John Lennon, rhythm guitar. Tall, slim, broad-shouldered. Hair brown, eyes brown. A genuinely talented humorist who has had his written ramblings published in newspapers. He recalls singing “The Happy Wanderer” every day for a month to an English master at school — “he left, for reasons unknown”.
Later he was suspended from school for eating chocolate in class. He celebrated by going to the pictures. He says: “There nearly wasn’t a John Winston Lennon. As a kid, I was shot at once for stealing apples. Also I nearly fell off while riding on the bumpers of a Liverpool tram…”
John’s mother is dead now but she originally taught him to play banjo. He lives with “an aunt called Mimi”. He has two step-sisters, Julia and Jacqueline. And he studied art (enthusiastically) and maths and science (hopelessly) at Dovedale Primary School, Quarrybank Grammar School, then Liverpool College of Art.
He dug back into memory-land. “Once, Paul McCartney and I played Reading as the Nurk Twins. Went down a bomb, I recall. And once, Ringo and I drove his first car round together — really, with both of us at the wheel at the same time! I’m not really a good driver. And there was the time when George Harrison, who was already at another school, came along to Quarrybank for a joke and enrolled for art GCE.”
On stage, John is dominant. He stands determinedly, relaxed yet dynamic. In Glasgow, a drunken lad climbed on stage and just tottered there, watching John sing. John was unmoved….
“I suppose I always was a big spender, even before I had much money to spend,” John admits. “Clothes are my pet extravagance. I go for suede, leather, cord or denims. If I went into business one day, I think I’d set up a string of clothes shops — good ones, dealing in the best gear.
“This business lets me meet a lot of interesting people. I like that. And I go for the money, too. We’re gradually meeting all the names in the business — my own best friends are the other Beatles, Gerry Marsden and the Shadows.”
Musically, John lines up with the general Beatle tastes. He talks about Little Richard, Chuck Jackson, Chuck Berry, Mary Wells. The groups for him: the Miracles, Shirelies, Chiffons, Marvelettes, with Earl Bostic a surprisingly favourite instrumentalist.
“I’d like to write a stage musical one day—and, of course, keep on getting hit songs for us and for other groups. But the big musical: that would be a real challenge.”
To illustrate John’s style of writing, let him explain how the group got its name. “Why Beatles? Ugh, Beatles! How did the name arrive? So I will tell you. It came in a vision – a man on a flaming pie and said unto them ‘From this day you are Beatles with an “A”.’ Thank you, Mister Man, they said, thanking him.”
John is perhaps the best all-rounder in the group. He writes poetry, is a good painter, has collaborated on plays with Paul. He admits: “My main ambition is to be rich and famous. That’s all.”
He was 20 when he started in show business and is now 5 ft. 11 in. tall, weighing 11 stone 5 lb. The dark clothes he invariably wears do not really match his ever-changing personality. He admits he is not very happy with “stupid people” — meaning people who lag behind, thought-wise.
John was born on October 9, 1940.
Ringo Starr, drummer. Smallest member of the group, last to join, blue-eyed, brown-haired—and nursing an ambition to play everything on drums with either right or left hand.
Educated at Saint Silas School, Dingle Vale Secondary Modern, then Riversdale Technical, showing plenty of talent in handicrafts but little in maths or English. Recalls: “I used to get money for school meals, but used it on a loaf, fourpennyworth of chips and five Woodbines!”
The man who lays down that urgent Beatles’ beat is mad on motor-racing. “I’d love to own an Alfa-Romeo and take it up seriously. Maybe I’ll never make it.” His parents, Elsie and Harry Starkey, really wanted their son to take up ladies’ hairdressing. He says: “I’d go into that line now, if I got the money together. Or maybe I’d take up a car hire business.”
He is appreciative of all his parents did for him. “They think we are doing great,” he says. “They love watching us work. I’ll always be grateful because they bought me my first drum kit. Our success means that, at last, my mother doesn’t have to go out to work—she’s worked all her life.’
Ringo, real-name Richard, got his unusual name because of his habit of wearing at least a couple of rings on each hand. “I dig fashions,” he said. “I spend mostly on good suits, with odd styles. I also like casual corduroy — but I can’t stand baggy trousers or double-breasted suits.”
While other Beatles said they liked jelly-babies, Ringo named whisky as his favourite drink. The fans obliged with bottles of hooch. Says Ringo: “I’ve had a few marriage proposals through the post. They’re difficult to answer without being hurtful. I date when I can. My favourite girls? Ah — around 5 ft. 5 in. tall, good figure, That’s all, just as long as they’re intelligent. Yes, I’d like to try married life, but I suppose it’s difficult just to TRY it!”
Ringo drummed out an incessant rhythm with his finger-tips. “We’ve had some some old times, the Beatles,” he said. “Actually my worst moment was when we did our first stage show at the local Liverpool Empire. Back went those curtains — and there was I, still setting up my drum kit!
“Music is now my life — and I feel happier than at any time. I think John and Paul are fantastic composers — right up there in the Gerry Goffin-Carole King class. My own personal tastes go to genuine R and B or C and W….
“I collect records by stars like Chuck Jackson, Brook Benton, Della Reese, or Patsy Cline. Among the groups, the Shirelles. They have that fab feeling for their music. Really, that’s my only way of relaxing — either listening to records or watching television.”
Stardom has meant that Ringo is at last able to feel independent. “Sure the work ties us down a lot, but at least if I’m free I can go wherever I like without having to count the cost.
“I have these strange likes and dislikes. Can’t stand Donald Duck, for instance. Or onions. But fast cars, even just looking at them, I do like. And my favourite food is still steak and chips.”
Ringo was originally with the Darktown Skiffle Group, then with Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. He has experience, style and ambition.
Ringo was born on July 7, 1940.
Paul McCartney, bass guitar. Left-handed and used to find himself genuinely writing back to front. He has written more than 100 songs with John Lennon and also plays drums, piano and banjo. And he says, in all seriousness, that he would like to become “a tramp” if he couldn’t carry on in music.
He remembers going on a hitch-hiking tour with George Harrison, a school-mate in the pre-Beatle days. “We didn’t eat for 28 hours once. We used to cook tins of spaghetti on a primus stove by the road-side. We slept on the beach in Taunton and in the football ground stand in Wales.
“Success now is nice. I can buy food and clothes — spend money. Clothes is a hobby. I like high-collared shirts, tight trousers, black socks, suits in leather and suede. Can’t stand coloured socks, baggy trousers, cutaway collars.”
Paul is 5 ft. 11 in. tall, with dark brown hair and hazel eyes. He weighs 11 stone. At Liverpool Institute High School he’did well in English literature, moderately well at other things but very badly in geography and maths. His geography has improved with all the Beatle travelling.
Musically, he leans towards R and B and modern jazz. He’ll listen for hours to American artistes like Chuck Jackson, the Miracles, Little Richard, Ketty Lester, Dinah Washington and Raelets’ member Margie Hendrickson. Of music, he says: “My mum is dead now, but my father has always helped. He used to run his own jazz band, back in the 1920s, so he knows a bit about the business. Though some of our material is a bit way out for a razzamatazz chap like him.
“I enjoy writing songs and sometimes wish I had more time to give to it. Goffin and King, the Americans, are fine writers. I also like Luther Dixon and Leonard Bernstein. Song-writing AND bird-watching — they’re my fave off-duty hobbies. Oh, yes — and sleeping. We just don’t seem to get any sleep these days….”
Paul gets his fair share of fan-mail, mostly from girls, tries to answer most of them. He says of the girls he dates: “I like them to have long hair, be sensible yet have a sense of humour and, of course, it’s important that they like music. I like to go with a girl to a cinema or a theatre. Something quiet and relaxing. Yes, I think I’d like to settle down one day … buy a house and all that.
“I’m a film fan. I often think we ought to write a film for ourselves so that we could be sure that all the Beatles had a fair crack of the whip. That’s one trouble—making sure that each of us gets the same prominence as the others. We ARE a team. Each one is a quarter of the whole.”
Paul thought about the future. He would be interested in investing, one day, in his brother’s hairdressing business. But as the youngest in the group, he finds the future that bit harder to think about.
He’d like a car. “Anything in the classic mould would suit me. But anything else would be accepted with good will!” The gag is never far away when Paul chats about anything. He admits, though, that he is not a very good driver.
His best friends are the other three Beatles and Gerry Marsden, of the Pacemakers. His most off-beat musical memory is playing, with George and John, while a strip-tease girl shed her clothes in Liverpool.
Paul’s birthday is June 18.
George Harrison, lead guitar. Nearly six feet tall, brown-haired, browneyed. Debonair—though that’s not the word used by his teachers at Liverpool Institute High School to describe him when he set new fashions by adapting his school uniform to include skin-tight trousers, coloured waistcoat and suede shoes. “Diabolical” was THEIR word.
Said George: “We had fab end-of-term sessions at school. Paul McCartney and I, Les Chadwick of the Pacemakers, plus two of the San Remo Four. We swung … but we didn’t realise we’d all end up as professionals.”
George first met Paul on the bus home from school, some eight years ago. John Lennon was “encountered” in the fish-and-chip shop by the school. Ringo — “he looked so moody, but was quite different when I got to know him properly” — was first met in the Kaiserkeller Club in Hamburg.
At school, George was hopeless at maths and history but promising at art. He lost his interest in sports in his mid-teens but once was a useful athlete.
A family man is George — travelling permitting. His parents, Harold and Louise Harrison, encouraged him in his music simply by not complaining at the noise he made. But he had a few brushes with sister Louise and brothers Harry and Peter.
Stardom is exciting, admits George. He can indulge more in clothes and buy records when he likes. His favourites range from Little Richard to Eartha Kitt, but Chet Atkins and Duane Eddy are guitarists he admires.
“Dating? Whenever I can. I like girls but there’s nobody special. Blondes appeal to me — especially small girls who have a sense of humour and can laugh when I’m happy and be serious when I’m sad. I’ll get married one day … but right now the domestic scene doesn’t appeal.”
He gets a stack of fan-mail, often accompanied by presents of toys, or teddy bears, or jelly-babies. He reads all the letters, tries to answer each one when he can get the time.
George enjoys driving. Says he is a good driver but wonders whether other motorists would agree! He hates having his hair-cut, not so much for the waste of time but for the newly-shorn look he gets. He loves listening to well-played Spanish guitar or good Country ‘n’ Western music — “one day, I hope, I’ll design a brand-new type of guitar”, he says.
At 10 stone 4 lb., George is slender for his height. But he tucks away plenty of pork and lamb, and fresh cream and pears. He has occasional “fry-ups” at home—bacon, eggs, omelettes.
He relaxes easily, either strumming on his guitar or listening to records.
Self-taught on guitar, drums and piano, George finds music comes fairly easily to him. He’s the second youngest in the group—Paul is just four months “less aged”—and yet he commands attention when the boys talk over arrangements and ideas. Actually George started in show business at the age of 17, earlier than any of the other Beatles.
George pays high tributes to the group’s manager Brian Epstein and to recording manager George Martin. “That thrill of having our first disc a hit within two days of release,” says George, “was positively fantastic.” He shakes his head in wonderment and the hair flops forward over his forehead.
“I wanted my parents to be proud of me. I think they are, now,” he said.
George’s birthday: February 25.