Sydney, Australia (1964, June 11)
|Ringo Starr collapsed and was hospitalized on June 3rd 1964 with tonsilitis. Jimmy Nicol was hired as a temporary fill-in drummer so that the 1964 Australasian Tour could continue as planned. Ringo, after being temporarily cured, rejoined the group on June 14th 1964 in Melbourne. His tonsils were later removed in December. This press conference is the Beatles' 1964 Australian arrival, in Sydney with Jimmy Nicol.
Q: "What did you think of your wet welcome today?"
John: "Very good. I thought they were very nice coming out in all that rain."
George: "Yeah, it was great."
Q: "Did you enjoy the rain?"
John: "It felt real funny - standing there in your new coat." (laughs)
George: "Seeing as they got soaked though, you know. We didn't mind, did we."
Q: "...the kids have been waiting all night, and they appreciated it."
John: "Well, they deserved it, didn't they - waiting all night."
Q: "You weren't wearing drip-dry clothes, were you?"
John: (laughs) "No, we thought it was going to be sunny, you know."
Q: "George, who selected the name The Beatles, and how did you derive this particular name with the B-E-A instead of B-double-E?"
George: "John got the name Beatles ages ago, you know..."
John: "...in a vision was I was fifteen..."
George: "...when we needed a name and everybody was thinking of a name, and he thought of Beatles."
Q: "Why the B-E-A instead of the B-E-E?"
George: "Well, naturally, you know..."
John: "Well, you know, if they'd liked it at B-double-E... It was hard enough getting people to understand why it was B-E-A, nevermind, you know." (laughs)
Q: "What do you expect to find here in Australia?"
Paul: "Uhh, Australians I should think."
Q: "Do you have any acknowledged leader of the group?"
John: (standing up) "No, not really."
Q: "We heard you stood on your head on the balcony outside."
Paul: "No, they're obviously rumors."
Q: "How did the tickets go in Hong Kong? Did you get full houses there?"
John: "I think so."
Paul: "No. No - a few five quid seats."
Q: "A few five quid left?"
Paul: "Yeah. Five quid!"
Q: "You know, a bit hot, weren't they?"
John: (jokingly to the others) "I'd see me for five quid, wouldn't you?"
George: "I wouldn't see you for two-bob, John."
Q: "John, has the Mersey Beat changed since you've been playing it?"
John: "Oh, we still keep on saying there's no such thing as Mersey... it's just something the press made up, you know."
Q: "Do you play the same way now as you did when you...?"
John: "It's just rock and roll, it just so happens we write most of it."
Q: "Has Buddy Holly influenced your music at all, John?"
John: "He did in the early days obviously, you know. Well not obviously, but he was one of the greats, you know."
Paul: "So did James Thurber, though, didn't he."
John: "Ah yeah, but he doesn't sing too well."
Q: "Have you been practicing up your Australian accents?"
John: "No, cobber, not at all."
John: (giggling) "We can't get it, you know."
Q: "Do you think you'll be writing any songs with Australian themes when you're here?"
John: "No, we never write themes about anything, you know. We just write the same rubbish all the time." (laughs)
Q: "Do you play the kind of music you want to play, or the kind of music you think people want to hear?"
John: "No, we've been playing this kind of music for about five or six years, or something like that. But it's just rock and roll, you know. It just happens we write it."
Q: "Well, what do you think made the difference that suddenly pushed you up above the other groups?"
George: "We got a record contract."
Q: "Of your records, what record do you all agree on generally as your best recording - not the best-seller but as the best recording musically?"
Paul: "You mean our favorite?"
John: "Well, we always like the one we just made, don't we. So it's 'Long Tall Sally' for me."
Q: "This is your latest one?"
John: "Well, it's quite new, you know."
Paul: "It's not even a single."
George: "I like 'You Can't Do That.'"
John: "What do you like, Jimmy?"
Q: "How about you, Jim? You haven't said anything. How do you feel, Jimmy, being in with the Beatles - a new talent - standing-in for Ringo?"
Jimmy: "It's a good experience, man."
Q: "How is Ringo?"
Jimmy: "Umm, he's much better. He joins them on Sunday."
Q: "What do you do then?"
Jimmy: "Umm, I go back to London and they're fixing up a band for me, and I do some television."
John: "and he's away!!"
Q: "You're progressing pretty well with your Beatle-haircut."
Jimmy: "Yeah, well I've been growing it for about three months."
Q: "How long does it take to get a magnificent mane like this?"
John: "I don't know. I can't remember being without it."
Q: "Do you ever go to the barbers, John?"
John: "No, you know. I haven't had a haircut since the film. The woman on the film cut it good, but I don't trust anybody else."
Q: "This is the film 'Beatlemania,' is it?"
John: "No, it's not called that. That's another story they get wrong."
George: "'A Hard Day's Night.'"
John: "'A Hard Day's Night' it's called."
Q: "Are you satisfied with the finished product?"
John: "Well, it's as good as anybody that makes a film who can't act, you know."
Q: "Are you individually millionaires yet?"
John: "No, that's another lousy rumor. I wish we were."
Q: "Is Brian Epstein a millionaire?"
John: "No, even he's not one, poor fellow."
Q: "Where does all the money go?"
John: "Well, alot of it goes to Her Majesty!"
George: "SHE'S a millionaire!!"
Q: "If there were only three things you could do in Australia, what would they be?"
George: "Uhh... (suggestively) Well, I don't know really."
George: "First of all, I think I'd like to 'Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport.' Then..."
John: "Waltz Matilda."
John: "After that, you know - who knows."
Q: "Is there anything special you want to see, apart from some sunshine?"
Paul: "Kangaroos and all that. Dingos and all those."
George: "Dingo!? He's coming on Sunday."
Q: "Are you gonna go out tonight?"
Paul: "Umm... don't think so."
John: (turns head) "I'm not!"
Q: "Paul, you're considered the baby of the Beatles."
John: "'Cuz he's got no teeth."
George: (jokingly to Paul) "You're only twelve years younger than I am."
Paul: (surprised) "No... I'm not the youngest."
Q: "Everyone considers you baby, or baby-faced, or baby of the group."
Paul: (jokingly) "Thanks very much. Thanks. I like you, too."
Q: "Paul, you're going to have a birthday shortly - but you don't expect to get any presents from the boys, I hear."
Paul: "Oh! (laughs) No! Well this is the thing, you see. It started... I got one for my 21st. Then, who's birthday was after that?"
John: "Ringo's we forgot."
Paul: "Ringo's. and we all forgot - it got hectic, you know, and we forgot.
George: (jokingly) "and it's not important for your 28th, is it."
Paul: "No, but it's just happened now that we just don't do it now."
George: "and then it was my 21st, and the fellas kindly forgot about it."
Paul: "We forgot, yeah. So I hope they forget because I'm gonna feel terrible if they don't."
George: "I'm forgetting about yours!"
John: "Paul got me a wimpy and a coke for my for my 21st."
Paul: "Mind you, that was back in '39!"
John: "I know!"
Paul: (jokingly) "They were more expensive."
Q: "John, are you writing any poems while you're here?"
John: "I don't know, you know. If I get a chance. You just - if you feel like it, you know."
Q: "Paul, you won't mind us asking you this question, I'm sure. We've read that there was some adverse comment in England about a couple of you fellas taking the girls on a holiday. How did you react to this - What did you think of this - What's your point of view? People here would like to know."
Paul: "Nevermind it. Those were my thoughts."
John: "The thing is, you either go out with girls - (delicately) but gentlemen get talked about more, don't they."
(room fills with laughter... the other Beatles hoot and applaud)
John: "Thank you! I'm sticking up for 'em, you know."
Q: "John, your book has been a great success, and some people say it reminds them of 'The Goon Show,' and some people say it reminds them of 'Finnigan's Wake' by James Joyce. Have you ever heard 'The Goon Show'? Have you ever read 'Finnigan's Wake'?"
John: "I've heard 'The Goon Show' --most of them, you know, 'cuz I had alot of time at home when that was going. I've never read 'Finnigan's Wake.' and some other fella just mentioned somebody else. So it's like... I've never heard of 'em."
Q: "John, speaking of 'The Goon Show,' what do you think a bald-headed Beatle would look like?"
John: "Well, he'd look like a fella with no hair, wouldn't he?"
Q: "How do you think he'd make a living?"
John: "Well, there's some in America - there's a group with all bald heads, you know. They don't stand a chance on earth if you ask me."
Q: "John, did you entirely write your book or were you given help?"
John: (jokingly) "No, I mean - who's gonna help you with a thing like that!"
John: "No, if I write... You get ghost writers for novels and things."
Paul: (whispering to get John's attention) "John - John."
John: "Oh. Well, I wrote in the beginning, he (Paul) wrote the intro, and helped with a couple of the stories. He was only mentioned on one because they forgot. But that's all."
Q: "George, do you get any benefit from your trips overseas?"
George: "Did I, or do I?"
Q: "Do you, from your trips overseas?"
George: "Uhh, yeah."
Q: "What do you get?"
George: "You get... You see different people, don't you. You see a different place that you wouldn't see if you didn't go on a trip overseas."
Q: "Do you enjoy traveling?"
George: "Uhh, no. No, I don't like traveling even if it's on a holiday, you know, or anything. The traveling bit is terrible, but you've got to travel to get there."
John: "We're hanging on for a time-machine, you know."
Q: "Are you very conscious of your responsibilities? I mean, teenagers dwell on your every comment and action. Do you feel very responsible towards this?"
John: "No, we just sort of behave as normally as we can, you know. We don't feel as though we should preach this and tell 'em that. You know, let 'em do what they like."
Paul: "We never used to believe it when, in the old days, we used to open a magazine and it'd say so-and-so doesn't drink, doesn't smoke, doesn't go out late."
John: "You'd think they were soft, you know."
Paul: "A bit funny. So we just act normally and just hope that other people don't think WE'RE a bit funny."
Q: "Now, you say you act normally, but how can you when you're getting so much money, and when everywhere you go people are..."
John: "We're more normal, though."
George: "As normal as we can."
Paul: Well, you know, I mean - normal in the environment."
Q: "You really got started, I understand you particularly John, with a skiffle group. Did this automatically grow into what is now the Beatles, or did this come over a period of quite a number of years?"
John: "Over a period of about six months, I think. Or was it a year?"
George: "Uhh, a bit longer, John."
John: "You forget, you know. I know I met Paul first, and he sort of joined this little group I had. and then George, you know, and gradually changed - but it was just us three."
Q: "There's a rumor going around that you only work on stage about 12 or 14 minutes. Is this true?"
John: "We usually do half-an-hour."
Paul: "Two half-an-hour's a night."
John: "Because we've been doing half-an-hour each show for as long as we've, you know, been at it. Except for ballrooms when we used to do ballrooms."
Q: "Isn't it a bit disconcerting when you go on-stage, and do your numbers, and nobody hears them because all the girls are screaming?"
John: "Well, it's usually adults who don't hear 'em, you know - like in Hong Kong in the paper, it said, 'The Beatles fought a losing battle against the screams.' Now, compared with other people they were quite quiet, you know. They still shouted, and most of the kids could hear but adults point out, 'I couldn't hear a thing.'"
Q: "A couple of photographs recently came from America - showing all of you swimming. But both photgraphs, in different places, showed you with shirts on. Now is this a regular thing, to swim with your shirt on?"
John: "Well, we were just posing for the press and we weren't really swimming."
Q: "Oh. I see."
George: "I don't think we were actually swimming, as it were, with shirts on. Because we always wear overcoats when we're swimming."
Q: "You brought back, in England, with the advent of the Beatles, people like Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard."
John: "Yeah. Carl Perkins as well."
Paul: "Yeah, but there were always groups of people who liked them. and especially in places like Liverpool there were always staunch groups of fans who had never gone off people like Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee, Little Richard."
Q: "You've more or less revived rock and roll."
Paul: "Well, we find interest in the Beat music. That's all, really."
Q: "How do you fellas feel about the sort of music that people liked ten, twelve, fifteen years ago? Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald? Do you like it, or do you only like rock and roll?"
Paul: "Well, that's not the point. You know, recently Ella Fitzgerald's done 'Can't Buy Me Love.' Have you heard it?"
Q: "She did it like Ella Fitzgerald, though."
John: "...didn't do it like Frank Sinatra."
Q: "Do you find much jealousy amoungst other groups in England?"
John: "Not really, 'cuz most of the top groups out there are friends of ours, so there's none of that. The jealousy is only something they make up in the papers. You know, obviously they gotta keep a sort of THING going. All the groups or anything over there are sort of best mates."
George: "and if any of them don't like us, they don't sort of tell it to our faces."
Q: "What's your favorite entertainment medium? What do you like best - theatre, or television, or...?"
George: "Umm, I like films. Oh, you mean for us? Oh, I thought you meant when we're watching, being entertained. Oh. Well, I don't know really. I think live shows are pretty good."
Paul: "Well, they're all good, 'cuz you get a change. So that's the best thing - you get all of 'em, together."
Q: "Is it true that you originally auditioned for two record companies before you were finally signed by EMI records?"
John: "Yeah, uhh, we made tapes for Decca, and I think..."
George: "and Pye."
John: "Yeah, but we didn't actually go to Pye."
George: "EMI turned us down, first of all."
Paul: "They did."
George: "Ahh, you may laugh - you may laugh."
John: (giggling) "I don't blame 'em after hearing the tape!"
George: "and then George Martin, from EMI, he decided to sign us up - just himself, you see."
Q: "Have you got any idea how many records you have sold around the world?"
John: "No. Ask our publisher, he'll give you an idea."
George: "The last I heard it was around about 30 million."
Q: "Do you all read music?"
Beatles: (in unison) "No."
Paul: "None of us."
John: "Comics. We're good at comics."
Q: "We were talking about how you do like to be entertained. How do you like to be entertained?"
Paul: "Shows. Nightclubs. Caberet."
Q: "Probably hard to go to a caberet without a mob."
John: "Yeah, but people don't walk around in mobs, you know. If you go to a nightclub, you're not going to bump into 500 kids, are you."
Q: "In Liverpool - The Blue Angel - Is that a nightclub you can sort of go to and relax?"
John: "It was when they opened it, you know. Alot of places in Liverpool got sort of..."
John: "...commercialized so that people come from all over the place just to have a look at them, you know. So I don't know now. I haven't been for years."
Q: "What was your Ireland reception like, by the way?"
John: "It was very good."
George: "It was three in the morning and we didn't know until we got an hour away from it."
Paul: "Apparently the press in Dublin had known all day."
George: "I think they guessed."
Paul: "and some fella said, 'The police had been trying to keep it quiet here all day.'"
George: (jokingly) "A BOAC spokesman said..."
John: "Advertising again."
George: "...it wasn't definite but there was a slight possibility."
John: (jokingly) "He's been trying to get money for hours."
Q: "Fellas, did you enjoy doing the Shakespearian excerpt in your TV show?"
George: "Yeah, except he made us rehearse for days!"
John: "and we STILL got it wrong!"
Q: "Would you like to play legitimate Shakespeare?"
Beatles: (in unison) "No."
John: "...can't stand it."
Q: "Did you like the costumes?"
George: "Yeah, they were good for a laugh."
George: (remembering a line) "'What lantern doth the ornard moon present?'"
Q: "You've been likened with the likes of the Marx Brothers. Do you find this a compliment?"
John: "Yeah, it's a compliment. They're funny, aren't they."
Q: "When are you going to play the London Palladium?"
George: "I really don't know."
Q: "Would you like to?"
John: "We've done it."
George: "We've done it a couple of times."
Q: "What are you all going to do tonight?"
John: "Well I'm... We should go to sleep, really. We've only had about a couple of hours. I'm hanging on so I won't be getting up in the middle of the night and order breakfast, you know. That's what I'm gonna do."
Paul: "We'll probably watch telly."
Q: "You're not planning to go out to the nightclub or anything like that."
Q: "Have you got an agreement that Jimmy mustn't speak?"
George: "Ask him a question."
Jimmy: "I can't answer questions that, umm, I don't know anything about."
Q: "What's the group you play with in England, Jimmy?"
Jimmy: "Well, I've played with alot of groups in England. Just before I left, I was playing with a rhythm and blues band."
Q: "You were in the Blue Flames for a while weren't you?"
Jimmy: "Yeah, that's right... well, only for a matter of days. I played on Friday, I didn't even know what I was doing just on Wednesday, you know."
Q: "Does Brian Epstein manage you?"
Jimmy: "...nobody... No, he doesn't."
John: "You'd know it if he did."
Q: "Jimmy, what was your first reaction when you were told that you were going to play with the Beatles?"
Jimmy: "I couldn't believe it. Really."
Q: "Did you have to do much rehearsal with the boys to get their sound?"
Jimmy: "No, we only rehearsed about five or six numbers, which took half-an-hour."
Q: "and away you went."
Q: "Pretty frightening?"
Jimmy: "The first show very pretty frightening, yeah. But, uhh, they reassured me."
Paul: "He did grand."
John: (in comical voice) "He did grand job."
Q: "George, if one of you stopped being a Beatle, what do you think you'd do?"
George: (mock seriousness) "Umm, I think I'd train elephants in the zoo."
Q: "It's been said that you're the keen businessman of the group. Is that right?"
George: (pause) "Yes, that's what they say in the paper, but I've never heard of it. That's a new one on me. I may be. I don't know."
Q: "Do you have contracts between yourselves?"
George: "There's no partnership or something, if that's what you mean."
Paul: "Oh, you mean personally?"
Q: "What I meant was - if George suddenly decides to leave the Beatles, could you do that?"
John: "I think he could."
Paul: "Uhh... Of course he could 'cuz, I mean, we wouldn't stop him, you know, if he..."
John: "He's not under contract."
George: "Well, there is a contract between the four of us, but if I wanted to leave then they wouldn't try and stop me - or they wouldn't sue me I don't think."
Q: "Apparently you earn many, many thousands of pounds a year, but how much money do you actually get to spend from your manager?"
John: "Well, we don't get money from him, we get money from our accountant, you know. We don't hardly need anything because most things are sort of paid through the company. We just hardly spend anything in cash. Just cigarettes - and even that - they're bought by our road managers and things."
Paul: "We get a certain amount a week, and we got at least half of it left at the end of the week because we don't need it."
Q: "What about clothing? Does this also come from your company, too?"
George: "Usually we get our tailor to... you know, we order a few suits, or how many we want, and then he'll send the bill in to the company. 'Cuz it's much easier for him to do that as well, and it's easier for us."
Paul: "I only got two suits."
Q: "On-stage you all dress literally the same, but off-stage you're all dressed quite different. Is this also something you make up yourselves, or..."
John: "Originally we didn't dress the same on-stage anyway, but that just had to come. You don't go 'round looking the same all the time."
John: "We like the same kind of clothes, so we tend to come out sometimes wearing the same kind of gear, don't we."
Q: "Who decided to change from leather jackets to suits?"
George: "Well, he tried to persuade us."
John: "'Cuz when we were down south, it was alright in Liverpool and 'round there. But as soon as we went anywhere else in sort of jeans and leather jackets, they didn't want to know, you know. 'Cuz they wanted everybody in gray suits, doing that."
Q: "You single chaps don't have any firm plans to get married?"
Paul: "No, I don't like the idea of marriage. It's a bit frightening."
George: "We're all trying to save up a bit before we get married."
Q: "Did you enjoy your holidays to Tahiti - and the Caribbean, wasn't it?"
Paul: "Oh yeah."
John: "We met one of yours."
George: "Some fella came swimming behind me, saying, 'You havin' a good time?'"
John: "...saying, 'I've come all the way from Sydney.'"
George: "Yeah - as if it was my fault!"
Q: "Why did you split up and take your holidays down there?"
John: "It makes it harder for people to 'catch us up.' If we all go together it's a sinch, you know, going to airports."
George: "and anyway, besides all that, Paul and Ringo fancied going to wherever they went, (to John) and I don't know what happened to us... (laughing) somebody just gave us a ticket."
George: "...and we just ended up there."
Q: "How do you feel before a show? Do you feel nervous?"
Paul: "Yeah, before most shows."
George: "Depends where it is and what it is."
Q: "...how big it is?"
John: "Well, if it's a new place."
Paul: "It can be a small show and a very new place and we still get very nervous. We get nervous on the most ridiculous of things, too. The Mersey Beat Awards, I remember. We got an award from a Liverpool paper, and it was really quite a small thing compared to some of the big shows we'd been doing, but we were all nervous."
Q: "Your Dad's a bus driver, isn't he, George?"
George: "Well, he was."
John: "He's got a gold-plated bus!"
Q: "What do your families think about all the attention showered on you?"
George: "Well, naturally they like it. They're all proud and, you know, it's just like if you had a son what was a Beatle - you're bound to like it more than any other grown-up."
Q: "Do you live fairly close together in Liverpool?"
Q: "All fellas who work so close together so often, and stay and travel together, you must have an occasional argument. So, how do you work it out of your system apart from going away on holiday?"
John: "Well, it's usually two against one, or three against one."
George: "We never have serious arguments."
Paul: "Or, whoever can shout loudest. That's another one that settles it."
Q: "It's reported that the Rolling Stones are bigger than the Beatles in England. Can you comment on that?"
John: "Well, it's untrue."
George: (jokingly) "Dave Clark was bigger than us last month, and Brian Poole the month before that."
John: "It's true they're NOT bigger than us. But they're big."
Q: "How many people travel with you?"
George: "Depends where we're going. Now we've got three people. We've got a fella who looks after the equipment, and our road manager, and then we've got Mister Epstein's personal assistant here, Derek Taylor."
Q: "When Brian Epstein took over managing you, how did he first promote you?"
George: "Well, when he first started handling us he wasn't a manager in show business, he was a director of his father's business..."
Q: (inturrupting) "Tell me, fellas, one last question..."
George: (pause) "and so..."
George: "...I'll tell you later."
Q: "One last question. Do you enjoy being the Beatles as much as you did, say, a couple of years ago?"
John: "Well, it's better now, isn't it."
Paul: "In a different way, of course, but it's still marvelous."
Q: "Well, that just about covers it all."
George: (waving) "Bye, everybody."
John: (comical voice) "Goodbye!"
Source: Video and audio copies of the press conference