“My daughter Rachel said, ‘You could end up doing the same to your grandson Niall. If you’re not going to talk about things now he will never know. Come on,’ she said, ‘your memory is going anyway.’”
Kelly laughs raucously at the typical Liverpudilan frankness. “Alright I said, I’ll do it for Niall. I really needed that little push you know?”
When Kelly first met the Beatles she got to know them as ordinary Liverpool lads. No matter what happened afterwards she still saw them as everyday lads, and they were increasingly grateful to be seen as everyday lads.
“I’m sure if I was ever to see the two remaining Beatles I would still be able to say come on, let’s have a cup of tea,” Kelly says.
Ringo wrote to her recently and asked how her Irish wolfhounds were doing, she reveals.
“I can’t believe he remembered that I used to keep them,” she laughs (Kelly kept them for decades through her married life in fact, and she always bought them directly from Ireland). She’s remembered as vividly by her idols as she remembers them, it turns out.
Although there’s real magic in the heady early days of the band when they were breaking record after record for ticket sales and record purchases, Good Ol’ Freda also reminds viewers that although Kelly was lucky enough to be along for the ride, the band was lucky to have her join them.
One time when Lennon got jealous of the amount of time Kelly was spending with the Moody Blues (they were appearing together in a double bill and Freda was discreetly dating one of them) he called her into the dressing room and asked her where she had been.
Never being one to tell a lie, she told him outright. “You’re fired,” he told her bluntly.
So Kelly turned and asked Paul, George and Ringo if they agreed with John, and they said no.
“I’ll stop working for you and I’ll stay working for the other three,” she told Lennon, who suddenly realized the error of his ways.
To win her back she insisted he go down on one knee. He did. There haven’t been many people with the force of personality to make John Lennon reconsider. That’s who were dealing with when it comes to Freda Kelly.
The story of breakup of the Beatles is one of the most painful in rock history, and Good Ol’ Freda pulls no punches. Archival interview footage shows a twenty-something Kelly lamenting where things were headed.
An interviewer asks her what’s missing now and her answer is simple: “There isn’t that closeness now. It’s gone.”
The Beatles were growing up and they were doing other things. “It wasn’t the death of Brian Epstein, although it shocked us all. I think even if Eppy were alive today they still would have done what they done. They’d have gone their separate ways,” Kelly says.
“I know Paul tried to hold it all together and I really respect him for that. He jumped in very quickly and tried to get us out of the grief that followed Eppy’s death. That’s where the Magical Mystery Tour came from. But they were all growing up and they wanted to do other things.”
Good Ol’ Freda provides an unprecedented insight into the life and career of the Beatles, as seen by the woman who was there right from the meteoric start to the bitter finish. And did she date any of them?
Well if she did she’s not saying, but there’s that raucous Irish laugh again. The one that made them fall for her in the first place.
Good Ol’ Freda is now playing at the Landmark Sunshine Cinema in New York City. Here's the film's official trailer: