Thursday, November 14, 2013

I was a teenage Apple Scruff

As I have said from day 1 of this blog, and as George Harrison myself sang, "There is so much you don't know about Apple Scruffs."   Over the past 4 years I have been trying to separate fact from fiction, which hasn't always been an easy task as there is so much mis-information out there and those in the Apple Scruffs have remained to be extremely private people.   I want to respect their privacy and also find out the truthOne question I have always had was "were there really two boys that were considered Apple Scruffs?"  I have always read that two boys were part of the group, but I never saw any guys in the photos. 

In a lot of Harrison Alliance fanzines I was elated to find an interview with Jimmy Lyford, one of the boys who was always said to have been one of the Apple Scruffs.  I was especially excited about finding this interview because I had read that he sadly had passed away in the 1980s.    From what I understand Jimmy was one of the last people to join the Apple Scruffs and he joined after the Beatles had broken up.   He was sort of more on the tail-end of it all and that is why he isn't as heard of as the girls.    

This interview was given by Zig Montgomery (I always love his photos and I am so thankful that he did this interview).  You can find it in the May 1978 issue of the Harrison Alliance.

This interview with former Apple Scruff Jimmy Lyford took place in his apartment, and in the penthouse suites of a well-established law firm in San Francisco.

On the walls of his livingroom are some photos of himself and one of Paul and Linda McCartney, all taken by photographer Annie Leibovitz.

Behind me is a beautiful 3x5 black and white painting of McCartney that Jimmy painted in college.
Besides “Beatling” as Jimmy calls it, he is a managing assistant in a law firm.  His past adventures include being an extra in the film, “The Towering Inferno,” and he has an art degree in Ceramic Sculpture.  His hobbies now are photography, collecting ugly postcards, “famie hunting,” and rising Venus flytrap plants.

Zig:  What exactly was the Apple Scruffs Unlimited club?

Jimmy:  It was a group of mostly English Beatle fans that apparently had lots of spare time to sit it out eight days a week on Apple’s steps.  Part of the Apple Scruff duties were to stop other fans from photographing the Beatles whenever the Beatles didn’t want their photo taken.  We were a self-appointed security force.  We protected the Beatles from everyone except ourselves!  (laughter)

Zig:  how club-oriented were the Apple Scruffs, and how many members weren’t English?

Jimmy:  First of all, we weren’t club-oriented at all.  We did make buttons and membership cards but really it was just an inside joke of sorts.  Later on when the Beatle Monthlies stopped being created, Apple Scruff monthlies surfaced to fill the void.  Most of the Scruffs were English as I said before, but besides myself, there was a girl from Texas and another from Italy…perhaps one or two from another galaxy.
Zig:  how long were you an Apple Scruff?

Jimmy:  I became a member in 1970 and stopped scruffing in 1973.  Like Lennon said, “the circus has left town, but we still own the site.”

Zig:  Did all the Scruffs become good friends?

Jimmy:  Within the group of us, we all had special friendships.  I’m still in contact with two.  One is presently working for Elton John, although she worked for Apple up until the day it closed on May 2, 1975.

Zig:  You actually got to work inside Apple, didn’t you?

Jimmy:  yeah, we were cheap labor!  Whenever Apple needed help, they’d always pull a Scruff in from the steps to help out.  Even once inside, chances of seeing one of the Beatles was less than being outside, but you know that yourself, Zig, after working at MPL.   That was you, wasn’t it?  I sometimes get scrambled with which fans did what.

Zig:  Yeah, Madeleine S, Jim W., and I did some mail work for Sue at the Fun Club when it was in Soho Square.  It was a fabulous experience.

Jimmy:  That reminds me of the Scruff’s work.  We were compensated by presents of unreleased albums, food, and first crack at the garbage cans.

Zig:  Where did the name Apple Scruffs come from?

Jimmy:  Well, in England, casual dress is considered scruffy.  Since we were always at Apple, we were Apple Scruffs.

Zig:  When did you all first hear that George wrote a song about the group?

Jimmy:  I wasn’t there unfortunately, but one night George at EMI on Abbey Road recording all night long and he kept peeking out of the letter slot in the door until most of the fans gave up the wait.  The remaining lucky ones (the Scruffs) were invited in to hear the final mix of the song.  Everyone cried.
Zig:  did you see much of the other Apple artists?

Jimmy:  Yes, of course, all of them.  George H. and Jackie L., and Badfinger’s Pete Ham were there a lot.  Pete Ham was really nice to us.  We generally ignored the other artists because after all, we were there to see the fab four.  We were curious of Paul’s brother because he too came to Apple a lot.  We didn’t really car about Mary Hopkin at all.  After sitting day after day, one gets to not caring about anything except food and sleep.

Zig:  What were the Beatles’ attitude about the Scruffs?

Jimmy:  It changed from day to day.  We had George and Ringo wearing Apple Scruff badges and  later made them pay up their dues to the club (Laughter as Jimmy breaks into a flat version of “It don’t come easy).

Zig:  What do you think of the Beatle fanzines/clubs that are out now?

Jimmy:  Some are dead and some are living, and what I mean by that is some are wrongly in it only for the money; some are just prostituting the Beatles’ art.  I like the Harrison Alliance a lot because its newsletter booklets remind me of the Apple Scruff monthlies.  I imagine that it would be very difficult to operate a club on just one of the Beatles…and the most reclusive one at that.

Zig:  What is one of your fondest memories as a Scruff?

Jimmy:  The private showing of “Magical Mystery tour”

Zig:  Where was that held?

Jimmy:  It was in the screening room of Apple on the fourth floor, across from Ringo’s office.  The room was filled with lots and lots of film containers.   I was told that every little bit of Beatles on film from new reports to movies were in that room.  The projectionist was one of the directors of “Let it Be.”  There I sat with one other Scruff and a couple of Apple employees watching the original uncut version of MMT, when Ringo came and peeked into the room to find out where all the loud music was coming from.  I think the volume was beyond full blast.  There were four green chairs in the room meant from you know who and I sat in what was Paul’s seat.  Another thing I remember was Ringo’s New Year’s Eve Party (1971).  There were a lot of famies coming into Apple looking for drivers to take them to Ringo’s home.  I remember seeing Lulu, Laurence Harvey, the Who, Elizabeth Taylor, Charlie Watts, and other various English entertainers arrive.  We Scruffs were having a part of our own, and when we were sufficiently swanked-out, we decided that it was time to crash Ringo’s party, but we never got our faces off the steps. 

Zig:  What is your “Strawberry Beatles Forever” all about anyway?

Jimmy:  It is the name that I gave my Beatles memorabilia collection and a limited membership fanzine that I send out free to certain friends and fans from time to time.  Last year I had my first annual “Strawberry” awards for various categories.  The Harrison Alliance received the award for “Best Beatle Club Newsletter for Layout.”

Zig:  How did Annie Leibovitz get around to snapping a photograph of you, Jimmy?

Jimmy:  Well, Rolling Stone magazine used to use item from my collection from time to time to illustrate various stories regarding the Beatles.  During the session for the story “Strange Rumblings in Pepperland RS September 1974), I sort of ended up modeling some of the items.  The photos were taken very late at night, which is the reason that I look so burned out.  Annie seems to like a certain realism in her photographs.  The shots of me with my Apple watch were also taken that night to be later used in the Rolling Stone article about the 260 million dollar reunion offer (RS November 1976).  Oh yeah, those were my ankles in the Beatles sneakers under the “Forty Questions your mother should know” in the “Strange Rumblings” story.  In case you were wondering where the photo sessions took place, it was in Annie’s loft studios.  When I stop and think about it, I guess that I consider myself to be very lucky to stand in the same place that so many of the Rolling Stone cover story rock stars have stood to be photographed.  I think the most impressive item that I saw in Annie’s studio was a huge print of John Lennon that was taken by Annie during Lennon’s primal therapy period.  At any rate, I am very proud of the huge print that I have of me by her in my living room.  I think the watch, however, make the whole photograph worthwhile.

Zig:  How would you sum up your life so far as a Beatle fan?

Jimmy:  So far, so good.  All in all I have settled down quite a bit, but I certainly enjoy everything still.  I have a good job and a home to maintain now, so I don’t have the time that I used to and believe me, it took a great deal of patience, time and stamina to be a Scruff.  I consider myself an adult Beatle fan now; I was a teenage Apple Scruff.


  1. Fantastic, fascinating story, thanks for typing this up Sara! I love how the Magical Mystery Tour screening, and I love that Pete Ham (who I love) was nice to the scruffs! And also, I love how everyone cried when they heard "Apple Scruffs", it makes me cry, even now, not 'shamed to admit it!!

  2. I played in beatlemania in 1979 at the orpheum theater.Jimmy gave me 9 photos of the beatles,featuring Paul,Ringo,George,sadly no john.I got the chance to be john,as an understudy with the show for 8 weeks! The group Rain has Joey and Ralph that I played with.It was alot of fun,and I still have Jimmys Beatle photos.

    1. It seems like Jimmy was a really fun person to be around. I am sure that playing John for 8 weeks in Beatlemania was an experience! Thanks for share with us. Peace and Love!