|The Beatles Playboy Magazine Interview:
Below is a partial transcript of The Beatles interview by Jean Shepard. Considered quite controversial at the time, it's pretty tepid by today's standards. I do know that some of things that were said by the boys broke a few young Beatles fans hearts. But they were grown (though young) men with rather wild and raunchy pasts by the time they became the Mop Tops in February 1964, and this interview was published a whole year later; plenty of time for The Beatles to have grown more than a little weary of their clean-cut, fab-four image. The interview is a little disjointed since parts are missing, but it's still a very interesting read.
A Candid Conversation with England's Mop-Topped Millionaire Minstrels
Jean Shepard: "I joined the Beatles in Edinburgh. All of them looked up suspiciously as I walked in, then went back to eating, drinking and tuning guitars as though I didn't exist. I went along with them from Edinburgh to Plymouth, Bournemouth and half a dozen other towns. I began to have the uncomfortable feeling that all this fervor had nothing whatever to do with entertainment, or with talent. They are not prodigious talents by any yardstick, but like hula hoops and yo-yos, they are at the right place at the right time. They have managed somehow to remain remarkably human. Their unimaginable success has left them extremely guarded, almost as though they're afraid that an extraloud sneeze will burst the bubble and they'll be back in reality like the rest of us.
"George Harrison is also the most sarcastic and unquestionably the most egotistical; he fingers his hair a lot, and has a marked tendency to pause meaningfully and frequently before mirrors. Even so, he's a very likable chap. John Lennon is far less hip than he's made out to be. Perhaps because Ringo wasn't their original drummer, he seems slightly apart from the rest, a loner. They all find it difficult to make any real contact with anybody outside of their immediate circle. So getting to know the Beatles, and draw them out, was a discouraging task at first."
The following interview took place in Torquay on October 28, 1964.
John: Ringo used to fill in sometimes if our drummer was ill. With his periodic illness.
Ringo: He took little pills to make him ill.
Paul: We were billed in the paper: "From Hamburg - The Beatles."
John: That's when we first, you know, stood there being cheered for the first time.
Playboy: When you first went to America you were doubtful you would make it over there.
John: That's true. We didn't think we were going to make it at all. It was only Brian telling us we were gonna make it. And George. Brian Epstein our manager, and George Harrison.
Playboy: There's been some dispute whether you're primarily entertainers or musicians - or perhaps neither.
John: We're money-makers first; then we're entertainers.
Ringo: No, we're not.
John: What are we, then?
Ringo: Dunno. Entertainers first.
Paul: But we still enjoy making records, going onstage, making films, and all that business.
John: We love every minute of it, Beatle people!
Paul: Contrary to rumor, you see, none of us was brought up in any slums or in great degrees of poverty.
George: We never starved. Even Ringo hasn't.
Ringo: Even I.
Playboy: Do you have any sisters or brothers, George?
George: I've got two brothers.
John: And no sisters to speak of.
Paul: Derek, our press agent, who happened to be there at the time, hanging over my shoulder, giving me quotes, which happens at every press conference...
John: You better not say that.
Paul: Oh yes, that's not true, Beatle people! I talked to her afterward [Lily, a woman who insisted Paul should know her], and she said she got a vision from God and God had said to her...
John: "It's been a hard day's night." (Laughter)
Paul: I was trying to persuade her that she didn't in actual fact have a vison from God, that it was...
George: It was probably somebody disguised as God.
Playboy: You mean you're brave enough to venture out in the streets without a bodyguard?
George: We're always on the street. Staggering about.
Ringo: Floggin' our bodies.
George: You catch John sleeping in the gutter occasionally.
Playboy: Can you eat safely in restaurants?
George: Usually it's only Americans that'll bother you. If we go into a restaurant in London, there's always going to be couple of them eating there.
Ringo: The good thing when you go to a place where the people are such drags, such snobs, you see, is that they won't bother to come over to your table. They pretend they don't even know who you are, and you get away with an easy night.
George: And they think they're laughing at us, but really we're laughing at them. 'Cause we know they know who we are. They're not going to be like the rest and ask for autographs.
Ringo: And if they do we just swear at 'em.
George: Well, I don't, Beatle people. I sign the autograph and thank them profusely for coming over and offer them a piece of my chop.
John: If we're in the middle of a meal, I usually say, "Do you mind waiting till I'm finished?"
George: And then we keep eating until they give up and leave.
John: That's not true, Beatle people!
Paul: Some of those American girls have been great.
John: Like Joan Baez.
Paul: Joan Baez is good, yeah, very good.
John: She's the only one I like.
George: And Jayne Mansfield. Playboy made her.
Paul: Actually, she's a clot.
Ringo: Says Paul, the god of the Beatles.
Paul: I didn't mean it, Beatle people! Actually, I haven't even met her. But you won't print that anyway, of course, because Playboy is very pro-Mansfield. They think she's a rave. But she really is an old bag.
Playboy: By the way, what are Beatle people?
John: It's something they use in the fan mags in America. They all start out, "Hi there, Beatle people, 'spect you're wondering what the Fab Foursome are doing these days!" Now we use it all the time, too.
Playboy: Did you hear about the riot in Glasgow on the night of your last show there?
John: We heard about it after.
Paul: Glasgow is like Belfast. There'll probably be a bit of a skirmish there, too. But it's not because of us. It's because people in certain cities just hate the cops more than in other cities. There were ridiculous riots last time we were there - but it wasn't riots for us. It was just beatin' up coppers.
Playboy: There was an essay not long ago in a very serious commentary magazine, saying that before every major war in this century, there has been a major wave of public hysteria over certain specific entertainers.
John: Hold on! It's not our fault!
Ringo: If I was royal...
Paul: If I was royal I would crack long jokes and get a mighty laugh. If I was royal. We're not anti-religious. We probably seem to be anti-religious because of the fact that none of us believe in God.
John: We're not quite sure what we are, but I know that we're more agnostic than atheistic.
Playboy: Are you speaking for the group or just for yourself?
John: For the group.
George: John's our official religious spokesman.
Paul: But believe it or not, we're not anti-Christ.
Ringo: Just anti-Pope and anti-Christian.
Paul: But you know, in America...
George: They were more shocked by us saying we were agnostics.
John: They went potty; they couldn't take it. Same as in Australia, where they couldn't stand us not liking sports.
Paul: Take Profumo, for example. He's just an ordinary fellow who sleeps with women. Yet it's adultery in the eyes of the law, and it's an international incident. But in actual fact, if you check up on the statistics, you find that there are hardly any married men who have been completely faithful to their wives.
John: I have! Listen, Beatle people... We did meet Christine Keeler.
Ringo: I got up in the Ad Lib the other night and a big handbag hit me in the gut. I thought it was somebody I knew; I didn't have any glasses on. I said, "Hello," and a bloody big worker "Arrgghh." So I ran into the bog. Because I'd heard about things like that.
Playboy: We heard a rumor that one of you was thinking of opening a club. Is there any truth to it?
Ringo: Well, yes. We was going to open one in Hollywood, but it fell through.
Playboy: Have you ever read the magazine? Do you read [The Playboy] Philosophy, any of you?
Paul: Some of it. When the journey's really long and you can't last out the pictures, you start reading it. It's OK.
Playboy: Do you enjoy jazz, any of you? Anyone?
John: Getz. But only because somebody gave me an album of his. With him and somebody called Iguana, or something like that.
Playboy: You mean Joao Gilberto?
John: I don't know. Some Mexican.
Playboy: He's Brazilian.
Paul: It's become so easy to form a group nowadays, and to make a record. Whereas when we started, it took us a couple of years before the record companies would even listen to us, never mind give us a contract. But now, you just walk in and if they think you're OK, you're on.
Playboy: Do you think you had anything to do with bringing all this about?
John: It's a damn fact.
Playboy: Have you seen the Beatle dolls? Don't you feel honored to be immortalized in plastic? After all, there's no such thing as a Frank Sinatra doll or an Elvis Presley doll.
George: Who'd want an ugly old crap doll like that?
Paul: Well, they're making us into a cartoon, too, in the States. It's a series.
John: The highest achievement you could ever get.
Paul: We feel proud and humble.
Playboy: We've just about run out of steam, anyway.
John: Do you have all you need?
Playboy: Enough. Many thanks, fellas.
John: 'Course a lot of it you won't be able to use - "crap" and "bloody" and "tits" and "bastard" and all.
Playboy: Wait and see.
Copyright © 1965/2002 Playboy Magazine