Building Indica Gallery: Miles, John Dunbar, Marianne Faithfull, Peter Asher, Paul McCartney (Graham Keen photo)


Miles (aka Barry Miles) had a front-row seat to the London underground scene of the 1960s, as a bookseller and gallery co-owner at a time when Beatlemania was morphing into psychedelia. He met and befriended Paul McCartney at his Indica bookstore and gallery, and from there, he met the rest of the Beatles. In this conversation with PKM, Miles recalls what now seems like a magical, mysterious era.

I met Miles (Barry Miles) through the writer Victor Bockris when I was having an affair with Victor’s then girlfriend, Bobby Bristol, a wonderful girl who was an editor at Alfred Knopf & Company. Victor had gone to Australia for a month or so, and I moved in on Bobby, but what I didn’t know was that Miles had moved in on her at the same time. Hey, it was the ‘70s!

Bobby Bristol later married Galway Kinnell, the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and they lived happily ever after, while the rest of us were left to toil in the magazine ghetto until we got our writing chops up enough to publish books. Miles would come and go to Victor’s apartment on Perry Street, where I frequently stayed, while he was working on one of his many biographies. (William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Frank Zappa, The Beatles)

Miles began his long counterculture career as a seller of rare books and avant-garde art in London. In 1965, he and John Dunbar opened Indica, a book store, gallery and performance venue. Through Dunbar, he met Marianne Faithfull (then Dunbar’s wife), Peter and Jane Asher and Paul McCartney, all of whom became his friends. Miles spoke with PKM about those exciting times.-Legs McNeil

This conversation begins with Miles listing all the books he can think of written about the Beatles by those who knew them. These included books by their first manager Allan Williams (The Man Who Gave The Beatles Away), their chauffeur Alf Bicknell (Alf Bicknell’s Personal Beatles Diary), Peter Brown (The Love You Make: An Insider’s Story of the Beatles), Derek Taylor (As Time Goes By, It Was Twenty Years Ago Today), as well as books by John Lennon’s half sisters, and even the fans who broke into Paul McCartney’s house published a book about it.

The subject turns to Brian Epstein, the ill-fated manager and Svengali who orchestrated “Beatlemania” and then died of a drug overdose in 1967. We pick up the conversation there.

Barry Miles at the Indica bookshop, 1967

Miles: Brian Epstein wrote his autobiography, which was really written by Derek Taylor, which is why it’s … a bit fanciful. The fact that, you know, Brian wasn’t even there when Derek wrote it, you know? [chuckle]

PKM: Well, Danny [Fields] told me a lot about Brian.

Miles: Yeah?

PKM: Yeah. … Being gay and …

Miles: Yeah? Danny never had any kind of scene with him, did he?

PKM: No. But he knew people that did. He had some lover in Brazil or something.

Miles: Brian’s thing, unfortunately, was, he really liked the really rough trade.

PKM: Rough trade.

Miles: He liked sailors to beat him up …and steal all his stuff. And, that was really his scene. A really rough road. You know, he was always getting busted in toilets and stuff like that.

PKM: Wasn’t Epstein getting beat up and coming back with black eyes?

Miles: Yeah, sure. See, the point was it was never made legal in Britain until 1967, which is the year he died. So, it really was just that extra anxiety of the time, you know, getting busted and stuff, you know. But [Brian] also liked to gamble, and he was a big, big gambler. He would always be putting down, you know, gold cigarette items and stuff like that and losing everything. And yet, oddly, he only left about 300,000 pounds in his will. He made more money than any of the other Beatles. So, uh, it’s probably in Swiss bank accounts, so nobody knows where they are. We knew he had Swiss bank accounts.…One that his brother, Clive, knew the numbers, and he sold them secretly to his dad.

Yeah, you see, his, his deal with The Beatles was he took 25 percent off the top ….  leaving them with the remaining 75 percent to divide among the three of them. And – four of them. But they had to also pay all the expenses. He took his money off the top, and the expenses running The Beatles were unbelievable. You know, the security, the fancy hotels, the planes, the train, everything, you know. So, um, he made more than twice as much as any of the Beatles.

PKM: Wow!

Miles: And they were millionaires, so why wasn’t he a millionaire?

PKM:  Yeah.

Miles: He wasn’t that much of a gambler…The casinos in London are not, they’re not the big-rolling stuff …like you get in Vegas or something. And he probably lost quite a lot, but not that much. I mean, a lot of people have said the real Beatles story is the story of the money. But, you know, it’s hard to try and track that down. Because there’s so much money made by The Beatles, and the amount that they finished up with was minute compared to the total. Yeah, the merchandising story was [fat]. I mean …

Brian Epstein interviewed on UK Tonight Show, 1964:

PKM: Well, didn’t Brian make some bad deals?

Miles: Oh, unbelievably bad deals, but yeah…he did a terrible film deal as well, Brian. He sat down and he announced, “This band, I’m gonna tell you right now, there’s no way I’m gonna take less than 8 percent.” You know, and the guy was gonna offer him 25. [both laugh] He just didn’t even know what the standard Hollywood deal was.

PKM: Wow.

Miles: He did break a lot of ground. I think this is a bit of a myth that Brian was this great genius manager, ’cause he wasn’t, you know. Just a …

PKM: But they loved him, right?

Miles: No, not particularly.

PKM: No?

Miles: No. They regarded him as a regular manager you know. They liked him, but they thought he was… See, towards the end, he tried to sell The Beatles to Robert Stigwood. And they said if you do that, we’ll never record anything except, uh, “God Save the Queen” from now on.

PKM: Right. Yeah.

Miles: No, I think as far as most of them were concerned, Brian was just, um … a manager, you know? A businessman, out to exploit them. They wouldn’t allow him to go to any of the recording sessions.

PKM: They wouldn’t?

Miles: No. No. Anyway, as John Lennon said, “You look after making the money, Mr. Epstein, you don’t deal with the music.” And he loved all that, of course. You know, the more John needled him and told him, you know, he’s not the Jew and everything …the more he loved him.

PKM: That’s a great story.

Miles: Paul always reckoned it was Brian’s father who put him up to some of the dodgy deals. ’Cause his father was a hard-nosed businessman.

PKM: Right.

Miles: And, of course Brian was in it much more because he adored The Beatles, and – yeah, it was all a homosexual thing, really. Especially with Lennon, because Lennon was the rudest to him, but Paul could be pretty nasty, too. Yeah. Paul, you know would say, “How come the Stones have got a better deal on this than us,” you know?

Miles at Indica, when it moved to 102 Southampton Row, in 1966.

PKM: How about Mimi? [John Lennon’s Aunt Mimi, Mary Elizabeth Smith, was his parental guardian as a boy]. Did Paul tell you about her?

Miles: Mimi, no. I don’t know much about her, really, except all the stuff in books. I mean, Paul knew her, obviously, But she was just very, um …

PKM: And what about Julia, when Paul would go over there. [Julia Lennon was John’s mother, who died in 1958].

Miles: Yeah, that, that was when The Beatles, when, when they were in The Quarrymen, I guess …in the early Beatles. Um, yeah, they would certainly go over, with Julia, and Mimi used to play the banjo, and, uh, you know …and get out cider and stuff, and … it was a real subliminal working-class, knees up, you know. But then, at the end of the evening, um, they would, he would have to go back to, to Aunt Mimi’s. And Paul said there was always this real sense of sadness, and there was something wrong here, John leaving his mother and going to stay with his aunt. Why wasn’t he living with his mother? You know …it just didn’t make any sense. And it really did affect John pretty badly.

PKM: Did he want to stay?

Miles: Yeah! Oh yeah. But she…

PKM: She didn’t want him.

Miles: She didn’t want him; no. She had lots of kids by other men …

PKM: How many kids did she have?

Miles: Well, she had at least three. Maybe it was four. There’s two daughters [Julia and Jackie] that she had by [John “Bobby” Dykins], and there’s another … I think there’s two more have shown up since then.

PKM: And she threw Freddie out? [Alfred “Freddie” Lennon was John’s father].

Miles: Yeah. Basically. I mean, he was in the Merchant Marine and she was taking lovers back in Liverpool. And then he got locked up for some complicated set of reasons in Panama or someplace, you know, enjoying the war. It was impossible to get any messages back. But he did finally show up a year later, and she was already living with somebody else, and she just told him to buzz off, you know. And, John was about 3, I think, then, and really want– and there was this terrible scene, which is in one of the books, of Freddie asking John if he wanted to come with him, and John going with him a certain way down the road, and then turning around and running back to his mom. And, and then, of course, his mother gave him away …to Aunt Mimi. I mean …it’s pretty bad for a kid, you know.

PKM: Yeah.

Miles: He’s made that choice between, you know, the two parents, and then a lot that gets in the way…No wonder he was fucked-up, you know, I think it’s pretty bad and then it depressed Freddie.

Indica Gallery -1965

PKM: You don’t think Freddie was as bad as he’s been painted …

Miles: No, it was his wartime, he was in the Merchant Marine, risking his life, you know, against all the U-boats…I mean, I think he was some kind of wastrel drunkard. He always portrayed as a drunk…he probably was a drunkard, you know. Everybody was then. Ah, you know, you could die any day. Especially in Liverpool, where the bombing was reducing the whole place to ruins, anyway.

PKM: Was it really?

Miles: Oh God!

PKM: I didn’t know that.

Miles: Yeah, over half of all the housing, in what – was damaged during the war. The whole City Centre was left pretty much in ruins…it was just wiped out. It was pretty bad.

PKM: I didn’t realize that. I thought that, since it’s so far north, they wouldn’t touch it.

Miles: It’s a great big port. Liverpool’s where all the ships came to and from America, you know, to dock. And Jack Kerouac was, you know, the one famous trip he made as a Merchant Marine …was to bring armaments in a convoy to Liverpool. And they got to Liverpool. It was always a big port. But, uh, New York was growing as a city. I mean, it was full of shipping lines between Liverpool and New York. And, uh, there’s a little part of Liverpool that looks just like New York. It’s got the same sort of turn-of-the-century high-rise buildings and stuff, and you could easily be in New York from the lie of the buildings. Yeah. It’s got a big-city feel. Except New York then carried on to be much, much bigger, whereas Liverpool didn’t. But it’s still the major port in Britain.

PKM: Right.

Miles: Even now, except now, it’s no longer the city – it’s all container ships for miles around. But back then, that’s what it was. All around – in Birkenhead, just across the Mersey, they build ships and stuff. It’s big industry. Heavy working-class stuff, and therefore, perfect targets for bombing by the Nazis.

PKM: When did you meet Paul for the first time?

Miles: In 1965; the summer. I’d been managing a bookshop in, uh, in London, called Better Books, in Charing Cross Road. And then the guy who owned it was gonna sell out. And we’d been putting on poetry readings, and avant-garde happenings and stuff like that, and he sold it to a company that published religious books, and it seemed like, “Oh, this is gonna end,” you know. So I wanted to start my own shop and carry on the traditions of the events and happenings…

PKM: Right.

Miles: I knew Gregory Corso already, and through Gregory, I met an American, Paolo Leonni, who knew a whole lot of people in London. And one of his friends was a guy called John Dunbar, who was thinking of starting an art gallery.

PKM: Right.

Miles: So he put John and I together, and we decided to combine the whole thing as Indica Books and Gallery. It was going to be a bookstore and an avant-garde gallery. Which is great, because John [Dunbar] was very interested in literature and I actually trained as an artist. and had my degrees in art history and sculpting. I did four years in art college. So, it was a good combination. And John was married to Marianne Faithfull, so that was the connection to the rock & roll industry. Except that she wouldn’t put up the money for the shop. Well, it’s because every time Marianne got any money at all, she spent it instantly, you know. She lived right around the corner from Harrod’s…

But John’s best friend was a guy called Peter Asher, who was in Peter & Gordon. And Peter did put up the money. He lent John and I, I think it was about 800 pounds each or something, and we put up the rest, and we had a working capital of just about, uh, 2,000. Which was actually nothing, what with buying books, shelves, everything.

Peter lived at home with his parents in Wimpole Street. In this big house, right in the center of London.

Left: Peter Asher, John Dunbar and Chris Hill. Right: Peter Asher and John Dunbar. via

PKM: They were wealthy, right?

Miles: Well, Dr. Asher was a consulting psychiatrist in Harley Street, so he was a private practitioner specializing in quite difficult sort of eccentric nervous cases. He himself was pretty eccentric, actually. He’s – I mean, he’s the kind of guy – I remember once, he leaned over and, and signed his name like that, upside down. And he said, “You work in hospitals as long as I do, you’ll find that’s very useful. It can save an immense amount of time.” The only thing, to sign stuff, it just saved the time of turning the piece of paper around. And, I remember one day he wrote himself a prescription for a nasal spray, you know– if you’re a doctor, you can get anything on the National Health. And he turned to us – I was with Paul—and he said, “And once more, when you’re finished using it, you will find – unscrew it and take out Benzedrine,” And just didn’t know whether he was putting us on or … what, you know, he was always like that. He killed himself in the end.

PKM: He did?

Miles: Yeah. He hanged himself, in one of the basement rooms that no one really went into much. He was missing for about a week when they found him. Um, and he wasn’t talking to his wife, you know. His wife taught oboe at the Royal College of Music.

PKM: Oboe?!

Miles: Yeah. She taught George Martin, in fact.

PKM: She taught him?

Miles: Yeah. It was one of those kind of eccentric artistic English families.

And, Peter lived at home because, you know, he had a very nice room on the top floor there, an L-shaped room, Norwegian wood shelving …

PKM: Ah-ha. Is that where that [song title] comes from?

Miles: Yeah. In Peter’s room… John Lennon likely had visited it, sure. And on the floor below lived Jane Asher and her sister, Clare. Jane was an actress. She’d been an actress since she was 8 years old. She was in lots of different things: Masque of the Red Death

PKM: Really? I have that!

Miles: Yeah, she’s in that. She was about 10, as I recall it. And it was great because the room still had “Jane’s Room” written on the door, you know …in an 8-year-old girl’s handwriting. From the middle of 1964, Paul had been living there as well, in the Asher family’s house. The Beatles had all moved down to London; they were spending so much time there, TV studios and everything were all located there. So instead of this trek up and down the roads to Liverpool …

Miles and Peter Asher for 16 Magazine.

PKM: How far is it from London?

Miles: Well, these are the days before motorways so it would’ve been, a 5-, 6-hour drive.

PKM: Train ride?

Miles: No, they couldn’t go by train; they were too famous for that. So – no, it was in a van, you know, up and down the … it would’ve been the A1, I guess. Pretty bad road, you know, terrible; lots of trucks and stuff. And if you do that three times a week, you know, in the end, it makes sense to get yourself an apartment in London.

So Brian, he hired a big, uh, apartment in Green Street in Mayfair. But, the other guys got in first, and Paul didn’t get a room. Jane simply said, “There’s a spare room in our house,” so, her parents were quite happy for him to move in. Even though she was only 17. So, Paul moved in next to Peter’s room on the top floor in one of the maid’s rooms. It’s this tiny little room – about as big as this room, I guess; maybe slightly smaller. Paul lived there for 3 ½ years. And he had a little … cabaret piano, you know, so that you can look over the top, which is where he wrote, “Yesterday” and all these great songs. There’s a big brown wardrobe in the corner, the toilet was outside, you know, they shared the kitchen. And the bathroom downstairs with a bath. And, I mean there was just no room for anything. And all these gold records were under the bed …stuff’s spilling out… [laughs] The only indication that there was a Beatle living in there was his bass, you know, which he had in a black case that just had “Beatles” stenciled on the side in white lettering… and he had a bit of a notice board. I remember, pinned up, literally, with thumbtacks was a drawing by Jean Cocteau that he bought. It wasn’t even framed; [L laughs] it was just pinned there… But generally speaking, it was pretty basic. There was no room in there for his records or anything; those were all stored in Peter’s room, because Peter had this big L-shaped room. So, everything he had to do, he just tape-recorded stuff all in Peter’s room. He had a nice little scene going up there. And then, down below was Mrs. Asher, who had her floor, and Dr. Asher had his floor, with a big grand piano in it. And then in the, the basement – well, the ground floor had a big dining room, big kitchen and family area. And then there were all these rooms in the basement, uh, like a music room … with music stands and pianos and instruments, and lots of other storage rooms. So when we got together to start a bookshop and gallery, I needed somewhere to have all the books delivered to before we got the place ready. So, I used Wimpole Street as a house to have everything delivered to. And, so I was over there, cataloguing books, watching … we were also going to have a rare book section, so I was also writing catalogues of rare books and stuff, so that we would have some income coming in even before the shops properly opened. And so it was on one of those occasions, I guess, going over to Peter’s house to work on my books that I first met Paul. And then he got very involved, and it became obvious to him that we didn’t have enough money, so he put in some money as well.

Building Indica Gallery: Miles, John Dunbar, Marianne Faithfull, Peter Asher, Paul McCartney -Graham Keen photo

PKM: How much did he put in?

Miles: I think he put in more than anybody; I think a couple of thousand, maybe even three…But he also helped us put the place together. I mean, he helped with the walls in Indica. He did a lot of work on them, you know? He still gave us some money. And he helped put up shelves, paint the walls, and just generally helped out. Except, of course, if you’ve got a Beatle working on the place – I mean, the crowds were gathering outside. It’s at the height of Beatlemania ….  It’s late ’65.

PKM: Well, that’s Help! and Hard Day’s Night, right?

Miles: Hard Day’s Night was already out.

PKM: So, Help! was not even out.

Miles: I don’t think he made that yet. I think – well, maybe it’s about the same time he was making it.

He had a secret way to get out of the Wimpole Street house, because there were all these fans outside. I mean, if you went to visit Wimpole Street, there were always about 20 or 30 girls outside. And poor old Peter. He did have number-one hits, you know …He’d arrive in a taxi and they’d say, “Oh, it’s only Peter.” [both laugh] In any other circumstance, he’d be fine, you know.

If you’ve got a Beatle living with you, forget it, you know? [laughs] But Dr. Asher had arranged a way to get out of the house for Paul. He knocked on the next-door neighbor’s house, and it was just an old English colonel, you know …He said, “We have this chap, you know, who’s hiding out from the fans and is it possible to arrange an escape route using this man’s balcony at the back of the house?” And he says, “Oh, yes!” You know, a terribly English fellow who apparently had a big mustache. [Laughs] And, uh, they arranged this route. Paul would get out of a window on the second floor, or third floor, and walk along this guy’s balcony, go down into his backyard, and then over a wall and through … there was a young couple living in a mews house above what used to be the stables. Uh, and he’d go in there, and then down their stairs and out into the mews …where his Aston Martin would be parked, and in there and out, you know, and avoiding the girls at the front. And every day, when he was filming Help!, he had to do that. [chuckles]

Help!, starring the Beatles, official trailer:

PKM: Really?

Miles: Yeah. And, and I guess he could get back into the house the same way. Or maybe he could make a dash for it coming in without too much trouble, you know. It must have been – it was real hard being a Beatle. I mean, because it was just no privacy…they were so famous.

And certainly at Indica, we, we pretty much immediately had to just paint, uh, whitewash over the window, so they couldn’t see what was going on inside. And of course, everybody looked inside of this shop…because Paul was so very involved…

PKM: Did you get along with him?

Miles: With Paul? Yes, very well. Yeah, I spent a lot of time with him. We used to go to movies together, and plays …

PKM: Did he have to wear disguises?

Miles: No, but he would always, uh … it was often the case, he’d arrive at the Royal Court Theatre, and then forget what name the tickets were booked under …of course, it was often under his name. You know, whoever booked them wasn’t with us, or had forgotten …It was always like that. It was funny …

PKM: Did they recognize him?

Miles: Oh, sure. Everywhere.  Uh, he even got into France once. Um, when they were recording, “Fool on the Hill,” for Magical Mystery Tour…there’s a sequence that he wanted to film on a mountainside, so he and Mal Evans, his roadie, just drove to Nice one morning with a camera crew with the intention of just going into the mountains up behind Nice, staying overnight, getting up really, really early, shooting the dawn coming up over the Alps. And he arrived, he didn’t even have a passport. Which was typical of Paul, you know. And he argued his way through. You know, he said, “Look, a passport is to show who I am. You know who I am. I know who I am, you know? What’s the problem? Everybody knows who I am!” [both chuckle] So they agreed in the end. [both laugh] It’s true. It’s a miracle, given French bureaucracy, you know?

The Magical Mystery Tour, starring the Beatles, official trailer: 

PKM: That’s great.

Miles: But I doubt if he’d have gotten into America that way. But in France, it’s really a bit different, I suppose. But, he did sometimes use disguises. He did have a holiday once where he drove down through France and met up with Mal Evans in Spain somewhere…he was very good at disguise. He went to the BBC, which had a very good makeup department and they got him a perfect little mustache; this is before, the Beatles had mustaches …in ’65. And he had a different way of combing his hair, and just looked completely different. He wore a different kind of clothes – looked really nerdy. And he drove all the way down, staying in hotels; no one recognized him. And he got to Nice – a couple of days before he was gonna meet up with Mal. And he was getting a bit bored by then, and wanted to go to a nightclub. And he showed up at this club. They wouldn’t let him in because he looked too pathetic. [both laugh]…And then he met up with Mal, and they had a lovely time. I think they carried on and went down to Africa on safari or something…

PKM: Was Jane his main girlfriend?

Miles: Yeah. This is why, in theory, they were living together, you see, from mid-’64 until ’69, in theory. Paul and Jane were rather comfortable there. Since they hadn’t actually got engaged … Paul has this real working-class Northern morality, you know. They weren’t actually engaged …so it was okay …. for him to see dozens and dozens of other girls. The second he, you know, did get together with anybody, that was it. I mean, he was never straying, as it were. When he was with Linda …

PKM: Not once.

Miles: Not once the whole time they were together, except the 10 days he was in jail … they didn’t spend a night apart. He made a point of that, you know. Always. It seemed like it was to hang onto reality, I think. And, it’s so easy to just go spinning off into space if you’re a Beatle, more than any other rock star, because they were the most famous. And anything was possible. Absolutely anything. Uh, endless women, you know. The most famous film stars in the world were throwing themselves at them, you know? I mean, it must have been pretty difficult.

PKM: Do you think John went mad?

Miles: I think John was in grave danger of being an acid burnout at one point. He did get very involved in drugs, his big problem was he didn’t want to repeat what had happened to him, with his own son, Julian. You know, because he knew what it was like not having a father around and he really did feel that Julian needed a proper family. On the other hand, he was stuck in a marriage that, you know, wasn’t working. Well, you know, Cynthia, sweet as she was, was just a regular working-class Liverpool girl, you know, with very little education and, you know, he was John Lennon. And he now had a very, very different worldview… the whole business of being a Beatle, you know? The years in Germany, the world tours and all the rest of it just changed him so much that the relationship with Cynthia just wasn’t working anymore.

PKM: Yeah.

Miles: And, it wasn’t because he had other people, necessarily; he had lots of other girlfriends. So he retreated into just staying at home, watching TV all the time and taking drugs, you know, as a way of … at least he was there …you know, and not up in London doing stuff. But people like John Dunbar would spend a lot of time down there, and they’d smoke a lot of pot and take a lot of acid, but, but also take quite a lot of heroin. So he was kind of out of it quite a lot of the time, particularly from about ’66 onwards. He was really getting, you know, out there, and then, eventually [John and Cynthia] broke up when … in early ’68, when they went to India. That was the final break, and he admitted to Cynthia this great, long list of women that he had…It was pretty disastrous, this whole thing.

PKM: Well, she got left behind, I think, right? At the train station.

Miles: No, no; that was when they first went up to see the Maharishi talk …in ’67. That was just a whole group of them running to get on the train. Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithfull, a whole lot of people. [chuckle] They took a special coach and came up to Bangor, in North Wales to hear him do a weekend seminar. And, there were millions of fans there, and police and everything, and, unfortunately, Cynthia got just a few feet away from the main party, and of course, there’s no way for an average London cop to be able to tell who’s a fan and who’s Cynthia Lennon.

So they got the train without her. But the other roadie, Neil Aspinall, who’s now the head of Apple, was also with her, I guess, he just drove her up… She wasn’t intentionally left behind. It’s just the usual thing. You’ve gotta keep up. The Beatles don’t have time to look after everybody else. They have to save their own skin first. I’ve never seen anybody like that, actually, even now, Paul’s good at that. He could be in a great, thick crowd of people at a concert or something, and has a way of, like, just walking sideways, around and … he got where he was going…He just knows how to do it, uh, from all those years. Incredible, really. And I’m sure there are lots of other stars who have developed that ability as well.

And it was almost life-or-death, though, with him at one point. Because if those great gangs of kids got hold of him, they – you, you could get your hair ripped out and everything you know, pretty bad.

PKM: Well, those first scenes in Hard Day’s Night were all real …

Miles: That’s right. Yes, exactly. They filmed the real thing. They’d go nuts, those girls.

Opening sequence from A Hard Day’s Night:

PKM: I know.

Miles: Particularly then, because they … you know, they were out of control …because they didn’t know what they were doing…You saw right then everybody knows they’re supposed to do that. It was just, like, an automatic thing. You know, nature taking over. Uh-ohhhh … [laugh]

PKM: Where did you have to run with him?

Miles: I never had to run with him; no. We went to see a concert at the Italian Institute once when … I remember a lot of photographers burst into the room and disrupted the thing, and he yelled at them and stuff. But he didn’t turn it into anything too nasty. But, there was quite a crowd gathered outside back then. Sometimes at Indica, you’d get people outside, you know, but you usually, we’d just call a black cab and they would come, park right there, and he’d shoot straight out, and into a seat. No, I never experienced anything like that. But I never went on tour with The Beatles.

You know, I saw them plenty of times at recording studios, but, I think the touring situation’s different, because everybody knows where they are, you know …in this theater, and they’re gonna have to meet at some point, so …

PKM: Right.

Miles: I mean, it’s the same when they were recording, but there weren’t that many girls, a couple of hundred, you know, outside Abbey Road.


© 2021 by Legs McNeil. All rights reserved.

Miles and his books.

 All images via Barry Miles website

Books by Barry Miles