Gary James' Interview With A Friend Of The Beatles
In The Early Days
For every band there is a beginning and in the beginning there are people who see that band. For Royston Ellis that band was The Beatles.
Q - When you met The Beatles were they performing at The Cavern Club and what year was that?
A - During the early part of 1960 they were doing gigs throughout Liverpool. When I met then in May of 1960, they had just returned from a tour of Scotland as a backing band to one of Larry Parnes' singers.
Q - You just happened to be in Liverpool and came into the venue they were at? Is that how it happened?
A - No. I was in Liverpool to give a poetry reading at the invitation of students from the University. I used to work with musicians wherever I was appearing to provide the backing, a few Rock 'n' Roll chords. After I arrived in Liverpool I popped into the Jacaranda coffee bar as it had been recommended to me as a place where teenagers hung out. I was nineteen. I got talking to a boy, George (Harrison) in a striped matelot t-shirt and black leather jacket who told me his friends played music and he took me back to the Gambier Terrace flat where I met John and we quickly bonded.
Q - What did you talk with John Lennon about. Music? Politics?
A - I'm sure we didn't discuss politics, but certainly music and the beat generation and poetry and sex.
Q - What did he seem to be most interested in?
A - The professional music scene in London and my association with Cliff Richard And The Shadows. He and the others were intrigued by my mention that one if five people were homosexual.
Q - Do you remember anything about the sound of the group or maybe any of the songs they were playing?
A - They backed me as John later said with twelve bar Blues at the local "in place", which was in fact the cellar of the Jacaranda.
Q - Did you see any sign back in 1960 that something unique was going on with the music in Liverpool?
A - No. I was the star from Soho, London, the center of Pop music. I liked their music, but didn't identify it as something special. However, I did like their spirit and offered to take the group to London with me to back me on my TV shows.
Q - What do you remember about Stu Sutcliffe? Anything?
A - Alas, no.
Q - Was there such a thing as a leader in The Beatles? I always thought it was John.
A - So did I.
Q - Some people I've spoken to thought it was Paul. Did you see a take charge person in the group?
A - Yes, of course. John. Paul was too shy then.
Q - I take it you never saw The Beatles in Hamburg?
A - John asked me to go to Hamburg since he knew I was trying to get work for the band backing me in London. He asked me to go along with them as sort of a poetical compere. Fortunately I refused. If I had gone I'm sure I wouldn't be here now.