The Beatles: Why Liverpool should never take them for granted
BY PADDY SHENNAN
13 NOV 2015
John, Paul, George and Ringo were brilliant musicians, but could also have made a pretty good living as comedians
They were, of course, brilliant musicians – but we shouldn’t forget they could probably have made decent careers as comedians, too.
I loved immersing myself in the classic Fab Four Fest that was The Nation’s Favourite Beatles Number One (ITV, Wednesday).
The music was, naturally, great – but so was John, Paul, George and Ringo’s easy and natural humour.
Watching them joking with comedy giants like Ken Dodd and Morecambe and Wise was a sheer joy, with the band playing the parts of the comedians’ equals rather than their stooges, or straight men.
Doddy could make mincemeat – or jam from a jam butty mine – out of almost anyone, but not The Beatles.
The Squire of Knotty Ash was chatting to them about a potential pop persona. He was thinking “Cliff or Rock” – to which Paul said: “Or Cliff Dodd... Rock Dodd.”
And when Doddy invited suggestions for an “earthy name”, John’s deliciously dry reply was “Sod.”
Ken Dodd with The Beatles in 1963
There was also a delightful exchange between John and Eric Morecambe – after John said: “My dad used to tell me about you” (his hand indicating when he was knee high), Eric replied: “You’ve only got a little dad, have you?”
Lennon laughed his head off, as did the nation – and it did so, again, when George, asked by a reporter in A Hard Day’s Night “What would you call that hairstyle?” replied “Arthur.”
As well as so much wonderful music – which, when presented in a concentrated format like this, makes the band’s achievements seem all the greater – there were many fascinating snippets of information.
Like, for example, the story of John and Paul being inspired to write From Me To You after reading the “From You To Us” letters page in the New Musical Express.
And I loved the story from Joe McGrath, who directed the video for I Feel Fine. We were shown an alternative version with the lads eating fish and chips. Joe said: “Brian Epstein came over and said ‘You can’t use that, it makes them look like real people ... like the Rolling Stones’.”
You could argue that anyone who lives or works in Liverpool doesn’t need to own any Beatles music as we absorb the Fab Four’s brilliant back catalogue on a daily basis.
It can become easy to take them for granted, because we know the songs and the stories so well. But we shouldn’t – and we should always be incredibly proud of them.
The chart? Hey Jude topped it – but what a shame Strawberry Fields Forever didn’t make it to number one in the UK or US.
That’s their best song... isn’t it?