“The Beatles Anthology 1” press conference • Monday, November 20, 1995

Press conference • Interview of The Beatles
Timeline More from year 1995
The Savoy Hotel, London, UK

Album This interview has been made to promote the Anthology 1 Official album.

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From The Beatles Monthly N°237, January 1996:

EMI and Apple launched the Beatles’ Anthology 1 on Monday 20th November in a blaze of publicity unprecedented for a record release (well, unprecedented since the 20th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper, the relaunch of the ‘Red’ and ‘Blue’ or Live At The BBC, at least). The main event was the press conference for the world’s media, staged in the Lancaster Rooms at London’s prestigious Savoy Hotel. The conference was hosted by the managing director of the Parlophone label, Tony Wadsworth, and included a question-and-answer session with “a distinguish panel”, which comprised EMI’s Rupert Perry, George Martin, Derek Taylor, Jeff Lynne and Apple’s Neil Aspinall.

This aspect of the launch proved to be disappointing, however. Despite a capacity turnout of 400 journalists and cameramen, which unlike ITV’s launch for the television series on 12th November, ensured an atmosphere of excitement and expectation, the questions from the floor ranged from the banal to the trivial, and did little to inspire anything more than one-sentence answers from the panel. Only the occasional query proved relevant or of significant
interest, and Rupert Perry – who as the chairman of EMI in Europe is arguably one of the most important figures in the British music industry – wasn’t addressed once. One obvious highlight was the presence of the normally microphone- and camera-shy Neil Aspinall. When quizzed about his legendary low profile, Aspinall let his notoriously tough exterior
drop for a moment to admit: “lt’s not that I’ve deliberately avoided interviews. (yes, you have!. – ed.), it’s just that l’ve always felt that questions about the Beatles were better answered by themselves.

When asked where the Beatles were that day, Derek Taylor responded, “They are all at home, everywhere else but here.” When asked, as a fan, what he thought of the Beatles’ music, Aspinall replied: “l think the music’s great. I always did. From the very first time I saw them when they got back from Hamburg. That’s it. I think the music: is fantastic.” And when questioned as to why he didn’t produce ‘Free As A Bird‘, George Martin said, “Jeff Lynne has done a brilliant job, and having heard it now, l wish I had produced it. Because if anything, it would have given me thirty No.1s, instead of 29. I’ve been working on Anthology 1 all year, and if I had to choose between working on the single or the album, l’d have chosen Anthology, because it’s the bigger one.

The launch also included the press premiere of both the ‘Free As A Bird’ single and video (the song was played twice – to rounds of applause – once accompanied by a projected image of the single’s picture sleeve, and once by the video). There was also an exclusive film of Paul, George and Ringo, featuring interviews not included in the Anthology TV series.

From The Beatles Monthly N°237, January 1996:

Aside from the premiere of ‘Free As A Bird’, the highlight of EMI’s press launch for Anthology 1 on 20th November was the screening of a film featuring exclusive individual interviews with Paul, George and Ringo, shot at the same time as their contributions to the Anthology TV series but not included any of the six episodes. “They talk quite candidly about
being Beatles,
” said Parlophone’s Tony Wadsworth, “and this film has never been shown before and probably won’t ever be shown again. lt is therefore exclusive to this event.” Here’s what the Fab Three said.

George: “We were cute!”

Paul: “I blame the hormones myself. We were a good little band.”

George: “We certainly made some good records, and in our early days we were pretty tight as a little band, say in Hamburg.”

Ringo: “lt always goes back to the music, to the personalities.”

George: “We did feel slightly unique, even before we’d made a record. l remember sitting watching Cliff Richard and the Shadows – and we didn’t even have a drummer, it was just Paul, John and I at that point – and I remember thinking, ‘We can show this lot.’ It wasn’t like an ego thing. lt was like an intuitive feeling that something good is going to happen.
Everybody is unique, really, in their own way. But certainly, I felt we had something totally different.”

Paul: “We did actually had a sense of being different. lt wasn’t so much ‘special’, because that would involved being big-headed – we weren’t too big-headed – but there was an awareness of being different from most of the other bands.”

Ringo: “We knew we were the best band in the land!”

George: “lt’s just some little magic that when you get certain people together it makes fire, or it makes more dynamite. Plus we had good songs, excellent songs, and we were consistent. We were honest, had a sense of humour and kind of looked quite good at the time, which helps”.

Paul: “We were very on a loving sort of vibe. That’s all there is!”

Ringo: “We loved each other. We put a lot of love out. Jokingly. But it’s not really joking, because we did. We loved our audience and they loved us back.”

George: “Well it’s amazing, if you think abrout it. I had just got out of school. All I wanted to do was be in a band. I didn’t want a proper job. I had no idea what I would have done had I not done this. At the age of 17 I was in Hamburg, St. Pauli. By the time I was 23, we’d done Sgt. Pepper and I was in the Himalayas! That’s how much my life changed, from a schoolboy in Liverpool to the Himalayas in five years. But every experience was great, it was speeded up. We put in maybe twenty years into every year.”

Paul: “And then there was the growth within us.”

Ringo: “That’s two-fold. Mainly because of the writers, John and Paul, writing all these great songs. And we were becoming better musicians. lt was all a growth. lt’s like we were born and then we did that. We’d all struggled in Liverpool. We’d all tried work and had been crazed in Germany. When we started playing, the song rate got better, and our playing got better. We all just grew.”

Paul: “They were all vastly different. You’d get ‘Yesterday’ and ‘Strawberry Fields’ or something. You’d get jumps of that magnitude, which I think was attractive. lt made people think, ‘They’re not just one-hit wonders’.”

George: “The music was always there in the background, reflecting our feelings, our desires and all the things we’d experienced. lt goes in leaps and bounds. It’s interesting.”

Ringo: “lt was steady where we were, the four of us, while the craziness went on around us. lt’s the well-known quote about us having the whole floor of the Plaza Hotel in New York, and the four of us were in the bathroom, because it was the only safe place. We weren’t doing anything, we were just hanging out in those days. That’s where we ended up.
We only had each other, because everybody else wanted something. Everybody wanted a piece.”

George: “And the Beatles, we were so stressed out. We’d been through every race riot and jam . . . in every city we went to there was some kind of jam going on, with police control and people threatening to do this and that. And the travel, the intense noise, with people yelling at us all the time, and being confined to a room or a plane or a car. That’s where,
to get back to the thing of love, we all had each other to dilute the stress. Being born in Liverpool and having a sense of humour was very important. We always had a laugh as well.”

Paul: “Some of these mayor’s daughters, I used to meet them with a slight squint. They never knew, and the guys would (imitates laughter). You had to do these things, or else you wouldn’t have made it through it.”

Ringo: “l was an only child, and suddenly I had three brothers. Really close, we were all really close, and we looked out for each other. This was just brilliant for me.”

Paul: “You’d get things like we’d be driving back up to Liverpool all night, and one night the windscreen of the van we were in got smashed out, or the heater wasn’t working or something and it was bitterly cold. So we laid on top of each other in a Beatle sandwich. You get to know each other after that, after lying on top of each other for a couple of hours!
Or, you know, just sitting with each other in hotel rooms, endlessly cooped up. You’ve got to find something to do, so you draw a bit, or you have a drink together. You get pretty pally that way. You get to understand each other.”

Ringo: “Hand on my heart, the show (the Anthology) really brought it back. We were lucky that there were four of us to take that pressure. We’ve all said this about Elvis: he was on his own. The four of us held ear:h other together. At certain times, each one of us went mad, but the other three could bring us back.”

Paul: “We could just develop this world of our own.”

Ringo: “lt was the four of us for each other. lt was more than Musketeers.”

Paul: “lt was good. lt was good being them again for a little while. lt was quite a laugh. But I wouldn’t want to be them forever.”

Ringo: “No, we have billion-dollar offers. But they don’t get the picture, you know. There was four of us. It’s so strange (adopts American accent): ‘l’ll give you a billion dollars if you Beatle boys get back together.’ Didn’t you notice that one of the Beatle boys isn’t here?”

George: “The Beatles will just go on and on – on those records and films and videos and books or whatever, and in people’s memories and minds, because it’s become its own thing now. The Beatles, I think, exist without us.”

Last updated on July 22, 2023


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