Saturday, May 31, 2008

A Tale of Four Beatles - Part III

by Billy Shepherd

The boys soon met up with Ringo Starr again--playing with Rory Storm in the Kaiserkeller. The boys summed up Ringo: Ringo summed up the boys.

Paul thought Ringo "a fab drummer". John thought Ringo "a deep type". George was most eloquent about Ringo. "He looked moody, but I found he was quite different once I got to know him. At first, though, I thought he was a smarmy, big-headed bloke, fancying his chances. Had a grey streak in his hair. Only when we'd known each other better did I realise he was a good skin."

And Ringo's views?

"I thought they were a fab bunch of characters and I liked the music they played. But I was happy enough with Rory Storm and, certainly during that German trip, had no thoughts of leaving him. All the same, I used to sit in with the Beatles from time to time whenever Pete Best was off sick."

The Beatles, then, in that autumn of 1960, were together--even if not playing in the same group. There was also Stu Sutcliffe, the guy who'd learned to play bass in double quick time.

John recalls: "One of our first followers in Germany was a good bloke named Klaus Voormann. He used to bring his friends into the Top Ten Club during those last few days."

And he also brought a girl-friend, Astrid, who immediately fell for Stu Sutcliffe. Stu, with his personality, his dark glasses and his hair-style, looked a lot like the late James Dean at that time. No-one could blame Astrid for falling. Nobody did--not even Klaus.

John recalls: "Klaus was a real enthusiast. And, oddly, he didn't seem to mind about Stu and Astrid. Just as long as they were happy . . ." In no time at all, Stu was talking about staying on in Germany after the Beatles' engagement, staying with Astrid--and trying to get himself a grant to the art school in Hamburg.

Stu, on stage, was off-beat to say the least. The boys remember: "He'd never buy himself a new bass string. He had a thing about this. He'd just measure up the length and cut himself a few feet off the piano bass strings, then fit it to the guitar. He'd say 'This is arty'--but we didn't really know what he was talking about. But the sound he got was absolutely fantastic. Didn't sound like a bass but it certainly pleased Stu . . ."

But it was all a very short stay indeed in the Top Ten Club. George had gone home. As far as he was concerned, the bottom had fallen out of his world. He thought he'd be in Liverpool weeks before he'd see any of the other Beatles again. What he didn't know was that Paul and drummer Pete followed him there pretty quickly.

Which left Stu . . . with Astrid. And John. With himself. Said John: "We'd spent our money as we went along. I didn't have any to spare. I felt real sorry for myself. And it was a pretty hungry business working my way back to home. Being stuck in Hamburg with no food money was no joke . . . especially just around Christmas.

"When I did get home, I was so fed up I didn't bother to contact the others for a couple of weeks. I didn't know what they were doing. Anyway, after a while I got to thinking that we ought to cash in on the Liverpool beat scene. Things were really thriving and it seemed a pity to waste the experience we'd got playing all those hours every night in Hamburg."

By then, the groups in Liverpool were all doing a Shadows' act. Grey suits, little step movements--"Apache" and "FBI" were samples of the numbers. Everything neat and tidy and copying the style set by the outfit who called the successful Cliff Richard "our singer"!

But the Beatles were different. So different. "We looked like a gang of scruffs", said Paul. "Wore jeans and leather jackets and boots. We started looking round for bookings. We handled our own business, just jotting down engagements in a diary. Let's be honest, we didn't think there was anyone round who could possibly manage a mob like us."

The Beatles, still virtually unknown to Liverpool fans, had to be billed as something. So it was "Direct From Hamburg." Which led to most of the folk around thinking they were four German lads--they were convinced that the style of dress was all the rage in Germany.

The Beatles really didn't understand the scene in Britain. They were booked into various places for about £6 a night. Dance hall dates started coming in for very small fees. They noted that attendances at the halls were getting bigger--but thought all dance halls did good business every night. They just didn't realise that they were proving an above-average attraction. And the Beatles went on whipping up a storm using the same roaring material they used in Germany.

"Don't you speak good English" said the fans. They did think it funny the boys seemed to know Liverpudlian English--after all they WERE billed as "Direct From Hamburg."

There was an "audition" type of basis for a lot of the bookings in Liverpool at that time. The group would turn up in a hall for "peanuts", pay-wise--and if they went down well they'd be given return bookings at a slightly higher fee. At one hall, the Beatles went down particularly well and felt sure that they'd get some engagements out of it.

Truth was the promoter had sent his "bouncers" out into the hall, guarding the way backstage. He wanted to keep other managements away from the boys. And he succeeded. He offered them £8 for a long series of dates--which seemed big money after the £6 10s. top whack they'd earned before. That promoter said he was helping the boys by keeping other agents away. Maybe he was. He was also doing himself no little favour.

They moved into the Cavern Club at lunch-times. There was still a jazz tradition at this now famed stomping ground. Often John would introduce, for example: "And now Big Bill Broonzy's 'What'd I Say' "--a gag! But it went down well with the fans. Ray McFall, the owner and promoter of the Cavern, said the boys had been "blankety-blank fools" for playing for eight quid a time.

The boys, astonished at their new-found drawing power, tended to agree. But there were still no managers on the scene. They coped with their own problems. Which were plentiful. Whatever other people may claim, the Beatles were fast laying the sound basis of the current Liverpool type music. Even though they'd developed it in Germany.

Ringo was back in Liverpool at this time. He would sit in with the group when Pete Best was unable to cope. And Ringo, for a spell, was bearded. Nothing too flash--but a beard just the same.

Meanwhile, Stu had returned to Germany with Astrid. They were clearly very happy together and Stu argued with the authorities loud and long to work his way into the art school over there. On their brief trip back to Liverpool, Stu and Astrid had left no doubts that they planned to get married.

Then letters started arriving from Hamburg for the Beatles. Club owners were anxious to get the bunch of eccentrics back again . . . and besides a whole bunch of local eccentrics had howled for a fast return. There was to be no work permit problem this time. George was 18 in February, 1961, and out of the clutches of the lengthy German arm of the law.

So it was back to the Top Ten Club in Hamburg. April, 1961, the date--and the boys toted their gear over on the train route. They'd ploughed some of their earnings back into equipment and were now down to four in number.

The next three months were to prove among the most memorable of their career as a group.

The Top Ten Club was highly organised by this time. Often, they were the only group on from seven in the evening until two in the morning. They had a quarter of an hour break in every hour and they simply had to produce a full-scale repertoire of numbers.

Said George: "We performed like a gang of lunatics. It was all right once we got the hang of it all and it was great fun. The boss would send up cups of coffee on stage and we take turns to take a sip. The crowds varied a heck of a lot each night."

John, George, and Paul used echo microphones which added to the excitement. Instead of them all singing together, they'd take it in turns to do solo work. That way they saved their throats from what could have been irreparable damage.

Up to ten o'clock in the evenings, the audiences were mostly the under-eighteens--they had to be off the premises under German law by ten. Later, the fans would be more in the 18 to 25 age-group. So it was wild rockers for the first part--then a mixture of the rockers and the wildies and the slower stuff later on. No change in the material. Still Little Richard, Carl Perkins, Chuck Berry, Presley's stuff like "Blue Suede Shoes". Anything and everything that could whip up a storm.

The club was smoky; the audience restless between numbers. The business excellent. The boys built up an individual following. "And we'd try out any sort of numbers from the current Top Twenty", said Paul. "In a way, it was marvellous--simply because we could experiment. Tired? We were dead whacked but we got great kicks out of watching the audiences, seeing the way they reacted to different gear."

Just a guidance note, here, about the contents of the British Top Twenty in those days. Helen Shapiro was moving up with "Please Don't Treat Me Like A Child"; Cliff was tackling "Gee Whiz It's You"; Elvis was scoring with "Wooden Heart". And Bobby Darin was swinging along on "Lazy River". And Jerry Lee Lewis was getting nearest the Beatles' mark with "What'd I Say".

Among the audiences were artists, all anxious to sketch the visiting Britishers. And photographers, keen on getting some "different" shots. Klaus Voormann was there, constantly bringing in different group of his mates.

The photographers liked the boys to perspire a lot. "Please, will you sveat for us?", they'd plead. And the boys, working flat out for so many hours on end, didn't find it hard to oblige. Their hair-styles were floppy and unruly even in those days. They'd hardly dare to get a hair-cut, because the sketch-artists at the Top Ten would notice the different and kick up a storm of protest in Germanic anger.

"Long-haired and black folk" is the way George sums up the frenzied fringe crowd who packed in night after night to see the Beatles. "Exi's" shouted the more regular patrons. Which was short for "existentialists".

There were a couple of ballet-dancers there often trying to jive and "get with it" to the ultra-modern beat music. They were just about jeered off the floor! The atmosphere was choking . . . but electric, too. To say that Hamburg was fast becoming Beatle-mad is no exaggeration.

And something else happened of great importance to the Beatles. They made a record. Though it was only as backing group to Tony Sheridan, a popular guitarist from Britain who was making a name for himself on the Continent.

The Deutschegramafon Company looked around for a group to work with Tony Sheridan and came up with Beatles as the answer. Their name, originally, was changed to the Beat Boys, simply because this German company didn't think "Beatles" would mean anything to Continental audiences. Or if it meant anything, it would mean the wrong thing!

The boys barely remember those sessions. Tony Sheridan was the "star" name and he sang away on a series of numbers, including "My Bonnie" and a tear-up on "The Saints". The Beatles were just paid for the session, went back to the Top Ten Club and forgot all about it.

But the session was handled, in his capacity as artists' and repertoire manager for the company, by the well-known orchestra leader Bert Kaempfert, who had a world-wide hit with "A Swingin' Safari". Nobody bothered about the disc in Britain--where Polydor was the releasing company.

And here the "Tale of Four Beatles" has to jump a little ahead of itself. It jumps to June, 1963, when "From Me to You" was riding high in the British charts. For Polydor re-issued the "My Bonnie" in Britain, changing the Beat Boys to their now established Beatles' title--and it went into the charts, obviously just because the foursome were doing something, albeit a backing chore, on the disc.

But back to Germany. Back to the swingin' scenes which went on at the Top Ten Club for three months from April, 1961, through May and June. The Beatles had had an increase in pay but they were still spending pretty much as they got it--often having to borrow against the next week's salary. There were parties galore--after one, John found himself clinging to a television aerial on top of the roof of the Top Ten Club. He was photographed, too, in that awkward situation.

They received enquiries from Liverpool, where news of their German success had leaked back. Promoters who'd cashed in with the boys following the first trip were keen to cash in again.

And so they went back to Merseyside. Back to the Cavern Club and their ever-growing band of Liverpool fans. They still weren't conscious of their tremendous popularity. They just accepted it as part of the general widespread enthusiasm for pop music.

Perhaps the most important step in their career had already been taken. And that was their desire to sing and play their own original material. If they had not been given this first big boost by their early audiences they might have been content to play the tunes topping the current hit parade and leave it at that.

Because of the reception that their own material received they knew that they already had the right songs before they ever went into a recording studio.

They hoped that their bookings would be better; that they might develop their act still further. But they never dreamed that they were already on the ladder to fame.

Everyone knew that it was virtually impossible for a Liverpool group to get anywhere without going to London. But the future was going to show them just how old-fashioned that idea was!

Beatles Talk

Recorded press conference excerpts transcribed in question and answer form by Frederick James

Q: Have you ever considered discontinuing your performances and just keeping on your writing activities?

PAUL: Well, when we're 80 we won't be performing, but we may be writing. If someone will hold the pen steady for us.

GEORGE: It's not a matter of discontinuing performances--it's more a matter of spending much more time on recording and, of course, writing. In 1967 recording will be the most important thing from our point of view so we're sure to spend a lot of extra time concentrating on that.

Q: Does that mean there's no truth in the rumours that The Beatles are disbanding?

JOHN: Just because I went off to do the film all these rumours got out of proportion. I'm not going to say I won't do other things on my own. And the others will do the same when they want to. But that need not affect The Beatles. No, we're not disbanding.

Q: You always make a Christmas record for your fan club members. This latest one was a bit different and you worked from a professional script. Who wrote that for you?

RINGO: Professional? How about that! No, nobody wrote it for us. We worked it out between us. Paul did the most work on it. He thought up the "Pantomime" title and the two song things.

PAUL: The thing is we'd done three previous fan club records and we thought it was time we had an entirely new approach.

Q: Was the drawing on the "Pantomime" record cover really an original McCartney design, Paul?

PAUL: I drew it myself if that's what you mean. There's a sort of funny pantomime horse in the design if you look closely. Well, I can see one there if you can't!

Q: Do parents lead their children the wrong way?

PAUL: There's just a big gap between the generations which, somehow, has to be bridged. I don't think most children think of their parents as fellow human beings until they're 16, or older. Then they realise their parents are just people like them and not some sort of great big giants to be feared.

Q: Whose idea was "Tomorrow Never Knows"?

PAUL: The song was John's idea but we all had a bash at it.

Q: What do you think of mini-skirts and do you think they'll go higher?

PAUL: I like mini-skirts, I think they're fine. In Victorian times people were ashamed to show their ankles--now it's gone a bit higher. It may even go higher still. Whoopee!!!

Q: Some of your fans would prefer you tried some more of the very simple songs like "Please Please Me" or "I Want To Hold Your Hand". Are you determined to stick to your guns and go all "way-out"?

JOHN: "Yellow Submarine" was a simple song but we spent much more time on it than we did on "Please Please Me". We're not being complicated for the sake of it. It's progress, expansion, experiments--all looking for something new, that's all.

Q: Until you brought out the "Collection of Oldies" album nobody in Britain had been able to buy your recording of "Bad Boy". Don't you think it should go on a single?

RINGO: Not at this stage it shouldn't. It's an "Oldie". We made "Bad Boy" in the first half of 1965. It wouldn't be fair to put that out in 1967 as a single. So it went with fifteen other "Oldies" on an LP.

Q: George, what's your personal ambition for the New Year?

GEORGE: Personally, or speaking for the group? Well, I suppose it's the same thing really if we're talking about work. I just want to find out more and do things better than I did them last year. Everything from playing the guitar to appreciating artistic things.

Mal's Page

A special report by Mal Evans who went on safari with Paul

Our rendezvous was outside a theatre in Bordeaux, Tuesday evening at seven o'clock. Paul had flown out from Lydd Airport ahead of me. He arrived dead on time and we began an exciting ten-day holiday which took us down through France into Spain and on from there to Africa and the National Parks of Kenya.


We took it in turns to drive Paul's dark green DB6. On the journey south we just stopped when we were ready to do so, looked around until we found a decent hotel and booked ourselves in. We took time out to see the sights--Paul went mad with his movie camera and used roll after roll of film everywhere we went. We bought souvenirs from Paul's favourite type of antique shop. Before we left France he'd picked up a fantastic old oil lamp--like something out of "Aladdin"--and I collected an antique double-barrel shotgun which the border people wouldn't allow into Spain so we left it at a little cafe just north of the actual frontier.

Our route took us through San Sebastian, Madrid, Cordoba and Malaga to Torremolinos. The original intention was to drive East all along the coastline beside the Mediterranean and meet up with John at Almeria. But by phoning London we found that John had finished work on "How I Won The War" earlier than expected and was on his way home with Cyn and Neil!

"That's torn it," exclaimed Paul, "O.K., how about a safari as compensation?"

"Spain isn't really safari country, Paul," I replied blankly.

"No, but Kenya is!" came the prompt reply.

We sorted through maps and got in touch with our very helpful travel agency. In no time the spur-of-the-moment schedule was planned. Drive to Seville and have someone get the DB6 back to London while we flew to Madrid. Then another plane from Madrid to the city of Nairobi in Kenya. By way of Rome where we spent ten hours looking at St. Peter's and everything. And taking a sightseeing bus trip which ran all through the sort of Knotty Ash of Rome and back into the centre!

At Nairobi we were introduced to our African driver, who had this shiny big Plymouth all ready to go.

"Got a radio?" Paul asked the driver.

No radio.

"I hope you can sing then!" And we all did!


First stop--Tsavo National Park, with this fabulous lodge (more like a luxury hotel complete with blue pool) as our base. Some British soldiers in the bar started talking pointedly about Beatles until we joined them. Paul admitted his identity and went on to play and win a great game of poker!

A highlight of the two days at Tsavo was a trip to the big springs and the chance to gaze through an underwater observation window and watch all these massive fish and so forth. Monkeys, elephants, hippos, alligators, deer, zebras--we saw the lot and Paul's got loads of movie to prove it.

Our next stop was a quickie visit to Ambosali Park, the least happy bit of the holiday because Paul had caught too much sun and felt really bad for a day or two. Here we were housed in individual chalet-type huts at the foot of Kilimanjaro. Driving back we were 200 yards from the huts when we came to this narrow stretch of road with high, steep banks. A whacking great elephant blocked our way. It was a bit scary because if we frightened him he could easily charge. We couldn't back up because there was another car right behind ours. And we couldn't pass--there wasn't room. Eventually, with fingers crossed, we let rip and roared past at top speed before the elephant realised what was happening!


And so, back to Nairobi and the best bit of all--our stay at the fantastic Treetops Hotel, really built in trees with massive trunks going right through the rooms! To get there we had to use a landrover--and the services of an expert hunter to guard us because this was the really wild country. The people at the Treetops were wonderful company. About 40 of us all told and it was like a big dinner party with a friendly sort of family atmosphere. On the final morning Paul and I crawled out of bed at five o'clock to film the sunrise.

One last thing--a simple memory from Nairobi. We stayed over at the YMCA before taking a Friday night flight home. I left Paul to go into the town for a few last-minute gifts. When I got back he was sitting on the grass surrounded by this "audience" of ten or twelve little kids who had a half-day school holiday. Paul got a great kick out of just chatting to them . . . now if John hadn't finished his film early those kids would never have met a very thinly disguised Beatle outside Nairobi YMCA! And I wouldn't have had the most memorable safari holiday of my life!

Neil's Column

Both John and I have finished our parts in the film and are back home again. That's a bit of an exaggeration, really, because I did almost nothing compared with John, who, of course, is one of the leading characters in the picture.

All I did was to dress up in various coloured uniforms and stand around in the distance. Anyone could have done it, including all of you. It certainly didn't require any great acting ability.


People have asked me how the film cast reacted to having a Beatle living with them. It was a bit strange for everybody at first. John didn't want any special privileges or anything, he just wanted to be accepted as one of the blokes in the film. This was a bit difficult for some of the cast during the first week or two, but then everyone realised that he was a normal human being who liked a game of cards and a laugh, and everything was all right after that. He got on particularly well with his officer in the film, Michael Crawford, and they ended up great friends. I don't think he particularly liked having his hair cut and I am pretty certain he's rather glad he can now let it get back to its normal length if he wants to.

I can't tell you what John is like in the film, because Dick Lester wouldn't let anyone see the rushes. He told us that he thought that it put actors off if they saw themselves on the screen in odd scenes. The trouble is that you only see the bits that have been filmed the previous day and these might come from different parts of the film. Also, if the scenes were taken several times, you see them more than once. So if you were particularly bad in one take, it really hurts and even though one knows that this bad take will not be used when the film is finally spliced together, you still can't help feeling really depressed and coming to the conclusion that you can't act at all.


The film is a parody on war, so John is funny at times and serious at others. I think, personally, that he is going to come across very well.

Anyone who thinks that we just had a lot of wild parties on location can think again. All the cast were male, of course; there were no girls around anywhere. I believe one did come out for half a day, but I never even saw her. She was forty years old or something. So all we did in the evenings was sit in our house in Santa Isabel near Almeria and play cards or some other game. Risk was very popular. Altogether it was very uncomfortable.

It was the house that was the most trouble. It was real crazy. It had no water or electricity. It was supposed to have both, of course, when we arrived, but the lights used to come on and go off all the time. Water was obtained from a pump in the yard, but it broke down before we got there, and throughout our stay it was being fixed. I believe they did manage to get it working again the day after we left. Living in that house was rough; but the roughest part of all, for both John and yours truly, was getting up every morning at 7.30. We hated it. But when you are filming you've got to start early otherwise you don't get enough done each day.


John did have one bit of luxury on location. He had his Rolls Royce there and his own driver, Anthony, to drive him around. Anthony is Welsh, of course, and you should have heard him swearing about the heat, the dust and the flies. All he wanted to do was to get back to Wales, but whenever he started on about it, John would just laugh. As I told you last month, Ringo came to see us, Paul also flew out, but we left the day before he arrived, so we missed him.

It's great to be back home and I'm going to spend the next couple of weeks catching up on my sleep. We've been so out of touch that I hardly know what's in the Top Ten any more.

I've popped round to see George and Ringo since I've been back. George and John are both busy songwriting, getting material ready for the next lot of recording sessions, which they should have started by the time you're reading this. But more of that next month.

'They Won't Let Us Join The Golf Club' Says Ringo

I enjoyed interviewing Ringo. For one thing it meant a pleasant drive out of busy, congested Central London, into the sunny, stockbroker belt of Surrey; and, secondly, because Ringo is one of the easiest-to-get-on-with people I know.

As I drove in through the massive, light-coloured, wooden gates, which mark the entrance to the Starkey estate, Ringo walked round the corner of the house. "Park it over there," he said, after smiling a greeting, "come into the house." We walked through the hall and turned left into one of the largest and most sumptuous rooms I have ever seen.

Wall-to-wall, charcoal-grey carpet moved silently under our feet as we walked around. "Take a seat," said Ringo, plonking himself down into an easy chair. He was wearing a plain, casual, light-grey sweater, blue chalk-striped trousers and leather moccasins. The usual gold chain was around his wrist and four rings on his fingers. "O.K., what do you want to ask me?"


Hoping I was avoiding one of those silly questions that the Beatles get put to them at the start of every interview, I asked, "Do you think you've changed a lot in the past four years?" His face showed no sign that he'd ever heard the question before. "Of course I have," he replied instantly, "who doesn't? I don't think anyone just stands still. If you do nothing else, you get older. But sometimes I'm quite sure it's someone else who they're talking about in the paper."

"The last four years have been so different from anything I knew when I was young. Of course, we had a lot of good times before we made it. It wasn't all a tough grind."

"Do you like your life now?" "Yes, definitely," said Ringo. "I didn't know whether I would like living in the country when we came here, but I find it great. I got fed up with our flat in town because it was impossible to relax. I was always being chased for some reason or other. Here it's different. You can get away from everything. John and I have even tried to go out a bit."


I was fascinated by this. Did Ringo really mean that he and John had made a habit of visiting the local pubs? "Yes, that's right," Ringo said, "we did just that, but it didn't work. Most of the regulars used to accept us--many of them, of course, were businessmen who didn't care about the Beatles. But you always got the blokes who ruin it by making a fuss."

As I had driven up to the house, I noticed there was a golf course behind it. I asked Ringo if he played there. "No," said Ringo, "I wanted to join but they wouldn't let me. Told me they'd got a three-year waiting list and I'd have to join on the end of the queue. I'd like to get in so that I could kid people it was my golf course at the end of the garden."

I noticed a small keyboard amongst the furnishings, but no drum kit. I asked Ringo if he ever played the drums at home. "Very seldom. I don't believe in practising, really. I learnt to play with a group and I believe that I progressed more with them in five weeks than I would have in six months rehearsing by myself in an attic."

I asked him about Zak. Did he like Beatle music? "I don't think he knows the difference between Beatle music and other music, but he certainly seems to enjoy it. He dances to records now." I suddenly had visions of a little Ringo in an Eton collar and asked Ringo where he'd send him to school. "I haven't thought about it very much yet. I don't particularly like the idea of him going to a public school, but the difficulty is that all the other boys he will play with around here will go to one, and he'll feel different if he doesn't stay with his friends. But then you never know what may happen by the time he's due to start."


What did he do with his spare time? I asked him. "I run Bricky Builders, but they don't seem to be making much profit ouside the Beatles." "How come?" I asked. "Well, after they'd finished working here, they moved on to John's place, to do something for him and I believe George has got some ideas which he wants to use them for, when they've finished at John's."

"Just one more question," I said. "What about the Beatles' future plans?"

"Everyone keeps asking about that," said Ringo, "the trouble is it's very difficult to answer because we don't have everything cut and dried ourselves. Sometimes I feel that people think that we've got a big list of things to do for the next two years stuck on the wall and we just can't be bothered to tell anyone about it or want to keep it hidden or something. It's just not true. None of us have got any spare material, so John, Paul and George have to write new stuff before we can go into the recording studio each time.

"Also we're waiting on the film. We can't write the film script ourselves, we don't know how, so we have to wait for somebody else to produce one, then we can read it and see if it's O.K. The trouble is, of course, that everyone keeps talking about it. I suppose they can't understand why we haven't made another two films by now. The answer is we don't want to make 'just another film'. The scriptwriters kept on offering us different versions of 'Help' before we found the bloke we've got now.

"That's enough questions," said Ringo, "let's have a cup of tea," and he disappeared out of the room to return a couple of minutes later with a tray, two cups, teapot, a bowl of sugar and a plate of Munch-mallows.

Which suited me fine. I can't think of a better way to end an interview with a Beatle, or this series of interviews with four Beatles, than having tea with Ringo.

Beatles Talk

Recorded press conference excerpts transcribed in question and answer form by Frederick James

Q: A couple of years ago you said you were most influenced by people like Chuck Berry and LaVern Baker. Who do you admire now?

PAUL: Byrds, Mamas and Papas.

JOHN: Beach Boys are great. Spoonful are nice. We like a lot of American groups. I still like Chuck Berry. I haven't burnt his records or anything!

Q: A disc jockey said the last few bars of "Rain" were recorded backwards. Is this true and, if so, whose idea was it?

JOHN: It is true. After the session--it ended about four or five in the morning--I went home with a tape to see what else we could do with the song. I was sort of half asleep and not knowing what I was doing I played the tape backwards on my own machine. That's how it happened.

Q: Is there any special significance in the term "Yellow Submarine"?

PAUL: No, not really. It's a happy place. We were trying to write a children's song. That was the basic idea and there's nothing more to be read into it.

Q: George, do you feel that Indian music will be more influential in pop music in the future?

GEORGE: I personally hope there will be more Indian influence generally in music because it's worth it. I'd just like to see more people appreciating it.

Q: Do you get tired of this whole hokus pokus--the press conferences, the screaming crowds--and decide you'd just like to sit back on your fat wallets and forget the whole thing?

JOHN: When we feel like that we take a fat holiday on our fat wallets. Then we get fed up with holidays and feel like coming out and doing all this again. There's time to fit everything in, you know, a little of everything.

Q: What really does inspire young people today?

JOHN: I don't know, honestly. What we're doing inspires them to a very limited degree but just to enjoy themselves.

PAUL: They get inspired by people who talk honestly to them. And not by people who take the long way round and talk in riddles. If they believe us about some things it's because we can say it like they think it. Because you know we're exactly the same. We don't pretend to be anything better than we are.

Q: Are you going to have a hand in writing your next movie?

JOHN: Who? Me? I don't think so. I'd sooner leave somebody else to write our film scripts. I don't know how to do it.

Q: Gentlemen, you received medals for assisting the economy a year ago. The economy seems to be in pretty rough shape right now and . . .

GEORGE: And we're still assisting it!

Q: . . . I was wondering if you have anything to give it a fresh boost?

JOHN: We could give them the medals back!

Q: Who is that young man with the lengthy haircut to your right rear?

JOHN: That's no haircut that's good old Dave. Dave Crosby from The Byrds. A mate of ours.

Q: What normal everyday things would you like to do which you cannot because you're a Beatle, Ringo?

RINGO: The thing is that when we're off, I live quite normally. It's only on tour that we're The Beatles and it's all like this.

Q: Is it my imagination or are you boys doing a little less physical effort on the stage now?

PAUL: I don't know. Probably you're right. I mean you manage to sort out after a few years just how much jumping about will produce just how much sweat.