‘I’m truly sorry’: Queens of the Stone Age frontman’s video apology for face kick

Posted December 11, 2017 22:05:11

Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme has posted a video apologising for kicking a photographer in the face during a concert, after she shared a video of the “obviously very intentional” incident.

Photographer Chelsea Lauren posted a video in which Homme can be seen walking past her, then returning to kick her camera and striking her face.

Homme earlier claimed in a statement he would “never intentionally cause harm to anyone working at or attending one of our shows”, but later resorted to saying his behaviour had no excuse.

“I’d just like to apologise to Chelsea Lauren. I don’t have any excuse or reason to justify what I did,” he said in an Instagram video.

“I was a total d**k, and I’m truly sorry and I hope you’re OK.

“I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life and last night was definitely one of them, and I apologise for that to you.”

Homme also said he had failed at being a “good man” and apologised to his family and band members.

“I’m going to have to figure out some stuff I think,” he said.

Lauren said she was initially excited when she saw Homme approaching her.

“The next thing I know his foot connects with my camera and my camera connects with my face, really hard,” she told Variety.

“He looked straight at me, swung his leg back pretty hard and full-blown kicked me in the face.

She later went to hospital for treatment.

“My neck is a sore, my eyebrow bruised and I’m a bit nauseous. The doctor released me early in the morning,” she wrote in an Instagram post.

“I was in the pit in tears — and he just stared at me smiling.

“Assault in any form is not OK, no matter what the reasoning.

“I was where I was allowed to be, I was not breaking any rules.”

Lauren said she was simply trying to do her job and would file a police report.

“I feel like if I don’t do anything, he gets to kick people in the face and not get in trouble because he’s a musician. That’s not right.”

Homme said he understood Lauren had “to do whatever you have to do”.

Topics: rock, music, arts-and-entertainment, united-states

French farewell ‘the biggest rock star you’ve never heard of’

Updated December 10, 2017 12:55:00

France bid farewell to its biggest rock star Johnny Hallyday with an extravagant funeral procession down Paris’ Champs-Elysees Avenue, a presidential speech and a televised church ceremony filled with the country’s most famous faces.

Key points:

  • 1,500 police were on duty to secure the area around the funeral procession
  • French President Emmanuel Macron delivered an eulogy
  • Hallyday died age 74 after a battle with lung cancer

Few figures in French history have earned a send-off with as much pomp as the man dubbed the “French Elvis,” who notched more than 110 million in record sales since rising to fame in the 1960s.

Hallyday died at 74 after fighting lung cancer.

In an honour usually reserved for heads of state or literary giants like 19th-century novelist Victor Hugo, Hallyday’s funeral cortege rode past Napoleon’s Arc de Triomphe monument and down the Champs-Elysees to the Place de la Concorde plaza on the Seine River.

Hundreds of motorcyclists accompanied the procession in a nod to the lifelong passion that Hallyday, born Jean-Philippe Smet, had for motorcycles. His biker image included signature leather jackets and myriad tattoos.

French President Emmanuel Macron — a Hallyday fan himself, like three generations of others across the French-speaking world — delivered an eulogy on the steps of Paris’ Madeleine Church for the star known to the public affectionately by only one name.

“Johnny belonged to you. Johnny belonged to his public. Johnny belonged to his country,” Mr Macron said.

“He should have fallen a hundred times, but what held him up and lifted him was your fervour, the love,” add Mr Macron, referring to the star’s health troubles and famously excessive lifestyle.

Hallyday’s death unleashed a wave of emotion across France, where he had been a symbol of national identity and stability for more than half a century — even though his private life had been far from stable.

Aside from the drinking, smoking and partying chronicled in juicy detail by the French press, Hallyday had been linked to a string of glamorous women and had married five times.

About 1,500 police officers secured the area in Paris, a police helicopter flew overhead and emergency vehicles filled nearby streets as tens of thousands of fans lined the procession route.

Many dressed to emulate Hallyday’s flashy, rebellious style. Some climbed on fences, stoplights, and even the roof of a luxury hotel to get a better view.

Dubbed by some as “the biggest rock star you’ve never heard of” — Hallyday’s position as one of the greatest-selling musical artists of all time is unusual as he remained largely unknown outside the Francophone world. But in France, he influenced styles, music and even children’s names.

Laura Dublot, a 30-year-old Parisian, and her brother David are among many who were named after Hallyday’s older children, Laura and David.

“He’s a national icon. This scale of funeral is not surprising — he’s united three generations of French,” Ms Dublot said.

Hallyday likely would have approved of this send-off, having told French media he dreaded the idea of an isolated funeral like the one he attended for his father in 1989.

He is survived by his wife Laeticia, two of his former wives, four children and three grandchildren.


Topics: death, community-and-society, arts-and-entertainment, music, history, art-history, france

First posted December 10, 2017 12:51:19

‘French Elvis’ Johnny Hallyday dies at 74

Updated December 06, 2017 18:17:10

Johnny Hallyday, France’s biggest rock star for more than half a century and an icon who packed sports stadiums and all but lit up the Eiffel Tower with his pumping pelvis and high-voltage tunes, has died. He was 74.

Key points:

  • Johnny Hallyday was France’s biggest rock star for more than half a century
  • President Emmanuel Macron paid tribute to the 74-year-old performer
  • Hallyday was treated for lung cancer and health problems in recent years

President Emmanuel Macron announced his death in a statement on Wednesday, saying: “He brought a part of America into our national pantheon.”

Mr Macron’s office said the President spoke with Hallyday’s family but did not provide details about where the rocker died or the circumstances.

Hallyday had lung cancer and repeated health scares in recent years that dominated national news, yet he continued performing as recently as a few months ago.

Hallyday fashioned his glitzy stage aura from Elvis Presley, drew musical inspiration from Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly, performed with Jimi Hendrix, and made an album in country music’s capital, Nashville.

His stardom largely ended at the French-speaking world, yet in France itself, he was an institution, with a postage stamp in his honour.

“I’m not a star. I’m just a simple man,” he said in a 2006 interview on France 3.

He was the country’s top rock ‘n’ roll star through more than five decades and eight presidents. Mr Macron said, “The whole country is in mourning”.

“We all have something of Johnny Hallyday in us,” the President said, praising, “a sincerity and authenticity that kept alive the flame that he ignited in the public’s heart”.

Celine Dion was among stars sharing condolences for a rocker with a famously gravelly voice who sold more than 100 million records, filled concert halls and split his time between Los Angeles and Paris.

The antithesis of a French hero right down to his Elvis-style glitter and un-French name, Hallyday was among the most familiar faces and voices in France, which knew him simply as Johnny, pronounced with a slight French accent and beloved across generations.

He released his last album Rester Vivant — or Staying Alive — last year, and performed this summer as part of the Old Crooks tour with long-time friends and veteran French musicians Eddy Mitchell and Jacques Dutronc.

Former president Nicolas Sarkozy, as mayor of the rich enclave of Neuilly-sur-Seine on the western edge of Paris, presided in 1996 over the entertainer’s marriage to his fourth wife, Laeticia.

“For each of us, he means something personal. Memories, happy moments, songs and music,” Mr Sarkozy said in 2009, days after Hallyday, then 66, was hospitalised in Los Angeles.

Mr Sarkozy called the Hallyday family during an EU summit and gave updates on the singer’s condition during news conferences.

The health problems came amid a national tour that included a Bastille Day mega-concert on July 14 at the Eiffel Tower with spectacular fireworks.

Hallyday sang some songs in English, including Hot Legs and House of the Rising Sun, the melody of which was also used for one of his most famous songs, the 1964 Le Penitencier.

One of France’s biggest stars since the 1960s

And there was a real American connection: American singer Lee Ketchman gave him his first electric guitar. Hallyday’s stardom, however, was not inevitable.

He was born in Paris on June 15, 1943, during the dark days of World War II with a less glamorous name, Jean-Philippe Smet.

Hallyday gave his first professional concert in 1960, under the name Johnny, and put out his first album a year later.

By 1962, he had met the woman who would be his wife for years, and remained his friend to the end, singing star Sylvie Vartan. That year, he also made an album in Nashville and rubbed shoulders with American singing greats.

He quickly became a favourite of young people during the Ye-ye period — the golden years of French pop music.

A respected musician, Hallyday played with Jimi Hendrix during the 1960s and once recorded a song with Led Zeppelin founder Jimmy Page.

With his square-jawed good looks and piercing blue eyes, Hallyday was often sought-out for the cinema, playing in French director Jean-Luc Godard’s 1984 film Detective and with other illustrious directors including Costa-Gavras.

However, it was the rocker’s personal life, and his marriage to Laeticia, that gave him a mellow edge. He spoke lovingly of daughters Jade and Joy, who were adopted from Vietnam.

Hallyday was also survived by two other children, Dave, a singer fathered with Vartan, and Laura Smet, whom he had with noted French actress Nathalie Baye.

Memorial plans have not been announced.


Topics: rock, music, arts-and-entertainment, community-and-society, human-interest, france

First posted December 06, 2017 18:10:00

Interviewing your heroes can have its pitfalls, but Paul McCartney avoids them all

Posted December 04, 2017 12:42:33

One of the questions I’m most often asked is, “If you could interview anybody in the world, who would you pick?”

It’s a difficult question.

When somebody asks it, they imagine that it must be a thrill to meet somebody of whom you are a huge fan.

It is, of course, but it also comes with fear.

What if the person is horrible? What if it’s a bad experience?

What if every time you then hear one of their songs, or read one of their books or watch one of their films, it’s then a little bit soured by the fact you met them and they were mean or ill-mannered or egotistical?

This happened to me when I interviewed the American author Jonathan Franzen in 2010 about his book, Freedom.

I found him difficult from the first question.

Now every time I consider re-reading The Corrections, one of my favourite books, all I think about is how snippy Jonathan Franzen was.

What if McCartney is a Franzen?

If the question is really, “Of whom are you the most massive fan?”, the answer is former Beatle, Paul McCartney.

But do I want to interview him? His work means so much to me, do I really want to risk discovering that he’s a Franzen?

This week, I was forced to answer that question. My producer Callum rang me with a mind-blowing offer: McCartney will do his only interview in Australia with you if you want to do it.

When the offer came, it turned out it really wasn’t a dilemma at all. It was a risk that simply had to be taken.

As if any journalist could say no to the offer of an interview with one of the most influential musicians of the past century.

I desperately hoped he would be a lovely person but I also said to myself, “He’s achieved so much musically, if he turns out to be awful, and that’s the price of being the genius that is Paul McCartney, that’s okay, I’m not going to let it affect how I feel about his music.”

On the day of the interview, I arrived in Perth — the first stop on his Australian tour — five hours before we were scheduled to head to the stadium.

“You’ve got plenty of time to have some lunch and then lie down and have a rest,” I told myself.

I ate two bites of a sandwich before I couldn’t stomach another mouthful and then I spent the two hours before my make-up artist arrived pacing around my hotel room in nervous anticipation, periodically grinning like a lunatic and hugging myself with glee.

I’m going to meet Paul McCartney! I’m going to watch his rehearsal from backstage!

‘Why don’t you play it?’

As soon as we arrived at the stadium, we met his team (including his right-hand man Stu, who caused the entire ABC crew to audibly gasp when he mentioned that before McCartney, he had been with David Bowie).

In a good sign, everyone we met was warm and friendly. Usually if a team is polite and accommodating, the person at the top is likely to be the same.

McCartney’s stage manager, Keith, showed me the collection of guitars with which McCartney tours. (“This is the one he played on the Ed Sullivan show; This is the one they used on Please Please Me”).

Then I met his piano technician, who was sitting at the replica Magical Mystery Tour piano (the original is in Sir Paul’s house, he told me, but this is the one they’ve used on tour for 30 years).

“Can I touch it?” I asked him.

“Sure,” he said.

I reached over and tentatively played a C chord.

“Remembering your old music lessons?” he asked.

“I can play a little bit,” I replied.

“Why don’t you play it?” he said, sliding off the piano stool and gesturing that I should take his place.

“No way,” I replied, “I can’t!”

“Yes, you can, have a play,” he said.

So I slid onto the stool and played the opening chords of For No One from the album Revolver.

The piano technician smiled; I think because it was obvious then that I was truly a fan, not just somebody going through the motions for an interview.

I played about four bars before I lost it and couldn’t play another note correctly, my hands were shaking so hard. This is the piano Paul McCartney plays, I was thinking!

We then went around backstage and Sir Paul arrived to start rehearsals.

I stood in the wings watching as he and the band played Another Girl and then Day Tripper.

When the opening riff for Day Tripper started, I looked at my producer, Callum, and said, “Oh my god,” with tears in my eyes.

It was absolutely thrilling to stand in the wings and watch Paul McCartney practise that.

‘Oh, luv, give us a kiss’

The band finished rehearsing and as I chatted to the crew, I turned around and Sir Paul was about a metre away, walking towards us.

He came and introduced himself and shook everybody’s hand.

For almost 60 years, he’s had starstruck people standing in front of him, so he’s very adept at putting everyone at ease and being warm and charming.

We went on stage and did our interview together.

He was delightful and interesting. He has lovely kind eyes and a gentle way of speaking. I was so happy to see that I was going to walk away with my admiration of him enhanced.

“Sir Paul,” I said at the end of the interview.

“I’ve been very fortunate in my career that I’ve had the chance to interview world leaders, like Aung San Syu Kii and the Dalai Lama, every celebrity you can think of, Elton John, Patti Smith, but I’ve never interviewed somebody of whom I’m a bigger fan than you.

“Thank you for all those songs and thank you so much for making time to let us come and talk to you.”

“Oh, luv, give us a kiss, come on” he replied and he kissed me on the cheek and gave me a hug.

Every time I listen to a Beatles song now, I’ll remember the incredible experience of getting to meet Sir Paul in person and what a beautiful soul he was.

It was one of the greatest experiences of my life.

Leigh Sales’ interview with Paul McCartney and that amazing backstage access will be on 7.30 on Monday night.

Topics: arts-and-entertainment, music, pop, perth-6000, australia

The secret war for minds being waged inside North Korea

Updated December 03, 2017 06:57:22

On a dirt path along the Chinese border, a man slips under a barbed wire fence with a package he hopes can bring down the North Korean regime from within.

Key points:

  • This year already 4,000 flash drives sent across border
  • Activists bribe North Korean soldiers to transport the USBs
  • Estimates up to 10 per cent of North Koreans exposed to material

He scrambles down to the rocky shoreline before casting it into the waters, bound for the North Korean soldiers on the other bank.

His weapon is not a bomb or a covert spying device, but a bundle of USB sticks strapped to a tyre tube and loaded with South Korean pop music and films.

This is the frontline in a secret information war for the minds of North Koreans. Those waging it believe it will be more effective than economic sanctions or military action.

North Korean defectors drive silent revolution

In homes across North Korea, a silent revolution is taking place.

In secret, North Koreans are watching South Korean dramas and documentaries, K-pop and Western films smuggled into the country.

They watch transfixed as an unknown world of wealth and prosperity flashes across their screens. It’s a simple act but in North Korea it can lead to a death sentence.

In North Korea, any news from the outside is strictly forbidden — the regime has a monopoly over information.

This illicit window on the outside world is a challenge to the propaganda spell the regime casts over its citizens: that the West is an impoverished and immoral enemy that must be confronted.

The information war is being waged by a large network of North Korea defectors and activists from South Korea.

Chol Hwan Kang heads up one of the organisations taking up the fight, the North Korean Strategy Centre based in Seoul.

This year he has already sent 4,000 USB flash drives across the border. He believes they have the power to change North Korea from within.

“We want to send a message of freedom to the North Korean people who have lived for 70 years without knowledge of human rights and democracy,” he said.

“Our ultimate goal is to change the mindset of North Korean people, to encourage an uprising, to demolish a regime that keeps them as slaves.”

Mr Chol has experienced North Korean brutality firsthand.

At 10 years old he was sent to the infamous Yodok Gulag for a decade before escaping and defecting to South Korea. The trauma and memories motivate him in his mission.

“Life in there was full of agony. We were forced to witness public executions, the worst being my two close friends who were hanged,” he said.

“The guards didn’t bury them and made us stone their corpses. They left their bodies in the yard so we could see the birds picking at them.

“From then I knew I had to fight the North Korean regime and fight for human rights.”

The North Korean Strategy Centre runs several networks that can penetrate deep inside the secret state.

From China to North Korean soldiers

Most of the USBs are smuggled into North Korea along the 1,400 kilometre border with China, especially on the northern frontier where it becomes the Tumen River.

The river is less policed and is shallow in parts, making it easy to cross and make contact with North Korean soldiers.

The activist filmed casting USBs into the river had also strapped small bribes of cash and cigarettes to the tyre tube.

Before making the daring exchange, another activist already had contact with the North Korean soldiers.

He told them, at a pre-arranged time, to watch out for a tyre coming their way.

The activists say the North Korean soldiers get the cash and cigarettes as an incentive but are also interested in seeing what is on the USB drives.

They watch and share the contents with their fellow soldiers.

It is potentially deadly to get caught with them, but the soldiers’ curiosity gets the better of them.

There are estimates that 10 per cent of North Korean soldiers have been exposed to the USBs.

The activists use many different ways to get their USBs into North Korea.

Bribing guards not to shoot

At another part of the Tumen River, another group of activists gather.

One of them has already contacted and bribed the North Korean soldiers on the other side with small amounts of cash and cigarettes.

North Korean border guards are usually on shoot-to-kill orders for any border crossers.

The activists hide the USBs in cigarette packets, put them in boxes and wade across the river into North Korea.

In this case, the activists are Chinese so it is easier for them to travel inside North Korea.

They spend several days posing as traders and visit local markets and, if they judge it is safe, they will give the USBs away.

Then they quickly move to the next location.

Sometimes under the cover of darkness they will simply walk into North Korea and scatter the USBs in nearby villages and return before daybreak.

Torture if caught

But it is a very risky business.

One of the centre’s operatives was recently caught inside North Korea posing as a businessman. He had been travelling in the country for several days with the USBs.

He was imprisoned and tortured, before being released after a large bribe was paid. Only his Chinese nationality saved him.

The man who manages the networks inside North Korea says they are succeeding. He wants to remain unidentified for his safety.

“Our activity hurts the regime so if we keep on punching constantly, we can knock the regime out,” he said.

He also has a personal stake in the mission.

“Every day, I do this because my parents are still living in North Korea,” he said.

“I want to make North Korea a place where people can live with freedom and rights. I was lucky enough to get out but I have this responsibility.”

His aim is for 30 per cent of North Koreans to watch the USBs — that will be the point of no return when change will begin, he says.

“North Korea is like barren soil. The people are so eager to see things they don’t know. They walk for hours to watch new material. There is a real hunger for it.”

Radio is another weapon the activists use and the number of programs being broadcast directly into North Korea from Seoul has rapidly increased over the last several years.

There are now 30 programs run from four different networks operating in the South Korean capital.

North Korea attempts to jam any outside radio frequencies but activists have found innovative ways to break the blockade.

Kang Mi Jin defected from North Korea in 2014 and now works at Daily NK, producing a program about the social and economic issues in the Korean peninsula.

Every day she interviews North Koreans and says their minds are easily opened.

“I think we can change North Korea. When I lived there I was so affected by radio coming from South Korea. It made me dream of a freer Korea and then I defected,” she said.

The ambition of these defector and activists is big and the plans are often low tech and low budget.

But they are convinced their brand of warfare will lead to change.

The first step to regime change is changing the people’s minds.

Topics: world-politics, activism-and-lobbying, unrest-conflict-and-war, music, film-movies, korea-democratic-peoples-republic-of, korea-republic-of

First posted December 03, 2017 06:25:54

Paul McCartney wows fans with intimate Q&A in Perth

By David Weber

Updated December 01, 2017 00:47:24

At the age of 75 and in the midst of the longest, most successful career in music history, Sir Paul McCartney still thinks he is a lucky man.

He did not even think he’d still be in demand in the 1970s, let alone when he was in his seventies.

“It is amazing, it’s something we never expected. We thought we might last 10 years if we were lucky,” he said.

“It’s something that’s a surprise really because we didn’t realize it was going to last this long. I mean Sgt Peppers is 50 years old this year.

“We had no idea it was going to last more than 10 years.”

Sir Paul was speaking in Perth, the location for the start of his first Australian tour in decades.

The Regal Theatre was the venue for a rare question and answer session for a small group of fans.

Sir Paul was asked by Meg from the Perth suburb of Waroona what kept his energy and passion alive.

He started with a joke, before explaining that his real addictions were songwriting and performing.

“Sex and drugs! No, you know what? It’s just coz I love it, I’ve always loved it since I was about 14 when I wrote my first song, and it’s a kind of magical thing because when you write a song you’ve got nothing and you suddenly produce like a rabbit from a hat and it feels really good,” he said.

“And you get a bit addicted to that feeling. And then you perform it with an audience and you get addicted to that too.”

Adelaide in ’64 and how can we change the world?

Sir Paul was asked by Izzy from Greenwood what it was like to arrive in Adelaide in 1964, when The Beatles were met by what some claim was the biggest crowd in the world.

“It was amazing for us, you know, ‘coz the welcome was phenomenal. I mean we’d had welcomes in Europe, and all over the place. But this was like mega, you know, it was like we were royalty arriving.

“We’d seen the streets filled like when we went to Liverpool, that was pretty full. But this was like, the fullest.”

Harrison Haines, aged nine, was named after The Beatles’ guitarist and was dressed in full Sgt Peppers’ uniform — like his father Matt.

He wanted Sir Paul to give him nothing less than advice on how to change the world.

“Go to school and just be good to people. Learn a lot about the world, and where there’re issues that you think need changing, just be very strong and go and change them.

“I don’t know what those will be in your case but you seem like the kind of boy who’s going to do it. Just learn what’s good in the world and go in search of it.”

Other questions had Sir Paul reminiscing about the wide range of people he finds in his audiences.

“I’ve seen some lovely things at shows, remember one in Brazil, a dad, a tall guy with a beard and he’s got this beautiful young girl with him and she’s looking up at him and I’m doing ‘Let It Be’ and he’s looking down and it was a real sort of beautiful family moment.

“And it was a choker because I’ve got to sing this thing and not cry!”

Changes in touring: less screaming girls

How had touring changed then, since those frantic, frenetic days of the 1960s, when Beatlemania was at its peak?

“When we were touring The Beatles, it was all new. No-one had seen these kinds of crazy scenes with rock’n’roll, really. There’d been a few but our thing was like, really crazy.

“It got a bit much because in the end we couldn’t hear what we were doing. And that’s one of the big differences now. We can go louder than the audience now so that gives us a bit of an edge.

“I’m older, the audience is older —you’ve got dads and sons, dads and daughters, you got all people of different ages in the family and that’s very different. It really was pretty much just screaming girls, only in France when we went there, it was screaming boys.

“And we were freaked out — what?? And someone said the girls won’t come, the mother won’t let them come with us without a chaperone so it was all the boys and they were going crazy and the gendarmes didn’t know what to make of it so they were beating them up.”

One hopeful fan asked the former Beatle and Wings man to go and have a vegan meal with her (“My wife would kill me”), another inquired about his dog Martha (“she was really lovely”).

Working with Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson and Kanye West

As a solo artist, Paul McCartney has collaborated with a range of performers over the years, including Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Elvis Costello, and more recently, Foo Fighters, Rihanna and Kanye West.

“What happens is, people get in touch with me. I don’t actually go after them, you know, oh actually, I did with Stevie because I had the song ‘Ebony And Ivory’ and I thought he’s got to be the person we do it with,” he said.

“It’s a great invitation — Kanye rings up, wants to work with you. What am I going to do? ‘No, tell him no!’

“It’s very fresh and it’s kind of exciting because it’s something I haven’t done before, particularly working with Kayne.

“Michael was lovely, he just rang me up and he just said, ‘Do you want to make some hits?’ Said, ‘Yeah’. And he was great to work with, massive talent.

“And Stevie, he’s a monster, a musical monster and he never stops.”

Audience-pleasing set list

Regarding set lists, Sir Paul suggested he would be playing what he would want to hear if he saw himself live.

“It’s basically to please the audience — and I’m not ashamed to say that because they pay good money to come to the show.”

The event closed with muscular renditions of ‘Drive My Car’, ‘Junior’s Farm’ and ‘I’ve Got A Feeling’ before the media were asked to leave and the rocker was left alone with his adoring fans.

Topics: music, perth-6000, australia

First posted December 01, 2017 00:45:26

Beatles ex-staffer invited for a catch up with Sir Paul in Australia

Updated November 30, 2017 15:51:52

Imagine being asked to catch up with a friend and former work mate who just happens to be The Beatles’ Paul McCartney?

That is what just happened to northern NSW resident and former Londoner Joanne Petersen, then Joanne Newfield, who was the personal assistant for Beatles manager Brian Epstein in the 1960s.

Ms Petersen, who now lives in the small town of Bangalow, has been invited to catch up with Sir Paul in Brisbane in December during his Australian tour.

She says it has been nearly 40 years since she has seen him and there is a lot to catch up on.

“I would be typing in the office and Paul and John would be writing songs, scrawling down lyrics, and throwing the pieces of paper on the floor,” she said.

“I would look at the mess they were making and thinking to myself ‘what slobs, why can’t they put their rubbish in the bin?'”

Struggles with sexuality

Ms Petersen was close to Epstein and knew he was a gay man.

It was Ms Petersen who found Epstein dead in his Chapel Street home from an accidental drug overdose in August 1967.

She said she wished that he was alive today to see the support for gay marriage.

“I think about him a lot and would love to sit down now, at this great age, and have a conversation about the vote for same sex marriage,” she said.

“Back in the sixties you couldn’t come out as a gay man as it was illegal, and as the Beatles’ manager he could of easily have been blackmailed or publicly humiliated.

“Brian was lonely. I saw loneliness there.”

With a little help from my friends

Ms Petersen was in her early twenties when she got the dream job.

She said she was dancing in an exclusive London club when she caught the eye of Ringo Starr and George Harrison.

“I heard this voice say ‘so, where did you learn to dance like that?'” she said.

She turned around and saw two cheeky lads grinning at her.

“It comes naturally,” she said she replied.

Both men asked for her name and she cheekily asked what their names were.

“They said they were Paul and John (Lennon) and we all laughed.”

Ms Petersen told the pair she was unhappy where she worked and the pair told them to ring “Eppy”, as he was looking for a new assistant.

She did, and got the job after cheating on her typing test.

Working for Epstein she spent time with the Fab Four regularly, saying they had very different personalities but all worked hard for the band, inserting their individual styles into the famous melodies.

Ms Petersen says Epstein loved the Beatles and managed their egos beautifully, saying he really was the fifth Beatle.

And she still remembers listening to the Sgt Pepper’s album and being blown away.

Unresolved rift

Ms Petersen said Lennon and McCartney were good mates, but their friendship suffered during The Beatles’ break-up.

Despite public opinion, she said the rift continued until Lennon was murdered in December 1980.

She believed Paul is haunted by the fact that he never got the chance to be close again to his childhood friend.

She said no-one could have predicted how influential and famous the Beatles were to become.

“I should of grabbed that half-eaten chocolate biscuit that John Lennon had eaten and put it in a bag and kept it for 40 years, and then sold it as ‘A half eaten biscuit by John Lennon’ and made a fortune,” she laughs.

“Why didn’t I do that?”

Topics: music, early-music, music-industry, art-history, arts-and-entertainment, bangalow-2479, north-lismore-2480, lismore-2480, united-kingdom

First posted November 30, 2017 15:03:26