Tony Bramwell

When I have to write something about Tony Bramwell I find it difficult to put into one sentence what he has done. It tends to be an unwieldy sentence – even when I’m trying to keep it as brief as possible.

So let me give you twenty facts about him.

1. He was best friends with George Harrison as a child and they used to see Paul McCartney at weekends.

2. He was there when Paul first met John Lennon and when they played together for the first time.

3. He became the Beatles Road Manager by chance after meeting his old pal George Harrison on the Number 61 bus on the way to the Beatles first gig after they came back from Hamburg and offering to carry his guitar in to get in for free. After doing this a few times John Lennon said to him “If you’re carrying George’s you can carry mine too”. “Mine as well” Paul McCartney said. When Brian Epstein became their manager he offered Tony the job as Road Manager full time. Tony almost turned it down as he had a good job at Ford’s as a clerk. Said Tony “I would have retired last year from Ford’s if I had said ‘no’ and got my gold watch – and missed the wild ride I had with The Beatles”.

4. He got an award from MTV for his pioneer work in the very early days of pop videos. As The Beatles got lots of requests to appear and it was difficult for them to go out anyway, it made sense to make little films with teh songs for distribution. THis was how the pop video began. The first pop videos like Day Tripper and We can Work It Out cost £200 to make and they were told they had overspent. Later on when they spent £700 making the video for Strawberry Fields Forever, they were told they had gone right over the top. What would they be worth now?

5. Tony was Beatles manager, Brian Epstein’s, talent scout. He discovered James Taylor and tried to sell a young Paul Simon, years before he became famous with Simon and Garfunkel, to Brian Epstein but was told “He’s too small and too Jewish looking (Epstein was Jewish himself). I can’t sell him”. Another one that got rejected after his recommendation, years before they became famous, was Queen. In later years he discovered Eva Cassidy who sold 7m albums after her death. A film is to be made of her life with Nicole Kidman as Eva Cassidy and Bill Nighe as Tony. Robert Redford will be the Producer and his daughter will be Director.

6. Tony was the PR guy for The Beatles and every act in Brian Epstein’s stable – so the BeatlesFest on the Lough couldn’t get anyone better.

7. Brian Epstein bought the Saville Theatre in Piccadilly in London and put Tony in charge of it and getting the musical acts for it. Tony put on Jimi Hendrix’s fist ever UK gig on – before he was famous in either the US or UK. The gig was a huge success and made Hendrix a huge name. His manager Chas Chandler (ex of The Animals) was a good friend of Tony’s. While he was there, Tony, John and Paul took Jimi to the Cromwellian where Cream were playing. When Eric Clapton took a break, Jimi asked for a shot of his guitar. Even though as a left hander he was playing backwards and upside down, Hendrix blew them off the stage.

8. When the Saville Theatre (which was also used for recording) was being knocked down Tony was passing by and saw a whole load of tapes on a skip. He went inside and asked the workers about them. The workers said they sent the ones they knew to the artists they knew and then threw the rest out. Included there were tapes of The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix etc. Tony took them home with him and, as he knew the guys, gave the tapes to them. Many of the tracks have now been used in subsequent CDs and even films. Tony gave the Hendrix tapes to Chas Chandler Hendrix’s manager, who died soon after, so Tony doesn’t know what happened to them. However, he said that there were many tracks that he didn’t recognise – so out there are tapes with mainly unreleased material from Hendrix.

9. Tony, without realising it, as he only knew her as Christine, went out with the girl at the centre of the Profumo Affair, which brought down the Minister for War, John Profumo, and nearly the Conservative Government at the time. When he discovered who she was he packed her in and went out with the American Miss World of the time.

10. Tony became joint head of Apple Records, the Beatles record company.

11. Tony also became head of Apple Films

12. When the radio stations went crazy and said that Paul McCartney was dead and said that the album cover of Abbey Road proved it, Tony decided to take matters into his own hands to put an end to the pandemonium at the Apple offices as Paul was in Scotland and wasn’t interested. He sounds very like Paul McCartney over the phone (I can vouch for that) as he comes from the same part of Liverpool. Tony called up a radio station in America and pretended to be Paul saying he was fine and was just having a cup of tea. However, the radio station had the voice analysed against the real voice of Paul McCartney and the word went out that Paul McCartney really was dead and that this proved it, and a double had been covering for him for months.

13. After The Beatles split up he went on to become head of Polydor Records which had Slade, The Jam and Roxy Music (with Brian Ferry and Brian Eno) in his stable of artists.

14. Just three days before John Lennon’s death he put a call through to Tony Bramwell. Tony had been in touch with him by post and he thinks the contact may have been for him to get involved with his new album that he was working on. The guy on the desk where Tony lived called Tony and said “there’s a Mr Lennon on the phone for you. Shall I put him through?”. The guy then lost the call and Lennon was never put through. Three days later Tony was woken up at 4am by a DJ in America and asked “What do you think of John Lennon’s death?”

15. Tony is a good friend of Bruce Springsteen’s who he knew before he was famous. Springsteen stays at Tony’s house when in the UK and Tony stays at his house when he is in that part of the US.

16. In 2004, when Donovan was asking Paul McCartney for information about the Beatles for a book he was writing, Paul McCartney told him “You’d be better to ask Tony Bramwell. He remembers it all better than I do”.

17. Tony wrote a book called “Magical Mystery Tours: My Life With the Beatles”.

18. Tony was out in Nashville with Paul McCartney for his gig there in 2010 two weeks before the BeatlesFest on the Lough in Moville. Paul invited to also come with him for a gig in Canada. Tony told him he couldn’t go as he was doing Moville’s BeatlesFest at the same time.

19. When Tony was at Moville’s BeatlesFest last year Paul McCartney texted him to say “we’re both in the paper today. Check the Daily Mail”. Tony went up to Gillen’s to buy the newspaper and found quotes about Heather Mills attributed to him in an unauthorised biography of Paul McCartney. Tony took a picture of a pint of Guinness and the Toucan, while he was sitting outside Rosatos talking to a local guy, and texted Paul back with these pictures to which Paul texted back saying “lucky b*stard”.

20. Tony will be the joint organiser of the BeatlesFest on the Lough in Moville this year and will be responsible for PR. We are incredibly lucky to have as the PR guy for our BeatlesFest the guy who was PR man for The Beatles.

Magical Mystery Tours

I decided to stop at 20 but there is so much more to Tony than this – as you’ll discover if you get a copy of his book.

Paddy McLaughlin said it is the best book that he’s read for at least 6 years (and that includes Chronicles by Bob Dylan).

He was with The Beatles all of the way through their crazy years – although Tony said that they were at the centre of the storm where it was calm whilst the craziness went on all around them.

He knew as friends John, Paul, George and Ringo as well as Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Jimi Hendrix and even gave the Davies brothers, Ray and Dave of The Kinks ‘a good slap’ as he says.

He will be bringing some copies over with him when he comes here from August 1st to August 3rd in 2014 for the BeatlesFest on the Lough in Moville, Donegal.