Interview: John Lennon and Ringo Starr in Los Angeles

4.00pm, Sunday 23 August 1964 (49 years ago)

On 23 August 1964, John Lennon and Ringo Starr were interviewed while in Los Angeles. The occasion was The Beatles’ first concert at the Hollywood Bowl. The interviewer is unknown, but also present for the conversation was Beatles publicist Derek Taylor.

Q: You mentioned something about the word ‘cheeky’. What’s it all about?

John: Well I mean, you know, I thought cheeky was universal. I thought it was English, and the other day I got a couple of letters saying, ‘From your film, John, when you say to one of these fellows, what does ‘cheeky’ mean?’ Which is c, h, double e, k, y, what’s it? And I thought it was obvious: it just means sort of hard faced, only light-heartedly, you know, sort of ‘the nerve of that fellow’.

Ringo: It’s like it’s the light-hearted ‘get lost’ I’d say.

John: Yeah.

Ringo: You know, you’re always saying ‘get lost’ in America.

Q: That’s an American expression, I think.

Ringo: It’s the same as that really.

John: Well, whoever it was, now you know cheeky. See the fellow says to me, I say to him ‘gear costume’ which means ‘I admire your costume greatly’, and he says ‘swap’ in a rather effeminate voice, meaning ‘exchange?’ And I says to him, ‘cheeky’, meaning ‘hardfaced naughty boy’, you see, because he is, isn’t he? I mean, you could tell by the way he looked at him.

Ringo: Oh! Oh, a very bad boy.

Q: Ringo, you’ve done a lot of that, let’s say, slapstick work in the picture.

Ringo: Let’s say slapstick. One two three:

Ringo and John: SLAPSTICK!

Q: During the picture itself did this come naturally? Was a lot of direction involved?

Ringo: There was a lot of direction involved, you know. The thing is we’ve never sort of learned lines before. At first it was hard, you know, because we wouldn’t sort of learn them the night before like you’re supposed to, we’d learn them on the way to the studio and then do ‘em which I thought was better because it was more sort of natural. But, um, you know?

John: No, I don’t.

Ringo: (to interviewer) What did you say?

Q: Do these questions about your personal life – like I remember in Vancouver someone asked you ‘are you getting married to someone’ and you said ‘no’ and they said ‘are you getting engaged’ and you said no – do they bother you ever?

Ringo: Not really. You see, the thing is that in America more than anywhere in the world we read more about ourselves what we’re doing because most of these magazines just make it up, you know. It’s ridiculous: when we come over here there’s so much happening, you know, that we don’t even know we’ve done. It doesn’t bother me, it’s good for me to straighten everything out, you know. The thing is I’m not getting married and I said ‘no’ ’cause I’m not.

Q: We’re talking about personal questions. Do they ever bother you?

John: Yeah, this one. You know all the rumours that have been going around America, Ringo, you know all those mad ones about me leaving, you leaving, everybody’s married. I’m the only one who’s married folks, see, that’s John. But after we thought we’d straightened it up after 18 press conferences, some woman called Luella Parsons, I think, let me check. Luella Parsons, Derek?

Derek Taylor: Yeah.

John: Yes that’s right, Luella Parsons writes a whole article about all the rumours, spreading them all again saying Paul‘s married, Ringo’s leaving, I’m getting another baby which I’m not. Which isn’t even a lousy rumor.

Ringo: It’s just ridiculous, you know. If anything does happen, we’ll tell people you know, we’re not going to hide it. John’s not ashamed if he has another baby, now why should he sort of keep it secret? If Paul was married, you know, you couldn’t hide it, you know, you’ll find out the truth, all these stupid magazines…

John: That’s right, Ringo. There’s a thing in England where everybody’s birth certificate and marriage certificate and everything goes to this big place in London and everybody who’s ever been married in Britain is recorded there.

Ringo: Since 1770.

John: And the only thing that the people got to do if they don’t believe that Paul or Ringo or George is married is to check there. Which is what the British press does. That’s why the British press doesn’t write that any of them are married.

Ringo: These rumors drive me nuts you know, I get so…

Q: Do they bother you?

Ringo: Some of them you know, some of the silly ones, like the one, um with Anna Margaret, you know, I’ve never…

John: Ann-Margaret.

Ringo: Ann Mar, Ann, Anna?

John: Ann-Margaret.

Ringo: Ann-Margaret? ‘Anned’ Margaret and, um, you know, saying I don’t phone her anymore cause she can’t understand me. I write twice a week, you know, which is ridiculous ’cause I don’t even write to my mother I just phone ‘er. I’ve never met the girl or anything, there’s all this big thing, Ringo and Anna Margaret going steady and all.

John: We know you love Ann-Margaret.

Ringo: Ah, shut your…

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