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Author Topic: Beatles & Royston Ellis (Beatnik poet)  (Read 1204 times)

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Beatles & Royston Ellis (Beatnik poet)
« on: February 09, 2012, 05:52:27 PM »


Amazing how a wanna-be "Allen Ginsberg-type" poet actually met and lived with the pre-fame Beatles with Stuart Sutcliffe still in the group and had a big effect on them especially John. Supposedly he told John to change the name of the group from Silve Beetles/Beatals to The Beatles as a double-play on beat poetry and music.

"There weren't too many beatniks in Liverpool in 1960, which made the arrival of Royston Ellis something of an event. Ellis, author of two volumes of poetry, Record Mirror's teenage pop pundit and self-styled "King of the Beatniks", was in the city to read poetry at the Jacaranda coffee bar. There he met Stuart Sutcliffe, a member of the local band then known as the Silver Beetles, whom he convinced to back him for the reading. Ellis subsequently stayed for a week at the Gambier Terrace flat where Sutcliffe shared a room with John Lennon, introduced the pair to Benzedrine from a Vicks inhaler, and told them all about the London demi-monde of "drugs and queers and the bohemian lifestyle".

Ellis was a brief but important figure in the story of the Beatles. He straddled pop and literature, unprecedented at the time, and recognised the artistic potential in rock'n'roll, which was then generally seen as nothing more than teenage entertainment. He was also a canny self-publicist - playing the beatnik card to the full, he took out insurance on his beard. "They looked up to him," says Steve Turner, whose book The Gospel According to the Beatles charts the spiritual growth of the band and the influence it had. "He was published, he knew Cliff Richard, and he was a part of this world they knew nothing about. It was Royston who convinced John to leave art school and follow his dream."

Ellis also claims to have convinced the band to change their name. "I said that because I was a beat poet and they were going to back me, and also because they played beat music, why didn't they call themselves the Beatles?" Two months after Ellis's visit, the flat was subject to an exposé on "the Beatnik Horror" by the People newspaper (the horror didn't extend much further than a sinkful of washing up and jazz on the record player), but by then the Beatles were playing nightly to prostitutes and transvestites in Hamburg's red light district.

In 1963, Ellis left England for Central America before moving to Sri Lanka, where he still lives and works as a novelist and travel writer. Ellis missed out on the counter-cultural explosion the Beatles led, but a few months before he left he got together with them once more, after a concert in the Channel Islands. There he and Lennon ended up sharing a bed with a girl called Pam, who had a fondness for polythene. The Beatles' Polythene Pam was the creative fruit of this brief, bohemian union, and Ellis's part in the Beatles' legacy was secured."


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