“I say in speeches that a plausible mission of artists is to make people appreciate being alive at least a little bit. I am then asked if I know of any artists who pulled that off. I reply, ‘The Beatles did.” – Kurt Vonnegut
The Beatles during their Melbourne press conference, Southern Cross Hotel, June 1964. Photograph taken by Laurie Richards Studios. L to R: George Harrison (standing), Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney and John Lennon. Citation: Arts Centre Melbourne, Performing Arts Collection
“The story began in Harold Macmillan’s “never had it so good” ’50s Britain. It should be fiction: four teenagers with no more than eight O’Levels between them, running and biking and busing and busking all over Liverpool in search of new chords and old guitars and half-decent drum kit and any gig at all.
They were determined to amount to something (in George’s words “we just had this amazing inner feeling of: ‘We’re going to do it’. I don’t know why… we were just cocky”) and make a record (in Ringo’s words “you’d kill for that bit of plastic and make some money and have a laugh and shout.”) That would do to be going on with.
Six years later, they were the four most famous and musical men on earth, the best dressed and on a good day the most captivating people anyone can remember. The narrative that began where Paul met John and clicked at a garden fete in leafy Liverpool, and ended in high dudgeon in high-end London, is so far fetched that it needs the power of a song punctuating every page to remind you with a joyous jolt that it was all true.
We didn’t dream it… though it came out of John’s dream of the “man on a flaming pie” who said “You are Beatles with an ‘A’”. It did all happen. The whole wonderful thing did happen, a long time ago, on the Mersey, on the Elbe, by the Thames and the Hudson River.
Amazing and marvellous and, [over fifty] years on, forever young.”