Question:You also helped Ringo write a song, the lovely "Las Brisas" on Ringo's Rotogravure. How did that come about?
Nancy Lee Andrews: We were in Acapulco, I think it was the first year of our relationship, and it was so romantic at the Las Brisas Hotel. Everything was pink -- pink jeeps, pink flowers floating in the pool, etc. I was fascinated with the language and was asking someone to translate words for me and writing them down on a napkin in a poem form. A band was playing and Ringo picked up the napkin and stared singing the words. We worked on it over the next few days and it became our little song.
Question:You also took the cover and back shot of Ringo's next album, Ringo the 4th. What inspired you?
Nancy Lee Andrews: Fantasy, fairytales, sword and sorcery, not sure but evolved from a nice bottle of champagne and maybe a book we had been reading. I think I put that sword in his hands to represent him slaying his demons. There was this big empty closet in our suite at the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan. I mean, it would have been a bedroom in some apartments. Any way it was the perfect light box when the flash went off. We had the best time shooting in that closet with my girlfriend, Rita, on his shoulders.
Question:There's a famous shot of you, Ringo and Paul and Linda McCartney on 5th Avenue in New York. What was Paul like and how did that photo come about?
Nancy Lee Andrews: We were strolling down 5th Avenue back to the Plaza Hotel and we hear someone calling Ringo's name. I turned and saw Paul and Linda across the street. I mean what is the chance of that? Paul had a photographer following him so when he caught up with us the photographer snapped away. Paul and Linda came back to the hotel with us and we ordered some tea up to the suite. I found Paul very charming and down to earth. He and Linda were a real couple; you know, they were a unit. Linda had a wonderful sense of humor. We never hung out with them. They were always on the farm and Paul had his own music. He did write a song for Ringo's Rotogravure, Pure Gold. Paul said it was about me for Ringo, so he recorded it.
Question:Ringo once again called upon you to take publicity photos for the "Ringo TV Special" in 1978. What do you recall about that shoot and how did Ringo approach the project?
Nancy Lee Andrews: He took the role seriously because it was the first vehicle that revolved around him. American TV was a very important vehicle to promote his music. We had just acquired a house in the Hollywood Hills and it was empty, so we decided to use the living room as our studio. It was great fun working with an art director and director. Ringo was surrounded by some great performers who just loved him.
Question:You met a lot of famous people through Ringo. Who was the most memorable?
Nancy Lee Andrews: The Duke! We were having dinner one night at the El Padrino Room at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel and I was beside myself because John Wayne was sitting a table away. He was in my line of sight, but not Ringo's. I was fidgeting and terribly distracted. Ringo finally asked me what was wrong with me and I gushed, "I can't believe this but John Wayne is sitting right over there." Ringo's eyes lit up and we sat there like two starstruck kids. When John Wayne was leaving he walked right by our table and Ringo stopped him to say hello. He was so nice and very tall. Ringo asked him if he would give me a kiss and he said sure. He put out his hand and pulled me up from the table and laid a Maureen O'Hara big one right on my lips. I was a puddle with a stupid grin on my face as Ringo laughed and the other diners smiled at me. Now that was a man and a legend!
Question:You've got some great photos of Ringo and Keith Moon at Trancas Beach in Malibu. What was your relationship with "Moonie" and was he as crazy as he has been portrayed in the past?
Nancy Lee Andrews: Keith had two sides. Some of those pictures in Malibu capture the soft cuddly side of him. The other side was the Mad Hatter who could make any tea party interesting.
Question:You also developed close friendships with other Beatle cohorts such as Harry Nillson, Dr. John and Donovan. Give me a brief thumbnail of each person.
Nancy Lee Andrews: I loved Harry Nilsson like a brother. One of the most brilliant and fascinating men I have ever met. Dr. John was all about the music, too. He loved his kids, a southern gentleman. Donovan is very impish and fun. He loves to entertain and gets everyone involved when he knows he has your attention. A great subject to shoot.
Question:The book portrays a very fast-paced, jet-set lifestyle that you shared with Ringo, including trips to England, Japan, Monte Carlo, Morocco, Mexico and the Yucatan. Didn't you nearly die in a plane crash in the jungle in the Yucatan?
Nancy Lee Andrews: Heres' what happened: we were having a nice time in the Yucatan for about a week until Ringo suddenly became restless. He woke up one morning and said, "Get me off this island. I don't care how you do it, but get me outta here." In a matter of hours I managed to book a twin-engine plane to Merida that seated six people. Our party of four, the two pilots and our embarrassing amount of luggage put us well over the plane's weight capacity. Despite that and a looming tropical storm, no one could talk Ringo into staying another day. The pounding storm forced us to fly so low that the bottom of the plane was brushing against the tops of the trees. I was trying to calm my friend Susin S. Fair down, who was sure that our plane was going to go crash in the jungle and our remains would never be found. Hilary Gerard, Ringo's manager, was holding Tibetan prayer beads up against his third eye, furiously chanting and wishing for a cigarette. While everyone was frantic and on the verge of breaking down, Ringo was as calm as could be. He said very matter-of-factly, "Don't worry, it's not my time to go, so we'll all be fine."
Question:You went out with Ringo during the height of the disco era. I have it on good account that he took ballroom dancing as a kid and is pretty light on his feet?
Nancy Lee Andrews: Oh my god, he was a fabulous dancer. We loved to go to the discos in Monte Carlo and Regine's was our favorite. The DJ knew that we loved "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" by Marvin Gaye and would play it at least twice while we were there. Ringo would jump up and pull me to the dance floor. He had moves that were so simple but looked so good. Also we loved to go to Tramps in London... they had the best bangers and mash (sausage and mashed potatoes). We would gobble it down around 2 a.m. before we went home. If other women wanted to dance with Ringo they didn't ask -- they knew I would scratch their eyes out. As far as ballroom dancing I honestly did not know that about him. Hmmm, maybe that's where he got such good timing.
Question:Your relationship with Ringo came to an abrupt end when he met Barbara Bach on the set of Caveman in 1980. You were actually engaged to Ringo at the time. How did you find closure?
Nancy Lee Andrews: It took time. I thought he would come home to me but he fell hard for Barbara Bach. I put my focus on photography. I had a business called Headshots for Women and advertised in Variety. My beauty lighting had the girls lined up. This was before photoshop. I had an air brusher and he would wipe the lines away and the women loved it! Love my computer. I had a couple of committed relationships over the next ten years and finally gave up. That's when I met my husband and we are now coming up to our 15th anniversary... not to mention the few years of courting.
Question:Tell us about your life today and what are your future plans?
Nancy Lee Andrews: Well, life is very exciting these days. The book is coming out and will show my photography, even though it's a flashback to the '70s. My friend, May Pang, is also coming out with a book of never before seen photos of John. We're going to be doing gallery exhibits and booksigings together this spring in Scottsdale, Arizona; Palm Springs, California and NYC. I have a wonderful exhibit at the Tennessee State Museum this summer, a combination of A Dose of Rock 'n' Roll and a dash of country. I also head up IconicPhotos.com, a Web gallery showcasing some fine photographers work at prices that won't dent your wallet. I'm currently negotiating gallery exhibits in London, Paris, Amsterdam and San Francisco. Whew, this is only a few months into the year and everything seems to have just taken off.
Question:So does this mean you're back?
Nancy Lee Andrews: I'm back, baby!