By Bill Crandall
On both sides of the Atlantic, many members of the press resented being assigned to The Beatles beat. After all, attempting intellectual discourse with baby-faced “musicians” over screaming teenagers at airports, train stations and concert halls is hardly journalism.
To distance themselves from their subject matter — and to underscore the contrast between their own considerable wit and that of their four mop-topped subjects — men and women (well, mostly men, actually) with microphones and notepads tossed repeated curveballs at the Beatles … and John, Paul, George and Ringo had no problem swatting them back.
Here are ten of the Beatles’ best early-interview comebacks:
The French have not made up their minds about the Beatles. What do you think of them?
JOHN: Oh, we like the Beatles.
Aren’t you afraid of what the American Barbers Association is going to think of you?
RINGO: Well, we run quicker than the English ones.
How do you feel about teenagers imitating you with Beatle wigs?
JOHN: They are not imitating us, because we don`t wear Beatle wigs.
Are you going to get a haircut at all while you’re here?
GEORGE: I had one yesterday.
[Members of the American press] think your haircuts are un-American.
JOHN: Well, it was very observant of them, because we aren’t American actually.
What do you think of Beethoven?
RINGO: Great. Especially his poems.
This phenomenal popularity you have achieved, do you feel you owe it all to press agents?
JOHN: We didn’t get the press agents until we made it. We couldn’t afford ’em before that.
Did you have a chance to get away from anybody at any time on the trip?
RINGO: He got away from me — twice!
Do you date much?
RINGO: What are you doing tonight?
What kind of girl do you like, Paul?
PAUL: John’s wife.
You’re not married.
GEORGE: No, I’m George.
Your program was reviewed by a music critic and … he said that you had “unresolved leading tones, a false modal frame ending up as a plain diatonic.” What would you say to that?
JOHN: He ought to see a doctor about that.
Bill Crandall is a contributor to CBS News Presents and the former Head of Digital Content for Rolling Stone. A Beatles fan from birth (his middle name is Jude), Crandall once interviewed Sir George Martin about the making of each of the Beatles’ No. 1 singles.