Mal Evans

Mal Evans was present on 28 August 1964, the night Bob Dylan introduced The Beatles to marijuana. He sampled the drug with the members of the group, and helped Paul McCartney fulfill a somewhat unusual request.

I discovered the meaning of life. And I suddenly felt like a reporter, on behalf of my local newspaper in Liverpool. I wanted to tell my people what it was. I was the great discoverer, on this sea of pot, in New York. I was sailing this sea and I had discovered it.

I remember asking Mal, our road manager, for what seemed like years and years, ‘Have you got a pencil?’ But of course everyone was so stoned they couldn’t produce a pencil, let alone a combination of a paper and pencil, so it was I either had the pencil but I didn’t have the paper or I had the… I eventually found it and I wrote it down, and gave it to Mal for safekeeping.

I’d been going through this thing of levels, during the evening. And at each level I’d meet all these people again. ‘Hahaha! It’s you!’ And then I’d metamorphose on to another level. Anyway, Mal gave me this little slip of paper in the morning, and written on it was, ‘There are seven levels!’

Paul McCartney
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles

Neil Aspinall and Mal EvansAs The Beatles’ love of the drug grew, Evans and Neil Aspinall found their duties changing once more.

Reefers are hard to avoid in The Beatles’ story. All the time, Mal and Neil would sit in Studio No. 2 behind the sound baffles while we were working, rolling them up and smoking.
George Harrison
Anthology

While Lennon, Harrison and Starr lived in the stockbroker belt in south east England, Evans often joined McCartney and Aspinall in the clubs of London after The Beatles’ recording sessions. A particular favourite was the Bag O’Nails, where he mingled with the stars of swinging London.

Mal Evans was present in America in 1965 when Lennon and Harrison had their second LSD experience, and Starr took the drug for the first time. The occasion later inspired John Lennon’s song She Said She Said.

Paul wouldn’t have LSD; he didn’t want it. So Ringo and Neil took it, while Mal stayed straight in order to take care of everything. Dave Crosby and Jim McGuinn of The Byrds had also come up to the house, and I don’t know how, but Peter Fonda was there. He kept saying, ‘I know what it’s like to be dead, because I shot myself.’ He’d accidentally shot himself at some time and he was showing us the bullet wound. He was very uncool.
George Harrison
Anthology

On the same tour they met Elvis Presley, whom Evans had greatly admired for years.

It was a thrill, but it was the biggest disappointment of my life in one way. I really am a big Elvis fan – at six foot three I’m one of the biggest. So I prepare my outfit to go and meet Elvis – send the suit to the cleaners, nice white shirt and tie – really ponce myself up. But when the suit came back from the cleaners, they’d sewn the pockets up. Now, I always carry plectrums – picks, they call them in the States. It’s just a habit. I’m not even working for them [The Beatles] now and I’ve still got a pick in my pocket at the moment.

So when we get there, Elvis asks, ‘Has anybody got a pick?’ and Paul turns round and says, ‘Yeah, Mal’s got a pick. He’s always got a pick. He carries them on holiday with him!’ I went to go in my pocket for one – and there they were, all sewn up.

I ended up in the kitchen breaking plastic spoons, making picks for Elvis!

That was a disappointment. I’d have loved to have given Elvis a pick, have him play it, then got it back and had it framed.

Mal Evans
Anthology

Mal EvansAs The Beatles’s tours became more hectic towards the end, Evans found his role becoming more pressured. Concerts would go ahead often with scant regard for safety, and the crowds were ever more fervent in their adulation of the group.

Open-air concerts in the States were terrible. When it looked like rain in the open air, I used to be scared stiff. Rain on the wires and everybody would have been blown up, yet if they’d stopped the show, the kids would have stampeded.
Mal Evans
Anthology

In June 1966 The Beatles toured the Philippines, where they unintentionally snubbed the first lady, Imelda Marcos. The group lost their police protection, and were forced to make their way to Manila airport alone. When they arrived The Beatles and their entourage were repeatedly shouted and spat at, and were shoved and punched by officials and the gathered crowds.

Once on the plane Mal Evans was ordered off, along with Brian Epstein and press agent Tony Barrow.

They all had to get off, and they looked terrified. Mal went past me down the aisle of the plane breaking out in tears, and he turned to me and said, ‘Tell Lil I love her.’ He thought that was it: the plane was going to go and he would be stuck in Manila. The whole feeling was, ‘Fucking hell, what’s going to happen?’
George Harrison
Anthology

The three were eventually allowed to board again, once Epstein gave the authorities all the money The Beatles had earned for their two concerts. The experience was perhaps the key event which led to the group’s decision to end touring.

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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