Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Beatles: The Playboy Interview -- e-book review

In the fall of 1964, The Beatles gave an interview with Jean Shepherd (who would be forever known as the "Christmas Story" guy) for Playboy magazine.  The interview ran in the February 1965 issue of the magazine, and I would guess that most female Beatle fans were only able to read the interview if they someone were sneaky in looking at their father or big brother's Playboy and if they got caught---well that would have been pretty awkward.

You no longer have to sneak into the pages of Playboy magazine to read the Beatles interview.  The interview is available as an e-book simply called "The Beatles:  The Playboy Interview."

The interview itself isn't full of any "new" information, although it might have been new in 1965. He interviews all four Beatles at the same time, which is a bit confusing. One thing I really believe is that the interview itself would have made more sense and been more entertaining if you had listened to it instead of reading the words on the page. Much of the Beatles' banter comes across better when you listen to it.

The interview itself took place in the middle of the Beatles' 1964 Autumn tour of the UK. Shepherd traveled with the lads on the tour and got to do the interview at a hotel in Torquay after the concert in Exeter, which, according to my files, made the interview occur either late on October 28 or early on October 29.

I found it strange that Shepherd described George as "the most egotistical."  Really?  Everything I have always read has said that George was the most down-to-earth   But his description of the other Beatles sounded about right.  

The Beatles say some strange things in this interview.  I am sure that much of it was said to be funny or as a joke, and when heard aloud, it was funnier than reading it.  Things such as when George is asked if he has any brothers and sisters, George answers that he has two brothers, and John says, "and no sisters to speak of."  Why did he say that?   The fans all knew about George's sister.  Was he not speaking to her at that time or something?   I guess it was a joke, but I just read it and shook my head.  And then Paul called Jayne Mansfield a "clot" and then admitted that he never met her!  What was that about?

The part that was the most interesting to me is when Paul and the other guys are talking about religion and John states that the group is agnostic.  John also says how much he dislikes the hypocritical side of religion (doesn't he say something similar a year later?).  And then Paul says how in America, they are "fanatical about God."  Little did Paul know just how true those words would be!

Another interesting part is when the Beatles are asked about the "homosexual problem."  I liked how the Beatles talked about it, knowing now that their manager was a gay man, they didn't bring up his name or talk badly about homosexuals.  They even talked about a transvestite that they had met.

These are from an auction for the Playboy Beatles photos
The one thing that stood out to me is that the part of the interview where Pete Best ended up suing the Beatles for defamation of character was completely deleted from this e-book.  Early in the interview, Ringo was asked about being the last to join the group, and he talked about the drummer he had replaced.  Since I own the original Playboy magazine, I will show you the text of what was originally printed.

On January 19, 1969, Pete Best settled for an undisclosed amount in a defamation lawsuit against the band because of what Ringo said about Pete taking pills.  While it was obvious to me that Ringo was making a rhyming joke, it can be read to sound like Pete was a pill addict (which actually was far from the truth---Pete was someone who did not take pills in Hamburg while the others would partake).  

In the e-book, John's line about Pete having a "periodic illness" and Ringo's jab about the pills are totally removed.

This e-book is just 99 cents and well worth a read over.  Beatle interviews are fun to read, and while this one isn't shocking, the Beatles do have their guard down a little bit with Playboy and even say "tits" at some point.   It is definitely worth getting.

Available in e-book form from Amazon

The link below is the affiliate link to Amazon, where you can purchase this book.  I get a small percentage of anything purchased through this link.  Money made from the Amazon Afflication is used to pay the annual fee to keep this site online.  Thank you for your support.  Sara


  1. in Rolling Stones' bassist Bill Wyman's autobiography he writes that in the early days George was the only cocky one who would brag about the Beatles high position in the charts. He brings this up in the book a few times so I'm not surprised that Playboy tags him (at least at that time) as the most egotistical.

  2. I did read that John George and Ringo met Jayne Mansfield her during their stay in LA on the US 64 tour. Apparently, it didn`t go well and Paul must have heard it from them, which he based his comment on.
    Whilst George and Ringo were at Burt Lancaster`s house watching films, Mansfield turned up at the Beatles house in LA and tried to seduce John, who urinated in the drink he made for her. He then left for a night club to meet the others and Mansfield followed. At the night club John told her what he had done to her drink and she understandably went nuts and threw her drink at the boys.
    How much of this account is true, I don`t know. But not very nice of John, he was probably bored and drunk.

  3. This is definetly one of the more "mature" interviews the Beatles did at that time. Teen mags at the time would not have dealt with this.(MarkZapp)

  4. Here's a never-before-published interview I did with Jean Shepherd about his experience of touring with and interviewing the Beatles for the Feb. 1965 issue of Playboy. He made it very clear he was no Beatles fan. But despite his views and opinions being antithetical to my own--and probably yours--this piece is nonetheless a rarity, as he claimed I was the only interviewer to ask him about his time with the group. My Playboy piece can be read here: