I am Richard Porter, professional Beatles London tour guide, author and consultant.
Some people have told me I have the best job in the world – well, I don’t know about that (the pay could be better!) but there are certainly worst jobs.
I really became a fan in 1976 when I was 13 years old. EMI re-released all the Beatles singles and they all reached the top 100 of the British charts at once. Of course, they were played on the radio a lot, and I thought they were great. My first Beatles record was The Red Album and I went on to buy all the singles and albums in 2 years – not bad when I just earned pocket money from my parents.
At first I was very isolated in my Beatle fandom. My interest coincided with the punk rock boom and all the other boys in school were into the Sex Pistols and the Clash. Being a Beatles fan was not regarded as hip! Also I didn’t really realise there were so many other fans around.
All that changed on that awful day in December 1980. John’s death really devastated me and I didn’t have anyone to share my grief with. I therefore put an ad for penpals in Beatles Monthly and was amazed by the number of replies I received. It was through a penpal that I heard about the Beatles convention to be held in Liverpool in August 1981. I was amazed that such a thing existed and arranged to go.
That convention was a real revelation to me. There must have been over 1000 like minded fans there – I was not alone! The abiding memory of that convention is when Victor Spinetti unveiled a statue of John and everyone sang Give Peace a Chance. It was a really moving moment.
A few months later another penpal told me he’d met Paul McCartney regularly outside a recording studio in Oxford Street, London. Now Oxford Street is the busiest shopping street in London, and I didn’t even know there was a studio there. Of course, I later found out it was AIR Studios, which was owned by George Martin.
One weekday evening I arranged to meet my friend and several others outside the studio. I’d only been there 10 minutes when the unmistakable figure of Paul McCartney emerged from the building. Paul chatted to us for several minutes and I got him to sign my Paul McCartney and Wings book. Paul was at AIR for many months during that period and I got to meet him several times.
I stated writing for Beatles fanzines and when those fanzines ceased publication I decided to start my own fan club with two old friends. The London Beatles Fan Club was born in November 1988.
As Editor of the magazine I got to meet and interview many Beatles-related people, such as Kenny Everett, Alan Parsons, Alistair Taylor, Alf Bicknell, etc. I also started corresponding with Beatles fans around the world. One was Irina Dyomkina, who ran the Moscow Beatles Fanclub. Irina moved to London in the early 1990s and became the secretary of the London Beatles Fan Club. We married in June 2004. Irina is now a fully qualified London ‘Blue Badge’ guide.
After a while members of the club started asking me where various London Beatles landmarks were. Obviously, I knew the major ones, but started researching some more obscure sights. I discovered someone was actually guiding tour of London Beatles sights, so I went along on one. The guide seemed very impressed at my knowledge and asked me to guide the tours for him. Sadly, it didn’t work out with that company, but during Christmas 1991 I went on a ‘Dickens’ London’ tour with David Tucker of London Walks. We started talking and he asked me to do tours for London Walks instead. I’ve now been guiding tours for London Walks for over 25 years!!
During the past 25 years my walks have been featured on many TV and radio shows all over the world. I remember in 1995, during the run up for the Anthology, I had TV crews on my walk every week. I also got to go to some great places. One day a German TV Station rang me to ask me for my help. They were filming in Studio Two at Abbey Road and the roof of 3 Savile Row – and they wanted me to act as technical adviser – and pay me too! Of course I said yes. These places are normally out of bounds for fans and I felt really privileged just being there.
For a long time people kept on asking me when I was going to write a book on The Beatles, and I finally got around to doing it. I found I had so much material on The Beatles’ London haunts, I was only using a fraction of it on the tours. Also I had lots of material from interviews I did for The London Beatles Fan Club: the book virtually wrote itself. I was very glad when Jeff Jarratt of the Abbey Road Café decided to publish it. Jeff worked with The Beatles on the Abbey Road album, and is now a successful producer in his own right.
The Guide to The Beatles London is basically a walking tour around Beatles sights in central London, plus places in outer London you can get to by public transport. Also included are lots of my own personal Beatles photos plus some great ones from some friends of mine of the Fabs outside their homes in the sixties.
All the best
Richard’s website is www.beatlesinlondon.com where you can find out more about his tours.
Richard on a dating site?
Richard has a great article about his tours on a dating site – have a read