Monday, August 11, 2008


An on-the-spot report by Billy Shepherd

The old Granville Theatre, Walham Green--in the heart of Fulham--used to be a home of variety in London. Acrobats, jugglers, red-nosed comedians . . . many a Saturday evening audience just about lifted the rafters by joining in on community singing. But the rafters were never stretched so high as the Saturday afternoon the Beatles called in. The walls and the roof fairly bulged.

For the Granville is now a television studio. And it was used by ace producer Jack Good to tele-record a special British edition of his wham-bang "Shindig" show, a top-rated American programme. The Beatles topped. The audience jam-packed. And the excitement was intense. On the spot to see it all: Beatles Book picture man LeslieBryce and yours truly.

George Harrison ambled over for a chat. "No good, I'm not really awake yet," he said slowly rubbing his eyes. "The choke isn't out--that's the trouble. . . ."

Kansas City

I bump into Paul McCartney. And ask him what the Beatles are going to do in the show. "Oh, we've lined up 'Kansas City', 'I'm A Loser' and 'Boys'. Just the three." How come "Kansas City" is included--a bit of a surprise. Says Paul: "Well, Jack Good asked John what we would be starting with and John came out with 'Kansas City'. Jack said 'Great'--so it's IN."

The Beatles go on stage, through the maze of cameras, trailing wires and odd bits of scenery. Up goes the yell . . . "John . . . Paul . . . George . . . Ringo . . ." The boys yell back: "Tom . . . Harry . . . Fred." John sidles up to a spare microphone and sings, sexily: "Could I Forget You." Someone shouts: "I could." John puts on a VERY hurt look.

As the engineers balanced odd bits of sound through the microphones, John strummed an acoustic guitar and launched himself into "House Of The Rising Sun", very close to one mike. As he came to the word "Down", he suddenly roared it at the top of his voice. Everybody jumped about a foot in the air with the shock of it all. John just grinned back at them.

Jack and John

And in mid-grin, Jack Good rushed on stage, stuck his face about twelve inches from John's and said, with dignity: "You rang, sir?" The pre-show fun was hotting up.

Lots of chat among the Beatles about what clothes to wear. They had what they call "our OLD Palladium suits and our NEW Palladium suits". They tend to argue a lot about clothes, but settled on the NEW suits . . . the trousers, they felt, didn't match properly on the OLD ones.

Carole Deene was in the audience. In the show, additionally, were Sounds Incorporated, Sandie Shaw, P.J. Proby--and blonde ex-Vernon Girl Lyn Cornell. Turned out that Lyn, now married to drummer Andy White, used to live very near Paul in Liverpool, so they had a happy fifteen minutes talking over old memories. They used to play with the same friends.

Jack Good buzzed about energetically, checking final details, encouraging the artists, cajoling the audience. In the tiny space by the side of the stage about twenty of us, including the artists stood. A yell went up for the Beatles. Paul, putting on his ripest Cockney accent, said: "Come on Beatles, where ARE you?"

It was a good, big, brash show, with the Beatles turning in a marvellous act. The American critics loved it. They weren't the only ones. It was a whole lotta fun just being there, watching the whole process through from start to finish.

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