Interview: Playboy

Playboy: As hard-bitten refugees from the Liverpool slums – according to heart-rending fan magazine biographies – do you feel prepared to cope with all this sudden wealth?

Paul: We’ve managed to make the adjustment. Contrary to rumor, you see, none of us was brought up in any slums or in great degrees of poverty. We’ve always had enough; we’ve never been starving.

John: Yeah, we saw those articles in the American fan mags that said, ‘Those boys struggled up from the slums…’

George: We never starved. Even Ringo hasn’t.

Ringo: Even I.

Playboy: What kind of families do you come from?

George: Well, you know, not rich. Just workin’ class. They’ve got jobs… just work.

Playboy: What does your father do?

George: Well, he doesn’t do anything now. He used to be a bus driver…

John: In the merchant navy.

George: Do you have any brothers or sisters George?

George: I’ve got two brothers.

John: And no sisters to speak of.

Playboy: How about you, Paul?

Paul: I’ve got one brother, and a father who used to be a cotton salesman down in New Orleans, you know. That’s probably why I look a bit tanned… But seriously folks…. he occasionally had trouble paying the bills, but it was never, you know, never ‘Go out and pick blackberries, son; we’re a bit short this week.’

Playboy: How about you, John?

John: Oh, just the same. I used to have an auntie. And I had a dad whom I couldn’t quite find.

Ringo: John lived with the Mounties.

John: Yeah, the Mounties. They fed me well. No starvation.

Playboy: How about your family, Ringo, old man?

Ringo: Just workin’ class. I was brought up with my mother and me grandparents. And then she married me stepfather when I was 13. All the time she was working. I never starved. I used to get most things.

George: Never starved?

Ringo: No. I never starved. She always fed me. I was an only child, so it wasn’t amazing.

Playboy: It’s quite fashionable in some circles in America to hate your parents. But none of you seem to.

Ringo: We’re probably just as against the things our parents liked or stood for as they are in America. But we don’t hate our parents for it.

Playboy: It’s often exactly the opposite in America.

Paul: Well, you know, a lot of Americans are unbalanced. I don’t care what you say. No, really. A lot of them are quite normal, of course, but we’ve met many unbalanced ones. You know the type of person, like the political Whig.

Playboy: How do you mean?

Paul: You know… the professional political type; in authority sort of thing. Some of them are just mad! And I’ve met some really maniac American girls! Like this one girl who walked up to me in a press conference and said, ‘I’m Lily.’ I said, ‘Hello, how do you do?’ and she said, ‘Doesn’t my name mean anything to you?’ I said, ‘Ah, no…’ and I thought, ‘Oh God, it’s one of these people that you’ve met and you should know.’ And so Derek, our press agent, who happened to be there at the time, hanging over my shoulder, giving me quotes, which happens at every press conference…

George: You’d better not say that.

Paul: Oh yes, that’s not true, Beatle people! But he was sort of hanging about, and he said, ‘Well did you ring, or did you write, or something?’ And she said, ‘No.’ And he said, ‘Well, how did you get in touch with Paul? How do you know him?’ And she said, ‘Through God.’ Well, there was sort of a ghastly silence. I mean, we both sort of gulped and blushed. I said, ‘Well, that’s very nice, Lily. Thanks very much. I must be off now.’

Playboy: There wasn’t a big lightening bolt from the sky?

Paul: No, there wasn’t. But I talked to her afterward, and she said she’d got a vision from God, and God had said to her…

John: It’s been a hard day’s night. (laughter)

Paul: No, God had said, ‘Listen Lil, Paul is waiting for you; he’s in love with you and he wants to marry you, so go down and meet him, and he’ll know you right away.’ It’s very funny, you know. I was trying to persuade her that she didn’t in actual fact have a vision from God, that it was…

George: It was probably somebody disguised as God.

Paul: You wouldn’t hardly ever meet somebody like that in England, but there seemed to be a lot like her in America.

John: Well, there’s a lot of people in America, so you’ve got a much bigger group to get nutters from.

Playboy: Speaking of nutters, do you ever wake up in the morning, look in the mirror and say, ‘My God, I’m a Beatle?’

Paul: No, not quite. (laughter)

John: Actually, we only do it in each other’s company. I know I never do it alone.

Ringo: We used to do it more. We’d get in the car. I’d look over at John and say, ‘Christ, look at you; you’re a bloody phenomenon!’ and just laugh… ‘cuz it was only him, you know. And a few old friends of ours done it, from Liverpool. I’d catch ’em looking at me, and I’d say, ‘What’s the matter with you?’ It’s just daft, them just screaming and laughing, thinking I’m one of them people.

Playboy: A Beatle?

Ringo: Yes.

Paul: The thing that makes me know we’ve made it is like tonight, when we slipped into a sweetshop. In the old days we could have just walked into a sweetshop and nobody would have noticed us. We would have just got our sweets and gone out. But tonight we just walked in… it took a couple of seconds… and the people there just dropped their sweets. Before, you see, there would have been no reaction at all. Except possibly, ‘Look at that fellow with the long hair. Doesn’t he look daft?’ But nowadays they’re just amazed; they can’t believe it. But actually we’re no different.

Playboy: The problem is that you don’t seem to be like real people. You’re Beatles.

Paul: I know. It’s funny, that.

George: It’s all the publicity.

Paul: We’re taken in by it too. Because we react exactly the same way to the stars we meet. When we meet people we’ve seen on the telly or in films, we still think, ‘Wow!’

John: It’s a good thing, because we get just as tickled.

Paul: The thing is that people, when they see you on TV and in magazines and up in a film, and hear you on the radio, they never expect to meet you, you know, even our fans. Their wish is to meet you, but in the back of their mind they never think they’re actually gonna meet us. And so, when they do meet us, they just don’t believe it.

Playboy: Where do they find you – hiding in your hotel rooms?

John: No, on the street usually.

Playboy: You mean you’re brave enough to venture out into the streets without a bodyguard?

Ringo: Sure.

George: We’re always on the street. Staggering about.

Ringo: Flogging our bodies.

George: You catch John sleeping in the gutter occasionally.

Last updated: 27 April 2010
The Beatles live: ABC Cinema, Exeter
The Beatles live: ABC Cinema, Plymouth
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