Beatles drummer Ringo Starr, 24, embraces his wife, Maureen Cox, 18, in Hove, Sussex, England, on Feb. 12, 1965. The couple were married secretly in London on Feb. 11 and are spending a three-day honeymoon at a friend's home. Beatles manager Brian Epstein
2NGHED2 Beatles drummer Ringo Starr, 24, embraces his wife, Maureen Cox, 18, in Hove, Sussex, England, on Feb. 12, 1965. The couple were married secretly in London on Feb. 11 and are spending a three-day honeymoon at a friend's home. Beatles manager Brian Epstein can be seen at right in background. (AP Photo)

Harmony of the Past: chance encounters with some of music’s greats

Exclusive Interview with Bobby Ward

BN1 catches up with established singer and songwriter Bobby Ward as he releases his new single Fly Away and regales stories of past encounters with the likes of Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney

“The year was 1965, and the world was swept up in the phenomenon that was The Beatles. The city of Hove would soon find itself at the centre of Beatlemania, as Ringo Starr and his newlywed wife, Maureen, chose the charming locale for their honeymoon. Little did I know, as a young fan and a school pupil of Hove, that I was about to have an encounter with Ringo Starr that would remain etched in my memory for a lifetime” recalls Bobby.

“It was a typical afternoon when the buzz began to spread across Hove College – Ringo Starr was in town, and he was staying right next door on Princess Crescent. Like a magnet, the news drew students and fans from all around, including myself, eager for just a glimpse of the Beatle. The atmosphere was charged with excitement as fans gathered, screams and cheers filling the air. And there I was, standing outside the house, soaking it all in.

As Ringo was being interviewed in the back garden, only visible to TV crews, curiosity got the better of me. I decided to take a chance and sneak around to the side entrance. My heart was pounding as I cautiously opened a wooden side door leading to the garden, only to be met with the stern face of Alan Jacobs, the lawyer who owned the house. In an instant, I felt the clout of his hand across my face, and I was swiftly shown the exit. Dazed but not defeated, I made my way back to the front, where the other fans continued their adulation.”

A Daring Climb and a One-on-One with a Beatle

“But I wasn’t ready to give up just yet. Spying a tall wall at the back of the property, a plan formed in my mind. With determination, I began to climb, ignoring the sharp pain from the dragging glass that topped the wall. As I finally reached the top, I looked down to find Ringo Starr, immediately below me still wearing his polka dot shirt and jacket, the very clothes he had worn during the interview. My heart skipped a beat.

Summoning all the courage a 12-year-old could muster, I greeted him. “Hello, Ringo.” His response was warm and friendly, and we soon found ourselves engaged in conversation, just a fan and a Beatle, sharing a moment in time.

We talked about his new puppy, a wedding gift named Tiger, and I couldn’t resist asking the question that had been burning in my mind: “What’s it like being a Beatle?” His reply was candid and tinged with humour “You don’t get any peace”, and when I pointed out that he had fame and fortune, his laughter was genuine and heartfelt.”

A Lesson in Authenticity

“Our conversation turned to my prized possession: a signed Ringo Starr drum. With a twinkle in his eye, he explained the process behind the autographed merchandise, dispelling the myth that he had personally signed every item. It was a lesson in authenticity that I would carry with me for years to come.

As our conversation drew to a close, with Maureen waving from inside signalling that it was time for tea, Ringo expressed his delight at our chat. He made me feel seen and heard, a young fan with a passion for music and a deep admiration for the man in front of me.

A young Bobby

A Lasting Memory and Proof of a Magical Encounter

As I made my descent from the wall, basking in the afterglow of our encounter, I knew that this was a story I would tell for years to come. And though some may have doubted the authenticity of my tale, the universe had a way of providing proof when I least expected it.

Decades later, as Ringo Starr appeared on television promoting his book “Postcards from Ringo,” my wife and I watched with interest. And there it was, the undeniable proof of my unforgettable encounter: a postcard mentioning Ringo’s little dog, Tiger.

The story of my unexpected and thrilling encounter with Ringo Starr has been a cherished memory, a tale of adventure, determination, and the power of music to connect us all. From a daring climb to a personal chat with a Beatle, this experience has remained a highlight of my early teens, a moment in time when the stars aligned, and I had the chance to meet a legend and I’m sure Ringo would remember this moment to this very day!”

Reminiscing an Unforgettable Day at Air Studios with Paul McCartney

As the dimmed lights of Air Studios in London cast a nostalgic glow on the intricate designs of the well-worn furniture, Bobby Ward, a musician full of rock-history stories, took us back in time to the early 80s. The air was filled with anticipation and the spirit of music, as he tells of his serendipitous encounter with none other than Sir Paul McCartney.

The year was 1982, the details of the encounter permanently etched in his memory. Château d’Hérouville in Paris, a renowned recording studio which had witnessed the genius of Elton John, David Bowie and all the greats, was where our story unfolded. The Michael Schenker Group was in session, and amidst the symphony of instruments, Bobby crossed paths with the legendary late, great record producer, Martin Birch.

Michael Schenker & Bobby playing pool all night in Le Château d’Hérouville

With a song in his heart and a mission to strike a deal, Bobby spent ten captivating days at the Château. The culmination of this musical rendezvous was a collective decision to regroup at the esteemed Air Studios in London. The day arrived, and as the clock struck 11, Bobby found himself sipping coffee near the lift, on a couch in the reception area.

The lift doors slid open, and there he was, Paul McCartney, in a jumper, casual yet exuding an aura of greatness. Bobby’s heart skipped a beat, but before he could get lost in awe, Paul was sitting next to him, striking up a conversation as if they were old mates.

“Hello, how are you?” Paul greeted in his thick Liverpudlian accent, sparking a conversation that transcended the ordinary. From Hayleys Comet to Paul’s new album, they delved into the depths of music and life, sharing laughter and jokes. It was during a playful banter about artwork and music, initiated by a call from Linda McCartney, that Bobby felt the true essence of friendship with a Beatle.

Michael Schenker, Graham Bonnet
(formerly of Rainbow) & BW resting inbetween recording at the renowned
recording studio Le Château d'Hérouville, Pontoise, Paris (early 80's). 
Album produced by the legendary producer Martin Birch.
From left to right: Bobby, Graham Bonnet, Michael Schenker at Le Château d’Hérouville

With a final handshake and a heartfelt goodbye, Paul disappeared into the hustle of his day, leaving Bobby gathering his thoughts. As he stepped out of the studio, the reality of the encounter sunk in, leaving him with a story for the ages, a tale of music, laughter, and an unexpected moment in time with Sir Paul McCartney.

In the heart of BN1, as Bobby recounted those remarkable days with Ringo Starr and Sir Paul McCartney, the passion in his voice and the twinkle in his eye transported us all back to those magical moments. It is a reminder that sometimes in the unlikeliest of places music can bridge the gap between legends and mortals creating memories that resonate through time.

Immerse yourself in the timeless allure of rock and roll with his latest masterpiece, “Fly Away.” Click HERE to experience a harmonious blend of retro vibes and classic rhythms that pay homage to the golden era of music.

Bobby on stage in the early 2000’s

A Serendipitous Ride: The Day I Met John Lennon’s Father

It was a typical morning in Brighton, 1969, now a seventeen year old, I was on my way to Brighton Technical College. Standing by the road, thumb outstretched, I was trying my luck at hitchhiking. A car pulled over, and hurriedly, I ran towards it, not expecting what would unfold next.

“I got in the back of the car, right behind another guy who had just hopped in,” I recall, still amused by the memory. “The driver turned to me and asked, ‘What are you doing?’ I replied, thinking they were offering a lift, ‘I thought you were giving me a lift.’ To my surprise, he just said, ‘No, but get in the car then.'”

As we drove towards Brighton, I learned that the two gentlemen in the front were police officers. A bit apprehensive at first, I soon found myself engrossed in their conversation. The policeman said “guess who’s just moved next door to me?” to his colleague. He then elaborated that he had a gift from John and Yoko for Fred Lennon (John’s father), which instantly piqued my interest. That’s when I realized I was in the midst of something extraordinary.

The discussion in the car brought an unexpected insight. “The police officer, who was Fred Lennon’s neighbour, accidentally received the gift and passed it on to Fred.”

Once we reached the centre of Brighton, the officers let me out. “Out you get then,” one said, and I continued my journey to college. But the conversation I had overheard stayed with me. Over the next few days, driven by curiosity, I wandered up Ladies Mile Road, which was near my parents’ house. And there, in the local Newsagents, to my astonishment, I saw Fred Lennon and went for a chat.

“Our chats were brief but memorable,” I reminisced. “He was a friendly man, short with long slicked silver hair, and there was this blonde girl living with him. I remember asking him casually, ‘Everything all right then?’ and he replied, ‘Yeah, we’ve just moved here.'”

I couldn’t resist asking about John. “Do you see much of John?” I inquired. Fred’s response was simple yet poignant, “No, not really, I don’t see much of John.” I left that initial encounter with a polite, “Nice to meet you, Fred,” his response “you too, young lad”.

Our interactions continued beyond that initial meeting. We crossed paths several times, engaging in conversations where I shared about my father being a prisoner of war, and in turn, he spoke of his experiences as a merchant seaman.

“McCartney, Ringo and John Lennon’s father Fred. What an incredible chance of events over the years!”

Intriguing Tales from Kingsley Hill

The Beatles members (left to right) and other artists signed to Brian Epstein.
Rare portrait donated to Kingsley Hill by Bobby Ward
– Photographed in Brian Epstein’s former lounge   

Nestled in the lush landscapes of Sussex lies Kingsley Hill, a place not just of architectural beauty but of profound historical significance, especially to the world of music. Bobby Ward’s connection to this former home of Beatles manager Brian Epstein is a tale of nostalgia, reverence, and artistic inspiration.

“In the early ’90s, I was invited to Kingsley Hill by the owners through mutual friends. It felt like stepping back in time, to a place where the echoes of the past were palpable in every corner,” Bobby reminisces. His first visit to Kingsley Hill was more than a mere tour; it was an immersion into a world where time seemed to have stood still, resonating with the legacy of the Beatles and Brian Epstein.

Overwhelmed by the atmosphere of the place, Bobby requested a second visit, a request that was graciously granted. “On my return, I brought along my old camera, an acoustic guitar, a couple of bottles of wine, and, of course, a Beatles chord book,” he shares. This visit was not just a casual drop-in; it was an endeavour to connect with the house’s rich musical history.

“The afternoon was spent in the roof area, reportedly painted in psychedelic colours by the Beatles themselves,” Bobby recounts. “There I was, playing and singing Beatles tunes in the very spot where the Beatles had partied during their Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band release.” The photos captured during this session show Bobby lost in the music, his face lit with the joy of a musician connecting with his idols across time.

In the loft area where The Beatles added their own creative flair

But it wasn’t just the roof area that captivated Bobby. “We took photos in the kitchen, lounge area, dining room by the fireplace, and outside. Each part of the house told a story, and I was there, in the middle of it all,” he says. These moments, captured in photographs, showcase Bobby not just as a visitor but as a part of the house’s ongoing narrative.

However, Bobby felt a poignant absence in Kingsley Hill. “After leaving, I realised that there was no mention or recognition of Brian Epstein. This saddened me,” he reflects. To Bobby, Epstein was more than the Beatles’ manager; he was the architect of their success, a figure deserving recognition in the house that had been part of his life.

  Another shot in the psychedelic painted loft area

This realisation led Bobby to the Trocadero auction of Beatles memorabilia in London. “I telephoned for a catalogue and, after much deliberation, successfully bid over the telephone for a group portrait,” he explains. This portrait wasn’t just a collectible; it was a piece of history that Bobby felt belonged in Kingsley Hill.

Upon acquiring the portrait, Bobby returned to Kingsley Hill to present it to the owners. “It was a donation to Brian Epstein’s legacy, a token of respect and remembrance,” he says. The photos taken during this visit, one in the lounge area and another in the dining area, show the portrait in the background, a silent testament to Epstein’s influence.

Bobby with his guitar in the dining / kitchen area with his Sgt. Pepper’s jacket on   

“The portrait now hangs in pride of place in Kingsley Hill,” Bobby proudly states. Accompanying this gesture was a letter of thanks, a recognition of the significance of his gift.

Kingsley Hill, with its Beatles connections, remains a house shrouded in musical mystique. “Did the Beatles paint the loft room? It’s part of the house’s magical mystery,” Bobby muses. A photograph of a handmade metal beetle attached to a beam in the loft room adds to this mystery, hinting at the creative energy that once permeated the space.

Bobby Ward’s relationship with Kingsley Hill goes beyond mere visits; it is a bond forged through music, respect, and a shared reverence for the past. His interactions with the house and his gesture of honouring Brian Epstein’s legacy make him a part of Kingsley Hill’s storied history – a history that continues to enchant and inspire.

More exclusive stories to follow in BN1 Magazine, including the Phil Collins era and the Downing Street years. Watch this space…

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