortes' on M1 for large dinner — bought by the Beatles — and so homeward bound. Met a lot of fog... suddenly after leaving M1 short time windscreen cracked with a terrible bang. Had to break hole in windscreen to see... Stopped for tea at transport cafe... and arrived home at about five o'clock. I was up at 7.45 but lads laid in till about five that night. Lucky devils. They were on that night at Cavern as fresh as ever with no after effects. The Beatles have certainly gone up in my estimation. They are all great blokes with a sense of humour and giving one the feeling they are a real team."
For much of the early 1960s, touring became Mal's life. Against the wishes of Lily, left at home with Gary, Mal gave up his job at the Post Office in order to be at the Beatles' beck and call full time, clocking up industrial levels of mileage driving from Liverpool to London. He was also expected to attend to almost every personal whim.
John Lennon, who had a predilection for enigmatic silences, would punctuate these with murmured requests such as "Socks, Mal" — at which point Mal would scoot off to Marks & Spencer to fetch six pairs in navy cotton.
By the spring of that year, Beatlemania was under way; Mal and Neil Aspinall, another old friend from Liverpool, accompanied the Beatles on all of their tours, making up what was an astonishingly pared-down entourage. Aspinall still runs the Beatles' Apple organisation.
The Beatles' first European tour began in Paris in January 1964. The ever-loyal Mal was on hand, this time accompanied by Lily and their young son. Mal writes about a "big punch-up" with photographers in Paris. In the manuscript of his unpublished book he recalls that this was "the only fight I got involved in on behalf of the Beatles" — although he was terrified when he and the band were nearly beaten up by Ferdinand Marcos's thugs in Manila in 1966.
To mark the news in 1964 that the Beatles had reached No 1 in the US for the first time, Mal writes that Epstein threw a party at the hotel. Some journalists then hired prostitutes to provide a lesbian show for the Beatles in the room next to Epstein's. "It was a little unnerving to have these ladies performing before our eyes with each other in one room, with Brian, George Martin and his wife and the rather more staid members of the press in the adjoining living room. I guess celebration caters to everybody's different tastes."
With Beatlemania in full swing, Mal seems strangely oblivious: there is no sense in any of the diaries that he is working for the most famous, most successful pop stars of the time. But odd, intimate little moments are recorded:
March 18, 1964: "Had plastic cups in top pocket — milk poured in by George. John says after sarnies: Mal you are my favourite animal."
After two further exhausting years on the road, the Beatles were ready to give up touring: the whole tiresome process had ceased to be of interest to the group. The Beatles, and Mal, for that matter, were just about worn out.
But there was now a larger role for Mal as a studio "fixer": as the music became more complicated, he was dealing with an increasingly outlandish inventory of instruments and equipment, and he sometimes contributed as a musician. More than any other year so far, 1967 presented Mal and the Beatles with undreamt-of possibilities: it was the year of satin tunics, Carnaby Street and Sgt Pepper; the band was at its creative, cohesive peak. On a more mundane level, Paul found himself without a housekeeper at his house in St John's Wood — so Mal moved in with him. Mal writes of this time fondly, but complains of Paul's dog, Martha, fouling the beds.
Within a few months, Mal had moved his family — his second child, Julie, had been born in 1966 — from Liverpool to Sunbury-on-Thames, about equidistant from Paul's house and the homes of the other three in the Surrey stockbroker belt — another indication of how he'd let the band take over his life. Mal was also beginning to enjoy some of the more illicit aspects of the mid-1960s rock'n'roll lifestyle.
January 1, 1967: "Well diary — hope it will be a great 1967. Have not slept... Friday night's recording session and journey to Liverpool. Late afternoon went over to the McCartneys in Wirral, and had dinner with them. Paul and Jane [Asher, McCartney's then girlfriend] had travelled up for the New Year — also Martha. Fan belt broke."
January 19 and 20: "Ended up smashed in Bag O' Nails with Paul and Neil. Quite a number of people attached themselves, oh that it would happen to me... freak out time baby for Mal.
"Eventually I spewed but this because of omelette I reckon. I was just nowhere floating around. Slept till 5pm. Flowers arrived for George for his anniversary tomorrow. Made up yesterday with new number for I'm counting on it and ringing alarm [he is referring to A Day in the Life, Sgt Pepper's closing opus]. So George came back to flat for tea tonight that is before we went home. He was in bedroom reading International Times. I was asleep on bed, very bad mannered. Left for home with Neil driving... On M6, starter jammed. 10/- to free it. Hertz van still no comfort... I spent some time in rest room."
Mal's diary describes the recording of the Sgt Pepper album in some detail, referring to the song Fixing a Hole as "where the rain comes in". But there are soon signs that he is beginning to feel a little hard done by.
The rest of 1967 was as busy for Mal as it was for the Beatles: the overblown, complicated Sgt Pepper was time-consuming. As soon as it was completed, Mal flew with Paul to LA to see Jane Asher, who was touring with the Old Vic company. The three took a trip to the Rockies and returned to LA by private jet. Mal took up the story:
"We left Denver in Frank Sinatra's Lear Jet, which he very kindly loaned us. A beautiful job with dark black leather upholstery and, to our delight, a well-stocked bar."
When they arrived, they went to Michelle and John Phillips's [of the Mamas and the Papas] house and Brian Wilson [of the Beach Boys] came round. Mal writes of joining in on a guitar for a rendition of On Top of Old Smokey with Paul and Wilson. Mal, however, was not impressed by Wilson's avant-garde tendencies; at the time he was putting together the Smile album. "Brian then put a damper on the spontaneity of the whole affair by walking in with a tray of water-filled glasses, trying to arrange it into some sort of session." Mal wasn't keen on glass harmonicas — he would have preferred Elvis.
When they returned in April 1967, the Beatles began work on what was to become the ill-fated Magical Mystery Tour project. The band, with Paul taking an increasingly dominant role, was showing signs of stress. Mal wrote:
"I would get requests from the four of them to do six different things at one time and it was always a case of relying on instinct and experience in awarding priorities. They used to be right sods for the first few days until they realised that everything was going to go smoothly and they could get into the routine of recording... Then I would find time between numerous cups of tea and salad sandwiches and baked beans on toast to listen to the recording in the control room."
Once they'd completed the recording, Mal, Neil and their families were whisked to Greece by the Beatles at George Harrison's expense. They spent a month under sunny skies on a wooden yacht in the Aegean. By their return, however, darker clouds were forming on the horizon. Before the summer was out, Epstein was dead after an overdose. Without his guiding hand, the Beatles plunged further into the chaotic Magical Mystery Tour project. As ever, Mal was a crucial element, organising the coach tour that formed the centrepiece of the film, recruiting actors and extras, then flying to Nice with Paul to film the Fool on the Hill sequence.
According to Mal, this trip, as did many, took place on an impulse; without luggage or papers. Paul sailed through immigration with no passport, but they were refused entry to the hotel restaurant because they didn't look the part. They headed off to a nightclub. "We had dinner in my room... The only money we had between us had been spent on clothes, on the understanding that money was to be forwarded from England by the Beatles office. After the first round of drinks... we arranged with the manager for us to get credit."
The next day, Mal and Paul returned to the club. "We took advantage of our credit standing, as money had still not arrived from England. News about Paul's visit to the club the previous night had spread, and the place was jammed. Now Paul, being a generous sort of person, had built up quite a bar bill, when the real manager of the club arrived demanding that we pay immediately. On explaining who Paul was and what had happened, he answered, 'You either pay the bill, or I call the police.' It certainly looked like we were going to get thrown in jail. It was ironical, sitting in a club with a millionaire, unable to pay the bill." Eventually the hotel manager agreed to cover the money.
Paul and Mal returned to London, where Paul was to edit the film. But it was panned by the critics when televised that Christmas.
The year 1968 saw the genesis of Apple, the group's trip to Rishikesh in the Himalayas at the invitation of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi — and increasing tensions.
By the time the band arrives in India, Mal is already there, having carried out a recce a few days earlier. Ringo demands a doctor as soon as he gets off the plane. From Mal's memoir from February: "'Mal, my arm's killing me, please take me to a doctor right away.' So off we go looking for one, our driver leaving us to a dead end in the middle of a field, soon to be filled with press cars as they blindly follow us; so we explain to them that it's only Ringo's inoculation giving him trouble. When we arrived at the local hospital, I tried to get immediate treatment for him, to be told curtly by the Indian doctor, 'He is not a special case and will have to wait his turn.' So off we go to pay a private doctor ten rupees for the privilege of hearing him say it will be all right."
The Beatles, accompanied by an entourage that included Mia Farrow, Donovan and the Beach Boy Mike Love, write half a dozen songs in India, most of which are to end up on the White Album they release later that year. Mal's diary comments favourably on the sense of karma that seemed to have settled upon them. "It is hard to believe that a week has already passed. I suppose the peace of mind and the serenity one achieves through meditation makes the time fly." He even enjoyed the food, unlike Ringo, who famously turned up with a case of baked beans.
But the tranquillity does not last. "Suddenly... excitement... Ringo wants to leave... Maureen can't stand the flies any longer." Mal himself spent a month in India, before returning to London to help out with the White Album sessions.
Later in the year, Mal travels to New York with George. They go to visit Bob Dylan and the Band, who are rehearsing at Big Pink, the Band's upstate retreat.
November 28: "Up at 10.30 into Woodstock... To Bob [Dylan] for Thanksgiving. Meet Levon [Helm] of the band, he is drummer plays great guitar. Around the table after turkey, cranberry sauce etc. & also Pecan pie. Bob, George, Rich, Happy, Levon... around the guitars while many children play; Sarah [Dylan] great — turkey sandwich & beer. To Richard [Manuel] & Garths [Hudson] home for farm sessions — home to bed."
At this point, Mal's 1968 diary comes to an end; it has been an action-packed year with two hit singles and a sprawling double album — but the Beatles are no longer a cohesive unit.
In the midst of a miserably cold winter, the band and Mal set off for Twickenham Studios, where they are to start work on the project that is to become Let It Be, a filmed record of the Beatles at work. Already there is discord within the group, and in front of the cameras they begin to disintegrate; from Mal we also get the first murmurings of real discontent.
January 13, 1969: "Paul is really cutting down on the Apple staff members. I was elevated to office boy [Mal had briefly been made MD of Apple] and I feel very hurt and sad inside — only big boys don't cry. Why I should feel hurt and reason for writing this is ego... I thought I was different from other people in my relationship with the Beatles and being loved by them and treated so nice, I felt like one of the family. Seems I fetch and carry. I find it difficult to live on the £38 I take home each week and would love to be like their other friends who buy fantastic homes and have all the alterations done by them, and are still going to ask for a rise. I always tell myself — look, everybody wants to take from, be satisfied, try to give and you will receive. After all this time I have about £70 to my name, but was content and happy. Loving them as I do, nothing is too much trouble, because I want to serve them. "Feel a bit better now — EGO?"
The Let It Be film is to feature the Beatles in what is to become their last public performance, on the rooftop of the Apple office building in London's Savile Row. Squabbles put to one side, the band, accompanied by Billy Preston on keyboards, are clearly enjoying themselves. Mal is unusually perky too.
January 24, 1969: "Skiffling 'Maggie May'; Beatles really playing together. Atmosphere is lovely in the studio — everyone seems so much happier than of recent times."
January 27: "Today we had the engineer to look at the roof of No. 3. 5lbs sq. in is all it will take weight wise. Needs scaffolding to make platform. Getting helicopter for shot of roof. Should get good shot of crowds in street, who knows police might try to stop us. Asked Alistair [Taylor, Apple office manager] to get toasted sandwich machine."
January 29: "Show on the roof of Apple. 4 policemen kept at bay for 40 minutes while the show goes on."
With the Beatles in free fall, Mal busies himself with jobs for other Apple artists and fetching and carrying for individual Beatles. Throughout the 1960s he and Paul had an affinity, and in March 1969, Mal was one of just two witnesses at Paul's wedding to Linda Eastman in London. The same day, George Harrison's home is raided for drugs.
March 13: "Big drama, last night about 7.30pm Pattie rang the office from home for George to say '8 or 10 policeman including Sergeant Pilcher had arrived with search warrants looking for cannabis'. George went home with Derek and lawyer, and was released on £200 bail each."
Mal, meanwhile, has financial worries.
April 24: "Had to tell George — 'I'm broke'. Really miserable and down because I'm in the red, and the bills are coming in, poor old Lil suffers as I don't want to get a rise. Not really true don't want to ask for a rise, fellows are having a pretty tough time as it is."
The Beatles record their last album, Abbey Road, in the summer of that year. Mal's diaries note that four alternative titles were mooted before the band settled on a title that celebrated the home of EMI studios. "Titles suggested: Four in the Bar; All Good Children Go to Heaven; Turn Ups; Inclinations." Mal helps with John's Instant Karma, but he is finding Paul distant.
The next year, 1970, sees the Beatles continuing with their solo projects. The band is no longer recording together.
January 27: "Seem to be losing Paul — really got the stick from him today."
February 4: "To bed at 4.30am to rise at 7.45 to help get the children dressed... Lil had a driving lesson at 8am, then driving test at 9am which she passed. Bed after a couple of hours. Feel a cold coming on again. Walk into office late afternoon to meet Ringo go to shake he says 'Give us a cuddle then' its worth a million pounds that is and feel really recharged. George & Steve bass & guitar. Nanette. Ringo Drums."
February 5: "Bed this morning late. Up at 1 to phone. Conversation with Paul, something like this: 'Malcolm Evans' 'Yeah Paul' 'I've got the EMI [Abbey Road studio] over this weekend — I would like you to pick up some gear from the house' 'Great man, that's lovely. Session at EMI?' 'Yes but I don't want any one there to make me tea, I have the family, wife and kids there.'"
Mal clearly took Paul's distance to heart. There was now no group to look after. Mal continued to work with John, Ringo and George on their solo efforts and with the small stable of Apple musicians he had helped to build up. But for him, the adventure was pretty much over. When the Beatles broke up, there was a very strong chance that he would too.
Mal remained an employee of Apple until 1974, when he moved to LA, ostensibly to work as a record producer. He left Lily and the children the same year, moving in with Fran Hughes, whom he had met at the Record Plant studio in Los Angeles. The split from Lily had depressed Mal, and it was clear that he continued to miss the family, long after he walked out on them. Neither his family nor the Beatles, his second family, were now close. "The times I had with him were brilliant. He was an extraordinary person," says his son, Gary. "But from the moment he met the Beatles to the moment he died, he wanted to live two parallel lives. He would have lived six months in the States and six months here if he'd been able to get away with it."
On the morning of January 5, 1976, exactly two years after Mal had walked out, Lily took a call from Neil Aspinall. He told her that Mal had been shot in LA. "I immediately thought he'd been shot in a bank," says Lily. "I had to wake up the kids and tell them. I didn't know he was low. He must have been missing the kids, depressed."
Mal had been killed by an officer of the Los Angeles Police Department, who had been called to a disturbance at his home in LA after it had been reported that he had been brandishing a weapon, which may or may not have been an air rifle. Fran had called the police. Gary believes he was drinking heavily and may have been on cocaine at the time: "It was all part of the rock'n'roll, '70s lifestyle." Gary added that he thinks his father may have been behaving like that in the knowledge that even if he was unwilling to end his own life, the LA police would show no such hesitance.
George arranged for Mal's family to receive £5,000 on his death; he had no pension and he had not kept up his life-assurance premiums. Lily and Gary have met Paul twice to discuss the ownership of some Beatles lyrics Mal had tidied up, which she wanted to sell. Paul appears to have reached generous out-of-court settlements with her. Over the years, the Mal Evans archive has dwindled as Lily has been forced to sell other parts of it piecemeal.
As she looks back on the 1960s, Lily regrets the amount of time Mal gave up for the Beatles, but has fond memories: she and the children adored the huge firework parties that Ringo organised at his homes in Weybridge and Ascot. For Gary, who was 14 when his father died, memories of the 1960s are also bittersweet. "The Greek holiday was wonderful... There were good times interspersed among the 'Where is he's?'"
"I'd go to school on the Monday, and the teacher would say, "What did you do at the weekend?' I'd say, 'I went round to John Lennon's house.' I thought that was normal. Sometimes I found it all a bit too much. I'd be picked up from school by my dad in Lennon's psychedelic Rolls-Royce, He'd be wearing a cowboy hat, surrounded by kids. I thought, 'I don't need this.'"
Ultimately, Gary remains disappointed about the fact that the Beatles did not make proper provision for his father or his family. When Mal left, Lily had to return to work to pay the mortgage and keep the children going. "It was very tight," Gary recalls. "We were on free school meals. It's very galling when you look back at what my dad's input was into that band and we ended up like that." We asked Sir Paul McCartney to comment, but a spokesperson said he was "unavailable".
It's difficult to properly evaluate Mal's contribution to the Beatles, but for a long period he was regarded as indispensable. He was trusted, universally liked and desperately loyal: his diaries give away no indiscretions, though he would certainly have been party to them. Even Lily acknowledges that "he would have had a few flings". But none of that bothered her: she always seemed more concerned that he was "too nice for his own good" and that the band would treat him "like a dishcloth".
If he had followed her advice and remained a Post Office engineer in Mossley Hill, he would have missed out on Sgt Pepper, the Beatles in India and his meetings with Elvis, his hero. And his passing, too, in the sprawling suburbs of Los Angeles, might also have turned out to be just a little less rock'n'roll.
Friday, June 02, 2006
By Ray Coleman
Disc Weekly - April 2, 1966
John Lennon has been thinking about elections and politics and the state of the country generally. And he has come up with some firm opinions which strike a controversial note during election week.
"The trouble with government as it is," said the Beatle, "is that it doesn't represent the people. It controls them. All they seem to want to do - the people who run the country - is keep themselves in power and stop us knowing what's going on. The motto seems to be: 'Keep the people happy with a few (cigarettes) and beer and they won't ask any questions.' I always wondered what it was about politics and government that was wrong. Now, since reading some books by Aldous Huxley, I've suddenly found out what it's all about.
"I'm not saying politicians are all terrible men. It's just the system of government that I don't like. It's been going on for hundreds of years and it'll be hard to change. I'm not an anarchist and I don't want to appear to be one. But it would be good if more people started realizing the difference between political propaganda and the truth. The only possible reason they have had so many TV election broadcasts is because they've got to force the public to watch them. Otherwise, people couldn't care less - because at the back of their minds most thinking people know there's something wrong with the present form of government.
"We're being conned into thinking everything's okay, but all these bloody politicians seem the same to me. All they can talk about is the economy and that - what about people, and freedom? These things that matter more don't seem to worry them."
The Beatle said politicians wrongly thought that provided everyone had a TV set, a bed and a car, and enough money for smokes and drinks, "they'll keep quiet." "But what can you do about it?" John asked. He was sitting in the lounge of his Weybridge home. Ringo was sprawled across a settee, nodding occasionally and saying, "He's right - you just can't win."
Lennon continued: "There's nothing you can do about it - it's too big. What I would really like to see is people generally getting more say in what goes on. From what you hear, none of the politicians has any intention of giving ordinary people complete freedom. Just keep them down - that's all they really want. I'm not suggesting I know what the answer is - I just know there's something wrong with the present way of governing the country, and the more people like us realize it, at least we are on the way to changing it. What I don't like is this bit - politicians are politicians because they genuinely want to do the people good. They're politicians because they want power.
"What we need to change things is a bloody revolution. I'm bored by politics because the three of them - Harold, Ted and Jo - all seem the same to me. They know all the tricks. It's a drag, but I can't see the way out."
I was recently browsing in the bookstore and came across the January publication of "Uncut", an attractive London magazine. What caught my eye was an engaging black and white glossy photo of John Lennon on the cover and in large print 'WORLD EXCLUSIVE! Lennon - The Untold Story by Yoko Ono.'
I turned to the article by Carol Clerk. There are pages and pages of wonderful photos and a question and answer interview given by Yoko.
In it, Yoko discusses some of their experiences in Primal Therapy and it's impact on John's songwriting, especially "Mother" from John's first post-Beatle album.
The following is an excerpt from "Uncut" magazine:
John's songs are just as significant now as when they were first released, influencing successive generations of musicians. What do you think it is about his work that's so enduring?
"I think that John was almost devastatingly honest. His songs are still giving something to people, the songs have a kind of eternal energy and it's not an illusion. It's a real energy that he acquired through a very hard life. And I really like the fact that John's spirit is growing in each one of us - in many different ways, I think - but it is growing. That's something that we share."
'MOTHER' from John's first post-Beatles album, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, release in 1970. More vividly than any other track, it shows the effect on his work of Janov's Primal Therapy. How readily did John take to the idea of Primal Therapy?
"Very readily, he was very quick."
He had a lot of pain to get rid of?
"Of course, of course. He was a very pained person, so that's why I was just joking and saying he was a moaner. He's got this side because he had a terrible childhood. Well, some people had worse childhood's I'm sure, but what counts is how he felt and he felt terrible about it...mother and father splitting and both of them too busy to think about John."
"Many books were sent to him, and one day there was this Primal Scream book and he was saying, 'Oh, that's like what you do on-stage to me,' and he went on to read it and said, 'This is incredible'."
"And then we both decided that we had to invite this guy over to England, and Arthur and Vivian Janov came to Ascot and we discussed this and it sounded like it was legit. So later we went to L.A., and the Primal Therapy that we went to was really good for both of us, but especially for John."
What does it involve?
"It's just a matter of breaking the wall that's there in yourself and come out and let it all hang out to the point that you start crying, and of course, for men it's very difficult, especially in those days - men were not supposed to cry. And so he didn't want to cry. And at one point he had to, and he started crying, which is very healthy and so it's good that he released some anger and the repression he had and he felt very good about that. For women, crying's slightly different, but for men, especially - it's very important that he went through that. I think that made a big difference with John and he relaxed more..."
"We went away, we did the sessions and everything. And that's where the main ideas of many of the songs came to him, in L.A., that so-called primal album (John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band). The main bulk of it, he was already writing it in L.A."
When he was recording "Mother", did he put himself back into a therapy situation?
"It wasn't like, 'Let's do a therapy session here and, OK, this is at the right time to start screaming' (laughing). No, no. But he remembered that feeling and... it's more like he was going back to the days of when he wanted to scream, 'Mother', not the therapy itself, but, like, he was able to go back to that childhood, that memory."
Did he ever manage to resolve his feelings about his parents?
"I think he was very civil to Fred Lennon, his father. He felt like he wanted to be kind of civilized about it but he still had some anger, of course, but he came around a bit. His mother - he was never really angry at his mother. I think that's what was very difficult to get over, the fact that he lost her twice, I think. But also his memory of his mother was of a very, very beautiful and fun-loving person, and it was just painful to watch it. The pain was still there. It never disappeared..."
"He almost felt not only saddened that his mother didn't see him become the successful Beatle, but he almost felt guilty in some ways and that was really very sad."
Yoko's voice trails away quietly.
I look over her shoulder, noticing the cheerful, everyday tiles with fruit and vegetable designs on the wall above the sink and the work surfaces. The very ordinariness of details like this only serves to underline the most extraordinary life and time of John and Yoko.
Yoko Ono: John, I miss you already again. I miss you very much. Today is Tuesday and first we went to the office and then now we’re at the recording studio. We went to the office and then we went to see a film, sort of a lousy animation film, but then we saw the Tiny Tim little plug on Tiny Tim on the Johnny Carson Show or something, that was very good. And then we came to the studio, Pat told me, they found that there’s a little review on John and my show at the Art’s Lab, the review’s on the Observer briefing or something, Sunday Observer, and this Anthony Fawcett called and said that, you have to meet to give a statement for this national show that John and I are going to be in. Also, John told me that this record album or something that we’re going to make, probably has to, either be under my name only or like Doris and Peter, or something like that, you know, changing . . . name, but I told like either ideas, they’re just terrible. I think that if that happens, I’d rather just make private record that limited edition record that you just give out to friends, maybe 50 of them or something like that and keep quiet publicly than do that. Because it’s so kind of sentiment thing. But also, it’s done publicly, the message is so beautiful that, actually it’s a not kind of “should be kept privately,” because the message is going to be so beautiful. That “I’m finished it” and all that, it’s going to sort of light up the world, especially the two of us naked, taken with a fish eye camera and all that. Just that message is beautiful, but it’s such a drag and the fact that I don’t like the idea of Doris and Peter kind of thing, because simply the names are not nice as Yoko Ono or John Lennon. Not the name value, but the names. Well, it’s the name value too, I mean, like Yoko Ono or John, like just rebels or something, there’s a dream to the name and that has to come across too. I don’t know, it’s such a drag because whenever I say something like that I have to sort of still worry that . . . hell, I don’t have to worry, because I’m sure John understands me by now, but like . . . if his name means something, you know, “I want to use it,” or something, but if anything that’s not what it is at all, if anything because that would be detrimental to me, all the girls that are going to be, I don’t know, I just can’t imagine what it’s going to be like, but it’s going to be hell for sure, for some reason or another. Like they would all hate me or something, like in the Art’s Lab scene, but the Art’s Lab scene it turns out that was cleared. I understand that they’re starting to feel much better about us because of the pieces, because the pieces are so nice and they started to understand that, which is really nice I think. Betty Pippen (?) and those people apologized to me actually, because they started to understand, and that’s very nice. I think the pieces speak for itself in a way, and also our attitude would speak for itself too, like now they more or less, sort of sense my attitude, which is like “actually, I couldn’t care less,” you know, that’s the feeling. “I couldn’t care less” is the kind of feeling, the unfinishedness and all that, that’s the most important thing, that I care, because the message of that is almost close to John’s seed piece, in other words, seed piece is like the most unfinished piece, sort of waiting to grow and my unfinished pieces, that is precisely that, but the nice thing about John’s piece is that there’s no melancholy about it, and I mean the seed is going to grow. But my unfinished piece, has a melancholy about it too, like, and that may be good but these days I think I like John’s positiveness much more than that kind of melancholy. But I’m very very happy now and I’m just sort of scared, if I can get over this scary feeling, then everything’s going to be all right. The reason why I am so scared is because it seems almost unbelievable, I can’t believe, that’s what it is. I just can’t believe and yet, I can’t go back, there’s no way . . . turning back. Well, those are the things that sort of make me feel so scared, every day I think, oh, it can’t be, I couldn’t be like that. I mean, today’s going to be different, I’m not going to miss him at all and I’m probably going to be turned off . . . something and even when I’m . . . senses on all my nerves, well that’s like a fairy story, and I get paranoiac, and yet it’s there, it’s always there. I suppose there are some people who are really like that, maybe once every century or something, that when a meeting is really really good, probably that happens, maybe once every two centuries or something or probably people who have that kind of relationship never bother to tell it to others and nobody really believes it, so that we don’t know about it. But it’s amazing that it does exist. And it’s amazing that the only time that I remember about my promiscuity is when I feel so insecure that I feel intentionally that I have to bring that out in me, to sort of protect myself. But other than that it never is there. And but I still feel that I have to hold back because I’m not quite sure if you feel that way or that’s like a kind of strange calculation maybe, you know, that’s the kind of calculation bit that, the cleverness bit, you know, like holding back, because you don’t know what another person’s feelings are. But one has to protect oneself in a way or should one?
John Lennon: Do you know if you booked a call to Italy?
Y: No. To Italy? [cut]
Y: So now John tells me that . . . if I had booked a telephone call to Italy, which I didn’t. Though I should have, really. But anyway, oh, and Bill said that he got a very nice place for me, and he’s found it a very nice place for me. It’s overlooking the park, the Hyde Park, it’s quiet. It’s on the third floor, both rooms are facing the park and the sky. It’s just the two rooms are rather small, but I don’t mind that and very tiny kitchenette, but just very nice. And a toilet and bathroom which are very nice and they’re all painted white and has a very pale gold what you call it, fiited carpet. So that’s sounds really great. Tomorrow morning or something maybe I should go and see it. And even if it’s temporary I can always give it, give the lease to somebody I suppose, because it sounds like a very cheap place. So that, the location and all that.
J: Do you want a bird?
Y: No thank you.
J: Are you sure you don’t want a bird?
Y: No. The location and all that it’s less than 20 pound a week, meaning like 18 pounds or something I guess it comes to, because it’s 800 to rent and central heating and all that so it sounds all very nice. But . . . and then I found out something else, that Andy Warhol and Mario Meyer shot today in New York, I’m so glad that I wasn’t there. Because I would like to be there if I were in New York, oh, but that’s something that I should tell John, it’s so funny Mario used to, because he’s a fag, I guess I don’t know what it is, but anyway he was very, I think he’s a real fag, as much as he could as a fag, I think terribly interested in me and all that so what he does is he would just sort of like touch me on the neck or like on my back or something like that or sort of scratch my arm or something like that when I’m talking to somebody. And then he said, “This girl is amazing, she doesn’t even notice!” You know, and make me feel like I’m a real frigid woman, which was true because I really never noticed and I was going “Oh, you were scratching me or something” it was just annoying, you know. But most of the time I didn’t even notice because I was sort of deep in some conversation or something like that, and they made me used to wonder “my god, if I were sensitive at all, no matter what I was doing, if he would touch me or something I should notice,” and that used to bother him. But that’s how I was, you see, it’s amazing. Some are panicky because I don’t know what’s going to happen tonight. Cindy’s coming back maybe. Are we going back to Weybridge or are we going to stay here? All that, you see. I’m starting to miss you again, but I’m rather happy now because, well no, not really. That’s John doing something on the electric guitar. I have to remember, tomorrow about finding about getting John’s handprint for, and about getting the latest clothes for the July event. Beautiful. I was going to say something, but that’s not all really but . . . it’s too bad that I’m not close to anybody if ever we had an aura I’m sure that John’s aura and my aura are both just huge and brilliant, and maybe all shining. Anyway, probably both of us. Oh, another thing that today sort of was about Kyoko, because we got a telegram saying that Tony left for Paris, that’s a telegram from Peter Bendrey and that means probably that Peter Bendrey was not able to see Tony and try to call Victor Herbert know to try to find out where Tony is, but I don’t know where. Sounds all terribly strange. I’m very worried about Kyoko. I hope she doesn’t resent me when she gets older, about this incident, but things will be much better, we have to knock wood for that, cross fingers. So Zauf Relly (?) is here and probably have to see, he’s a film director.
P: John? Is it just organ and drums?
J: That was the thing, yeah.
J: I can’t hear that, a bit quick. But if we have a listen to it, we might be able, what do you think? I can’t . . .
P: Just organ and drums.
J: Can you think of anything else?
P: No. Just. . .
J: Oh yeah, that’s the end.
P: Yeah, just organ and drums.
J: Should we just tape this?
Y: I wish John was in me right now, inside of me.
J: Well, I tell you what, you don’t need to play it. Anybody can play it, if you don’t feel like playing it. Can you give Paul the organ?
Y: So, I was just thinking about it. It’s so important that you come inside me, instead of coming in my head or something. You see, and then you say that there’s no difference, but if you understand the difference of that, that’s when you would really start to understand what it means to love somebody it sort of occurred to me that . . . and the other thing is sex, in other words, like just physical sex senses, that the sensual things, but this bed is like all life reaching, reaching each other and giving something. And the fact that you gave me your sperm, I don’t know, probably. At some time of your life you had a situation where you became scared of a straight relationship, of giving to each other and instead of giving to women, you’d rather spit on the sky or shoot it to the sky kind of thing. I mean you said it, that’s like a strange kind of nihilism of kind of a “fuck you all” kind of thing. It’s avoiding, avoiding something. Avoiding communication. It’s like you don’t want to. It’s almost like my piece in Grapefruit, where I say that if someone wants to kiss you, give them a mask instead of yourself. A mask to be kissed. If someone wants to . . want to drink, then don’t give him the drink, but pour the drink into the mouth of the mask, instead. Things like that, like a kind of avoiding the real contact, always passing each other but without recognizing each other as a person.
Y: I think it’s almost like strange paranoid relief that you feel almost like saying oh, a relationship that’s built between a taxi driver and himself is just like a one time thing and it’s just much more relaxed than a relationship between somebody that you know, that you would see again. And that’s what it is, I guess. I mean it’s my paranoia too. But that’s something that’s frightening me. That’s something that we have to face together. See what it is, and well, like go through it together. And once you know that it’s there, it’s easier to cope it. Like, in my case, for a long time, it was expressed in a different sense, like, I used to like somebody very much, and then I was too shy to tell him or something, and then it’s easier for me to make with someone that I don’t love, and just imagine that I’m making it with a guy that I like, and that kind of thing. And that’s just sickness, it’s just a kind of cowardly thing, but I still have that I guess. And each time that I make it with you, each time that I, I want you and I express my want for you, to you, I’m making a fantastic effort because, playing straight is so difficult, so embarrassing. But I know that that’s that this is my last chance and I couldn’t just endlessly go in that game of avoiding reality and just making it in a more casual simple way. I mean, that’s that game is, it’s not a game, it’s like a bad habit or something, that I have to sort of get rid of, if I ever want to be happy. I wonder if all this makes sense to you.* I wonder maybe it’s just my paranoia to think that you don’t understand me. Probably we understand each other, much more than we think. But, there’s always this thing about saying “do you understand what I mean, do you? Do you?” you know. I wish I could get rid of my paranoia and like relax, relax to feel that I have at least a year time to build our relationship on, to think that we have the next day, that we are certain that we have the next day, rather than to think that every day is like the last day. I don’t know if I was talking right now, I gonna try. Now after playing for like half an hour, or something, you look all excited, and your skin is all red, and sweaty like you had a glass of beer or something like that, which I know you didn’t. I like it when you can love someone . . . cause I never did . . . I guess. Nothing that I notice today that I really feel proud of, is that for instance, your handwriting, it’s always been like, all your letters were going backwards, leaning backwards, which means tremendous insecurity. But today I’ve seen, that all your letters were leaning forward, not all, but most of them were sort of leaning forward. At least that you’re suddenly starting to, instead of being reticent, starting to become forward and aggressive. Which is like a very normal thing, for men. Their leaning backwards handwriting is typical of, sort of, insecure, terribly insecure high school girl or something like that. It’s very rare to see it in a man, did you know that? And when I saw, when I first saw your handwriting, I was really amazed ‘cause you very rarely see that in a man. And I always felt that I saw your secret there, in something, but now, it’s starting to change, and it’s beautiful. Why, why that insecurity? And the passiveness, paranoia, I hate to say, but I really think that that had a lot to do with, with her, your marriage. Or maybe you were like that, and that’s how your marriage became that. I don’t know, that seems like a long relationship like that, would really screw somebody up. Like I was screwed up. That it could screw up, screw people up, rather. Then again, it could be a good thing. But anyway that handwriting, and your marriage, somehow I felt that sort of an intuitive thing, the first time I saw it, I thought that there was a definite connection.
J: What are you saying
Y: I’m just saying how I miss you.
J: Well, ladies and gentleman, I also miss her, and it’s a terrible feeling. Alone in a crowded room.
Y: You look so nice when you’ve been playing awhile, and perspiring and everything. It’s looks like you had a drink or something . . . so insecure about something and about. . .
J: Wouldn’t have time to.
Y: John is playing the drum that is playing. I don’t know why, but somehow, anything that I say, will turn into whatever problem, tactical problem. See for most it’s not important, and I’m just saying it because I wasn’t kind of thing that a . . . . feels when you had cigarettes that past each other that there was a bit of a contact there all the time. Somehow now, if I say something, it seems that the contact is lost. And it’s silly because actually all I want to do is to just not say anything. Oh, John, I really miss you, you don’t know how. [singing begins] I don’t know you. . ..
J: Smashing Rooney the steak.
Y: ‘Cause I don’t know you.
J: Oh, no it is too late for me.
Y: ‘Cause I don’t know you.
J: I have been stab-bed in the brass vertebrae.
Y: Who did that?
J: I did it myself.
Y: Don’t you ever do that.
J: I must do it now and then to keep myself in tune.
Y: No, you mustn’t do anything without me.
J: I wasn’t exactly doing it without you. I was just doing it in the corner. Oh, Mother McRae. Excuse me. I must just let myself reek a minute. Because I’m sweating to my boots I’m going to have a look at the photographs of the family. [end of singing]
J: It’s the other day, at the party.
Y: Which party?
J: The you know, the opening of Apple.
Y: Oh, I want to see it then.
George Martin: I’d rather set it to this, to make everyone happy.
J: What’s that?
GM: The end of it, really, I’ll waste time when you’re trying to find out.
GM: Okay, let’s go.
Y: John, I miss you again.
J: I don’t know, you see. It depends if we’re . . . how loud it’s going to be on the actual . . I don’t mind all that echo.
Y: Oh, I must find out if Bill had taken any of us in his film, will check up with Bill tomorrow.
J: I haven’t heard the organ yet.
Y: I had a mic open.
J: When did you come in Paul just then?
Y: And I couldn’t say anything ‘cause I was just watching John.
Paul McCartney: I don’t know, I was just looking at you.
Y: And now, Paul says that John says something, and then Paul said, “No, no I was just looking at you.”
J: Jumped you in, but you didn’t come in till then, did you? Just before.
P: No, I.
J: You’re not going to come in any earlier?
Y: So that’s almost funny, cause that’s what I was doing too.
J: It sounded very nice all of you anyway, so that’s it now. That’s it, great, so we’ll do it each time.
GM: Okay, here we go.
Y: After the initial embarrassment, that how Paul is being very nice to me, he’s nice and a very, str- on the level, straight, sense, like wherever there’s something like happening at the Apple, he explains to me, as if I should know. And also whenever there’s something like they need a light man, or something like that he asks me if I know of anybody, things like that. And like I can see that he’s just now suddenly changing his attitude, like his being, he’s treating me with respect, not because it’s me, but because I belong to John. I hope that’s what it is because that would be nice. And I feel like he’s my younger brother or something like that. I’m sure that if he had been a woman or something, he would have been a great threat, because there’s something definitely very strong with me, John, and Paul. And. . .
J: Ringo, you’re just a bit out with him.
Ringo Starr: Okay.
J: Yeah, Paul. Do come in lad.
Y: And probably among those three people of George and Ringo and Paul. Paul is the one I feel the vibration, sort of sense it.
J: If you knew, what we’d been through while you’ve been gone, I can tell you. . .
Y: That something is . . . among the . . .
GM: Okay, let’s go.
Y: You know, ‘cause Ringo and George, I just can’t communicate. I mean, I’m sure that George and Ringo, they’re very nice people. That’s not the point. I think that’s because being ostracized by Libra, Gemini, and Aquarius. It’s just that, this thing about the constant threat that this is the last day, this is the last day, this is the last day. I just can’t stand it . . . it just makes me go insane. I wish I could just take out one nerve in me, in my brain or something, so that I would at least be able to function without going insane. At least if I knew that I have another week with John or something, or something. I mean, this situation almost reminds me of the time that, in the war when I used to carry that poison pill, thinking that in any minute that I have to die. Well, I should just think that . . . I was just thinking that John should be just as insecure as I am . . . actually. Certainly in a better position than I am. Alright, so Paul and I . . . immediately find somebody, but then that’s like death. That’s what I was talking about when John talked about wearing leather things, and I said that there are many ways you’re killing. So, Bill told me that the Art’s Lab opened, he wanted to take films of us together, but he hesitated because he felt that probably it could bother us or something. And it’s not being sort of discreet if he take a film of us. I guess most people think that way, that’s why they’re not photographing at the door. It’s amazing I think what John did in the Revolution, with his voice it’s really beautiful, it’s so sexy too. And now he has his blouse off, he only has an undershirt on. I think he looks too sexy really. Yeah, now I was wondering what I should say, and Ringo was looking at me, and he sort of smiled and nodded. He probably thinks I’m just crazy, just having a microphone and a mug and not saying anything and sort of, anyway. Now George is looking at me and smiling too. I must really look crazy when I have a microphone with me. John is such a genius. This is the first time that just once in a while, I almost get jealous of his talent, which is really amazing because I was never jealous of any artist. Whenever I get sad about his work, I almost feel like kneeling down and kissing his feet. This is the sea dog, here the most beautiful, and it’s amazing that another artist like thought of it, it’s almost like the only thing that I would think of it, and that I would think about it, but this time, there’s another artists who thought of it, and I just can’t get over that. It’s the most beautiful thing. I just have to [cut]
But I’m watching you from the side, but I think it’s amazing, you look like a real nervous wreck. You’re a very nervous person, apparently. You looked that way, suddenly I remembered you looked that way when I first came to EMI to pick up some scores, I mean, a manuscript from you, you looked like somebody who was terribly nervous and difficult, and feel like a difficult artist or something. If I had seen you that way, probably, I’d be scared, if I didn’t know you, and all that, if I just meet you that way. I wonder what John really is thinking about. You really look like a tense, nervous person. Why do you look so difficult? Like as if you want to scare a guy or something, I think that’s amazing. Anybody who has some project in their mind to approach you with or something would really be scared with that look. But it’s kind of nice, it’s very masculine [cut] or something. I don’t know how you have that shift of character of very sharp, strong eyes and sometimes very soft and beautiful eyes. Sometimes I don’t know if I’m following you too much. Sometimes I don’t know if I’m looking at you too much and so I haste to go near you. Right now you’re in the other room, and I’m just sort of embarrassed, and I don’t know if I should be coming or not. But you’re in my mind all the time, so I guess that’s what it is. You look so intense. And maybe you’re angry or something with me, I don’t know. So I’m afraid to go near you now.
P: Is there another way to paradise? Da do da. . .
Y: But it’s nice to see you that way too.
P: That’s what we need now. Either another bit of this which is like de de. . . de the paradise.
Y: I think I’m going to go. George Martin looks much better now to me because now that I found out that he’s from a working class . . . in a Renaissance painting or something, but almost gold, and it’s . . . at the same time . . . I’m so nervous now because I’m always trying to find out when Cyn is coming back.
P: Jot the melody down.
GM: Can you hear me?
Y: I feel like running out of this room. This is Tuesday, sixth of June, 1968. If anybody in the world would know how I feel now, because I’m the most insecure person in the world right now. Is this what love is? It’s so unfair that you have to suffer so much for loving someone. John is not here, he went out into the hall. I don’t know for what. He’s out for a long time. I think probably he’s calling home, I don’t know. He’s been with her for over a decade and their other child, I don’t know what to make of it. I don’t want to think about it. It’s either that he had a terribly weak character or he was in love to her. I just don’t want to think about it. I’ve never been with anyone for so long so I wouldn’t know. If I think very hard, then I know, I mean I don’t even think I have to think hard, I just get so jealous about it I almost think I’m going to go insane.
GM: Let’s do it.
J: Voices on the, which one, with the new voices.
GM: You want that flange as well.
J: Well, for the final one. You don’t have to do it now, though.
GM: We can do it now, if you want, then. As long as we know where it happens.
J: Well, it just happens all the way through, whenever they’re in. Just straight flange.
Y: John made a beautiful loop and he’s throwing that in the Revolution. It’s very intense and onto. . .
GM: Okay, let’s go then, let’s go.
J: So we just leave them on then, flange.
GM: Leave them on, yeah.
J: And just mess about a bit when it’s guitar part in.
Engineer: Don’t want to flange the verses always.
J: The new . . just the one that goes ‘mommy daddy mommy daddy’.
E: They come in and toss anyway, and just flange the rest.
J: But what else is on it, there’s nothing else on that track.
E: No. But we have to set on that machine, what we want to flange you see.
J: We only want to flange, so it won’t harm it, would it? So what are you saying, then?E: What am I saying? He’s confused me.
J: I see, right. Let’s go baby! [cut]
GM: Like we did last summer.
J: Right, everything. Less of the new tracks that’s all, on the beginning, all right more of them.
E: Revolution, RM1 of take
J: Take your knickers off and let’s go. I’m happy to be here, it’s wonderful.
E: Revolution, revolution take 20.
Y: Probably I should be asking . . . I just don’t have the courage. I know tomorrow that probably we’ll miss, stop pretending.
*J: George, don’t get in the way of the organ again.
Y: It’s just that I miss you so much and . . . and you said that you’re going to gain weight because of me eating and all that. You look skinnier than at the time when I met you or something. I understand how somebody with our relationship don’t you think? Like we’re so . . . you know.
Recorded circa March 1969
John Lennon: Well let me tell you something about the Maharishi camp, in Rishikesh. There were one or two attractive women there, but mainly looked like, you know, schoolteachers or something. And the whole damn camp was fine on the ones in the bathing suits, and they're supposed to be meditating. And there's this cowboy there called Tom who plays cowboys on TV, and my, did the Beatle wives go for him in a big way. I wondered what it was – it was his tight leather belt, his jeans, and his dumb eyes.
Yoko Ono: What's wrong with his eye? You have this eye.
JL: Me, I took it for real, I wrote six hundred songs about how I feel; I felt like dying, and crying, and committing suicide, but I felt creative and said: 'What the hell's this got to do with what that silly little man's talking about?' But he did charm me in a way because he was funny, sort of cuddly, like a sort of, you know...
YO: Like a teddy bear.
JL: A little daddy with a beard telling stories of heaven as if he knew. You could never pin him down, but he often spread rumors through his right hand man who used to be with the CIA and told about the planes he saved. How Maharishi came through the storm - on a plane. And the pilot was getting worried they couldn't land. When Maharishi looked up with one foul look, according to the man who works for him, everything was OK and they landed. After that I thought: lies. But who was that woman that looks like Jean Simmons who keeps going to him for private interviews? She must have been about forty, forty-five. Kept tellin' about her husband 'cause he wasn't there. I was always tryin' to get a private audience with the Maharishi and he kept refusing. I know only one thing. He musta had some of his own, it musta been that little Indian piece; she came with the tailor and would sit at his feet and that was one in five hundred. The rest had to wait like good American people, in lines to see the master walkin' on the petals who lived in a million dollar staccato house overlookin' the Himalayas. He looked holy.
YO: But he was a sex maniac...
JL: I couldn't say that, but he certainly wasn't...
JL: In the true sense of the word, that is.
Child Of Nature (later to become “On The Road To Marrakesh,” then “Jealous Guy”)
The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill
Cry Baby Cry
Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey
I’m So Tired
Look At Me
Mean Mr. Mustard
Sexy Sadie (originally titled “Maharishi”)
What’s The New Mary Jane (written with Alexis Mardas)
Back In The U.S.S.R.
Cosmically Conscious (not recorded/released until Off The Ground)
I Will (working title: “Ballad”)
Junk (working titles: “Scrap Heap,” “Jubilee,” “Junk (In The Yard)”)
Let It Be (title only, inspired by Mal Evans)
Martha My Dear (written initially as two separate compositions: “Martha My Dear” and “Silly Girl”)
Mother Nature’s Son (working title: “Country Boy”, song mostly written in Liverpool)
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da (working title: “Obla-dee Obla-da”)
Rocky Raccoon (working title: “Rocky Sassoon,” then initially spelled “Rocky Racoon” by McCartney)
Why Don’t We Do It In The Road?
Wild Honey Pie
Dehra Dun (written with Donovan)
Long, Long, Long
Sour Milk Sea (later recorded by Jackie Lomax)
Other White Album era songs and the locations in which they were written
Etcetera (McCartney) – Cavendish Ave., started in 1965
Glass Onion (Lennon) – Weybridge, Cavendish Ave., inspiration for song at Parkes restaurant, Beauchamp Place
Can You Take Me Back? (McCartney) – EMI Studios
Los Paranoias (Lennon/McCartney/Starr) – EMI Studios
While My Guitar Gently Weeps (Harrison) – parents’ home, North of England
Happiness Is A Warm Gun (Lennon) – Weybridge, EMI Studios (lyrics helped by Derek Taylor)
Blackbird (McCartney) – Paul’s farm, Scotland
Piggies (Harrison) – started in 1966, finished at his parents’ home, North of England
Don’t Pass Me By (Starr) – began as early as 1963, Starr’s home
Birthday (Lennon/McCartney) – EMI Studios
Helter Skelter (McCartney) – Paul’s farm, Scotland
Honey Pie (McCartney) – Cavendish Ave.
Savoy Truffle (Harrison) – Kinfauns
Circles (Harrison) – Kinfauns
Revolution 9 (Lennon) – EMI Studios
Good Night (Lennon) – Weybridge
A Case Of The Blues (Lennon) – Weybridge
Hey Jude (McCartney) – Cavendish Ave.
Not Guilty (Harrison) – Kinfauns
Gone Tomorrow, Here Today (McCartney) – Paul’s farm, Scotland