Thursday, June 19, 2014

Mad Mel's Beatle scarf

"Mad Mel" (Mel Potts)  was an 18-year old from Canada  who was a disc jockey.   He was known for wearing over-sized glasses and honking a loud horn on the air.   In 1963, he moved down to Australia and was one of the "Good Guys."    He was a typical radio jock from that era, with zany on-air antics and playing a lot of great music.   He was a hit with the teenagers. 

That is Mel up in the corner with the huge glasses.

One night on his radio program, Mad Mel suggested to his listeners to do "something Australian" for the Beatles like knitting them a giant woolen scarf.

Fans from all over Australia sent in rectangle pieces of a scarf in all different shapes and color.  Some of the pieces had faces, names, guitars and maps of Australia on them.   50 school girls got together after school each day and sewed the scarf together into one long scarf.   It was said to be 8128 feet long and had 11,765 pieces.  Mel made a 14 x 32 foot card that had the names of all the fans who contributed a piece of scarf.

Sydney school girls Linda Flax, Leone Lucas, Tracy Gillings, and Kate Hopkins work on sewing the scarf together for the Beatles.

Mel wanted to present the scarf and the card to the Beatles in person.  This would have been a ratings booster for his radio station as well as would have made him look like a Beatles hero to the fans.   However, Mad Mel was rejected by both his own radio station and the tour organizers in his repeated requests to present the scarf to the Beatles in person. 

This did not stop Mel.  He was determined to get that scarf to the Fab 4.   So Mel took over the elevator control booth on the roof of the Sydney Sheraton Hotel and waited for one of the Beatles.   He spotted Paul McCartney in the hallway and stopped him.  He told him about the fans sending in the scarf pieces and the 50  fans who worked so hard to sew it together.  Paul invited Mel to go to the Beatles hotel room.  

Mel was able to present the scarf to all four of the Beatles and reported that the guys were "knocked out" by the scarf.   Because of this, the Beatles personally chose Mel to be their #1 DJ in Australia and he was able to get exclusive interviews with the Fab 4 before other disc jockeys.    The Beatles really took a genuine liking to Mel (maybe because he was young) and when they saw him in a year later in Canada, they wished him a happy 19th birthday and spoke about the famous scarf.

The scarf was used for some photos taken by various magazines and newspapers on Paul's birthday.

The Beatles thought the scarf was neat, but they weren't sure what to do with it.   John even says in an interview, "We're not sure what to do with that scarf."    I do know that they Beatles had it in their hotel room.   I found an awesome photos of two girls who are related Bob Rogers, in the hotel room with Paul, Ringo and George with the scarf.    I emailed the person who posted the photo to ask if I could have permission to share it with all of you.  I never heard back from her, so sadly I can't share it.  But it is really a great photo.  One of the best I have seen in a long time. 

Mad Mel ended up keeping the scarf when the Beatles went back to London.   If you read Wikipedia about this, you will read that the scarf was sold in a Christie's auction in 2009.   Well, I looked into that and I found out that it was organically listed in the 2009 Christie's auction, but was pulled from that auction and was never sold.    So I am unsure what happened to the scarf right now.  It sure would have been a great addition to the "Beatles in Australia" exhibit that has been showing the past year in Australia. 

Photo from the originally Christie's 2009 auction listing.


  1. Sara, ALL of these Australian tour posts are AMAZING! This one is fantastic! Other than the one famous pic (that was used on the interview album cover), I haven't seen any of these photographs, and I now know a heck of a lot more about Mad Mel! Brava! (and like I said, all of these posts about the Australian tour are have excellent taste in choosing photos that I, at least, have never seen before! Thanks, yet again!

  2. I’ve always wondered what became of that scarf. I knitted a piece of it.