Gary James' Interview With The Author Of
Beatlemania: The Real Story Of The Beatles'
U.K. Tours 1963 - 1965
Between 1963 and 1965 The Beatles undertook six tours of the U.K. In Martin Creasy's book, Beatlemania: The Real Story Of The Beatles' U.K. Tours 1963 - 1965 he chronicles what it was like to experience The Beatles in concert.
Q - Martin, let's talk first about the title of your book, The Real Story. Why The Real Story? Have there been false stories written about those tours?
A - (laughs) Well, I've got to confess to you, here is the one thing in this book I didn't write was the title. I wrote the whole thing with actually not having a title. So, the title wasn't mine. Actually, I think I was challenged once at a 'live' signing event when someone said the same thing to me. "Why is this the real story? What's wrong with everyone else's?" The answer is nothing wrong with it. (laughs) I didn't choose the title, but it really does sound like a cop out, doesn't it? But it doesn't imply anything.
Q - I would guess the publisher said, "Martin, this is the title we're going with."
A - They didn't say anything. It just came out with that title. They would've told me at some point. It's a bit of a long-winded title is the truth of it, isn't it? But there we are. It does at least sum up what it is. The word sounds like it implies something, but it honesty doesn't. There's not anything wrong with what's gone before. In fact, like most authors I've used it as a basis, as a bit of a diary of stuff what's already out there and simply added to it in great depth. So no, it doesn't mean anything, but I was once challenged about it. (laughs)
Q - When you start to write a book like this, where do you go for information? Do you go to newspaper accounts of the day? Are you trying to make contact with the booking agents who booked The Beatles?
A - Yes. Every day. The answer in short Gary is everybody. I'm a journalist by trade so I look at a story, number one, how do you dig out this story? You dig out this story by digging out the eyewitnesses. So I did that. That means tracking down fans who went to the concerts. There's a lot of fan stories in the book. It means tracking down the people who ran the cinemas. That's where most of the gigs were, the venue managers, the cinemas. They weren't used to staging concerts. Also photographers and local journalists who covered the shows. Also the national journalists who were at the shows. Also the hoteliers where The Beatles stayed. Anyone you could think of who's got a 'live' story to tell. The problem with that of course is you're dealing with people's memories from around fifty years ago. I did an awful lot of research in libraries up and down the country in various towns where The Beatles played to actually find what was written that week. So, if the local journalist said he covered the show, they invariably did with The Beatles of course. You'd have a 'live' match report as it were to put it in sporting terms. What does that give you? In some lucky cases it gave you the set list and things like that. It gave you some details, so we knew exactly what was going on.
Q - I take it there were enough people around who had a good memory of fifty years ago.
A - Yes, there were. The one thing I missed on my little answer. There is the most obvious of it all, the Pop stars who were also on the tour with them. When they toured each time with all these bands, it's great fun for me to track them all down. You track down as many of them as you can thanks to the good ol' internet of course. It helps you find out where a lot of these people are. So, the Pop stars had great memories as well. I say great memories, but it's fifty years ago. So yes, it's memories, but also it was obviously until that I find the reports that were published at the time. For me it's part like being a journalist and part like being a historian because you're painting a picture, but it's also a bit of history, isn't it? It's not just like a news report. It's a bit of history going on here.
Q - Were you able to track down any groupies of the time?
A - No. I made a decision with this that this was going to be a book that everybody could read without much controversy in it. The publishers might not thank you for that. I didn't shy away from anything, but there's a couple of lurid tales in there. People came up with it and that's fine. I included it. I certainly didn't edit anything out, but I wasn't asking these kind of questions. This is a book really about the fun bits of tours. I didn't want it to be much more than that. I wouldn't have edited it out. It's a strange route to take. I didn't ask about that thing because people have to chat with me with confidence really about their memories of it rather than thinking, Hey, this is some guy who's gonna dig out all this stuff and the next thing you know the publishers turn out bits of it and it becomes really quite something else. So I didn't ask questions in that direction, but if someone made those comments I did include them. There are a couple of stories in there.
Q - And wouldn't you know those are the kind of stories the public wants to read these days?
A - You have to think about what you want to do. You can't be sure they're not making it up. That's the first thing. People have all sorts of reasons, don't they? Call me an old cynic, I've been a journalist for an awful long time. People have a lot of reasons for saying a lot of things. You've got the problem of are they making it up? You can't possibly get any evidence of this. And you have to have some level of human decency for the people and their families if you start making these kind of accusations. It wasn't the kind of thing I wanted to do. If you know much about The Beatles then Mark Lewisohn is really the author that's put together the books that we'll be reading in a hundred years time about The Beatles. And I kind of aimed at doing his king of thing, a piece of history and putting as many facts and stories as you can and do stuff a little bit different as well. To get a lot of information on those very early tours, before the national press got hold of The Beatles, that was the joy of this. I was a journalist. I wasn't going to edit it out. If somebody gave me a good story, as they did, it went in there, but it wasn't what I was aiming to do. How much value does a book like that have? Nothing to me to be honest because anyone can make it up with no possible way of telling whether it's true or not, and there's so many motives people have for saying things that aren't true. Were they with groupies? I'm sure they were. Those are the stories you constantly got in the '60s, but if someone wants to explore that, that person is not me.
Q - If you wanted to speak with someone about what it was like to attend a Beatles concert, did you have to take an ad out in a newspaper advertising that request? And seeing as how there was so much screaming at one of those concerts, how much information could you really get?
A - This was a difficult angle for me because you've got a lot of fan stories in there, but halfway through the first tour you just kept getting the same answer. Really all you could hear is the screaming. So if you were to ask a chap, a guy who went along, he'd say, "You know what? It was frustrating." If you asked a girl, which is ninety percent of what the audiences were of course, then you got, "Oh, I was screaming and screaming. It was all around me. It was all part of the excitement." For each gig the stories got very similar. It was all about the screaming. I suppose in a way it's like a bloke going to football and shouting and letting off a lot of steam. That's what it was like for the girls. Letting off steam in a different way I suppose, but frustrating if you wanted to hear what they were like. Of course, there were noticeable exceptions and the noticeable exceptions are those gigs where the people are so posh that they didn't scream. Those are a valuable insight because they tell what The Beatles were really like at that stage where you could hear them. For example, they were on a variety show which happened in one of the middle of their tours. Another one, the London Palladium where those audiences didn't really go in for that sort of thing.
Q - Not knowing how old of a guy you are, I don't suppose you ever attended a Beatles concert, did you?
A - Well, I was on the planet, but I wasn't very old. I was eight when The Beatles started their first Beatles U.K. tour in 1963. That's the first reason, and the second is my parents weren't really Rock 'n' Roll types. I would go to football when I got a little older. They weren't the types that would want me going to a Rock 'n' Roll concert. It wasn't something they would have approved of. They bought me Beatles records. (laughs) Anyway, I was a little bit too young really.
Q - So, in the years that followed did you ever see any of The Beatles in person?
A - Yes I did actually.
Q - Who did you see?
A - It was Paul McCartney and it was in the early 1980s, about 1982. I was working in London at the time. I was a boxing writer. I worked for a boxing paper. It was right next door to our offices. It was right next door to the BBC on Langham Street, right off Oxford Street in London. I came up for work one morning. You come up the steps from the underground back onto the street where the shops are on Oxford Street and there was Paul McCartney talking to a Japanese woman, (laughs) right outside. I didn't say anything, but my jaw dropped and he looked over at me and said, "How you doing? All right?" I said, "Yeah. I'm fine. Thanks Paul," and then I moved on. I didn't want to risk pissing off someone that I held in such high regard. (laughs) Now, there's an interesting footnote to that story and that is three or four days later, at the end of that week, I was leaving work on Langham Street, going down to the underground, and there was a load of kids out on the street right where I'd been talking to Paul a few days before. Being nosey, I said to these kids, "What's happening? What are all the kids here for?" They said, "Well, Michael Jackson is in there." It turned out there's a little recording studio in the upstairs. So, I'm not sure why Paul had been there a few days before or whether he was doing anything at that studio or if it was just coincidence that he was standing there. But the kids all gathered there a few days later for Michael Jackson. I don't think it would have been anything where they were working together, but as far as I know they recorded separately. So it's probably a coincidence, but an interesting footnote anyway. I have to say to you Gary, if you were to ask me what was the biggest value in the book I've done, I would say to you they did six U.K. tours between '63 and '65, but believe it or not the first three of those tours the national press had not discovered them yet. So on those first three tours there's been very little information put out there, very few photographs, because the national press here did not discover The Beatles existed until "She Loves You" was out towards the end of '63 and they started sending their journalists and photographers and reporters to cover The Beatles then, but The Beatles had done three U.K. tours by then and these are the ones that are not widely reported and so that is the most valuable contribution that my book has made, is by telling stories from those early tours, tours from the very beginning of '63 and one in May '63 where very little has been recorded because we didn't have the national press there. So, my humble little achievement, if it's anything at all, is to add a little bit more information to that. I think if you're going to do a book about The Beatles, you've got to ask, "What can I add to the party? How many books have there been about The Beatles?" You've got to offer something which isn't offered anywhere else. And there hadn't been a book specifically about the U.K. tours, so all of it was new in that sense. But the particular joy for me was tracing people from those three early tours in 1963 for the reason I said, it had been largely unknown. So there's something to add there, something to contribute.