Q: You introduced John Lennon to Stuart Sutcliffe while you
were all students at the Liverpool College of Art. Do you remember
that first meeting?
Basically, yes. Stuart was the first. I'd heard whispers that there
was a talented new student at the college. Somehow, I've always
been drawn to creative and artistic people, so I made it my business
to get to know him. We were in different classes, but everyone used
to mingle in the canteen during breaks and lunchtimes and I introduced
my self to Stu and his best friend Rod Murray.
I got to know John almost as soon as he arrived. I was sitting
in the canteen one day and saw this cocky young man striding past.
He was dressed a bit like a teddy boy, with a d.a. haircut (duck's
arse) and had immediate impact. I remember vividly looking around
at the other students. They were all wearing turtle neck sweaters
in navy blue, grey or green, with duffle coats of navy blue or fawn.
It was like an epiphany, suddenly it hit me that all these arty
students thought they were unconventional, but they weren't, they
all dressed the same and probably thought the same, this new guy
with his swagger and teddy boy clothes was the unconventional one,
he was the person I wanted to get to know, so I introduced myself
to him and we got on from the start. John initially tries to intimidate
new people he gets to know, but he couldn't do this with me as I
came from a particularly tough background. Immediately that happens,
John never tries to intimidate or bully again.
Students regularly went to the Ye Cracke, a nearby pub and it was
while there that I introduced Stu to John. I must admit that at
times John did find he could intimidate Stuart and occasionally
tried to make fun of him in front of people. Also Rod, not John,
always remained Stuart's closest friend at the college.
Nevertheless, we became a good quartet of friends.
Q: It's well known that Stu was closest to John as far as the
group was concerned. What was his relationship like with the other
members of the group? How much truth is there to the story that
tension existed between Stu and the others, particularly Paul?
There doesn't seem to have been any problems in Stu's relationship
with Pete Best or George Harrison. In fact, when Stu remained in
Hamburg following the group's first trip there George wrote to Stu
asking for him to rejoin the band saying that they weren't any good
without him. On the other hand, at the time John offered Chas. Newby
(who played three dates with the Beatles on their return from their
Hamburg debut), Stu's job as bass guitarist with the group. Chas
turned him down. To be quite frank, John used to put Stu down and
often humiliated him in front of people, but that was John's way
if he could get away with it.
There was also tension between Paul and Stu which resulted in a
physical fight on stage at the Top Ten Club. Apparently, Paul had
been baiting Stu and knew his vulnerable spot - his love for Astrid.
So when Astrid came into the club he began making remarks, which
resulted in Stu rushing across the stage to tackle him. Later, when
Stu left, the relationship improved and I believe Stu let Paul have
Q: Do you think Allan Williams has overstated his part in Beatles
history? If so, what are some of the myths you think he has created
He was there. He was part of it, but he needn't have created so
much inaccurate rubbish that has been the ruination of the credibility
of various writers who have referred to his 'The Man Who Gave The
Beatles Away' book. I have Allan Williams' original biographical
manuscript which was written by Mersey Beat columnist Bob Azurdia,
which Allan himself gave to me. The Beatles are only a very small
part of it. Daily Mirror reporter Bill Marshall then collaborated
on a book with Allan which Marshall sensationalized and created
lots of myths with. He was interested in getting a book which would
be a page turner and exaggerated much of the story. Bill actually
revealed to me that it was his book more than Allan's. To sell it,
he decided that Allan should be regarded as the Beatles first manager
rather than the occasional agent he was. So he immediately states
this, saying Allan still has the contracts, slightly burned. Those
actual contracts are for their first booking with Bruno Koshmider
in Hamburg and were burnt when Allan's Liverpool club, the Top Ten
burned down. They are an agent's contract and not management contracts
- but the trick seems to have worked!
There are many holes in Allan's book which can be disproved, but
I don't need to go into them. What concerns me is when other people
distort my own personal history. Not only did I chronicle the entire
scene in Mersey Beat, Bob Wooler called me 'the Boswell of Beat'
because I reported on everything that happened.
As a trained observer, not only do I have the proof of many of
the stories in black and white in Mersey Beat itself, I specifically
remember various events and can back them up with other witnesses.
I also kept diaries, but unfortunately they were all lost in a move
from Westbourne Grove in London. However, there is no doubt that
at the time I was basically the only person actually documenting
the entire Mersey scene as it happened.
Back to my own personal history and how Allan Williams has tried
to warp that.
Cilla Black had asked me on a number of occasions to manage her.
This I couldn't do as I was too involved in producing Mersey Beat.
At one time I took her to the Coffee Pot, a nearby coffee bar. She
told me she wanted to sing jazz and needed a jazz trio to back her
and she wanted to sing a repertoire with numbers such as 'Fever.'
One night in 1963 down at the Blue Angel club, Virginia and I noticed
Brian Epstein at the downstairs bar with Andrew Loog Oldham. Cilla
was also downstairs with her mate Pat Davies. I had a sudden inspiration.
I went up to Brian and asked him if he'd do me a favour and listen
to a girl singer. He agreed. I went to Cilla and told her, asking
if she'd get on stage to sing 'Boys' with the band. The group on
stage was the Masterminds, who were the current resident group at
I went up to them and asked if they'd back Cilla on 'Boys', a number
most local groups had in their repertoire. They agreed and Cilla
sang the number. When she finished I took her over to Epstein and
left them to talk. She then came to me to say Brian had asked her
to come to his office in the morning and she phoned me later the
next day saying he'd agreed to sign her.
That is the true sequence of events.
I was flabbergasted when Cilla, in her biography, said Brian discovered
her when she got up at the Blue Angel to sing 'Bye Bye Blackbird'
with a jazz group. Utter fantasy, although a number of people told
me that Cilla was confessing she couldn't remember many of the events
from her early career anyway.
Apart from Virginia and me remembering this specific night in detail,
I decided to follow it up. I contacted Andrew Loog Oldham, who also
remembered the night and said that indeed he recalled me coming
up when he was with Brian and asking about Cilla - and then getting
Cilla to sing. Not only that, as Andrew listened too, he then signed
up the Masterminds and recorded Bob Dylan's number 'She Belongs
To Me' with them. I also contacted the Masterminds who confirmed
that I asked them to back Cilla that evening.
Where does Allan Williams come in? In another retelling of his
'story' by Lew Baxter, he now claims to have got Cilla up on stage
that night. Actually, Allan wasn't even in the downstairs bar that
night - he was upstairs.
event concerns Bob Dylan. When Saturday Evening Post writer Al Aronowitz
came to Liverpool to cover what was happening in the city, including
the Civic reception, Virginia and I took him round the pubs and
clubs. He was continually enthusing about Bob Dylan, a friend of
his, so I went to Nems in Great Charlotte Street and bought Dylan's
album. Aronowitz had also switched John Lennon onto Dylan.
When I went to London to attend the Dylan reception at the Dorchester
Hotel, he seemed bored with the usual questions from the press.
I went to him and mentioned Al Aronowitz, then we got into a conversation
about the Beatles, Liverpool, poetry and I took him into a hall
where there was a phone and I called John and put him onto Dylan,
who was then invited to visit John in Weybridge. Bob told me that
when he came to Liverpool he'd be staying at the Adelphi Hotel and
we must call him there and take him around Liverpool.
In the meantime, a furious Wendy Hanson, Brian Epstein's p.a. came
up to me and started telling me off for contacting John. I told
her to piss off.
After we'd seen Bob's Liverpool concert at the Odeon, we went around
to the Adelphi. Bob had left a message that we would be calling
and we were shown to his room. He asked if we could take him to
see some local poets. First we decided to go to the Blue Angel club.
We went to the ground floor bar and I asked Bob what he'd like to
drink. He asked for Beaujolais. Unfortunately, the Blue only sold
beer and spirits, so Bob said he'd like to leave as he had lots
of Beaujolais in his room. In the meantime we'd introduced him to
Mike McCartney and Roger McGough of the Scaffold and to the Poppies,
an attractive trio of black girl singers. He invited them all to
join us back at his hotel.
When we returned to the Adelphi we went to his room and one of
the tables had a full box of Beaujolais taking pride of place on
it. His manager Al Grossman was also there, ensconced in an armchair,
and we then began chatting throughout the night, with Bob telling
me about 'Tarantula', a book he was writing.
Not only do Virginia and I remember that night in detail, but Mike
and Roger can attest to it - and the Poppies as well. In fact, Bob
was so enchanted by the Poppies that he invited them down to London
and recorded them - although I never heard of any release.
When Lew Baxter was writing the second Williams' biography, he
also asked if he could write a book about Allan's girlfriend, Beryl
Adams, former secretary to Brian Epstein. Sadly, Beryl died of CJD
(mad cow's disease) in 2004, but I bought a copy of the book 'My
Beatles Hell,' which contains a lot of the stories Allan had obviously
One item reads: "Williams told Beryl that the Blue Angel's
bouncers had turned Bob Dylan away because he looked like a tramp.
Then when he recognized the singer poet he ran after him, begging
him to come back. She wasn't convinced that he did and yet it's
become just another Allan Williams' folk tale, embellished as the