Gary James' Interview With The Author Of
The Beatles, Brian Epsein And Me
Joe Flannery

It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that Joe Flannery played a key role in the success of The Beatles. His story has never been told until now. Joe Flannery has written that story - Standing In The Wings: The Beatles, Brian Epstein And Me. (The History Press). Joe Flannery spoke with us about his life.

Q - Joe, the world has not heard much about you.

A - They've put me down as "The Secret Beatle." There's a fourth Beatle. There's a fifth Beatle, and now there is a Secret Beatle, which turns out to be Joe Flannery. The reason why is Brian and I were partners in tandem as we called it. We went together in producing, putting them together in the first place, not putting them together, they were already together, but when he was taking them over, I gave him a lot of advice because I had been in show business quite a while before him, even though we did grow up together. He was four and I was six when we first met through our family businesses. The thing was that one or two of the main gigs or venues that I got for The Beatles, Brian would say to me, "Oh, please can I say that I got this?" Of course we were good friends and I'd say to him, "Yes, of course." It was when the first time that happened, we had a very good club in Liverpool called The Cabaret Club. In the '40s, '50s and '60s this club was very popular. On Sunday nights we had big stars and when I say big stars I mean Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and various other artists, Shirley Bassey. They would come from the theater, from uptown if you like. When they were finished for the week and had Sunday off, they used to like to go and do a cabaret spot rather than a theater spot at the Cabaret Club. I approach the Cabaret Club on behalf of The Beatles and Brian and got them in there. That was one of the secrets as to how I became The Secret Beatle. He (Brian Epstein) said, "Please let me say I got this one" and there were various others as well. So, that's how I became The Secret Beatle.

Q - There is also Jimmy Nichol, who is referred to as "The Beatle Who Vanished." He did an Australian tour with The Beatles when Ringo had his tonsils out.

A - Oh, yes. That's right. I didn't know this guy very well. I'd heard of him. I think I'd spoken to him maybe once or twice on the phone through my association with Brian. Brian and I were partners in the initial successful run of getting The Beatles up and about. They spent a lot of time with me in my home because Brian came from a very, very well-to-do, if you like, background. Brian and I met when we were children. Our parents were in the same business, the furniture business. His father was a retailer and my father was a manufacturer. We made furniture that the Epsteins liked. My father had a factory of 14 machines with about 20 people working there, including his sons, me being one of them. Brian Epstein's father, Harry, would take delivery of practically all the furniture that we could make for them. It was first class, high-class furniture. It was what they call Queen Anne furniture.

Q - Brian wanted to manage The Beatles. Let's say there was no Joe Flannery around. Brian wasn't able to talk to club owners.

A - Right. That's true.

Q - They looked at him like he was from another world.

A - Yes.

Q - He didn't understand them. Let's suppose there was no Joe Flannery around. How would that have impacted The Beatles?

A - I can't say because I probably sound a bit prejudiced or whatever. But we got on so well together. We grew up together from childhood if you like, our businesses with our parents. We both started looking into the music business of bands. I was a singer with a big orchestra in England known as Joe Loss And His Orchestra. I was a singer with him. Then I had to go into the Army for two years. National Service. When I came out, my younger brother was growing up and I said, "What do you want to do with your life?" So he said, "I want to be a singer like you." So I said, "You sing?" He said, "I can't." I said, "Go up in the bathroom and sing your head off and I'll listen to you from up here." And he sang his head off from the bathroom he came down and I said, "You said you can't sing." The echo and the acoustics from the bathroom is always very good to get somebody to sing who thinks he can't. So that's where we took off. I put a band together for him and I started doing factory, sports and social clubs. Things like that. And then we wanted to spread our wings into the city and I had a booking for him at The Iron Door Club in Liverpool. It was on a Sunday night and I was down in the basement of the club where they had the music arranged to do. It was quite dark and dismal. Dark lights. I went down there, setting all the equipment out and I saw this figure leaning on the wall at the far side of the club. So I got a bit nosy and I said to myself, I'll have to go over there because he may be from the press and wants to know something about us. So, I wandered over. As I got closer and closer, it was Brian! So I said, "Hello Brian. It's nice of you to come and see us." I'd had the Army service, so we didn't see much of one another coming into our teenage years. He said, "I haven't come to see you. My band, who I'm looking into and going to sign them up, is supporting your band." Well, my band was Lee Curtis And The All Stars. They were starring for the night and The Beatles were supporting my brother's band for the night. As luck would have it, or bad luck, my brother came over to me while I was talking to Brian and said, "Our base equipment has broken down." It's Sunday and there's nowhere we can look to get it repaired. So I immediately turned around to Brian and said, "Would you mind if we could borrow the equipment of your band, the base equipment?" He said, "Well, I've only been talking to them a week, Joe. Maybe you would like to go up to their dressing room and ask them." So I said, "Is it okay if I said you said it's okay?" So he said, "Yeah. Go on. Go ahead." I wandered up the stairs to the dressing room where The Beatles were. I said, "Who is the bass player with the band that is supporting Lee Curtis tonight?" And a boy said, "I am." It turned out to be Paul. So I said, "Our base equipment has broken down, is it possible we could borrow yours?" And this is when I realized who the boss was because Paul said, "John", he shouted over to John, "This man wants to borrow our base equipment. Is it okay?" And John Lennon shouted back, "The show must go on, man. Of course it's okay." From that moment, The Beatles and I and Brian, our little association, got on so well together that while they were rehearsing for the show, Brian and I went out for a little drink to a bar and we discussed that we might be able to work together. Brian did say to me that night, "Joe, I can do all the office work and I can do the contracts, but I won't be any good going 'round to clubs and pubs asking for work for a band." So I said, "Well, I can do that." I did the spadework if you like, going out into the wild, wild West, if you like. Brian would meet up with me at my house practically every morning to read my diary that I might have bookings and exchange them. That's how we got on so well together. That's how I became The Beatles' booking manager. As it's gone on for years, they have called me The Secret Manager, because there's a lot of things we did that we kept low-profile to help Brian become what he is today.

Q - I've interviewed people over the years who interacted with The Beatles who told me they felt Paul was the leader of The Beatles.

A - Well, over the years, and as Paul established himself, I'm talking to you of the first weeks when he shouted over to John. Paul was just as new to John as John was new to Paul. They were only together a matter of weeks before they started going out and about in the city of Liverpool playing their music. So, as he's established himself, people would of course say he's the boss. They were just as in line with each other, John and Paul. It's a pity John ever died because they were good partners in music.

Q - John and Paul had been together since 1956. You and Brian got a hold of them in 1961, 1962?

A - Well, '61, we were going big time with them. They were spending a lot of time in my home, in my apartment in Gardner Road, Liverpool. A lot of time. Paul McCartney still mentions it in conversation whenever we meet up. He always says, "Joe and I have been together so long." He likes to remember it. When we used to go to my apartment, it would be after gigs. It took maybe under an hour to get back to Liverpool from wherever we were. We liked to go play Bowls, the American bowling alley that opened in Liverpool at the time. We used to book in there, but we'd have to wait two hours to get a game. So we'd go around to my apartment and I would arrange before we went for something to be brought in, in snack form from a restaurant, chicken drumsticks on a platter, sandwiches. It was a good fun because when the phone went, John Lennon would grab a hold of the phone, pick it up and do his usual, "Hello this is the Russian Embassy. May we help you?" I would say, "John, one of these days you are going to get a shock. It will be the Russian Embassy!" (Laughs). But we usually had good laughs and then he'd phone another one. He'd say, "I want to order some Chinese food." He did start talking like he was a real Chinese man trying to speak English. (Laughs) So it was for fun all the way.

Q - He must've been a handful for you and Brian to handle. I've read that he could be very sarcastic and actually bring Brian Epstein to tears.

A - No, that's all bunk. That's all people writing books and making up exciting stories to make what ever they do. I didn't see any of that. We were all so sociable together. John was a very intelligent man. Of course he didn't like fools. He wouldn't treat a fool nice, but neither would you. Neither would I, but they've written lots and lots of things about John, The Beatles and Brian Epstein over the years just to make some folks exciting. My book is quite truthful, even telling about Pete Best leading The Beatles. There's all sorts of stories that were made up, but my book tells the truth of why and how.

Q - When I interviewed Pete Best, I asked him why he was kicked out of The Beatles and he told me he didn't know.

A - No, that's not true.

Q - I said, "Before you leave this earth, shouldn't you try to get a hold of Paul McCartney and ask him. Wouldn't you like to know?"

A - After the breakup, they didn't see one another for quite a long time. He went to work for a factory, baking bread. He just packed it in after he had a stint with my brother and his band. It was quite a long time when Paul did the Oratorio. It was a set of three (CDs) . The number one consists of a lot of Pete Best material on that. It was number one all over the world and it's accumulated some sales. Paul McCartney, out of the blue, phoned Pete Best and said, "Pete, I know we haven't spoken for a long time, but you know I've recorded and done the Oratorio. I think you should know it's done very well and you are due some royalties. Now, shall I give it to the government or do you want it?" He said, "How much would it be?" Paul said, "8,000,000 pounds." Pete said, "My God. I'll have it." (Laughs).

Q - What's 8,000,000 pounds in American dollars?

A - Well, at the time I would say we would get two dollars to the pound. So double it.

Q - $16 million.

A Yes. Of course Pete got that and Pete's been traveling the world. He's got a big band now and they are doing very well. He's been to the States quite a lot. He goes all over the world now since that money was put his way. So everybody is quite happy now. But those things happen. This is a story that will go on forever, even after we've all gone.

Q - And you have this guy, Mark Lewisohn, writing a trilogy on The Beatles story. The third book will be out in 15 years from now (2029). This marks the 50th Anniversary of The Beatles' arrival in the States. (2014) I don't know if people will still be interested in The Beatles as much then to wait for this book.

A - I look at it this way. This is how I put it from my mind, when I listen to the Strauss music, Johann Strauss. I don't know if you get the same thing New Year's day in America, but every New Year's Day I listen to the Strauss music, which is a celebration of Strauss music. It goes on for about two hours. I make The Beatles the equivalent success to that. Beatle music will go on forever. If you listen to Beatle music now, I listen to Beatle music still and still find it quite fresh and quite interesting. It will go like that forever. When I hear somebody come on the television or radio and they have discovered a band and they say, "They are the new Beatles. They are fantastic." I go, "Here we go again." There will never be a new Beatles, like there'll never be a new Strauss situation. There'll be something else, maybe in 50 years time, but it won't knock The Beatles off. The Beatles didn't knock Strauss music off and that was the popular music of its day 100 years ago or more and The Beatles are the same.

Q - I'm not talking about the music. The music will go on forever.

A - Yes.

Q - I'm talking about people who are writing books that are going into the most minute detail about The Beatles. I ask myself, where's the market for such a book 15 years from now?

A - What I say about that is, one day some film company, maybe in Hollywood or wherever, some huge film company will call all their writers and their people together and say, "We are going to make a spectacular Beatles story." They will have a huge meeting with lots of people. This is what I think will happen and they'll say to their secretaries are whomever, "Go to the libraries and bring in all the Beatle books you can find." I think maybe we will get a good story made from all those books, but some of it and most of it will be cock and bull stories, but probably make a fantastic film for whatever year it might be. This is what I think when I'm alone and I think: what is the end? Is there an and? I don't think so.

Q - You are saying maybe on the 100th anniversary of The Beatles coming to America, we'll see this spectacular film.

A - Exactly.

Q - And 100 years after that.

A - There'll be another one.

Q - It'll go on and on.

A - And I think that's the way it will be. Of course, there will be somebody else. I mean, we've got another big musical company or whatever, an artist, which I think is very good; ABBA. ABBA is fantastic music. It's danceable. It's listen to. There was a film made about it a few years ago called Mama Mia. That was a big success. Then you had The Bee Gees. They are fantastic, but they don't come up anywhere near to The Beatles. I mean, even The Beatles themselves, there's only two of them left, are as amazed as you and I are and what we are saying now. I've been very lucky to be so close to them. The city of Liverpool made me Cultural Ambassador for the rest of my life, an honor bestowed upon me for what I did with The Beatles. The next time I met with Paul McCartney was in his school here in Liverpool. I wasn't there when he was presenting his students with badges of honor. Of course, he got a hold of me and said, "Thanks very much." I said, "Why are you thanking me? I should be thanking you. It's because of the hard work you boys have got in that I did become Cultural Ambassador." And he put his finger at the end of my nose and said, "No," and he shook my nose from one side to the other. Imagine it. He said, "No, no, no Mr. Flannery. You and Brian Epstein took us to the right places and introduced us to the right people and we thank you." And that was lovely. There was only one other person who got presented a certificate of Cultural Ambassador. and that was Sid Bernstein from New York. Sid Bernstein was recognized in Liverpool as the man who took them over to America in the first place.

Q - I met
Sid Bernstein in the late 1970s and the first thing I said to him was, "You were so lucky to have known Brian Epstein."

A - I was very lucky to have grown up with Brian Epstein. We were both of different religions. I was a young Catholic boy and he was a young Jewish boy, but we got on very well, the families, because of the business that we were in. It was very enjoyable.

Q - Did Brian realize just how talented The Beatles were? When The Beatles went into the recording studio and recorded a song like "Eleanor Rigby" or "Yesterday", The Beach Boys weren't doing songs like that. And for that matter, neither were The Rolling Stones. Did he ever say, "I've never heard a Rock 'n' Roll group write songs like this"?

A - Well, it was brought to his notice when he eventually went to London. I went with him to London on a couple of locations, when he was playing cover versions of records made locally to record companies. When I first went down and Brian asked me to listen to them about a week after I'd met him at the Iron Door, he said, "Would you do me a favor and listen to them? I'm about to sign them up." I went to listen to them. They were rehearsing at The Cavern Club and I sat on the steps. I called them steps because they were hard, concrete steps going down into this basement. I sat there listening to them and they were rehearsing a song called "Hey! Baby" by Bruce Channel, an American artist. They liked that, particularly John because there was a mouth organ in it. John had a mouth organ set up on the base part of his guitar where it was reachable to his mouth and he used the mouth organ quite a lot. So that's what Brian took down to London. And then he was introduced to Dick James, who became his publisher for them. Dick James introduced them to E.M.I. where they met George Martin. George Martin was a man who was an A&R man for comedians for the chief label, if you like, of E.M.I. which was Parlophone. They said, "Put them on Parlophone. They'll be all right on that." They were treated on that, not as you might think in the beginning. Then they made this record and George Martin started using his talent and brought out of The Beatles what they didn't even know themselves. Even The Beatles are still very grateful to George Martin who was there producer. A brilliant producer. I went to Dick James' office some years later, even after Brian had died, because I became partners with Brian's brother Clive Epstein. We both paid a visit to Dick James' office, a beautiful office. It was all chrome and lime green. While we were talking, he stopped and said, "Clive, why was this man," pointing at me, "not with Brian when Brian came to London?" He said, "Because Joe went to Germany." I went to Germany for four years. That's where my brother made a big hit. We lived over there for four years. I became the stage manager to The Star Club, Hamburg and Brian was in his office in London. Robert Stigwood was working for him. Brian was about to sign The Bee Gees contract, but then he died suddenly. Robert Stigwood kept hold of The Bee Gees and went off and we all know that success they've had. But they would've been one of Brian Epstein's bands.

Q - Col. Parker had one act, Elvis. Brian Epstein had The Beatles, Gerry And The Pacemakers, The Fourmost, Cilla Black. The Beatles would have been more than enough to keep him busy. Why did he want all these acts? That was too much for one man.

A - Well, it wasn't because he liked it. He enjoyed it. He was a very organized man when he got started. When he moved to London, he became so independent he didn't even really need me anymore. He watched me because I had three bands when Brian left and I went to Hamburg. I had Beryl Marsden, who's just had a very successful weekend in Liverpool with a musical we've just produced. It's called The Beryl Marsden Story. That'll be going off to London soon, but I had Beryl; I had Lee Curtis And The All Stars and I had another guy called Steve Aldo and a couple of bands. So, Brian wasn't doing what I was doing as well. We were doing what we called managing each other in tandem. What I did, he did. We liked that and we enjoyed it. It wasn't competition. Don't forget, the big film companies didn't just have one star. They had many stars. I was asked in America on television about six years ago (2008), "Mr. Flannery, what do you think Brian Epstein would be doing if he were alive today?" I said, "He probably would own Hollywood by now. He was so serious and determined. It's a pity he did die." Then they said to me in the same program, "Well, he gave an awful lot away in merchandise and royalties." I said, "Well, the Epstein model is, it's better to own half a loaf than no loaf at all. You can't tell me that The Beatles don't own the bakery." The cheers and applause I got in that American studio was fantastic.

Q - George Harrison once said, "Nobody ever worried about us as individuals or thought, I wonder how the boys are coping with it all. It was a very one-sided love affair. The people gave us their money and their screams. The Beatles gave their nervous systems." Did Brian understand what it was like for them to be on tour?

A - He shared everything in that light. If they were worried, he was worried. He was like a mother hen to them. He was like a father figure. He gave his all to them. So, that's more writing of people with pens or whatever.

Q - When Brian Epstein came on board as The Beatles' manager, they were still playing in clubs in Hamburg, weren't they?

A - Well, they didn't do many bookings under the management of Brian in Germany. They did about two. They broke the world in no time. I remember going into Brian's office in his shop and it was quite spartan, if you like. Just an ordinary desk, telephone. Then his father said, "Look son, this is getting too big to be within the business of the furniture and the household goods. I think you must move out and have your own office." I went to that office about a week after he'd moved and there was about four or five telephones, different colors on his desk. He was expecting phone calls from all over the place. It just exploded. I can remember when I was their booking manager and some people would ring the from all parts of Europe. The first thing they would say, "Oh, I'd like to book The Beatles." And then I would say, "Oh yes, but we have other artists as well. If you'd like to give me one or two bookings and dates for one or two of our other artists, I think I might be able to arrange with you something for The Beatles." I did get about three or four bookings for other artists and then I'd give them one booking for The Beatles. That's the way we did it. It was business. We were really keen businessmen the way we did it.

Q - Did you go inside The Cavern to watch The Beatles?

A - Oh, yes. Many times.

Q - Did Brian ever tell you why he wanted to manage The Beatles? The act he saw was not the same act America saw on The Ed Sullivan Show.

A - It was part and parcel of myself as well, because I was sitting in a pub with Brian, with one or two press people and I whispered to Brian, "I'm going to leave the table now and I'm going to make a phone call. I'm going to ask for you." He said, "What are you doing?" I said, "When somebody comes to you and says 'you are wanted on the phone,' just do it." This is the truth. I left the table and I went to a public phone in the street and I phoned the pub and I asked the manager, which was the head waiter / bar man, "Is Mr. Epstein in your establishment?" with sort of and American accent if you like. I said, "Would you tell him Col. Tom Parker would like to speak to him. Very urgent." He went to the table and he said, "Mr. Epstein, a Mr. Tom Parker is on the phone for you from America, could you come to the phone please?" And he did what I told him to do. He just said to me, "You're terrible!" I just said, "Listen. Go back and sit down." That's how we started. It's how we even told The Beatles a few weeks later, through their management; they said to me one night, "Joe, we know nothing about what's going on." I said, "Well, I'm going to call a meeting tonight at my apartment. I'll get Brian to be there." I set up a table in the middle of my living room. I put a chair up on the table and I had all The Beatles sitting on the floor. Are you familiar with bean bags?

Q - Yes.

A - Well, we had bean bags in those days and I brought them all in and around and set them all on the floor. There was only about eight of us and then Brian came in. He was delighted with this. He always wanted to be an actor himself anyway. So I said, "Now we want to know everything that's going on, please." I was telling the lads what to say. He said, "You are going to America. You are going to make a film and you will be meeting Elvis Presley." We told them all that and it was lies. We kept them happy. They were cheerful. They were excited and that's the way we kept them. We kept them like excited stars that were in the making, if you know what I mean. That's the way we did it.

Q - And all of that came true! But what if all of it didn't come true?

A - It would've just been bad luck for us, but it did. It did come true. Quite a lot of it was premeditated, if you like. It turned out to be exciting.

Q - Pre-destined really.

A - Yes. And it was enjoyable. I enjoyed every moment of it. And I'm very proud to have been associated with it and them, especially Brian. I have very fond memories of Brian.

Q - I look forward to the day when Brian Epstein will officially be inducted into Cleveland's Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.

A - Yes. I have named a theater in Liverpool. It was called the Neptune Theatre. I went to the City Council. Because I'm Cultural Ambassador, I can ask for things like this. I said to the City Council, "We should have something in memory of Brian Epstein." "Well, what would you like Mr. Flannery?" I said, "It would be nice if I had the Royal Court Theater changed to the name of The Brian Epstein Theater." "Well, we can't let you have The Royal Court." It had a Royal name, you see. "Is there any other theater?" The Neptune would be good. So they told me to look into it and tell them what interests I could put together. Anyway, it is now known as The Epstein Theater and it's doing so tremendously well. It's even listed amongst the London theaters on the West End as The Epstein Theater, Liverpool. We've had a tremendous success up there until yesterday with my artist, Beryl Marsden. We've made a musical about her. I phoned Paul McCartney last week and I said, "Paul, would you do me a favor?" "What is it, Joe?" I said, "I'd like a greeting in letter form from you to Beryl Marsden, wishing her well with her music." And he wrote the most beautiful letter. It was read each night on the stage, at the end of each performance and it got tremendous applause. So that was nice.

Q - So, it's The Epstein Theater and not The Brian Epstein Theater. Do people make the connection with The Epstein Theater and The Beatles?

A - Yes. They've been told the history of it. It's in all the programs. I presented them with the most beautiful picture of Brian and it's on the wall of the bar which they have called "Brian's Bar". It's a huge picture in a lovely gilt frame. The bar is known within that theaters as "Brian's Bar", in The Epstein Theater. It's been refurbished so beautifully that Brian would be proud of it.

Q - I recently interviewed a very famous songwriter who told me Paul McCartney told him he never saw Brian Epstein happy, despite all of his success.

A - He was very tense. He was constantly at work. Now, you could say the same thing about Paul McCartney. I say to Paul McCartney and to other people, "He's is a workaholic." He doesn't have to do all those tours and concerts he does in Hyde Park and Central Park. He's a workaholic, Paul. He's got a happy family of course. Brian didn't have that.

Q - I view Paul in a different light. I see him trying to promote the music he was part of for as long as he can to as many people as he can.

A - Exactly. Well, I'll stick to my thinking of him as a workaholic. He loves his work. He loves doing it. When John Lennon was living in The Dakota building in New York and they were writing me about him and phoning me for interviews, "What do you think of John Lennon being in that Dakota building?" I said, "Don't be surprised. He's not lazy. He'll be writing and doing lots and lots of things. But just wait and see." One morning in my office when I was with Clive Epstein, when I was partners with Clive, it came on the radio or the newspapers, "John Lennon is in the Hit Factory in New York recording an album." I immediately said, "There, I told you he would be writing." He wouldn't just be sitting around. He did have a good time. He went out to pubs with Bob Dylan and God knows who else, but he wasn't lazy. He was working. Then I phoned the Hit Factory and I said to the young lady who was in the reception area, "Is it possible I could speak to John Lennon, please?" And she said, "Who are you?" I said, "I'm a friend of John's from Liverpool. I'm Joe Flannery." She said, "Mr. Flannery, you would be surprised how many friends have phoned the studio since it was made public that he was here. I think it would be impossible." So, I said "Before you put the phone down on me, please write a little note and do yourself a favor as well as me and put that note in front of John wherever he is and just say Joe Flannery is trying to contact you from Liverpool." Within 20 minutes, this is the God's honest truth, the phone went and the girl said, "Mr. Flannery, just who are you?" And I thought she was getting ready to tell me it was impossible. She said, "Just to are you?" "I told you, I'm a friend of John's from Liverpool." She said, "He's dancing all over the studio waiting for me to put you through. He's here waiting to talk to you." We must have spoken for a good half hour. On that particular occasion I told him what we were doing; I was partners now with Clive. He was thrilled to bits with that. He was saying about his new album, Double Fantasy, "I want to come home, not to stay, but I want to charter the QE II just for me and my party and I want to come home to Liverpool. That's the way I want to come home." I said, "John, I don't think you could bring the QE II up the Mersey because it hasn't been dredged for many years for big (ocean) liners." I made a mistake there. It did come up the Mersey, but by that time John was dead. He was thrilled to bits that he wanted to come home and explode his new album to the world in Liverpool.

Q - I also heard he was working on his autobiography.

A - Yes.

Q - Did John ever talk to you about Stuart Sutcliffe?

A - On occasion, yes. John spent many hours with me in my home. John used to lie on the floor in front of my big, blazing fire. He loved it. He liked open fires and he was always looking for sort of a home. When he found Brian Epstein, he found a father figure. That's the way it was. He spent a lot of time with me. He was lying on the floor on his stomach with his feet across the back of him, swinging them backwards and forward. That was probably the rhythm he had in his head when he was writing lyrics. He used to be writing on lots and lots of paper. Where he wasn't satisfied, he would screw them up and throw them about the place. I remember walking in one night. I said, "John, look at this place! What's all this paper?" As I've told you, he liked fires. I gathered all those papers. I said, "Do you need these?" He said, "Nope." I threw all of them on the back of the fire. Now, some years later, after John Lennon's death, it was on the radio and this was the announcement, "Today in London a piece of paper with a part of lyric from John Lennon was sold for 40,000 pounds." I just sat there and said, "My God. I threw a fortune in the back of the fire." (Laughs). But who was to know? Some people would say, "Oh, that story was written in my house." I've never tried that one. I've never tried to do anything like that, but I could have. Lots of paper he didn't throw away. He had a big, thick pad. He was always writing. Always.

Q - There's no getting away from it, The Beatles were such fascinating people. When The Beatles announced in 1966 they would no longer tour, did Brian fall to pieces? If so, why? He had other groups.

A - I think Brian had the attitude of, oh, it won't happen. We'll be okay. He didn't let it upset him too much. He was very, very independent. He was a loner in a way. You could try to get to the bottom of him, but not always would you succeed.

Q - Philip Norman wrote the forward to your book. He of course wrote the Beatles biography Shout! The Beatles In Their Generation. He was on an American talk show shortly after that book was released and he said The Beatles never really grasped or came to grips with just how popular they were. Did they not understand how many people they influenced?

A - They understood everything. There's a popular word used worldwide quite a lot. The first time it's ever really meant anything to me was when I heard a report coming from America and the word was "phenomenal". They described them as phenomenal. That word has meant more to me in my life since I heard about them, and they are phenomenal. This Beatles thing is with you until you die. Until the day I die I know it's going to be with me. I'm having an orchestra when I die. The orchestra is going to play "The Long And Winding Road" at my funeral. It's all arranged. But God knows when he takes me. (Laughs).

Q - Wait a minute, are you serious? That's really going to happen?

A - That's really going to happen, yes. "The Long And Winding Road" has become my favorite because of the long time I've been associated with them and things I've done with them. It'll go on forever. Keep your eye open either late this year (2014) or next year, we've got the Epstein story coming. It's going to be on Broadway. We are in London next week with The Epstein Story doing a launch with the press. We are going to be in the Lester Square Theatre in the West End for God knows how long. In the meantime, while it's happening in London, we are arranging to go to either off-Broadway or whatever Broadway we can get. It's a beautiful play. I'm featured in it. I'm featured quite a lot in this Beryl Marsden musical.

© Gary James. All rights reserved.