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John Perry was guitarist and bassist in the band “Grapefruit“. Grapefruit were a London-based British band of the late 1960s, brought together by Terry Doran of Apple Publishing, a music publishing company started and owned by the Beatles. Their brand of music was a typical late 1960s blend of rock, which they often fused with psychedelic effects such as phasers and vocoders, or classical arrangements.
JOHN PERRY is a musician whose musical pedigree reads like a ‘who’s who’ of rock music. In his role as support singer he has worked with Kiki Dee and Elton John, Roger Daltry of The Who, Leo Sayer, Elkie Brooks, Shakin’ Stevens, Roger Whittaker, Al Stewart, as well as Phil Everly and the Beatles.
He sang with all 4 Beatles on ‘Hey Jude’ in the 60’s and even had George Harrison help him move house on one occasion! He met most of the swinging sixties hierarchy such as Jimi Hendrix, Graham Nash, David Bowie, Keith Moon and Mick Fleetwood.
John, who has been a professional musician nearly all his working life, started at the age of 15 playing schools, coffee bars, private functions; proceeded to halls and clubs on the weekends; and eventually turned professional at the age of 18.
After two years with the much respected, Tony Rivers & the Castaways, a vocal harmony group emulating the Beach Boys, The Four Seasons and sometimes even the Hi Lo’s, John went ‘pop’ and formed a group called ‘Grapefruit’, managed by Terry Doran, the head of Apple Publishing which was owned by The Beatles. John Lennon (who thought up the name of the group) and Paul McCartney were early mentors of the group and were at their early recording sessions. […]
In the follow text, John Perry remembers the very first studio session with Grapefruit, with Lennon / McCartney joining them:
Moving on, It was in the studio where we got our first taste of interaction with the Beatles. After our initial session at IBC we knuckled down to making our first album, and for the most part it would be just us. Memories of standing around the piano probably at Trident studios with the Grapefruit guys and Terry Melcher playing
Round Going Round. Unfortunately he had taken one of his little tablets which made everything half tempo
and although he was “feelin’ it”, it turned a bright happy song into a dirge! Fortunately it had worn off by the time we got to recording. So we kicked off recording where occasionally out of the blue, one or a couple of the Beatles would just turn up and hang out there. Memories of Paul playing Hey Jude to John, (possibly the first time he’d heard it) on a piano behind a curtain; a memory of Lennon, screaming at me trying to get me to play a certain way on a Grapefruit track: “I want it to sound like a f**king airplane coming into land” Bearing in mind
we didn’t even use overdrive guitar in the Castaways this was pretty terrifying. Also George came in a few
times and played around with the drum sounds and stuff.
Interaction with “the boys” was always fascinating and frightening at the same time. You gotta remember
I was a huge fan before I met them, and I have to this day got a collection of Beatles magazines, a monthly mag about the fab four that I devoured in younger days from cover to cover. Now I was hanging out with them and expected to be ‘normal’ in their presence, it was pretty weird. The thing is they were very normal together, the problem was they were THE BEATLES!!!
Here’s an example. We met up for a drink in a pub in Wigmore St. and were sitting round with the lads. I’m sitting between Paul and George and they start to talk to each other with me in the middle. The thing was that because at that time their every word if heard could make the front page, they put their heads very close together so their conversation couldn’t be overheard. Can you imagine when your idol’s face is about 6 inches from yours asking “what do you think” – pretty scary!John Perry – From grapefruit-booklet-uncorrected-CopyTHIS-ONE.pdf (heartrecords.org)
John Perry contributed to the Beatles’ song, “Hey Jude“, by singing some backing vocals:
One notable evening, 30th July 1968 was spent in the studio in one of [The Beatles’] sessions for a change. To begin at the beginning, we had some free time and I was out carousing (as you do) in Wardour St. visiting the Ship pub, and later Jack Barry’s bar, which everybody did in those days. I hadn’t got to Jack’s Bar yet and I was sitting in the pub nursing a beer feeling pretty flat, with nothing going on, when suddenly I remembered that somebody had mentioned that ‘the Boys’ were going to be recording at Trident Studios in St Anne’s Court, just around the corner from the pub.
This seemed infinitely more interesting than what I was doing, so I went along and knocked on the door. It was opened by BIG Mal Evans The lovely Beatles roadie I’d met at IBC studios, who obviously knew me and said, “Hi John, the Boys are in here tonight d’ you wanna come in?” I was through that door before he could even blink.
It was here I watched the boys in action. It seemed that the piano and drums had been previously recorded as had the lead vocal, I’m pretty sure including the screaming ad libs on the end. So I witnessed John and George tracking on those lead guitar bits in the control room, watched Paul add his bass line, in the large downstairs room, which was phenomenal. I had always been a great admirer of Paul’s bass lines, they were almost songs in themselves having a melody and a groove that really fit whatever song he was working on. After this the
Boys came around the Neumann mic setup in the middle of the floor of the big downstairs room and started
adding the 3 part (drifters type) harmonies. All’s great and I’m very happy watching all this,’til they came to the part of the song that goes, ‘better, better, better, AAAAH’. I was by this time sitting on the floor just watching this film-like event unfold before me with the 4 Beatles around the mike singing various bits when the track got to the middle of the verse prior to the Better, better, bit. Paul, suddenly looks over in my direction and ushers me over to join them.
I look around to see who he’s talking to, and seeing only a wall concluded quite brightly that he must be talking to me. I get up and start to walk towards the mic (which J, P, G and R are standing around) – the track is still recording. Paul once again gestures at some headphones lying on the floor. I reach down and put them on, they are SO LOUD that I shout out ‘f**king hell’ (to my eternal shame or glory depending on your standpoint!). I then (nervously) sang along with the Beatles, the first layer of na-na-na’s (after the better better part) going right to the end of the song.
You know I can hardly believe I was there myself but I guess the proof that I was, unless Paul or Ringo can confirm, is that my expletive (undeleted) can still be heard on the record at about 2.59 where the line ‘Remember to let her under your skin, Then you begin, to make it better, better better, AAAH!’ under the word ‘BEGIN’. It’s clearly not a Liverpudlian accent – and as I was the only cockney in there…John Perry – From grapefruit-booklet-uncorrected-CopyTHIS-ONE.pdf (heartrecords.org)
Jan 10, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on Yesterday's Sunshine: The Complete 1967-1968 London Sessions
Nov 24, 1967
Albums, EPs & singles which John Perry contributed to
By Grapefruit • Official album
Contribution: Performed by • 1 songs
By Various Artists • Official album
Contribution: Performed by • 1 songs