You’d Be Safe

By her own admission, [Freda] Kelly was something of “an innocent” when she started working for the Beatles. “I was Miss Gullible. I was an Irish Catholic who went straight from the Girl Guides into the music business. I didn’t know anything about anything.”

It was Lennon who explained to her that her boss Epstein was gay. At the time, homosexuality was still illegal. “I remember saying to John: ‘I can’t make him out. There’s something about him.’ And he started laughing. He explained it to me in really simple terms. He said: ‘Put it this way, if you and he were the last people on a desert island, you’d be safe.’

As their celebrity grew, so did their fanbase. Lennon had been married since 1962 to a girl he met while a student at Liverpool College of Art. Although Cynthia Lennon’s existence was known of by the other members of the band, Brian Epstein insisted that the marriage and her later pregnancy (her son Julian was born in 1963) remained a secret so as not to alienate female fans. Although generous and loyal, Epstein was renowned for a ferocious temper. No one wanted to upset him. Kelly found it “really hard because a friend of mine was going out with John Lennon at the time and I couldn’t say anything. Another girl I knew who was a big John Lennon fan, she said to me, ‘I know he’s married and he’s got a baby daughter’. I looked away and I said: ‘He hasn’t got a baby daughter’ because at least that was true. I just knew you didn’t say things.

Freda Kelly, talking about John Lennon’s infidelity, and Brian Epstein

Good Ol’ Freda

Even after all these years, Kelly says she still remembers Paul McCartney as the goody-goody Beatle.

‘He was a real diplomat. You knew you could count on Paul to say the right thing in any situation. He was a real good negotiator.”

Kelly has read all the stories about how surly John Lennon could be. She says “with John, what you saw was what you got and it depended largely on his mood that day. You knew instantly that he had gotten out of the wrong side of the bed.

“John always told things as they were. He never sugar-coated anything and I always respected him for that.”

Kelly disagrees that George Harrison was the quiet Beatle, explaining “he was soft-spoken and, unless he got excited, he spoke slowly but he was so funny with his quick one-liners. He could always make me laugh.

“I had a special cupboard behind my desk where I kept things fans sent to be autographed. I would wait until I knew John or Paul were in a good mood before asking them to sign things but George would just come in and ask if there was anything I wanted him to autograph. That’s the kind of guy he was.”

Kelly says Ritchie, as she called Ringo, “was always the happy Beatle and he was a great dancer.”

Freda Kelly, Beatle Fan Club President, interview in the Calgary Herald.