ABOUT THIS INTERVIEW:
On May 9th 1965, the Beatles spoke at length with Sandy Lesberg at the Dolphin Restaurant in London, following a full day of shooting for their second feature film, 'Help!' The group appears to have an unusually comfortable and fun rapport with Lesberg, as they chat humorously about film producer Walter Shenson, and candidly about American news journalist Walter Winchell. In later years, Lesberg would describe his interview with the group as "...more like a rap session. All four Beatles were completely at ease. I tell a joke and Paul McCartney says, ‘I don’t think that’s very funny.’ There’s a lot of banter... They were running roughshod all over me, quite frankly.” At the time, Sandy Lesberg was a program host on New York radio station WOR where he also was known as a reviewer for film, theatre and music.
In this interview, the Beatles discuss their plans to perform at Shea Stadium on their upcoming 1965 North American Tour. The name of Hedda Hopper is also mentioned more than once. Hopper was an American actress, turned gossip columnist. Both John and Paul mention her favorably. Hopper would pass away less than one year later, in February 1966.
The next day the Beatles would travel to Cliveden House, one hour west of London, to shoot their 'Buckingham Palace' scenes for the film.
- Jay Spangler, www.beatlesinterviews.org
Q: "Where were you in Austria? Near Salsburg, Vienna, where?"
PAUL: "A place called Obertown, near Salsburg, yeah.
JOHN: "Deutschland, Deutschland, Obertown, Obertown. That's where we were."
Q: "When are you going to be at Shea Stadium in New York?"
JOHN: "I don't know."
GEORGE: "Fifteenth of August, isn't it?"
RINGO: "Mr. Shenson is just getting his piece of paper out. He'll tell us."
Q: "You still call Mr. Shenson 'Mr. Shenson'?"
JOHN: "Either that or 'Soft Wally.' Depends how we're feeling."
GEORGE: "Fifteenth of August-- Shea Stadium."
RINGO: "And this picture opens the first week of August in New York."
PAUL: "Are you gonna go to it?"
Q: "Oh yeah. Are you gonna be there? For the premiere?"
PAUL: "For the film? I don't think so. But anyway, are you gonna go to it?"
Q: "Yes, of course."
PAUL: "I want a promise off ya that you're gonna be there."
Q: "I'll have a picture taken in front of the door."
PAUL: "The thing is, you see, if you'll be there-- well, we know there'll be riots at the premiere then. I've heard about your following, you know."
Q: (laughs) Do you want to say something, Walter?"
WALTER SHENSON: "I think the boys ought to tell you-- I ought to tell you about the marvelous song they wrote called, Help... with an exclamation point."
Q: (jokingly) "That was Walter Shenson the producer of the picture, and that's enough now. What's this song that's..."
Q: "Oh Walter, I see you in New York all the time. Are you going to be there for the premiere of your picture?"
WALTER: "Definitely, yes!"
Q: "I'll say, then there'll be riots."
Q: "Are there riots where Walter goes?"
PAUL: "Yeah, with an exclamation point."
JOHN: (whispering) "By the way, there's seven songs in the film."
Q: "Is your voice changing, John?"
JOHN: "No, no."
PAUL: "It's not that we're trying to plug this film, but it's seven songs, and it's a rollicking, rollicking, happy, smash, uhh... What are the other words you say about films?"
Q: "Let's get back to weekends, no kidding for a minute. When you were up in Austria, did you get the weekends off then?"
JOHN AND PAUL: "No."
RINGO: "No, we didn't."
PAUL: "We worked. But you've got to realize..."
Q: "Even on Sundays?"
PAUL: "Even on a Sunday."
JOHN: "What do you mean EVEN on Sundays, ESPECIALLY Sunday."
Q: "Especially on Sundays, John?"
JOHN: "To finish off making the mov... Nothing!!" (laughs)
PAUL: (chuckles) "Making the film, I think he was gonna say."
Q: "Something like that, huh?"
PAUL: "Something... Either that, or it was satirical."
JOHN: "Satire is 'out,' Paul."
Q: "What's 'in,' John?"
JOHN: "I don't know. Rabber!! We're all very Rabber over in England these days."
PAUL: "Oh yeah. I think he's trying to start a new craze, or something or other."
JOHN: "Rabber. Rabber macs. Rabber boots."
PAUL: "Rabber Burnes."
PAUL: "You know Rabber Burnes, don't you? (sings) 'Only A Rose!' That's Rabber Burnes."
Q: "Would you like to do a little bit of that song that you wrote for the picture, Paul?"
PAUL: "Uhh... (laughs) I'll tell you what, though. What we'll do is we'll promise to send you a copy just before it's released. Right? So you've got the-- That's an exclusive. Isn't it? I mean, THAT'S a favor."
Q: "I'm not Hedda Hopper (columnist), I don't need..."
PAUL: (jokingly) "Right. You won't get it then. If you're gonna be like that..."
JOHN: "If we thought you were Hedda Hopper we wouldn't have let you in here... Hedda Hopper was coming in on her bike."
Q: (laughing) "Did she ever interview you?"
PAUL: "She was at a party with a big hat. She's great. Good. Good girl, yeah. In Hollywood."
GEORGE: "She hopped past us."
PAUL: "Hopped past, yeah. Who's that other fella, though, that we don't like? Who's that fella? Walter Winchell!!"
Q: "What about it? Did he interview you?"
PAUL: "Don't speak to me about him!"
JOHN: "He's stupid."
Q: "Why is he stupid, John?"
JOHN: "He's stupid because he just lies and writes alot of trash."
Q: "Have you ever met him, John?"
JOHN: "No, but he keeps writing things about Paul which are lies, and so he must be off his head."
PAUL: "I've said many a time that he's just a bit off his head. I think he's, uhh-- I don't know what's happened to him. Everyone said he used to be good. But he's-- I tell ya, it's just lies. He says I'm married, you see. And I'd like to say, Mister Winchell-- Walter sir, if you're listening-- I'm not! (jokingly) I told him, didn't I!"
Q: "Is that the lie he's been telling about you?"
PAUL: "Yeah! I mean you know, that's pushing it, isn't it."
JOHN: "But he goes on and on writing it, you know, as if he knows. He doesn't know anything, that old Winch."
Q: "Goodbye, Walter. (jokingly) I'm taking inventory of the people I've lost as friends on this show."
JOHN: "I like Hedda Hopper. She's nice."
PAUL: "Hedda's great, yeah. Everybody else is great! It's not that we've got anything against Walter-- is it, Walter! No, of course it isn't."
GEORGE: "Walter Wimpy."
Q: "Is that what he says about you? I mean, he doesn't say anything really, more than..."
PAUL: "No, it's not bad, you know. But it's just that it's... It's a lie, that's all there is, you know. Either that or he's just got the wrong information."
Q: "How long-- more-- do you have to do on the picture?"
RINGO: "Two days actual filming, but we have to do quite a bit of post-synch, which will take about two weeks I believe. So they tell me."
Q: "Do you believe 'em when they tell you something?"
RINGO: "Oh, I always believe them."
Q: (to Walter Shenson) "Are you telling these boys straight?"
PAUL: (jokingly) "We're all very Gulliver."
Q: "You're very gullible?"
PAUL: "We're very Gulliver, yeah."
Q: "And you travel alot, too."
PAUL: "Travel alot, yes, too. You got that one."
Q: (laughs) "Did you write the script, too, for this picture?"
PAUL: "No, we had a good try, but it was obscene. Had to be banned."
Q: (laughs) "Did you really write the score for this picture?"
PAUL: "Score? I don't know what you mean by 'score.' We wrote seven songs, you know. Uhh... If that's the score, well we wrote it."
Q: "Called 'Help'?"
PAUL: "'Help.' Yes, yes."
Q: "With an exclamation..."
PAUL: "With an exclamation mark."
Q: "Mark, yeah."
GEORGE: "You didn't say 'No' then, did you?"
PAUL: "You didn't nod your head then, did you? (announcer voice) I'm afraid you just lost the quiz! I'm afraid you just lost the major prize-- can you come back next week?"
Q: "I can, but tell me what it is I just lost." (laughs)
JOHN: "A life-size cardbord cut-out of Walter Winchell."
Q: "You mean, with darts coming out the back?"
RINGO: "No-- In the front."
Q: "What Ringo? Say it again."
RINGO: "Not me! I'm not saying anything bad... against anybody."
PAUL: "No, you've got it wrong. We like everyone."
Q: "Do you, really?"
PAUL: "Yeah, of course we do. We love 'em all!"
Q: "How long are you gonna be in the States when you do that tour? Do you know?"
JOHN: "Four weeks, isn't it?"
RINGO: "Two and a half weeks."
Q: "Stadiums mostly, huh?"
RINGO: "Shea Stadiums, mostly."
PAUL: "Yeah. We'll be doing a couple of rounds of baseball before we go on, just to limber-up, you know. Is that what you call it? 'Rounds' of baseball? Maybe not."
Q: "No. It's close enough. (laughs) If you can do a round of baseball then it will be very interesting."
RINGO: "A square of baseball."
JOHN: "A round of bread-- that's nice."
RINGO: "A round the corner's not bad, either."
PAUL: (jokingly, to Ringo) "Listen. What I want to know-- How'd your wife fall for you? ...can't understand it!"
Q: "When is the date when you first go to the States?"
GEORGE: "Shea Stadium."
JOHN: "When are we... Do you know... Does anybody know?"
WALTER SHENSON: "Thirteenth of August."
PAUL: "We're all a bit vague on dates and things. We always have been."
Q: "What are you gonna do after you get through with this picture? Are you gonna take a vacation?"
PAUL: "Probably, if we get a chance. Yeah."
JOHN: "We tour Europe. Before America we go around Europe and see if they're still alive."
Q: "Are they?"
JOHN: "Yeah, I hope so. They just got the Cup, didn't they."
RINGO: "Liverpool lost last night."
Q: "Liverpool lost, Milan won. That was really interesting. I think that's the one sport that could really make it in the States and could be the one universal sport. Soccer."
GEORGE: "They don't have it there?"
Q: "Very little. And if they have it, it's teams coming from over here, or they get the Irish League or something."
PAUL: (excitedly) "I saw some mad game on TV in America. Irish game. What was it? Hooking, or something."
RINGO: (jokingly) "Hookey."
PAUL: "No, it wasn't hockey I don't think. It was a MAD game that I'd never ever seen before."
JOHN: "And they were just smashing about with old shalalees. Hitting the ball with shalalees."
PAUL: "Yeah! Wild game, you know."
JOHN: "It was direct from Ireland onto American TV-- we were watching it."
GEORGE: (jokingly) "Bill Shalalee."
JOHN: (chuckling) "Bill Shalalee-- I get it, George. I get it. 'Rock around The Clock.' Got it."
Q: (laughing) "Bill Shalalee and his Comets. So anyway, do you wanna briefly give me, no kidding now, some sort of schedule of where you are... where you're gonna be in the states besides Shea Stadium?"
RINGO: "The only other place I know is Houston."
JOHN: "And California."
GEORGE: I think we're doing TED Sullivan's show."
RINGO: "TED Sullivan's show."
JOHN: "And Los Angeles. We go there-- I know that. Yeah. Hollywood."
GEORGE: "Two shows in Chicago."
JOHN: "San Francisco, we go there."
Q: "How many are you going to do in Shea Stadium? Just one?"
RINGO: "I believe so. Just one."
PAUL: "Listen though. As I said before, we're dead vague about the things. And it would be better just to ask someone who knows about it."
RINGO AND PAUL: "Like Walter."
Q: "You mean Walter Winchell?"
PAUL: "No, Walter Shenson."
Q: "When you're not working on the picture, what do you do on weekends? Do you stay together on weekends? Do you split up?"
PAUL: "We either go out for the day if the weather's good, go out for a drive or go to the pictures."
Q: "Are there any places you can go where you don't get mobbed? I just came in out of twenty more girls out in front, climbing the walls. Is there any place that you can go in the UK?"
PAUL: "Millions of places where you don't get mobbed. Yeah."
RINGO: "Name one."
PAUL: "Name one? Tunipia!!"
JOHN: "But that's not part of the UK is it though, Paul, these days?"
PAUL: "Europe, though! Isn't it in Europe? No... Africa."
Q: "Close enough."
PAUL: "Well you damned fool, Paul."
RINGO: "You're vague about places."
PAUL: "I'm afraid I'm a fool... Listen, uhhh... Around the Mediteranian there's a couple. For instance-- Tunidia! Name one!"
PAUL: "Let's have a bit more of this play between, uhh... talk."
Q: (jokingly) "Is this interview too formal?"
PAUL: "Volley? What is it called-- that talking back-and-forth?"
Q: "Is there any place around London that you can get away without crowds, really?"
JOHN: "Buckingham Palace. When She's out it's quite quiet there."
PAUL: "There are places. I mean, we go to the... There's places where we can go in the UA, which is United Artists. When you're in the 'business' you get to call it UA."
Q: "Very hip, yeah."
PAUL: "Kinda informal, you know. They run films for ya."
Q: "Paul, Thank you."
PAUL: "Not at all."
Q: "Thank you, Ringo."
RINGO: "Thanks alot, Pal."
Q: (laughs) "Thanks George."
GEORGE: "Thank you, Walter Winchell."
Q: "Do you want to say anything to Hedda Hopper? (laughs) Thank you John very much."
JOHN: "It's been a pleasure. If you want to get ahead-a, get a Hopper."
Q: "Alright. The Beatles, in London. This is Sandy Lesberg... bedraggled."
Source: Transcribed by www.beatlesinterviews.org from audio copy of the interview