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He knew Beatles would be bigger than Elvis before Brian

by Katie Hickox
On-Scene at the Liverpool Beatles Convention

Billy Kinsley was interviewed by Spencer Leigh on Sunday at the Adelphi Hotel as part of the Liverpool Beatles Convention. Billy told about the many times he got to see and work with the Fab Four in the sixties and said he "knew the Beatles were going to be bigger than Elvis even before Brian Epstein" when he saw them perform at the Cavern Club in January 1962.

Billy Kinsley was several years younger, nearly 4 years younger than John Lennon, so there was a huge age difference, but said "they were mentors for us".

Back in March 1962 the band he was playing with, the Mavericks, which eventually changed its name to MerseyBeats, were on the same bill as the Beatles, and it was a thrill for them. Billy said that the MerseyBeats was the third band that Brian Epstein agreed to manage but they didn't have a written contract. Then, Brian seemed to lose interest in them and the MerseyBeats were disappointed that Brian refused to buy them custom suits like he had done for the Beatles or even the ready made suits that the Big Three had purchased. Billy says they were young kids back then and didn't know any better, and so they chose to have someone else represent them instead of Brian.

Spencer Leigh and Billy Kinsley

Billy recalled a time in which he was locked down in the Cavern Club cellar with the Beatles who were rehearsing "Tell Me Why" and he was awestruck at how they were putting the tracks together and working out the arrangement. Another time Paul asked his opinion on "A Taste of Honey" and Billy said it was just lovely. Paul in turn told the other Beatles that they should include it on an album and Billy thinks his positive opinion gave Paul the encouragement to go forward with it. Several years later, at Abbey Road Studios, another highlight was being able to hear the Beatles record "Getting Better All The Time" and being there in person to hear the tracks and song being made.

Billy made the transition from being in a band to becoming a session musician at Apple and jokes that his first job at Apple was to make tea.

"I was part of the Apple band, and ... recorded with Paul and George and Peter Asher's first session." At Apple he commented that the relationships between the Beatles became "a bit dodgy". "When Yoko arrived...what happened next said it all. The lovely (family) feeling went out the window." He said that in the beginning "it was like we were all one big family."

Billy described one particular incident when there was a lot of friction over a chocolate bar, after George refused to give a piece of chocolate to Paul. "One day Pete Clark, George, Paul and Jackie Lomax were together in a room sitting around. George came in with a bar of chocolate and gave everyone a piece of chocolate except for Paul. Paul asked for a piece of chocolate but George went ahead and ate the last piece." Paul wasn't happy.

Billy was fired by Allen Klein along with almost everyone who worked at Apple. Billy says "Allen Klein was mafiosa in central London....and he wore a turtleneck sweater to hide the knife scar that went from his throat down his chest." That was the end of working with the Beatles but he's still remained a friend of Paul's over the years.

Billy went on to become a songwriter and had several hit records "You Are My Love" and "Every Man Must Have A Dream", and later owned and managed a recording studio to help new bands find their identities. In the 1990's he rejoined the MerseyBeats and went on several successful tours.

Related articles:

• Neil Brannan announcing Beatles Tribute bands for 16 years (9/3/10)
• Billy J. Kramer loses touch with Lennon after Cynthia (9/2/10)
• Author talks about new Paul McCartney book in Liverpool (9/1/10)
• Geoff Baker makes first appearance at Liverpool Beatles Convention (8/30/10)

Published September 2, 2010

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