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Interview: Peter Frampton, Jerry Shirley on Beatles' impact, George Harrison

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Dean Johnson, author of “The Beatles and Me,” told Beatles Examiner Jan. 3 that in this excerpt of a new interview with author Spencer Leigh (“The Beatles in Liverpool”), former Ringo All-Starr Peter Frampton and Jerry Shirley, who worked together in Humble Pie, discuss how the Beatles influenced them and about working in the studio with George Harrison on his solo album, “All Things Must Pass” and Doris Troy's Apple album. The full interview will be in the latest Kindle update of the book.

Spencer Leigh: “Had you been the right age for the Beatles?”

Peter Frampton: “Up until that age it had been the Shadows for me, and for all guitarists, and drummers… right, Jerry?”

Jerry Shirley: ”Yeah.”

Peter Frampton: ”But as soon as 'Love Me Do' came out, and I saw them for the first time on 'Thank Your Lucky Stars,' I said, 'What is this? This is amazing! I love this!” And then 'Please Please Me' came out, and everything changed from that point on.”

Jerry Shirley: “I loved them from the beginning. Equally, as Pete did, I came from The Shadows and blues music. The Shadows mainly because I loved Stratocasters and I loved the way that Hank played, but also their drummer and bass player were so good. Tony Meehan was brilliant, and then when Brian Bennett came along with that magnificent kit of Ludwig – the black kit the Kenny had was Brian’s kit with the Shadows. Then The Beatles came along, and I think I saw them on one of the kids’ shows – Crackerjack or something. 'Love Me Do' with the Beatle jackets, and I was lucky enough to see them at one of the Hammersmith Christmas shows in '64…”

Peter Frampton: “I never saw them then…”

Spencer Leigh: “Like a pantomime wasn’t it?”

Jerry Shirley: “Yeah, but with the Yardbirds on it, and Elkie Brooks, Freddie & The Dreamers, oh and Sounds Incorporated – Tony Newman on drums – great show. And they were fantastic live, The Beatles. Brilliant.”

Spencer Leigh: “You were obviously a drummer inspired by Keith Moon as opposed to Ringo?”

Jerry Shirley: “No, Ringo as well – a man with a backbeat like you wouldn’t believe!”

Spencer Leigh: “And you all did quite a few sessions as well? I think all of you worked on George Harrison’s 'All Things Must Pass?' Were you just invited by George?

Peter Frampton: “I’d been asked by a friend if I wanted to go and meet George. He was doing his first production for the Apple label, and 'Doris Troy' was the album. I walked into the control room, and he said, 'Hello Pete,' and I sort of looked behind me as if to say, someone has to have walked in behind me, because he doesn’t know me! But he did! So I guess he must have seen me. And he asks, 'Do you want to play guitar?' And I said, “Er, yeah!” and he hands me his Les Paul and I played the solo on Doris Troy’s first single, for 'Aint That Cute.'”

Spencer Leigh: “And she was great, wasn’t she?”

Peter Frampton: “Unbelievable, and she sang for Humble Pie, too. From that point on, George would call me quite often to come down and do sessions, so when he started 'All Things Must Pass,' he called me down, and I went down for over a week to do the tracks.

Jerry Shirley: That’s how I got to play on 'All Things Must Pass. I was sitting in Greg Ridley’s apartment, and the phone rings. It’s Peter – he’s at Abbey Road. He says, 'Jerry, come and help us out. We’re doing George Harrison’s record and we need a percussionist desperately.' I said, 'Sorry Pete, I don’t know one!' He said, 'No, you, you fool!' So I said, 'Oh, OK!' And I’d go down and play tambourine standing next to Ringo on 'If Not For You' and 'The Ballad of Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll).”

Spencer Leigh: “Did you get the feeling that George was delighted to be out of The Beatles and able to do all his own songs?”

Peter Frampton: “This was his time. When he was doing that record he was very happy. It just seemed that he was at his most creative at that point. I don’t know, we never spoke about The Beatles in that regard, but it was just a very happy period.”

Jerry Shirley: “He was certainly the boss in that room. I remember him telling Phil Spector, 'Now you’ve got to hurry up there Phil, because Richie needs to get home for his tea!'”

Spencer Leigh: “That’s staggering isn’t it, that Phil Spector wasn’t in control.”

Jerry Shirley: “Not when it came to Richie having to have his tea he wasn’t, no!”

Peter Frampton: “The other thing was that Phil Spector never used to allow the artist in the control room. Well that wouldn’t have flown. I remember us all going into the control room, and there’s Phil Spector sitting down – he was a very strange man, wasn’t he?!”

Spencer Leigh: “A bit weird!”

Peter Frampton: “Very weird!”

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