Al Stewart reveals how he scammed his way to meet the Beatles (Opinion)
A lot of time has passed since Al Stewart released "Time Passages." The 1978 top-ten hit, produced by Alan Parsons, has been newly remastered for the very first time from the original first-generation master tapes and released as a 3 CD 1 DVD deluxe box set.
The set also features his stunning new 5.1 surround sound mix from the original multi-track tapes. In addition, the set includes single edits, an album session out-take, four demo tracks recorded in Los Angeles in August 1977, and, for the first time, the complete concert recorded at the studios of WKQK-FM in Chicago in October 1978.
I had the chance to speak with Stewart about the set and knowing that Parsons was an assistant engineer on the Beatles Abbey Road asked if he had any great stories of the Fab Four. To my surprise, his story had nothing to do with Parsons, but instead B.S.-ing his way backstage at 17 to meet John Lennon who let him play his guitar at an early concert.
Stewart tells the story on New Jersey 101.5:
"The Beatles played in my home and I was just 17. We went to the first show on the first night. My friend and I thought 'we've got to meet the Beatles,' so we went to the theater manager and said that we represented Rickenbacker guitars which is what John Lennon was playing at the time and our client Mr. Lennon was waiting for us and we couldn't get past the police and would he kindly phone down and give them our names and let us in."
"We're 17 years old and the manager is 50 and frazzled and to our amazement, he picked up the phone called down and gave the stage manager our names, and said 'go on.' So, we walked through the police cordon holding back our friends that we'd grown up with that we knew and we got to the stage door and they let us in."
What happened next?
"I asked 'Where's the Beatles dressing room?' and they said to go down the corridor and turn left, so we did, We got to the dressing room door and I think Neil Aspinal, who was the road manager, came out and took one look at us and he knew that we were just stupid kids so he just points to the corridor and says 'back the way you came I think.'"
Then, the plot thickens...
Says Stewart, "At that moment, John Lennon appeared in the doorway and he was bored because he had nothing to do between shows and it was a two-hour break. So, he looked at us and I had to say something that he would recognize so I said 'Why don't you use your fender amplifier anymore?' because he always used to play through a Fender and Lennon replied 'Oh, bloody Brian' (Epstein their manager) had signed a deal with Vox and now he had to play through a Vox and he said he'd kick it off the pier if it was up to him"
The conversation moved to Lennon's guitar. Stewart said:
"'What's that guitar you're playing? We think it might be a Rickenbacker?' 'Oh yes,' says Lennon, 'a Rickenbacker'. So he goes and gets it and hands it to me. So I put it around my neck and started playing Chuck Berry riffs because I wanted to show him that we can do this, we're in a local band."
Stewart went on,
"So this goes on for about ten minutes, we're talking about guitars ad amplifiers and we asked him if he'd ever heard of the Rolling Stones and he said 'Yeah they're great, they're mates of ours.' and eventually, he goes back in the dressing room"
Stewart's adventure didn't end there.
"We floated away. then realized that they were staying just three doors away at the local hotel so the next day we just went there and they were having a press conference so we said we represented the local paper and they let us in and my friend got George Harrison to sign an autograph but he broke his pencil halfway through, so my friend, to this day, has an autograph from George Harrison that begins in pencil and ends in ink."
Then, Stewart encountered the rest of the band.
"Ringo Starr, he knew we were idiots and just pointed to the front door of the hotel and said "Your mates went that way" which remains the only thing Ringo Starr ever said to me which is memorable, and the only thing Paul ever said to me was "No."
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Steve Trevelise. Any opinions expressed are Steve's own. Steve Trevelise is on New Jersey 101.5 Monday-Thursday from 7pm-11pm. Follow him on Twitter @realstevetrev.