Peter Brown Interview
(The Love You Make
An Insider's Story of the Beatles
That's the title of a new book written on The Beatles by close friend
Peter Brown, with the assistance of Steven Gaines.
Only a man 'in the know,' such as Peter Brown, could have written such
a book. Peter Brown served as Executive Director of NEMS Enterprises (The
Beatles Management Company), and also served as Director of Apple Corporation,
The Beatles financial organization. Peter Brown was a personal friend of
The Beatles late manager Brian Epstein. Brown was John Lennon's best man
when John married Yoko Ono.
Peter Brown is immortalized forever in one of John's songs, "The
Ballad of John and Yoko" — "...Peter Brown call to say we
can make it o.k., we can get married in Gibraltar today."
We talked with Peter Brown about his extraordinary book, and the people
and events that helped shape 'Beatle mania.’
Q. Peter, does the public have a right to know the personal habits of
their favorite superstars? Does a book like The Love You Make do more harm
than good in the long run?
A. I don't think anything can do harm because I think they are so incredibly
solid and talented and famous. The history of the reason why the book was
written was: I left The Beatles at the end of ' 1970, which was the day
Paul told me he was going to sue the others for dissolution of the partnership.
And I said, "In that case, Paul, I'm leaving." And I left, and
came to work in the United States and I've been very successful ever since.
John and Yoko came about five months later to live in New York, they became
my neighbors and I've had a close relationship with them for all these years,
and I've kept in contact with all the others. The only other 'insider’ besides
me is Neil Aspinall. Over those nine years, I’m talking from 1970
to 1979; I was approached by many, many people who were doing books and
television movie projects. Beatle related. Because I was the only one that
lived in the United States, I was asked to help and I always said no, because
that was always our attitude — talk to no one. But I thought by the
time '79 came around, that so many books had come out, there was Birth of
the Beatles, and there was a film, I Wanna Hold Your Hand, and they were
all so inaccurate. And I decided these inaccuracies were being repeated
and repeated and sooner or later people were going to think they were the
real truth. So I decided a definitive, honest book should be written by
an 'insider' with help. So before I agreed to do it, I went to John and
Paul and George and Ringo, and I discussed with them the merits of doing
this book. And they agreed it was a good idea to do a definitive book once
and for all and get it all over; then we could forget about it. If anyone
ever asked us about it ever again, then we'd just say read The Love You
Make. So, if there are things in there that you think needn't be told, the
reason they're there is the fact that there have been whispers or stories
in other books about which were inaccurate. So if you're going to tell the
definitive story, then you have to tell everything.
Q. Is there any type of feeling you would like readers to come away with
after reading the book?
A. Well, I think the interesting thing, of course, is The Beatles were
very human, and they had weaknesses the same as everyone else. I think it's
sad that sometimes John wasn't as happy as he should have been or Brian
wasn't as happy as we would have liked. Paul was happy most of the time.
They were so incredibly talented and that John and Paul were certainly geniuses.
The likes of that can never happen again probably.
Q. Why didn’t some of the stories contained
in your book come out at the time they happened?
A. The media, the press were very cooperative and helpful at the time.
The English press were very proud of The Beatles because they were English
and were the best export England ever had. The American press was very good
because The Beatles were great copy. They were nice people.
Q. You told Rolling Stone, "The Beatles never paid anyone that well.
I made much more money after leaving them." How could The Beatles hold
on to people if the money wasn't that good?
A. The fact they didn't pay people much is the fact that they were very
old-fashioned in many ways. They were old-fashioned in the ways they treated
their wives. They were old-fashioned in the way they paid people. There
was a great loyalty there, of course, and a lot of people stayed because
the reflected glamour and glory of working with The Beatles was considerable.
What I'm talking about is when people say, 'Didn't you get rich?’,
is certainly with the amount of money that was coming in and the amount
of money you were handling.
Q. Do you think The Beatles paid a higher price for fame and fortune than
most people realize?
A. Oh, I think so, and that's partly because they were
the first, and there wasn't any guidelines for them to follow. Therefore,
every step was a big one because there was no precedent. I'd like to say
they were sailing in uncharted waters.
Q. You saw The Beatles at the Cavern long before Brian Epstein did. Did
you think that they would one day become the new sensation in music?
A. No, I didn't think that. I thought they were certainly unique. I mean
I knew a lot about music 'cause I was in the music business. They had a
certain great feel for rhythm and blues and rock 'n roll music. But, they
were so undisciplined, which of course was part of their charm. It was fun,
but they were really crazy. Brian, of course, had this great dream for them,
but it was difficult to see them being the Toast of the World.
Q Philip Norman, author of Shout, The Beatles in Their Generation, once
remarked to a talk show host that The Beatles never really wanted to accept
their influence in the world of popular music. Is that how you saw it?
A. Well, I think that at the time, the problem was you couldn't tell accurately,
you know...anything. I mean, even now, everything is a matter of opinion.
I mean, now of course, to a certain degree, we can assess things better
because there is a distance, and we can see the results of some of the things
they did. But, in those days, it was difficult because you sold x amount
of records and you were popular here and there. But, you didn't know the
true effect of what that was, so they tended to say when people said, 'You're
the greatest thing since Mozart," — "I don't want to hear
about that yet. I'm not so sure you're right." There was some kind
of modesty there, well; it's too early to tell, etc.
Q. In the early days of The Beatles, there was no leader, but when pressed,
they would say John, if anyone, was the leader. Then, as the the years went
on, John seemed to lose interest in The Beatles. Why did he lose interest?
Was it the drugs he was taking? Or, had John just had it with The Beatles
and had he done everything he had wanted to do with the group?
A. Yeah, I think that's true. I think he'd done most of the things he
wanted to do. I think he took the drugs because he was bored and not the
other way around. He did take the group quite a long way. I mean they jumped
from, "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" to "I'm a Walrus" and "Strawberry
Fields Forever." The progress was pretty fast, but think John was basically
worried about where he was going and what the future held for him. He didn’t
want to be playing Vegas when he was 40 like Presley. I think John became
very concerned and basically was a rebel at heart and always was.
Q. One magazine has stated that John's assassination was a conspiracy,
and that certain files are not being released to the public, and only a
court order could change that. If that's true, why hasn't Yoko initiated
some legal proceedings for those files?
A. I know nothing about it. It doesn't sound logical to me.
Q. Why did Brian Epstein fall to pieces when The
Beatles announced that after the Summer of ‘66, there would be no
A. I say in the book, he said, "There will be nothing for me to do." I
said that's crazy; what are you talking about...nothing to do! There's too
much to do. There's always too much to do. Brian had his terrible manic-depressive
streak which surfaced from time to time. He was terribly upset that whole
year; he blamed himself for the Japanese situation, the Philippines situation,
for that last tour in the U.S. He was always blaming himself for everything,
and that upset him, how bad that year was. He felt he was somehow to blame
for the fact that they stopped. It was ridiculous. He wasn't to blame; he
couldn't foresee anything like that.
Q. If you had to pinpoint Brian Epstein's genius, what would it be?
A. Genius is the vision he had. It was very difficult to have that vision
of taking this group out of the Cavern and making it into a world-shattering
music entity. It was enormous. Everyone laughed at him when he said The
Beatles were going to be bigger than Elvis, but he proved it to be true.
That was his greatest genius. I think that he was clever. I think that he
had great style and I think that The Beatles would have been very different
without Brian Epstein. I think that talent was very great and it would have
surfaced anyway, but I think if it hadn't been for Brian Epstein, it wouldn't
have been quite the effect that it did, the style he brought them to the
world and carefully kept that great image which fascinated everyone. I mean,
their music was their music...He presented them is such a good way.
Q. Some people consider Brian a lucky guy, who just happened to be in
the right place at the right time.
A. There were a lot of lucky guys. There was Alan Williams (The Beatles'
first manager), remember him? He was a lucky guy, but he didn't get anywhere.
Then Bob Wooler (Cavern disc jockey) was a lucky guy, but he didn't get
anywhere. You can be lucky, but if you don't use it and don't take advantage
of it... I think Brian was lucky to some degree, but he certainly contributed
to their fame and success, and he stayed the pace with them, and they trusted
him. People like Alan Williams and Bob Wooler weren't capable of rising
to the occasion.
Q. How do you see The Beatles as being remembered in the history books?
A. There are a number of levels. First of all the fact that they were
great innovators of music and here we are 20 years later, still playing
their music, almost as much as ever. There's still a lot of the music which
has been written now is heavily influenced by what they did. I don't think
anything has come along to replace them. I think their influence will be
felt for many years. Certainly Paul's melodies will live forever probably.
And on another level, as leaders of change. I think not necessarily they
did the things but they were instrumental in a lot of those changes that
happened in those late Sixties — the sex, drugs, growing up, manner
of dress. All of those things were different than they ever could have been
Q. Do you keep in regular contact with The Beatles these days?
A, Yeah, I do with Paul and Linda and Ringo and Barbara. I don't see much
© Gary James All Rights Reserved