The team behind a new Beatles book that gathers stories and pictures of random meetings between fans and the Fab Four are hoping to meet a publishing deadline that's quickly approaching like the Sword of Damocles, the book's author said Saturday.
Dean Johnson said they plan to have “The Beatles and Me” out on March 22, 50 years to the day of the release of The Beatles “Please Please Me” album in the UK. The book's compilers have left themselves only 12 hours to edit, lay out and proofreading before it goes to press, he said.
The book's text is comprised of never before known encounters with the Beatles first compiled on a page on Facebook that started up a few months ago. The page has been the source for newsmaking stories about Brian Epstein, some previously unseen photos of Paul and Linda McCartney and a 1962 Beatles gig shortly after Ringo Starr replaced Pete Best on drums where a discarded invoice that mentioned the Beatles was rescued from a trash bin, a story we were the first to reveal.
“We have an interview with a Russian TV channel on Friday, so I hope we can show them something other than The Cavern Club,” Johnson said wryly. “We are working away on the book as we speak. We need to get the book to the printers first thing Monday. They can turn around hard copies by Friday next week. Anything is possible these days.” He said the book will be available worldwide online by next weekend as well.
“There is a feeling of having a massive deadline looming but we have to get it out by Friday that is non negotiable, but some great last-minute stories have come in.”
One of those comes from Rollo Torpey, who lived near George Harrison's cousin, and became acquainted with the Beatle when he came for visits. Remember the scene he was in in “A Hard Day's Night” about Susan the trend setter? Torpey says George was one, as well.
“George was a regular visitor and we all became teenage friends. At this time, George was still at school. We were all very much into fashion and, of course, the music of the day. George, knowing I was at Neville Reed, a very popular up-to-the-minute tailoring outlet, made arrangements to come to the shop interested in ordering a suit.
“He duly arrived and selected a dark blue (suit) with a shade lighter needle stripe as his preferred fabric. I measured him up and started the order in the order book. At the time the height of fashion was the Milano style, which was a three-buttoned Italian box jacket and tapered trousers with plain bottoms with no turnups.
“George was a very individual guy with his own idea of what he wanted. His idea, which he ordered, was a four-button jacket with cloth-covered buttons. Two breast pockets which were slitted (jetted) and in the shape of a bird in flight, the two side pockets corresponded. The cuffs had to be folded back with a cloth-covered button. His trousers had no pleats in the front, not normal in those days, and he was by far the very first person to have two slits at the bottom side seam of the trouser and he wanted them folded back with cloth covered buttons to match the cuffs on his jacket.
“The workshop queried the order when they received thinking we had gone bonkers. George got his suit and was pleased with the outcome. Later lots of guys were walking about town with cut back cuffs and side seams on their trousers, but George was the first.”
Another story suggests that Ringo Starr may have taken drumming lessons from Red Carter, a longtime drumming instructor in Wirral in the UK who passed away recently.
Johnson says, “'I was told a few years a ago by a student of Mr Carter's that he had given Ringo a few lessons and was responsible for Ringo's unique high-hat style. This involves hitting it while open instead of the usual way of it being closed. It produces a very loud almost tambourine sound and this would have been very effective in the large stadiums that the Beatles had to play with very limited amplification.”
The story was never confirmed, Johnson said, but, according to an eyewitness, during Red's time with the resident trio at the Cabaret Club, Ringo Starr was a regular visitor with his future (first) wife (Maureen Cox) as was Gerry Marsden and other well-known musicians. Ringo had a table next to the stage and just a few feet away from Red, the story goes.
Another late addition to the book are pictures from Phil Aldridge from Liverpool, who took pictures of the Beatles during the filming of “Magical Mystery Tour.” A few of them can be seen in the slideshow at left.
The finished product should be very interesting. As Merseyside publisher Jen Smedley told Johnson, “The Beatles recorded a whole album in 12 hours, so I think in this digital age we can get the book together.”
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