Thursday, February 19, 2009

Managers Meet

by Billy Shepherd and Johnny Dean

We promised news of the summit meeting between Brian Epstein and Colonel Tom Parker, of Elvis Presley fame. It was a lunch date and quite unbelievable in that it concerned two men controlling a multi-million dollar industry. Elvis himself couldn't be there, but he stressed how keen he'd been to meet the Liverpudlians. But he'd had a break from filming and he'd made arrangements to be in Memphis, Tennessee.

Eppie asked the Colonel if Elvis would do much touring in the future and Parker replied: "We'd love to hit the road, but we have to think of giving the maximum enjoyment to the maximum fans and the best way to do this is by making films, which can be seen by millions". The Beatles have faced teh same problem in the years since this meeting. It's impossible to be in every part of the world at the same time, but if you make a movie it can be seen by hundreds of thousands at the same time.

Brian Epstein, which his expanding list of artists under his control, was apparently surprised to hear that the Colonel had had only one artist . . . Elvis. But it was pointed out that the Colonel was 44 years old when he first met up with Elvis; Brian Epstein was only 28 when he first started guiding the Beatles.

The tour of America, in September 1964, was very hard on the Beatles because the temperature was usually in the region of 100 degrees. We think it was Ringo who first complained. He said that each show took more out of the boys than a Cup Final would from a professional footballer. But the Beatels did two shows a night . . .

Yet, a couple of years prior to this U.S. tour, the Beatles had (minus Ringo) been sweating out hours a night in the clubs of Hamburg. What was the difference? Let George answer: "Nervous strain, that's where it was all so different. If you're only getting a few pounds a night, you can let everything rip and ejoy yourselves. But if the total taken at the box-office is thousands and thousands of dollars, you know that you can't afford to make any sort of mistake."

Hollywood, for sure, will never again be the same. The Beatles dominated everything, with stars like Jayne Mansfield hurrying to get a signature or a chat or a smile from the boys. Movie City, home of the biggest names in the earlier history of show business, fell about trying to entice the Beatles to functions.

Actually it must be said that good ole Ringo was the star of the whole tour. This attitude started because teenagers looked on him as being the newest boy, the one who almost was in the background, but Ringo himself consolidated his position by some magnificent clowning and fooling. Even Colonel Parker said: "That drummer, that Ringo, would be a natural in movies--I can see him being a very funny fellow." At the same time, the Colonel was handing out souvenirs to the boys, includign specially decorated holsters and table-lamps made in the shape of old Western coaches.

People were saying then, in 1964, that Ringo would probably leave the group and try his hand at a solo career. Ringo repeatedly told us that his whole future lay in the Beatles and that he'd not do anything outside the group. Now we have the news that it is John Lennon who is going off on his own for a while, to take up a film role. But this is really no great surprise because all the Beatles intend to try things.

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