Monday, June 18, 2012

The Beatles, Elvis, Albert & Me

“Tell me this, Paul, did you ever meet the Beatles?” is a question I’m infrequently asked.
And, given that I’m such a Beatle fanatic, (I once had a business card which proudly proclaimed: Author, Agent & Beatle Fan) and the fact that I work in the music business, I have to accept that it’s a fair question and a simple one.
The answer however is not quite so simple. Here, let me explain.
Sadly (for me) I’ve never ever met the Beatles as the Beatles; even sadder to say that I never ever saw them perform live.
I did manage to witness all of them performing in concert as solo artists and I also managed to meet three of them post Beatles.
Monaco of all places was where I met Ringo Starr. I was at one of those award ceremonies where you win an award for turning up; equally, and in other words, you don’t get the award if you don’t show up. I was there with Tanita Tikaram, an artist I was managing at the time, and we were hanging around at the run-thought waiting for her turn when Mr Starr approached us, introduced himself, and said he was going to be in big trouble with one of his daughters if he didn’t manage to get a photograph of himself and Tanita together. He handed me his camera and very politely asked me if I’d take the photograph. Tanita, like myself, is a major Beatles fan and was tickled pink by the request.
I also met Ringo at another concert, this time at The Royal Albert Hall when he went out of his way to re-organise the seats around him to accommodate the daughter of a friend of mine who was wheel chair bound. He was incredibly charming, thoughtful and discreet.  
Talking about amazing drummers, Jim Keltner introduced me to George Harrison backstage at an Elvis Costello concert at the Royal Albert Hall. At that point Jim was recording with George during the day, and performing with Elvis, at his six night stint at the RAH, in the evenings. You’re so in awe when you meet a person you greatly admire, that’s it’s all over in a flash.  But I do remember that night very clearly because George was extremely gracious to a few of us and Jake Riveria, Elvis’s manager, asked him if the reason there was a verse on the Awaiting On You All recording on his All Things Must Pass album that wasn’t on the accompanying lyric sheet was because of the content, he hadn’t been allowed to include it. The lyric in question was:  “And while the Pope owns 51% of General Motors and the stock exchange is the only thing he’s qualified to quote us.” George’s diplomatic replied was: “I couldn’t possibly comment.”
John Lennon I never met, but I did see him perform live at the Twickenham studios; he was there to sing and play guitar with some of the Rolling Stones for their famous Rock ‘n’ Roll Circus TV special. I don’t remember much of the performances apart from the audience (including myself) being dressing in these funny cloaks and hats.
Richard Odgen was a publicist for Fruupp - my second management client, but first in a professional, full-time capacity. Years later, many years later, Richard became the manager for Paul McCartney. He rang me up saying that he was keen to put Paul together with some great young writers and inquired who were the great new writers around at that stage.
“Elvis Costello,” I replied without a moment’s hesitation, “Paul McCartney has just got to write with Elvis Costello. It’ll be perfect.”
It took a few telephone conversations of persuasion but Richard took my recommendation and we set up for Mr McCartney and Mr Costello to meet up in 1987 and the resultant co-writes were: the very Beatlish My Brave Face; You Want Her Too, Don’t Be Carless Love and That Day is Done, all of which made it onto Paul’s Flowers In The Dirt album and Veronica, Pads, Paws and Claws on Elvis’ Spike album plus So Like Candy & Playboy to A Man on Elvis’ Mighty Like A Rose album.
A couple of years later I received another call from Richard Odgen. This time he was looking somewhere cool for Paul to play in London, a small club where the former Beatle could do a secret, no pressure, fun gig.  I recommended The Mean Fiddler in Harlesden and several weeks later on May 10th 1991 Mr McCartney gave a legendary performance to an ecstatic audience, which included myself
When it came time for the MPL Christmas lunches that year I was invited by Richard and being the gent he is, he sat me beside Neil Aspinal who proved to be an excellent story teller and extremely generous with his Beatle tales.
Somewhere in the middle of all of this I got to meet my final Beatle. Again it was backstage at the Royal Albert Hall and again at an Elvis Costello concert. Once again Mr Richard Odgen was the link and on this occasion he introduced me to Paul McCartney.
The former Beatle was very friendly and charming.
“And what is it you do?” he asked.
“I’m an agent,” I replied proudly.
“Now that is a good thing to be,” he replied before being distracted by Richard introducing him to someone else.
And the ex-Beatle wasn’t wrong, was he? I mean, just think of all the great people you get to meet backstage at the Royal Albert Hall.
Recommended viewing:
A Concert for George performed at The Royal Albert Hall featuring Paul, Ringo, Eric Clapton, Billy Preston, Jeff Lyne, Tom Petty and a host of stars in the best ever music DVD.

This time I’ve read:

Murder One by Robert Dugoni - very enjoyable and a very quick read.
Vendetta by John Follain – compulsive reading.
Adventures of A Waterboy by Mike Scott  - excellent volume, beautifully written, I really didn’t want to finish it, but I couldn’t stop reading it. A must read for all.

And seen:

Elvis Costello & Imposters with the Spectacular Spinning Songbook at… yes you’ve guessed it, The Royal Albert Hall, which is where we came in so…  

…until the next time,