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Visiting George Harrison in Hospital

george Harrison in Hospital
George Harrison in hospital

Leslie Cavendish, The Beatles hairdresser recalls the time he was visiting George at the London University Hospital on February 1969, as he had his tonsils removed and  he wanted to see a friendly face. So, Derek Taylor asked me to go and visit him at the hospital.

Because the world’s press was waiting outside Derek told me not to say anything, especially as I told a journalist that Lennon was going bald!

A Day in his Life

I walked in and a few recognised me, but I just went straight into reception and went to the ward. I mentioned that I had never seen so many press people, before but George said that it was a normal day in his life.

When I came down and came out of the entrance they asked if I had any news about Beatle George. “Will he be able to sing again, how ill is he?” etc. etc.

I have always watched people on the TV say this and now I had my chance; “NO COMMENT”, and then I smiled and went back to work.

George had this very special peaceful aura around him and all the times I had been in his company you felt it and maybe it was “SOMETHING IN THE WAY HE SMILED.”

Leslie Cavendish

Read more about this story and so much more in Leslie’s book, The Cutting Edge.

The Cutting Edge by Leslie Cavendish
The Cutting Edge by Leslie Cavendish
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Hi. I’m Paul McCartney, The Cavern

Debbie with Paul McCartney
Debbie with Paul McCartney
Debbie with Paul McCartney

It was 25th October 1968 and I had paid my usual Friday visit to the hairdressers and arrived at the club mid-morning to start work. Dad was stocking the Top Bar when I arrived.

“We’ve had a visitor,” he said.

“Who was it?” I asked.

“Paul McCartney,” he said.

“So I’ve missed him?” To say I was disappointed doesn’t come close.

“Don’t worry, he’s coming back,” Dad assured me. “You finish stocking the bar and put some champagne on ice. I’m going to the photography shop to buy a camera.”

Dad walked across North John Street to Photo Optics in Dale Street. He had to spin the photographer a yarn that he wanted to take photographs of a group in the club and asked if he’d come over and set up the camera so he wouldn’t have to do anything but take photos.

Paul had just walked into the club and out of the blue, while Dad was stocking the Top Bar ready for the evening.

Recognising him instantly, Dad held out his hand.

“Hi, Alf Geoghegan, the Cavern.”

Paul shook his hand and replied, “Hi, Paul McCartney, the Cavern. I’m going over to the Wirral to deliver a record player to Ruth, my stepsister, and I’d like to come back later. I’ve got my girlfriend in the car and I’d like to show her the Cavern, on one condition – you don’t tell the press.”

“You’ve got it,” Dad said. “Would you mind if we took some photographs?”

“No, that’s fine, I’ll be back in about an hour.”

Dad locked the main door to prevent any visitors wandering in. We gathered by the bar where Dad offered them a drink and proceeded to open the champagne.

Linda Eastman Takes a Photograph

“I’ll do that,” Linda said. “I’m a good bartender.” She took over and served the champagne.

Dad made a toast: “To Paul and the Cavern.”

He asked Paul again if he could take some photographs and was about to pick up the camera, when Linda said, “I’ll do that, I’m a good photographer.”

She picked up the camera and after altering all the settings started to take the shots. Dad was afraid she’d messed up the camera!

Discover this story and so much more in Debbie’s book; “Cavern Club: The Inside Story”.

Cavern Club - The Inside Story
Cavern Club – The Inside Story

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Launch at The Cavern Club

Paul, Linda, Nigel and Debbie
Paul, Linda, with Nigel and Debbie Greenberg

My book, CAVERN CLUB-THE INSIDE STORY was launched at the CAVERN CLUB on 24th October 2016. 

More than 200 guests were welcomed with a glass of bubbly. The Beatles and early sixties music filled the air as the evening got off to a great start. I was overwhelmed by the support that I had received from family and friends old and new, who had helped me to fulfil my dream.

My publisher Peter Stansill of Jorvik Press had faith in me for which I will be eternally grateful and he had flown in from Portland in Oregon U S. to be with me for the launch.

I thanked everyone personally who had been instrumental in the journey from manuscript to the finished result.

They’re Playing My Song

I was doubly blessed to also have a disc launched on the same evening.  Fifty years earlier, my late father Alf Geoghegan, who had owned the original Cavern in the mid-sixties had written a song for me entitled “Little Girl-Bells of ChristmasI”. I did nothing with the song for over fifty years except to play the demo disc at Christmas for friends and family.

Abbey Road

I always knew it was a great song and in 2016 Michael Armstrong, Warren Bennett and I collaborated to produce a modern version of the song. The recording was mastered at Abbey Road Studios and Warren’s dad, Brian Bennett (The Shadows drummer) kindly agreed to play on the track with Michael Armstrong singing.

Michael and Warren entertained the guests at the launch on stage with the first public airing of the song. 

To have my book launched at the Cavern was a dream come true but to have my dad’s song launched there on the same night was the icing on the cake.

Debbie Greenberg

GET YOUR COPY OF CAVERN CLUB: THE INSIDE STORY NOW

Cavern Club - The Inside Story
Cavern Club – The Inside Story
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Letter from Brian Epstein Reveals Another Part of Pete Best’s Exit from The Beatles

Letter from Brian Epstein to Joe Flannery

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.

If you want to read the full story, then it is in FINDING THE FOURTH BEATLE.

Finding the Fourth Beatle
Finding the Fourth Beatle
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Happy Birthday John Lennon

John Lennon

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.

John Lennon toy
John Lennon toy
John Lennon toy

Find out more in Terry’s book

NEMS
NEMS
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Spending a Couple of Days with John and Yoko

Cavern Club - The Inside Story
Cavern Club - The Inside Story
Cavern Club – The Inside Story

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.”

Peter Stansill

Cavern Club - The Inside Story
Cavern Club – The Inside Story
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Remembering John Lennon

The Beatles drive down Admiral Grove
The Beatles drive down Admiral Grove

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.

Debbie Greenberg

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.

Cavern Club - The Inside Story
Cavern Club – The Inside Story
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My Friend, John Lennon

John Lennon The Boy Who Became A Legend

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.

Pete Shotton, John Lennon, Don Beattie and Michael Hill

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.”

Read the compelling story of Michael’s friendship with John Lennon and how he changed music history:

John Lennon The Boy Who Became A Legend
John Lennon The Boy Who Became A Legend
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Dispelling the myth about Brian Epstein’s Business Dealings

Brian Epstein
Brian Epstein
Beatles files 1963 Brian Epstein manager of The Beatles 1963

Happy Birthday Brian by Terry Crain

Today is Brian Epstein’s birthday.  When Brian’s name comes up in the context of merchandising, everyone comments about the ‘agreement’ surrounding merchandise – 10% to Brian and the Beatles, and 90% to the management company.  This always reminds me of a simple mantra – hindsight makes us all brilliant by giving us perfect 20/20 vision after the fact.

What makes it interesting is that Brian had no guide book to follow, no playbook to help, no experiences of other marketing campaigns before of this size to learn from…they were writing the rules as they went along. There had never been mass merchandising of an entity on this scale before anywhere, including Disney, Marvel, Superman, Elvis, etc. So I cut Brian a break.

He could have easily thought, “let me get this straight…we get 10% of monies, and we don’t have to do anything? We just loan you our name and a couple of photos and likenesses, and you hand us a check? This is the greatest gig ever!” And the precedent had been set…they had been doing UK deals in late ’63 at the 10%, so this wasn’t such a stretch.

Now it didn’t take long for him to change his mind. When they handed him the first royalty check in early 1964 for $9000, he thought it was great…until they reminded him that was his 10%. He did the quick math, realized they kept about $80,000 and immediately had the lawyers work to change it to more of a 50-50 split. That took six months, but by then, things had changed.

So Brian did his best with what was the current knowledge at hand, and we toast him on his birthday. Mark it ‘faB!’

Terry Crain

Get your copy of Terry’s great book on Brian and The Beatles merchandise – “NEMS and the Business of Selling Beatles Merchandise in the US 1964-66”

NEMS
NEMS