The 3rd January 1967 issue of džuboks(i.e. Jukebox) magazine (no. 9!) published in Yugoslavia (Belgrade, Serbia) featured a short 2–page spread interview with John Lennon by Zdenko Hirschler (Hiršler) in Spain during the filming of How I Won The War. It was during this period that John wrote the song Strawberry Fields Forever. I think this is the first time the feature has been translated.
The photos featured were taken by Hirschler and are seemingly some of those in a batch of 200 previously unseen images auctioned in 2016 after the photographer’s death. Lennon is photographed here with co-actor Roy Kinnear and playing cricket. Reports from 2016 say that Zdenko Hirschler was Austrian, however, I haven’t found any information about him online. The article says that he worked for the NME – again I cannot find any info….
ZDENKO HIRSCHLER, JOURNALIST FROM THE NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS, ESPECIALLY FOR DŽUBOKS
“NO ONE CAN BE A BEATLE PASSED THIRTY“
An exclusive interview with The Beatles’ John Lennon in Spain
Do you recognise this face?
You probably thought: Peter Sellers before he was married. Or maybe a Chaplin impersonator? Or a chap serving his military service?
All your assumptions are wrong: it is him, JOHN LENNON, the one whose days amongst The Beatles are, perhaps, numbered.
He knows that himself!
I met him in a small town on the Spanish coast, where he is shooting the film How I Won The War, which is being directed by Richard Lester (Help, A Hard Day’s Night).
“Look”, says Lennon “in a few days, I’ll be twenty-six years old. For the last six years, I’ve lived like a Beatle. It was a nice life, full of good laughs, but it can’t last forever. Now I’m trying to do something else. A few years ago I tried to paint, write and sculpt. Now acting is next. It’s funny. It’s hard. It’s different. When I see myself on the big screen, I will be able to say something more about my future. Then I will know if this is the ‘right’ thing for me!”
“Did fatigue force you to take such a step? Is it tiring to be a Beatle?”
“Oh, no, not at all. That is something else. It’s like finishing school on time. It’s a problem for all of us. George was in India recently, walking and shopping, and learning to play the sitar (an Indian musical instrument). Paul bought a new house in north London. The house was built in 1830 and Paul doesn’t hide his joy that the house is one of the most beautiful in England. Now he’s thrown himself wholeheartedly into decorating the interior and doesn’t think about anything else. Ringo recently visited me here in Spain to make sure I was actually making a real, serious film. Each of us has faced the same dilemma, not a problem, but a dilemma: what to do in the future? We often get together and talk about that future and never see it as the future of The Beatles!”
“Why did you cut your hair?”
“It was of big importance for my role in the film. Hair has nothing to do with the future. In the film, I play the role of an English soldier named Gripweed, and in that time of action, soldiers had short hair. I had it cut in Germany…”
“Well that’s awful, the fans must have been upset?”
“Not at all! At first, I felt very strange, but I also immediately saw the good sides of doing this. I was able to calmly walk down the streets and no one recognised me as a Beatle. Not the press, nor the fans. It’s like suddenly finding freedom. When Paul went to Paris for the weekend, no one gave him any peace. They saw him with that hair of his and went after him, followed him, asking for his autograph. Nobody recognised me. Of course, apart from when I was with the others. People then logically concluded (people are so intelligent today) that it was me!”
“And the glasses?”
“I didn’t wear glasses then, only contact lenses. Contact lenses are more practical. I hate glasses because I’m always losing them. It’s a problem for all of us in the crew: I’ve lost more than a dozen pairs so far. They brought along a total of twenty of them, so I hope I’ll have at least one pair by the end of filming.”
“When will the filming be finished?”
“Altogether the filming lasts ten weeks. We filmed for four weeks in Germany, the rest here. It’s lovely here, warm, quiet…”
Also staying with John Lennon here in Spain are his wife Cynthia and three-year-old son Julian. The family lives a peaceful life and no one disturbs them except Richard Lester.
Lennon’s working day begins at seven in the morning. Like the other actors, he has to be on set at 7:30. For weeks now, Lennon has been working all day, although he often says that he is “certainly one of the laziest people in England.” His laziness excludes activities such as talking, reading, listening or watching. He always enjoys it, these are the mental activities that he has been engaged in for the last few months before the start of filming.
Lennon does not have any kind of privileges during the filming. He is just one of the actors amongst dozens of others. He, of course, has his own chair and sits there during the long intervals and playing cricket with the other boys from the crew. Cricket is part of his role and he oddly enjoys it.
A Spanish journalist asked him an unusual question: if by some chance he were not a human being, which animal would he like to be?
“A cat”, he said with a smile, “a beautiful, big, well-fed, lazy cat!”
Lennon has to be on set even when his scenes are not being filmed because Lester is constantly changing his ideas and wants to pass on those changes to him at all times. In the uniform of the soldier Gripweed, Lennon is far from the long-haired, carefree and well-known Beatle. In his big military boots, baggy trousers and glasses he seems like a tiny, pathetic figure constantly exposed to the whipping wind in the desert where the film is being shot. I asked him a question:
“Will you ever find your way back to The Beatles? In this place, it seems that you are further away from them than ever…?”
“There’s no doubt about that. Nothing dramatic will happen to us in the near future. We are great friends and in January, we start shooting our new film together. Ringo stayed here with me recently, and soon we will meet up with Paul and George. I still make joint plans despite the fact that we are getting older every day and no one can be a Beatle when they turn thirty… You see, I took on the role in this film because at that time, as a group, we didn’t have any kind of commitments… So don’t worry about our unanimity, friends!”
Zdenko Hirschler (Hiršler)
This issue came with an A3 colour poster of The Beatles – one shot from the “trunk” session (there was no free flexi disc with this issue).
džuboks(i.e. Jukebox) magazine was a very popular Yugoslav music magazine first published in 1966. 16 early issues came with free flexi-disc singles in unique sleeves that were glued to the last pages of each magazine. Of course The Beatles featured heavily throughout the 60s issues and the song Hello Goodbye was one such single attached to issue 23 in 1968 (see below) Some issues also came with pull-out posters.
I am gradually collecting all the 60s issues. These are the ones that have The Beatles on the front cover that I’ve collected so far. More to come 🙂
This issue (15) featured a 2-page spread written by Goran Kobali about the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album. Included was a flexi-disc of The Easybeats Friday On My Mind.
A LETTER FROM LONDON
A few days ago Paul Jones stated that pop music is experiencing a constant decline and an increasing stagnation. The picture looks a lot brighter now since the Beatles released their new LP SERGEANT PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND. After listening to Sergeant Pepper’s I thought about what had happened in pop music in the last few months.
First of all, ballads and beat-music compositions, most of which were created just for the sake of making money, have dominated. There was a progressive expansion of interest in genres: oriental sounds, folk music, a creative return to classical music, novels, vaudeville style and musical “stealing” of earlier experiments by some more progressive groups.
The teenagers of 1963, who at that time were delighted with beat music, are now older, with a more refined taste and incomparably more experienced in many things. Pop music can still provide them with what they’re interested in. It is now clear to everyone that The Beatles have survived primarily because they were able to penetrate all the pores of music with equally powerful results. Amongst the generations who admired Tommy Steele, Vera Lynn, Bing Crosby and many others, today there are devoted followers of pop music.
Everyone knows that today there is a new pop group that has blatantly decided to concentrate its commercial activities on one of those groups. Those who created the group The Monkees do not deny that they have done so. The compositions of this group have been carefully modelled on the early style of The Beatles, uncreatively but skilfully processed. Their first record Last Train to Clarksville, faltered in England and then sky-rocketed against the competition because The Monkees began appearing on television every week in their own series of short films. Today, The Monkees are the idols of young people up to the age of 15. Due to the lack of anything more significant, this is their year. One gets the impression that their songs were written on an electronic typewriter into which two old Beatles LPs and an old book of Oxford nursery rhymes were inserted.
Starting with Yellow Submarine, it has generally been a period of children’s songs: Rain On The Roof (The Lovin’ Spoonful), Simon Smith And The Amazing Dancing Bear (The Alan Price Set), Ha Ha! Said The Clown (Manfred Mann) and Puppet On A String (Sandie Shaw).
The Beatles return hope to the progress of pop music
The text of a composition is as important as the music itself. An example of this is the group The Bee Gees and their composition New York Mining Disaster 1941, then The Animals (When I Was Young), and Cat Stevens (Matthew and Son). Social discussion helps pop songs and some of them are deservedly in the competition. Bob Dylan’s mocking and slightly lazy voice, as well as the ballad-type folk songs he loves, are still being copied. The folk song is still an integral part of pop, which can be seen in the success of the group The Dubliners and their hit Seven Drunken Nights.
The Beatles’ new LP Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band proves that all those genres have a future. Two songs are semi-ballads: Fixing a Hole is cold, romantic and harmonically reminiscent of the melodies of Yesterday and Michelle; She’s Leaving Home is a light waltz reminiscent of an old musical comedy with a classically distorted accompaniment for harp and string quartet and with an ironically intoned text about a minor family tragedy. There is also a harmonious vaudeville song When I’m 64 which talks about the setbacks of old age. George Harrison’s composition Within You, Without You contains the air of Indian folk music, with strong hints of the Indian atmosphere even in some of the Lennon-McCartney compositions.
There are also fantastical lyrics full of intrigue, asymmetrical music in Lucy In The Sky with Diamonds as well as the sound effects in Lovely Rita who is a traffic warden, then A Day In The Life, which has been banned by the BBC due to its association with drug use (very topical in Great Britain at the moment). The song Lucy talks about “tangerine trees and marmalade skies” as well as a “girl with kaleidoscopic eyes.” The melody of Good Morning, Good Morning is reminiscent of a novel, whilst the simplicity of the bass in the song With a Little Help From My Friends is similar to pop music from five years ago.
Each of these pieces is more creative than any composition that can currently be heard on pop radio stations. Compared to what other groups have been doing lately, the Sgt. Pepper’s LP is superiorly expressive. As a constructive critique, a kind of musical classic that studies direction, this record corrects or removes dissonance and undisciplined work and suggests which way to go. The new search is represented by the title song Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, its reprise and Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite! These three songs give the final shape and completeness to this record.
Issue 13 of đzuboks featured a double page spread written by Henri Gris about the release of The Beatles single Strawberry Fields Forever / Penny Lane in the USA, the accompanying promotional films and the reaction of record companies and the public.
Also included in this issue was a flexi-disc of The Rolling Stones Ruby Tuesday 🙂
DEAD? SPLIT UP? DON’T BE STUPID…
HENRI GRIS EXCLUSIVELY FOR DŽUBOKS
On 13th November 1966, the London newspaper The Sunday Times wrote: “In some sense, what was best about The Beatles’ music was the expression of the cheerful exuberance of a complex group of attractive young men. Maturity, the disappearance of collective narcissism and the development of personal interests have contributed to the destruction of their phenomenon…”
Today, no one can say that The Beatles are back because they never went anywhere. No one can say that they are back at the top because they never gave up. Here’s a story that took place over two continents and that helped bring The Beatles back to the centre of attention.
The colossal calculating machine in Hollywood’s famous Capitol Tower couldn’t have found a worse time to break down. The Beatles’ new record was selling like hotcakes across the USA. Of course, during the first few days, the daily sales reports were able to confirm quite a few significant orders and, by looking closely at the electronic crystal ball, people were able to predict with a high degree of certainty how a record would sell for the next two weeks.
To make things even better, the American television show Hollywood Palace broadcast a filmed version of the record, a real little movie gem shot in bright and eye-catching colour. After the appearance of The Beatles on television, the orders began to rise sharply. However, it was not possible to calculate at what rate. Unfortunately, the calculating machine was not working. And so, for one whole week, the fate of The Beatles in America depended on experts who were in a hurry to fix the electronic crystal ball as soon as possible.
This had to be done as soon as possible because the company was very interested in The Beatles’ first long-play record of 1967. There were managers everywhere: in Pennsylvania, Jacksonville, Florida, Los Angeles, California, and they were ready to get down to business. They were waiting for a telegram from the Capitol Tower telling them when they would receive the precious copy of The Beatles’ tape arriving by special aeroplane from London.
“It seems to me that there hasn’t been such anticipation for three full years, since the first record by these boys”, said one of the heads of Capitol Tower. The breakdown of the calculator contributed to the real drama. However, we were sure of one thing. All the uncertainty about The Beatles’ future had gone.
At that time, no one addressed us about the disintegration of their group. It seemed that everybody knew the answer.
Amazingly, the two four-minute film excerpts that were used as a visual counterpoint for the two Beatles interpretations – Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields Forever – were enough to resurrect the clouded image of these four idols of contemporary youth and dissuade all those who wished to inherit them into the hearts of the young generation. The Hollywood Palace is a Saturday night television show that is mainly watched by adult television fans. During that time, young people go out – to the cinema, for a walk, meet friends. But, on that exceptional Saturday evening, millions of young men and women stayed at home, went to friends or a pastry shop to watch a television show. In a sense, they represented the jury that was to judge all those who contributed to them who doubted The Beatles’ reign. Disturbed by the news of the band’s breakup, they felt they needed something to reassure them. After this television show, one young man said: “It was that simple. We’ve all grown over time, that’s all.” Millions of young men and women confirmed his opinion.
Viewers of the popular British television show Top of the Pops had seen and heard these films even earlier, however, the Americans then saw them in luxurious colour. Either way, the films served as an excellent advertisement for The Beatles’ tunes.
The producers of The Hollywood Palace show, which has about 35,000,000 viewers, once offered Brian Epstein a large sum to host the fab four in the famous Hollywood theatre. The answer was no. And then, some time ago, they were told they could have The Beatles – but on film. At first, they were not enthusiastic, but when they saw that The Beatles had changed their appearance – all four had moustaches, and George Harrison even had a beard – they agreed. So, The Hollywood Palace gained the right to present the “new” Beatles in colour to the wider public.
These two films were filmed in and around London, as well as around Sevenoaks. Busy finishing his last film in which only John Lennon starred, director Richard Lester began to grumble when he was told that the young Swedish television director Peter Goldmann had inserted a scene in which a piano was attached to a tree in his film of The Beatles. It reminded him of that piano that appeared in the middle of the snowy Alps in a sequence in the film Help. Intentionally or not, the two new Beatles films have convinced another quartet – The Monkees – that the achievements of their television series are just a pale reflection of the achievements of the fab four. However, these were probably the least consequences of The Beatles’ last “flurry”.
The most important thing was that everyone had to admit that, from a musical point of view, this talented foursome has crossed a certain boundary and that in their development from rock and roll singers they had reached new, unexplored, exciting spheres that hold a lot of promise. It’s true, John wrote Strawberry Fields Forever during the filming of How I Won the War. Paul’s idea for the composition Penny Lane represents nostalgia for Liverpool. However, all four were together on the recording of their new album and then they behaved like real explorers. As if, having grown moustaches, they’ve become ready to try new quirks. During the recording, these completed tapes were destroyed, because they came to the conclusion that the rhythm was wrong. When recording the third version, they gave it a slightly faster rhythm and only then were they satisfied.
There was a doubt that The Beatles had experienced a crisis during the last year, but today it is known that they managed to overcome it. They seemed confident, but in fact, they were four disappointed boys when the movie Help did not live up to expectations. They thought they had found the magic formula: one film a year, a few world tours, a few new records. The incident in Manila came as a rude awakening. And then, after a few months, they simply grew up.
“Last year”, says director Richard Lester, “Paul asked me: ‘Would it be awful to wake up one day as a thirty-year-old Beatle?’” It seems to me that this scared them the most.
The Beatles would not like to hear someone compare them to Elvis Presley, although, in fact, he was the first to decide to stop with concerts and dedicate himself to making records and films instead. In a way, they are creating their own version of what Presley has already done. More precisely: they’re creating four versions. We should not be surprised if the director of their new film is Richard Lester again if before the film they record several long-play records, each of which will confirm their entry into new spheres of music.
Issue 21 published on 3rd January 1968 included two interesting Beatle-related pieces – see below. Also included in this issue was a flexi-disc of Paul Jones ‘Sons & Lovers’.
SHANKAR’S GUITAR: NINE FEELINGS EXPRESSED THROUGH MUSIC
FOR THE FIRST TIME AN INDIAN MUSICIAN TRIUMPHS IN THE WEST
Ravi Shankar is the first Asian musician who has really asserted himself in the West. This virtuoso on the sitar, an authentic representative of Indian music in its most classic and expressive aspects, is currently experiencing a series of triumphs in the USA, England and Paris, where he regularly holds concerts. Whilst his predecessors had to be satisfied with small auditoriums, Shankar fills the Philharmonic Hall in New York, the Royal Festival Hall in London and the Pleyel in Paris.
This success is an event in itself. East and West have been divided for centuries by a veritable wall of sound: their traditions were so different that each of these two worlds found the other’s music unbearably arduous. The West transferred to the East the ignorance of polyphony (and therefore counterpoint and harmony) and the total absence of modulation, that is, the variation of tone, in one particular part, while the East marvelled at the rhythmic poverty of the West, its inability to distinguish intervals lower than a semitone, its classical language limited to only two ways, greater and lesser.
Does the fact that an Indian musician is experiencing success in the Western Hemisphere today mean that the wall of sound has been demolished?
Ravi Shankar’s success provides a twofold answer to this question, which, in addition to the musical problem, also includes a social one. The artist’s audience is mostly made up of young people. During his last concert in Paris, a large number of young men with long hair and long beards could be seen amongst the attendees. That concert was attended by all the visitors of the beatnik quarter, those who draw fake Picassos on the pavements, who look for secret places to smoke marijuana, people dressed in an impossible way, in red jackets, green trousers, worn-out uniforms of a secessionist war, accompanied by skinny beauties in mini-skirts, with a wide leather belt around their waist. It is very significant that between the pages of the programme was inserted a “rock and folk” music review dedicated to pop music so that the face of the Indian sitar player could be seen next to the famous faces of Eddy Mitchell, Sonny and Cher, The Four Tops and others.
Although one part of the audience was very different from the audience that normally comes to applaud Sviatoslav Richter or Menuhin, the atmosphere was the same, unusually heated and mixed. Dressed in white, Ravi Shankar sat on the floor, on a small carpeted stage; on his right, a tabla player (two small tambourines that are played with the fingers or the palm of the hand), and on the left, a woman in a sari with a tambura, a stringed instrument that gives a real colour to the sound. As for the sitar, it is an instrument made of teakwood that has seven main strings that the musician plucks with the index finger that wears a metal thimble of the right hand and thirteen “sympathetic” strings that vibrate to give harmony and are usually played with the little finger. The sound of this instrument is weaker than the sound of the guitar and without the help of a microphone, nothing would be heard beyond the tenth row.
How do you explain the fact that the majority of Shankar’s audience consists of beatniks? The Beatles are so enamoured with the sitar that George Harrison spent six weeks in India to take lessons from Ravi Shankar. This instrument even appears in their film Help.
“My audience is mostly made up of young people”, says Ravi Shankar “because young people are more inclined towards non-western music, they have not yet crystallised into certain habits. In addition, it is easy to find something in common between Indian music and jazz: both attach great importance to rhythm and the creative imagination of the interpreter, especially since in our music, as in jazz, the interpreter improvises. An Indian concertmaster can improvise up to ninety per cent of the work he performs. However, the comparison with jazz ends there because the basis of Indian classical music is quite different. As for the so-called aphrodisiac virtues of our music, they make up only one of many aspects. There are nine basic feelings, each of which can be expressed through a piece of music, and according to Navarasa theory, they are: sensuality, comedy, pathos, anger, heroism, horror, grotesque, wonder, and joy. To awaken these feelings I do not need drugs, just as I do not need otherworldly feelings. Music is enough for me.”
Ravi Shankar does not hide his apprehension about the longevity of his success, possibly related to one of the many fashions. Young people turn to him to learn how to play the sitar in a matter of weeks. However, it took him seven years to master the technique, after which he became one of India’s most respected virtuosos. From the beginning of the ‘50s, he began an unusual mission: introducing the West to the classical musical heritage of his country.
“I began to play in front of a small circle of listeners, less than a hundred people, composed usually of Indians or westerners, fanatical devotees of yoga.”
Shankar strove for something greater, for a real concert audience. He has a wide audience today, but that’s not what he wanted. He has a secret fear that he is still exposed to the whims of fashion.
“Who can guarantee to me that young people will not suddenly start to be interested in something else? That they will leave India for Japan, that instead of the sitar they will enthuse about the koto. What will become of my audience then?”
RAVI SHANKAR IS ACHIEVING GREAT SUCCESS IN NEW YORK, LONDON, PARIS AND BELGRADE. HE SUCCEEDED TO BREAK THE WALL BETWEEN TWO MUSICAL WORLDS THAT APPEARED TO BE IRRECONCILABLE. THANKS TO THE SKILLS WITH WHICH HE PLAYS THE SITAR, THE INDIAN TEAKWOOD GUITAR WITH TWENTY STRINGS, HE ENJOYS A GREAT REPUTATION TODAY.
Also in this issue was a short Q & A inset with the band on page 21. This was probably translated from an English source into Serbian for the magazine.
THE FOURSOME FROM THE YELLOW SUBMARINE
WINNERS OF ALL ANNUAL POPULARITY LISTS, THE QUARTET THAT HAS ALREADY ENTERED WORLD MUSIC LEGEND, THE UNSURPASSED BEATLES TALK ABOUT THEMSELVES AND THEIR PLANS
Q:It has been said that the Lennon-McCartney duo will one day take the place of Rodgers and Hammerstein as the authors of popular songs: have you ever thought about the possibility of devoting yourself exclusively to writing and not performing your compositions?
PAUL – No, we haven’t. Maybe at the age of eighty: then we will only write and not play.Besides that, we don’t want to become Rodgers and Hammerstein.
Q:Your band seems to be going the opposite way to Bob Dylan: you started with rock’n’roll and now you are performing music that is closer to folk songs more and more often. Where does that come from?
JOHN — It’s not quite like that, although it’s true that we’re going in the opposite direction to Bob.We are not searching for folk music, but now we are more interested in the content of the lyrics.In fact, more or less, we are all doing the same things.
Q:George, you went to India to learn to play the sitar, an Indian instrument.Do you think Indian music of the future will influence Western folk songs?
GEORGE — I hope that it will, but I’m not the one to decide.Indian music is very beautiful and I am glad that it is finding more and more followers.
Q: One question for all of you: do you ever cringe at all the noise going on around you, press conferences, screaming girls…Do you ever feel the urge to say enough and leave everything behind?
RINGO — When that happens to us, we count the wad of money, each take our share and go and spend it.When we get tired of all that, we’ll go back to work.
Q:They say that there aren’t as many fans in front of the hotel where you’re staying as there used to be.How do you feel about that? Worried? Angry?
RINGO – Very rich.
Q: Aren’t you sorry that maybe you’re not as popular as you used to be?
RINGO — The money stays the same.
Q: What kind of music do you listen to during time off?
JOHN — None of us favours one particular type of music over another.With the exception, perhaps, of George, who likes Indian music, each of us likes all kinds of good music.
Issue 33 published on 3 January 1969 featured Tom Jones on the cover, a double-page spread about the history of The Beatles, a centrefold of the White Album photos and pieces about Mary Hopkin and Tiny Tim.
EVERYTHING WAS LIKE A FAIRY TALE
In the past few months, the life of Mary Hopkin, a previously unknown girl from Wales, has radically changed. Maybe after some time, she will start to remember the carefree time that preceded all of this, maybe she will think “Yes, those were the days.”
DISCOVERY OF THE YEAR
Today Mary Hopkin lives in a completely new world. In it, the colours are bright, the sounds are louder. She still can’t get her breath back from the dizzy events that occurred after the recording of her first album, Those Were The Days, produced by the company Apple, founded by The Beatles.
Indeed, there is a huge difference between her life in the small Welsh town of Pontardawe, where she was an unknown folk singer, and the glitter of pop stardom that surrounds her now in London. Fan letters came from all over. Managers called her from all over the world. Flowers and telegrams came every day. Almost every moment is filled with recordings for radio and television shows, interviews and meetings with photojournalists. Mary now appears in the company of celebrities. She goes to lunch with Tom Jones and Engelbert Humperdinck, shopping with Twiggy and has dinner with The Beatles.
Everything suddenly changed. She arrived in London as a completely unknown girl just six months ago.
I TAUGHT MYSELF HOW TO PLAY THE GUITAR
She was born in the small town of Pontardawe, which has ten thousand inhabitants and which has already entered history as the birthplace of Richard Burton and Ray Milland. Her father is an official in the local council. She spent her childhood on the slopes of the hills that surround the town. By the age of five, she expressed her desire to sing and took her first steps as a member of a church choir. Three years ago, she got a guitar and a mandolin for her birthday. She learned to play the guitar completely by herself and began organising concerts in nearby places. At concerts, she mostly sang Welsh folk songs. Under the influence of one of her father’s friends, she decided to get to know the folklore of her region as well as possible and after achieving local success, upon the persuasion of her family, she decided to sign up for the television show Opportunity Knocks, which offers the first chances to young talents. She took first place in the contest and appeared on television for seven weeks, interpreting songs by Joan Baez on the guitar. It is said that Twiggy spotted her on television and told Paul McCartney about her. The rest is history. Paul invited her to London. She recorded Those Were The Days. Then the advertising machine of The Beatles set to work and Mary experienced huge success in a short time, even threatening the popularity of their composition Hey Jude.
“I still have only one song, a song that’s not even mine (it’s inspired by Russian folklore)”, says Mary, fully aware that she’s just getting started. “I will have to learn much more.”
“THEY WRITE THINGS I NEVER SAID”
Recently, Mary arranged a meeting with a female journalist at the premises of the record company Apple. The Beatles were also supposed to come. When the journalist arrived, Mary was already sitting and waiting patiently with her sister Carole. She looked fresh and attractive in a white coffee-coloured dress embroidered with folk motifs around the neck and around the sleeves.
The young singer is very unhappy with her interviews in the London press as well as in texts dedicated to her.
“They write things I never said”, she says “They ask stupid questions. For example, is there any romance between me and Paul? It’s funny to even think about it, and it’s even funnier when they say that I look like Jane Asher. I’ve seen Paul a lot, but only in the studio, during the making of the record. We’ve had lunch together several times, but there was always someone else with us.”
George Harrison soon arrived, dressed in emerald trousers, boots and a purple shirt. He was very kind to Mary. Although she had got to know Paul and John better during the first weeks of her stay in London, it was George who gave her an extraordinary guitar with the signature of the craftsman who made it.
“I only got guitars when I could buy them myself”, replied George when he was asked how his noble gesture should be interpreted. “I know what it means to have a good instrument at the very beginning. Mary is a talented musician and she needs an instrument like this. It will help her to advance.”
In the meantime, Paul also arrived. He spoke about how he had temporarily hired new advertising agents for the successful launch of Mary Hopkin’s record.
“As you know, we no longer have a manager”, he says. “We are our own managers. We’ve decided to be like that, and Mary will decide for herself whether she wants to hire a manager or use the services of our agencies. I think she has a very interesting voice and could be able to sing anything. I would like her to start singing more complex songs or ones with a faster rhythm one day. At the moment, she sings in her pure and simple Welsh voice, but I’m sure she could achieve something else. Maybe we’ll try that “something else” on her first LP, which should be released soon.”
MARY WILL DECIDE
Finally, Ringo and John Lennon appear along with the Japanese girl Yoko Ono. Until a few weeks ago, Mary would probably have been very excited to be in the company of her idols, but now she acts quite naturally. Her only admission is that she never dares to speak to John Lennon first.
“He is so smart that I couldn’t start a conversation with him”, she says.
In the meantime, she learned that The Beatles are musicians who strive for perfection, that they carefully prepare each of their records, spending nights playing, singing, repeating and refining the individual phrases. Did she also prepare her first record so carefully?
“No. We had only two meetings where the arrangement was discussed. The recording was finished in one day. I had to sing the song seven or eight times, but I wasn’t angry because I felt that it got better every time. I still can’t believe that I’ve made it. It seems to me that everything was like a fairy tale or a dream because everything happened so quickly. Sometimes, when I read the names of groups and singers like The Bee Gees, The Beach Boys, and Aretha Franklin, it seems to me that the name Mary Hopkin is so funny and ordinary. When I see my name in the papers or when I hear my record, I’m still not sure that it’s me.”
S. L. (I have not been able to find out who “S.L” is)
Issue 1 had The Rolling Stones on the front cover. It was published on 3rd May 1966.
Although The Stones made it onto the front cover The Beatles appeared on page 1 and throughout the issue.
Issue 2 published 3rd June 1966 featured Salvatore Adamo on the cover.
Issue 2 had a small piece about Pete Best and a paragraph about Paul McCartney’s song “Woman” which he wrote under the pseudonym of Bernard Webb for the duo Peter & Gordon.
Issue 5 was published on 3rd September 1966 and on the cover were Cilla Black, Petula Clark and Sandie Shaw.
Issue 7 published on 3rd November 1996 had the very popular Donovan on the cover.
The headline is “Their music is like the beat of our heart.” Probably the most contemporary quote is from a guy named Mauricio Salvatore from Milan, who said: “With their new record (LP) ‘Revolver’, the Beatles have proved that they can deal with all kinds of music without difficulty: from jazz to Indian music, from melodic to electronic music…” – ‘Revolver’ was released in August 1966.
Issue 8 was published on 3rd December 1966 and had The Mamas & the Papas on the front cover. Inside was in an interview with Bob Dylan by Jack Modi.
Issue 11 was published on 3rd March 1967 and had The Who on the front cover as well as a flexi-disc of their song Happy Jack. Inside was a poster of The Hollies.
After the The Beatles’ decision to stop public concerts, various news began to arrive from all sides. Much was assumed; “exclusive and breaking news” was in fact just baseless speculation.
Who knows how long all this would have lasted if Paul McCartney hadn’t gotten “angry” and decided to clarify The Beatles’ plans once and for all.
“Why don’t we go on long tours any more? The reason is simple: when we play live, none of those present can hear us because the noise is deafening. Why hasn’t our stage performance improved since we started touring four years ago? The reason: on many of our new recordings, the music is performed by a large orchestra, and it is clear that we cannot perform these songs on stage. We feel and know that people only listen to us from records, and that is why it remains our most important aspect of communication. Now there are no more time restrictions on tour dates, so we are able to devote all the necessary time to recording one song.
To the numerous voices about the disbanding the popular Beatles, Paul replies:
“We are all great friends with each other and it never occurs to us to split up. There were never any doubts about that. We are not jealous of the each other’s activities and we all look forward to our mutual successes.”
It could have been expected that journalists would be interested in the opinion of The Beatles about the declaration that The Beach Boys are the most popular international group in Great Britain. Paul said:
“All four of us are big fans of The Beach Boys. At the time of voting, we didn’t perform much, whilst they released an excellent record right at the time of the vote. What do you know, maybe we voted for them!”
Issue 12 was published on 3rd April 1967 and had Caterina Caselli on the cover. Inside was a fill colour poster of Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich, as well as a flexi-disc of ‘Snoopy vs. the Red Baron’ by The Royal Guardsmen.
Issue 16 was published on 3rd August 1967 and had Grupa 220 on the cover. The free flexi-disc was Eric Burden & The Animals ‘When I Was Young.’
Issue 16 had a short news piece about The Beatles.
John, George, Paul and Ringo have been left really surprised: some of their most successful songs were recorded on a record by one of the best Italian opera singers, soprano Cathy Berberian. Of course, the news caused surprise, and perhaps fear amongst opera lovers that, instead of Verdi, Puccini and Wagner, they might soon hear the music of Paul McCartney and John Lennon in Milan’s La Scala. Cathy Berberian said that she recorded The Beatles’ compositions not to create publicity for herself but because she believes that the compositions really deserve to be put in the same order as the works of classical authors.
More sensational news: while their latest LP record Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Orchestra is conquering the world and is not falling from the top of the charts, the famous Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni has hired the Beatles for his new film. Filming will begin in mid-September in Malaga, Spain, and the film will be called Shades of a Personality*. Even more news: cartoons about the Beatles are being made in America! They are two films called Yellow Submarine and Good Morning, Good Morning.
The Beatles will soon break another world record, achieving the great number of 200 million records sold. The record is currently held by Bing Crosby at 250 million.
(NB: *the film didn’t happen because The Beatles were too busy with the Sgt Peppers album. Cathy Berberian’s album is called Beatles Arias)
Issue 19 was published on 3rd November 1967 and had Siluete on the front cover and George Harrison on the back cover. The free flexi-disc was ‘The House That Jack Built’ by The Alan Price Set. There were no special Beatles articles inside.
Issue 19 had small piece about George. “George Harrison, member of the famous Beatles, rests on one of the meadows of Saint Morgan (?) in a classic yoga position, now already faithfully following a series of oriental philosophies, The Beatles often pause during the shooting of their latest colour television film to relax in meditation. The film is called Magical Mystery Tour and will be shown at the beginning of December.” (Note: I don’t know about the location of Saint Morgan (Mogen?)
Issue 23 was published on 3rd March 1968 and had Arsen Dedić on the cover. This was a particularly interesting issue because it was the only one to feature a Beatles free flex-disc – ‘Hello Goodbye.’
Issue 23 came with a free 5.5 inch flexi-disc in a paper sleeve of The Beatles ‘Hello Goodbye.’ The sleeve also has an advert for the ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ EP on Yugoton records. It was the 14th flexi-disc (F-0262) issued with džuboks magazine.
India, my music!
George Harrison spent ten days in Bombay. He played sitar in front of an audience made up of Indian musicians and recorded the music for a film. Meanwhile, The Beatles are launching a new group called Grapefruit and also becoming film producers.
When it became known that George had travelled to India, everyone thought that it was about the famous trip with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, which The Beatles have been planning for several months. However, George Harrison’s departure to Bombay is closely related to a job he is just about to finish: the composing and performing of the soundtrack for Wonderwall, George’s debut as a composer of film music.
George stayed in Bombay for ten days and recently returned to London. He travelled to India with the wish to, together with Indian musicians and instruments, record some of the music he had composed and to find inspiration for the last sections of the musical themes in the film Wonderwall. During his stay in Bombay, George played the sitar in front of an audience made up of Indian musicians who had nothing but words of praise and respect for him.
“George Harrison”, said Shambhu, one of India’s most famous musicians, who is a virtuoso on several instruments, “proved that he understood the spirit of our music even though he lives in a country that is completely different from ours.” His way of playing the sitar was a pleasant surprise for many of us.
Recently, the English RCA company held a press conference in order to present the new band Grapefruit. The presence of three Beatles in the company of an unknown band was not entirely accidental. In fact, Grapefruit are the first group to be signed by Apple, the company that opened a boutique of the same name in London last month, owned by The Beatles.
The new group consists of John Perry, George Alexander, Pete Swettenham and his brother Geoff. Three guitars and drums, all very young: they are between eighteen and twenty years old, however, they have been in pop music for several years already and have played in other bands. They write excellent, very commercial compositions. Some critics who had the opportunity to hear them predicted that they would be the “Bee Gees of 1968”. Given that The Beatles were interested in them and that record producer Terry Melcher (son of Doris Day) came from the USA specifically for them, the group Grapefruit certainly have a lot to offer.
At the cocktail party were Ringo, Paul and John. Ringo was wearing one of his many goatskin cloaks. John and Paul appeared with sticks (in Britain this is now a big fashion). Also at the party were Brian Jones of The Rolling Stones and Cilla Black. Somewhat later Donovan also arrived.
Of all The Beatles, Paul was the most polite to the representatives of the press. He is the only one who is always ready to satisfy the curiosity of journalists. When asked why George was not with them, Paul answered:
“As soon as he came back from Bombay he began writing music for a film. He hasn’t left his house for days.”
Paul has already had experience on the film scene last year when he wrote the music for the film The Family Way. The Beatles will soon, all together, realise the soundtrack for a new film which they will be produce themselves, the next step of the Apple organisation of which The Beatles are the sole owners, will be film production. So far, all that is known is that Twiggy will play the main role in the first film produced by The Beatles and that the film will be called The Wishing Tree.
(Note: I can’t find any info about the Twiggy film)
Ringo Starr the popular drummer with The Beatles has returned to London from Rome. As is already known, Ringo was there shooting the film Candy in which he plays the role of a Mexican gardener in love with a sweet Swedish girl Ewa Aulin. The filming will continue in England and the premiere will be in the spring.
Issue 22 was published on 3rd February 1968 and had Ivica Percl on the cover. The centre spread featured excellent colour photos of the Rolling Stones and Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich. The free flexi-dsic was The Dave Clark Five’s ‘Everybody Knows.’
Issue 22 has this Beatles article about the making of the ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ film.
Every day more unpredictable
Ringo Starr is in Rome. However, this does not only mean that the filming of the film Candy has begun, in which The Beatles’ drummer plays one of the main roles, but that the four Beatles have finished work on an undertaking that has been completely draining their energy in recent months: the preparation and realisation of the television show Magical Mystery Tour.
We, of course, will not see it, although a large number of European and American television networks have bought this show and will broadcast it depending on their television programmes and schedules. We are left, however, with the option of listening to a record containing six tunes performed by The Beatles in their TV show: Magical Mystery Tour, leading motif sung by Paul; Your Mother Should Know, again performed by Paul; l am the Walrus, which is also the ‘B’ side of the new single Hello, Goodbye; The Fool on the Hill, a wonderful ballad with the typical Beatles sound; Flying, an instrumental piece composed jointly by The Beatles; and Blue Jay Way, the last composition of the special extended-play written and performed by George.
Magical Mystery Tour is a story about a group of passengers travelling in a bus. The word “Magical” is the key to everything: it gave The Beatles the opportunity to delve into the unreal and introduce elements of fantasy into their story. It is the first film in which The Beatles are the sole producers, directors, organisers, screenwriters and composers. Therefore, no one is more qualified to talk about this unique achievement than they are.
When asked by journalists how they came up with the idea to realise Magical Mystery Tour and to be its producers, John Lennon answered:
“At the start of 1967, we concluded that we will no longer be able to do concerts or tours because we are not able to reproduce the sound we get in the recording studios. Since we could no longer go directly on stage, we wanted to find something that would replace the exhibitions in front of the audience. Television was the ideal solution.”
“Besides that,” added George Harrison “we can sell our spectacular to all countries of the world: where we’ve already been and where we will never go. Anyone, anywhere, can see Magical Mystery Tour and in that way get something by us.”
“Paul came up with the idea of making a television show about a bus trip,” says Ringo. “He was thinking about it back in April last year when we were on holiday in America. He started developing the idea on the flight from New York to London. Later we met with the wish to discuss it together.
“When it came time to start filming,” says Paul “we saw that each of us had defined ideas about how the show should look. The only way for our ideas to be respected was our decision to be producers and directors of the spectacular ourselves. We used only the most necessary technical assistance from the side: we did everything else ourselves.
Magical Mystery Tour is The Beatles’ first experience in the realisation of a complete show. What problems did they encounter?
The charm of magic
“Everything was so magical,” says Paul, “that I can safely say that we had no problems. The first two days, when we found ourselves on the road with this huge bus full of people, we were a bit worried. However, the ice melted and everyone got into the atmosphere of it.”
Were there many improvised scenes?
“The biggest part of the show was improvised,” says John. “Anyone who wanted to do something unusual was welcome. It was enough for that ‘something unusual’ to work.”
Did any of the four Beatles try to keep all the organisation in their hands?
“No one especially,” says George. “Perhaps John and Paul did more than me and Ringo. However, most often we worked by dividing the team into two groups: Paul and Ringo, for example, went round in the bus, whilst John and I stood outside or somewhere else.”
When asked whether Magical Mystery Tour was dedicated to all their fans or just to children, The Beatles said:
“To the widest audience possible. There are several different ‘levels of fun’ in the show. It is intended for children, their parents, and grandparents, in short for all our fans. It has interesting things to watch and listen to. If Magical Mystery Tour is successful, we will use the same technique for the realisation of a new Beatles film and the recording of new television shows. In any case, the ‘inventions’ from this show will be used in our future TV spectaculars or our films.”
What were the inventions that are the basic ingredients of this show?
“Fun was the first. Then: lots of laughs, some pretty girls, some actors, some acting and, of course, a little magic. In addition to that, of course, six Beatles’ songs.”
Five years of the Beatles era ends with the frenetic success of the television show Magical Mystery Tour, which marked the return of the popular quartet to the public after six months of absence from the scene. The first and second places of the famous English “top-twenty” belong to them: 1. “Hello Goodbye”, 2. “Magical Mystery Tour” (EP) and the unsurpassed Beatles!
Issue 27 was published on 3rd July 1968. French singer Mireille Mathieu was on the front cover. Inside was an exclusive interview with Julie Driscoll and a huge colour poster of The Bee Gees.
Issue 38, the penultimate issue, was published on 3rd June 1969 and had The Beatles on the cover. Inside they were mentioned in small pieces as well as the news and readers’ drawings.
“ZAPPLE” NEW SUBSIDIARY OF APPLE RECORDS
The record company of the Beatles Apple founded its subsidiary under the name “Zapple“, which will issue only LP records. For now, it is known that the new company will release three records: “Unfinished Music No 2” by John Lennon and Yoko Ono, “Electronic Sounds” by George Harrison and “Listening To Richard Brautigan”. Apparently, John Lennon will no longer be able to go to America, because the American embassy cancelled his visa. This was done because of the drug affair in which Lennon was involved.
“BLIND FAITH” – A NEW NAME ON THE POP SCENE
The supergroup consisting of Eric Clapton, Stevie Winwood and Ginger Baker has a new member. It’s bass guitarist Ric Grech, former member of the group “Family”. He also plays the electric violin. The group has decided that their new name is “Blind Faith” and they already have a contracted tour of America, which starts on 11th July. For now, they spend a large part of their time in the studio and already have 14 hours of recorded material. It is believed that their first album will be released on 22nd June.
HENDRIX ALSO ARRESTED FOR DRUGS
Jimi Hendrix has joined the ranks of pop stars who were arrested for drug possession. During a recent visit to Canada, at the airport in Toronto, Jimi was arrested for possession of heroin. After a short time, he was released to continue touring, but with bail of 10,000 dollars. After the end of the tour, Jimi will have to attend a court hearing scheduled for 19th June.
A RARE BREAK
For Đorđe Marjanović, it is “new” when he has a few moments of free time. After hard radio and TV recordings, between tours and commitments, Đorđe finds time to play with his daughters. “Popularity is nice, but the moments I spend with my girls cannot be compared to any other pleasures,” says the famous singer.
“Have you already become one of the two thousand members of the Yugoslav branch of this unique fan club in the world? If you haven’t, hurry up! John, Paul, George and Ringo are calling you… Write to the address of the club (Zagreb, Gajeva 2a) and you will receive information that will delight you. Hurry, because — John, Paul, George and Ringo are calling you…”
Issue 36 was published on 3rd April 1969. On the front cover were the London band Gun.
THE BEATLES SAID ‘NO’ TO A MULTI-MILLION OFFER
American manager Sid Bernstein, who organised The Beatles’ grandiose concerts at New York’s Shea Stadium in 1965 and 1966, travelled to London last week to try to lure the world’s best group back to the stage with a tempting offer. A representative of The Beatles’ record label Apple said about it: “The Beatles have no concert plans at the moment.” This rejected Bernstein’s tempting offer of four million dollars for four concerts in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Miami. In the meantime, The Beatles are recording material for an upcoming single and LP, and are also finishing filming for a television documentary. John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Two Virgins entered the US LP chart last week, so John and Yoko are planning a new album that they will start recording next month. The Beatles received another gold record in America. This time for the album Yellow Submarine, the group’s fourteenth gold album in America.
“THE BEATLES”, SAYS MARY HOPKIN, “TAUGHT ME TO SING WITH A MEASURED AND BRIGHT VOICE THAT REVEALS DIGNITY. HOWEVER, ITALIAN SINGERS ARE VERY PASSIONATE, THEY SHOUT A LOT, THEY ARE SO TRAGIC THAT AT SOME MOMENTS THEY LOOK ILL: I’M AFRAID THAT THEY MIGHT COLLAPSE AND BE LEFT LYING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STAGE!”
This was my first stay in Italy at the Sam Remo Festival. I didn’t know that country or the Italian pop music ambience, to tell you the truth, I don’t know enough about the English one either: I’m new. Not a year has passed. Back in May, last year, I was staying at my house in Pontardawe, we are neither rich nor poor! That day, a phone call came from a guy. A long-distance call: I was scared, it doesn’t happen often that someone from another city called us. The guy had a Liverpool accent, said his name was Paul McCartney and that I had to come to him in London for an audition. I panicked. I couldn’t believe that it was really one of The Beatles, I couldn’t speak. Paul waited for a moment, then told me to call my mother and made an agreement with her. The next day a big black car came to pick me up and we left for London. Paul explained to me how things developed. Twiggy, a friend of his, heard me singing on the television. It was a competition for new singers called Opportunity Knocks and I’d won. Twiggy had immediately forgotten my name but, having lunch with Paul, she said a few nice things about me. At that time, The Beatles were looking for new singers for their record company Apple. That’s why Paul invited me to an audition, signed a contract with me and told the press: “Mary is simple magnificent!” I am aware that this story seems fictional, because it is too good to be true. I know it’s like all the other stories, about all the other singers…
“I’M NOT IN LOVE WITH PAUL”
Since then, they started calling me “The Beatles girl.” That’s not true: I never went out with them. We only meet for some television spectacle or advertising meeting: rarely. Paul decides everything about my work, but through his associates. He made sure to make me a personality: he decided that I had to be a simple, spontaneous and kind, old-fashioned girl. He insisted that my voice be clear, balanced, cheerful, ambivalent. I was not allowed to force it, nor to dramatize the composition, by trying to express feelings and act out the words of the song. Paul believes that it is vulgar, unworthy of an artist who must strive for stylisation and always leave an impression of dignity, refinement and peace. Of course, that’s just his opinion. The opinion of the Italian singers is completely the opposite: they are all very passionate, they shout a lot, they are so tragic that at times I was even scared. It seemed to me that they were ill, I was afraid that they would collapse in the middle of the stage. However, it is normal that Italian women are prone to melodrama, opera: that style is not contemporary, but it is very colourful!
“WHY SO MANY TEARS?”
Everyone in San Remo was so upset, nervous and confused. Here in Britain, excitement is not so common. Maybe we understand music, spectacles, records, success or publicity in a less dilettantish way, with more distance. I don’t like the atmosphere of English pop music: that world is too pretentious, very fake, they are all snobs to the point of cruelty, real morale killers. I don’t like hippies either. I like normal people. I’m aware that I’m left behind, that I’m growing slowly and I’m having a hard time overcoming my shyness. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I wear very little make-up and only recently got used to wearing a mini-skirt. Amongst all those classy and free-spirited London girls, I feel like a clumsy country girl. On the other hand, I dread the thought that I might change and lose my cheerfulness and balance.
In San Remo, everyone was sad and crying. Rosanna Fratelo cried from despair that her song did not enter the final. Carmen Vilani cried because her song did enter the final. Why cry about that? They drink, they look down at each other, they say things that I can’t explain. You get the impression that they are organising some kind of conspiracy. I don’t know which Italian singers could be successful in Britain. I’m afraid there aren’t many: one or two. Maybe Rita Pavone, who was already in England and had some success. Maybe I haven’t listen to them in their best interpretations, maybe in Italy everything is somewhat improvised, insufficiently elaborated and studied. When I just remember how much we worked to find the composition for my debut, to prepare the arrangement and interpretation. It took Paul two months to choose it. Two years earlier, he’d heard an old Russian tune in a London cabaret: Those Were the Days. When the record came out in England and America, the critics were kind: they said it reminded me of the heroic lamentations of Kurt Weill, they compared me to Joan Baez. The record was a success, but it was the result of great work, serious professional preparation and the musical talent of The Beatles. Of course, not everyone starts from such favourable premises.
“BIG PUBLICITY IS DANGEROUS”
The Beatles are very strict with the singers who work for them. They forbade me to participate in television spectacles: they say that it is enough for a singer to appear on television so that no one is interested in him or her anymore. They don’t want much publicity in the press for their singers: they say publicity is vulgar. The fact is that, with the exception of specialised magazines, the English daily press has little interest in pop music or singers. It’s another thing when they arrest the Rolling Stones or fine John Lennon for walking around naked… They were also interested in me because I am a unique case: it is not often that a debutante sells three million records worldwide in six months. Am I rich? I guess, I don’t know: with us, I get a percentage of the sales once a year, so I haven’t received a single pound yet. It might last me a lifetime: the second record is always a stumbling block. It might work, but it may also return me to anonymity. No one will notice it, and the press will not write about the fall, crisis, collapse, loss of the throne, defeat. In our country, it would be crazy to devote two or three pages of a daily newspaper to a singing competition, followed by television reports and comments on the radio, at any time of the day, with big headlines, with lots of photos. In Italy this is all normal. But Italy is a distinctly musical country, a country that loves stars. And that’s nice.
THE LAST BEATLE GETS MARRIED
PAUL MCCARTNEY HAS ANNOUNCED THAT HE WILL SOON MARRY WEALTHY HEIRESS LINDA EASTMAN— THE MARRIAGE COULD BE A HEAVY BLOW TO THE QUARTET’S POPULARITY:DISAPPOINTED FANS HAVE ALREADY STARTED THEIR “PROTEST.”
“Thief”, “Cheat”, “Paul is ours!” This is how twenty young Beatles fans expressed their disdain for twenty-five-year-old Linda Eastman, right after the announcement of her engagement to Paul McCartney. Holding hands, Linda and Paul were leaving the Apple, a record company of the famous group, when they were attacked by a group of enraged and jealous girls. The most beautiful of the Beatles hugged Linda’s shoulders and, protecting her with his own body, led her towards his Rolls Royce.
Linda was pale and could barely hold back the tears. She rested her face on Paul’s shoulder and the driver immediately drove off. That the same evening, it was officially announced that there is a strong sentimental relationship between The Beatles’ bass guitarist and Linda Eastman, but that the two have not yet determined either the place or the date of their wedding.
Paul McCartney’s sentimental choice could deal another heavy blow to The Beatles’ popularity. George and Ringo are married; John Lennon lives with Japanese woman Yoko Ono. For young female fans of the band, Paul was the only “available” personality: a golden bachelor, romantic and handsome, every girl’s dream to marry. But, now Paul will get married! He has chosen a twenty-five-year-old woman, divorced and the mother of a six-year-old girl, and above all extremely rich. Linda is the heiress to the large Kodak camera company, whilst her brother has recently taken over all the affairs of The Beatles’ record company.
“BE CAREFUL!” – SAID BRIAN
“Paul, you’re rotten,” read one banner during the anti-Linda demonstration. There are many who cannot forgive Paul McCartney for leaving Jane Usher, the young stage actress who had been his girlfriend for years. Jane was reserved, shy, not at all aggressive: the ideal girl for a pop star, ready to give up even marriage in order not to “steal” from the fans. In July of last year, during a short press conference, Asher declared in front of the BBC microphones that everything was over between her and Paul. At that time, Linda had already entered Paul’s life, so today it is easy to guess what was going on.
The noisy engagement of McCartney with the divorced heiress threatens The Beatles not only with a wave of protest events, but also with the revival of a scandal that was much talked about five years ago. It happened in Liverpool, the city from where the famous quartet set out to conquer the world. Today in Liverpool someone is threatening to “speak out,” extract many compromising documents and thus “block” McCarthy’s marriage to Linda Eastman.
It all started in the first months of 1962 when the famous Beatle sang in the Liverpool club the Blue Angel. Paul was always obsessed with girls in mini-skirts who came to the bar. “No sentimental ties, no self-control, be careful,” warned Brian Epstein, manager and “creator” of The Beatles, who tragically ended his life. George, John and Ringo listened to him step by step, but not Paul, who began courting sixteen-year-old Anita Cochrane: a thin and quiet brunette who, unbeknownst to her parents, came every night to applaud Paul. Paul and Anita were inseparable for a year.
“I’m sure,” Anita would say later, “that Paul loved me then and that only his manager prevented him from officially announcing our relationship.”
In the summer of 1963, Anita Cochrane discovered with horror that she was expecting a child. Paul and his band, then already famous, were on tour in New York. The girl started bombarding Paul with telegrams and phone calls: “We’ll talk when I return to Liverpool,” said Paul diplomatically. Then Brian Epstein and the company that managed the success of The Beatles did everything to prevent a scandal. At first they thought of ignoring Anita Cochrane’s claim and denying her relationship with McCartney.
“PAUL WAS MY ONLY LOVE”
“Ignore everything,” Brian Epstein used to say. Anita’s son was born on 10th February 1964 and was named Philip Paul. Two weeks later, accompanied by her mother, the girl hired a lawyer who was supposed to call Paul McCartney to court and force him to admit that he was the father of Philip Paul.
In that moment Paul was gripped by panic. His manager realised that the process, regardless of the verdict, could shake the great career of The Beatles. In April 1965, after many “conflicts” between Anita Cochrane’s lawyer and the administrator of The Beatles, the two sides found a common language. With a substantial sum, Anita waived any legal action.
“I accepted this agreement because I was forced to” — said Anita later through tears. “However, as long as I live I will repeat to everyone that Paul McCartney was my only boyfriend, my only love, and that Philip is his son.”
For months, the girl hoped to win Paul’s love again, but in vain. Paul did not appear again, and the citizens of Liverpool accused Anita of “selling” little Philip. Some even said that the girl was a visionary and hysterical: one of the many unbridled “fans” who occasionally accuse stars of being the fathers of their children.
Unhappy and disappointed, Anita returned to the shadows and the scandal was forgotten. No one would have mentioned him if Paul had not announced his marriage to Linda Eastman. It is quite likely that Paul was genuinely in love with her and that Linda’s closeness (a mature, intelligent woman with an unfortunate marriage experience behind her) turned the former spoilt young man into a conscious and determined man. However, English public opinion is full of love stories about The Beatles.
ANITA COCHRANE, PAUL MCCARTNEY’S FIRST GIRLFRIEND ON 10th FEBRUARY 1664, GAVE BIRTH TO A SON, PHILIP PAUL (RIGHT), AND ATTRIBUTED PATERNITY TO PAUL.
Issue 32 was published on 3rd December 1968 (my first birthday). On the cover were The Equals with a young Eddy Grant. I reckon this photo was taken in Amsterdam. The cover says that there is a poster of Jools inside, however, my copy doesn’t have it.
The main Beatles article was about John and Yoko’s drugs bust.
ENGLISH POLICE ARRESTED JOHN LENNON FOR HIDING MARIJUANA IN HIS APARTMENT.TO LAUNCH A RECORD, HE AND HIS GIRLFRIEND TOOK PICTURES OF THEMSELVES COMPLETELY NAKED.
SURROUNDED BY POLICEMEN JOHN LENNON AND YOKO ONO LEAVE THE COURT
THE IDOL IN HANDCUFFS
A woman in a fur coat and trousers called out to John Lennon suspected of using narcotic drugs, as he walked between two police officers.
“You’re a saint!”
“Thank you”, answered John laconically and put his arm around Yoko Ono, the Japanese woman he has been living with for some time.
Gritting his teeth, Lennon listened to the accusation and the summons to report back to the judge on 28th November. He didn’t say a word. His girlfriend didn’t even look at the judge. They were arrested the day before in their apartment in Montagu Square: two agents from the drugs squad at Scotland Yard found that John and his girlfriend were hiding a large amount of marijuana in their apartment. The arrest of John Lennon, who with McCartney is the creator of the most beautiful compositions of the quartet from Liverpool, is in fact almost identical to last year’s arrest of Mick Jagger, who was found with the same substance that, according to English law, leads to prison.
As is already known, the leader of the Rolling Stones was sentenced to five months in prison, while his friend Marianne Faithfull was released. Agents surprised this couple at a hippie party, Marianne was just wearing a fur.
Lennon attracted suspicion when, at the trial of Jagger along with Paul McCartney, he declared that there was nothing wrong with taking intoxicating elements, admitting that he himself had experimented with the drug LSD. His conversion to oriental mysticism and his stay in India with the Maharishi, as well as his separation from his wife Cynthia, speak in favour of the claim that Lennon has gone “to the other side.”
Yoko Ono, who is 34 years old, six years older than John, is married to American film producer Anthony Cox and has a four-year-old daughter. In anticipation of two divorces, an unusual artistic and ideological understanding was born between her and John, the culmination of which was the publication of a photograph of them in which they are both completely naked. The photographed was supposed to illustrate their record Two Virgins.
A bold and unusual gesture, which in a country like England is unusually dangerous. Britain could never stand two things: nudity and intellectuals. Public opinion viewed Yoko Ono with suspicion, not so much because she abandoned her family, but because of her understanding of avant-garde art. A film she directed, which is called Yoko Ono No. 4 is actually a montage of 365 different photographs — of people’s bottoms.
HOW DOES YOKO DRESS?
Here’s how things went. Some time ago, John and Yoko recorded a record that they wanted to launch with as much pomp as possible. On the album’s cover of Two Virgins, John and Yoko appeared completely naked.
The trouble started when the photographs were distributed to the press for advertising purposes. Some weekly newspapers vigorously refused to publish such an advertisement: they demanded that the “vital” points be censored. However, Yoko Ono is not a woman who would back down from the onslaught of public opinion. Amongst other things, she said to some journalists who came to interview her:
“Spiritually John and I are two virgins. We are God’s beings who are only seeking freedom.”
Except for this faint reference to God, Yoko expresses herself in the typical hippie language so that Scotland Yard, who had long been keeping an eye on John Lennon and his girlfriend on suspicion of possessing narcotic drugs, applied what has become almost a rule for all police in Western countries: “Wherever there are hippies, there are drugs.” On 18th October, eight policemen and a plainclothes woman appeared at 9 Montagu Square, armed with search warrants and accompanied by dogs trained to sniff out drugs.
“JUST ARREST ME: I’LL GO THE PRISON NAKED!”
When the police broke into the apartment, John and Yoko were just having lunch. Probably annoyed by this unexpected intrusion, they put up a strong resistance, trying in every way to prevent the agents from carrying out the search. Yoko put up more of a fight: she punched two law officers who had to put in a lot of effort to take her away. At the time of the search, the Japanese woman, not so young anymore, was completely naked, and instead of shyly retreating to the bathroom and putting something on, she preferred to fight with the agents, shouting at the top of her voice that if they wanted to arrest her, they can only arrest her as she is — naked. However, she did not achieve her intentions, because the policemen still managed to put trousers and a short fur coat on her.
Meanwhile, trained dogs managed to detect a larger amount of marijuana and hashish. Some time later, tired agents and a dishevelled policewoman took John and Yoko to the nearest police station, where they were charged with drug use and resisting law enforcement. Later they were released on bail.
John Lennon is a real gold mine for journalists today. Having just announced that he is expecting a child with Yoko Ono, John organised an unusual “solo” exhibition in a gallery in central London: he exhibited 365 white balloons, releasing them into the sky with the message: “If you get this balloon, answer me with a kind sentence.” Instead of kind sentences, Lennon received hundreds of letters full of insults.
Perhaps this row about the “forbidden photograph” arose because this couple does not present a pleasant sight to the eyes. He, naked and bespectacled, looks like a caricature of some fine Cranach canvas. She has long since passed her youthful years. Because of this, even the “experts” of beauty were upset.
Paul McCartney, John Lennon’s creative alter-ego, was very logical: “Nudity is a strange thing. Until the age of five, everyone accepts it, and later it becomes dirty. Why?”
No one could respond to such naivety.
YOKO CALLED THIS PHOTO “TOO SHY AND HYPOCRITICAL” TO SERVE AS AN ILLUSTRATION OF THE RECORD.
“I LIKE THIS ONE.” HERE IS A PHOTO THAT WAS INTENDED TO BE USED AS AN ILLUSTRATION OF THE TWO VIRGINS ALBUM.
“I ONLY GET DRESSED WHEN I’M COLD” YOKO ONO SAID TO JOURNALISTS
Issue 39 (the last in the 1960s) was published on 3rd June 1969 with Scott Walker on the front cover.
THE BALLAD OF JOHN AND YOKO
HE WAS A FAMOUS BEATLE: JOHN. SHE A LITTLE KNOWN ARTIST: YOKO.
THEY MET AT AN EXHIBITION. “DO YOU WANT TO HANG OUT WITH ME?” ASKED JOHN. SHE ACCEPTED. AND SO THEIR STORY BEGAN.
“She is my ideal woman. The woman of my dreams” said John aged 28, an Englishman, a Beatle, a millionaire, divorced.
“He is my daily bread”, said Yoko Ono, 34 years old, Japanese, artist, actress, poet, poor, twice divorced.
They got married after ten months of living together, on 20th March in Gibraltar. The ceremony lasted less than four minutes. There were no guests. Both Yoko and John were dressed in white. They both had long hair with a centre parting. They both wore glasses. They were both wearing tennis shoes. They arrived in a twin-engine plane that they had rented in Paris. They started their life together on the same plane. With wedding rings on their fingers.
They met in 1966, at the Indica Gallery in London, where Yoko Ono held an exhibition.
“John came to the gallery the evening before the grand opening”, says Yoko. “He asked me to hold the object he was holding in his hand: a box of pins. The exhibition was conceived that way: visitors could knock a pin into the painting with a hammer. I said that he would have to pay five shillings for that. John didn’t want to pay. He said he would only knock the pin in in his imagination. We immediately understood each other.”
At that time, Yoko did not know that John was one of the famous Beatles. When they told her that, she grimaced.
“In the world of art, the Beatles are not worth a penny”, she said. She thought he was a normal man, with a slightly strange appearance, some kind of official.
John’s version is somewhat different.
“When I went to the gallery, I didn’t even notice Yoko. I was not with it at all. I hadn’t slept for three nights. I had a beard, bloodshot eyes. Then Yoko came up to me. We spoke. We became friends. We saw each other quite often, and I even took her home to my wife.”
At that time, John Lennon was married to Cynthia Maxwell (sic Powell), a beautiful Englishwoman, younger than himself. He had a three-year-old son, Julian. Yoko was in her second marriage with the American Tony Cox. She had a three-year-old daughter named Kyoko.
“I argued with my husband about the phone: he always wanted to call. He was curious, aggressive. “He didn’t understand that in my art I need a collaborator and not a secretary for everything”, says Yoko.
After friendship came love. A great love. Blind. John Lennon divorced in November 1968. His adultery was public. The court entrusted little Julian to the beautiful Cynthia. Yoko got divorced at the same time.
Yoko was not beautiful even as a girl. Today, at the age of thirty-four, her wild face is dotted with ugly wrinkles. He is short and clumsy. Her bottom is saggy, her breasts are limp. Hair, although always scented with shampoo, is curly and untidy like wild bushes. Only her hands, with delicate and small fingers, seem feminine. The rest is awful. Someone said of her that she is “Ernest Borgnine disguised as a woman”, but Yoko doesn’t care about that. She doesn’t care about being feminine. When John told her one day that he hoped she wouldn’t die before him, she replied:
“Be calm, my love. I’m not beautiful, but I am strong like a tower.”
Since Yoko took Cynthia’s place, the house has remained the same. In the bedroom, the first thing that catches your eye is the wooden floor with several hundred pins stuck into it.
“That was done by my wife and my mother-in-law,” says John. “After the divorce, they flew in here one day and tore up the carpet like two enraged demons. They were hoping to make me angry. However, the pins were very nice, so Yoko and I agreed to leave them where they are.”
A large, comfortable and always nicely made bed remained in the room. In the dining room, the red tapestry chosen by Cynthia and the Persian-style tables from which the two newlyweds eat using their hands instead of a fork and knife remain. On one kitchen wall hangs a huge portrait of Queen Victoria, and on the other, it says in big letters: “The drunk and glutton will end up in misery.”
Fortunately, Cynthia and her mother did not destroy the gramophones, tape recorders, amplifiers and musical instruments. The kind of collection of nonsense that John is crazy about also remained untouched: an old clock, a bent stethoscope, a faded bow tie. Yoko brought some medicine, food and one orchid into the house. The two eat only vegetables and drink tea. Never meat.
John is kind and obedient. Yoko is in command. She enjoys no sympathy at all in The Beatles’ circle. They accuse her of being short-tempered, overbearing, without any sense of humour.
Yoko became famous with a short film showing 365 naked behinds. One critic said of this film that it is “a wonderful discovery of humanity seen from behind.” After that, Yoko staged a show in London called “Cut Piece”: in an art gallery, Yoko sat in her most beautiful dress and shouted “cut to pieces” to the visitors, armed with scissors. They threw themselves at her like savages and Yoko ended up naked. Another critic concluded that Yoko has “art in her head.” “I’m not sure I really understand her art” says John. “But I admire her strangely. I even neglected my Beatles’ work to help her. I have always dreamt of meeting a woman like Yoko. I married Cynthia because she was pregnant: we never had anything in common. But I am weak and if Yoko had not appeared I would never have had the courage to leave my wife and son. At first, I liked Yoko’s company, but I didn’t realise how much she means to me. I was in a mystical period: together with others, I was in India, with the Maharishi. One day I got a letter from Yoko. It said ‘I am a cloud. Look. Watch for me in the sky.’ Immediately I realised that Yoko was my woman. Our story began as soon as I returned to England…”
Issue 39 had regular readers’ drawings.
Plus a full-page photo of Mary Hopkin.
Issue 31 was published on 3rd November 1968 and had Croatian Kvartet 4M on the cover. Inside were four Beatles related pieces plus a large poster of Indexi.
Issue 31 had a small introductory piece about Mary Hopkin.
WHO IS MARY?
Despite the criticism they have been exposed to recently, The Beatles are constantly at the top and always full of surprises. Their latest discovery is the eighteen-year-old blonde Mary Hopkin, who with the composition Those Were The Days brought the first big success to their new company Apple.
Unlike many new stars, Mary is shy, charming and honest. An ordinary girl who faces the jungle of pop business and bravely endures all the difficulties that popularity brings. She is without a mask and affection, aware that she has achieved success thanks to the luck of being discovered by The Beatles.
“When I left school I wanted to work in clubs in order to go on a secretarial course. After that I intended to come to London and try something in the London clubs. I never believed that I would be so lucky. Why did I succeed? I think it’s because of my simplicity. I am quite an ordinary person, there is nothing special about me. The audience probably likes that.”
Mary believes that being discovered by Paul McCartney is pure luck and that people buy her record because of the composition Those Were The Days and not because of her voice.
“I wouldn’t like to be a star in the usual sense of the word — not like Sandie Shaw and Dusty Springfield, because then I wouldn’t be me. I like their success and I would like to become an experienced singer, but I would not want to change.”
Like all young stars, Mary is happy about her success but always blushes when she receives compliments. She is especially glad that her record, so to speak, rehabilitated The Beatles and their Apple company. She enjoys the busy schedule of interviews, concerts and TV shows. The only downside to this job is the lack of time, so she rarely visits his parents.
“I would like to have my own home. I don’t have time to moan about a house, but I feel like I won’t have a real home until my sister and I find an apartment. We want to have a place where we can be peaceful.”
Mary wasn’t even mad when Sandie Shaw recorded the song that meant so much to her.
“I was very disappointed when I first heard that Sandie had recorded a second version of Those Were The Days because she is a famous star and I am just a beginner. It doesn’t bother me now, not because my record is in the chart and hers isn’t, but because I know that the song sells the record and not me. I’d be disappointed if the record wasn’t a hit, but it wouldn’t last long… I’d try again.”
What would you do if you met Sandie Shaw in a TV studio?
“I’d say: Hello…” says Mary.
And she really thinks so.
Issue 31 had exclusive photos of Paul McCartney filming a promo film for Apple Records new signing Grapefruit’s single ‘Elevator’ – no trace of the film on the Internet. The guy in the bottom left corner is Italian singer Adriano Celentano.
A FILM IN 24 HOURS
Alone, without the help of cameramen or technicians, Paul McCartney wanted to try his hand at directing and made a film about the group Grapefruit who are making records for The Beatles’ record company Apple. The shooting of the film lasted twenty-four hours, and the action takes place in a park: there the guys from Grapefruit do the most extravagant things, jumping from trampolines and rolling around on the grass. The film was immediately bought by English television: it will be shown in an autumn music programme.
The first cartoon film about The Beatles quartet is being shown in many countries of the world, but it is probable that our viewers will not see it due to the expensiveness and disinterest of the distributors. We asked our recent correspondent from London, Goran Kobali, to describe this interesting film production with the help of the materials sent us by Andy Gray. So, darken the room — don’t forget that the film is in colour — and the show can begin……
Issue 35 was published on 3rd March 1969. On the front cover were Paul McCartney and Mary Hopkin. Inside were many pieces about The Rolling Stones, including a piece about Keith Richards with Relja Bašić, and the ‘Rock and Roll Circus’ film.
Many heroes from the world of pop music appear in photos, even on stage, half-naked or completely naked. Therefore, it is not surprising that a journalist addressed them with the words: “You are young, but you have already passed your twenties. Your shoulders are hunched, your back is not quite straight. Your body is a bit saggy. Don’t you think you look better dressed?”…….
The 11th April 1970 issue of the Yugoslav TV, radio and entertainments magazine Studio featured a 4-page interview with The Beatles’ George Harrison by Veljko Despot conducted in London in January 1970. This is the first time it has been translated into English.
An exclusive interview from our correspondent VELJKO DESPOT with GEORGE HARRISON, one of The Beatles, who more than all the others avoids any publicity – especially now at the moment of crisis in which the most famous group in the world finds itself
All those who have been close to The Beatles for years say that George Harrison is the one who has changed more than the others. Even the fans, who have been following his development for a relatively short time, claim that he is no longer the old one. For many, he has represented the “finest” and “most decent” amongst The Beatles, and for most, he remains so to this day. The external changes were obvious, however, the internal ones have been more important. He had a slight inferiority complex, but the other Beatles and their friends never considered him stupid for a moment. George was just a “dear boy”, as well as a guitar fanatic the like of which John, Paul and Ringo had not seen before. He was much better than the others, yet he rarely laughed on stage, because he was so focused on playing. Apart from playing, he didn’t try anything else for a long time. He thought he wasn’t bright enough.
However, today after almost a decade of Beatlemania, George Harrison is another man, the man who out of all four was the first to rise above the world of The Beatles and found his own world – the truth, distinctive, but with his own goals, which at that moment the other three were lacking so much. They began to follow him.
It was precisely that George, the one of The Beatles who suddenly needed the rest of The Beatles the least, whom I tried to discover in London. At a bad time! To look for the man who is known for avoiding any kind of publicity with all his might and to find him at the moment when his press officer announces to journalists The Beatles’ latest decision to stop giving all interviews – at first is discouraging! However, the fact that I’d known George from before and another, perhaps more importantly, fact that he was in such a good mood helped me nevertheless to get this interview.
With very long shaggy hair, a full beard, smiling and extremely kind, he received me in one of the beautiful salons of Apple, The Beatles’ company, which is located not far from London’s famous Piccadilly. This George Harrison is incredibly thin, tall, with a sharp look and restrained movements. He speaks slowly and calmly, constantly twirling his beard!
In a casual conversation, he found out from me everything he was interested in about the earthquake in Banja Luka, pop music in our country, the work of the Yugoslav Beatles Fan Club in Zagreb and the sale of Beatles’ records, and also about nice summer holidays in Yugoslavia. “Oh, what can you do! Somehow I’ve got used to thinking of holidays as being connected to Greece and Spain.”
“The Beatles are also not trying to be Beatles every week of the year“
“George, your wife Pattie once said something interesting about you four Beatles…”
“She said: ‘I know that they are all parts of one whole. They all belong to one another. George is so connected with the others that I will never fully understand it. No one, not even a wife can get into it. I slowly began to realise that I wouldn’t even be able to become a part of that world.’ Is that whole still so solid, George?”
He thought to himself and slowly replied:
“I think these things are the same and have always been the same for all the girls or wives, because…You see, it’s the same for you, because you didn’t become one of the Beatles, I became one. That’s exactly why not even you can be a part of that part of my life, which, because of The Beatles, nor did my wife, which doesn’t mean that she doesn’t understand it either… if you understand me!”
“Yes, but I think you didn’t understand me. Because, in fact, I was interested in whether that whole of four parts called The Beatles is still as solid today as it was then. How else to understand John’s last statements about possibly leaving The Beatles?”
“Well… I don’t know, really! It all depends on what each of us wants to do. I mean, I won’t try to break up with The Beatles, because I want them to be with me. Each of us really has complete freedom to do what they want, so if John said that, then that’s his business! He has his Plastic Ono Band and The Beatles are also not trying to be Beatles every week of the year. We can do something, for example, an album, and that will make us The Beatles for nine months, let’s say… Yes, I think there is enough time for each of us to be what we want to be and to all be The Beatles at the same time. Most likely, this is also the way we’ll go.”
“But, anyway, you have to admit that it was not fair for John to state that he was not concerned with the success of your song Something in the charts, but with Come Together, because it is his composition…”
Suddenly I felt that I had touched a sore spot for George Harrison. He was quiet for a long time.
“Well, you know… I don’t worry about what anyone says or thinks, even if it was him… I mean, sometimes people let you down with what… (sighs)… what they think or say, but… there’s no point in being disappointed.”
“Conflicts between us originate from too much vanity…”
“John’s disagreement with Paul seems really deep. How do you explain that?”
“I think that these are all personal conflicts that originate from vanity, from one’s over large “me”. I don’t know, but I have no problem with John, I have no problem with Paul, I have no problem with Ringo. Maybe I don’t have them only because I think there are no problems, and they only have them because they think problems exist. It really is so simple and so complex, but it’s all about that “me”, which is something that we all have and which is not entirely good, but not entirely bad either. However, sometimes two such “me’s” clash and what happened now with the two of them comes about.”
“Being one of The Beatles is not the most important thing in life“
“Two years ago you stated that you no longer find satisfaction in being one of The Beatles, or literally: ‘All that Beatles stuff is cheap and unimportant. I’m fed up with all that, myself, all of us, the stupidity and senseless things we do!’ What do you think of those words today?”
“Yes, I agree with them! Maybe I should explain what I meant by that ‘senseless Beatles stuff’. No, it’s not about being one of The Beatles, it’s about being anyone else. You see, I identify people with their surroundings, with their friends, however, the first thing I recognise them by is this body made of blood, bones and nerves. However, people think THAT is me. Do you understand?”
For the first time since our conversation began, George raised his tone, his voice taking on an almost distressed overtone.
“I cannot limit myself, be satisfied with being a bag of bones, a physical body! The real “me” is something else, something that has a soul. And then people come to you who want to take pictures of your body, touch it, stand in a photo next to it, and all this with a COMPLETE misunderstanding of who it is and what it really is. And so… I agree with my words, because the most important thing in life is not to be photographed with one of The Beatles or even to be one of The Beatles! It’s all SO secondary, because we’re all playing our part of one big game, and I can still play one of The Beatles if that’s what people want me to do.”
“Our music can be understood in a serious and a less serious way”
“You once said that you are amused by people who take The Beatles’ music too seriously. I understand you, but anyway, say something more about that.”
“But I’m also unhappy if people don’t take our music seriously! It is, in reality, serious. But it’s all like what John said when returning our medals to the Queen, mentioning how his record was failing in the charts. He said that the whole thing shouldn’t have been taken so seriously, and it’s the same with our music. We talk about serious things through it, but it’s all about whether you want to take those things seriously or not. Our music can be understood in a serious and in another, less serious way.”
“We will perform live again!”
“At the end of last year, for the first time after three years of not performing, you appeared at a concert. It was with Delaney & Bonnie. Did you miss the atmosphere of the tours and the pleasure of performing in front of the audience all those years?”
“It was good, even very nice. It was good after not doing it for so long, good for a completely different feeling. But it doesn’t mean I’d want to do it again all the time. It also has its downsides.”
“Can we still expect the final return of The Beatles to the concert stage? Is there any kind of chance?”
“Very big, a very big chance! I don’t know, I couldn’t tell you for sure where and when, but the chances are better now than they’ve ever been!”
“George, tell me, finally, what do you think the key was to The Beatles’ success?”
“I don’t know! Many things… really I don’t know. Too many things! You might know that better than I do… or maybe this man, this poor man knows better…”
This referred to Derek Taylor, The Beatles’ press officer, who appeared at that moment.
“Our friend asks you what things you think led to The Beatles’ success.”
“Well, everyone should know that… or no one” replied Taylor. – “Anyone could answer that, but they wouldn’t know how to explain it…”
George thought to himself, looked somewhere far away and quietly said: “I don’t know. It’s magic… maybe.”
On page 14 of issue 656 of Plavi Vjesnik (Blue Herald) published on 20th April 1967 in Zagreb there is a short report by Veljko Despot about The Beatles from Abbey Road Studios where they were recording the now legendary album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. He was lucky enough to chat with them and discuss the as yet unreleased recordings outside and inside the studios.
I have translated this article direct from a printed copy of the weekly magazine – including the titles of some songs as they were published. I believe this is the first time the text has appeared in English anywhere.
ALL THE WAY FROM YUGOSLAVIA?
One young Englishman sent a letter to the music paper Melody Maker saying:
“Classical music has achieved complete independence with the works of Stravinsky, Bartók and Schoenberg. Electronic music was formed by Stockhausen and John Cage, and jazz by Bob James. It seemed that there was nothing else left to say in music. But suddenly, so to speak, out of nowhere, Strawberry Fields Forever appeared. This is a new and revolutionary form of songwriting.”
The little record by The Beatles with the songs Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields Forever, released in the second half of February, has so far sold several million copies. Even before it appeared in American shops, The Beatles won a gold record with it because over a million copies were sold in advance!
The long-awaited record has pleased all of The Beatles’ fans, and most certainly those from Liverpool. The Beatles did not forget their hometown or their fellow citizens and dedicated both songs to Liverpool. John wrote Strawberry Fields Forever and Paul wrote Penny Lane. About which John says:
“We’ve been intending to write a few songs about certain places in Liverpool for a long time. I started working on Strawberry Fields in October, during the shooting of the film in Spain, and Paul finished Penny Lane before the New Year.”
Penny Lane is a little street in Liverpool that Paul used to walk down as a child, whilst Strawberry Fields is located right near John’s former house where he lived as a boy.
Whether that young man was exaggerating in his letter or not, we leave it up to you, but the fact is that Strawberry Fields really is something new, something that has not been heard in pop music before. With both of these songs The Beatles have gone further than all other bands, and so far for many that they won’t be able to reach them if that’s even possible for any of them.
Strawberry Fields Forever has attracted attention because of its melodiousness and the special sound that the whole song creates. With the special recording technique of John’s voice, the electronic recording of Ringo’s drumming and the use of various instruments, as though a dream was trying to be described in the language of music. This was greatly contributed to by the Mellotron, an instrument that can produce sounds similar to many instruments – in this case the flute.
Penny Lane, one of the nicest songs that The Beatles have recorded so far, has John playing on the piano as a basic accompaniment, however, in addition to the usual guitars and drums, you will also hear a trumpet, double bass, piccolo and horn. The solo is sung by Paul, and for a good part, John does too. The text is simple and therefore appealing. It is, in essence, the description of a small street in a big city and the life on it.
The very release of the record and the success that followed dispelled the doubts of even the greatest sceptics about the continued existence of The Beatles as a group. The frequent rumours about the breakup of the group ended when manager Brian Epstein signed a contract with the company E.M.I. in January about recording records. About which George Harrison said:
“This contract should put an end to all the rumours about the breakup of The Beatles. Brian signed a nine-year contract with E.M.I. for us. This means we will make records – as a group – right up until 1976!”
The Beatles went to work and the first result was Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields. However, they have not stopped there. For several months already, John, Paul, George and Ringo have been working on recordings for their new LP. They have settled in E.M.I.’s studio no. 3 (sic) in St. John’s Wood in London, where they arrive every day around 7 in the evening to stay until 4 or 5 in the morning.
For any interview with the Fab Four, you must contact their press officer Tony Barrow, who will explain to you that every minute of The Beatles’ time has already been arranged and if you want you can come back sometime at the end of August “to see what can be done for you.” There was nothing else for me to do but set off to St. John’s Wood.
Paul was usually the first to arrive and the last to leave. As his house is located near the studio, Paul sometimes arrived on foot. This little walk passes without consequences because few people on the street recognise Paul due to his thick black moustache that gives him a stern and dignified appearance. Once when he was entering the studio like that, I asked him to tell me how many compositions they had recorded so far.
“Six compositions have been recorded completely, and now we are finishing four more.”
These six compositions are: A Day in the Life – John sings solo accompanied by a 41-member orchestra, directed mainly by Paul McCartney! There is another string ensemble in the composition She’s Leaving Home. Paul sings When I’m 64 solo, and Good Morning, Good Morning, Good Morning (sic) is sung by John and Paul as a duet. The composition, which has taken exactly one month to record, and which is sung by John, is called Meter Rita (sic). And one more composition – Sergeant Pepper’s Blues (sic).
Until his departure for his concert in Zagreb, Ravi Shankar, the greatest living sitar player, attended these recordings along with The Beatles producer George Martin and their permanent technical staff. Shankar is George Harrison’s teacher and used to stay in the studio until the wee hours of the morning, watching him play the sitar.
“How many of your compositions will be on this album?” – I asked George as he locked his dark green Ferrari.
“We are working on my composition right now and it will probably be my only thing. I say “probably” because we still don’t know if the record will have 12 or 14 songs.”
Ringo will also sing one song on this record, but it’ll be recorded last because it hasn’t been written fully yet. Cute Ringo is very petite and short, and almost always timid. He also grew a moustache, and critics say his nose looks smaller now.
As always this time too, The Beatles are not without their fans. Every evening, around thirty girls, who want to see their idols, gather in front of the studio. They most faithfully bring blankets, thermoses with hot coffee and sandwiches with them, waiting for them to leave the studio, even if it is at 5 in the morning!
When a big black Rolls Royce with black windows appears at the end of the street, it means that John is coming. The girls gather around the car, and when John gets out, they calmly separate and make way for him. Always in a good mood, John cracks a little joke or signs a picture or leg cast for some of them. During a break between two recordings, I entered the studio building and met John in the hallway. I told him that I was from Yugoslavia, which surprised him.
“All the way from Yugoslavia? That’s quite a long way away, isn’t it?”
I asked him when we could expect the release of the record that they were preparing.
“At first we thought that we would finish it by the end of March, but as things stand now, the record will not come out until the end of May. As for us, we will finish our recordings by the middle of April.”
Those who have heard some finished recordings say that it is something completely different from what people expect from The Beatles. They think that the record, which is called SERGEANT PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND, will be excellent and that the vast majority of people will be surprised.
The Beatles have not disappointed their audience yet and they in return still believe in them.
Issue 935 of the Yugoslav informative weekly VUS – Vjesnik u srijedu (Herald on Wednesday) published in Zagreb on 1st April 1970 contained an interview with Ringo Starr by the Croatian journalist Konstantin Milles (Miles) at Apple’s offices in London. This interview has seemingly never been published in English. So, I decided to translate the text as it was printed in VUS. It would seem that this interview was conducted just weeks before The Beatles announced their separation because the LA première of The Magic Christian and the police raid of Lennon’s Bag One exhibition are mentioned – i.e. January 1970. Barrie Wentzell’s photographs are seemingly dated to 1969.
Obviously my translation will not be an exact transcript of the original conversationbut Ithink it contains insight into Ringo’s life and The Beatles at this critical point in time. If anyone can provide extra details I would be grateful 🙂
Ringo Starr – THE MUSICAL BEARD
Konstantin Miles’ conversation with Ringo Starr, the simplest and most modest Beatle, who finds the meaning of life in his family and “kids.” (Photographs by Barrie Wentzell)
When I entered the room into which I was led by secretary Derek Taylor, the Beatles’ “press chief,” something almost unbelievable happened to me. I was well aware that Ringo Starr had changed his look. I had seen at least thirty photographs of him in recent months with a “new edition” – that is, with a beard. Just a short time before that, I’d looked at his photos taken in Los Angeles at the United Press headquarters, at the gala premiere of the film (The Magic Christian – 29th January 1970) in which he stars with Peter Sellers – and in those photos, of course, he had a beard. But anyway, when he suddenly approached me now, in this big office in Apple, I still looked around, looking for him, even though he was standing right in front of me, offering me his hand.
The Ringo Starr, which was standing in front of me, was a bit confused because he (maybe) realised that something was going on, this Ringo Starr was completely different from the shaggy drummer I’d seen in hundreds of photos. The difference is not only that he now has a beard, and it should be emphasised that it is very neat, his beard – is a beard that could have been worn by some respectable and serious French statesman from the end of the last century. (This beard is something completely different from the famous beard that Lennon had when I interviewed him in Amsterdam: it is the beard of a man who, obviously, looks after himself and to the tidiness of his appearance.) There are also other reasons. Today, Ringo has a carefully groomed hairstyle, and he dresses with a discreet, measured elegance (of course by modern terms and standards, which means that no university professor or reputable banker would dress like that yet, but from today’s youth’s point of view, these clothes are quite conservative). A month before Derek Taylor spoke to me about Lennon: “Did you see his haircut? And what he’s wearing!” He said this almost with surprise, and then he added: “Well, he’s dressed kind of like you!” I burst into laughter: “So like some old philistine, a square, right? Is that what you want to say?” “No, I didn’t mean to say that…”Taylor began but then burst out laughing too. “The main thing is that we understand each other!” I said. Derek Taylor hadn’t told me that by accident. His statement “fell” into the context of the conversation we had had with him. And that again was all in the context of the events that have been going on with the Beatles lately (actually the last few months), about all kinds of rumours about them and so on. I don’t mean that stupid rumour about the death of Paul McCartney that had resonated so sensationally. I was not interested in that rumour, simply because I suspiciously thought that it was “mounted” by the Beatles’ propaganda service, and therefore ultimately my interlocutor Derek Taylor. (Truth be told, I have to admit that I don’t think so now, but since McCartney is “alive and well,” it doesn’t matter anyway.) I was with Taylor for the last time shortly before Lennon’s interview. After leaving that interview, I cursed myself because of inexplicably circumstances I had simply forgotten to ask him why he always used the past tense whenever he spoke of himself as a Beatle. The events that were taking place in the “Beatles Empire,” the various rumours that were circulating, made this very issue more and more important.
Especially the rumours that the Beatles were “in crisis”, that the disintegration of that band is “imminent” (a rumour that is completely absurd), that the Beatles have “came to a dead end,” that they are facing “financial ruin”…
But then things began to happen that were, to say the least, interesting: first there was a “court coup” in Apple, allegedly to save the entire concern from financial ruin that it almost ran into due to the long-standing “bohemian” leadership. The financial management, precisely with dictatorial powers, was taken over by a completely new man, brought in from America – and he then in a short time laid off half of the staff and liquidated half of the companies that belonged to Apple. Now the financial situations are reportedly settled (which is not difficult to achieve in the situation where money, after the release of each new long-play record, flows into the kitty like a torrent). As a Yugoslav, it was not difficult for me to notice the differences between the former “working atmosphere” at Apple’s headquarters (it was almost a “club” atmosphere, about which domestic readers do not need much explanation) and that of today’s. Many familiar faces have disappeared, such as the Greek inventor, with whom the Beatles had created a fantastic laboratory, spending several hundred thousand pounds on it. Since I had a big interview with him, I was interested in his subsequent fate, and more so because talking to him, I noticed that he was under a lot of nervous pressure, in a real situation of “non-stop stress,” “Where is Alex?” – I asked. “I don’t know,” answered Taylor. “I heard he was somewhere in London.” I didn’t ask any further. However, when Taylor told me that George Harrison was just in the process of buying a “new house” (a 120-room country mansion) that would cost him £150,000 – it became absolutely clear to me that, despite the rumours, the financial circumstances of Apple (and the Beatles) were absolutely fine. However, the disappearance of that bohemian “go and come” atmosphere, due to which Apple had always been my favourite place for business visits in London, it’s not just the atmosphere that rules in Apple. Although, not everything has changed. And not all the colourful creatures that gathered here have disappeared. For example, I was glad to find the young Londoner with the hair of a Papuan cannibal (which makes his head half a metre in diameter), who still serves drinks there, and in the meantime types up letters with one finger on each hand. Beat compositions were still constantly echoing in the rooms, and since my last visit, someone had mounted a small moving film projector that throws psychedelic optical effects on the walls. However, the beat music today is mixed with the constant brisk typing of typewriters, urgent business conversations being made over the phone – everything is somehow different, “business-like.”
The fact that Lennon cut his hair and dresses “like a philistine”, Ringo’s great tidiness in the way he dresses, the strange and perhaps slightly sad seriousness that reigns today in Apple (where for weeks they say the staff have been using the black humour question instead of a greeting: “Haven’t you been fired yet?”) – all of this suggests that great things are happening in Apple. I told Taylor this openly, and then suggested that he arrange interviews with at least two Beatles and Apple executives, because I wanted to write a report on the subject of WHAT ARE THE BEATLES ACTUALLY PLANNING? Taylor answered: “Yes, that would be a great subject, but you’ll have to be patient.” “How long?” I asked. He replied that he didn’t know, that he could not say for sure, but then, in a later conversation, in a different context, he informed me that this month the Beatles were meeting “for important decisions… very important decisions”… and that because of this, as cardinals when electing a new pope, they will be unavailable to outsiders, primarily to journalists, for a time. “Does this mean that a big turnaround is indeed being prepared? That the Beatles have found themselves at the end of the road… at least this current time? Of this stage?” I asked. “Something new and significant is sure to happen, but what…” “The Beatles themselves don’t know that yet, do they?” I said. Taylor looked at me and shrugged.
In this atmosphere of great changes, of which only the external symptoms I could see, and there “on the spot,” there where it has a completely different and greater meaning, more weight than in newspaper columns, in this atmosphere it was inevitable that I didn’t recognise Ringo at first glance, that I almost asked him where Ringo was, and when he would arrive. We sat down, or more precisely sank into huge armchairs at a large teak table that stood in front of the fireplace where real logs were burning. The Beatles had bought the only large three-story house, built in the Georgian style, in Saville Row several years ago, then they remarkably tastefully remodelled and modernised it, however, they left many things reminiscent of the past, most notably the fireplaces in the luxurious “boss” offices. Today this white building is one of the most beautiful in the City. Just as guardsmen are on duty in front of the royal palace or the Horse Guards barracks, there are always a few girls in front of the entrance to this building, waiting to see the Beatles “come to work.” On the very ground floor, at eye level, are the two windows of Lennon’s office with a typical “Beatles stunt”: the windows have been replaced with mirrors, and when a girl climbs the iron fence in front of the house, wanting to peek inside instead of Lennon or Yoko Ono’s they see their own face: something that always happens to little provincials. Ring’s office is located on the mezzanine floor but facing the courtyard of the building. Harrison holds court in a room next to Taylor’s, whilst Paul McCartney reportedly doesn’t have his own office at all, and when he comes to Apple, he borrows someone else’s. But this has been very rare lately anyway. In fact, only Lennon and Ringo Starr “sit” in the office every day, whilst the other two work from home.
We began to chat, waiting for the Papuan to bring us drinks.
MILES: There is a lot of talk about you and the other Beatles, and much is being written too. For example, like you feel that you’re losing touch with your audience, as though you consider you’ve moved away from the “source,” that you’ve retreated into some ivory towers. It is said, for example, that you lament for the good old days when you performed in public, went on tour…
STARR: If you were in our shoes then, you wouldn’t think so now. That was something scary. Something we certainly couldn’t stand anymore. We were young then. We are, admittedly, still today… aren’t we?… but still not so young…
MILES: Still, I have the impression that you feel some nostalgia for those times. And yes, you recently performed at some concerts and drummed in front of the audience…
STARR: Yes, but not with The Beatles. I did indeed go on one little tour with another group. I did it out of curiosity… maybe out of nostalgia too… but going on new tours with the Beatles… it’s simply out of the question. Touring is something terribly hard, something that is for people younger than us.
MILES: I wasn’t thinking that you’d really go on tour. I was thinking of the rumours that you were organising public concerts in front of an audience again… Now and then.
STARR: We won’t do that.
MILES: Is it because your music has become so complicated and so dependent on electronic gadgets that it would be impractical?
STARR: That is one of the things that we’d take into account if such a thing came to mind. But, that’s not the only thing. There is something much more important. We could be able play more simply, and so we could therefore perform in front of an audience, and yet our “sound” would be good, interesting, attractive. After all, you also know that some of our new compositions are very simple.
MILES: So what it is about then?
STARR: About something infinitely simpler. We know what such concerts would look like. These would not be concerts at all, just as our former performances in front of the audience were not concerts at the time when we were still Beatles… Man, we didn’t even hear ourselves in that hellish noise! They were not concerts. It was a circus. We are serious enough today that we wouldn’t want to put up with that.
MILES: You said: “Whilst we were Beatles…”Why do you and Lennon use the past tense when talking about yourself and the Beatles? After all, you’re still Beatles, aren’t you?
STARR (laughing): Of course we are, and yet we’re not… we’re not in the old sense. When we say that we were Beatles, then we mean those Beatles who raced around the world and performed in front of audiences, the Beatle-moptops, howlers… in that sense. We mean the young Beatles, the green Beatles, the red-faced Beatles…
MILES: But, isn’t that connected to something else? With something that only in a certain sense relates to the past, but is actually about what happened after that past, that affects the present, and even more, actually concerns the future. It is said that nothing could be said about you today that someone once… then… said wittily about you: that one does not really know whether you are one head with four bodies or one body with four heads; you used to be inseparable. Today you no longer are. You were inseparable in what you did. Today you all do your own thing.
STARR: It’s obvious that we have distanced ourselves from each other in a certain sense and to a certain extent. But the conditions were different then. We were constantly on the road, so that must have been one of the reasons that we were constantly together. We were mostly unmarried. We didn’t have families, we didn’t have wives, we didn’t have children. In that respect, we were freer, yet on the other hand, we were more restrained, more attached to each other… because of that we were constantly physically together… in the same hotel, on the same planes, under siege. There’s none of that today.
MILES: But even when you stopped touring and returned to London, you were still inseparable. At least for some time. You lived close to each, like neighbours, were constantly together, had dinner and lunch together, listened to records together… Today there’s no more of that…
STARR: Yeah, today there’s none of that really. I repeat: we got married, started families, widened our interests that are not always exactly the same. It’s one thing to keep four guys together, even if each has a steady girlfriend; it’s another to bring together four men who are already approaching middle age and even more their wives. And their children. But we are still connected… and not just because of business, so to speak.
MILES: So the rumours about the breakup of the band are unfounded?
STARR: Not only unfounded, but absurd too. We can do all kinds of outside activities. I, for example, am performing a bit in films, as an actor. John is leading the fight for world peace and organising exhibitions…
MILES: Which the police have raided… (Bag One – raided by police 16th January 1970)
STARR: … However, we know very well that we can only survive or fail as The Beatles, that it all starts and ends there. If we stop being Beatles… if we suddenly stop being Beatles… we would be left without a foundation.
MILES: And according to that…
STARR: … according to that we’re remaining The Beatles, and we will be for as long as the audience wants us. And they show us that they do want us by the successes achieved by each of our new records.
MILES: You mentioned your tours with other groups, and you didn’t, let’s say, mention anything else, which in your case is quite new: that you suddenly discovered you were a composer. How is that only now? And then immediately with such success. Haven’t you had inspiration before, so to speak? Has your muse only now started working?
STARR: I’ll tell you something you won’t believe: I’ve had ideas for compositions before, but I just didn’t know how to make them real…
MILES: What do you mean? That sounds quite unbelievable…
STARR: Melodies and tunes came to my mind… but I didn’t know how to… how can I explain… how to put them on paper, write them down, set them to music, that’s it…
MILES: I still don’t understand…
STARR: I only know how to play the drums. Did you ever hear of some composer composing with a drum?
MILES: Come on, please: you’re not going to claim that you don’t know any instrument other than the drum? And if you really need an instrument: if a melody comes to your mind, you could whistle it nicely to Lennon or McCartney… and they’ll make sure that it’s set to music.
STARR: That’s right, but I haven’t done it. That’s how my melodies came and went… but I just remained Ringo the drummer…
MILES: Whilst the others composed… That didn’t bother you? It didn’t bother you that, for example, it was said that the Beatles have three composers and one performer?
STARR: That I’m a little dull, right?
MILES: Not quite that, but…
STARR: I’ve never had any kind of complex about that. I am a simple and unambitious man… unambitious in the sense that I have no kind of pretensions, no intellectual pretensions, no creative pretensions… and I take life as it comes. That’s how I approach life and I deal only with what makes me happy…
MILES: And that is?
STARR: First of all, my family. I am crazy about my family! I just can’t wait to get back home, you know?
MILES: And what do you do there?
STARR: I deal with the children. I chat with the wife.
MILES: And do you, for example, listen to music… other people’s music?
STARR: I have all the possible electronics and stereo systems, high-fidelity and so on at home… and a huge number of records… but I don’t listen to much music. In fact, I never listen to it in the sense of sitting down, putting the turntable on and then listening. Nobody actually does that any more today. I eventually “listen” to music as a soundtrack to something else…
MILES: And what kind of music do you like to listen to the most in that sense?
STARR: I like rock ‘n’ roll… I like blues… I like country music… I like ballads…
MILES: Are there some performers or composers or groups that you especially like?
STARR: I’m afraid they don’t exist. At least they don’t come to mind now.
MILES: Tell me something that really interests me. Do you, the Beatles, still meet up… I mean in a social sense… with wives, friends… I mean not only for business.
STARR: We still meet, although less and less.
MILES: OK. So, can I ask you a question that just came to my mind… that is, whilst you were saying that you don’t listen to music. Do you, at these kinds of meetings, get-togethers, then play music… I mean for your own enjoyment, for your own pleasure?
MILES: I wanted to say: do you have jam sessions?
STARR: Yes, of course we do. Believe it or not, we love to play.
MILES: And what do you play then?
STARR: Just rock ‘n’ roll.
MILES: I expected that answer. But doesn’t that mean that rock ‘n’ roll, the music that you started out with, is the only music that really makes you happy, that really excites you… and that all that other stuff is intended for the audience?
STARR: I don’t think that could be said. We are also excited by that other music, but differently…
MILES: It’s actually about nostalgia for… let’s say… first love… and the fact that you can’t resist the raw power of rock ‘n’ roll, its originality. But, Lennon told me, his life was decided the moment he heard Elvis Presley’s first record… when he first heard rock ‘n’ roll. At that moment, he decided to buy a guitar and become a musician. Was it so sudden for you too?
STARR: I played in all sorts of groups even before Presley appeared. At the time, I didn’t think I would make a living from playing for the rest of my life. I should have become an engineer. But then the Beatles took me in… as you know, I was the last member of the group to join… they even ditched the guy who played before me…
MILES: You told me you were a simple guy, with no pretensions. But still, you can’t ignore the fact that as a Beatle you are one of the most influential Britons. All the polls prove this… even today. How does that affect you?
STARR: I don’t think about that. That is, I’ve never really thought about it much… I take care of that today…
MILES: In what sense?
STARR: I’m trying, when I already have influence, to make that influence positive. You see, for example, I’m full of family virtues. Besides that, I’m hardworking. Besides, I don’t “perform”… I mean: crazy, I don’t go crazy.
MILES: And yet you did get involved with drugs. And as such as an influential man!
STARR: Yes, but I did free myself, I completely freed myself. Because I realised where it was leading. Because I realised that a man who gets used to drugs… that that man loses his freedom, that he eventually stops being a man, that he turns into a “vegetable” – and ruins everything around him.
MILES: So you didn’t drop the drugs just because of the trouble with the police?
STARR: No. I stopped them because I realised where it was leading. Now I smoke cigarettes.
MILES: When they compare you to the other Beatles they say: “Ringo always follows the others! He’s excellent… a supporting actor!”
STARR: That doesn’t bother me. I don’t have any kind of pretensions. If people think I’m dull and if it pleases them, then let it. Of course, I have my own opinion about that.
MILES: I didn’t mean to allude to something so vulgar. That didn’t even cross my mind. Rather, it is said that you, The Beatles are preparing some great new things… I don’t mean new compositions but something completely new… that you are about to make a great turnaround.
STARR: But we were always creating something completely new. We never stood still. And we won’t in the future either.
MILES: And what will it be new in this case?
STARR: We still don’t know. At least I don’t know. Take that as an answer. If that something already exists, if it is “in progress,” I wouldn’t tell you about it anyway. That’s clear, isn’t it?
This is the second interview I have uncovered related to The Beatles in old Yugoslav magazines. The first one was with John Lennon – you can read it here.
Issue 1005 of the Yugoslav informative weekly VUS – Vjesnik u srijedu (Herald on Wednesday) published in Zagreb on 4th August 1971 contained an interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono by the Croatian journalist Konstantin Milles (Miles). This interview has seemingly never been published in English. So, I decided to translate the text as it was printed in VUS. Obviously my translation will not be an exact transcript of the original conversation but I think it provides an interesting insight into Lennon’s thoughts on communism, Yugoslavia, art, politics and of course The Beatles.
Konstantin Milles interviews John Lennon and his no less famous wife Yoko Ono. Lennon now claims that the “communist press” did not make much of a mistake when it previously wrote that the “Beatles were a weapon of capitalism and imperialism” and that he attacked his former colleague Paul McCartney for being a right-winger (read “conservative”) , that George Harrison immersed himself in religious mysticism, and he says that Ringo Starr never knew or understood anything. “I woke up”, Lennon says about himself.
“It be must here!” the driver said to me, turning around in his seat. “This wall looks doubtful!” Shortly before that we had rushed out of the centre of Ascot, about an hour’s drive from London, and now we were driving down a narrow road that meandered through an unusually dense and beautiful forest, with only glimpses of old mansions built like former castles and small country houses. Only the richest residents of London live in this blessed corner of England.
The wall was three metres high, made of stone, at least two kilometres long. When we got to the end of it, I spotted a group of American hippies, standing at the gate and staring “lost” inside. At that moment, I realised two things: that we had indeed reached Lennon (which in the given circumstances had only a practical significance) and that the persistent rumours about the decline of the Beatles’ popularity were not in the least bit true – even though they no longer existed as the Beatles but as John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. Later, during the conversation, Lennon gave me a very convincing verification of the financial-statistical type, which surprised me a little… because pop music was always something I had never been “in to” to such an extent that it could satisfy any of its ardent admirers.
About three months ago I had sent Lennon a telegram asking to meet up again. I had been to London a few times in the meantime, but we still hadn’t met. I knew why: he had been travelling unusually a lot again lately, and that, unlike in the past, it was due mostly to “private business.” He had been in New York twice to track down Yoko’s son (sic – daughter) with the help of the local private and official police and fabulously expensive lawyers, and to take the boy (sic – girl) back from his (sic – her) father, Yoko’s first husband through the courts, (Yoko later told me that her “dad” was also involved, and when I asked her if it was true that her “dad” was a rather rich Japanese banker, she burst out laughing and said: “Well you see, John can’t complain that he’s poor, but his money is peanuts compared to what my family has in Tokyo. I know it’s not tasteful to talk about it, but, you see, when I was little, I was told at home that there were only three families in all of Japan, apart from the imperial family: the Mitsui, Mitsubishi and my family.” I said: “Then that means that together with the Mitsuis and Mitsubishis, it was, in fact, your family that prepared Japan to enter the Second World War!” Yoko Ono calmly replied: “Yes, that’s right! These have always been the three most powerful families in Japan… something like the Japanese Krupps or Rockefellers… the owners of real empires of banks, companies, industries. It is natural that my family is connected to them anyway, besides business. Let’s say my brother doesn’t work with his father, he works for Mitsubishi.” I couldn’t resist asking her how she got along with “dad” and “mum,” considering what she had “done” and what she was “doing.” She said: “In the beginning, they simply fainted, figuratively speaking. Then they, at least I think so, found a solution that suited them best: they concluded that we were nevertheless a family who could accept everything!”)
The very same glasses
I had a great, almost three-hour-long interview with Lennon in the spring of 1969 in Amsterdam. However, there then came the famous Beatles’ breakup (something he had hinted to me indirectly back in that first interview) and a series of Lennon interviews, mostly with the American hippy press and the most biting trends of the “new left.” I suddenly found Lennon interesting again. All the more so since in several interviews, he had mentioned his great desire to see what was happening in Yugoslavia. We drove through the gate past that group of American hippies. Suddenly a huge white, snow-white or lime-white house appeared in front of us — painted just like the walls of Apple’s building in London’s Saville Row. (I remembered that Lennon had always been fascinated by white.) I walked up to the door and rang the bell. Two minutes passed, but no one appeared. I peeked through the little window by the door. In the room I looked into all that could be seen was a forest of film cameras, spotlights, power cables, ladders – all in a terrible mess. I pressed the bell again, but I didn’t hear its ring. I began to bang on the door, louder and louder. Still no reply. We walked around the house. Through one window on the ground floor, I spotted Lennon and Yoko Ono. They were sitting at a wooden table in a huge kitchen with some unknown people. Music was playing. I knocked on the window, feeling like Santa Claus. Lennon noticed me, put his hands together jokingly as if praying me to do something, and gestured to me to go to the last, fourth side of the house and enter through the door that came out to the garden. There I was greeted by Diana (Vero?), Lennon’s secretary and runner, an attractive and still quite young girl with the look of a typical London “schizo.” A little later we were sitting at that big wooden table in the kitchen (Lennon explained to me that the house was “a real madhouse” because the whole lower part was being converted into a film studio, whereby three rooms would be arranged as the Yoko Ono Personal Museum. At that moment, I remembered that I had completely forgotten the fact that Yoko was a sculptor, but not only that. But, more about that later).
John Lennon is now 30 years old. Nothing much had changed since our last meeting. This claim categorically warrants an explanation. In Amsterdam he had long hair and a beard. Today’s Lennon only has relatively long hair, he is completely shaved, because his beard has disappeared, and quite thoroughly: today not only does he, let’s say, shave with an electric appliance but shaves to such an extent, probably with two or three shaves, that his face is as smooth as a newborn’s bottom. He maintains his sideburns, “typically English” and ginger. The glasses have stayed the same: the “anarchist’s design” from the last century with a thin, totally round metal frame. Through their lenses, the penetrating gaze of two blue eyes greets the interlocutor. The look is most usually suspicious: suspiciousness has probably, and he has had a reason for it, become Lennon’s “second nature.” Jeans and a plain shirt with an unbuttoned collar, close-fitting to a rather well-built, but nevertheless weak body, which, together with the physiognomy, still acts like a dynamo. Just like that, seemingly weak, but full of some inner dynamics, Lennon is actually the image and figure of a young man who is liked by today’s girls (if you can judge by what kind of young men the most beautiful girls go out with in London, Paris, Stockholm, Copenhagen… in fact, any Western European city – “Tarzans” seem to be simply out of fashion, and the glasses are more of a plus than a minus. Regardless of the fact that in England one of the great “sexual symbols” is Tom Jones, who still, let’s say, looks different, doesn’t he?) Lennon has his own opinion about this, which, admittedly, he expressed indirectly and inadvertently, almost inadvertently in one completely unrelated conversation. When we finished the interview and returned to the mansion from the park that surrounds it (it has the dimensions of Maksimir Park and like Maksimir it has its own large natural lake with reeds), we chatted for a while in the kitchen. Yoko told me how she met the famous Japanese writer who shook the world a few months ago with a failed coup attempt and then his successful hara-kiri. “One evening he was sitting right next to me, but he didn’t say a single word to me, which was just plain rude! He was otherwise a physically very handsome man!” At that moment, Lennon’s voice was heard: “Yeah, he was handsome. He was one of those crazy body-builders. He was in short – a homosexual! A notorious homosexual! I read somewhere that all the forces in the SS troops were like that! The most disgusting reactionaries and fascists were often like that!” Lennon said this calmly, as though the most banal of facts were being stated, but still, I could not escape the impression that not even hara-kiri could have saved the Japanese writer from Lennon’s aversion. An aversion that was not caused by the writer being homosexual, but simply because with his rude behaviour he had neglected the woman Lennon who loved to such an extent that the term “head over heels” is still valid today. It would be difficult for anyone who has not seen Yoko Ono in person to understand that she is actually a very handsome, physically attractive, beautiful young woman, full of that charming kindness that adorns all Japanese women, whether beautiful or ugly. The only misfortune is that – and I told her, and Lennon confirmed it with unusual zeal – that she is simply not photogenic. In every photo, she looks at least ten years older, the glow of her eyes is lost, the colour of her skin is distorted, the refined anatomy of her face is distorted… and millions of readers around the world wonder “what Lennon saw in her.”
Lennon wants to go to Yugoslavia
Whilst Barrie Wentzell arranged his cameras and I slowly set up the tape recorder, we sat and chatted.
“What’s new in Yugoslavia?” Lennon asked me.
“You have no idea how interested we are!” said Yoko.
At first I felt the temptation to simply reply: “Well come, and you’ll see!” Hic Rodhus, hic salta! But at first the main thought that run through my head was that their question was an expression of conventional decency, of attention towards a guest, who is from a small country, to which I am always allergic. Or that their various statements lately about wanting to visit Yugoslavia were in fact just mere affectation. However, I realised that they were both looking at me with serious, calm looks, with the look of someone who has asked an honest and serious question and who wants a serious answer has.
“What’s new, you ask?” Last time, in Amsterdam, I told you about the introduction of self-government in Yugoslavia. This is always new because it’s something in which something new is constantly happening. What is “old”, in a way, is that we want to show that something that no one has achieved so far can be achieved: communism plus personal freedom plus a high standard of living. But, we are not doing it in order to show the world that it is possible. We are doing for ourselves first of all. We’re not asking anyone to learn from us.”
“I have listened and read a lot about what is going on in your country. Yoko and I would be overjoyed if we could visit your country and see everything! So that we can talk to your people, to your students, workers and intellectuals, to tell them about our ideas, to show them our films…”
However later, in a completely different context, I realised that to Lennon some things about Yugoslavia were still not clear, although he sincerely loved Yugoslavia and its efforts (he told me that “strong vibrations” were coming to him from Yugoslavia, which has nothing to do with telepathy, as one might think, but is simply a term used by hippies when talking about someone or something who or what is doing some, most often mental activity that provokes their sympathy. In the broadest sense, “catching someone’s vibrations” means the same thing as “working on the same wavelength” in our jargon) however, some things connected to Yugoslavia are not clear. If everything about Yugoslavia was clear to him, he would certainly not have asked me the absurd question of whether the sale of his record Power to the People was permitted at home!
KM: So, the tape recorder is plugged in, checked and tested. We can start the interview. Please answer me one simple stupid question: “How are you?”
JL: I’m fine. And you?
KM: I’m fine too. However, please explain to me in a little more detail why you are fine.
JL: I understood the essence of your question exactly and I was just kidding. How am I you ask? In the full bliss of creative work! Me and Yoko are working like crazy. I get the impression we don’t have a minute to spare. Well, I just finished a new album (Imagine), which will be released in the autumn, we are finishing a TV film about that album… actually a film about ourselves, about us, Yoko has published a book that we will give you as a gift (Grapefruit) because we care about it a great deal, and two days ago she completed a theatrical piece (Film No. 12 – Up Your Legs Forever?) that will be premièred on Broadway in September. If you come, we’ll get you a ticket, I’m composing, we’re sorting out the house, Yoko’s making statues, which I’m sure you can see…
KM: If we can make an arrangement and you come to Zagreb, perhaps Yoko could organise an exhibition of her works there?
(Afterwards, I toured Yoko’s studio and “museum” in several rooms of the mansion. It is quite certain that an exhibition in Zagreb would be a sensation. And that even visitors who have little to do with art would come too. Due to certain circumstances.)
YO: Absolutely. Only some of your people might not like some of the exhibits! There might be some misunderstandings…
KM: I don’t believe that would discourage you. After all, you’ve already got used to it, here in London. But, you see, my consciously formulated question had one other subtext, so to speak. How emotional you are after everything that happened after our last meeting, particularly in recent times.
JL: We are in full creative bliss. And that, I think, means we’re emotionally excellent, too. Apart from that, I’m as fit as a fiddle.
KM: In many reports about you, in several interviews that you have given, the thought, like a leitmotif permeates, often highlighted in the title, that “the dream is over”, that “the dream has come to an end”, that you have “woken up”… all along those lines. Does that bother you? It’s almost as if the journalists agreed to point it out!
JL: But, that’s right! What happened before – was a dream! It was a youthful, pubescent dream. But, I’m not young any more: I’m thirty, man!
KM: You seem to be happy to talk about that dream!
JL: People think it that was a magical Hollywood dream. A story of four young men who succeeded fantastically. Yes: we had millions of dollars, millions of girls, at every step, after every performance, fame… but it was still a nightmare. Only we didn’t see it then…
KM: As you talk about it, you speak with bitterness. Everywhere, in every place. And you talk about it with some almost masochistic pleasure…
JL: I want to tell people the truth: that the Beatles’ dream was a mere illusion.
KM: Why do you think that?
JL: I realised that the ruling class was exploiting us, abusing us for its own purposes. You see, back then, at that time, we found it funny when the communist press wrote that we were “the tools of capitalism and imperialism.” I see they weren’t so wrong. We didn’t think we were creating revolution…
“We met conceited people”
KM: … and in fact, those who rule, those who hold the money and power, used you for their own purposes…
JL: It’s not so simple. The Establishment (the ruling class…. ) gave us a high medal, took almost all our money, gave us a medal instead of, let’s say, lowering our taxes… the people who we met on our tours were all just bureaucratic and plutocratic “money men”, police chiefs, diplomats, conceited… not real people. It was all so unreal! In the first ten rows at our concerts, there always sat the “money men”, “the fat cats”, their wives and daughters and they rattled with jewellery. In America, we were invited to a reception at the British Embassy and there we were treated like we were trained circus animals, penguins, even the ladies in gowns and their bastards cut off the hair of poor Ringo so that they could boast about it. Do you think that could happen to us in some working-class family in Liverpool, huh? But, nevertheless, it amused us, it was great for us. Now I’ve finally grown up. Now I will no longer allow anyone to exploit me for their own purposes, to fool me…
KM: You realised something more important. You, with your “Beatlemania”, as it was called then, in a way played the role of an “Establishment” tool because you channelled the amassed energy of the young people, the energy of dissatisfaction and protest, into safe and calm waters: long hair, guitar pounding, revolutionary clothing in place of revolutionary activity… And now you see, as you yourself said, that everything has stayed the same, that the same guys have the money and power, whilst others do not…
JL: In essence you’re right, but it’s not so simple. Maybe the “Establishment” thought so, however, we still played the role of a Trojan horse in some sense of the word. We did – and not only us but others too, nevertheless play a role that must be acknowledged – we helped young people to start thinking differently, to “liberate” themselves from the burden and compulsion of tradition, to start thinking more elastically, to start to see some things… Of course, we did wander ourselves… and that’s where I’m talking about myself first of all. Surely you remember: I was taking drugs, I tried to embrace some oriental religion… don’t you see how unhappy, confused, crushed I was by what had happened to me… and how desperately I tried to free myself, and that means to return to reality. At times it seemed to me that I was riding on an express train that was rushing towards a collision, and I couldn’t jump out of it. So, I repeat: we taught young people to start thinking differently.
Conflict at the end of the road
KM: You said that as a young man you were “class conscious”, and then you simply forgot about it…
JL: And who wouldn’t forget that, man?! Well, I was young, practically still snotty, when all of that fell on us. I completely lost my compass, all touch with reality.
KM: And do you think you have it again today?
JL: I think I do have it. I don’t dream any more. I’m no longer in a dream state. I’ve woken up and I think that’s enough… for a start.
KM: Did Yoko open your eyes, can we say that? I’ll try to remember. You The Beatles were actually Establishment pets, “decent kids”, darlings… whereas the Rolling Stones were persecuted!
JL: If you think that Mick Jagger is interested in politics and if they ever interested him – you’re wrong. He was just “performing”… and it was so brutal and vulgar that the Establishment was appalled. You see, let’s take the question of our medals. Okay, they gave them to us, but that’s why they were ignorant. A few months before that, the book Love Me Do was published, a brilliant book, which went unnoticed at first and only became known later. In that book the author published his conversations with me, in which I said clearly how much I hated the Establishment, the Queen, the palace, aristocrats, the “big money men.” If they had read the book, they would never have given me the medal. This way they just gave me a chance to give it back to them at the most convenient time for me.
KM: Derek Taylor (the Beatles’ former press chief) once told me that you were a communist by conviction. Don’t be offended, but I couldn’t believe my ears. And even after that, I couldn’t believe it.
JL:I don’t belong to any party, not even the communist one, but all my sympathies are on the side of communism. I believe in communism as a system to which the future of humanity belongs. Of course, I believe in that real communism… in the one that I believe that you Yugoslavs are trying to create right now.
KM: But, let’s talk a little about the breakup of the Beatles.
JL: We are talking.
KM: You see, when I heard that you’d broken up, I felt sympathy for you. Suddenly it was as if I realised you were an honest, fair guy. Don’t get me wrong, but to kill a goose that lays golden eggs… you know what I mean… So my question would be: Regardless of what was said and written, regardless of the rumours, there must have been something fundamental in that breakup, something more important than a simple personality conflict between you and Paul, a conflict over whether his brother-in-law would become Apple’s director or your man… that there was something fundamental and serious… something connected to art and something maybe connected to politics.
JL: Yeah, you guessed correctly. That’s right. Yeah, it was about politics and art. You see, Paul is simply right-wing (read “conservative”) and that’s it. I couldn’t take it any more, I couldn’t work with him any more. And as for the music, so art, let’s say…
KM: You came to a dead-end as a group, you came, put more precisely, to the end of the road.
JL: Yes. And that’s right. I wouldn’t hesitate to say that. We came to the end of the road. We couldn’t go any further if we wanted to go forward. But when we talk about politics, then it was a conflict between Paul and me, because he is right-wing (read “conservative”). The other two had nothing to do with that. George was completely immersed in religious mysticism, and as for Ringo… he never knew or understood anything anyway.
KM: Let’s return to the prosaic stuff. How are you doing today – financially? This is about the golden goose, of course!
JL: Believe it or not, I can tell you this: today we, by making records as individuals, when it all adds up… are actually making more than we ever earnt as the Beatles. Think of it: even Ringo’s records sell in their millions!
KM: I will say something about what others are talking about, but also what I also sensed in some unrelated conversations at Apple. The Beatles fell apart when Yoko appeared on the scene. Before that, you were talked about as one body with four heads, that is, four bodies and one head… Lennon’s.
JL: Yes, that is what was meant and in some way it was true.
KM: This other?
JL: Yes. You see, I don’t suffer from false modesty, but maybe from too much honesty… that’s what Yoko has just encouraged in me… which isn’t always healthy… but that’s how it was. Of course, it must have bothered Paul, it must have eaten away, God, it must bite. Whilst we were together, in order it went: me, then Paul, then George a little. Ringo never meant anything, but he’s such a great guy that he never got mad about it. He was always, so to speak, conscious of the limits of his abilities. However, if you think Yoko made us fight, you’re wrong: a woman cannot come between four adult men if they have some strong common interest. Besides, they also, as a matter of fact, had their wives, so that means nothing. We came to an artistic end as a band when we recorded our last double album. Later I broke up with Paul because he is right-wing (read “conservative”). There, so it was that simple!
Perhaps the most valuable thing was that we helped the young people to become mentally free so that they stop thinking in the patterns that tradition has wound them up in. – John Lennon
In July 1985 the interviewer Konstantin Milles was interviewed by Denis Kuljiš in Studio magazine:-
DK: Surely your most famous interview was with John Lennon and Yoko Ono.
KM: I had two interviews with them. The first was when I found out through some fellow journalists in London that Lennon was travelling to Amsterdam with his wife. I was just about to buy a Burberry coat, but instead, I spent that money on a plane ticket and went to the Netherlands. I was asked for a visa at the airport there, but I didn’t have one. They took me to a supervisor who was a civilized native of Papua, very kind, who allowed me to stay. I found Lennon in a hotel, through his press manager, who allowed me to stay for ten minutes and talk about the act of lying in bed by which John Lennon and Yoko Ono were protesting for world peace… However, I stayed for three hours. I somehow managed to get a very good vibe from him, he was a very bright, and actually very handsome man. When I told him he was a pantheist, he didn’t hesitate at all to ask what that was. Yoko Ono was lying in her nightgown, and he was in his pyjamas, we were talking, whilst the head of the press kept winking at me to go out… Then Lennon threw him out of the room.
DK: When did you have the next interview?
KM: The Beatles had just split up, and Lennon had bought a house in Epson. In the beautiful ambiance, there was a white piano – Lennon played on it with one finger and sang to me. I intended to go and meet him in New York, for a third interview, but he was murdered in the meantime. He was pleased with our first conversation, he had said that it was one of the best he had given for a newspaper. I did send him a translation of the interview, it was about 40-50 pages long…
DK: Has everything been published?
KM: Only one part.
DK: Did you ever think of publishing a book of your interviews?
KM: Nobody made me an offer, and I didn’t want to. I’m quite lazy.
(Konstantin Milles died in 1989, he had no heirs because his son and daughter died before he did, both committing suicide. Konstantin’s widow died in 2017. Was his 1969 Amsterdam interview with John and Yoko published in VUS magazine – where are those interviews and tape recordings?)
On a lighter note, in 1969 John and Yoko posted 2 acorns to Yugoslavia’s President Tito (1 of 50 world leaders at the time) to be planted as part of their quest for world peace.
NB: In May 2022 I found another interview from the same magazine this time from 1970 with Ringo Starr here
Paul McCartney was definitely the highlight of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Concert at Buckingham Palace, London on 4th June 2012. He ended the star-studded show by performing Beatles classics ‘Magical Mystery Tour’, ‘All My Loving’, ‘Let It Be’, ‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da’ and a spectacular version of his own ‘Live and Let Die’.
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