Sunday, February 4, 2018

50 years later -- the best story of fans that met the Beatles...for real.

On February 4, 1968,  The Beatles were doing something different than what was normal for them:  they were at EMI, working on a song.     The Beatles usually took the weekends off from recording sessions, but for their own reasons, this particular Sunday was a work day for the four Beatles. 

The song they were working on was one that John Lennon had written at the end of 1967 when he was laying in bed listening to his then wife, Cynthia talk on and on about her day.  The lyrics "words are flowing out like endless rain..." came to his mind as he listened to her talk.   By the time Cynthia fell asleep, John was wide awake and working on what would turn into "Across the Universe."    (And people claim that John never wrote a song about Cyn....)

In the studio in 1968

By early 1968, there was a devoted regular group of girls that waited to see the Beatles outside  of EMI and Paul's house.   Some of these girls later became Apple Scruffs.   Of course being a Sunday, the group waiting outside of EMI was a little smaller than usual.    Two of the girls that day were Gayleen Pease and Lizzie Bravo.    They arrived at EMI on that day, they had hoped to catch a glimpse of the Beatles coming or going and maybe get to talk to them.    The two girls could never imagine what was about to happen.

While the girls were waiting outside in the cool London winter weather, the Beatles were working inside on "Across the Universe."  Somewhere along the line, someone thought the song was missing something --  high voices singing "nothing's gonna change my world" during the chorus.   But where could they get someone that had sing a high note to give it a try on such short notice and on a Sunday?   Wait--- weren't there girls waiting outside?   Paul McCartney walked outside of EMI and approached the fans.   That along must have gotten them all excited.   Paul was leaving the studio and heading towards them?!

Paul asked the small group of girls if anyone could hold a high note.   Now, I don't know how many hands went up when he asked this question.   I don't even know how these fans could comprehend what he was asking them, but Gayleen and Lizzie were chose and walked with Paul into the studio to make history.

John and Lizzie in 1967

For about two amazing hours, the girls learned the chorus to "Across the Universe" and shared a microphone with John Lennon and Paul McCartney recording the song.   It is such a shame that Beatle Book Monthly wasn't there that day to take photographs and document this amazing time when two fans got to sing with the Beatles.   No photos were taken of the Beatles in the studio that day and so the time spent singing with the Beatles only lives in the memories of those that were there.

When it was all over, the girls went back outside to join their friends and share their incredible experience.    I often wondered how many of the fans believed the story, especially since the song was not released until 1969. 

Gayleen and Lizzie -- the ultimate in a Beatles fan meeting

This story has been one that has amazed me since I first heard it year ago.   Would I have raised my hand if I was there?     What were those girls thinking as they stood next to John and Paul? 

Over the years Lizzie has became more than just a name of person on a trivia question -- she has became friends to many of us that visit this blog.   Gayleen isn't online, but somehow I believe that she too would be our friend if she was here.    And while they were the only fans invited into the studio to sing with the Beatles, I have always felt that they represented all of us in a way.     Just like all of us, they are fans that loved the Beatles.   And even after the fact, they still love the Beatles.  Lizzie has been kind enough to share her photos and stories with us and we have all been so blessed by her. 

I want to wish both Lizzie and Gayleen a happy 50th anniversary of their special day.   I hope the wonderful memories of that event stay with them forever.    Thank you both for sharing your extraordinary meeting the Beatles with the world. 


  1. I didn't know that about Lizzie and that song! Triple-fantipple WOW!

  2. Thank you for this, dear Sara: I hadn't seen it yesterday! First of all, I just want to mention that it's such a coincidence that the day we recorded was a Sunday and 50 years later it also fell on a Sunday! There were only a few of us there, so the doorman let us stay inside, in the corridor, between the red wooden doors and the glass doors, so we were not outside. That's where Paul came out from, the left glass door. The other thing is Mal took TONS of photos of us all with his 35mm camera, but THEY DIDN'T COME OUT! I have a letter from Tony Barrow stating that. As a photographer, I can only imagine that being a new camera, he probably didn't run the roll of film right, didn't secure it right, so he THOUGHT the film was running smoothly but in fact it wasn't. I had my camera, but didn't take it out since his camera looked so professional and also since I used to take photos of them just about every day, and that was a special moment to be enjoyed. Of course Gayleen and I would certainly not mind having a photo with the four Beatles, but... we have our memories!

  3. As a newcomer I'd like to say I'm very thankful to have Sarah and her blog, and appreciate of the time and effort she puts into it.
    And it is wonderful to have Lizzie here too and share with us what went down all those years ago. Sir Johnny Silver.

    P.S. -- with a new year upon us, I'd just like to say Ringo out the old, and Sir Ringo in the new.

  4. Yes Sara - this was also one of the very early stories I heard about the Beatles when I became a fan. The story is so unbelievable... I love the "girls" version of ATU a lot and I think most of the fans heard them only 10 years later on "Rarities". Thanks Lizzie for giving more details. I thought "outside" meaning the parking lot.


  5. I'm late to this post, but Lizzie, thank you SO MUCH for your presence on the blog. I'm presently catching up on the blog (have made it all the way back to early February from late August 2018!) and have to say, I appreciate EVERY comment you make. Sometimes you're the only comment on a post! I try not to comment on old blog entries so I'm letting tons of follow up questions and "thanks for the info" comments go by!

    Even here, where I've heard this story before, I've heard YOU tell it, I've read about it in books....I get new information. That you weren't outside, you were in the corridor, and that Mal had taken tons of pics.

    I never get over the fact that you are on this blog, that you are accessible, this person who I've listened to all my life (my Dad had a bootleg 8-track that we got circa 1973 and it opened with the "wildlife" version of "Across The Universe")....and all of these amazing photos that you took, or are in...and all the information you impart.....all I can say is thanks for every single one of these things I just mentioned.

    (and then you lead this whole other life as a back up singer with Milton Nasciemento, and now Os Mutantes, and all this other great Brazilian music that I love and am always learning more and more about!)

    Thanks Lizzie, and thanks Sara for hosting the party!

    1. Thank you, Anonymous! I hadn't seen this before. It's always a pleasure when I can add a little info on a photo Sara posted. Regards from yet another hot, sunny Summer day in Rio. I am translating my book and just came here for a little while.

  6. Hi Lizzie - What a story! To you & yours : stay well & peace.