The screening took place in a very nice screening room at the Hospital Club in Covent Garden. Those present included the director, Alan G Parker, and the co- producer Reynold D’Silva ( who also owned Ringo’s old flat in Montagu Square) and archivist Keith Badman. The film is produced by Alexa Morris.
Alan gave brief speech before the film, telling us how the idea first came to him when he met Keith Badman at the Liverpool Beatles Convention in 1982.
The film begins with a recollections from the Beatles 1966 tours, focusing on the controversy surrounding John’s ‘bigger than Jesus’ comments, and they they decided they wouldn’t tour any more. During this section. there was a fascinating interview with Brian Epstein, filmed in late 1966, talking about the Beatles future plans, and really dodging the question about future tours.
The film then goes into the making of Sgt Pepper itself, and how the songs came about. There was a nice section on Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds, showing childhood photos of Julian Lennon together with Lucy O’Donnell, who was the inspiration behind Julian’s painting, that inspired John to write the song.
After talking about Sgt Pepper, the film covers the story of the Beatles meeting the Maharishi, and the death of Brian Epstein. I thought the section on Brian was done very well, and a very nice tribute.
Hunter Davies told a great story of how he went to Bangor with the Beatles to see the Maharishi. On the first night he took them to a Chinese restaurant, but realised he didn’t have enough money to pay the bill. The Beatles didn’t carry money with them, and the waiters in the restaurant didn’t recognise the Beatles, and were getting aggressive, thinking they wouldn’t be paid. George Harrison saved the day by asking for a knife, and slit open his shoe. From the shoe, he pulled out a £20 note, which he kept there ‘In case of emergency’
Views on the Maharishi are very mixed among the interviewees. Some really like him, but author and journalist Ray Connelly called him a con man.
Although most of the people in the film were known to me, one highlight was the interview with Barbara O’Donnell, who was a secretary at NEMS and Apple, and worked with Ringo until 1982.
The film ends with the release of the ‘White Album’.
The film was highly enjoyable, with enough new material and stories to keep the interest of even the die-hard Beatles fan that has seen nearly everything (yes, including me!) New fans would find it fascinating too!
At present, there are plans for premieres in Liverpool and London, around June 1st. I will give full details here when known.
Alan G Parker, Beatles, Sgt Pepper film, Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles