Interview for Melody Maker • Saturday, September 3, 1966

Red nosed folk of Showbiz

Press interview • Interview of The Beatles
Published by:
Melody Maker
Interview by:
Ren Grevatt
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WHAT happens if someday, somebody turns off the floodlights and the mystique of idolatry that now bathes the Beatles? Would these vastly talented writers ever turn their pens to the legitimate musical stage?

“Most of legitimate theatre is just a load of rubbish as far as we’re concerned,” said John Lennon this week. “We would never want to be like Rodgers and Hammerstein or anyone who preceded us. If we did anything, it would be a musical of today, not the “20s like the ‘Hello Dolly’ thing.”

Paul McCartney took exception to the term legitimate musical:

“That puts it all in a slot, like ‘Funny Girl’ and a lot of others. We’d never be able to write that way because we wouldn’t feel that kind of show. I don’t mind that type and I quite like seeing them, but we’d have to put far more into it.

“Lionel Bart once told us that the easiest way to do a show is to write 12 songs and give them to a great producer like Joan Littlewood and have her build the whole show around the songs.

“I don’t think we could work that way. It would be harder for us because we would have to put much more into it. I don’t like that term ‘legitimate’. I guess if we ever do a show, we’ll have to call it an illegitimate show.”

“I never lie awake thinking of what I’ll be writing next year or about show business for that matter,” came back John, “Because I probably won’t be in it at some point. Show business we never really ever see.

“That business is a little bunch of red-nosed people who live together and call themselves show business. We know some people in that club but we don’t belong to it.”

I asked Lennon about pop music and people in America.

“I’m no soothsayer on music and where it’s going,” Lennon went on. “I just hope it continues to get better, that it progresses and doesn’t step back. I think, for instance, that Brian Wilson is great, he’s doing some very good things.

“We like the Beach Boys, the Byrds, the Mama’s and Papa’s, a lot of them. They make sounds we like. You know? And we listen to everything we can.

“With Americans, well, I don’t like to generalise, but I think we showed some people here that not all Englishmen are like John Bull or a happy-go-lucky Cockney. Well, once I thought Americans were all loudmouths with big ties and lots of cameras. Well, they’re not.

“I hope I get to see more of America because it’s the kind of place that might blow up someday, by itself, or with the help of some other country.”

But the Beatles aren’t worried about “blowing up” or about their ultimate downfall, as one reporter expressed it.

“There’ll be no downfall for us,” said McCartney. “We’re not worried. We don’t dread it. When we get sick of all the hocus pocus and the Press and the screaming, we’ll just take a fat holiday on our fat wallets.”

Last updated on August 24, 2023


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