A project to raise money for a documentary telling the story of Freda Kelly, The Beatles’ friend and fan club secretary, has raised its target of $50,000 following a fundraising campaign.
Good Ol’ Freda will tell the untold story of Kelly, the secretary of The Beatles’ Official Fan Club from 1963 until it closed in 1972. A trusted member of the group’s inner circle, Freda Kelly was part of The Beatles’ story from the Cavern Club days until their split.
In addition to running the fan club, she answered fan mail, travelled with the group to events including their December 1963 appearance on Juke Box Jury and their July 1964 civic reception in Liverpool, and appeared as a coach passenger in the Magical Mystery Tour film.
Kelly was mentioned by The Beatles on their 1963 fan club record. George Harrison gave thanks to “Freda Kelly in Liverpool,” and the other three Beatles shouted out in response: “Good ol’ Freda!”
One of only a handful of employees to work with The Beatles from their rise to fame until the end, she was described by Beatles press officer Tony Barrow as “one of the few ‘backroom boys’ who’s never got the recognition she deserves for all the hard work she put in on behalf of the Fab Four.”
After The Beatles’ split in 1970 she maintained her silence, preferring anonymity and family life to selling her story. In recent years she has taken part in fan conventions and has sold Beatles memorabilia at auction. However, she has never before appeared on camera to discuss her time with the group.
Tripod Media used Kickstarter.com to encourage pledges from members of the public in exchange for various rewards, ranging from documentary DVDs and signed photographs through to film credits, meetings with Kelly, rare magazines, posters and more.
eBay auctions of strands of both Paul McCartney and George Harrison’s hair, put up for sale by Beatles collectors Wayne Rogers and Perry Cox further helped the funding drive.
Within a week of launching in October 2011, Tripod had raised over $10,000. They finally reached their goal on 9 November 2011, two days ahead their target date, but are still hoping to raise more money. By coincidence, 9 November was the 50th anniversary of Brian Epstein’s first meeting with The Beatles.
The money will be spent on a three-week shoot in various locations in Liverpool; licensing music, archival footage and photographs; editing and post-production costs; DVD production and distribution; theatrical release; merchandising and publicity; insurance and legal costs.
A huge THANK YOU to the 572 backers who helped us raise our $50,000 goal – with 2 days to spare! We are truly grateful for all the support our team has gotten from friends, families, colleagues, and (most of all!) Beatles fans worldwide who helped us reach that goal. We now have 48 hours left to raise as much money as possible before our time runs out! The film will undoubtedly cost more than $50,000 to make in the end, so every penny raised will go directly into making Good Ol’ Freda an even better film and pay for additional costs such as licensing footage, still photos, and music. Continue to check in for new rewards over the next two days. There are still a few pieces of Eric Cash’s artwork available, and Pete Dicks has added a spot on his radio program ‘Beatles and Beyond’ as a reward (during which you can request every song he plays!) And please encourage other fans to pre-buy the DVD for $25 – we’d prefer to use the money on the front end to make a better film than receive it as profit later on! We’ll send an update with final figures this weekend.
The Good Ol’ Freda Team
According to the Kickstarter website, the documentary will include the following:
- The Cavern days, when they would play for crowds of 30 people, girls would shout out individual song requests, and George Harrison would sometimes drive her home after the shows.
- Beginning her job at 17 years old, stories of trying to deliver the wages to the band during their performances when there were thousands of other teenaged girls trying to sneak backstage.
- How her protective father wouldn’t let her take the job at first because he’d seen the Beatles drop her off in their cars and didn’t like the way they looked, he didn’t “see any future” in the job.
- Serving as secretary to the Official Beatles Fan Club, which had 70,000 members worldwide and was the main source of information for Beatles fans in a pre-internet era.
- The various album releases, movie premieres, and after-parties.
- Appearing on the TV game show Juke Box Jury with The Beatles in their legendary 1963 appearance.
- Being called the “Bride Who ‘Fears’ The Beatles” and “The Most Coveted Girl in the World” in the newspaper headlines.
- Intimate stories of The Beatles’ parents and families, since a large part of Freda’s job was to spend time with them helping them deal with the fame and sacks of fan mail.
- Stories of working for Brian Epstein, The Beatles’ manager and her immediate boss who was known for being mercurial and firing employees on the spot (but for whom Freda has a great amount of respect) – ending with his stunning and tragic death in 1967.
- John Lennon firing her in 1965 because she hung out in another band’s dressing room before a show – and how he got her to come back.
- Various tales of being one of the passengers on the Magical Mystery tour bus during the filming of the movie, including being elected to check The Beatles into a hotel under a secret false name.
- Having to keep the illusion of “The Beatles” going long after she knew they disbanded – and the relief (but devastation she delivered) when she finally sent a letter out in 1972 alerting the fans of the dissolution of the fan club because the band no longer existed.
- How she kept writing letters loyally for an additional two years to respond to every last piece of fan club mail.
Also on this day...
- 2015: Love Me Do drummer Andy White dies
- 1968: George Harrison produces Is This What You Want? by Jackie Lomax
- 1965: Editing, mixing: The Beatles’ Third Christmas Record, Michelle, What Goes On, Run For Your Life, Think For Yourself
- 1964: Live: City Hall, Sheffield
- 1963: Live: Granada Cinema, East Ham, London
- 1962: Live: Star-Club, Hamburg
- 1961: Live: Litherland Town Hall, Liverpool
- 1961: Live: Cavern Club, Liverpool (lunchtime) – Brian Epstein meets The Beatles
- 1960: Live: Kaiserkeller, Hamburg
Want more? Visit the Beatles history section.