Mal Evans

Mal Evans was The Beatles’ road manager and personal assistant, and a key member of their inner circle.

Mal EvansHe was born Malcolm Evans on 27 May 1935 in Liverpool. In 1961 he married a Liverpudlian girl, Lily, whom he had met at a funfair in New Brighton, Merseyside. Their first child Gary was born later that year.

Mal Evans was living in Hillside Road, Mossley Hill and working as a telephone engineer for the Post Office when he first saw The Beatles. The group were performing a lunchtime show at the Cavern Club, and Evans – despite being an ardent Elvis fan – was instantly taken with them.

I walked down this little street called Mathew Street that I’d never noticed before and came to this place, the Cavern Club. I’d never been inside a club, but I heard this music coming out – real rock it sounded, a bit like Elvis. So I paid my shilling and went in…
Mal Evans
Anthology

His first friend among the group was George Harrison, who suggested to the Cavern’s owner Ray McFall that Evans be hired as a doorman. The tall and burley Evans, then 27 years old, was accepted, and became a valued asset as the enthusiasm of The Beatles’ fans gradually turned to hysteria.

Mal joined us full-time in 1963. He was our bodyguard, but he was great at it because he would never hurt anyone. He was just big enough to say, ‘Excuse me, let the boys through.’ He was pretty strong. He could lift the bass amp on his own, which was a miracle. He should have been in the circus.
Ringo Starr
Anthology

In time Evans became a firm friend to The Beatles, and three months after starting work at the Cavern he was asked by Brian Epstein to work with Neil Aspinall as The Beatles’ road manager.

One time Neil was sick and we needed someone to drive us to London, so we asked Mal. He was a nice bloke, and by this time we’d been chatting with him a lot. He had to take a couple of days off work to do it. Then as we were expanding with all the gigs we realised we had to get someone else to drive the van and leave Neil to look after us and our suits and all of that. It was a unanimous thought. So Mal left his job and came to work for us.
George Harrison
Anthology

Evans became the group’s unofficial bodyguard and roadie, working with Aspinall as part of the trusted inner circle, setting up and checking their equipment and transporting it from venue to venue.

I do remember one incident: going up the motorway when the windscreen got knocked out by a pebble. Our great road manager Mal Evans was driving and he just put his hat backwards on his hand, punched the windscreen out completely, and drove on. This was winter in Britain and there was freezing fog and Mal was having to look out for the kerb all the way up to Liverpool – 200 miles.
Paul McCartney
Anthology

In addition to his official duties, Evans was often used as The Beatles’ fixer, being called upon to supply items including clothes, food and other essentials. As The Beatles’ fame grew, they became accustomed to their every desire being fulfilled.

He had a bag that he developed over the years, because it would always be: ‘Mal, have you got an Elastoplast? Mal, have you got a screwdriver? Mal, have you got a bottle of this? Have you got that?’ And he always had everything. If he didn’t have it, he’d get it very quickly. He was one of those people who loved what he was doing and didn’t have any problem about service.
George Harrison
Anthology

Evans’ loyalty to The Beatles meant he obeyed every whim, as illustrated by a tale from their first world tour in 1964.

We were boating along the canals [in Amsterdam], waving and being fab and we saw a bloke standing in the crowd with a groovy-looking cloak on. We sent Mal to find out where he got it from. Mal jumped off or swam off the boat and about three hours later turned up at our hotel with the cloak, which he’d bought from the guy. When we flew from there to Hong Kong we all had copies made, but they were in cheap material which melted in the rain storm at Sydney Airport.
George Harrison
Anthology

Evans’ work as The Beatles’ bodyguard extended to making sure the band members weren’t bothered by overenthusiastic members of the public. On many occasions they were treated with something approaching religious fervour by people thought their talents extended to healing abilities.

People would bring in these terrible cases and leave them in our dressing room. They’d go off for tea or whatever and they would leave them behind. If it got very heavy we would shout ‘Mal, cripples!’ and that became a saying – even when there were no handicapped people present. If there were any people around we didn’t like, we’d shout, ‘Mal, cripples!’ and they’d be escorted out.
Ringo Starr
Anthology

Evans and Aspinall often signed autographs for The Beatles, to cope with public demand. Although the pair were valued members of The Beatles’ entourage, they almost always flew economy while Brian Epstein and the group were always in first class. An anecdote by The Beatles’ press officer Derek Taylor illustrated how Epstein was cajoled by the group into treating them better after their triumphant 1964 US tour.

He came through to economy to get Mal and Neil and me out into first class. He was sent through by The Beatles actually. ‘What are they doing back there? We made a fucking fortune on the tour. Get them up here. You go and get them.
Derek Taylor
The Brian Epstein Story, Deborah Geller

The differences between The Beatles, their management and crew members extended to the payment each party received.

I recently found a piece of paper that shows how much we were actually earning in one period in 1963. From the starting figure of £72,000, we made about £4,000 each. Brian Epstein took £2,025 a week and Neil and Mal got £25 each.
George Harrison
Anthology

10 responses on “Mal Evans

    1. Eunice

      I grew up with Mal in Waldgrave Road Liverpool. He was the nicest, politest, friendliest kid you’d ever meet. Our families often got together for sing-a-longs and what no-one seems to know is that Mal could play the banjo like no other. He and his sister Pam used to belt out “Last Train to San Fernando” and we’d all sing our heads off. Great, wonderful days.

      1. Ian

        I remembered just yesterday reading (long ago) that Mal used to tune their guitars for them before their shows, and I think there’s an outtake where Lennon’s 12-string goes out of tune (probably on “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away”) and he says something like “I’m defunct” and calls for “Mal”, so I was wondering if he had any musical background, and this post seems to clear the matter up. There’s also his claim that he helped write “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” with Paul–I’d always thought that his input would have been on the lyrics, but perhaps he contributed musically.

        1. Ian

          Faulty memory correction: it was the outtake of “Long Lost John” on a non-12-string guitar where we calls to Mal and says he’s “defunct”. So strike that connection.

  1. Robu

    Mal worked his bloody arse for these guys. And he cames to such a tragic end, none of the lads turned up to his funeral. What a sad thing. Being paid a pittiance during their prime years as well.

  2. Eunice

    Hi sagedaddy,
    I lived in Sydney in the sixties when my Dad wrote to me from Liverpool and said Mal was coming to Australia with the Beatles. (I remember thinking,’who the heck are the Beatles’?) Well, my husband managed to get tickets to their show, and he didn’t want to come so I invited an 18yr old girl, Robyn, from work to come with me. After the show, we got a cab to the Sheraton, and had to be dropped off at the end of the street so we literally had to elbow our way slowly to the hotel. I told one of the security guys that I was there to visit a friend in the hotel and he let us through. I went to the counter and asked for Mal. Shortly after, he stepped out of the lift, saw me, absolutely amazed, spread his arms out lifted me in a big twirl. (I was liftable in those days!) We went up to his room which was directly opposite the emergency door. He always stayed in the same hotel room with his door open wherever they toured and I soon knew why! Two young girls had somehow escaped the notice of the guards and climbed the stairs and I watched as they crept through the door, but there was Malcolm who kindly but firmly sent them back. They begged and begged him to get a Beatle to meet them but he had to refuse.
    The next thing we heard was a voice in the corridor calling out “C’mon lads, it’s waving time” Next thing Paul walked through the door and Paul said “Hello girls” and Mal introduced us and we shook hands. (Robyn nearly collapsed when she saw him because Paul was her ‘heart throb’!) Next, Ringo appeared, he wasn’t well and he was in his pajamas but had a jacket on. Then John and George joined them and Mal said to me “Come on, you’ve got to see this”. We followed them into an empty room with doors to a verandah, and Mal stood us in front of a side window. Well! You should have seen/heard the crowds below. From one end of the long street to the other, there were masses of people everywhere. Even the Hilton hotel opposite had faces filling every space in every window, some standing on chairs waving like mad!
    After, we went back to Mal’s room,and we were joined by George, who sat and chatted away to us. He had a broken guitar string in his hand and I asked him for it! At work the next day I was being offered ten shillings an inch for it which I refused and gave it away later on to a relative.
    I went back to Liverpool for a holiday and caught up with Mal’s mother who told me the truth about Mal’s death, but that can wait for another time as my fingers are hurting! By the way, Mal would have just turned 79 now and he was three years younger than I am.

    1. Roy

      G’day from Australia,
      He was shot by the LA Police.
      I knew him when we both worked for GPO Telephones in Liverpool.
      I last saw him in 1963 when we were removing old equipment in preparation for an upgrade at Sefton Park telephone exchange.
      It was sad end to his life as I knew him as a top bloke.
      He was also the president of the Elvis Presley fan club on Merseyside.

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