This letter has turned up in an auction of some of Joe Flannery’s things following his death. Joe was an integral member of Brian Epstein’s circle around The Beatles. You can read more about the auction here.
There are some interesting points which need clarification. When researching the supposed “sacking” of Pete Best for my book, “Finding the Fourth Beatle”, I uncovered a number of key points:
1. Pete Best was never sacked by Brian Epstein. He couldn’t be! The Beatles employed Brian as their manager. They could sack him, but Brian had no authority or power to sack Pete or any of The Beatles.
2. To achieve the removal of Pete Best, Brian had to convince Pete that he was being sacked, without saying the words!
3. As Brian didn’t sign the management contract with The Beatles in February 1962, he could not enforce the contract on The Beatles. However, John, Paul, George and Pete could enforce the contractual obligations on Brian!
4. Because of this fact, Brian was still legally tied to Pete and responsible for finding work for him, Brian was assisted by Joe Flannery by Flannery offering Pete the drummer’s position in Lee Curtis and the All Stars (Lee Curtis was Joe’s brother). By doing this, Pete effectively quit The Beatles.
5. It was for this reason that Brian wrote to ” release him from his obligations under contract to myself”. Brian was finally free.
Today is John Lennon’s 80th birthday. There were some wonderful memorabilia items made in the US from 1964-66. They were whimsical, weird, wacky, and just plain cool! Many represented his amazing personality and characteristics that helped fuel the Fab Four craze worldwide. We salute John on his birthday, and join the world in this celebration.
Debbie’s publisher, Peter Stansill, has his own incredible story about spending time with John Lennon.
“I met John in person for the first time in 1970 when he was still 29. He and Yoko had just returned from a six-week retreat in Northern Jutland, Denmark, where I had helped set up accommodation for them through friends. My family had lived next door to Yoko’s flat by Regent’s Park in London, where her first husband, Tony Cox, and daughter Kyoko were now staying. Six-year-old Kyoko quickly became our new daughter’s first babysitter.
Yoko had moved to the Lennon estate near Ascot, while Tony travelled to Spain with their daughter. We joined them in Ibiza for a few weeks before I had to return to London. Tony asked me to call Yoko and reassure her that all was well with her daughter. I phoned Tittenhurst Park, and Yoko’s personal assistant said Yoko wanted to see me urgently, so I should plan to stay with the Lennons for a few days. Their driver picked me up in the Rolls that afternoon.
There was something surreal about the scene at Tittenhurst Park, the vast 72-acre estate near Ascot. For my first two days as their guest I saw no sign of John and Yoko. The manor was well-staffed – cook, gardener, driver, groundskeeper, and so on. Between them the staff had around 10 children who ran wild in this magic kingdom. It was easy to see how John and Yoko felt the daily pain of their childlessness.
I began to wonder what I was doing there, waiting for an audience to discuss a high-profile child custody dispute over which I had no influence. Finally one afternoon I was admitted to the inner sanctum, the Lennons’ bedroom, where they were lounging in their nightclothes on a huge circular bed.
As uncomfortable as I could possibly be, I answered Yoko’s questions about Kyoko. She was eager to know all the details about her living situation, her daily activities and schooling. What did she do all day? Who did she play with? Was she happy? I told Yoko everything I could about the months we had spent with Kyoko, including what a wonderful companion she had been to my baby daughter. It all made her pleased, sad and agitated. Meanwhile, John glared silently, smoking his Gitanes, peeved and impatient.
However, I was invited to accompany the whole entourage to Abbey Road studios the next day to record a new song. On Monday, March 8, I found myself alone with John and Yoko in the Rolls, at the head of a convoy heading for London. I hadn’t exchanged a single word with John and he still eyed me with his doleful, untrusting scowl. Not sure how to break the ice, I put on my best Yorkshire accent and kidded him about looking so serious: ‘What’s up wi’ thee, maungy bugger?’ He cracked up and relaxed, passed a huge pre-rolled joint around, and we giggled all the way to St. John’s Wood.
The track they were working on was ‘Power to the People,’ which struck me as unusually insipid and tedious. Even John later described it as ‘another piece of rubbish.’ The high point for me was chatting with Maureen Starkey in the control booth, while her husband Ringo stood by looking sullen and hung-over and Phil Spector cavorted around the sound stage below.”
In the early days in the Cavern, 1957/1958, John would upset Alan Sytner by playing the odd rock’n’roll number in amongst the skiffle. Alan Sytner who owned the Cavern wanted it to remain purely as a Jazz club. In 1959, Ray McFall bought the Cavern from Alan Sytner and he was also a Jazz fanatic. The Beatles returned from Hamburg from their first trip and had their debut at the Cavern on 9th February 1961 and there was no stopping the rock’n’roll after that.
Every Beatles performance at the Cavern was like being part of a private party. John and Paul would bounce off each other with funny quips. John could be quite cutting at times but he had a great sense of humour. We got used to his abrasiveness. It was just John’s way. He would hold his guitar high up on his chest, a posture that he had copied from watching Tony Sheridan whilst they were in Hamburg. John was very short sighted and wasn’t able to see much of the audience at all as he would never wear his spectacles on stage.
A few years after The Beatles had hit the ‘big time,’ A film crew travelled slowly, followed by George, driving a convertible car, with John seated in the back. He drove past Ringo’s house in Admiral Grove and down North Hill Street. They came past our butchers’ shop, and I was on the pavement in my butcher’s coat and apron. Even though they were driving very slowly, it was over in a flash.
Read more of Debbie’s memories of growing up in the Dingle, following the Beatles, before he father bought the Cavern Club, in her book, Cavern Club: The Inside Story.
In the week when we are celebrating what would have been John Lennon’s 80th birthday, our new book of the week is one of the most important books about John Lennon ever written. We have read so many stories over the years from people who knew John at different stages of his life.
Michael Hill became John’s friend at the age of 5 at Dovedale Primary School, and accompanied John to Quarry Bank when they reached 11.
The foursome of John Lennon and his best mate, Pete Shotton, stand next to Don Beattie and his best friend, Michael Hill. On many occasions, the four of them would head out of Quarry Bank school at lunchtime and go to Michael’s house on Dovedale Road, a short bike-ride away. They would have fish and chips and listen to some records, of which Michael was the primary supplier.
It was here that John Lennon’s life was to change forever, when Michael played John a record he had picked up on a school trip to Amsterdam: “Long Tall Sally” by Little Richard.
As John said:
“Little Richard was one of the all-time greats. The first time I heard him, a friend of mine (Mike Hill) had been to Holland and brought back a 78 with ‘Long Tall Sally’. That’s the music that brought me from the provinces of England to the world. That’s what made me what I am.”