A fan’s fab memories of Beatles’ yesterdays.

It must have been really cool to be part of The Beatles machine.  Imagine being but a small cog that makes the PR monster of The Fab Four move.  It all looked so seamless, but there were many many behind the scenes folks making magic happen.  I cannot imagine a 17 year old working in that capacity.  It’s really every kid’s dream isn’t it.  I try to picture working for the largest group on earth as a teenager and it boggles my mind.

This story really puts into perspective how grassroots as a business entity, and as an industry that The Beatles and the record industry as a whole really were.  You would never see it run like that today.  It’s truly amazing that things like this happened.  Stories like this really give us insights into what the times really were like from so many different perspectives.  What a great story.  She really needs to write a memoir.  I know I’d read it.

  • Don’t forget to check out the VIDEO interview with Frieda Kelly that accompanies the article.

Here’s what we’ve read.

In the world of The Beatles, time will always seem frozen in an era when everyone and everything appeared to be young and exciting.

Time, of course, has moved on and the sad truth is that not only John Lennon and George Harrison have now passed away, but a large percentage of the Liverpudlian inner circle whom they depended upon, including their manager Brian Epstein and loyal confidante and Apple supremo Neil Aspinall.

Which makes those remaining few who shared the everyday existence of the four lads who shook the world even more special to the thousands of knowledgeable fans from around the globe who flocked to the city for Beatles week.

One of them is Frieda Kelly, who was at the giant Beatles Convention in the Adelphi Hotel yesterday to give a talk about her years as secretary of the official Beatles Fan Club.

“When I started, there were about 200 members, but when the whole thing exploded worldwide there were about 40,000,” said Frieda, who was barely 17 when she took over the running of the club from Bobbie Brown in 1962.

She initially shared a small office in Liverpool with Brian Epstein’s secretary, Beryl Adams, who has also sadly died.

One of her first jobs was having to ask The Beatles to have a whip round to pay for the postage. She would also sort out the band’s wage packets – “they started at about £50 a week, depending on how many performances they played, which wasn’t too bad for those days” – and was responsible for sending out membership packs that grew in the thousands as Beatlemania took off.

To every one she would send out a membership card, a photograph, a quarterly newsletter and eventually an annual Christmas record.

She would also get the boys to sign the great stack of autograph books sent in by eager fans.

“They were always genuine – we had rollers with their signatures, but we never used them because The Beatles, especially John, hated them. They thought it was cheating the fans which, as one myself, I thought so too,” explained Frieda, who is now in her early 60s and works for a firm of solicitors in Birkenhead.

“George was the best one for doing this. He would come into the office and I would give him a pile of books of photos and say while you’re in with Eppie (Epstein) could you sign these. And he would – every one.” Frieda was held in very high affection by not only Eppie – “he did have his moods, but I learned to stay clear when he did” – but The Beatles also, who would buy her presents such as jewellery and handbags as a thank-you.

As a reward, she was also invited along to some legendary events: she is among the coach party in the film Magical Mystery Tour, and was a VIP at the civic reception for The Beatles at Liverpool Town Hall on July 10, 1964.

“I was on the balcony behind them looking out over Castle Street, which was absolutely choc-a-bloc with people: it was incredible!” said Frieda, who also made friends with all the band’s families and would visit them regularly.

The club was finally wound up in 1975, after 13 years with Frieda at the helm.

It brought her many happy memories, although they are now tinged with sadness at the faces she remembers but who are no longer there.

Source: Liverpool Daily Post


4 Responses

  1. Hi Matt – thanks for bringing this article to our attention. It was so interesting for me to read. Although nowhere near to Frieda’s experiences, I too worked for the Beatles Fan Club albeit here in the US. I started as a volunteer up at the NYC office and shortly thereafter go offered (and accepted) the post as New York City Secretary of the Official Beatles Fan Club, a title I retained for the final 2 years the club existed. I used the name Judee Gould (so that no one could look up my number in the phone book and call me at home) and was responsible for writing a newsletter to dues-paying fans in the NYC area, updating them on the band’s activities. I also had to respond to letters from fan club members, answering their questions like “What kind of toothpaste does Ringo use?” and “What color is George’s car?” It was the greatest place in the world for a die-hard Beatles fan like me – living in Manhattan as I was at the time, it was easy for me to go up there after school and hang around the office, help out, and soak it all in. Oh, and one of the two mailroom boys at the time was a lovely young man who had only just emigrated from Eastern Europe. His name: Ivan Kral who went on to be the bass player in the original formation of the Patti Smith Band! Anyway, being there was my first taste of “the music biz.” I went on to briefly serve as Coordiantor for the National Committee for John & Yoko during their fight with the US government to be allowed to stay in this country…and eventually this all led me to becoming a publicist in the industry, which is what I still am today. It was great to read Frieda’s words…
    she was always in the “dream” position for us all!

  2. Fascinating– Both the article and Ida’s reply!

    Too bad I wasn’t even close to being a glimmer in my parents’ minds at the time or I would have been there too!

  3. hello I enjoy the music of the Beatles I live in Washington State I am 49 and single
    Would enjoy hearing from Femail Beatle Fans
    in New York and any other state
    I enjoy taking pictures of locomotives
    I would Enjoy right now taking the time to
    dedicate oh Darling and the song
    Positively 4th Street sung by Bob Dylan
    to Debbie M. Lee that went to Issaquah
    high school with Me

  4. That’s a great article, Sara. I liked it. Thanks.
    I borrowed Beatles book from Lenro (http://lenro.co/books/25886931-YESTERDAY–Memories-of-a-Beatles-Fan) and met another Beatles fan in my neighborhood 🙂
    It’s only after reading that book that I got interested to know more and encountered your article on web..

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