Throughout the interview, you'll note that Battelle's questions hardly nick the surface of the Beatles personas. The reason for this was probably a result of the band always being rushed around on a "tight touring schedule" as pre-planned by their manager, Brian Epstein. What with concerts, radio, and television appearances as well as attending social gatherings of the rich-and-famous, the Beatles became very limited in their ability to provide lengthy, in-depth answers to questions arising from journalists. It wasn't until the Beatles stopped touring were they able to give more detailed interviews for them (please read "Beatle Own His Own" by Leonard Gross here in the archive as an illustration). That being said, we would like to present this article for you to read and enjoy as these old press releases become harder and harder to find with each passing year. We hope you'll get a kick out of what appears to be, one very nervous reporter just trying to get through her interview with the Beatles.
- John Whelan, November 10, 1999. firstname.lastname@example.org (Note: No user-fee is to be applied if you link up to this article to your web site. Thank you!)
The Beatles' "cottage," isolated beside the Atlantic near Nassau's Balmoral Club, was almost dark as I walked in. One small lamp struggled to illuminate a large living room: perhaps it was best that way. The floor was strewn with guitars. Half-empty wine and highball glasses, at least a dozen of them, gave the place the air of a night club after closing. Cigarette stubs were heaped in little clumps on the glass-topped tables -- with no ashtrays beneath them.
A male friend of the Beatles asked what I'd like, wine or whisky. A female friend slumped languorously on a couch, said coolly, so you could scarcely hear her above the sound of the surf, "Hello, I'm Cin. Short for Cindy." She said she, too, was a friend, and that the Beatles were dressing.
In two days of interviews, John Lennon had seemed elusive. The alleged leader, the husband and father, the millionaire, the artist and writer of the group, he had been a brooding enigma alongside his "brothers": the sentimental Ringo, the philosophic George, the bright, somewhat cocky Paul.
Suddenly, John walked in from the bedroom wing, his face as dark as the room. He slumped onto the sofa beside Cindy. Presumably knowing I was here specifically to see him, he looked up. Waiting.
Uneasily, a question came out: "Are you moody?"
John: "Not particularly."
"You appear to be moody."
"I'm gettin' ready to go out -- to potty" (sarcasm for party).
"Does the prospect of a party always make you unhappy?"
John only stared at me, impassively. "I'm always prayin' it's gonna turn out good," he said.
"Do you ever look forward to an evening out?"
I was getting tired of this cold game of nerves, and decided to let him make the next conversational move. A few moments later, Lennon asked, "But the things that I look forward to turn out lousy, usually."
It's been written that the Beatles often "giggle," when they're together. Did John consider that an offensive verb, considering that the Beatles are mature men?
"Giggle?" He pondered it. "No. It's hysterics, we call it. It sounds like giggling to people, but it's leading up to hysterics. I laugh when I'm not serious. Right now I'm serious."
The official Beatles biography, released in June, 1964, claims that Lennon is a man of "constantly-changing ideals." True?
"That's a lot of rubbish somebody wrote about me," said John, dourly, but without anger. "I suppose I have some ideals, but I never thought about them."
A well-known American magazine wrote that, while he was a student at the Liverpool College of Art, Lennon broke up all his furniture to provide a fire to heat his flat, and when a photographer came to take his picture as representative of the "beat generation," Lennon threw him out.
"English sort of scandal magazine rubbish," muttered John. Again, he was neither annoyed or amused. "They get their stories third-hand. A friend of a friend did that, and later I lived in his flat, and so the story fell on me. Most of the distortions are done in lousy magazines, so it doesn't sort of matter. But the better magazines usually check facts."
At this moment, to my relief, Paul strolled in. He was immaculately combed and groomed, with white shirt, black suit, black tie, even cufflinks. But he wore beach sandals on his bare feet.
John looked Paul up and down blandly, and said, "You got to wear socks."
Paul sat down, his handsome, cherube face genuinely disturbed. It was as though John were his elder brother, and bothersome. "Do I need socks?" he said. "What's wrong with no socks?"
He went out to put on socks.
"John," I asked, "why do you all dislike going to official parties? Is it that the hosts ask you over to entertain, or to liven their party, or to act outrageous for their own amusement?"
"No," Lennon replied. "It's them that's outrageous. We're the focus of all the shouting, and they want us around just for that."
Paul came back. "What's the characteristic you dislike most in people," I asked him, "--the characteristic that marks them as phonies in your book?" McCartney frowned, thinking it out. John answered:
"The worst thing is the ones that sit down as if they'd known you for years..." he said.
Paul: "Yeah. Who try to be hip. But remember, phonies to us are not necessarily phonies to other people."
Did they find reserved, humble people more likeable?
"They are, actually," agreed McCartney.
George Harrison strolled in from the outside and was told, by Lennon, "You've got to get dressed. Goin' out, you know."
George nodded, then picked up a guitar from the floor, plopped on a chair and began strumming it romantically. (George, the lead guitarist and "baby" of the Beatles, is a fan of the concert great, Andres Segovia.) "This is a good guitar. Whose is it?" John grunted the name. George continued to strum, a soulful ballad, looked happily transported by the sound.
"You've got to dress," repeated John.
"I know." George left, and Ringo walked in. He said hello to me, politely, and took a chair in a corner where he slumped down with his usual half-pout. Somehow I had the absurd idea that Ringo, the elder of John Lennon by two months, was in the room to protect me from the onslaughts of possibly less sympatico Beatles.
Only that afternoon Ringo had said, "You're straight. We like you. Nobody has said, "I hope she gets lost."
But a few moments later, as the Beatles left for their "potty", I wondered if Ringo really knew what John Lennon was thinking. And when I got back to my hotel, still wondering about the remarkable Lennon, so brilliant and so remote, I remembered a line he once spoke:
"Women," John quipped, "should be obscene and not heard."
Copyright, 1965, by Hearst Headline Services. Distributed by King Features Syndicate