The Beatles in One Two Three Four

One: Ode to Pot

No strangers to drink and drugs, the Beatles had never tried marijuana. It was not until they were in New York in the summer of 1964 that they were introduced to it by Bob Dylan. The foursome were in awe of the folk singer and didn’t dare to refuse him when he offered them a joint. Ringo went first and was unaware of the custom of passing it around: he smoked the whole thing! Dylan ended up giving each Beatle his own joint. They enjoyed the experience so much, it became part of their lives and their songs. Paul McCartney later confessed that Got to Get You Into My Life was, in fact, an “ode to pot.”

Two: A Kiss for St. Christopher

An act of delinquency turned into an unforgettable experience for teenager Angela McGowan. She had swiped Ringo Starr’s necklace — a St. Christopher medal — when the Beatles were mobbed on the way to a radio interview in New York, that same summer of 1964. He was distraught: he had worn it every day since his Auntie Nancy gave it to him on his twenty-first birthday. Live on air, disc jockey ‘Cousin Brucie’ Morrow announced that whoever returned it would get a kiss from Ringo. St. Christopher medals flew out of the shops in Manhattan, but the DJ identified the true culprit. The next day, Angie and three of her friends got the promised kiss, in front of a full camera crew.

Three: A Postman’s Grief

Eric Clague was a young police constable when a young woman stepped in front of his car while he was driving. She died from the impact and, although the incident was declared an accident, he left the force and became a postman. He discovered later on that the woman he had killed was John Lennon’s mother, Julia. By coincidence, Paul McCartney’s old house was on his postal route and he had to deliver fan mail every day. A reporter from the Sunday Mirror tracked him down in 1998. Clague said: “It is something I have always kept deep inside. I haven’t even told my wife and children. I suppose I will have to now.”

Four: A Beatle for Ten Days

Ringo Starr was having his tonsils out at the start of the Beatles’ 1964 world tour. They hired a replacement drummer, Jimmie Nicol, whose career had been up and down until that point. His hair and his clothes were altered and, for ten days, he lived the life of a Beatle, joining in the concerts, press conferences and parties. On Ringo’s arrival in Melbourne, Nicol was presented with an engraved watch and £500 and put on a plane back home. Bad luck, bad decisions and a certain amount of arrogance meant that Jimmie’s career continued going downhill until, eventually, he vanished into obscurity, forever blaming his time with the Beatles for his misfortune.