Thursday, February 21, 2019

April 1966 in London - repost

This is a classic story from Joyce Kilbane of "With a Little Help From My Friends" newsletter.   What makes this story even more special for me is that I got to hear Joyce herself tell me the story in person this past summer.   And while I was familiar with the story, there is something extra special about hearing a first generation fan talk about meeting the Beatles and seeing their expression on their face.   They go back to that 14-year-old Beatlemaniac in an instant.  

I just love this photo and thought it was perfect for the Thursday Throwback post for this week.  

England in April 1966
By Joy Kilbane
Originally published in the April 1974 issue of “With a little help from my friends”

You must realize that I was a mere kid of 15 when I went in ’66.  My first trip out of the country with my mother and younger brother.   A fun-packed trip going with one’s mom.  I would’ve been happy just spending all my time at EMI.  But naturally my mom had other ideas.  A boat trip along the River Thames during a blizzard.  Yeah, in April!  Bopping around Windsor Castle.  Staring at the Palace Guards.  The old tourist deal.   But MY basic interest was at EMI Studios, so I’m gonna tell you about the first time I ever met the guys.

Mom, Jim (my brother) and I found out where the now well-known EMI on Abbey Road was.  Actually, I was the one who found out.  You see, I promised to get pipe tobacco for one of my teachers back home and it just so happened that a “Beatles Monthly” book was on a rack.  I found it!  #29 with Lennon on the cover.  Well, I naturally acted very normal, you know, dancing around the shop, the whole bit.   So the nice man behind the counter decided that he liked the free entertainment he was getting so he gave me the address of EMI.  But first the all-important question, “Do you like the Beatles?”  Naw, I think while I chew on the book, I really came to see the broad in the Palace!  Naturally, I told the guy I did like the Beatles.

That night in our hotel room, I just happened to get “Run for your Life” on the radio.  The plans were made to go and see the guys at the studio tomorrow, which was Wednesday April 13, 1966.
We arrived at this green colored building, enclosed with a brick wall.  Two driveways and a sign at the top of the door, EMI RECORDING STUDIO.  Sounds reasonable.   Just to let people know what the green colored building was for.  Okay, as I check further into my mind I’ll tell you what I wore that day.  I wore pink trousers, blouse, tennis shoes (for fast running) and a blue raincoat.  There was quite a few girls outside the gates and I made friends with all.  American fans were very rare in ’66, so I was made welcome.  Found out each other’s “fave rave” and I stuck close to this one girl, Carole, who said “John Lennon,” the magic name.

As the minutes wore on, Mom decided to check at the building and see what time the guys were due to arrive. I waited to see if she’d come flying out of the door like she said she might (the studio guard wasn’t very nice). She didn’t fly out the door and she told me the guard said they’d be coming around 2:30.  I wanted at that moment to go home! It was almost time for them to arrive.  No way.  I was to stay until I saw all of them (the first time you do get to meet them, or anytime really, you get hit with the big chicken and that was me!).   The girls were very nice.  I remember one of the girls asking this other one what she would do if George turned up at that moment.  She said, “I’d let this paper fly (the paper with her address and those of the other girls) and I’d drop this pen.  Then go!”  All of us had a rather nice talk.  Not to mention-freezing together.  It was very cold that day!
One of the girls happened to look down the road, and she yelled, “Here comes Paul!”  I couldn’t move!!  As his car came into the driveway, on my right (first driveway you see), all the girls crowded around.  The poor baby couldn’t get his car inside the parking lot. Only one of the double gates was opened.  So he was waiting for the nice guard to let him in.   I was still stoned.  I just could not move!  Some of the girls moved away from Paul’s car and got behind me – a little helpful push and I became acquainted with his door handle—right in the gut, which hurt so, I made the facial agony look.  Ahhhh, must tell you that while all that was going on, HE smiled at me.  I just so happened to run into the driver’s side of the car---shit!   I pried the handle from my gut and just in time.  The nice guard had the gate open for Paul who then went into the parking area, and all the girls followed with me – in shock and lagging behind.  Paul got out of the car, and you’d never believe what he wore!  Besides the dark tight trousers, which I didn’t notice, he wore the black furry coat.  The one he wore in “Help.”  His hair was windblown, and he was holding a cigarette---shit!   He looked so damn good!  He came out of his car and I was pushed right up to him –not on my own power, mind you!  The girls helped me once again.  I was about a foot away and the reason for that is the fact that I somehow stopped myself from running right into him!  Power disc heels on my tennis shoes – one of the girls grabbed him by the arm and said, “Paul, this girl came all the way from America to see you.”  He looked down at me and smiled, “Oh really? Where is she?”  All the while, he kept looking at me.  I just couldn’t say anything!  I wanted so much to talk to him – but I just couldn’t!  I did find myself doing the splits though – no lie!  He still kept the torture going by watching me and smiling – he even winked at one point!  Torture!  He realized that I wasn’t up to talking to him, so he smiled once more and turned toward the stairs.  Shit!  It was in shock!  I can’t really put into words just how I felt but I just about had to be carried out of the parking lot.  Then mom started in on me.  “Why didn’t you….”  Do this and that.  I felt worse.  I wanted to talk to him.  The only thing Paul knew is that I made quaint faces and I can do the splits.  I ask you!  I wanted to go back home, right then and there!  I just couldn’t make an ass out of myself with the others as well, but mom vetoed the suggestion.  “We came here for you to see all of them, and we’re not leaving until you do!”
Not more than 5 minutes after that, I noticed a black Rolls Royce.  “Shit, it’s Lennon!”  Again I asked if we could go home.  No.

The Rolls went into the other driveway from the one Paul had gone into.  The other girls were already into the parking lot.  I followed the Rolls.  The door opened and Ringo got out.  I didn’t expect him!  But there he was.  I didn’t pay that much attention to him.  It’s the guy that came out after!  I couldn’t believe my eyes!  John came out and what he wore really freaked me out, but good.   Lennon wore that beautiful green cord outfit that he had on in “Help.”  Honest to God!  It looked like him and Paul just walked right out of the movie screen!  I just wanted to die.  I love that outfit!  I don’t know if he had his hat with him or not – but it wasn’t on his head and his hair was all windblown, like all their hair because it was windy as well as cold.   I got behind Lennon and I was so close to him—I could’ve just wrapped my arms around him, but too chicken!  Rich started to watch me to see what I’d do.  Do you know the feeling you get when you know there’s someone behind you?  John started to look over his right sholder—I went to his left side.  This little game kept up for a while.  Ringo was enjoying the little dance I was doing behind John.  I just thank God Lennon didn’t spin around and see me.  If he did, I would’ve croaked!  It didn’t matter much if the others saw me, but  I was really hung up on John at the time.  Not that I don’t still love him.  I do.  I just don’t understand now and I am messed up with Paul now.  Anyway he didn’t give me an attack by turning around.  He just walked toward the stairs.  Ringo was smiling or should I say laughing!  And my mother was talking loud again, “why didn’t you talk to him…”  I again felt terrible.

Harrison was on his way by this time into the parking lot.  I remember looking in his direction and seeing my mother poke her head into his smoked-glass windshield.  I remember thinking, “Oh poor George!”  Can’t help but feel sorry for the guys when people stare at them like they belong in cages.  Or—if they had a chance – try to shove them into a scrapbook like some of the so-called “fans” I know--- and naturally, can’t forget the “back stabbing” fans of the guys – but—that’s a different story.  Anyway, stupid me, I just ran in front of George’s lovely maroon Jaguar and he was nice enough to put the brake on or he’d have a nice RED Jaguar.  He parked his car and out he came!  Shit!  That man!  He had on a suede outfit with matching boots.  I about dropped my teeth!  I started walking up to him.  To be truthful, it wasn’t my idea to go to him.  My faithful feet just started and I naturally had to follow, soooo.  I was getting closer and closer to him and his eyes, forget it!  He watched while I approached him.  I guess the other girls were in a state of shock when they saw me going on my own power.  So was I!  I couldn’t have been more than three feet away from him when he moved his hand.  Man!  I never moved to the opposite direction so fast in my life!  I honestly thought he was going to belt me for running in front of his car.  I couldn’t’ say what his expression was when I flew to the other side of the parking lot.  Could take a guess though!

When I turned around, he wasn’t in sight.  My educated guess is he ran inside the studio to compare notes with the other 3 on the dingy American.  One of the girls grabbed him and stuck him in her scrapbook.  I was so sick!  Mom started on me again and I really didn’t want to appear like a jerk to the guys.  Mal Evans (such a sweetheart!) started up the stairs.  I don’t know where he came from but anyway, my mom asked if I knew who he was.  I nodded and she told me I should go up to him and ask him to get the guy’s autographs for me.  Now—I didn’t like that idea very much.  So my mother bopped up to him and talked to him for a bit.  Next thing I knew, Mal Evans was on his way toward me.  There was nowhere for me to run this time!  I was against the wall!  I had a Beatles Monthly with me (#32 with Ringo on the cover drinking tea) plus six Beatle postcards (2 group shots and 4 individual).  Mal took them from me and went inside the studio.  A few minutes later, he came out and started toward me once again with a big smile on his face. He put the book and cards in my hands and went back into the studio.  I couldn’t bring myself to open the book or look at the cards.  The girls kept coaxing me and finally I opened the book, First page had a photo of George with his furry coat.  It was signed.  Looked through the book and found that Harrison had signed two different pictures.  John signed one and Paul signed a really crazy one of him—he had this wild look on his face, and he’s about to attack a wall inside the studio with many switches on it.  Ringo didn’t sign any from the book –I guess the others didn’t let him have it.  But they all signed the cards.  I was so happy at that moment!  I just wanted to cry.

Now was the time when my mother, Jim and I were on our way to do some tourist business.  Not that I wanted to, but what can you do?  We caught a cab, waved to the girls and were on our way.  I didn’t pay much attention to what went on after we left the studio, except when we arrived back to our hotel room, I noticed that I’d ripped my trousers (from doing the splits for Paul).
After I came home to Ohio, I received a letter from Janet, one of the girls at the studio.  I now quote from her letter, “after you had gone, Paul came out, and when he came back with Neil, he banged on the door but the doorman thought he was us fans so he would not let him in.  How marvelous it was, he was out there for at least 10 minutes and he was getting madder and madder.  Oh, he was so good looking.  I was right close against him.  He’s lovely!”

Wouldn’t you know it!  I missed that!  Oh!  By the way—the background of “Paperback Writer” was recorded on Wednesday April 13, 1966…that’s a day I will never forget.


  1. Such wonderful memories. My dream was to go to the UK in the mid-sixties but I was stuck in Los Angeles. I did visit but many years later. You have experiences and memories you will never forget.

  2. That zipper makes it look like John is wearing his pants inside-out.

    1. They are truly terrible trousers. And they reckoned Paul was the attention seeker...

  3. what a wonderful mum to have