Monday, March 19, 2012

Hey Jude

This is a story from a 1978 .issue of "The Write Thing."  It was written by Sher M. of Brooklyn New York. It tells her story of her once in a life-time experience of singing with the crowd during the song "Hey Jude" on the David Frost show on September 4, 1968. 

It began the evening before, when at EMI we were all given invitations by Mal (Evans) to attend "a TV performance by The Beatles" as they worded it. But actually the key word on the priceless piece of paper was "take part" in a Beatles performance. None of us had any idea what that would involve. Some thought we'd be on the popular English program "Top Of the Pops" with the Beatles. "Taking part" would have meant dancing on the show. That prospect was not exactly thrilling.

 Well anxious and excited we met at Paul's house (Cavendish Avenue, just blocks from EMI) to wait for him to leave for the studio. The filming was to take place at Twickenham Studios. At Paul's there was about 10 people including my three friends and I. Paul came out after a limousine arrived. He was with Nat Weiss, an American lawyer and associate at the time and friend of the late Brian Epstein.

Paul was wearing a red velvet jacket. He held up the limo while we crowded around his side of the car. After a few minutes of autograph signing for some German girls, the car drove off with Paul waving to us.

 We made our way to Victoria Station. Apple was providing our bus transportation to the studio and back. A lot of the "regulars" from Cavendish Ave. were already there. We all boarded the bus, about 30 of us now, and headed for the studio.

We later found out that meanwhile The Beatles were filming the "Revolution" promo film.

When we arrived and ran up to the gate I could hear John singing at the top of his lungs. Mal came over to us and said we'd be allowed in shortly. I heard John stop singing and then start again, trying to get the song perfect. It was unreal thinking The Beatles were right in the building next to where we were standing. Needless to say we were all nervous wrecks!

 Mal led us through the gates and took us to a cafeteria for tea and sandwiches, but we weren't very hungry. As we sat there two more buses arrived with about forty more people. We were getting mad thinking there would now be a real mob scene. Finally we were all led into a courtyard over which was a glass enclosed walkway going from one building to the next. As we were standing there James Paul McCartney himself comes walking overhead and seeing all of us down below he stops and waves. Never let it be said that Paul passes up an opportunity to ham it up a bit. We all started jumping up and down going quite mad by then as the tension and excitement built.
 Paul ran out of sight and we (now about 50 people) were brought into the studios. (Mal Evans wrote in the Beatles Monthly Book magazine (Issue #63, October 1968) that 300 extras were given invitations.) There were no Beatles in sight, but their equipment was on a small stage and a piano was put up there for Paul. We couldn't see much at first as there were a lot of cameras in the way.

After the instruments were properly set up in walked the four of them. I froze on the spot as this was the first time I'd ever been so close to all four of the Beatles at once. The Beatles went to the stage where John and George began tuning their guitars while Paul doodled on the piano. I was busy watching Paul joke around with John.

John, Paul, George and Ringo then started jamming with hit tunes like "Hang Down Your Head Tom Dooley" and other favorites. It was quite funny. I was able to make my way closer to the stage and happened to over hear George singing to himself, "I Just Want To Make Love To You" by the Stones. I think he suddenly realized that he could be heard and stopped abruptly.

 A friend from Liverpool was on stage, who was quite drunk, wearing a flower behind each ear. He was cracking jokes and the Beatles laughed along with him until he started asking John embarrassing questions. The friend was completely soused, when he turned to John and asked "Can I ask you a question?". John nodded and there was complete silence. The friend continued "Did you love your wife?". John immediately came back with "Not lately". There was silence again after John answered then Paul saved the day. Paul began playing the piano and said to John "What was your most embarrassing moment?" Everyone laughed and all was okay.

 The director told us we'd be singing the long ending with the Beatles and we practiced it once, with everyone running into surround the small platform nearly knocking over huge cameras in the rush. Well we were told to cool it a bit, don't kill each other, we would all get pretty close to The Beatles without destroying the studio.
 We tried it again and it was less chaotic although I was frustrated in my attempts to get over to Paul's side of the stage as the largest rush was in that direction. We practiced a few more times still without filming and I managed to get either on the stage on George's side or right in front. Of course when we actually filmed I wasn't able to get as close as my two friends who managed to end up sitting behind George on Ringo's drum stand. What you ended up seeing on the actual promo film is the cameras backing away from the Beatles towards the end of the song and suddenly there are people there around them, but behind the scenes it was quite frantic trying to get the spot nearest the stage. It was a friendly competition though, except one time Ringo nearly got knocked off his stand! Ringo laughed about it. After we'd filmed it once the Beatles left to view it in their dressing rooms upstairs. At least I thought they'd all gone out. I turned to watch the film on one of the monitors and there in the middle of the crowd were Ringo and Paul watching also.

 When George and John returned we tried it again, and again and...we actually filmed for five hours till it was exactly what the Beatles wanted. Let me stress that I'm not complaining! If they would've kept us there 50 hours I wouldn't have minded. I never wanted that night to end. Each time the Beatles came back from viewing the film and decided to do it again we all cheered!

The best times were between actual filming when The Beatles would just fool around on stage. David Frost was to have the film on his show and when he mentioned them in the promo spot for the show we all cheered - but we weren't supposed to. So later on, we found out from Mal, David would be redoing the promo clips with the Beatles there.

 Six of us decided to stay when the filming was finished. everyone but us got back on the buses to London. It was about 11:30PM by now and we'd been there about six hours. Only The Beatles, Mal, David Frost and studio technicians were left after the buses had gone. It was the closest to being alone with the Beatles I would ever get. Frost's intro was re-done and while he was talking I stood alone on the side just watching. George suddenly looked at me from where he was sitting on the little stage and broke into this gigantic grin. One of the girls nearby said "Did you see the look he gave her?" I'd met George at his house three days earlier and obviously he'd remembered.
 The Beatles walked out to go to the dressing rooms and we went out with them. I asked Paul if we could all take a picture with him. He said, "sure" and we crowded around him. I had my Instamatic camera which one of my friends grabbed from me and prepared to get a shot of us around Paul. Well, naturally the flash wouldn't go off. Paul took my camera, turned it around in his hands a few times and then said, "Catch me later.". Paul ran upstairs and we sat outside waiting for them.

I could see The Beatles in a little kitchen having drinks, Yoko was up there too and some studio girls. After about a half hour Ringo came out with his chauffeur and said "goodnight" to us, not far behind him was George who smiled and got into his car. A few minutes later Paul came downstairs and as he stepped into the lighted doorway I snapped his picture. He threw out his arms as if to say "Ah you got me!"

 John and Yoko were right behind him and as they came out I got another pic of all three of them. They really looked tired and Paul said the film had come out great, giving the me thumbs up sign when I asked him about it. They got into their limousine and Paul turned to wave at us out the back window all the way down the road and out of sight.

That night heralded the end of my 1968 trip as I left two days later. It was surely a gigantic stroke of good luck and timing to have been a part of that historic night. I'll never forget it.


  1. Great story. I wonder who the "friend from Liverpool" was? Jimmy Tarbuck praps? I notice too the name H.Pinsker on the invite: he gets a mention in their version of the Hare Krisna mantra. Om. I thought it was a made-up name. Om.

  2. this is a fab story! many of my friends were there too. i was in brazil at the time, visiting my family, and missed this. but i'm not complaining - i'm so glad they had such a good time!

  3. I was there. The friend from Liverpool was Bill from Soho, London.

  4. bill used to hang around during the editing of magical mystery tour too, as i'm sure anonymous will remember.

  5. I never noticed the switch in clothing before. Unless John had the same shirt, it looks like he donned Paul's shirt for the performance (assuming that pic is of them arriving for the performance).

    That is one of those key moments in Beatle history where you'd want to be if you had a time machine.