Monday 20 June 2022


Extraordinary tape of John Lennon, recorded at height of Beatlemania, unearthed in Hull and will go under hammer at Yorkshire auction house
A previously unheard recording of The Beatles has shed new light on the insecurities of the Fab Four at the height of their fame.

The remarkable interview, taped as Beatlemania swept Britain, reveals how the band did not consider themselves good musicians but hoped they could get rich quick before their fame subsided. The recording has come to light almost 60 years after a student blagged his way into a press conference before a gig in Hull in October 1964.
Tasked to report for his student magazine, 18-year-old John Hill paid to get into the ABC cinema, where the concert was taking place. He then bluffed his way into the room where members of the band were talking to the press and found himself interviewing John Lennon.
“I couldn’t do shorthand so I had borrowed a Fi-Cord, an early portable reel to reel tape recorder, from a friend and took that along," he recalled. “I was the youngest person in the room and the only one with a microphone. That got John Lennon’s attention – he was really interested in the machine – and we ended up in a corner doing an interview with passing newsmen throwing in the odd question.”

Beatlemania had been raging for a year when the band rolled into Hull for the latest stop on their month-long UK tour, on Friday, October 16, 1964. At the time the band were at the height of their fame following the critical and commercial success of their first movie, A Hard Day's Night.
Now, the recording of the eight-and-a-half minute interview, which has never been broadcast, plus the recording machine, photographs taken while they were talking and student magazine articles, are to be sold when a spectacular collection of Hull memorabilia goes under the hammer in a History & Memories Auction, at Yorkshire auctioneers David Duggleby, on Friday, June 24.

Auctioneer Graham Paddison said: “One of the most striking things about the recording is just how relaxed the two of them were together, just two art college students chatting. At one point the Beatle ended up holding the microphone while the student struggled with his kit. Lennon was as friendly as could be – not flippant or jokey or a clever dick – treating his young interviewer’s questions with respect, which of course makes his answers interesting.”

Asked if the Beatles regarded themselves primarily as musicians or entertainers, Lennon mused: “I’ve never thought about it really but I suppose … we don’t count ourselves as good musicians, so I suppose we’re entertainers … but we don’t entertain much ’cos we just stand there, so I suppose we must be musicians. We’re in the Union anyway.”
The interview also reveals Lennon's true feelings about some of the material The Beatles were asked to play in their early days, before Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison were established as acclaimed songwriters in their own right. “We were told at the beginning to record other stuff but it was us who forced the issue to record our own songs," he said. "We nearly recorded ‘How Do You Do it’, by Gerry and the Pacemakers, and some other crap they gave us.”

Auctioneer Graham said: “It was, of course, another age. Some of John’s comments would give the PR teams that surround modern stars heart failure.

“He says that he wanted to be rich; joked that he would probably have become just a layabout had the Beatles not taken off; disclosed that he had friends do his art college exams for him when he was away touring with the group in Scotland; revealed that he never told the college he was going to Germany [to play in clubs in Hamburg in the early 60s] because he ‘wanted his grant’, and declined to send a message to the art students of Hull to keep working because ‘I never did much myself’.”
The extraordinary recording lay, unplayed, in a drawer for the next 50 years. Then in 2014, John Hill, who had retired after a career as a schoolteacher and lecturer at Leeds University, was having a clear-out. He sold it to the current owner, a collector of Hull antiquities and memorabilia, whose collection has been entered in this Friday’s auction.

Lot 3571 has an estimate of between £3,000 and £4,000 and the recording is accompanied by the original Fi-Cord tape recorder with microphone that captured the conversation. 



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