On the eve of publication, I dedicate this book to Mal Evans, the protagonist of our story.
Evans was a real person, having worked with the Beatles from their days in Liverpool all the way through the end of the group in April 1970, and to a lesser extent, with the solo Beatles and with Apple Corps Ltd. for the next six years. He died in 1976 at the hands of two Los Angeles police officers, who mistook his air rifle for a real gun. He apparently was high on Valium and police considered him dangerous.
Mal adored the Beatles. From the minute he heard them playing at the Cavern Club in Liverpool in the early 1960s, he was hooked. And he did everything for them. If the band needed a glass of milk or a pair of socks, Mal ran to the store to get them. He drove the band to many gigs, including one in a snowstorm in which a pebble broke the windshield, forcing him to break a hole in the glass so he could see properly. Another time, he broke plastic silverware to create makeshift picks for the band when they wanted to jam with Elvis. He protected the band from a near-riot in the Philippines after they apparently scrubbed First Lady Imelda Marcos.
It didn’t stop there. He contributed to many Beatles classics, including the film “Help!” He sang in “Yellow Submarine,” played piano in “A Day in the Life” and organ in “You Won’t See Me.” He accompanied the Beatles on their trip to India to see the Maharishi, and subsequently played tambourine on “Dear Prudence.” He played trumpet on “Helter Skelter.”
And it got even more bizarre. He was the silver hammer on “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer,” playing an anvil in time with the song. He rang the alarm clock in “A Day in the Life.” He shoveled gravel as a rhythm track on the bizarre “You Know My Name (Look Up the Number).” And according to Evans’ diaries, he even helped compose some songs on Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
He did all this for £38 per week – about $58, or the salary of a clerical worker.
It was a labor of love for Mal, but he seems to be forgotten in most of the Beatles’ stories. When I mention my book to people, they’ve obviously heard of the Beatles, but have never heard of Mal. As luck would have it, Mal was about to publish his memoirs when he was shot, but they weren’t even found until a few years ago; his chance at stardom and immortality was lost with his death.
This book gives Mal a view into what the 1970s would have been like if fate hadn’t broken up the Beatles. New music, new albums, and the legacy of the Beatles growing by leaps and bounds. If you didn’t think they could get any bigger, read this book. It also shows readers what an insider he really was, and how much the members relied on him through the years – even if they sometimes didn’t realize it.
I hope that Mal would enjoy my trip through the 1970s, seeing new Beatles albums being created – and being at the center of the greatest rock n’ roll legacy of all time. As long as he was along for the ride, he would have cherished every moment of it. And he deserves it.