RINGO: I MARRIED MAUREEN IN FEBRUARY 1965.
We had met in the Cavern. She was in the audience and I had taken her home (and her friend). There was always that Liverpool thing: 'I'll take you home, love.' - 'Sure, can you take my friend too?' - 'Er, all right.' Then one day you'd ask, 'Can we go out alone?'
We started going steady; more or less. How could you go steady in my job? I kept leaving and going on tour. In the early days we didn't have much time off, but any time we did have off I spent with her. We'd have Mondays, because nobody booked gigs for a Monday, so I'd dash up to Liverpool and we'd go to a pub, to the movies or see a show, and then go to a restaurant. Just fill up that whole time.
When I came back from the States and went into hospital to have my tonsils out, Maureen stayed with my mother in my London flat. It was then I said, 'Do you want to get married?' and she said 'yes'. It was a gradual build-up; but we married and had three kids. I was with Maureen fight through till 1975.
JOHN: I don't think the two of us being married has had any bad results on our popularity. Remember that when it was announced Ringo and I were both married there hadn't been anybody in such a position as us who had got married. Before us, it was silver-disc people (as opposed to gold-disc people) who'd married - people who relied mainly on the fact that they wiggled, all sexy, in their acts. We didn't rely on wiggling and we still don't. We were never dependent on fans being in love with us so much.65
GEORGE: In February we started filming our second film, Help!. It was shot in the Bahamas, Austria and England. It was real fun doing the movie on location. We started off in the Bahamas and, as with most filming, we spent a lot of time hanging about; but there we could hang about on the beach.
We shot some incredible scenes that were never used. We've been trying to get hold of some of the out-takes. We rented sports cars which we used to drive around the island; I think they were Triumph Spitfires and MGBs. And as the police were all in the movie, we never had any trouble with speeding.
One day we found a disused quarry and started driving madly around it; skidding, doing doughnuts, going up the sides and spinning out. We made Dick Lester come and set up the camera so he could film us. He shot it with a fish-eye lens and it looked amazing: a big golden quarry with blue and red cars - like little toys - going round the bottom and up the sides. It was never used in the film, but we could sure use it now.
We've since found that they destroyed all that footage. People were so short-sighted in the old days; it was that 'they'll never last' concept.
RINGO: The problem was that we went to the Bahamas to film all the hot scenes, and it was freezing. We had to ride around and run around in shirts and trousers, and it was absolutely bloody cold.
NEIL ASPINALL: And they couldn't get tanned, because afterwards they had to go to Europe to shoot scenes that would appear earlier in the movie. They always had to sit in the shade or wear hats.
We found in the Apple archives Brian's note about the Bahamas trip, dictated at the time.
BRIAN EPSTEIN: I travelled out from London with Paul and Ringo. John and George had arrived at Heathrow airport a couple of minutes before us. As our car approached the back of Queens' Building, we saw a packed group of fans on its roof. When we turned the corner and walked onto the tarmac, there it was: an unbelievable crowd of wonderful fans; cheering, waving and holding banners. A thrilled Paul and Ringo joined up with an equally-amazed John and George, who were already acknowledging the crowd.
The group posed for the mass of photographers, continuing to wave to the fans as long as the airline would allow them. It was the most wonderfully loyal demonstration the group could receive of their fans' affection.
Our unit travelling to the Bahamas numbered seventy-eight, making for a full load. Amongst these were: Eleanor Bron; actors Victor Spinetti, John Bluthal and Patrick Cargill; producer and director duo Walter Shenson and Dick Lester; and fave photographer Robert Freeman. Also present were Beatles' road managers Neil Aspinall and Malcolm Evans, suitably equipped with the usual stack of photos, throat sweets, ciggies and other touring Beatle gear.
The cold air of New York gusted in as we touched down to refuel. Then, about eleven hours after leaving England - seven o'clock local time - our chartered Boeing touched down in Nassau. We disembarked to receive the warm welcome and weather. The Beatles and I were then whisked off by the authorities to a press conference without so much as the option to get a bit nearer to the waiting crowd - this is usually the true story when you read of artists 'ignoring their fans'.
The group started shooting the morning following their arrival. Among the first scenes shot were those of the group cycling on a public thoroughfare, chatting away. Personally, I was greatly impressed with what seemed to be improved naturalness of speech and movement. Ringo proved as good an actor as was apparent in the first film. Another day, the four enjoyed a swim fully clothed (well, shirt, jeans and shoes). John said he'd always wanted to try this and thought it might be even better to bathe in a suit, with tie and all.
Before leaving Nassau on Friday, I took a speedboat out to a tiny island where the boys were working. I arrived just in time to get a boxed lunch, used on these occasions, and to join up with the group for a break. No doubt about it, I thought, they're enjoying making this film very much, relaxed, inventive and effervescent as ever. I left the Bahamas with no doubts that my clients are being well looked after by the gentle and brilliant Mr Lester and the efficient and understanding Mr Shenson, not forgetting the people of Nassau, their sea and sun.
RINGO: The storyline to Help! was written around me and the theme of the ring, and of course, Kaili. I had the central part. I think it helped that I'd been enthusiastic about the first film.
JOHN: He comes in possession of this ring, and whoever wears it has to be sacrificed by this big mob. We're trying to save him and get the ring off his finger, and there's other people trying to get it off for various reasons. It's very complicated, but that's basically what it is - to stop him being sacrificed.65
PAUL: While we'd really tried to get involved and learn the script for A Hard Day's Night, by the time Help! came along we were taking it as a bit of a joke. I'm not sure anyone ever knew the script, I think we used to learn it on the way to the set.
JOHN: The movie was out of our control. With A Hard Day's Night, we had a lot of input, and it was semi-realistic. But with Help!, Dick Lester didn't tell us what it was about. I realise, looking back, how advanced it was. It was a precursor for the Batman 'Pow! Wow!' on TV - that kind of stuff. But he never explained it to us. Partly, maybe, because we hadn't spent a lot of time together between A Hard Day's Night and Help!, and partly because we were smoking marijuana for breakfast during that period. Nobody could communicate with us; it was all glazed eyes and giggling all the time. In our own world.80 It's like doing nothing most of the time, but still having to rise at 7am; so we became bored.70
RINGO: A hell of a lot of pot was being smoked while we were making the film. It was great. That helped make it a lot of fun.
GEORGE: Brandon De Wilde was an actor, a James Dean type. (He died in a car crash in 1972.) He liked The Beatles' music and he heard we were going to film in the Bahamas, so he came over from the States with a big bag of reefer. We smoked on the plane, all the way to the Bahamas. It was a charter flight, with all the film people - the actors and the crew - and we thought, 'No, nobody will notice.' We had Mal smoking cigars to drown out the smell.
GEORGE: Austria was next. It was the first and last time on skis for me. It was really dangerous. Nowadays when people make movies, everybody's got to be insured and you're not supposed to do this, that and the other in case you get injured and hold up the budget of the movie. And yet they took us to Austria, took us up a mountain, gave us our boots (that nobody even laced up), gave us our skis, said, 'Turn over, take one. Action!' - and gave us a push.
RINGO: It was the first time we'd been to Austria - first time I'd been on skis. I loved that.
In one of the scenes, Victor Spinetti and Roy Kinner are playing curling; sliding along those big stones. One of the stones has a bomb in it and we find out that it's going to blow up,, and have to run away. Well, Paul and I ran about seven miles, we ran and ran, just so we could stop and have a joint before we came back. We could have run all the way to Switzerland.
If you look at pictures of us you can see a lot of red-eyed shots; they were red from the dope we were smoking. And these were those clean-cut boys!
Dick Lester knew that very little would get done after lunch. In the afternoon we very seldom got past the first line of the script. We had such hysterics that no one could do anything. Dick Lester would say, 'No, boys, could we do it again?' It was just that we had a lot of fun - a lot of fun in those days.
JOHN: All the best stuff is on the cutting-room floor, with us breaking up and falling about all over the place, lying on the floor, incapable of saying a word.70
PAUL: We showed up a bit stoned, smiled a lot and hoped we'd get through it. We giggled a lot.
I remember one time at Cliveden (Lord Astor's place, where the Christine Keeler/Profumo scandal went on): we were filming the Buckingham Palace scene where we were all supposed to have our hands up. It was after lunch, which was fatal because someone might have brought out a glass of wine as well. We were all a bit merry and all had our backs to the camera and the giggles set in. All we had to do was turn around and look amazed, or something. But every time we'd turn round to the camera there were tears streaming down our faces. It's OK to get the giggles anywhere else but in films, because the technicians get pissed off with you. They think, 'They're not very professional.' Then you start thinking, 'This isn't very professional - but we're having a great laugh!'
GEORGE: We were filming that scene for days. There is a pipe with red smoke coming through and we have the window open and all the guards fall over. That scene just went on forever. We were in stitches - in hysterics laughing - and I think we pushed Dick Lester to the limit of his patience. And he was very, very easygoing; a pleasure to work with.
JOHN: We went wrong with the picture somehow. I enjoyed filming it; I'm sort of satisfied, but not smug about it. It'll do. There's good photography in it. There's some good actors - not us, because we don't act, we just do what we can. Leo McKern is exceptional; and Victor Spinetti and Roy Kinner - the thin and the fat fella - they're good together. The first half of the film is much better than the end, and it's a bit of a let-down when it gets to the Bahamas.
I think there is a lot of scope for us in films which hasn't been exploited. It took us three or four records before we really got our sound. I suppose it will be the same with films. We do feel that if we prove ourselves we'll stay with it. If Elvis Presley could do it, we don't mind following him to the screen. The main point is to keep our films different. We'll always have a shock in store for the audience; this is where we stray from the Presley plan. But I wouldn't want to concentrate on films. It isn't our speed; we like to move. I still prefer playing for a live audience to anything else.
One final thing, you may as well discount Hollywood - we've all decided that if we win Oscars for this film, we're all going to send them back!65
JOHN: The first time that we were aware of anything Indian was when we were making Help!. There was an odd thing about an Indian and that Eastern sect that had the ring and the sacrifice; and on the set in one place they had sitars and things - they were the Indian band playing in the background, and George was looking at them.
We recorded that bit in London, in a restaurant. And then we were in the Bahamas filming a section and a little yogi runs over to us. We didn't know what they were in those days, and this little Indian guy comes legging over and gives us a book each, signed to us, on yoga. We didn't look at it, we just stuck it along with all the other things people would give us.
Then, about two years later, George had started getting into hatha yoga. He'd got involved in Indian music from looking at the instruments in the set. All from that crazy movie. Years later he met this yogi who gave us each that book; I've forgotten what his name was because they all have that 'Baram Baram Badoolabam', and all that jazz. All of the Indian involvement came out of the film Help!.72
GEORGE: I suppose that was the start of it all for me. It was a chance meeting - the guy had a little place on Paradise Island, and somebody just have whispered in his inner ear to give us his book, The Illustrated Book of Yoga. We were on our bikes on the road, waiting to do a shoot, when up walked a swami in orange robes: Swami Vishnu Devananda, the foremost hatha yoga exponent. It was on my birthday.
Later, when I got involved with Indian philosophy and got the desire to go to Rishikesh, I picked up the book again and couldn't believe that that was where he was from - the Shivananda Ashram in Rishikesh. His main place was in Montreal, but he had a little aeroplane and flew himself in and around different countries, getting arrested and put in jail; gaining publicity for what he called his 'Boundary-Breaking Tour'. He opposed the whole idea of having borders between countries, and even issued us all with Planet Earth passports. Peter Max, the pop artist who became famous by copying the Yellow Submarine-type pictures, painted Vishnu Devananda's aeroplane.
I read his book after I became vegetarian. The thing that repelled me about eating meat was the idea of killing animals. But the main issue is that meat-eating is not healthy and it's not natural. In the book he says things like: monkeys don't get headaches; all human ailments and diseases come from an unnatural diet.
Also in his book, he illustrates things like how to cleanse the nasal passage, where he threads a string up his nose and pulls it out of his throat.
There's another one which involves swallowing a bandage that's been soaked in salt and water. You swallow it all the way down, and then you pull it back out. It's all to do with getting the body perfect. John had the idea of combining the two: the nasal-passage one, pulling on each end, with swallowing the bandage - and pulling it out of your arse! John was very funny, he was brilliant.
PAUL: The songwriting for the album was done mainly at John's place in Weybridge. With A Hard Day's Night John went home and came back with a lot of it, but with Help! we sat down and wrote it together. I remember us all sitting round trying to think, and John getting the idea for the title track. I helped with the structure of it and put in little counter melodies. When we'd finished, we went downstairs and played it to Cynthia and Maureen Cleve, and they thought it was good. We'd got it then; that was it.
From something he said later, I think 'Help!' reflected John's state of mind. He was feeling a bit constricted by the Beatle thing.
JOHN: Most people think it's just a fast rock'n'roll song. I didn't realise it at the time - I just wrote the song because I was commissioned to write it for the movie - but later I knew, really I was crying out for help. 'Help!' was about me, although it was a bit poetic.71 I think everything comes out in the songs.
THE WHOLE BEATLE THING WAS JUST BEYOND COMPREHENSION. I WAS EATING AND DRINKING LIKE A PIG, AND I WAS FAT AS A PIG, DISSATISFIED WITH MYSELF, AND SUBCONSCIOUSLY I WAS CRYING FOR HELP. IT WAS MY FAT ELVIS PERIOD.
You see the movie: he - I - is very fat, very insecure, and he's completely lost himself. And I am singing about when I was so much younger and all the rest, looking back at how easy it was; but then things got more difficult.80
Happiness is just how you feel when you don't feel miserable. There's nothing guaranteed to make me happy. There's no one thing I can think of that would go 'click' and I'd be happy.66 Now I may be very positive, but I also go through deep depressions where I would like to jump out of the window. It becomes easier to deal with as I get older; I don't know whether you learn control or, when you grow up, you calm down a little. Anyway, I was fat and depressed and I was crying out for help. It's real.80
GEORGE: John never said that when he wrote it; he said it retrospectively. That was how he was feeling. He was plump and he had his glasses. He just didn't feel right. He looked like Michael Caine with horn-rimmed glasses.
He was paranoid about being short-sighted and we'd have to take him into a club and lead him to his seat, so that he could go in without his glasses on and look cool. It was funny when Cynthia was out with him: they'd sit outside in the car, arguing as to whose turn it was to put the glasses on to go in and see where we were sitting. So he did go through that period when he was feeling, 'I was younger than today...'
JOHN: The lyric is as good now. It makes me feel secure to know I was that sensible; not sensible - aware of myself. That was with no acid, no nothing (well, pot).
I don't like the recording that much. The real feeling of the song was lost because it was a single; we did it too fast, to try and be commercial. I've thought of doing it again sometime and slowing it down. I remember I got very emotional at the time, singing the lyrics. Whatever I'm singing, I really mean it. I don't mess about. Even it I'm singing 'awop-bop-alooma-awop-bam-boom' I really mean it. And then there's always that very emotional music going on at the same time.71
I remember Maureen Cleave - a writer, the one who did the famous 'Jesus' story in the Evening Standard - said to me, 'Why don't you ever write songs with more than one syllable in the words?' I never considered it before, so after that I put a few three-syllable words in, but she didn't think much when I played the song for her, anyway. I was insecure then, and things like that happened more than once.80
PAUL: THE THING ABOUT JOHN WAS THAT HE WAS ALL UPFRONT. YOU NEVER SAW JOHN. ONLY THROUGH A FEW CHINKS IN HIS ARMOUR DID I EVER SEE HIM, BECAUSE THE ARMOUR WAS SO TOUGH. JOHN WAS ALWAYS, ON THE SURFACE, TOUGH, TOUGH, TOUGH.
Unfortunately, I think the world has to have a false impression of John. I think John was a really nice guy - covering up. He didn't dare let you see that nice side. So it was always rock'n'roll... till you actually caught him in the right moment.
JOHN: I really don't want to be labelled a cynic. They [the press] are getting my character out of some of the things I write or say. I hate tags. I'm slightly cynical, but I'm not a cynic. One can be wry one day and cynical the next and ironic the next. I'm a cynic about things that are taken for granted: society, politics, newspapers, government; but I'm not cynical about life, love, goodness, death.66
Paul can be very cynical and much more biting than me when he's driven to it. Of course, he's got more patience, but he can carve people up in no time at all, when he's pushed. He hits the nail right on the head and doesn't beat about the bush, does Paul.80
PAUL: One of my great memories of John is from when we were having some argument. I was disagreeing and we were calling each other names. We let it settle for a second and then he lowered his glasses and he said, 'It's only me...' and then he put his glasses back on again. To me, that was John. Those were the moments when I actually saw him without the façade, the armour, which I loved as well, like anyone else. It was a beautiful suit of armour. But it was wonderful when he let the visor down and you'd just see the John Lennon that he was frightened to reveal to the world.
GEORGE MARTIN: I produced all the tracks for the film, but I wasn't asked to do the scoring - another guy was offered the job. Dick Lester and I didn't hit it off well on A Hard Day's Night, and the fact that I got an Academy Award nomination for musical direction probably didn't help either.
JOHN: I do think the songs in the film are better. One I do which I like is 'You've Got To Hide Your Love Away' - but it's not commercial. 'The Night Before' that Paul does' is good.65
I used to like guitars; I didn't want anything else on the album but guitars and jangling piano, or whatever, and it's all happening. 'Ticket To Ride' was slightly a new sound at the time. It was pretty fucking heavy for then, if you go and look in the charts for what other music people were making. You hear it now and it doesn't sound too bad; but it'd make
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