23 January 1963
Following a day of BBC Radio appearances in London, the Beatles, in the early hours of the morning, head back for Liverpool for another show at the Cavern Club. The driver of their bus today is Mal Evans, a Cavern Club bouncer and Post Office engineer...
"I took them to London because Neil Aspinall was ill. They had to do some radio shows and it was in the middle of winter. It was freezing cold, snowing heavy and we had just left London when the windscreen shattered. So I had to go two hundred miles, in the middle of the night, without a windscreen. I got off on it, you know. I didn't mind doing things like that. It became an in-joke. Every time that things got rough, the Beatles would say, 'It's two hundred miles to go, Mal.' Two hundred miles is the distance between London and Liverpool."
"When I started going to The Cavern, I went there so often I became a bouncer, and that was George's instigation. He said, 'Look, you're big and ugly enough, why don't you be a bouncer on the door? You get paid for it, you get in the band room and you see the bands.' George was the first of the Beatles I made contact with, really. So we were close to begin with. The first time I went to the Cavern, the Beatles were on and I had that feeling, 'Oh, this is the greatest thing in the world!"
August 31, 1964
From their room at the Lafayette in Atlantic City, Paul makes an arranged phone call to the King of Rock 'n' Roll, Elvis Presley.
"A guy from London, who works for the New Musical Express, had arranged for Paul to speak to Elvis. So, Paul said, 'Hey, Mal, come in the bedroom. I've got a surprise for you!' So, I wandered into the bedroom and suddenly there was Paul who was talking to Elvis. He was saying, 'Oh, you've bought a bass guitar, Elvis.' And Elvis was saying, 'Yeah, I've got blisters on my fingers!' Paul was saying, 'Don't worry, man. It'll soon go.' And then he said, 'Evlis, there's a great fan of yours. He works for us, mind you. You can call him Mal.' So, he put me on the phone, and I'm, 'Er . . . er . . . er . . . hello . . . hello, Elvis.' I was tongue-tied. But he was so polite, saying, 'How are you, sir?' He was so nice."
September 5, 1964
"The fans were very inventive. We were in Chicago and we were coming out of the hotel, ready for the show and, suddenly, I spied a girl in the crowd and she was about to slam a handcuff on Paul's wrist. What she had done was attach one end of the handcuff onto her wrist and she was going to attach the other end onto Paul's wrist. It was a great idea, but she just didn't make it."
March 8, 1965
"This was one of the most exciting moments in my life, because I had a part in the Bahamas. In the Bahamas, I was chased by a stingray! I had to go out, at the end of the film, and tread water until the scene started. I was treading water, waiting for the action to start, and then Dick Lester called me in. He said, 'Hey, Mal, come on in. We're not going to do it right now,' and when I swam in and walked up the beach, they said, 'There's a big stingray.' They were right up the beach and could see right into the water that this big stingray was chasing me. I've never swam so fast in my life after that."
March 14-20, 1965
"In Austria, they put a big hole in the ice and it was really freezing! What I had to do was go down, under the water, and then come up and say, 'White cliffs of Dover?' And then, go down again. So, the first time I go down, I come up and I can't talk. I'm just frozen to the bone. I can't talk at all. So, I had to do it again and I come up the next time and I say the words okays, but I can't stay down while they finish the shot. I kept bobbing up. So, the third time, they put a big iron weight in the bottom of the hole and Dick Lester says, 'Hang on to it as long as you can while we finish the shot.' So, I come up, say the line, 'White cliffs of Dover?' and hang on, under the water, until I'm blue in the face, and they're all shouting, 'You can come up, Mal.' But, of course, I can't hear anything. I'm hanging on, thinking, ' 'Ol trooper Evans does it again. He gives his life for the film industry.' When I eventually come up, I get out of this hole and I walk three of four hundred yards in my bare feet in the snow. I never felt a thing, and the whole crew just stood up and cheered and clapped. I ended up spending three hours in a hot bath in a local police station with a bottle of rum. I had pins and needles from head to toe."
"Things get tense, sometimes even between close friends, and recording is not the easiest thing in the world, you know, especially when you've got four people with different ideas and you've got to gel them all together into one direction. I was always making tea, sandwiches or scrambled eggs, just doing anything to look after them, to make sure we kept them working well. The whole thing was, 'You make the music and I'll do anything in the world to make you comfortable.' So, I walked into the control room one night and the air was electric. You could cut it with a knife, everyone was snarling and I just walked in and dropped the tray of cups, and they all turned round and said, 'Hey, look at the dummy!' But then, they had a common enemy . . . They got diverted and so I broke the ice. Then, they were all joking and laughing. Cups were all over the floor, and they went back into the music again. I didn't mind. While they were laughing at you, they couldn't be shouting at you."
"At the time, Neil Aspinall and I were staying in a hotel in London and we had been up rather late, until about seven o'clock in the morning, and we were really whacked out. And at nine o'clock, there is a bang at the door and jolly ol' Paul comes in with a smile from ear to ear. 'Good morning, lads. Thought we'd come and have breakfast with you.' 'Oh, sure, Paul,' we replied. Then I said, 'I've got this song of mine and I'm stuck for a line.' So, he sits down, plays it for us and sings it, and the line I came up with was 'Watching her eyes, hoping I'm always there.' I'm very eye conscious."
August 12, 1966
"The first night of any tour, you can bet your life, I would go crazy testing all the equipment. The guys would be worried because it was the first show and you would test out everything perfectly. But, the minute they step on the stage, the damn thing goes off. At the opening night in Chicago, there was a balcony on either side of the stage, and when the other acts were on, the backstage area was crowded, because everyone was trying to get to the Beatles' dressing room. But, as soon as the Beatles went on stage, everyone rushed into the balconies and, at that minute, all the amplifiers were going off. Everything was going crazy and I was on the stage changing amplifiers. I couldn't figure out what was wrong. But, luckily, we found it pretty quickly. The main supply to the stage came through the balcony and they were twist-grip connections, so when they were dancing in the balcony, they were also kicking and breaking the power supply."
August 28, 1966 - Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles
"Following the show, the exit doors didn't work, so we had to come back and the fans started shouting, 'They're coming back! They're coming back!' And the reason why we came back was because we couldn't get out!"
Ringo: "Paul wrote a song with Mal Evans called 'Sgt Pepper'. I think Mal thought of the title. Big Mal, super roadie!"
"The first song I ever wrote that got published was 'Sgt Pepper'. At the time, I was staying with Paul as his housekeeper. His previous housekeepers (the Kellys) had left for some reason." (Their departure was enforced because Paul had discovered that they had written an article about his home for an Australian magazine.)
"I stayed with him for four months and he had a music room at the top of his house with his multi-coloured piano and we were up there a lot of the time. We wrote 'Sgt Pepper' and also another song on the album, 'Fixing A Hole'. When the album came out, I remember it very clearly, we were driving somewhere late at night. There was Paul, Neil Aspinall and myself and the driver in the car, and Paul turned round to me and said, 'Look Mal, do you mind if we don't put your name on the songs? You'll get your royalties and all that, because Lennon and McCartney are the biggest things in our lives. We are really a hot item and we don't want to make it Lennon-McCartney-Evans. So, would you mind?' I didn't mind, because I was so in love with the group that it didn't matter to me. I knew myself what had happened."
April 11, 1967
"Paul said to me, 'Do you fancy going to America, to have a party for Jane for her 21st birthday?' So, we came over and we flew to Denver, where she was appearing. We stayed there a few days and that was when Magical Mystery Tour started. We were talking about doing a TV show, involving a mystery trip, where we could get into all sorts of silliness and the magical thing was because you could really get into a lot of silliness and you didn't have to explain anything."
December 7, 1967
"Ringo was doing a film called Candy and Richard Burton was in it, and we were in Rome. Ringo was very friendly with Richard and his wife, Elizabeth Taylor and had been out with them socially before. I gave Richard a poem that I had written and he thought it was wonderful. So, we spent one weekend with them, at Anzio, when we weren't filming, on their yacht, which was wonderful. Marlon Brando was there. He got us up at six in the morning to go running on the beach in the pouring rain. We got soaked!"
"Paul was meditating one day, they were writing all the time, and I came to him in a vision. I was just standing there, saying, 'Let it be, let it be,' and that's where the song came from. It was funny; I had driven him back from a session one night, a few months later. It was three o'clock in the morning, it was raining, it was dark in London and we were sitting in the car, just before he went in, just laughing and talking. He said, 'Mal, I've got a new song and it's called 'Let It Be', and I sing about Brother Malcolm,' but he was a bit shy. So, he turned to me and said, 'Would you mind if I said, 'Mother Mary', because people might not understand?' So, I said, 'Sure.' But, he was lovely."
"The great thing with the Beatles was always the surprises that they spring on you. You never knew what was going to happen. When Apple was starting to get together, and we all had a meeting, Paul said to me, 'What are you doing, Mal?' And I said, 'Well, not much at the moment, 'cause I'm not working.' So, he said, 'Right, you're going to be president of Apple Records.' I thought, 'Great, but what does a managing director do? He's got to be groovy and go out and find talent for the label.' So, I found this group called the Iveys, which turned into Badfinger."
September 13, 1969
"When I overheard John saying that he had been asked to appear in a rock 'n' roll show in Toronto, I paused only to grab a handful of leads in one hand and a couple of dozen plectrums in the other. I already had one foot out of the door waiting to go when John mentioned that he hadn't got anyone to play with him. Then the mad scramble started to get hold of the people whom John had chosen to make up the Plastic Ono Band. It didn't take long to get hold of Klaus Voormann and Alan White, Alan Price's ex-drummer. They both agreed to join in immediately.
"John particularly wanted Eric Clapton to make up the five-some, but we couldn't get hold of him at home, or at any of the clubs we telephoned until 5.30am the next day. Our plane was due to take off at 10am, and by 9.15am, most of us had arrived at the airport and clocked in. Then, John turned up with Yoko and told us that it was all off because they had not been able to reach Eric. However, shortly after, we learned that Eric had finally surfaced and he would be able to make the trip. Apparently, he had been in bed at his house all the time, and he hadn't heard the phone. Just before he gave up his all night search, Terry Doran, George's personal assistant, had sent a telegram to Eric's house. It had been opened by Eric's gardener, who woke him up to tell him about the concert.
"As Eric couldn't make the airport for the earlier plane, we cancelled our flight and re-booked on the 3.15pm from Heathrow Airport. Everyone arrived for the flight. Everyone being John and Yoko, Eric Clapton, Klaus Voormann, Alan White, Anthony Fawcett, John and Yoko's assistant, and Jill and Dan Richer, who have been putting all of John and Yoko's recent activities on to film. They were due to make a permanent record on videotape of the Toronto concert. That's when it hit me . . . None of the people, who were due to make the concert tonight, had ever played together before. How on earth were they going to get a show together before they went on stage that same night? John had obviously thought about it too because he and Eric walked down the aisle to the back of the plane after a quick snack to have their first rehearsal.
"The five who were going to appear on stage, John, Yoko, Eric, Klaus and Alan, had to work out all the songs that they were going to perform and also run through them together. A big bundle of sheet music had been delivered to London Airport that morning, and they all played through dozens of numbers, pointing out the ones that they knew pretty well. Despite tremendous difficulties, they did eventually manage to settle on eight numbers which would probably be okay, provided they got a bit more time to rehearse before they actually went on stage.
"The Toronto Rock 'N' Roll Revival Show was taking place in the Varsity Stadium and the stage was a 12-foot dais in the middle of the football pitch, facing half of the arena where the audience sat. When the 20,000 strong crowd sensed that John was there, there was such an incredible feeling of excitement. But, he and the rest of the band had other problems to worry about, and they gathered together backstage, plugged all their guitars into one small amp, and started running through the numbers they were going to perform. Just imagine, John Lennon, Eric Clapton and Klaus Voormann all plugged into one small amp. Actually, John wasn't feeling very well during these rehearsals, but he was determined to put on a good show.
"Allen Klein, who had also flown over, had arranged for the whole of John's performance to be filmed. Finally, at midnight, Kim Fowley, a well-known singer, producer and songwriter in his own right, went on stage to announce the Plastic Ono Band. He had all the lights in the stadium turned right down and then asked everybody to strike a match. It was a really unbelievable sight when thousands of little flickering lights suddnely lit up all over the huge arena. Then, John, Eric, Klaus and Alan went on stage, and lined up just like the old Beatles set-up. Bass on the left, lead guitar next, then John on th right with the drummer right behind. Just before they launched into their first number, John said into the mike, 'We're just going to do numbers we know, as we've never played together before.'
Then John said, 'Now Yoko is going to do her thing all over you.' Yoko had been inside a bag howling away all through John's numbers. She sang two numbers, 'Don't Worry Kyoko' and 'Oh John (Let's Hope For Peace)'. At the end of 'Oh John', all the boys stood their guitars, still turned on, against the speakers on the amps and walked to the back of the stage. While the feedback started to build up, John, Eric, Klaus and Alan stood back and lit cigarettes. Then, I went on and led them off stage. Finally, I walked back on and switched off their amps one by one. It was over.
"I'll always remember turning round during their performance and finding Gene Vincent, who was standing next to me, with tears rolling down his cheeks. He was saying, 'It's marvellous! It's fantastic, man.' "
September 20, 1969
"All of them had left the group at one time or another, starting with Ringo, but the real ending was when John came into the office and said, 'The marriage is over! I want a divorce,' and that was the final thing. That's what really got to Paul, you know, because I took Paul home and I ended up in the garden crying my eyes out.
"It really became real . . . The group became too small to contain them. There was too much talent for the group as an entity, I think."