The First Rock ‘n’ Roll BODYGUARD
by Alf Weaver with Robert Ashton
Review by Gillian McCain
Knowing I’d need a couple of trash reads for my upcoming vacation with the Hound, my nephew Luke and I headed over to the Strand. The Film and Music sections there are a treasure trove of tomes you never knew existed. As I browsed the spines of dozens of the usual suspects, my eyes (which I now can use at the same time thanks to the surgery I got for my strombiosis in June) situated on the title The First Rock ‘n’ Roll BODYGUARD by Alf Weaver with Robert Ashton. The cheesy cover was a turnoff (a pic of an anonymous “celeb,” hands crossed over face like a Bob Collacello photo, or that famous Richard Hamilton artwork of the Stones), but hey ditch the dust cover, right? I assumed this one would go straight into the “Housing Works” donation box after reading anyhow. I thought wrong.
If Alf Weaver was still with us (R.I.P) he would be the guy I would want watching my back. Because he’s watched them all, and had “a few good laughs” doing so. Growing up in London, he was friends with the Kray Twins, and kind of fell into the rock & roll business when he started working for a limousine company. He started off minding the Beatles (not a big fan of John and Paul’s or Yoko’s),
and had no problem entertaining the cast-offs. ”Inevitably, sometimes there would be more skirt than could go around the four boys. That was a perk of the job, a kiss and a cuddle, but I had to be careful. I was doing a job. Even in a limp-wristed joint like the Cromwellian Club there was always someone loaded on brandy and valium out to cause a scene.”
One of his short-lived tasks was to take Beatles manager Brian Epstein for his wardrobe fittings on Saville Row. Alfie described him as “a quiet kind of guy. I knew he was a pillhead and a poof, but he was always immaculately dressed and calm.” But when Epstein died suddenly, Alfie took it personally. “Just before the Beatles court case, I thought I was bad for the minding business. Got myself a hex. The Black spot, or some voodoo thing. The thing was, I’d worked for Brian Epstein and a week later he had wound up dead. Now, that’s not good P.R. Looks bad on the CV, that. Nobody wants a bodyguard on a death trip.”
Peter Tork didn’t seem to mind. After minding the Monkees for their London stint, Tork hired him to move to L.A. to get rid of all the hangers-on that were squatting on his Bel Air property. Alfie loved the California lifestyle (he described the Monkee’s groupies as “dais[es] in candy-coloured stripes wanting to cause some trouble…) but the wife was missing her family (and didn’t approve of Alfie’s new girlfriend) so they headed back to the U.K where he continued his career in the minding business. It would appear Led Zeppelin was a fairly easy gig due to the tenaciousness of manager Peter Grant, who Alfie describes as, “Two hundred and fifty pounds of tough London beef, and I never saw him scared. Rough and tough as hell, when he needed to be, although that was often. In those days, some fuck was always on the hustle, coming up short, taking the piss, seeing what they could get away with. In Peter’s case, that was fuck all.” Also, although Robert Plant could be a bit of a handful, Alfie had this to say about Jimmy Page: “Its amazing the sounds he got out of that guitar, because you’d be hard-pressed to get him to say anything. Quiet. Very quiet. But a real gentleman. Jimmy Gent. Not one of those snide bastards.”
I’m not going to give away any of the rest of the book. READ IT.
PLEASE READ ME RATING (four of out five stars)