Introduction by John Whelan, Chief
Researcher for the
Great music, if it is done well, will always be long remembered. Such is the case with Roy Young's forthcoming, Now and Then, a tribute album to the Beatles. This album features plenty of examples of Roy Young's unique boogie boogie piano style -- a style which became appreciated by some other very famous boogie woogie artists such as Johnny Johnson and Bob Seeley. Now and Then is a return to the old fundamental roots of rock 'n' roll and, not surprisingly, contains the inclusion of Beatle songs and some old rock 'n' roll standards which are recorded and produced very well (a thumbs up to producer David Beatty and engineer Troy Ples for an job well done!!) I dare say the Canadian music industry should take note of this forthcoming CD as it certainly deserves a Juno award, if not at least be nominated for one! But that's the kind of compilation it is -- Roy brings in a certain freshness to these songs...but then, only someone who has performed with The Rolling Stones, Chuck Berry, Jeff Beck, John Entwistle and David Bowie to name but a few, would know how to do them the way they're meant to be enjoyed by the listener.
I invite you all to take a listen to the sound files listed towards the end of this interview and see if you don't agree that Now and Then is truly a fine collection of songs from Roy Young. You might want to even listen to Now and Then, the CD's swansong where Roy makes references to Strawberry Fields and Sgt. Pepper. Now and Then is a song Roy especially wrote for his new CD project. There are lots of other surprises to be found. For example, Beautiful Man is a ballad done properly by Roy which became his very special tribute to his former musical mate, John Lennon while Slow Down clearly demonstrates the musical prowess of Roy Young's rock 'n' roll ability. Slow Down is backed with an amazing horn section that will just make your head spin! Or listen to Roy Young perform his more recent boogie woogie talents on Seventh Son and Play My Boogie Woogie -- a unique style so very similar to those old Polydor recordings he did with John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Pete Best and Tony Sheridan back in the early '60s. While Now and Then contains a diverse number of tracks especially chosen by Roy for this compilation, the boogie woogie virtuoso unleashes himself in the studio and comes up big with his very own potboiler rendition of the Beatles She's A Woman, truly the best cover version of this song done bar-none by any artist in today's music industry. She's A Woman starts off with drums, cow bell and guitar all keeping time while the middle break features a lovely bluesy guitar solo that gives this song the cutting edge it so rightfully deserves! Though there are many excellent numbers to be found on Roy Young's Now and Then, the album does come up with yet another delightful surprise: The White Cliffs of Dover. I won't give the story away on how Roy decided to go into the studio to record the song (I'll let Roy explain that to you in the interview), except to say that the full recorded version that I've heard is so eloquent -- so beautifully produced that it should be easily applauded by today's critics who write on the mainstream topics of pop music and culture.
To recap, Now and Then is simply a fabulous return to the roots of rock 'n' roll, recorded by one of the greatest boogie woogie players ever put on this planet and who has been aptly dubbed as England's Little Richard...THAT PERSON CAN ONLY BE: THE INCREDIBLE ROY YOUNG!!
In developing this interview, the following people decided to put their hearts on their sleeves and submit questions for this project:
Archer & Valerie, proprietors of "Archer & Valerie Productions"
Rob, from the "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah" Yahoo discussion group
Steve Marinucci, proprietor of "Abbey Road Beatles Pages" and reporter for the "(San Jose) Mercury News"
DblFantasy, from the "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah" Yahoo discussion group
Dan Van Vugt, proprietor of "The Beatles: from Abbey Road to Cyberspace"
To all of them, a very big special "thank you" for your assistance. I hope you all enjoy reading Roy's answers.
A thank you is also in order to Dave Garvin, special contributor to the Ottawa Beatle Site who provided all of the sound files that you hear listed on this web page. Thanks, Dave!
Finally, a very special thank you to my partner, Tony Copple of the Ottawa Beatles Site. Tony visited Roy Young in Roy's home which is located in Pickering, Ontario. The interview was phrased and conducted by Tony on December 22, 2001 also in the presence of Roy's wife, Carol, both of whom made Tony feel right at home. On behalf of Tony Copple and myself, thank you Carol and Roy for allowing us to do this interview in your lovely home.
Unless otherwise indicated, the balance of questions in this interview were researched by myself. I have also provided additional research by way of some brief editorials which were used either to support Roy's statements or to provide the reader with further information and clarification on facts and events.
Roy Young interview,
December 22, 2001
Copyright by the Ottawa Beatles Site, February 16, 2002. All rights reserved.
Listen on line, or read the transcript below.
TONY COPPLE: Roy, could you tell us at what age you became interested in the piano and whether or not you had any formal musical training during that period?
ROY YOUNG: Well, now, let me go back over the years. (Roy chuckles.) No, actually, I was getting interested in boogie woogie probably around the age of about eight or nine-years-old watching my mother play and she always played on all the black notes which intrigued me and I would stand there and watch her doing this because all the boogie woogie players were playing white notes in the key of C, or F, or G and so I got involved and played boogie woogie and got into trouble every day at school. But that was my bit -- it became the love of my life, the piano.
TONY COPPLE: So your parents were talented in music as well...
ROY YOUNG: Yeah, my mom played -- she use to play for different functions...she use to play at sea (Roy sings): "All me life I wanted to be a barra boy!", you know, the old stripe piano but she was good at it!
TONY COPPLE: When you grew up as a teenager, what favorite recording artists did you listen to that made you decide to be forever hooked on rock 'n' roll, both as a fan and as a musician?
ROY YOUNG: When rock and roll came out, the first time I ever heard
rock 'n' roll, I was in Australia and I went to see a movie -- I had no idea
that this particular song was in the movie -- Blackboard Jungle the movie
was called and the song was Rock Around the Clock, Bill Haley and it just
freaked me out. I just, oh, you know, it's unbelievable! Of course
I got back to England and when I got back I was so intrigued by the rock 'n'
roll that this off-beat that I had to do it and I, for some unknown reason, I
sounded like Little Richard -- I had this quality in my throat that made it
sound like that. And then unbeknownst to me out come this record of Little
Richard, totally unknown of him, you know, and it just wallowed: "Whoa!!!"
And of course then everyone would say, "You sound just like him!" It was a
huge compliment in my life, then.
TONY COPPLE: Roy, your piano style is unique on the Tony Sheridan 1962 recording of Sweet Georgia Brown we hear it again on your new album Now and Then. So the question is: If there was an opportunity to tip your hat off to someone for influencing your unique boogie woogie piano playing, who would that be?
ROY YOUNG: Oh there's so many...Pete Johnson, Meade Lux Lewis, Albert Ammons, there were just so many of them. In fact, Fats Domino was a great boogie woogie player too. They were the guys I grew up on that I got intrigued with the boogie woogie.
TONY COPPLE: In 1959 you appeared on a rock and roll show called Oh Boy! and Drumbeat in England which gave the public their first glimpse of Roy Young. Wasn't it during those shows that you were introduced as England's Little Richard and were there any specific highlights that you remember from those shows?
ROY YOUNG: I'm not quite sure how that came about, but, I know it had to have started...it possibly was there because the media were becoming much more into my life -- (they) were getting much more into my life than prior to that because I was doing shows here, there, and everywhere, but not necessary performing in front of a really huge audience. It probably was borne there as England's Little Richard.
TONY COPPLE: Were you a solo act on those shows there?
ROY YOUNG: Yeah, yeah.
Well, I had a band called John Barry who is John Barry Seven back then because now he's got into many wonderful things, the movies, you know, Out of Africa and has been voted and won a lot of awards. In fact I've been trying to contact John to say "hi" to him because of our, you know, our connection back then is just so amazing how much he's grown from those days and we all moved on, you know, and to good things.
[Editorial: Roy Young had the musical accompaniment of John Barry on the show, Drumbeat which was produced by Stuart Morris of the BBC. Oh Boy! was produced by Jack Goode for the ITV network in England.]
TONY COPPLE: Your first recording was back in 1960 in London for the Fontana label when you waxed Just Keep It Up backed with Big Fat Mamma that you composed and arranged. Could you tell us how you obtained your first recording contract? Also, what do you recall from your first recording session...for example, were you very nervous at the time?
ROY YOUNG: Oh, yeah, oh yeah. Yes, I was petrified. I'm trying to think now how that landed. Ah, you know, I don't know how it happened -- I'll probably will remember, but right now....(At this point Roy's dog gets onto the interview and then Roy states in a very brisk tempo): Excuse me ladies and gentlemen, it's my doggie gnawing on a bone!
TONY COPPLE: He wants to be on the radio!
ROY YOUNG: (Roy chuckles) Jealous!! (more laugher) (Roy then turns his wife Carol and asks): Carol, how did I ever get my first recording contract -- did I ever talk (to you) about that?
CAROL YOUNG: No.
TONY COPPLE: Well, it was a long time ago!
ROY YOUNG: (Roy chuckles back)
TONY COPPLE: In that early part of your musical career, you toured as a guest with Cliff Richard and the Shadows. In fact I have a feeling that I saw that tour -- or one of them. What are your memories of Cliff and the Shadows from that tour? Do you remember that?
ROY YOUNG: Oh, yeah, Cliff and I -- we were rocking buddies. It was quite funny because (at this point Roy immediately recalls a more recent experience with Cliff Richard) I actually met Cliff a little while ago and we had a dinner thing with him -- Carol my wife and I and Cliff. And we were being served by these waitresses and waiters and they were coming out saying to Cliff: "Sir Richard." And...and I'm sitting there and I just suddenly realized...oh god, here he is and I said: "Cliff, umm, I'm sorry mate, do I have to call you 'Sir'"? He says -- ah, I can't say the word here, but it's "F" ..."Oh, F no!" (laughter breaks out). You know it was so un(characteristic), so different from Cliff because I know how he was taught and like that, but he's laughing at the same time (saying): "Oh, god no!", you know.
Listen to Roy telling his story about a recent meeting he had with Cliff Richard.
TONY COPPLE: Now, continuing with the early stages of the Roy Young story, after releasing a series of records on the Fontana label, in 1961, you left England and ended up in Hamburg, Germany, working at the Top Ten Club where you first met Tony Sheridan and the Beatles. How did that all come about?
ROY YOUNG: Well, I was involved with a man called Regg Calver in Rugby. We toured up and down England -- it was whole bunch of guys -- it was like a stable of rock and roll people and he for some reason, he picked me out of all them to go over to Hamburg. And we went over there and I went to the Top Ten Club -- he actually arranged a deal for me to go to the Top Ten Club -- I don't know (but) it was for either two weeks or four weeks. And I was taken over from the Beatles and of course when I arrived there they were loading their gear into the van, leaving and I had no idea who they were until they ran over -- I was getting out of my cab from the airport and they run over and pick me up (and they get excited) 'cause they had been watching me on television, they knew I was coming and they told Peter Eckhorn who was the owner of the Top Ten Club, what I was all about and that's how it actually happened -- that this guy sounds just like Little Richard and the German people really love him. And when I went out that night, that very first night, I couldn't believe everyone was going: "Did you do anything from the Beatles?" I didn't even know who they were. And, ah, because when I opened my mouth out come these Tutti Frutti's and Rip It Up's, you know, they fell in love with it. If it hadn't been for that kind of strength in (my approach) I think anyone else would have fallen flat if you were a mediocre type, you know, a puffly-type act, you know, where I wasn't. I was the degrante of real balls, you know, so they liked that.
Tony Copple with Roy Young
TONY COPPLE: Allan Williams biography, The Man Who Gave The Beatles Away, describes Peter Eckhorn, who you are talking about, the owner of the Top Ten Club as "soft-spoken" and as a "real pal to the Beatles." Now is Williams assessment correct and what kind of impression did Eckhorn make on you? Was he a fair minded businessman who honored his music deals with musicians?
ROY YOUNG: Very honest. He was an absolute gentleman -- the perfect guy to have in the music industry because I can think back to many guys I know that just should not be around because they were just crooks and gangsters and especially a lot of the black artists, you know, that I grew on that were hurt badly, financially taken -- all the money and running. Peter was an absolute honest guy -- he was a brother and he appreciated music. If the music is right, he'd give you his right arm. And the worse thing that happened to me with Peter was that when I got the offer to go to the other club, the Star-Club, it freaked him out. And because I was, you know, just at the time it was an offer I couldn't refuse, it was just something that Manfred had offered me that I had to go. But I've always felt all my life, ever since that day, that I felt sorry for that because I really shouldn't have done it, because I owed it to Peter.
Peter told me that -- his words were: "Roy," he said, "you can stay here until you're a very old man, you never, ever, ever have to leave." And I thought it was great, you know.
I feel quite like I feel like I want to cry right now, you know, but...but he was a great guy.
[Editorial: Testimony from other musicians support Roy Young's claim about Peter Eckhorn being an "absolute gentleman." Pete Best recalls a period in the Beatles musical career where the band's equipment was left stranded in Hamburg, Germany, after being deported by the German police over arson. Concerned whether or not they would get their equipment back, Pete Best and his mother Mo placed phone-calls to Peter Eckhorn to solve the problem. Pete Best, in the book Beatles Gear by Andy Babiuk, recalls: "Mo and I went into action and made some frantic phone-calls to Peter Eckhorn. He was extremely sympathetic and promised to get the stuff back to us by sea as soon as possible. He was a man of his word. Within days he called me to say that the kit had been crated and that the freight invoice would be in the mail. On the day of the ships arrival in Liverpool, Mo and I booked a taxi...and headed off to the Customs shed in Dingle." (page 43.) Thus it would appear that Peter Eckhorn was indeed a very honorable businessman after all!]
TONY COPPLE: Was the Top Ten Club a better atmosphere to play in compared to, say, Bruno Koschmilder's Kaiserkeller or Indra Club?
ROY YOUNG: Hmmm. I never played there. I don't know. I mean I went around there, but I went into the Top Ten and then from there to the Star-Clubs. I don't really know what the position was there -- I don't know.
TONY COPPLE: I don't know how much you knew of Bruno, but from what we've read Koschmilder strikes us as a tough manager -- someone you wouldn't want to mess around with. Did his reputation precede himself within the music circuit as a tough-minded businessman?
ROY YOUNG: They were all like that. I mean, when Paul and John took me for a coffee -- Paul McCartney and John Lennon -- we went to this cafe and we talked for about maybe a half-hour or forty-five minutes telling me all things I should know. And I almost felt like getting back into a cab and going home because it sounded like a real rough-house. And it really was! I mean, it was something out of a book, you know. It was crazy. Because they were all like that, they were all like the Brunos, the Horst Faschers and great tough men.
ROY YOUNG, TONY SHERIDAN AND THE BEATLES ON STAGE:
TONY COPPLE: Let's come back to the Top Ten Club...So, here you are, you're on stage at the Top Ten performing with the Beatles and Tony Sheridan, a unique opportunity that today most musicians in the music industry would envy. We'd like to ask you some questions about those performances and their instruments.
Firstly, Roy, did the Beatles play many of their own originals back then? If
so, were any of these songs later used to record and release on vinyl?
ROY YOUNG: Well, no they didn't. They hadn't reached that part of their career. They were writing songs but they were doing a lot of cover songs. You know, I mean Fats Waller's Your Feet's Too Big -- I mean that was a crazy song for me. Why would you pick that, you know? But they did such weird versions of things. But I don't remember too many originals -- it wasn't like what as you know them today.
TONY COPPLE: George eventually became known as the lead guitarist, but
John and Paul can also play lead too. Did they share lead solos back then or did
George play most of them?
ROY YOUNG: No. John and George would change around. I mean, which ever song it was they had it kind of planned but they were very loose, I mean, it wasn't like (it was) contrived. But, ah, there was always of the feeling of whoever, you know, they were both just great like that. I mean, John was a little different style to George; I think George was a little bit more melodic and John was more the rock 'n' roller -- so that's how I always pictured it, you know.
TONY COPPLE: And here's another question on George. He seemed to do a
lot of the singing back then -- he was even on more demos than John and Paul.
Did they consider themselves on equal footing between themselves back then, do
ROY YOUNG: Yeah. Well, they all would do a song except Pete. I don't ever remember Pete doing any songs, but ah, um...(Roy pauses for a second and reflects some more on Pete.) No, he didn't. But George, John and Paul they just took it in turns. And no matter who was doing the song, the other two would do the harmonies which is quite unique, it was quite amazing. I mean, in those days it was quite fun to watch the way they did it -- because I mean, it was pretty obvious how it could be done but nobody took the time to do it. So they were ahead of the game. They did it so well, and they were just so down to earth. That must of been the eye that blew me away, the way they acted on stage, you know, it was all the regimented thing...
Ah, what we would all do -- what especially from London, you know, was a totally different world to Liverpool. And then you go up to Liverpool and you see the Beatles come out on stage and all the live chicks: "Hey, lads!" you know, 'cause we're all doing them -- all bowing together, you know. And it was like -- and they were like: "Yeah, yeah, whoa! Yeah!" It was like: Holy shit! I guess that's just great to be just natural, you know, so....
TONY COPPLE: Now you shared the stage with them on a number of occasions -- what's your most memorable moment on stage with the Beatles that you can recall now?
ROY YOUNG: Oh, God, there are a few actually. But one was John...John will always chew gum and it always memorized me -- I was like watching him chew gum because we'd both sing on the same microphone, but he would sing with chewing his gum, you know, and he'd look over at me like...with a smile. And he was one of these guys -- one of these people who would dream up ideas and he would work at it until he come to the conclusion when it would be usable. Yet you knew that of him, a definite Jekyl and Hyde. And one night he's grinning and we're vocalizing -- and he's grinning away and I'm looking at him and I thought: "What are you laughing at?" And he was going: "No, no, no." So anyway, he's got this chewing gum and suddenly he spit it out with about a few miles or whatever it was, and he spit it out and it hit me on the nose -- the gum, and it stuck there! So I actually looked like Pinocchio! It was sticking on my nose. It was Paul and George, they looked over -- and they couldn't believe (it), they fell on the floor! But, I...you know, I mean, I've got the funny! John fell on the floor, and we're all on the floor, it was like, we're laughing and I left it there. And 'cause it wasn't sort of really funny, you know, though. But the thing that happened was every night he tried to do the same thing -- and it looked to me like a big bundle of spit hitting me into the face and the gum was flying over there or flying over there, and of course that became the funny thing when he would decide to spit the gum at me. And I'd be kind of going: "John, oh no, no, no!" -- and pop me and out come the gum!
TONY COPPLE: While performing on stage with the Beatles, did you feel that they looked up to you since you had recorded in the studio before they did? Did they look to you for guidance and support?
ROY YOUNG: Yeah. Definitely. I know for a (fact) -- I mean, it's really difficult to say today because of the way the Beatles have conquered the world. But you know, when you know back then they were unknown...I mean, they were only known in Liverpool and Hamburg, really. But they were often watching me on TV so they would all collaborate together, all the mates and watch the moves and things that I did and of course, Paul particularly and well John liked my vocals -- that was the big thing that they looked up to me at, you know.
TONY COPPLE: In Allan Williams biography, the Beatles first manager makes the following statement: "The Beatles would go to the Top Ten Club...to watch Tony Sheridan, that great singer-guitarist, at work...He was more or less their idol in those days and they admit to hearing a lot from his style and technique." How accurate is Williams statement? Did they learn a lot too, from Tony Sheridan?
ROY YOUNG: Absolutely! I was always bewildered by the fact that they never made a big thing about that because I know John and George -- you'd always see them there in the front watching Tony's every move, you know. They'd copied him. They really did copy a lot of his moves: styling; the way of play(ing); you know, the stand; and especially John stood just like Tony. And yet I've never heard too much of them ever mentioning much of it before they died, you know, which quite amazed me, you know.
TONY COPPLE: Yeah. Let's talk about Tony Sheridan's stage presence specifically. Is it true that when Tony was on stage performing, he had his legs spread apart and held his guitar like a Tommy-Gun as he sang? You know, the Lennon style... because it's -
ROY YOUNG: (Roy interrupts and says with fondness): No! That's the Sheridan style! Yeah! Oh, yeah.
TONY COPPLE: ...it is reported that John Lennon began incorporating the Tommy-Gun stance when he returned to Liverpool from Hamburg, something he didn't do before in previous shows.
ROY YOUNG: Right, right...that's true.
TONY COPPLE: So that's where he got that characteristic look?
ROY YOUNG: Oh, yeah, absolutely! Yeah, yeah. Yeah.
TONY COPPLE: Because certainly one of the many things I liked about John Lennon was the way he stood there on stage.
ROY YOUNG: Have you ever seen Tony perform?
TONY COPPLE: I have never --
ROY YOUNG: Amazing.
TONY COPPLE: ...although I have enjoyed listening to a more recent record he made -- I don't know when but certainly within the last ten or fifteen years, and it is very good.
ROY YOUNG: Yeah.
TONY COPPLE: Yeah.
ROY YOUNG: Tony is very good.
TONY COPPLE: John, Paul and George always mention Tony with fondness
-- were they that good in keeping in touch after the Beatles took
ROY YOUNG: I wouldn't know. Not during the time....When the Beatles took off they went back to England and got the record deal, we all knew that this Beatle thing was growing but as to regards to when Tony would -- I mean back then it wasn't as easy to contact, you didn't have e-mails, you didn't have fax machines or whatever. The only way was through telephone...'cause telephone would have been outrageously expensive back then. So, no, I don't ever remember Tony being -- whether he did or not, I really don't know but I don't remember that much.
TONY COPPLE: How were the Beatles harmonies live? They were often
terrible after they achieved fame in a live environment, but that was probably
due to the screaming fans who make it impossible for them to hear themselves.
ROY YOUNG: Right, right. Yeah, it would have been difficult because when you think about it, I mean, when you are doing harmonies you're really are pitching off of each other. I mean if one was to sing sharp or vice-a-versa or flat, the other one would pick up on it and he may hit the note perfectly then the one that is sharp or flatwill pick and hear it right. It was that kind of thing. But if you can't hear what you're doing, you're shooting in the dark, you really are.
TONY COPPLE: Yeah, but back in Hamburg days where they...
ROY YOUNG: Oh, in the Hamburg days?
TONY COPPLE: Yeah.
ROY YOUNG: Oh, ah, I don't ever remember us -- (Roy continues his answer but now in a jocular mode): unless we drank too much, I mean, I don't know because that would be every night, of course, but! (laughter is heard). And 'cause you'd be pilled out of your brain. You know, I mean we'd always be going to the toilets and in the toilets in Germany, they had these little old ladies (and) when you used a toilet, they'd clean around and give you towels and things, but you learnt that they would also have these pills because people had to keep awake. I mean you can't go on to early hours of the morning, and so everyone would go in to take a pee or whatever and (Roy whispers): "Muddy!" because (the name) is "Muddy", right? (at this point, Roy talks beneath his breath as if whispering to Muddy. Then Roy continues the conversation with Tony): ...you know, and out would come the pills -- fifty Phedix.
TONY COPPLE: So the pills came from the toilet cleaning ladies?
ROY YOUNG: Oh, yes, it would make you fly for the rest of the next two days -- you laid in bed like going: "Um," (Roy demonstrates by looking around) "what will I talk about now?", you know.
TONY COPPLE: Now you didn't take any of those pills?
ROY YOUNG: Oh, no, no...(Roy breaks out in a roar of laughter) I was first in line! (then Roy demonstrates): "Muddy, give me - give me ten pills!!"
TONY COPPLE: Did the Beatles have a lot of groupies back then or --
ROY YOUNG: (Roy interrupts) Oh, sure!
TONY COPPLE: ...had groupies not been invented?
ROY YOUNG: No, they were invented. Oh, god, it was terrible in Hamburg. I mean, it was one of those situations though because it's a town of a Red Light Zone -- because these were all young girls that weren't in that zone, but, ah, no, they would crowd the stage or waited to the side of the stage when everyone would come off at a time.
And it was notorious for gonorrhea, you know, it was like...just (terrible.) And when you think about it, I mean, back in those days it was bad news if you caught syphilis -- I mean a few guys did. But it was often known that a lot of the guys that (Roy demonstrates by knocking on a table three times) went knocking at the doctors door. It's so brash, it was terrible.
TONY COPPLE: Now we've got some questions here about the Beatles musical instruments so this is slightly technical stuff for you and we're going to test your memory...
The first question is Paul's Hofner and John's Rickenbacker. Were they the premier models rock bands used in those days and did the Beatles ever tell you how and when they were purchased? (Question submitted by DblFantasy, from the Yeah, Yeah, Yeah discussion group.)
ROY YOUNG: No. No.
Ah, Paul was one of the first that used that kind of bass guitar because a lot of people copied him. (Roy reflects some more): Ah, not really. I mean, whatever equipment was very sort of rough and raw, you know.
I was one of the first to use the Hohner piano which they particularly liked and I found out in the last couple of years, a year ago or whatever it was, that I was the one that actually, well, how do you say it? What's the right word? Influenced the Revolver album. I mean, because they were always asking me what I'd played, you know, what was I playing now, you know? So I was the very first one to use the Hohner pianette or the cembalet and George and Paul and John (would say): "Hey, that's a bloody great keyboard there, man!" They'd notice -- it was a very percussional feel, sounded almost like a guitar because I would play like Tony and we had a great feel going together.
TONY COPPLE: The next question concerns the meticulous care of
their musical instruments. When they concluded the last gig for the night, did
they immediately pack their instruments up or did they go back to their dressing
rooms to sleep and took care of their equipment later?
ROY YOUNG: (Roy chuckles) Where? In Hamburg?
TONY COPPLE: Yeah.
ROY YOUNG: (chuckles again) You didn't go back to sleep, you just went on through the day until you felt: "Well, now it time to go to sleep." I don't know because, you know, back then you'd come out of the club -- it was five o'clock in the morning and you'd go and have breakfast. And the Reeperbahn -- I mean it never clos(ed), it never. I mean the law was it would close for one hour between four and five but a lot of the bars didn't close...but then five o'clock off you go again and we'd go for breakfast, dance and drink and --
TONY COPPLE: So while you were doing that, what would they do with their instruments? Did they pack them up?
ROY YOUNG: I guess they threw them into their cases, you know, put them there and take them over to their room which is opposite the club and put them in there and then off we'd go....
But you'd walk through bodies -- walk over bodies in the street, and they were just laying there with their heads beaten up and two or three guys on the way over the road that were thrown out of clubs.
You see, what it was is that all the waiters were bouncers -- they were literally bouncers in their own right because that was the way they made their money and what they would do is they would give the guys a bill -- lets say a Russian seaman or an American seaman or whatever, you know, give them a bill because it was outrageous and not right, they put money on it -- they don't want to take just a couple of Marks, they want to take it all. So they would wait for the guy to complain and say: "That dog, I can't pay this -- this isn't right!" They'd go: "Oh, you're gonna pay it!" Well, they'd grab him, and boom! (Roy demonstrates by smacking a fist into his other hand.) Knocked him out and take everything. I mean, that's the way it was: it was just bodies all over the place!
TONY COPPLE: The next question -- still on instruments, is a tough
one, but guitar aficionados are hoping you might shed a little light on a
question concerning Lennon's Rickenbacker. Over the years one of the best
well kept secrets as to who, when and why John Lennon had his
Rickenbacker changed from natural to a black finish. Do you recall any
details as to why John did this -- the date or approximate date when it happened
and who might have painted it?
ROY YOUNG: No.
TONY COPPLE: Total blank, eh?
ROY YOUNG: Yeah. No, I don't know that one.
TONY COPPLE: We'll pass on that one, right?
ROY YOUNG: (Roy chuckles)
[Editorial: In Andy Babiuk's book, Beatles Gear, does reveal who painted John Lennon's Rickenbacker 325 but cannot pinpoint a precise date as to when it happened, though Babiuk points to 1962 as the probable year. In Beatles Gear, Chris Whorton is interviewed and claims that "John wanted his guitar painted black....So we got Charles Bantam, who coach-painted my father's wagons, to spray the guitar. The Rickenbacker was natural-wood colored, and had a gold control panel which we left alone....Bantam was a perfectionist. He used Tekaloid black coach paint and did the job at his garage in Birkenhead. It took about three days because we had to let the paint dry." (pages 73, 74).]
TONY COPPLE: In April of 1962, the Star-Club opens up under the ownership of Manfred Weissleder. Tony Sheridan leaves the Top Ten Club the next month in favor of Manfred's new Star-Club. What motivated Tony Sheridan to switch venues under his new band called The Tony Sheridan Quartet?
ROY YOUNG: That's not quite true. It didn't work like that. What happened (was that) I was one of the very first ones to receive a contract (at) the Star-Club. Horst Faschercame around to the Top Ten Club and said Manfred wanted to see me and wanted to offer me a contract. So I went to the office in the Fryhide and Tony and I were playing together -- we were the Beat Brothers with Ringo and a couple of other drummers. And I went around there and during the conversation of the agreement of me coming to the club was that if I needed anything else? And I just said, "Well, I like a car! No one owns a car." He says: "You want a car? You don't have a car? What kind of car would you like?" I could have said a Mercedes, you know, any kind of car. And I said a Ford Taunus.I mean, why I just use to look at a Ford Taunus and use to go "Wow!" I mean, I could have said Jaguar or a Lamborghini -- I would have got it. No, I said: "A Ford Taunus" "A Ford Taunus?" I said, "Yeah, but it has to be a T.S. -- a sports model." So he said, "Oh, alright -- you got it!" So I got the brand new car, no one owned a car. And of course Tony loved the idea and Manfred said, "Well, this is your babe. You do whatever you want." And so I went into the Star-Club as Roy Young...Tony went off and did whatever he went to do when we broke up. And it was just me, the Beatles...(at this point Roy turns to his wife Carol to ask a question about an old poster they have)...I don't know if we have a poster, don't we? Who was on the opening? Ah, where is that red poster?? I can't remember who else...
CAROL YOUNG: I'll look it up for you.
ROY YOUNG: Yeah. And then after a while Manfred said to me would I -- because I mean my position was to play and to play with any bands -- do my show but then play with other bands that needed filling out. And of course the Beatles didn't need filling out, they were quite, you know, complete. And at that time really, there was no one. But it was the four that they....
Manfred got me this huge Hammond Organ on one side of the stage with all in glitter with my name across it and the other side of the stage was the Roy Young piano -- big Grand piano on the other side, so all I had to do had I felt something wasn't quite right -- it was like a musical director thing -- I would go up and play. But as I would say, in the opening time there was no one who needed filling out so I didn't do it then. But when I went back to England to bring over the first lot of people -- I went over there to get Gene Vincent who was huge in Germany but the manager didn't know that. And I finished up coming back with Ray Charles, Little Richard, Gene Vincent, Brenda Lee -- it went on and on. And of course Manfred just couldn't believe it, he just went "Wow!" 'Cause he's all intent to make the Star-Club well known. And then when I got back he said, "Roy, would you like to put a band together with Tony and we'll call it the Star-Combo like the house-band?" I said, "Yeah, it would be a great idea!" 'cause it gave me some more foundation, because you know I had no band...I mean at that time I use to just get up and do my show. And now how I remember I performed there? -- but I think I just played with other musicians and I would just do my show...but this (Star-Combo) gave me more foundation because it was a unit actually rehearsing, it was all done (together.) So that worked good for me and we did that for quite a while, well, for the three years that we were there and then we went out on the road.
TONY COPPLE: Pete Best describes the Star-Club as being a very "luxurious, spacious" dive with lanterns suspended from the ceiling and the dressing rooms for the bands. He also went on to say the club was an 'endless round of booze and birds...that it was good "turkin ground" where the girls were readily available.' How accurate is Pete's description of the Star-Club?
ROY YOUNG: Absolutely! Absolutely! (Roy chuckles!)
TONY COPPLE: You agree?
ROY YOUNG: Oh, Yeah! (chuckles) Yeah. It was quite, quite something!
TONY COPPLE: How would you rate Manfred Weissleder as the Star-Club's owner?
ROY YOUNG: He was a good guy. Well, his intentions were great to help all the rock 'n' roll bands throughout the world, I mean, he just wanted to help. He was good-hearted man, a very powerful man in Hamburg. So, ah, no, he was o.k.
TONY COPPLE: It is reported that Astrid Kirchherr and Klaus Voormann use to visit the clubs in Hamburg -- did they show up at the Star-Club when you performed with the Beatles and did you meet them and what kind of impression did they make on you?
ROY YOUNG: Yeah. I mean I got to know Astrid and Klaus plus Stu came in a couple of times to meet me at the Top Ten Club. But, of course, Stu died. But they would often come back when I went over to the Star-Club and...like for instance when Stu died, Astrid kind of had the hots...(Roy hesitates, then answers in a low voice): I can't really say this because it's (kind of personal)...but she particularly liked John and there was a kind of feeling of the people around Astrid and all of the people who would come in and all gather 'round the front of...well, they were all on the other side of the stage, because John was over there. They were like the clan of -- how do you explain it? All dressed in black and...I forget the name...
CAROL YOUNG: Bohemian.
ROY YOUNG: Bohemian. Yup. Bohemian. And you felt that presence. Klaus, being that presence too. It was a little different to me but I got to know them. In fact I was talking to Klaus not too long ago, it was something I wanted to do with him.
TONY COPPLE: The younger fans who are just getting into the Beatles would be interested in learning that there were four different versions of The Beat Brothers between 1961 to 1962. Roy, you were in the 3rd and 4th versions which became part of musical history. Tell us how you found yourself recording on those famous Polydor sessions?
ROY YOUNG: Well, it was kind of strange, because I mean what would happen is that we'd come out of the club and go to the music Halle or wherever it was, we would record and for me it never felt like we were actually recording -- we just felt like I'd come out of one stage and onto another because it was like in a theatre. And because we just played, there were never agreements made -- it was very loose. And I mean we just didn't care. It wasn't like, you know, "Do you want to make an album?" "Yeah!!" "Where do you wanna play?" "Now? Can I do it now??" You know, it was so different so we would just play and... (Roy shouts) "Is that okay?" And of course the producer was Burt Kaempfert. "Is that all right, Burt?" "Yeah, sounds great, Roy!"
[Editorial: In Hans Olof Gottfridsson's book, The Beatles from Cavern to Star-Club, states that the Halle was "a sophisticated orchestra hall with a stage, curtains, and even a church organ....was inaugurated in January 1930." Apart from Burt Kaempfert using the Halle to record with Roy Young, Tony Sheridan and the Beatles, Gottfridsson claims the Halle was also "used by Star-Club Records / Philips for several of the recordings they made in the middle of the 60's with bands like Liverbirds, Ian & The Zodiacs and Kingsize Taylor and The Dominoes." (page 114). The location for The Friedrich Ebert Halle: Alter Postweg 38, in the Southern part of Hamburg.]
TONY COPPLE: Did Bert Kaempfert take a very active role then as producer --
ROY YOUNG: Yes!
TONY COPPLE: ...he wasn't kind of like a background figure?
ROY YOUNG: Oh, no. No.
He actually -- it was quite funny -- had in the palm of his hands the biggest thing in the world but he stayed with Tony. It was quite amazing, really.
TONY COPPLE: Now how important was it at the time for the
Beatles to make a record? Was it something they wanted to do or were they just
interested in playing?
ROY YOUNG: Oh, no. Oh, no, they wanted to do a record deal badly, I mean -- like we all did. I actually was already making records so it wasn't that bad for me but for them, you know you could feel the hunger for putting product out which was natural, really. But it was inevitable actually, I mean when I go back now and think about, it really was.
TONY COPPLE: So this stage the Beatles were really a back-up band and
yet they winded up doing their own composition, Cry For A Shadow --
that's the only song credited to both George and John -- and taking the lead
vocal Ain't She Sweet away from the star of the session? How did that
ROY YOUNG: I don't know. (Roy then automatically switches his line of thinking and recalls the controversy as to who played the piano on those Polydor recordings. Was it Paul McCartney or was it Roy Young?):
There is a couple of different versions and it's quite weird because a lot of writing has been that it's Paul playing piano and it's me! That's always been a question. I know it's me because I know that Paul can't play like that -- and it's my style. I mean I could play it for you right now and you would hear it, you know. But Paul would never play like (that) -- I'm not putting Paul down because Paul is a very incredible musician.
But, ah, there was one incident one time we did Got To Get You Into My Life and he for some reason, when we were recording at EMI in St. John's Wood, he had an apartment right near there, I mean it was walking distance from the studio in St. John's Wood. And one night he decided to get up -- he woke up in the middle of the night -- walked out of his place in his dressing gown, down the road, went into EMI, got the track up and put a gliss(ando) -- "glurrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrump" -- down the piano, that's what he wanted to do. It was just unreal! It was: "Got To Get You Into My Life -- glurrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrump ta-da, da-da-da, da!" You know, it was like he come all (of the) way down...in his dressing gown.
[Editorial: Roy performed with Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers during the making of Got To Get You Into My Life in 1966. Roy's recollections are supported by a Cliff Bennett statement found in Kristofer Engelhardt's book Beatles Undercover: "Paul played a little piano, the glissando, on the backing track and we finished at about midnight. We put the vocals on the following day. Paul came back with his jacket over his pajamas and wearing slippers (because he only lived around the corner) to finish the song off, which I thought was hilarious." (page 52).]
TONY COPPLE: Let's jump to the single that was released from the
album that we're talking about there -- did quite well on the German hit parade,
My Bonnie. Roy, which was recorded first, the German intro or the
ROY YOUNG: I don't know. No, I don't know. (Roy pauses and thinks a little more harder for an answer): I think Tony came around to the Top Ten Club and brought it around to me and I seem to remember it being in German. Yeah, I think it was German.
TONY COPPLE: So it may be the German one?
ROY YOUNG: Yeah.
TONY COPPLE: How did the Beatles act in the studio in those sessions?
We know that, early on, when they worked under George Martin, they could be
cocky (such as the "I don't like your tie" comment from George.) Did they
display signs of that early on too, when you were with them?
ROY YOUNG: Oh, god, yeah.
TONY COPPLE: All the time, right?
ROY YOUNG: Oh, yeah (Roy chuckles). God, I mean -- god the stories that I have that would boggle your mind. But I mean they were -- they were just like, you know, crazy, you know. They were crazy four guys and you never knew from one moment to the other what they were up to, I mean, what they were going to (do). I always remember Paul being a little bit more conservative and down to earth but John, I mean, phew! He was crazy. Yeah.
TONY COPPLE: Sweet Georgia Brown and Swannie River were the last two songs recorded by the Beatles and yourself for Polydor on May 24, 1962. When the Beatles jumped to EMI, courtesy of Brian Epstein, they recorded Love Me Do on June 6 -- almost two weeks later. Pete Best in his book The Pete Best Story claims that Love Me Do was written one afternoon in a flat across from the Star-Club. Now from your memory, did the Beatles ever demo that song in front of you for critical feedback, i.e., such as one musician to another?
ROY YOUNG: No. No.
TONY COPPLE: They didn't do that?
ROY YOUNG: No. No.
TONY COPPLE: Just around this time Brian Epstein makes an offer for you to join the Beatles. What happened to that offer and also, what was your impression of Brian?
ROY YOUNG: Oh, I found Brian to be an absolute gentleman, I mean he was a little different to the normal sort of Liverpudlian way because he didn't have that accent, he had a very posh Oxford accent and very gentlemanlike.
I was coming off after we'd finished one night and he shouted out across the room as: "Roy, can I have a word with you?" and I just stopped and I said, "Yeah, hi, Brian." I mean...he said, "The four lads" -- he called them the four lads -- have asked him to ask me "would I be interested to go back" 'cause they were leaving in a few days -- "to go back with them to procure a record deal?" And I said, "Well, you know, this is an incredible offer Brian," I said, "but I really don't know. I can't answer you right now," I said "but I can let you know." Well he said, "Please think about it because it could be a hell of thing for you." I said, "Okay, I'll...I'll think about it." And 'cause now I walked away across the club and as I'm walking away I'm thinking: "Wait a minute!" -- I think it was Peter Eckhorn that made me do it because as I'm walking away I thought, "Well, I walked out on Peter..." and then I thought to myself, "Well, I didn't like that." And then now I'm going to walk out on Manfred and I've got the car which I thought was great, you know, I mean he gave me everything I wanted. And I thought: "I'm not going to do it again." And I said, "Well now wait a minute!" So I go back and I said to Brian: "I don't know what I'm saying but I got to give you my answer now, I'm going to decline your offer, but thanks, you know, but -- " I said, "I really appreciate the offer but I can't do it -- I'm under a 3-year contract." He said, "So, well, maybe you might change your mind about it, you know." That was it.
TONY COPPLE: Now drawing upon your memories of those stage and studio performances when you worked with the Beatles, lets get a closer snapshot on the Beatles' persona:
Firstly, which Beatle do you feel had the most talent in those days?
ROY YOUNG: I thought they were all so talented to be honest. They had a certain difference between them. I mean Pete, for me, I always thought was a great drummer with the Beatles. It was so different -- when I heard what they were doing when I first heard them I thought "Wow, that's weird!" because Pete was very heavy on the bass drum because it was like: bom! bom! bom! bom!, you know, which was technically a bit weird but I thought it suited him. You know, I just thought, "Wow, that's neat", you know, it must have a rap, maybe. But maybe that was the only way Pete could play -- I don't know.
[Editorial: The loud heavy bass drum sound that Roy Young refers to is a result of Pete Best owning back then, a 26-inch bass drum as oppose to the standard 22-inch bass drum. In Andy Babiuk's book, Beatles Gear, Pete Best describes the sound it gave: "That was a lot different to the standard 22-inch bass drums that were around at the time. Of course, I didn't know a great deal about the difference at that time. But when I started playing it, that 26-inch bass drum really gave me a thump, a great big bass sound." (page 33.) This is the sound that Roy Young heard back then from Pete Best's drum kit!]
But then you have John who was totally more on the Chuck Berry side and the real kind of weird songs, and Paul was more Paul McCartney and George was more country. You know, there was always this thing but no matter how they did it, it was unique. But they would gel together, they had this absolute amazing chemical that seemed to work.
And when they wanted me in the band, I couldn't figure it out. At the time I thought, well you know it didn't seem to add up because I thought they got it all. But I think it was basically John and Paul that probably wanted it more because I think they kind of looked up to me as the guy that was the singer -- I mean he's always respected me as being the guy from England -- well he ought to you know, it's the same Roy Young.
I mean I have video here that I was playing to Paul (Roy is referring to his current manager, Paul Martin) the other night and it's Gerry Marsden, The Searchers, and Peter Noone, and myself and Paul Jones from Manfred Mann. And every time they ask him a question, Gerry would say: "You better ask bloody Roy Young!!" They didn't understand what the hell they were talking about. Then another one and Peter would say: "I think you should talk to Roy Young!!" And it got quite winded because then they would come over to where Paul Jones and I were and then they start talking about the Beatles. But it was the way it was -- they all looked up to me because I guess I was one of the forerunners, you know, that they could kind of do that to.
TONY COPPLE: So thinking back to those days and working with the "four
lads" as you said Brian described them, did you feel they showed the kind of
drive, and leadership and charisma that very much became apparent later when the
general public got to hear them? Were they showing that in those days?
ROY YOUNG: Yeah. Yeah, there was definitely a thing, an aurora I would call it around them. No matter where they were, you felt their presence you know, whatever that was, but it was absolutely amazing. I mean, they walked into a room, there they were and everyone would look around and why would they do that? But they weren't like people that was sort of shout around and get be known that they're there. They just had a thing -- you'd hear in the back and John would come out with something and it would be like, you know, and then George would shout something out so....but it was just themselves that they had this magical sort of feeling about them.
TONY COPPLE: On your website, Royyoung.com, there is a photo of you and Ringo Starr performing at the Top Ten Club. How was Ringo rated in the music circuit back then? Was he a drummer who was in big demand prior to his success with the Beatles?
ROY YOUNG: He was a notch above a lot of players. He styled himself like a metronome which was great because the qualities of Ringo was definitely recording material whereas a lot of drummers would play: ooblee, ooblee, ooblee in all fields and that's not necessarily recording material because it gets too busy. But Ringo had the way -- I mean he could play busy but he was always able to control himself and keep sort of like a metronome, which is great -- he's a very good drummer.
TONY COPPLE: Coming back to those Polydor recordings for just
one moment, what was your opinion of Pete Best? Was he a good drummer?
ROY YOUNG: Pete was a drummer in his own right. You can't compare him to a lot of the drummers that were around when music went from jazz overnight into rock 'n' roll, I mean there were a lot of great drummers like Tony Crombie and all these guys that had learnt their trade. Pete obviously had picked up going to the drumming business in his own fashion and joining up with John and Paul seemed, for me, seemed to lend for whatever it was they were doing. But I think with George Martin, there was a time when I think it came down to the truth that Pete really could not cut it as a recording drummer...there is a little difference. You could have recorded it but it would have been different. But I think what George was use to doing was having all the top guys in the world around him and he felt because it was something he decided to get involved with with the Beatles and make it something really special, that they would bring in an absolute amazing drummer -- that was the old way of thinking.
TONY COPPLE: Now you mentioned that you were around Stu Sutcliffe at
the time, did you see him perform and how would you rate him?
ROY YOUNG: No. No...no. He came into the club a couple of times with Astrid and then Paul and John told me he would be in to pop in and say "hi" to me and it wasn't very long and then he died, you know. It was strange.
MOVING FORWARD: THE REBEL ROUSERS AND THE ROY YOUNG BAND!
TONY COPPLE: Now we're going to jump ahead a little bit in the Roy Young time line, you teamed up with Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers. How did that happen and when did that happen?
ROY YOUNG: Oh, Cliff always liked what I did. I mean, Cliff for me, was a great band. Everyone admired Cliff Bennett. They admired him and he did things very well and he was very black in his styling. And I mean if I close my eyes, I would have to think of Cliff as being black and so was I and that was the thing that Cliff liked in me. And Cliff turned around to me one time and said, "You know, Roy, if you ever come back to England, call me -- I love you to join us and become a part of the band." So when I decided to leave Hamburg and go back to England, I had to make that decision -- it was really a hard one. But I decided to go back and figure everything out and I called Cliff, he said, "Hey, come up and get involved!" So that's how that came about.
TONY COPPLE: What was the story on Got To Get You Into My Life and Paul offers to produce that. How did that come into being?
ROY YOUNG: Well, we signed up to NEMS and Paul had written Got To Get You Into My Life and he thought it would be good for Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers and he talked to our booker from NEMS and he said, "By the way, you know, I've got this song from Paul, they'd like you to record it -- Got To Get You Into My Life." So we went in and recorded it. Paul kind of produced it and put the gliss(ando) on it, you know, on the thing and Paul said to us, "You know, look -- what we'll do is when it gets into the Top-10, I'm going to jump in and do the big oobla about it and do all the press." We kind of looked at each other and went: whew! that's being a little bit short you're so young.
Now we were up in Manchester doing the television show and a voice said over the speakers: "Cliff, could you come into the office?" And it was NEMS calling up and the record went into the Top-10. So there we were and consequently from that we now went on the road and joined up with the Beatles and went touring with them.
TONY COPPLE: In 1969, you go solo and form The Roy Young Band that provides you with more freedom -
ROY YOUNG: No.
[Editorial: According to Hans Olof Gottfridsson's book: The Beatles From Cavern to Star-Club, Roy Young began "re-launching his solo career in 1969 with The Roy Young Band." (See page 106) and it was from Gottfridsson's introduction on Roy Young which made up the basis of this question for this interview.]
TONY COPPLE: Nope?
ROY YOUNG: No. Actually, I went solo with the Rebel Rousers.
TONY COPPLE: Aha! So when would did you join The Roy Young Band?
ROY YOUNG: After that, after the Rebel Rousers.
TONY COPPLE: When would that have been, approximately?
ROY YOUNG: Oh, god...(Roy turns to his wife Carol) When was that...? I went to the Bahamas with the Rebel Rousers...
CAROL YOUNG: We met in '69, I would say about 1970.
TONY COPPLE: About '70. Right.
You recorded with Chuck Berry (live), Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Roger Daltrey, George Harrison and Ringo Starr to name but a few. What was it like working with the father of rock 'n' roll, Chuck Berry?
ROY YOUNG: With Chuck Berry, it was very strange because me being the Little Richard guy and he knew that -- and you know there had always been a feud between those guys. It was very difficult. I mean, you know, my show was, you know, sweat and hard work and out there blowing my brain out and of course during the encores you're doing all this stuff, "Hey, there's a new song from the king of rock! Wop-bop-a-lula, whoa! Tutti Fruiti!" And of course he didn't like (that) -- "What he's talking (about), the king of rock?" He'd be standing by the side of the stage like really peed-off, you know. I didn't care, I mean, that was me. "This is me, you're you, you know!" And that went on for a while and my drummer just hated him, I mean he couldn't get on with him at all. And Dennis Elliot, as you know was a part of Foreigner -- I mean, when he left me, they formed Foreigner. I mean he is the most incredible drummer, I mean just incredible!! I mean, Chuck Berry just would point him out so he'd say: "Are you in a hurry, man? Slow it down!" Because he was perfectly timed he'd just find a way to pick on someone in the band. So Dennis hated him, 'cause he'd say: "Don't give me shit, man. Give (it to) someone that makes mistakes!"
So one night, well, I think it was in Manchester that the promoter came back stage to my dressing room and he said: "By the way, Chuck Berry is going on before you, he doesn't want to go after you." And it went into the papers -- he withdrew. He didn't like it...he could not follow me, honest to god. It sounds weird now, but I had such a big following in England at that time. It was the only time I think that he got hurt.
But I got on fine with him. I mean it's just once we got on the road, I think he felt a bit of didn't get it all his own way, you know, the encores, encores. That made the national press in England that Chuck Berry pulled out because of The Roy Young Band.
TONY COPPLE: Now you have been billed in movie credits according to your web site with some of the greatest actors such as Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Cain, Suzanne York, and Albert Finney. Were your credits strictly musical in nature or did you actually have a chance to act?
ROY YOUNG: No, actually I made love to Elizabeth Taylor (Roy and Tony laugh together!) No I didn't! Terrible screw!! (more laughter again)
No, not really. It was pure music -- it was purely music. But it was quite pleasing because first of all I got a chance to meet them all and it was great fun and it was something different.
TONY COPPLE: So you provided musical scores?
ROY YOUNG: No. We actually...they wanted a couple of recordings we actually had on an album at the time, so we were able to date -- that was what they particularly wanted for the movies.
TONY COPPLE: So predating what happens today when no movie is considered complete unless it has at least twenty-five hit records on it.
ROY YOUNG: Oh, yeah. Yeah. But the Albert Finney movie -- it was called Gumshoe. That was...(Roy pauses for a second) I think I have the recording done by...
CAROL YOUNG: I never heard it.
ROY YOUNG: Hmm...(Roy pauses and then states with expression): Yeah, it was a great, great recording.
TONY COPPLE: In the Rolling Stone magazine video Twenty Years of Rock 'n' Roll, Tina Turner describes David Bowie as an "abstract singer/actor...like a guy who fell from earth." I think Tina's description is pretty accurate about Bowie's stage presence, but you've had a chance to work with Bowie on his Low album and you got to know him. What's David Bowie really like in the private world removed from the glitter-glamour of rock 'n' roll?
ROY YOUNG: Well, he's really down (to earth) -- I mean, working with David when I showed up at Le Chateau in Paris -- well, actually David called me from California and I just finished recording down in Kent and Jeff Beck was playing on some of stuff so I got home and then there was a phone call -- David called me about 3:00 or 4:00 o'clock in the morning from L.A. (Los Angeles) and he said, "Roy, can you come over. I want you to come over to work on the album I'm doing." Which was...I think it was...was it Changes, Carol?
CAROL YOUNG: I'm not sure.
ROY YOUNG: The one before Low. Whichever ever album was out before Low -- it was either Changes or --
TONY COPPLE: Well, Hunky Dory was the first...was one of the first ones and that had a song called Changes on it...I don't know if that was the one you're referring to...
ROY YOUNG: Oh, no. What was the name...? Name a couple of his albums...I mean, it was one of them...
TONY COPPLE: Fame?
ROY YOUNG: Fame!
CAROL YOUNG: Yeah.
ROY YOUNG: That was the one. It was the one before Low. He wanted me to fly out that Monday and I didn't go. And then a year later -- almost sort of to the day, I get a phone call while I'm performing at the Speakeasy...do you know that club in London?
[Editorial: RollingStone.com lists the album Changes as the one that came out prior to Bowie's Low album. It is also on that album which contains the hit, Fame, a song written in collaboration with David Bowie, John Lennon and Carlos Alomar.]
TONY COPPLE: Yeah.
ROY YOUNG: I was performing there, and I was regularly performing there -- (people) jammed all way around the street, the line-up. And Meeno, the manager -- in fact I just found out today, he's died. But he came into the dressing room and said, "You're wanted on the phone, it's Mr. Bowie." So I go out and pick it up and its David in Berlin, in Germany. And he said, "Roy, can you come over to Berlin and record an album I'm doing?" And I said, "Yeah, sure!" you know. And then he called me back a couple of days later and he said, "Now we're going to do it in Paris at the Le Chateau." So when I arrived at the Le Chateau he'd actually grew a beard and we'd walk around the vineyards 'cause we worked together for quite a bit -- but he actually did it, you know, for me...you know, it's just: "Hey, man!" "Oh, hi...yeah, yeah, yeah." 'Cause he's again, he's split -- one minute he's one way and another minute he's another way, you know. So it was great fun working with David on that level...I mean, Iggy Pop was there, you know, real classic fool-around guy, you know and a few people were there but it was a lot of fun.
TONY COPPLE: So you enjoyed working on that particular album?
ROY YOUNG: Low, Low was...yeah, yeah.
TONY COPPLE: You had a chance to meet Yoko Ono in person in Germany. How did that come about and what were your impressions of Yoko?
ROY YOUNG: I found her to be a super lady. It was a very short meeting. But she had an entourage of body guards around her and she stopped and looked at me and we hugged. And I said to her...I said, "You know, John was my best friend from the Beatles." And she really hugged me, you know. I think in a way she was wishing that I had gone down to meet them when they were together in New York or wherever they were but I never got (there). My son always said to me would I take him down "to meet their son?" I said, "Yeah, we'll go down one day." And of course when he died, you know, it was like: phew! And of course I never got to meet Yoko until there in Germany. And I gave a little thing, you know, a picture of us on stage...and it was good, you know.
TONY COPPLE: Later you became involved in a project for Abused Children Foundation where you played John Lennon's Steinway piano from the Dakota. How did this all come into being for Roy Young?
ROY YOUNG: Well, it actually happened because the lawyers who were handling the deal here in Toronto, happened to find out that I was a part of the Beatles and happened to see these photographs...and flipped out. (They) immediately flew down to me and gave me a offer I couldn't refuse to come up here and represent Canada and play John's piano and all of the monies that was from all the autographs and the little T-shirts and things, went to this sexually abused children. But the piano -- I mean it was quite neat...they put me in this sort of glass bowl, they built this glass case all around me because people would be up above me and around, so they couldn't throw anything down. And there was two police on guard all the time, both sides of stage to stop anyone from coming up there. It was kind of weird...it was something very different I've ever done in my life. But it was great, it was really good.
TONY COPPLE: And there are pictures of you playing that piano of you on your web site.
ROY YOUNG: Yeah.
"NOW AND THEN" -- ROY YOUNG'S LATEST CD PROJECT!
TONY COPPLE: Now we're about to get into the track listing of Now and Then -- your forthcoming CD. But before we do, Roy, could you tell us about the genesis for that album that inspired you to record and produce such an excellent collection of songs?
ROY YOUNG: Yeah, actually, David Beatty who produced it was the person really responsible for it, really. He came into the John Lennon piano thing that I was doing at the CN Tower and said to me do I feel like recording a CD? Why don't you record something from the Beatles? And I've been toying that idea for a long, long time because the question was always thrown at me: "How would it have been if there had been five people? Would the music have been any different?" Well, it would have been because you know, you would have another guy in the band...I would have done a lot of the vocals. And so, in my mind when you keep answering that question, it was always there -- I wanted go and record some of the songs and do them exactly from the top of my head, how I would feel I would want to have done them. And that's how it came out, which I'm pretty proud of, you know...I mean, I can't wait -- I'm sending one over to Paul, to Ringo and Pete. Yeah.
TONY COPPLE: The album's swansong is Now and Then, a beautiful track that makes reference to Strawberry Fields and Sgt. Pepper. Is this meant to be a nostalgic reflection and nod to your former musical mates, the Beatles?
ROY YOUNG: Exactly. Yeah. I mean, it was basically all around how we developed our music there. I mean, we would all collaborate around a jukebox, put coins in just so that we could play the songs over and over again to learn them. But Now and Then is now a tribute to George...it's become a tribute to George Harrison. And the other song, is Beautiful Man which is a tribute to John -- and the whole album will now be a tribute to the Beatles.
TONY COPPLE: We like to from your perspective, ask you what you feel were the two best albums the Beatles produced and why?
ROY YOUNG: Hmm....That's a weird one....I guess the one that I'm playing on! (Roy chuckles!)
No! The ones that I'm playing...No!
I don't know...they're all great, aren't they?
There was a certain era of time that I didn't quite understand what they were doing but -- but all said and done, whatever it was they did, it was always well done. So whether it captured my vote or not it didn't matter but it certainly captured the vote of the world.
TONY COPPLE: You chose two Beatle songs for this album -- there are a number of songs associated with the Beatles but two that they actually wrote: Nowhere Man and She's A Woman. Let's first discuss Nowhere Man, the production of which I suspect was trying to sound in similar style to Joe Cocker's With A Little Help From My Friends. How accurate is that assessment of the rendition you made for this song?
ROY YOUNG: Absolutely. Absolutely right. Because if I had taken the song and recorded the way they did it (Roy demonstrates by singing): "He's a real Nowhere Man..." it would have been ludicrous, you can't compete with them. And there was no way I was ever going to try but just to put it into my own way and that seemed to be more the natural way to do it. And to have it turned out to be a bit like Joe Cocker's (again, Roy demonstrates by singing a few words from With A Little Help From My Friends): "What would you do...", you know, that kind of (thing).
It actually isn't completed by the way, but there's a lot of things that are going on that. And of course now the CD is going as a tribute to the Beatles. There's some material coming off of there and there's a couple of things I am planning to put on there which will bring it more (together) -- there will be more Beatle songs. One of them is, well, I really can't say this because I'll be giving the game away but, no, we're going back in (the studio) to bring a couple of more - probably two or three more songs into it to make more of a Beatle project because I want it to be a tribute to the Beatles and, why not? You know, I owe it to them and for these songs.
TONY COPPLE: This next question definitely comes from my collaborator John Whelan on the Ottawa Beatle Site. And John mentions that She's A Woman has always been one of his all-time favorite tracks by Paul McCartney. Now on your cover version of this song, you delivered quite a vocal punch. Did this song present any problem for you --
ROY YOUNG: Which - which one...? Sorry.
TONY COPPLE: This is She's A Woman.
ROY YOUNG: Yep, She's A Woman.
TONY COPPLE: Did it present any problem for you to get into or did you step into it naturally when you recorded it and could you tell us who the guitarist is who provided the poignant bluesy guitar break in the song?
ROY YOUNG: Yeah. It seemed natural to me because it was in that cloud where your up there, up in the highs with the little rigid tones, so it felt right. It's like Tutti Fruitti except it's She's A Woman. I mean, they again did it a little different from me. And it felt comfortable. I mean, I wish there would of have been more of those songs, but at the time that was the one I felt really comfortable with.
The guitar solo is by a guy named Papa John King, and John -- Papa John King he's been playing with me for a number of years. He's an incredible blues player, incredible, very underrated and he's Canadian. But he does a lot of world functions, you know, all over the place.
TONY COPPLE: The Ottawa Beatle Site has been privileged to hear a preview of the album and as you just said it's going to change before it comes out --
ROY YOUNG: Yeah. Yeah.
TONY COPPLE: ...but one track that we heard and we know won't necessarily be on the album is your version of I Saw Her Standing There -- originally called Seventeen. The fans should know that its done in a jazzy/Latin style that captures the band just cooking on that number -- an ideal track to be placed towards the end of the album. Roy, what were the artistic reasons to leave this one off and would you consider resurrecting it for a future album?
ROY YOUNG: Yeah. You know, it has been mentioned to me to put it back on. I'm not sure if it's because I would like to record it again and do it the way I do it live because I bring that song into my repertoire at the end of the show but with a few other things which all by the time it comes in, the whole of the audience are participating with me, singing! And they just take over, I mean, the moment I start (Roy sings): "She was just..." Off they go! And I just stand there and I conduct the whole crowd.
But it isn't quite the way I do it live and I was never happy with that version of it. I'm not sure if it was the Latin thing as well but to me it didn't quite work. But it definitely works live but I think I got to go back in and re-look at it and do it again because it is a great song, it really is.
TONY COPPLE: Well, we like it.
ROY YOUNG: (Roy chuckles) Have you got that one?
TONY COPPLE: Yeah, well it's the version that you've put into my hands so in fact we even played it on the radio, so that was a unique performance....No, that was on The Sixties on CKCU in Ottawa with the Dave Sampson Show.
Now your forthcoming album Now and Then really illustrates just why you were dubbed as England's Little Richard. I'm thinking here particularly of the track Money where you play a great honky tonk piano on the number backed up with an excellent vocal delivery. Can you tell us what comes naturally first for you as a performer, the piano playing or the vocals?
ROY YOUNG: I think both actually. I particularly like that style. But I have to say again that I am re-recording the vocals, they're not right. I mean if I was to sit over there and perform it to you now, it's just -- I don't know what it is -- it happen to get away from me, it got into the thing and it was captured but I've got to unleash it and really do it again because I'm not happy with the vocal line...it's not soulful enough, it just feels too tame.
TONY COPPLE: Hey, well we loved it!
Dig A Hole is a very interesting track. You recorded this one earlier during your music career in '73 as a single on the MCA label. Is this a remake of that song and who composed that number?
ROY YOUNG: I don't know who it was. I know for a fact that it was offered from the publishing company to Rod -- Rod Stewart because it seemed to lend to Rod but for some reason he didn't want to record it. And then he immediately offered it to me and I recorded it way back then, but I thought it was a track that could be revamped again and made more into a gospelly type idea, you know, with all the fiddles or whatever. But that is one track is coming off -- I'm taking it off because it doesn't work, it has nothing to do with the Beatles at all, it was just something I had. Again, I got to take it off.
TONY COPPLE: Before continuing with the track listing here, lets talk about the production of the album. While the album is a mix of some '50s and early '60s songs, you seemed to have captured quite deliberately a late '60s or an early '70s feel to this album simply by not overproducing the tracks or relying too much on electronic studio wizardry -- the album is well balanced production-wise. Tell us some of the production aspects that makes Now and Then a truly memorable spin for the listener?
ROY YOUNG: Well, I didn't want to go into the electronical, you know, all those little gadgets because I'm not familiar to them and I never was. In fact when I was working with John Entwistle from The Who, he said to me -- I was at his house in London -- and he said to me he was going over to New York and he wanted to bring back a whole bunch of keyboards. And I said, "Why?" He said, "Well, you know, it's like moog synthesizers and stuff..." I said, "John, I play piano, I don't play these things." I said, "It's all nothing to me. It doesn't mean anything, you know." But he says, "But, I mean the book says you are..." I say, "No-oo! How am I going to get into that stuff? Just get a player to play those and I'll play the keyboards." And I always felt that. I never got into all the moog (synthesizers) -- I mean, even that piano over there which is an Yamaha CP-150, I think it is. I think is obsolete now but it's just something that you can't get too involved -- computerized -- you know, it's not too over vamped. So I deliberately kept it out of the recordings and kept it down to the original formula of recording as much as I could. I mean, obviously the studios are equipped today differently as they were back then but I just didn't bother to look at all that -- let them deal with that but not bring anything into the actual recordings.
TONY COPPLE: Well, it certainly works!
ROY YOUNG: Uh-huh.
Roy Young playing his Yamaha CP-150
TONY COPPLE: Seventh Son is a song written by Willie Dixon in 1955, later recorded by Georgia Fame, and Johnny Rivers at the Wiskey a Go-Go in 1965. Now why did you choose this song for your album?
ROY YOUNG: Again, I don't know. It just seem to be one that was up there in the clouds and it felt right for my voice to put that on. But it turned out okay because it gave me a vehicle to put the boogie woogie into it which I guess I seem to be known as the boogie woogie player. Quite saying that -- I mean, I just done a show with these guys: Johnny Johnson and Bob Seeley. I mean these guys are just amazing boogie woogie players! I felt totally out of place with them but I was guest of honor with them and I mean Johnny Johnson has done all the Chuck Berry things, you know, he wrote all the Chuck Berry songs and it was quite an honor to be there and playing with them.
But you know, it felt like the right thing -- the song seems to have a place
for this boogie woogie thing and I put it at the end of the song.
TONY COPPLE: You sung a poignant rendition of The White Cliffs of Dover -- a song that was very popular during the Second World War. I think, is there not, some personal sentiment that made you decide to record this song. Would you mind telling us the story?
ROY YOUNG: Yeah. Actually I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about the White Cliffs of Dover -- it just happen to be like, in my dreams, I suppose. Then when I woke up, I thought of this song and I thought: "Wow! That's quite an amazing piece of music" -- that I respected the Dame Vera Lynn rendition of it. I mean...well, I mean it's been going on since the Second World War. And unbeknownst to me, I said...well...well, I woke Carol up in the middle of the night and I said, "I'm going to record the White Cliffs of Dover." She said, "Go back to sleep, you're dreaming. You know, you're having a nightmare." And I said, "No. I'm serious! I want to record it and I can't wait to talk to David, my producer" I said, "about it tomorrow." Because everyone thought I was nuts and lo-and-behold it turned out that Paul and John were very big fans to Vera Lynn. I didn't know that. So they don't know that I've done this yet -- I mean, I don't know what Paul's reaction is going to be when he hears it because it's certainly out on left of the field. But it seems to work.
TONY COPPLE: Now I think you issued White Cliffs of Dover as a single and the proceeds were donated to the British Legion. Will there be any kind of similar arrangements when it is released on the album?
ROY YOUNG: Yes. Yeah, I'm planning to. Well, you know, my father was in the First World War and my eldest brother was in the Second World War and I just feel that all the people that, you know, put their lives on the block to die for England or for whatever country, I didn't think it was any problem to think: "Well, I want to give back to the veterans that are still alive that looked up to Vera Lynn and have a version of White Cliffs of Dover again, revamped." In fact, I did send one over to Jim Marshall of Marshall Amplifiers...you know Marshall?
TONY COPPLE: Yeah.
ROY YOUNG: Well, Jimmy Marshall has been a very good friend to me for many years. And while I was over in England with him, he said to me that he would love to arrange something together with Vera Lynn -- Dame Vera Lynn where he could arrange it because she's a very good friend with Jim. And what I want to do is to perform the song with Dame Vera Lynn on the 6th of June because that's the date it was going out for which is the opening of the Juno Beach Museum. It's going to be a big thing, June 6th, all the veterans of the war. So what I want to arrange with Jim is that maybe Dame Vera Lynn and I could sort of collaborate together with the song and see what could come out of it. I mean, it would be fantastic because it's quite an honor to bring it out. It has so many memories for a lot of people, you know.
TONY COPPLE: I found it to be very moving just watching it on your web site...it has a bit of video there that is nice to watch.
Beautiful Man is your very special tribute that you sung for John Lennon, beautifully played, beautifully sung by the way. Did you write this excellent ballad?
ROY YOUNG: A guy in England -- David Tinson wrote it. He gave it to me many years ago and I had it with me for a long long time -- not the way you hear it. Again, I converted it into what it is -- it was a little different, not any way would I have thought it at time when I first heard it, I thought, "Well, it's alright" -- but it grew and grew on me and it started to develop in my mind a way to perform it. And I did take (it) to Paris and I played it to David Bowie and said he should record it. Because after my performance when I sang and played it, he just looked at me and he said, "You want me to do it after that?" I said, "Yeah!!" "You got to be joking?? I can't do that like that!" He said, "Why don't you do it?" And I never thought there was a reason for it at the time until we did the Beatle thing and it dawned on me that it was the perfect song as to be a tribute for John Lennon.
TONY COPPLE: Will it be released as a single?
ROY YOUNG: Yeah. December 8th, hopefully. Because that's the day he...you know, I want to bring it out.
TONY COPPLE: And there is a follow up question...On the night of
John's death, do you remember what you were doing at the time and where you
were? How did you react when you heard the tragic news?
ROY YOUNG: Yeah, I was very sad like the rest of the world. I was performing a concert here in Toronto and during my performance my stage manager came up to me on stage, which was like (he) never never did because it wasn't allowed, you know, he put his hand on my shoulder and I looked around and I said, "What? -- What are you doing?" And he said, "John has just been killed. John Lennon." And I just told him to go away...to leave, you know. I came off -- no one came near me, I just went off into my dressing room and got changed. Got into my car and I drove home and my son, Rick, was waiting at the front...and he knew...he just come put his arms around me and I just broke down, right there, I just...phew!
You know, it hadn't kind of sunk in but when I saw my son -- because everything came back to me where he wanted me to bring him down and meet John's son and I knew that was all gone and he knew that too. But he was a bit worried for me because, ah, I don't know...ah, it was a very hard time that he had gone.
He was my best mate, really, in the band.
And I was very fortunate because Toronto put on a candlelight service for John at the Nathan Philip Square and John radioed to call me up to do it with John Baldry, Murray McLaughlin, Ronnie Hawkins and (that) there should be other guys and....
I remember a board meeting at CHUM (radio) on Yonge Street and I said, "Look, I don't mind doing it providing that it's not commercialized." I said, you know, "If I get out of the limo and I see people there selling T-shirts, I'm going back into the limo and I'm going home." And I got out of the limo and I was drinking a brandy -- it was freezing cold, you know, they gave me a brandy. And I got out of the limo and there's this guy there with T-shirts and I said, "Get rid of that guy!" These bodyguards went over and grabbed him and pulled him away. I mean, I felt sorry for the guy, because everyone's got to make a living but I was so uptight about it all. I didn't want it become sort of like a (commercialized) show (because) it was something that I felt very special to do. But it was freezing cold, I remember that.
[Editorial: The Editors of Rolling Stone in their book entitled " The Ballad of John and Yoko" when describing the various memorial services that were held around the world for Lennon, cites the city of Toronto of having "a crowd of 35,000 gathered on Tuesday night in snow and freezing wind for a candlelight vigil." (see page 206). ]
TONY COPPLE: Going back to Now and Then, there is a great track on the album called Slow Down. Now both the Beatles and later Pete Best have done cover versions of this same song. I love Pete's version, by the way, I have that.
ROY YOUNG: I haven't heard that.
TONY COPPLE: I dare say Roy, our feeling is that your version is so terrific that if John Lennon were alive today he'd be simply amazed at how great a version you did -- John would be looking over his shoulder for sure! What kind of approach did you take in the studio when you began to record Slow Down?
ROY YOUNG: Well, thank you, Tony. I don't know how...I've always liked that song. I didn't know Pete had actually recorded it, I didn't know that. I know we performed it in Hamburg...
TONY COPPLE: Yeah, he recorded it just about three years ago on his record from the Adelphi -- which is not a very easy one to get but I have a copy. I actually have it signed by Pete Best because he came to Kanata where we live. He's doing a lot of stuff today.
ROY YOUNG: Yeah, yeah. He's ask me to go and do stuff with him and like his brother came up and ask if I would do it. You know, I don't think I'm going to have time to do it now but I could have done some -- well, we did do a few shows together.
But yeah, the Slow Down for me was a classic -- one of those classic rock 'n roll songs that I had around me for years and I felt it was very appropriate because playing it with the Beatles it kind of lend it to that project. I took it differently into a little sort of a different field because it's not usually a shuffle, it's played more straight four-line but I just wanted to be different and that's how the rendition of it that came out.
But everyone seems to like it. Kingsize Taylor -- I don't know if you know that name? Do you know who Kingsize Taylor is?
TONY COPPLE: I haven't heard of him before but you mentioned him earlier, yeah.
ROY YOUNG: He was one of the big guys -- one of the characters from Liverpool called Kingsize Taylor and the Dominoes. He had Howard Casey on tenor, a whole class of people and I sent one over to him and he is just mind boggled with Slow Down -- just flipped out.
TONY COPPLE: Play My Boogie Woogie, it's another track on the album and it throws the spotlight on your boogie woogie piano talents, a very exciting track. Roy, how many takes were required for this song or did you just do it straight off? And who was the trumpet player doing the background "trumpet runs" mirroring your piano playing after you shout out "Now hear me!"?
ROY YOUNG: Is it trumpet or is it the horn section?
TONY COPPLE: Well, we think it's a trumpet...
ROY YOUNG: No, I think it's suppose to be the horn section but...I don't know...I just...is that what I do?
TONY COPPLE: (pointedly replies): Yeah!!
ROY YOUNG: (Roy chuckles). Well, there you go. (Roy deliberately changes the pitch in his voice into a very posh and proper English gentleman): "Now hear me!" I suppose I was to tell to him to shut-up and let me play...No!!! (more laughter)
TONY COPPLE: You know, you haven't changed since Hamburg -- it's the same approach, right? (Roy and Tony chuckle together)
ROY YOUNG: Yeah, "Listen to me hear...shut-up." No, it wasn't like that. But I was just saying, it's like: "Whooo!" or "Alright!", you know, it was like the same sort of thing: "Now hear me!" (Roy sings): "da-doot-da-doot-da-do..." Because actually the guy that you hear playing on there, Jamie King Cordon, is just one of the greatest musicians I've ever played with -- I mean, he's just outstanding! He's one of those guys you want to kill because he does everything better than anyone else. Like he'll sit at the piano and play it like (a professional)...and sing great, and plays guitar amazing and plays bass amazing; he's just one of those all-around-players. He's just an incredible saxophonist. I mean, he plays with them all...Ray Charles, Little Richard...he seems to do a lot work with Dionne. So he's pretty well in demand.
TONY COPPLE: Now Mess Around -- Roy, you've done a marvelous rendition of a Ray Charles number that he recorded in New York in 1953. Ray Charles seems to be a big influence on your music career. Tell us, of all the songs that Ray Charles recorded, why did you choose this particular one for your album?
ROY YOUNG: Ah, good question. I don't know, I mean there is so many I just could have done. But I enjoy playing that one, I like to do that one on stage but I do play other songs from the Ray Charles catalogue but that one seemed to have crept out and I felt it kind of leant it more than to take a song like What I'd Say or Georgia, you know, it would've been too elevated, you know. So I thought that particular one seem to have more of the feel around the whole CD.
TONY COPPLE: Now and Then was produced by Dave Beatty and engineered by Troy Ples. Why did you choose these two gentlemen for the production and mixing of your Now and Then album?
ROY YOUNG: Well, David Beatty, I've known for many years. He did a lot of work with Long John Baldry. I knew him from there. And while I was at the tower (the CN Tower in Toronto) with John Lennon's piano, he approached me to go to his studio to record a project which turned out to be the one we've got now. I've listen to a lot of the product that he produced and I thought, "Well, why not?" I mean, at the time I had various offers to go into the studio but it seemed to work because it's right on my doorsteps, the studios down the road and I heard a lot of Troy Ples's engineering and he's really a great engineer. So I thought just for those reasons alone was worth participating in. And so that's how it came about.
But we...did go in blindfolded. I mean, there was no particular direction actually except that I always wanted to record Beatle material to say, "Well, this is what I would have done." But I really didn't know how I would have done it until it came out but I think I'm just on the starting block -- because with Paul Martin, he feels, you know, that what I played to him the other night, he said, "God! You (sound great!)" And I've got songs which I've worked on now that makes all this other stuff, as far as I'm concern, really premature. You always strive ahead but, it's true, you know, I'm not even on the block right now but will be.
TONY COPPLE: Roy, you've been really kind and given us some wonderful answers to these questions here. And by the way, these questions come from people in different parts of North America who just wanted to know what you had to say about some of these things, so this is great.
And now, just a couple more things to ask you and the first one is slightly a
somber one. Could you summarize your personal feelings about the recent passing
of your friend, George Harrison?
ROY YOUNG: Hmmm. Yeah. Well, for me, George will always remain like a son because knowing George from back then, he was 17-years-old and the one thing that I was always very amazed with was that he had to get permission from his mom and dad to do certain things. And in fact he had gotten thrown out of the country (Roy chuckles) because he hadn't done that and the police came in one night and took him away.
But George...for years, he use say to me...he used to come up to me and whenever he saw each other, he put his arm around my neck or around my shoulders and give you a hug and he'd say: "Roy, never quit, and never give up." And I use to say (what does he mean?) One night he came into the Speakeasy Club with Eric Clapton (and they) sat down -- you have to sit right by my table and I'm with my manager there and with one of those sort of tables that sits up a little bit higher. So I get off and I go over and put my arms around Eric and George and say, "Hey, guys!", you know, "Hey!" And George grabs around my head and pulls me down like this (Roy, in a somber low voice, then impersonates George): "Roy, never quit, and never give up!" And I was doing a show that night and I thought, "What the hell is that?" And he keep saying it every time we would see (each other) he kept saying, "Never quite, never give up."
So I was doing this thing with Louise Harrison, George's sister, and we were going out to pick up some wine in her car -- we were going down the road. And I said, "Lou, I've been sort of meaning to ask you -- what is this George keeps doing every time we meet, he says, "Never quite, and never give up....?" She laughed. She broke out laughing. She said, "Oh, did he say that to you?" I said, "Yeah" She said, "Oh, you know where it comes from? Our dad!" So I said, "What??" She said, 'Yeah, well he was always saying to us, you know, "Never quit, and never give up."' And so George was passing on from his dad which I thought -- I thought was quite neat, you know, it was like "Oh, wow!" So now I knew after all these years. I mean, I would have found out eventually but the point is it was sort of at the time when George was alive to say (to him): "You silly old bugger, you know, it was from you, from your dad, you know!"
But anyway, yeah, I was very saddened and when I saw Paul visiting George, I knew something was up. In fact I got a call that kind of like (said) he had year left to live, but that was only about a month. So, I was very saddened.
TONY COPPLE: So here we are, over 4-1/2 decades of rock 'n' roll have come and gone and if Now and Then is any indicator, it would appear it's still in top-notch form with no signs of letting up. You recorded and produced a really marvelous album here, Roy. What gives rock 'n' roll the longevity and the veracity that it has enjoyed over these years?
ROY YOUNG: Oh, that's a great question because you know, Tony, when rock 'n' roll came out, I happen to be in Australia and when I came back to England with Rock Around the Clock and showing all my mates, they'd say: "What kind of music is that?", you know, because it was all jazz. And I said, "I'm going to become a rock 'n' roller!" They said, "What do you mean??" "Well, I'm going to make my living playing rock 'n' roll." They said, "You can't do that!" I said, "I can!"
And so, because I play boogie woogie but what was to be different? Boogie woogie was built on three chords -- that's all I knew back then, so I thought it was easy, you know, play boogie woogie and just sing. But I had no idea really, what it was I was going to do. And then I landed the TV show in England -- the Oh Boy! with Jack Goode and it turned out the reason why I got it was because Jack Goode was a fanatic of Little Richard. I didn't know that. And of course he went nuts, he just freaked when I opened up my mouth and that was it! I was immediately on the show.
But the funniest thing of all was I never thought rock 'n' roll was going to last...I don't know why. It just didn't seem big enough and strong enough at the time. And if I felt, if I was a part of it, how the hell can I keep it going for all those years? Because there weren't other people around.
So anyway, I would come home and my mom was very proud, naturally, because, you know, I'm her son and she wanted to go out and show off. And so she immediately would say, "Let's go down the pub, the local pub and have a drink." And so we'd go down the pub. She said, "Oh, this is Roy..." And they'd go, "Yeah, we know Roy...we saw Roy tonight on TV", right? And we'd do this and people would come ask questions and ask for autographs. And she would always say, "Roy, you know, I really enjoyed those songs you did tonight. Fantastic!" But she'd say, "But when are you going to get a proper job?" She'd always say, well, "When are you going to get a proper job?" I said, "Mom, this is my job!" because I wanted -- I wanted to feel like I was an entertainer, you know. But she would say, "Yeah. I mean: but you should get a proper job though!" But I said, "But it is my proper job."
But I felt: how long would it last? I don't know. Two years? Three years?
I remember Ringo saying to me when they landed their first hit record, I did some shows with them. And they were like little kids jumping around -- which they were! We were all younger then, you know, and I always remember Ringo coming up to me and he was all hugging, you know, we're hugging and I said, "Hey, congratulations, man!" He said, "You know what?" He said, "Roy, my dreams come true. I can now go out and buy a hair dressing salon." He always wanted to have a hair dressing salon. But god, could you imagine today, I mean, he probably owns Vidal Sassoon! You know what I mean? It's just like, "Who would ever have thought?" And I don't think he knew where it was going at the time. Brian (Epstein) definitely didn't know. Nobody knew, I think, you know.
But you knew there was a special thing about them....That I think that everything that happened in the world today is because of the Beatles, has been deservedly so -- it's because they are great. They're like one of the Eighth Wonders of the World for me, you know, so you can't take that away from anyone when they do it well and you enjoy it and appreciate it, they deserve everything they get and that's it, you know.
TONY COPPLE: Roy, thank you so much.
ROY YOUNG: My pleasure, man. And Happy Christmas to everyone out there who is going to listen to the show and have a great Happy New Year coming.
TONY COPPLE: Thank you very much. Goodbye.
ROY YOUNG: Thank you, Tony.
Roy died on 27 April 2018, in England. See notice on this date on the Ottawa Beatles Site News Page.
Roy Young At John Lennon Tribute Concert in Bermuda, Sept 21, 2012