Gary James' Interview With Paul McCartney's Step-Mother
and Owner Of McCartney MultiMedia.com
Angie McCartney was born in Liverpool, England and just happens to be the step-mother of Sir Paul McCartney. She was married to Paul's father, Jim from 1964 until he passed away in 1976. Angie McCartney is quite the entrepreneur. She is the owner and founder of McCartney Multimedia.
Q - I see you have a "Dr." in front of your name. Do I refer to you as Dr. Angie McCartney then?
A - If you want to. Maybe just once if you want to impress people. (laughs) It's just a doctors in business degree. I can't write you prescriptions or get you any 420 stuff.
Q - I notice that Paul was given a honorary Doctorate degree from York University.
A - Yeah. I'm not sure where it was. It was quite awhile ago. God knows he's got so many letters after his name. (laughs)
Q - Yes he does, and he deserves every one of them!
A - Oh, absolutely. Yes.
Q - What exactly is McCartney Multimedia all about?
A - We started out almost twenty years ago, building websites. In fact, the late David Cassidy was our first or second website client. He was a friend at the time. Ruth (McCartney, Angie's daughter) said, "You need one of these website things," and he said, "I don't understand all that. You just go ahead and tell me what you need." We built his original website way back and oddly enough since he passed away last week (Nov. 21 2017), his ex-wife Sue Cassidy and his P.R. company, which is Jo-Ann Geffen have asked us what have we got in our archives? We've been combing through our old files and digging out all kinds of stuff for them to use in their memorial service which is being planned but hasn't got a date on it yet.
Q - What do they mean by archives?
A - Photographs and press clippings. Various awards that he won over the years, functions that he attended. So, we have got a massive amount of stuff. My son-in-law, who does all our graphic stuff, is putting it all together and editing it, and of course some of these files are very old and they need sweetening and cleaning off so they look fresher. He's working on all of that. That's the kind of magic he deals with. But in general to answer your question, McCartney Multimedia started out creating websites and the data bases for clients who could run their fan club via us. Then we designed logos. We do electronic press kits for people. Voice-overs. Take care of budding musicians who want studio time and all that sort of stuff. We cover a wide range of things. Mainly these days it's more into branding and social media that people need. It gets more complicated by the day actually.
Q - You are a busy lady! Has Paul ever used your services?
A - Oh, no, no, no. He's tied up with his own company in London and New York. That's much too big for a little company like us.
Q - You're based out of Los Angeles, aren't you?
A - That's right. Playa del Rey, near Los Angeles Airport, yeah.
Q - You don't have offices in London?
A - Oh, no. We have one little office in Playa del Rey.
Q - Do you ever get tired of answering the questions, "Are you by chance related to Paul McCartney?"
A - (laughs)
Q - You answer by saying what?
A - Well, I say yes, I'm his step-mother. People often say, "Oh, I bet you wish you were!" Totally disbelieve me. Thanks to Facebook we're well established now and people know we are for sure. I don't get asked that question so often. I'll tell you one question Ruth and I are both asked quite often, "Would you ask Paul if he'd like to come sing at my daughter's sixteenth birthday party on Saturday?" Oh, boy. I'll get right on it! A lot of people have no comprehension about how busy he is and how many people surround him and take care of all his business stuff.
Q - I don't believe you can get through to him with such ease.
A - Oh, no. He's got a terrific team, a massive group of people who look after all his business representations.
Q - Does the last name McCartney get you through doors that otherwise you might not get through?
A - It opens doors but then they tend to slam when they say, "Could you get Paul to sign this? Could you get Paul to do..." And we say no, no, no, no, no. We don't go anywhere near his business. We are MultiMedia and he is music. And then certain doors slam and a lot of doors don't, fortunately. We plod along with our family owned business which is my daughter Ruth, her husband Martin and myself basically.
Q - Since you were born in Liverpool, you must have seen first hand what we refer to in the States as "The British Invasion."
A - Oh absolutely, yes. I mean, it was just a small time thing when the boys used to play at The Cavern or Litherland Hall or local, little places. Before they went to Hamburg they had a heck of a following on the Merseyside, but again it was very small, very limited and as you probably know, The Cavern is still alive and well and absolutely thriving these days. It's become an absolute tourist Mecca for people from all over the world.
Q - Did you ever go to one of these places to see The Beatles perform?
A - Oh, yes. On my lunch hour. I worked for a company called Littlewoods Pools. That was in Clayton Square, which was with within walking distance of Matthew Street. On my lunch break I used to walk down to The Cavern and that's where I first saw them and Cilla Black and Gerry Marsden. All sorts of people, without realizing what a big thing it would become. It was just a local, little fun band to be proud of 'cause they were making music at lunch time. People would go there on their lunch break. That's when Freda Kelly used to originally go on her lunch time. I'm still regularly in touch with Freda. We speak on the phone about once a week.
Q - She was right in there with Brian Epstein.
A - Absolutely, yes.
Q - What was that company Littlewood Pools all about?
A - People could gamble on the estimated results of football matches the coming Saturday. They'd write 'em up on coupons and mail 'em in. Littlewoods had eight buildings around Merseyside. They had so many people. I worked for the personnel manager. I was his secretary. That's where I sort of learned my secretarial skills. They sent me to shorthand and typing and book keeping classes. I was just the office junior, makes the tea and runs the errands around the building.
Q - Somebody has to do it.
A - That's right. I'm still doing it, making the tea and running around. The lady I worked for got married and became pregnant. When she announced she was going to be leaving in a couple of months, my boss, Mr. Perry said, "If you learn short hand and typing skills to match hers, the job's yours because you know how to organize things." Of course I slogged away and burnt the midnight oil and learned short hand and book keeping and I'm still using those things today and I'm 88 years old now. I was 14 then.
Q - When you went down to see The Beatles at The Cavern, what did you think of them?
A - Oh, they were just fun. Totally undisciplined. Scruffy. They'd have bottles of beer on top of the amps, be smoking cigarettes. They were really very scruffy and sweaty, but just a lot of fun. They'd chit-chat with the audience.
Q - What year did you see them? Do you remember?
A - I couldn't tell you. I'd have to think about that.
Q - The band we all saw on Ed Sullivan didn't look like the band you saw at The Cavern.
A - Oh, heck no. Brian had cleaned them up by that time.
Q - Did you ever meet Brian Epstein?
A - On yes, yes.
Q - What did you think of him?
A - Oh, I loved him. I thought he was wonderful. I vaguely knew his background. People didn't talk about his sexuality in those days. It was something you don't speak about. But, he was a thorough gentleman as far as I was concerned. As things went on he got terribly out of his depth. He had no idea how big it was going to get.
Q - He thought he could devote two half days a week to managing the group.
A - (laughs) Yes.
Q - That is a major point. No one knew at the time just how big The Beatles were going to become.
A - Nobody could have had any idea at that stage. It has never happened before. There had been massive hero worship for people like Charlie Chaplin, but it's also sort of convoluted now too with all the different forms of music from Rap to Rock 'n' Roll. We're working with a man now who is a retired rocket scientist and he's now pursuing his passion for music. He's a great singer and songwriter and we've just been with him to film him recording at Capitol Records, which is a big thrill for him to be actually using the microphone that Frank Sinatra used. His music is all the Great American Songbook type of music. There's such a range of music and such a range of types of venues and types of outlets for entertainment these days. It's nothing that people like my age could possibly have envisioned all those years ago.
Q - Some friends introduced you to Jim McCartney?
A - That's right. I had a girlfriend. I met her at a holiday camp, Butlins Holiday Camp in England, in North Wales actually. She and I became friends. We lost touch over the years and I got married and I had Ruth and I became widowed when Ruth was four. She married Mike Robbins who was a Red Coat entertainer at the holiday camp and they moved away to the Isle Of Wight and had children. We just lost touch for years until 1963, sometime about August I think it was. My sister Joan was in a shop close to Liverpool where we lived and a man came rushing in and said, "Can anyone direct me to Broadlane Cemetery? I'm late for a funeral." My sister piped up and gave him directions. When he heard her voice he said, "You're not Angela are you?" "No, but I've got a sister by that name." He said, "I'm Mike Robbins. Let me give you my phone number. Tell her to call us. I've got to go. I'm late." And off he went to his funeral. Eventually I found the number. It was my old friend Bette who was married to him. She and I got together and she said, "You must meet Uncle Jim some time." I said, "Who's Uncle Jim?" She said, "Don't you remember when we used to know each other years ago he used to come visit us on a Saturday with his two little boys and his wife Mary." I said, "No." The she enlightened me as to who Paul and Michael were. Wow! (laughs) That was quite a surprise. She eventually arranged for us to go and meet Jim. I took Ruth to her house. We had a joint babysitter, put Ruth to bed and off we went through the Mersey tunnel in a taxi and met Jim. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Q - How long before Paul came walking through the door of his father's house and what was that like?
A - (laughs) It was rather startling. There was an evening when Jim asked me to go over and take the baby with me, little Ruth as she was then. He sent a car for us. It came to my workplace and picked me up and the Council nursery where Ruth was, picked her up, and off we went through the tunnel. During the evening I was playing the piano in the living room and Jim came over and put his hands on my shoulders and he said, "I want to ask you something." I looked up and sort of smiled and said, "The answer is yes." He said, "I haven't asked you the bloody question yet." (laughs) So, we sat on the couch. He said, "Well, as you can see, I live in this lovely house, but I'm isolated. I can't drive. I have arthritis. I need someone to take care of me and there are constantly fans outside of the house, breaking over the fence and the back garden and peering in through the windows. Would you consider either being my housekeeper or living with me or would you like to get married?" I would only think about marriage, having a four year old daughter 'cause I was very proper in those days. I didn't want to be thought of as the woman who was living in sin with an elderly man. Anyway, a little while later the phone rang and it was Paul calling his dad. I could hear Jim say, "Oh, hello son. Yes, she is. Yes, I have. Yes, we are." So, I assume the questions were; Is she there? Have you asked her? And Is she going to? So, Jim yelled to me, "Come and pick the phone up Angie and speak to Paul. Of course I was terrified at that stage 'cause he was already famous in my book. I picked the phone up and he said, "I'm gonna jump in the car in London now and I'll be up in a couple of hours." A few hours later he arrived. I was in the kitchen washing up teacups. I couldn't tell you how many pots of tea. Paul came in through the garage, in the back of the house. He was all dressed up formally and said, "Hello, I'm Paul," and shook my hand. I said, "I think I know that." (laughs)
Q - Before that day you had never spoken to him, had you? Not even at The Cavern?
A - No. I used to be there for just half an hour and had to run away back to work.
Q - Did any of the other band members ever come through that house?
A - Yes. George and John Lennon used to come and stay in the house because at that time he had moved his Auntie Mimi down to Poole in Dorset. He'd bought her a house and he had a place in London, but he didn't have a place in Merseyside. So whenever he came up north with Paul they'd stay with us. I don't think Ringo ever came to the house. But I became very friendly with Ringo's mum, Elsie and I used to go over to them and sit and have a cup of tea.
Q - It must have been terrible to have people outside of the house 24/7.
A - You learn to live with it.
Q - Did it ever become beyond just a nuisance?
A - Oh yes, sometimes. There was one night we were all sitting in the kitchen, which is back of the house, sitting around the kitchen table and then suddenly there were a pile of faces at the windows. These girls had managed to get 'round back of the house, which is the next door property, break in through our hedge and run up the garden and screaming at the window. So we had to just put the lights out quickly and go upstairs to bed quietly in the dark 'til eventually they got the hint and went away. It could be a bit scary, but you learn to live with it. We had a driveway that was covered with little pebbles and every now and again we had to get them replaced because the girls would have taken handfuls of pebbles and there were all bald spots in the driveway. They just took the pebbles because Paul's car might have driven over them. (laughs)
Q - Did they follow anybody around who left the house?
A - Oh, yes. I had at two different times two different ladies who would come and help me with housework and they'd say when they left they'd walk down the road and there would be a trail of people behind them.
Q - What a way to live!
A - Well, you know where the word fan comes from? Fanatic. (laughs) There are a lot of nice, good ones that are no trouble at all. In fact, I've just been writing to a lady this morning who's from way back. We're doing a show in Staten Island on Saturday night and she lives in that area. So, I just sent her the details to see if maybe she'll come to the show. We're all advanced in years now, so you can imagine. (laughs)
Q - When you married Jim, was it kept quiet?
A - Yes, absolutely. Jim managed somehow to get a marriage license organized and then we just called for a taxi and got in the taxi and told the taxi driver to take us to Carrog in North Wales. We said to him on the way there, you'll have to stop at, I think it was the Town Hall in a little nearby town, to pick up the license. That's when Jim had to tell the taxi driver what this was all about and funnily enough by the time we got to the church, The Daily Mail was there.
Q - They acted fast!
A - Well, they act a lot faster now.
Q - With social media.
A - That's right. They got people's phones tapped. They used to go through rubbish bins when we'd put them out once a week for the bin men. We didn't think about anything like shredders in those days.
Q - I heard Paul doesn't like to talk much on the phone these days because if he says where he's going to go on vacation there will be people waiting for him when he arrives at his destination.
A - Yeah, sure. It's the price of fame, unfortunately. One of the prices.