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