ABOUT THIS INTERVIEW:
The September 1966 issue of The Beatles Book Monthly featured an exclusive interview with John Lennon. John seemed at ease while talking about his opinions of British television, children, Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones, and misconceptions of himself in the press.
First published in 1963 and continuing throughout their career and beyond, The Beatles Book Monthly was the official fanzine of the group. It took full advantage of having access to amazing rare photos, it featured exclusive articles, and contained insights not found anywhere else.
Sometimes also listed as Beatles Monthly Book, previously-owned copies of these excellent magazines continue to circulate in collector's circles, including online sites such as Ebay. While this UK-based fanzine had a rebirth in the late 70's and 80's, the most intriguing issues come from the years when the band was together.
- Jay Spangler, www.beatlesinterviews.org
Article © 1966 Beat Publications LTD.
The setting was not unfamiliar - a dressing room like any other, but it seemed strangely empty with the absence of George, Paul and Ringo and everyone else who is part of the Beatle entourage.
The unconquerable Lennon was in a surprisingly talkative mood that evening, and seemed somewhat unusually content.
Looking around the dressing room, it was not difficult to notice the empty cigarette packs, coke bottles, half-empty cups of tea and pushed-aside plates of uneaten food, and four black silk suits with a red carnation in each buttonhole - which made one think that the Beatles were part of a wedding party (most unlikely)!
"Everytime we arrive at London Airport, or depart from it, and whenever we are anywhere," said John, "this girl sends us red carnations. She's been doing it for a couple of years. Actually, she came to see us before you arrived."
Knowing that the Beatles are television fanatics, I asked John to give his personal views on pop programs and late-night shows.
"I liked 'Whole Scene Going.' It was a good program because they introduced new people like Barry Fantoni and Wendy Varnals. Another good thing about it was that their guests weren't only pop stars, but actors, writers and other personalities."
I then asked John what he thought the limit should be to a 'hot' conversation on a late night show.
"I don't think there should be any limits at all. That is why they should put late night shows on at two o'clock in the morning. That way people wouldn't have to watch it and say how disgusting so-and-so's behavior was. The average viewer sits glued to the box right up to the epilogue no matter what's on, so if they put these shows on very late, it will only be those who really want to watch it who will bother to stay up so late."
Just then Mal (Evans) walked in with two teas in paper cups. "Is that all they've got?" asked John. "Why can't we have a proper cup of tea out of the pot? I'm sure the directors don't have their tea in paper cups. See if you can get us two more cups."
I asked John whether the Beatles expected to be knocked from the top pretty soon, and if so, how would they feel about it.
"I think that within the next couple of years there will be someone very big, perhaps even bigger than us. It might be another group or it might be a solo artist. I don't know about the others, but I wouldn't mind having the limelight taken away from us."
Somehow we brought the conversation 'round to the Stones and John said, "I always call Bill Wyman - Charlie. He gets offended because he thinks I'm mistaking him for Charlie Watts. It's only because I think he looks like Charles II, that's why I call him Charlie.
John went on to talk about children. "I now take notice of other kids, and compare them to Julian. I think to myself, 'Thats clever, I don't think mine can do that' or vice versa. A lot of people like having children for their old age, I just want them because I like them."
I asked John if he had any plans for a third book or maybe an autobiography.
"Writing an autobiography has passed through my mind, but I've got a memory like a sieve. Anyway, I certainly hope to be writing another book, if I can find the time."
It has been said that when the Beatles play live together after a considerable gap, that John suffers from forgetfulness more than the others, and often can't remember chords or even the words.
"Yes it's true. I can't play any of Rubber Soul. It's been so unrehearsed. The only time we played any of the numbers on it is when we recorded it. I forget about songs. They're only valid for a certain time."
People (usually journalists) are always talking about 'Lennon the ogre' or similar words to make him sound monstrous, so I asked John whether or not he was aware that people are frightened of him, and often clam-up in front of him in case he should make them feel small.
"Yes I am aware of the fact. But it's only because people believe what they read, and no one has ever written the truth about me. I used to get very impatient with these type of people, and I know I used to make them feel uncomfortable by being rather off-hand, but I don't bother any more. I try and be nice!"
I then asked if he trusted anybody implicity.
"Only the other three, and my wife."
Just then the strangeness of the dressing room wore off, because in walked Paul, George and Ringo. So I wound up our interview by asking John if he'd always been vague, or only since becoming a Beatle.
"I've always been vague. My characteristics haven't changed since becoming a Beatle."
Source: Transcribed by www.beatlesinterviews.org from original magazine issue