Tuesday, June 29, 2010

I want to tell you

I haven't added a "Meet the Beatles for Real" story in awhile, so I thought I would type up one that I found in Issue #36 of the British Beatles Fan Club Magazine (which I bought in London). It was written by David Stark, who was the drummer of SongLink International, which was a band in the 1960's. Here are his experiences.

I was lucky enough to see the Fabs in concert just once... My parents took me and my brother to "Another Beatles Christmas Show" at the Hammersmith Odeon on Monday 4th January 1965 as a special treat. My dad knew Dick James' accountant, which is how I think he got the tickets. We had a great view, but all I remember is that the non-stop screaming was totally deafening. We could hardly heard the bad, which isn't surprising as Vox AC30 amps and a 100-watt PA system don't carry too far in big venues.
My first encounter with any of the group on a personal basis took place the following year outside EMI Studios in Abbey Road. This was around the time they were recording "Paperback Writer" and "Revolver" in April 1966, which coincided with the Easter holidays. I went to school in Elstree (which Macca later used the grounds of for part of 1973 James Paul McCartney TV special) and had a classmate who lived on Abbey Road just a couple of blocks away from the studios. He was often telling me how he'd seen the Beatles arriving, and also got his copy of the "Help!" album signed by them, which of course I was rather envious of. So although I lived some miles away in Stanmore, I cycled all the way to St. John's Wood one day to meet up with my pal and wait outside the studios for any Beatles to arrive. An expectant crowd, mainly female, was already gathering and it looked as if we might be in luck. I rested my bicycle against the left-hand studio gate without thinking any more of it, and waited for something to happen.
A short while later a bizarre sight on wheels approached the studios from the direction of Lords cricket ground. It was a black Rolls Royce with a loudspeaker mounted on the roof, while someone inside was loudly delivering a gibberish commentary to all and sundry. It was none other than John Lennon MBE, and as his limo got close to the studio entrance I suddenly heard him say in the immortal words, "And get that fucking bike out the way!" over his personal tannoy system. Naturally I obliged as quickly as I could, as the car slowly drove past us into the studio courtyard. Lennon waltzed out and signed a few autographs before heading up the studio steps, and that was that. I'd got off lightly for obstructing a Beatle, but had to wait a couple of years to meet him properly.
One Saturday night in the autumn of 1970 or '71 I was out with my pal Vince trying to think of something to do for a laugh. We didn't have much dosh, we were dressed in smelly Afghan coats and jeans, and didn't fancy joining the usual crowd at the Wimpy Bar by Edgeware Station. Vince had recently got his first car, a Ford Anglia, so I came up with the idea of driving to Hampstead to find where Ringo lived and asking him out for a pint. Yes, a ridiculous thing to even think of, but that's what made it more of a challenge. I happened to know the name of Ringo's street, but not the number or which house.
As it happens, Compton Avenue is a small private road opposite Kenwood House on Hampstead Heath, so we parked up and promptly rang the bell of the first house on the left. Who should come to the door but none other than Lulu with then-hubby Maurice Gibb in tow. They were obviously wondering why these two young scruffs were intruding on them, but couldn't have been nicer when I fibbed that we'd been invited to Ringo's gaff but weren't too sure which house it was. "Och, he's just down the end of the road on the right," said Lulu, sweet as pie, "You can't miss it," added Maurice, "it's got a big double drive." Success! Could you imagine anyone, famous or not, giving that kind of information to two total strangers these days? We duly thanked them and headed a few yards down the road, where it was apparent that if it was Ringo's house (actually called Round Hill), then he was having some kind of party, judging from the number of cars parked in and around the drive.
Anyway we mustered up some courage, took a deep breath and rang the bell. and who should come to the door this time but Ringo himself. "How can I help you lads?" he asked. "We were just wondering if you'd like to come out for a quick drink with us," I volunteered, feeling somewhat stupid but at least sticking to the plan. "Er, thanks for asking but I'm afraid we've got a few friends in tonight," Ringo replied, looking somewhat puzzled by the two young cavaliers on his doorstep. "Thanks for the offer though. Another time maybe." As he was saying all this, I suddenly saw Eric Clapton walking past the back of the hallway. We then quickly said our goodbyes and Ringo closed the door, as we headed back to the car laughing our heads off.

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