Sunday, January 15, 2017

Remembering Magic Alex

You may have heard that Alexis Mardas, who we all know as Magic Alex passed away on January 13, 2017.      Magic Alex was quite a character in the Beatles story.   From the time he became close friends with the Beatles in 1967 (he was friendly with them much earlier than that, but he didn't appear to hang around them until 1967) and he suddenly was appearing the background of many Beatles events.   He took the Beatles to his homeland of Greece when they wanted to buy an island there.   He was in the Magical Mystery Tour film.   He traveled with John and Paul to New York for the Apple announcement.   I could go on and on.   Really---look in the background of Beatles photos from 1967-1968 where the Beatles were out and about and you frequently see Magic Alex lurking about.

Magic Alex 

Besides becoming close friends with John and the other Beatles, Alex is most known for being the head of Apple Electronics.    From what I can tell, Magic Alex had a ton of great ideas, but the technology hadn't caught up with his ideas yet.    One of his ideas was for each shopping cart at the store to have a scanner.   You scan the item before you put it in your cart and it keeps a running tally of the price.  When you get to the check out, you show your total and pay.    Sort of like how self-checkout is today.   However, in 1967 that would have been sort of a crazy idea.    Alex had lots of those crazy ideas and John (and therefore the others) just fell in love with all of them.    Many people believe that Alex scammed the Beatles out of money by stringing them along with these wild ideas and not showing any product.    It does appear that way.     In 2010 Alex,  in a very rare "appearance" wrote a letter to the New York Times defending himself.    I am not sure how much of it I believe, but it is interesting to read things from his point of view.

Alex leads the bus on the Magical Mystery Tour 

Magic Alex's biggest task was to build a state of the art recording studio for the Beatles at Apple.   Alex failed miserably at this task.    He made 16 tiny speakers and nothing was sound-proof. There wasn't even a way for the studio to communicate with the engineers and producers.    George Harrison said it was" the biggest disaster of all time."   George Martin had to step in and get a 4-track for the guys to use, but was so fed up with the Beatles falling for foolishness, he pretty much stayed away from the "Get Back" sessions.    And by the time Allen Klein came around, Alex was fired.   However, he still was social friends with John Lennon for a time before he sort of disappeared into obscurity.    He never made money from his Beatles connection, although I am sure his book would have been interesting!   I don't recall him ever even appearing at any Beatles conventions.    I think he just lived his life in Greece.

So Magic Alex is a person that many fans don't seem to like, but the way I see it is that he was there.  He is actually a big part of this whole crazy Beatles story and without him, many of the Beatles decisions would have gone differently.     I am sorry to hear of his passing because I think he left without sharing enough of what he experienced as an insider in the world of the Beatles.

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