We are taking a little break from our Lennon/McCartney Breakup Series to bring you this interview with the fabulous Chris O’Dell!
In this episode Diana and Thalia have a conversation with Chris O’Dell, the author of the book Miss O’Dell: My Hard Days And Long Nights With The Beatles, The Stones, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton And The Women They Loved. Chris O’Dell has led an extraordinary life as a close friend of the Beatles, Pattie Boyd and Maureen Starkey. She was an early Apple employee, worked for Peter Asher and was among the world’s first female tour managers. She worked on many legendary tours, including the iconic 70’s tours of Bob Dylan, George Harrison, The Rolling Stones, and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. She was the subject of George Harrison’s song “Miss O’Dell” as well as Leon Russell’s songs “Pisces Apple Lady” and “Hummingbird.”
We dig into hot topics like Apple in the early days, the day John quit the Beatles, the Maureen/Ringo/George triangle; Paul in 1968, Paul and Linda as a couple. John Lennon during the “lost weekend,” the day Paul quit the Beatles and George’s reaction. the Beatles vs. the Stones, and much more.
“But it was impossible in the end, because it became three to one and I was like the idiot in the corner – trying, I thought, to save the situation. And to Klein it looked like I was trying to screw the situation. He used to call me the Reluctant Virgin. I said, ‘Fuck off, I don’t want to fucking marry you, that’s all.’ he’s going, ‘Oh, you know, he may, maybe he will, will he, won’t he, that’s a definite maybe.’ It was really difficult.”
We think this statement was simply an uncouth and bullying way to goad Paul into action when he appeared to be waffling on the management issue. It is a way of dismissing Paul’s real concerns, suggesting the reason Paul didn’t want to metaphorically “go all the way” with Klein was due to Paul’s prudishness, rather than based on reason.
It also suggests that Paul was being coy on the subject rather than the reality, which seems to have been that Paul was decisive and determined in his dislike of Klein based on reason, research and his honed ability to smell a bullshitter in a way the others couldn’t.
In fact, Paul turned out to be the most street smart and cunning in terms of sussing Klein out, and this was Klein’s way of delegitimizing his concerns.
Hi! I’m listening to your episode about Klein for the second time and I must ask you… Do you think John knew about his bullying and what he said about Paul (“the reluctant virgin” and all that stuff)? I think he knew.
Our Tumblr Asks
We don’t know. There is no evidence to suggest he did or didn’t know.
However, based on what John said later, we suspect he would have been aware — however — he might not have seen it as bullying but rather Klein maneuvering to get his way (which was John’s way) and he might have rationalized that the end justifies the means.
Importantly, however, we think that John saw Paul as powerful and strong during the period, so he probably wasn’t worried about Paul being hurt or bullied.
Your episode about Klein and the relationship between John and Brian… I’ve never agreed with someone so much. A lot of things Brian did because he was biased towards John were very unprofessional (and Paul was right to be irritated at some of them) and yet they’re always either forgotten (by the Jean Jackets) or romanticised (by the fans, especially the youngest).
Our Tumblr Asks
Thanks very much for this feedback!
There are so many problematic assumptions baked into the Beatles story, it’s amazing. One of the worst, in our view, is the idea that Lennon was entitled to act however he wanted with total impunity and that everyone in the Beatles universe was obligated to serve and capitulate to Lennon’s needs only. To even challenge this assumption is radical in some circles. We think it’s time for this to change!
One of our baseline assumptions about the Lennon-McCartney partnership is that they considered each other equals, and that there absolutely was no “junior and senior partner.“ Operating under this assumption, it’s reasonable to argue that Paul’s needs were every bit as important, and should have been equally represented by management. And the idea that he should have capitulated to a manager that was aggressively hostile and abusive to him (Klein) is absurd. We can’t believe that some writers are even floating this idea and we think it only reflects how skewed the thinking is.
For more on Klein and Epstein, check out Episode 4 of our ongoing Break-up Series
In this episode, Diana and Phoebe explore the Battle for Northern Songs, which raged throughout the Spring and Summer of 1969. They go deep into this topic, providing detail and context as they investigate Paul’s infamous extra shares and explore the psychological impact of the loss of their publishing rights.
“If I Ran Away from You: Part 4″ Love, War, and the Games that Ended the Beatles
In this episode, Diana and Phoebe begin their investigation into the issues that separated John and Paul and turned them against each other, the most significant of which was Allen Klein: the Demon King of the Beatles Break-up.
They examine how Klein drove a wedge between Paul and John and hastened the band’s demise. They also discuss what Paul McCartney describes as “the cracking of the Liberty Bell,” a hugely important moment in the journey of the Beatles.
In the second installment of our Break-up series, Diana and Phoebe take a DEEP look into January 1969, when the Beatles record and film Let it Be.
Part 1 reflects on the sub-textual conversation revealed in their behaviors and their music. Part 2 (Coming very soon!) looks at some of the underlying issues of the break-up as they play out in this period.
This multi-part series explores the emotional roots of the Beatles break-up with a focus on Lennon/McCartney.