So, what did I find out in research for this book?
A lot. The Pete Best story had never been truly told, especially what happened at the Manchester Playhouse in 1962, when he was the victim of some fan violence, an episode that may have speeded-up his unceremonious firing from the group. The details of this episode, provided by eyewitnesses, were startling to me.
Also startling is the role played by the people I call the people who were “left behind.” These were folks like Sam Leach, Freda Kelly, the penetrating deejay of the Cavern, Bob Wooler, and most of all, Bill Harry, the young journalist whose newspaper, Mersey Beat, made all the difference in the world when it came to “getting the news out” about the boys.
The role of the families plays a major part in this story, especially the loving McCartney and Harrison families. It was also interesting how the deaths of the mothers of John and Paul in their teenage years impacted on their desire to succeed. The other family story is how John managed to survive the splintering of his family. There is no question that “The Milkman” (which is also the title of Chapter One) fought back anger and bitterness to rise to fame and fortune, but as you’ll find throughout the book, it almost didn’t happen for all of them.
An unusual character in this book is Tony Bramwell. He worked for the boys for 40 years. His quotes are filled with joy and laughter.
Here’s an excerpt from one of his great stories, about a small concert that saved their careers.
The show happened December 26, 1960, Boxing Day, a secular holiday that occurs the day after Christmas (or the first or second weekday after Christmas). It was, and remains, a bank holiday, another day of freedom for workers and students.
Tony Bramwell read an advertisement about the show and decided to go. Bramwell grew up near George Harrison and Paul McCartney. He boarded the number 81 bus, the bus that Harry Harrison drove on most days. Tony had not seen George in some time, and was always wondering what was happening in George’s life. And suddenly there was George, sitting on the num- ber 81 bus, guitar case in hand, looking directly at Tony. (For those who, like John, exalt the numerological power of the number 9, it should be noted that both the 8 and 1 from the number 81 bus, and the numbers of the date, 2 and 7, add up to 9. Numerology enthusiasts aside, the various coincidences of the number 9 in the boys’ lives are amazing.)
Wearing a black leather jacket and jeans, George explained to Bramwell that he was also headed to Litherland Town Hall. Tony, impressed by the shiny jacket, smiled. But he was a little nervous and his voice was a bit shaky.
“So you are headed to the dance?” Bramwell asked. “We’re playing there tonight,” George said. Bramwell was stunned. Shocked. He replied, “You’re the German group?” George nodded and said, “Yes, direct from Liverpool!” So George, Bramwell thought, was now part of the Beatles, who were in
fact advertised for the show as: “The Beatles—Direct from Hamburg.” And then Bramwell, who would eventually do business with the boys for five decades, made his very first deal. He arranged to carry George’s guitar into the Litherland Town Hall in return for free admission. It was, in the long run, a bargain. George also found his first “personal assistant.” Bramwell got a free backstage pass and the youngest Beatle would find a lifetime friend. “It was my first job, Larry,” Bramwell exclaimed to me with pride fifty-one years later.
MORE EXCERPTS TO COME RIGHT HERE!