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Geoff Baker makes first appearance at Liverpool Beatles Convention
by Katie Hickox
On-Scene at Liverpool's Mathew Street Festival
Geoff Baker shared a few stories and insights Sunday, August 29th, about what it was like to have worked for more than 14 years as Paul McCartney's former publicist. He spoke before a packed audience during an interview with author and BBC Radio Merseyside host Spencer Leigh at the Adelphi Hotel as part of the Liverpool International Beatles Week 2010.
Baker revealed that he got his job working for Paul after he swore at him. He told the Daily Mail in May 2007, "I said, 'You're going to tear their f***ing heads off with that show.' Paul just laughed and said, 'Right. I'll see you around.' That was my interview. A few weeks later we were on tour." Last night he said was surprised to get the job after he had given Paul his honest opinion about a planned concert tour, the first in 13 years, which Paul was rehearsing, and which Geoff got to listen to in person.
Baker's six week publicist gig turned into 14 years before he got fired by Paul, when he mishandled a publicity event that went horribly wrong. He thought it was a good idea for Paul to meet American illusionist David Blaine to generate some publicity. David Blaine was at the time performing a stunt which saw him suspended naked in a glass box by the Thames river in central London. Blaine freaked out when Baker brought Paul by to meet him and caused Paul to turn his back on Blaine and jump into a waiting car. That event proved the beginning of the end for Geoff, who publicly apologized and confessed his poor judgment was the result of his pot smoking that day. While this event didn't result in Baker's getting the boot, it was the public coming out about being a pot smoker which Heather wasn't happy about, and it was Heather who perceived that Geoff was a "bad influence" on Paul.
Spencer Leigh and Geoff Baker
Baker confessed he's had a hard time getting rehired as a publicist since his public firing. He said, "Once you've had a falling out with a colossus it's hard to pick up the pieces. I'm here today because Bill Heckle offered me 500 quid. I've been offered 150,000 pounds to do a tell all book on Paul but I've turned it down, and will continue to turn down offers like this." Paul's life is private and Geoff intends on keeping it that way.
But Geoff has been working on writing a new book, "One Fan's Tale," about a rock star from a fan's perspective, since he has been in the rock music business for many decades as not only a publicist but also a journalist. He emphasizes that the rock star he writes about is completely fictional and bears no resemblance in any way to Paul McCartney. In fact, he has been worried about this, and as a result, in his book he changed the rock star from straight to being secretly gay, and is still in the process of rewriting details about the rock star, to prevent anyone from thinking the rock star bears any similarity with Paul.
At the time of Linda McCartney's death, Paul and Geoff were criticized on the withholding of information about her illness and terminal diagnosis. Baker explained, "If you lie, so what? The odd mistruth here and there doesn't matter."
Remembering Linda, Baker said, "She was the epitome of nice. Linda was way ahead of us. Great mother, wife. Linda brought the rock 'n' roll spirit because she was so funky. She was something else. She left a great legacy with the veggie thing. Linda brought fun to it (the music business). She was much more rock 'n' roll than most people."
About his old boss, Paul McCartney, Baker said, "My greatest strength/weakness, was I never saw him as a 'Beatle', I just saw him as a 'bloke.'"
All in all, Geoff Baker did an amazing job managing the publicity for Paul McCartney in light of the tremendous pressures he faced every day, virtually 24 hours a day, dealing with the onslaught of the never ending press inquiries into every aspect of Paul's personal and professional life. In the end, the pressure took a toll on Geoff's life and he's picking up the pieces. Geoff, Beatles fans look forward to seeing more appearances from you at future Beatles conventions and festivals around the world.
Published August 30, 2010
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