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Mr. McCartney in Detroit

How often can you go to a show, that gets better every time you see it? That is a rhetorical question, because I have no idea what the answer may be!

We went to see Paul at the Joe Louis Stadium in Detroit on Wednesday evening, having driven from Indiana..a journey and a bit.

But, boy, was it worth it..

I was lucky enough to get to chat with him before the concert…so let me give you a close-up. Paul looks fantastic…really, he does. He seemed taller than I remembered, but then I looked down at his shoes..Cuban heels!…and I was wearing trainers. He’s got an enviable mop of hair and a bright smile. He was wearing a great green sort of waistcoat jacket, cut away slightly at the front..this gave him an almost skinny look. Look online and you’ll see what I mean. He took this jacket off after a few songs…and said, ‘and that’s the only wardrobe change!’

And it was and is for Paul. He never leaves the stage until the (many) encores..he has the stamina and excitement of a teenager.

White shirt, black jeans, black belt, Cuban heels. There you go. What’s not to like???

He included a tribute to John, ‘Here Today”..beautifully sung.

….and as for the rest, you can tune into the playlist for yourselves…old favourites, some from ‘New”, some Wings, lots of Beatles, including ‘Just Seventeen’ and my own dancing number, right at the end, just when I thought he wasn’t going to sing it, ‘Helter Skelter”.

What a night….thank you Paul!

Julia x

On The Beat, with Spencer Leigh..9th May 2015..6pm—8pm

Spencer and I have known each other for many years…he has interviewed me alot about John ..and we decided it was time to do something a little different. This started earlier this year with my being a panelist on his ‘Juke Box Jury’ show. I was one of four reviewers…and had a great time. We arranged to do another programme, with a subject that indulges us both..the French chansons, some of the why’s and wherefore’s. The date was set for May 9th and we parted ways.

Well, you know how temps fugit…February???…. miles away… many weeks??? April…hmmm busy, busy…when in May??

Panic!!!! Bottles of wine, surrounded by cd’s old, borrowed and new…zut alors et allons-y!!!

I had enlisted the help of Martine, whom I have known for 30 years..I have stayed with her family in Le Mans..her Mother, Louise, was a dynamic lady, who loved the chansons, having grown up with them. We have sat in her brother, Claude’s house, eating, drinking and singing many of these songs, many times. For me, if you want to be IN France, this is the way to do it!  We looked and listened both offline and online, made notes, lost them, listened some more…printed off  words and sang along.

You can hear the resulting programme on this link:

If that doesn’t work, you’ll find it on my FB page.

We had a list of ab fab chansons that didn’t get played…or Spencer put in his own choices.. (we had to let him…it’s his programme!!!)…but we wouldn’t have replaced any of them with Petula Clark or Maurice Chevalier. or even Charles Aznavour…a good tenor/operetta singer…but compared to Brassens/Brel, he does little for us.

If you want you want to hear what Martine and I have been singing, in original recordings, these are all on You Tube…my uber- hot- favourite online space!!

Georges Brassens…’Aupres de mon arbre.’    ‘Le Gorille.’  Mr. Very outright anarchist who understands life.  I had a photograph of him on the fireplace forever, guiding me, alongside one of John, Elvis and The Dalai Lama!!!!! They disappeared with a replastering earlier this year and I miss them.

Also, you could listen to Leo Ferre’s hommage to Brassens, ‘A Brassens’….as well as his ‘Paris Canaille.’…a wonderful song describing the underbelly of Paris…the one we all want as soon as we’ve seen The Eiffel Tower.

Jacques Brel….’Ne Me Quitte Pas’…could you leave anyone who sang to you like this??!!…’Amsterdam’  When was at University in Caen, 1966/7, being politically woken up, I was at a party with friends, vagueky the worse for wear. We heard that there were still some tickets for Jacques Brel at the fabulous new concert hall…we all piled into a taxi and saw one of the best shows I have ever seen. I have also taken my children…as teenagers…to see the house where he was born in Sete..also to admire Simone de Beauvoir’s apartment..never to knock, although she was still alive at the time..she must have confined her singing to the bath, as there aren’t any recordings out there!

Yves Montand..’Les Feuilles Mortes’   you will probably recognise it as ‘Autumn Leaves’..recorded by Nat King Cole, Aznzvour and Piaf and any balladier…a poignant song of how loves grows simultaneously in unattainable joy and overwhelming pain…’Life separates those who love each other, without making a noise’ (Tout doucement)…ouch!

Francoise Hardy…although more of a pop genre, I’ve always liked her  ..’Comment te dire Adieu’ and ‘Mon amie, la Rose’.

Juliette Greco…John loved her and Brigitte Bardot..we had a full-length pictures of both of them….like a photo negative….he obviously settled on B.B…this Cynthia’s easy transition into John’s very own blonde bombshell.  Try, ‘Sous le ciel de Paris’ and the wonderful ‘Parlez-moi d’amour’..which I am learning with a friend.

Edith Piaf…have you seen the film, ‘La Vie en Rose’, where Marion Cotillard becomes Piaf, before your very eyes and ears? It’s one of the few films that I can watch again…and again. Any song from her life is soul-tearing. We had chosen, ‘L’Accordeoniste’  ‘La Vie en Rose’ and ‘Rien de Rien.’ We wanted everything.

Jean Ferrat, ‘La Femme est l’Avenir de l’Homme’…just when will men accept this???!!!!

Serge Reggiani…an enchanting eulogy for his daughter…’Ma fille’..apparently, this is availabe as a ring-tone…and also ‘Les Loups sont entres dans Paris’…an anti-war song.

Charles Trenet has to be credited for influencing the lives of so many chansonniers……’La Mer’…a love song to the sea.

Gilbert Becaud’s, ‘Nathalie’…describing falling in love with a Russian tour guide in Red Square…you will have heard it, I’m sure.

Boris Vian…a genius polymath…he did everything…but sady, always suffered from ill-health and died at 39 of heart failure. Inhhis short time, he sang, acted, directed, wrote, played jazz..listen to ‘Le Deserteur’..he too was a left-wing rebel, who was telling people not to engage in war and its horrors…this record was banned during the Vietnam war..and in fact, Vian was barred from all television appearances. A more modern Vian, for me, is Neil Young…who also released an anti-war cd..which was immdiately banned by the Bush government at the time of the Iraq invasion. It shot to number overnight.

Boris Vian wrote a beautiful story, ‘L’Ecume des Jours’, where the main protagonist was a woman who had a water-lily growing in her lung..and her millionaire husband was bankrupted trying to keep her alive, by having her constantly surrounded by fresh flowers. He was from a rich family himself, but that couldn’t prevent his poor health. There are English translations.

Now for some more obscure chansonniers…we couldn’t use them on the programme because we could only find them on You Tube.too see, we should have started earlier!

Etienne Daho, ‘Des Heures Hindoues’..also recorded by Vanessa Paradis

Frehel…’La Java Bleue’…it’s a dance.

Rina Ketty..”J’attendarai’…I’ll wait for you..

The fabulous Mistinguett, singing, ‘Mon Homme’..a love song to her man.

And let’s finish with Leonard Cohen…’La Manic’,which is on his latest album…he is a true poet…a very real chansonnier..this song is also a love song…as most of these chansons indeed are…one in the form of a letter written to a construction worker on the Manicouagan Power Project…originally sung by its author, George Dor.


Is Bob Dylan a chansonnier? I think so…maybe he doesn’t see himself like that. He read the 19th century poet Rimbaud and wrote:

‘The poet makes himself a seer by a long, prodigious and rational disordering of the senses. He reaches for the unknown and even if, crazed, he ends up by losing the understanding of his visions, at least he has seen them.’

Allez les Chansons!!!!!

Julia x




Chicago with The Mersey Beatles..April 2015

I came home last week, having spent a week with one of our Cavern Club resident bands  in Chicago and the Mid-West…just emerging now from jet-lag!

I first met The Mersey Beatles in 2004, when they came to Australia with The Cavern Club and a whole host of representatives from Liverpool, to celebrate the 40th year since the Beatles’ appearance down-under. It was a wonderful trip. We have since crossed foreign paths in Sweden and now, they have their U.S. working visas, I was delighted to be invited to join them for their launch tour.

They played in Chicago and several other towns in Illinois, Wisconsin and finally in Indiana. We learned how the Mid-West, despite being almost on the East Coast of America, got its name. British explorers, making their way westwards from the Atlantic east coast, mapping ‘their’ new territory, made a mega-gaffe. The 5 Great Lakes were in the way…Michigan, Eerie, Ontario, Huron and Superior. Lake Michigan is so vast that it impossible to see land on the other side. The ignorant British trekkers decided that this must be the West Coast of America…relayed the information back to London..only to find out that this was a lake, not The Pacific Ocean. In order to save face all round, this region was given the title of Mid-West!!!!! Thank you Tony Cook, the MB’s keyboard player…a mine of information!!!#

When they played in Joe’s, downtown Chicago, Jay Geoppner turned up, with endless bags of  the most delicious popcorn known to man…we were munching it when peckish, when full, when drinking, when travelling,’s so ridiculously moreish, I’m not sure it’s legal!…(and I’m very pleased that we cannot get it here). Jay jumped on stage to join The MB’s in their last number of the night, ‘Get Back’..making a fab finale.

After several more dates, we ended up as house guests of Mark Minnick, The Mersey Beatles’ sponsor. When I say house guests, we are talking palace guests here…out in the great, as-far-as-the-eye-can-see wheat plains of Indiana..what immense countryside! It really has to be seen to be believed.

To introduce the band every night, we played the newly-released trailer of ‘Come Together. A Beatles Tribute’..the fabulous documentary created and assembled by Americans, Steve Ison and John Schofield. I recommend that you look at this link, then stream/download this fascinating story of an International Beatle Week in Liverpool:


Then the band came on and completely wowed the audiences, having them dancing in the aisles! I did a book-signing in the interval, along with MB’s merchandise.soon to be enhanced with a cd…….. I was aided and abetted by two gentlemen…and I really mean that..Roy and Winston. Thank you both!

As an inaugural trip, it couldn’t have gone better…..a new/old Beatle invasion is on its way! The Mersey Beatles will be back in the MId-West in October…then on to Florida next spring.

Lucky America!!!

Julia x


Brian Epstein’s Plaque……. Sunday 22nd February 2015.

It’s a start! A good start too, thanks to Marie Darwin and the book club gang, who meet at Cuthbert’s Bakehouse, in Mount Pleasant, in Liverpool. Marie has wanted to celebrate Brian’s Beatle life for a long time.and this plaque is, hopefully, the forerunner to a statue in the city.

Brian was born on 19th September, 1934, in a private nursing home in 4, Rodney Street, in the centre of Liverpool. It is just one of the many fine Georgian buildings in the city…we have the greatest number outside London. He later lived in a flat in a similar house just round the corner, number 22, Faulkner Street..the same flat he lent to John and Cynthia, following their marriage in 1962. So, it is on the Rodney Street Wall that you will find the plaque, just above eye level, behind the iron railings that front the house.

We were met in Cuthbert’s…I recommend it to you., with hot drinks. It was a cold, wet and windy day. At 2pm, we were all gathered in front of Brian’s birthplace, where there were reporters, cameras and fans. The plaque was covered with a blue curtain, which Marie and I pulled off, to reveal the artwork. It looks ab fab…a circular disc. Please look online for BBC News- Plaque for Brain Epstein and you will find a photograph and the news article. I tried to copy it here, without success! Marie gave a talk, where she even implied that Brian was greater than Elvis. (We don’t always agree!).

Then it was straight back to the warmth of Cuthbert’s and delicious hot stew. I think Brian would have enjoyed our day.

Now for the statue.

Julia x


Pete Dicks of Cannock Radio, (UK), followed by Raul of KWMR Airwave Radio (USA)

Two more interviews today..and one to go!
The first was with Pete Dicks…a radio journalist I’ve known for aboout 20 years…we’ve met up in various Beatle places, notably Beatle Week, in Liverpool. He even reminded me today of a fab band that we saw together many years ago in The Cavern Club…Mad Dogs. They are classically trained musicians from Rio, who play about with Beatles songs…in the same way that a super-professional tightrope walker can leap about on the high wire with big shoes and floppy headgear…and not fall off! He played out our interview wit their funky version of ‘Strawberry Fields’..if they are on youtube, try to listen to their ‘Taxman’.


The next interview was conducted by Raul, of KWMR Airwave radio…and he posed a very interesting question….asking what is the difference between an impersonator..and a tribute singer/player. We came to the  conclusion that there are bands and individual singers who would classed as impersonators, with their dress style, hairstyle, glasses style and voice style…think the many Johns….and those who simply pay tribute to the music….including of course, the many ‘cross-over’ acts. A challenging perspective on modern Beatledom.

As soon as I receive these interviews, I’ll post them out to you…I’m now going out for pancakes!

Julia x

Billboard..transcript of recorded telephone interview.

By Nicole Pajer | February 11, 2015 11:50 AM EST

Julia Baird
Julia Baird
David Sandison/The Independent/Rex/REX USA
Ahead of the release of a documentary on Liverpool’s “International Beatleweek,” John Lennon’s sister reminisces on practices in the kitchen and Beatlemania.

Every August, fans from around the globe flock to the UK for a chance to express their adoration for the one and only Beatles. The festival, known as International Beatleweek, takes over Liverpool, attracting thousands of tribute bands and over 300,000 Beatle maniacs. A new documentary, titled Come Together, places fans inside the festival by following a handful of the world’s estimated 8,000 Beatles tribute bands as they set out to pay homage to the most influential band of all time. The film, which releases digitally on February 3rd, takes place in a variety of Beatle-friendly haunts, including the famed Cavern Club, which launched the four mop-top Brits into international superstars.

Billboard caught up with the late John Lennon’s sister, Julia Baird, who narrates the documentary, to discuss her involvement with the project. She also filled us in on what type of music John would be making if he were alive today, her thoughts on the Paul McCartney/Kanye collab, and reveals how she learned the hard way that standing in the second row of a Beatles concert was a downright terrible idea.

Tell us about Come Together. How did you get involved with narrating it?

Steve Ison and his friend John Scofield are two friends in Liverpool, and we have a mutual friend who introduced us before the documentary. When the documentary came up, he asked me, would I like to narrate it? It all took place in Liverpool and The Cavern during Beatleweek. If anyone looks up Beatleweek Liverpool, you’ll see that this is an entire week devoted to The Beatles and tribute bands at the end of August every single year. We have lots of visitors. So what Steve and John have done is actually filmed what goes on during Beatleweek. They picked a few Beatles tribute bands to follow. The bands that are featured of course are excellent, but there’s thousands that are just as good. We have a resident tribute band in The Cavern itself on every Saturday night called The Cavern Club Beatles. They travel all around the world on behalf of The Cavern and are actually in the documentary quite a lot. But as the point is made throughout the film, if you go to hear an orchestra playing Mozart, Mozart isn’t here anymore. And yet sometimes it’s said in a derogatory way, “Oh it’s a tribute band.” Yes it is, because the Beatles per se aren’t playing anymore. It’s not possible anymore. So these are tribute bands, but no more so than a tribute to Frank Sinatra, a tribute to Elvis, it’s the same sort of thing — and some of them are beyond superb really. That’s what the film is about; it’s the tribute bands all coming together to Liverpool because they want to take part in Beatleweek.

Were there any Beatles bands that you discovered while working on this documentary that surprised you? I’ve heard there are Beatles tribute bands in Japan and other countries that don’t even speak English.

Yes! We’ve met them. I thought it was really funny. The Aspreys, who are named after one of the richest, poshest jewelers on Bond Street in London, don’t speak any English. If you’re looking over their shoulder when they’ve got their playlist, their playlist is in Japanese characters because they are reading it. They obviously read “A Hard Day’s Night” in Japanese characters and then they move into phonetics. They sing in English, and it’s all phonetic — you would not know that they didn’t speak English.

What is some of the craziest stuff that you’ve seen during Beatleweek?

Well it’s crazy, but in a nice way — the adulation from the fans. And one of the things that gets me is that they are getting younger and younger. So you’ve got my age. I’m 67. John would be in his seventies, so there obviously is going to be a lot of fans in their seventies. There is our group, a few years down, and then there are our children and my children are in their forties bringing their children. And you have eight year olds that know all the words and they know things. It really is a phenomenon.

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When your brother passed, did you ever imagine that his legacy would continue and affect so many future generations?

Absolutely not. I don’t think anybody did. Even Apple as a company and all the individuals involved… I don’t think anyone knew where this was going.

What do you think he would think about all these tribute bands?

He’d get up on stage with them. He’d want to do the main bits.

Is he the guy that would have walked into a karaoke band, heard someone singing a Beatles song, and then jumped up on stage with them?

Oh after a few Guinness, yes. Like those people that never think they would ever do it. Given the right motivation, most people get up there, don’t they?

Ringo and Paul are still doing their thing. If John were alive today, what kind of music do you think he would be making?

He’s a rock and roller. He loved to rock and roll. He said it many many times. He never really, I think, left rock and roll, so I can’t imagine him being any different.

What do you think of Paul McCartney venturing out of rock and roll and taking more musical risks. He just did a single with Kanye West, for instance.

And Rihanna!

Could you have seen John ever branching out like that and doing something with Kanye West?

I really don’t know. Paul is the number one superstar on the planet. There is just no disputing it. He could sit in a chair and read a book or walk his dogs or play with grand children for the rest of his life. He doesn’t have to do anything. He’s a natural star performer. He’ll always be on stage. And why not do everything he wants to do? He’ll have great fun won’t he? I think Paul is just having a lot of fun right now.

And what are you up to these days? Are you still the director of The Cavern Club?

Yes I am. By a strange quirk of fate, I became a director in 2004 and just helped the other directors in promoting The Cavern Club, The Cavern Pub, we have The Magical Mystery Tour and it’s go go go believe me. It’s hugely successful. There are franchise Cavern Clubs around the world. It’s a business but at the same time, it’s the greatest fun. It’s a good arena to be in. And I’m still living near Liverpool so it’s great for me to be in Liverpool and with an emotional stake into The Beatles and John, which I like very much indeed.

Do you have any fun memories of your brother and The Beatles playing there?

Oh lots. I have written a book called Imagine This: Growing up with my Brother John Lennon, and it does give the story of our childhood with our mother, with me, with John, with my younger sister Jacqui in Liverpool, the growth of The Beatles. For the book, I interviewed Paul, and it’s been put on a CD and it’s just Paul chatting for about 40 minutes — right back to the beginning. He sings, he jokes, he laughs. So if you look at, you’ll find it all there.

Give us a snippet about what it was like watching John and the band play.

I remember rehearsals in the kitchen, which is before Paul even joined, when they were The Quarrymen. I still know The Quarrymen; we are all still great friends. Rehearsals in the kitchen, when the drum was a tea chest base with a string on it, carried up and down the path. My mother and my sister and myself went to Rosebery Street for a celebration of 750 years of Liverpool being granted a city charter. There was a big celebration, and The Quarrymen were on the back of a flatbed lorry. We went to see that. Then the day that John met Paul, in 1956, and then when they hit London and we went down to the Finsbury Park Astoria. My sister and I saw the opening night of The Beatles at Finsbury Park Astoria. We’d seen them in Liverpool, we’d seen them at The Empire, we’d seen them wherever they’d performed locally. And this was now in London and we had never heard the screaming like it. That is when we first heard Beatlemania for itself.

Was that crazy, going to their shows and having people scream so loud that you couldn’t even hear the band?

Well they left the four front rows empty, which we couldn’t understand. John had said, “You’ve got to stay in the dressing room and when we go out on stage, you can watch from the wing.” We said, “No. No. No. We want to sit down there” because we could see from behind the curtain. The four front rows were empty. “We want to sit there.” “You can’t sit there. It’s security”–– which was a new thing in those days. “No. No. We want to sit there.” They were all sort of getting ready to go on stage so my sister and I went and sat in the second row of these four rows. The four rows were completely empty right across the front; we were the only ones there. The minute the curtain went up and they were there starting “She Loves You,” everyone in the whole theater surged to the front and John looked at the side and said, “Get the girls! Get the girls!” and we were hauled across the side of the stage on our stomachs where John had told us to stand in the first place. And he looked to one side and said, “I told you so!”

When was that gig?

That was the Finsbury Park Astoria. It would have been 1964 I think. A Christmas show. That was the biggest we had seen them at that point.

The girls scream so loud for these up-and-coming boy bands, but I’m sure it’s nothing compared to what it was like to hear an audience scream for your brother’s band.

I know. When we were back at the Empire, Roy Orbison was headlining, because they did a tour supporting him. It was all sort of quasi-civilized. The Beatles ended the first half of the show. It was a fantastic set and everyone was excited and jumping up and down and stuff like that. And then Roy Orbison came on for the second half of the show and they were screaming the whole time for The Beatles to come back on. I was mortified. One, I wanted to listen to Roy Orbison but two, The Beatles had taken over and they’d done their bit.

Lastly, give us a blurb about what makes this documentary so different from other Beatles documentaries. What do you think of the finished product?

The finished product is highly polished and very good. Everybody on it is in the Beatles business. You’ve got John Scofield, you’ve got Steve Ison, and Jean Catharell, who is a Beatles historian. You’ve got Jay Getner who does every John song in the most superb way. You’ve got the bands, you’ve got The Cavern, you’ve got Liverpool in full swing. It’s very well brought together and it’s a nifty title, Come Together.

Liverpool, The Beatles, the Quarrymen, Julia Baird, John Lennon, Paul McCartney

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Brian Epstein

Brian has finally been included in The Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame. The Beatles would be celebrating! It’s long overdue.

If you are in Liverpool on Sunday, 22nd February, you might like to come to no 4 Rodney Street at 2pm. Marie Darwin has organised a tribute to Brian, at his birth place, to be followed by a gathering at Cuthbert’s Bakehouse, on Mount Pleasant.

Julia x

BBC Radio Merseyside with Spencer Leigh. January 31st 2015


..and, for those of you old enough to remember…I really, nearly said, ‘Oi’ll give it foive’.

I have met Spencer at many events in Liverpool and we have occasionally talked about various genres of music that we both of them being the ‘Chansons’ of the francophone world..mainly La Belle France. Having said that, probably the poet/singer that first springs to mind here in the U.K. is Jacques Brel, who is second only to Hercule Poirot, as a famous Belgian.  This show is pencilled in, at the moment, for Saturday May 9th, between 6pm and 8pm.

We have been emailing concerning how to  include a good cross-section of many different proponents of this art, ranging from well-known to lesser- known performers. Some barely sing their poetry,( think Leonard Cohen ) whilst others almost move into the pop word…a truly eclectic mix. In order to swap ideas and music, we met up, last night in Radio Merseyside in Liverpool, with a  French friend of mine. And whilst I was there, I joined in as one of Spencer’s four guest panellists on his ‘new release’ show, which airs known and unknown band and artists, local and distant.

Although he had invited me to be on the panel in advance..and sent me a  Sam Cooke cd to listen to, I didn’t know how the programme would run. When I met the other three panellists, it was obvious that they all took part on a regular basis. Spencer himself is a mine of detailed  information about music right across the board….. I had taken my homework seriously…. listening to the cd in the car all week,  (Black America sings Sam Cooke) and had then watched a fab youtube dvd  about his life/legacy/legend …and found it fascinating. It filled in much that I  hadn’t known before. It turned out that we had all receievd that cd and we all had a chance to review it…the whole programme was not to be the Sam Cooke Review!

We actually listened to a wonderful array of new music, ranging from Swing Jazz, to Pretty Things, to Billy J. Kramer, to …Paul McCartney’s latest releae, alongside Rihanna and Kanye West.    I think you will be able to listen again far a week…I catch many missed progs this way.

I enjoy ‘being on’  the radio….. far more than the box…none of that awful make-up that I’m wondering how to remove even as they are plastering it on. But I was a bit rubbish at it, making remarks about the record/cd sleeve, as if the listener could see it with me!!!! I  At one point, I even held one of the covers up to the microphone, to say  that this stylised artwork resembled Rory Gallaher…doesn’t it?!!!!!!! Ayeeee!!!!!! That’s the cover of the Pretty Things cd, by the way…they play an ab fab version of ‘Helter Skelter’…a sort of hypnotic drone..

…but it ain’t the rock wonder that Paul has created for his own with this number.  He gets on that helter Skelter and we all climb on behind him…and we GO. If you have hear Paul doing this live, you will know just wht I mean.  In his hands, its pure dynamite!

Had a late meal in town..and a lovely clear drive home.

I love being in Liverpool.


SPRINGWOOD 1, Blomfield Road is up for sale!

Blomfield…oh no…not another one!

I have just looked at the ‘Beatles house for sale’ video sent to me by Shelley Germeaux from Beatles Examiner .

What’s all that wood doing INSIDE the house and ON the walls??????? I recognise it, the shape, the staircase…and I do occasionally go to see it..but they don’t know that…sometimes I drive past and sometimes I park half a mile away and walk past. The whole road was lined with Elm trees, as we were growing up..beautiful trees…you can see the marks were they were uprooted..because of Dutch Elm disease..the council always promised that they would be replaced, but sadly, that never happened. so it was a very lovely aspect..and at the back, we had a garden gate leading directly into the allotments…an area the size of a couple of football fields…so you couldn’t see the houses…it was just fields, vegetables, trees and gardens. Then the council built on the land…so everything has changed….no trees, no space. We were lucky to have it as we did..all the tearing out of beautiful trees and building houses happened way after we had departed.

The small bedroom at the top of the stairs..the first one…was Jackie’s…and John’s. Whenever John came, which was alot, he would have the single bed in that room, which looked over the back of the allotment fields…a good view. It has a little fireplace…which was lit in the winter. Cosy. I had the second bedroom in the video…with very pretty wallpaper and a fireplace too..lit when it was very cold..we could sit in bed reading and drawing, with the fire crackling. When John was with us, Jackie moved into my room with the double bed… The last bedroom was my parents’ room..the cupboards are still there, but they seem to be smaller…..and the bathroom..where’s the bath? People do this now..why? So, the bath edge that John and Paul balanced on, to get the echo in the small tiled’s gone!

The garden was full of marigolds…my father’s favourite flowers..and two big rhodedendron bushes..he was a keen gardener and kept it well…we would be in bed in the summer, listening to lots of Dads mowing the lawns, pushing the lawnmowers around…a nostalgic sound to this day.

It was a good place to be.

I go to Springwood from time to time..have a cup of tea with an old neighbour..walk past no 1 and reminisce..they don’t know. I can..and this, no matter who has it. The Starkeys wander round there too..we talked about it at their family gathering……we children were happy there..and that’s where John had Mummy.

I do wish the family luck with the sale.

Julia x

Billboard interview, followed by The Maggie Linton radio interview

Hello Everyone,

I’ve had two  U.S. promotional interviews in the last two days, so I’ll combine them here.  Yesterday, I was interviewed by BILLBOARD for their magazine and today, I’ve just finished talking to MAGGIE LINTON, for her online radio show. You may be able to locate it in the ethers.  Both interviews were set up by Steve Ison and John Schofield, on behalf of their documentary film, ‘Come Together. A Beatles Tribute.’

Most of you will know that every year,  during the last week in August, a phenomenon takes place in Liverpool..Beatle Week. Fans from all over the world converge on the city, to celebrate the group (band) that changed our lives. There are about 8.000 tribute bands, either performing as Beatle- look-and -sound- alikes, or, conversely putting their own take on the Boys. Most of them aim to come and play on the hallowed boards of The Cavern Club..and any other stage they can climb on! It seems strange that no-one has thought to record this brilliant festival before, but it is out now, thank goodness.

This documentary invites us all to join in, to be Liverpool, hearing  from the band members, seeing many Johns, Pauls, Georges and Ringos with Swedish accents, American accents and in one case, the Japanese language! The Japanese boys (The Aspreys) don’t even speak English. Their playlist, which you can see over their shoulders, is in Japanese characters, but they have learned all the songs phonetically! Wow!!! Very impressive. There is also a girl band, who were rudely dismissed by Allan Williams, just for being  girls…I have seen them play and they are really good (silly Allan)…..For some reason, the Scouse accents are accompanied by sub-titles! My own part is that of narrator..the film has been planned, created, directed and produced by Steve and John. I only saw the final edited version months after my bit had happened and loved watching it afresh yesterday, when I received the link.

The film portrays fantastically well, the ab fab atmosphere that pervades every breath of air in the city, whether that is in a  basement, a ballroom, or in the open air.  So, have a look for yourselves at this trailer for ‘Come Together. A Beatles Tribute’……

The complete film will be released online on February 3rd…see their website at:

…and then come and join us in Liverpool if you can!

Julia x


January 2015

I’m sorry this is late. We stayed over in Liverpool on Wednesday night, wandered round town all day Thursday, only arriving back home in the evening. I’m just about together….as good as it gets!

If I can go back a few weeks, Beatles Story asked if I would like to go to the Liverpool pre- launch of a new photographic tome, entitled, ‘John Lennon, the New York Years’, by Bob Gruen. It was being held in the Malmaison Hotel, on Princes Dock. In the foyer, where the organisers had set up a mini exhibition, all looking very interesting. I took a book straight away and sat down with it to flick through the pages, but soon found myself completely absorbed. I haven’t seen most of these candid photographs before…they are wonderful. You can google the book and see for yourselves and I’m sure if it isn’t on sale now, it soon will be. Bob Gruen is coming to Beatle Week this year. I hope to meet him and grill him about John!

The hotel manager, James and his deputy, Sharon, were great hosts to all. No sooner had I come home than the post brought an invitation to stay as their guests. Within a very short time, the opportunity arose…the staff party for Cavern employees, including the Cavern Club, the Cavern Pub, The Magical Mystery Tour and the office staff. That was how and where we came to stay on Wednesday night.

We arrived at Malmaison and were greeted warmly by reception, who offered lunch, which we took in the bar…this was excellent, with great service. The room was on the ‘Beatle’ floor, where a yellow submarine hangs over your head just outside the lift, with L.P covers and various other memorabilia on the walls. Our room overlooked the Princes Dock…ab fab and thank you Malmaison for that extra thought…and was a complete comfort zone. I sound like an advert, but give it a go! They still have Beatle Week space.

Then we were off to The Cavern for the party, where brilliant bands played all night long. The next day, we took out time, never in a hurry to leave the city. Firstly, we went to Beatle Story, to meet Mary and Clare, who had come to the party. I was leaving some signed books and cd’s for their in-house shop..I can tell you that they are planning events to celebrate John’s 75th birthday in October. It sounds like a fans’ dreamboat! Lips and keyboard firmly sealed…..

. We also saw the Andy Warhol expo in The Tate Liverpool. Proudly, LIverpool is the first port of call in the U.K. Sadly, however, much of his work is now in private ownership. I was fortunate enough to see an expansive display of his works in The Guggenheim Museum In New York in the late eighties.

After wandering round town, we finally arrived home in the early evening, exhausted and happy…with a couple of bags from our favourite second-hand shops!!!!!!!! More in means more out!

So, I’ve had ‘JL NY Years’ propped up on the table, taking time out here and there for another look. I suddenly decided, out of nowhere , to gift this gift to Tim, an old schoolfriend of John’s. Bizarrely, he lives in Chester…about 20 miles from me. I found him when I was  researching my own book, back in 2005. He and his wife Margaret are lovely people. Tim gave me John’s school records, photographs..all of which helped me. I knocked on their door this Friday evening and spent a couple of hours there. We remind each other of old Allerton, old Woolton, old life! Margaret said we said are living in the past…oh, not all the time! Bear with us…It is fantastic to have someone who was there at the same time…no explanations necessary..just lots of, ‘oh I was there, doing this that’…’me too’ ‘did you know my school has just been knocked down?’  do you remember’…stuff. I have invited them to come and meet Bob Gruen in the summer ( I don’t know if I can get to him yet!) I am sure he’d like to meet a friend who spent another part of John’s life with him.

That’s the sum of life here since Tuesday. I hope your time and space has been exciting too!


January 2015

If you blog, you will know how this page starts. ‘What’s on your mind?’ Well right now, it’s ‘grrrr’ because I finally determined to log on and blog on..and pressed something-not-send..and it disappeared!!!!!! I had almost finished this bit too. I am getting back on the horse straight away, before despair sets in…

So, I won’t do the ‘resolution’ bit again. I have been meaning to return here all year..the initial technical set-backs were almost soul destroying…isn’t it mad/bad to realise how much these glitches affect you? I feel like a child with a book in front of me…in Greek! I can’t read it.

But I can type and SAVE!!!!!

On 3rd January, this New Year, I received an invitation. An ab fab invitation to a big, family party. The Starkey family gathering.

If you have read, ‘Imagine This…’, then you may recognise the name and remember the family. They were opposite neighbours in Springwood, where we moved after we left Newcastle Road. My father, John, known as Bobby, my mother Julia and me..two and a half years old. Jackie was due in December of that year…1949, but arrived in October, prematurely. John, at that time, had no idea where we were. It’s all in the book.

I’ve just pressed ‘Save’!

All those years ago, the newly made Dykins family had a ready-made clan right over the road..headed by Charles and Hannah Starkey and their six children. Gerald was too old for us, Charlie was just about to leave school. The two older girls, Pat and Rita hung around our gate before coming in. Rita almost moved in, as a shadow to my mother. She learnt to play the paino, babysat, did shopping. But the real star of their show, chief of their clan, was Hannah. Hannah in he kitchen, Hannah in the garden, Hannah at her gate, Hannah listening to and talking to my mother. She became her mentor. She allowed her daughter to deliver a note to Mendips. She understood. It was only later that I understood just how much she was there for us.

The two younger daughters were my own instant gang,  Anne was two years older, Clare the same age. We grew up together from then on, until my mother died, when I was 11…but we never lost touch, despite many moves..

So, I had a phone call, inviting me to the party. A celebration of 50 years marriage for Clare, 50 years of living for the oldest grandchild, a new teenager, a new baby. They are thriving and I love to be a part of it. I am privileged to be a part of it.

There were 180 guests..imagine that…all connected to this remarkable tribe. I was ‘spotting a Starkey’ as soon as I went in. They have a very dominant, physical gene, but far more outstanding than that, they have a spiritual gene that demonstrates love and truth. They are true to themselves and true to each other, as a group and outwards. There have been inevitable deaths, there have been illnesses, but there they all are, looking after each other. Like Pat and Rita at our Springwood gate, I hover and then enter, wanting what is there.

A highlight for me. When I walked across to Rita, she stood up, came right towards me and said, ‘oh, hello Mummy!’. How could I not be happy?

We left there hours later, having laughed, exchanged stories and memories and promising to meet again soon.

On a lighter note.I drove to the middle of a strange Business Park Community Centre and used the Sat-Nav for the first time, believe it or, on my own! ( I still use O.S. maps!).  I disregarded the voice twice on the way and got lost, of course. I decided to follow instructions going home and took, ‘the third exit on the roundabout, then straight on for 50 yards….’ only to see a pair of tall, metal gates right in front of me…so I took the fourth exit on the roundabout…several times..and eventually inches towards the gate…it opened! Sesame!

Hmmmmm..a lesson in there somewhere. Things aren’t always what they seem!

I have written about this because it was a brilliant Starkey Start to 2015 for me and it made me think of the blog more positively, as this story ties in so beautifully with the early part of ‘Imagine This, Growing up with my brother, John Lennon’…If you want to read more, then you will find the book..and Paul’s interview cd on the wesbite, right here.

If you are reading this, thank you for your patience.

I wish you all a wonderful 2015…good health to you !!!


Still in New York…!

The 4 days we spent in New York City are being extended to as many months in the recording!

I want to mention the fabulous event we did in The Town Hall Theatre, organised by Charles Rosenay. Charles is a Beatle friend in Liverpool…he has been bringing tour groups to International Beatle Week for as long as I can remember. I have been known to take over his coach and conduct a more personal tour, from time to time…along with my partner in Beatle crime, Jean Catharell.  We make a funky team, as it is Jean who actually knows the minutiae and how to get there…and me who was there for much of the Beatle Liverpool time and I just interrupt her with a few finer details.

We had with us, at The Town Hall show, our very own superstar Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Gary Millar. He really warms to the adulation he gets everywhere..  (I put it down to the gold necklace).. and if you look online at this event, you will witness a publicist par excellence  He talks about his adopted city…he actually hails from if he owns it outright and wants us all to be inside the rainbow. When his tenure finishes, later this year, I hope he is offered a permanent media post as  Cultural Ambassador for our city.

In this short time, we also were hosted by Hard Rock Café, NYC. Thank you for that, HR. We had a ball, starting with a book signing, which I always enjoy, meeting the people who make this all work.

After this, we moved into the main hall, again hosted by Gary Millar,   representing  Visit Liverpool. There followed an interview with the man who had recorded the Wenner Tapes, many years previously. This is not my favourite episode in John’s recordings, I have to say. I would ask you to remember that he was 28 years old, having been thrust into fame and fortune and was still climbing the learning curve. Who amongst us would want what we said at 28 to be our defining epitaph?

Then our own brilliant band took the stage, The Cavern Club Beatles, wowing everyone with their talent. A magic moment was the appearance of Ringo!…well, almost! It certainly took many by surprise and although I had met him over the last couple of days…even I was fooled for a split second!  He could have a job there. Dancing was the order of the night.

This was a wonderful end to the New York leg of our trip. The Lord Mayor was on his way back to Liverpool, along with Chris Brown, his colleague in Liverpool Town Hall.

But for us, Cavern City Tours Director’s group…how grand that sounds…and our very own fab four…The Cavern Club Beatles, we were off to Florida….where my  New York Query would be answered, brilliantly.

Query:..Where oh where is Elvis’ WHITE SUIT????

I had gawped at it back in the late eighties, in the Hard Rock in NYC. I thought it would still be there…why would anyone move it?? Nobody asked me, or even told me! I was looking forward to seeing it again. Back then,  I had allowed my young son to have 3 Coca Colas, followed by hours in F.A.O.Shwartz toy heaven, just so that he would leave me to absorb its magic, even from behind a glass case.

Answer:…coming next.

Serendipity is one of  my favourite words.



New York..7th-10th Febraury 2014

We have sorted this out, my computer friend and I…he pointed out that I hadn’t logged in with the new password. Enough.

The reason that this seems so disjointed, is that a section has vanished…. I have just arrived home from  a birthday lunch, to read this morning’s blog..and can’t find words. Here they are again.

As part of our New York venture, we attended Mark Lapidos’ Beatlefest in the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Manhattan. This lovely venue was transformed into a market place for Beatle People. The music was great, the visitors happy and excited, as we all wandered in wonder around the many tables overloaded with everything from trinkets to tableaux, pocket-size presents to large packages. Somewhere and something for everyone. I roamed to our own table of wares…Cavern City Tours….inspecting things, picking up and putting down, reading lines, looking at photos, statues. No matter how many of these events I go to, I forget that there is so much STUFF to explore.

I got to our stall, donned a CCT t-shirt and got to work…leaning on the table, chatting to fans of The Beatles; fans of my brother. As each person bought a book, I enclosed leaflets telling them about  Liverpool Beatle Week, inviting them all to come and join our own party. It is held each year over the U.K. Bank Holiday weekend. ..and answering any questions.   

And all my books were sold, I am very happy to report.

There were a few talks arranged. A group of us were interviewed by Mark to me..and after a few general questions, he took me by surprise with a last minute comment about the bad film, ‘Nowhere Boy’. He pointed out that he had heard that I didn’t like it (that’s putting it mildly), but that it was a subjective point of view.  I’m afraid that I became ‘subjective’ immediately..and protective, of my Mother. The film veered so far from ‘Imagine This’, that it was no longer recognisable as my own childhood. All I ask is that if you take the time to see the film, then please  read my book and see for yourselves.  More later.