Interview for Melody Maker • Saturday, May 27, 1967

JACK HUTTON VISITS A… Beatle listen-in

Press interview • Interview of The Beatles • Recorded May 19, 1967
Published by:
Melody Maker
Interview by:
Jack Hutton
Timeline More from year 1967
Brian Epstein's home, 24 Chapel Street, London, UK

Album This interview has been made to promote the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (UK Mono) LP.

Songs mentioned in this interview

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On the evening of May 19, 1967, The Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein hosted select journalists and broadcasters from the music and national press, in his London home. The occasion was a promotional party attended by the Beatles to launch their new LP “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band“.

Jack Hutton, from Melody Maker, was among the invited. He briefly interviewed John Lennon and Paul McCartney, and his article was published in the May 27 issue of Melody Maker.

JACK HUTTON VISITS A… Beatle listen-in

THE Beatles, innovators as always, last week bestowed a new experience on the pop scene — the LISTEN-IN. They commandeered Brian Epstein’s luxurious townhouse in Chapel Street, London, SW1, played their new LP, “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” at full volume and shouted pleasantly at their guests for several hours.

Downstairs, a long genuine antique table groaned, as they say, under huge dishes of cold meats and vegetables served by white-jacketed waiters. To drink there was a choice of gazpacho, a cold soup, or champers. The champers won handsomely.

The “boys,” as they are affectionately known by their management, were in fine fettle. Lennon won the sartorial stakes with a green, flower-patterned shirt, red cord trousers, yellow socks and what looked like cord shoes. His ensemble was completed by a sporran. With his bushy sideboards and National Health specs he resembled an animated Victorian watchmaker.

Paul McCartney, sans moustache, wore a loosely tied scarf over a shirt and a striped double-breasted jacket and looked like someone out of a Scott Fitzgerald novel.

They both spoke volubly about many things, such as the BBC ban on “A Day In The Life,” one of the LP tracks. Said Paul:

“John woke up one morning and read the Daily Mail. The news stories gave him the ideas for the song. The man goes up the song. The man goes upstairs on a bus for a smoke. Everybody does that kind of thing. But what does the BBC say? Smoking? SMOKING? S-M-O-K-I-N-G? Well, BBC, he was actually smoking Park Drive! Even people at the BBC do these things. So, face it, BBC! You can read a double meaning into anything if you want to. But we don’t care if they ban our songs. It might help the LP. They’ll play the other tracks. It’s exciting to see the way an LP goes. To see how many different things can be taken from it.”

Both Paul and John laughed off the suggestion that “Sgt Pepper” might be their last LP as a group.

“Rubbish,” said Lennon, but he went on to confirm that their touring days were over. “No more tours, no more mop tops. We could never hear ourselves playing properly. Anyway, what more could we do after playing to 56,000 people. What next? More fame? More money? We were travelling all over the world and couldn’t move outside our hotel.”

Now they feel they still give themselves, via albums, to their public, but they don’t have to pay so much.

Says Paul:

“I even went on a bus from Liverpool to Chester the other day without much trouble. There was just a moustache involved. And nearly every morning I take my dog for a walk in Regents Park.”

The musical ideas of Lennon and McCartney seem to be expanding all the time. These ideas encompass a whole spectrum of sounds — mechanical, orchestral, electronic, animal, vegetable, mineral.

They are becoming less and less concerned with their own playing.

“I don’t practise,” says John. “I only played guitar to accompany myself singing. You could study all your life and become the best bassoonist in Israel. So what? “I like producing records. I want to do it all. I want a machine that produces all sounds. Studying music was like learning French. If there was a new method of learning music—yeah. But the present method is archaic.”

“We were never musicians,” agreed Paul. “In Hamburg we got a lot of practice, But reading music for us is unnecessary.”

Paul conducted the 41-piece band heard on the banned track “A Day In The Life” and he felt initially embarrassed facing that sea of sessioners.

“So I decided to treat them like human beings and not professional musicians. I tried to give myself to them. We chatted and drank champagne.”

John dislikes what he calls “factory musicians.”

“Classical players are best on records. They can play anything. Jazzmen are the worst. They can only play from there to there…” He placed his open palms two inches apart. “… and they all want to sound like Ronnie Scott or somebody else.”

Lennon’s views are equally trenchant about jazz styles. He doesn’t dig dixieland and mainstream.

“It’s dying man — like the Black And White Minstrels. I like John Coltrane but I don’t get to the clubs much because it’s embarrassing. The so-called experts laugh at you — ‘there’s a Beatle in the audience folks.’ It’s probably my blame, but that’s what I feel.”

However, he promised the MM he would go to hear Charles Lloyd’s quartet when they play London on June 17. And to prove it Lennon borrowed a pen and wrote CHARLES LLOYD in big letters on the back of his sporran.


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