Jackie Lomax and The Beatles Rooftop Concert, 40 Years Later
by Joel Anderson
Mar. 2009: Jackie Lomax was Apples first signed artist, close friend and associate of The Beatles and part of the British Invasion as singer/bassist for The Undertakers. The world has never seen a phenomena like the popularity of The Beatles and Jackie was on the inside of the British Invasion when groups like - The Kinks, the Who, the Small Faces, The Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds, and Gerry and the Pacemakers were just coming out of the UK. This year Cavern tours is hosting Beatles Week revisiting the 40th anniversary of the Beatles famous “good-bye” concert on the Rooftop of Apple Records in London. Jackie Lomax will be a guest host and musician for the tour and will be leaving for Great Britain in August. Recording, playing, composing Jackie is a living Rock n’ Roll legend. He’s Liverpool Slim.
INTERVIEW - Jackie Lomax
Joel: So you’'l be headed to England in a few months...
Lomax: ...this was a stroke of luck. It's Cavern Tours that does Beatles week. They organize all kinds of festivals in and around the area; it's very good... it's exciting.
Joel: It's associated with The Beatles Rooftop Concert, last live concert for them, January 30, 1969. Where were you when The Beatles Rooftop Concert was happening?
Lomax: Yeah, I was right there on the rooftop… well I was there (at Apple Records) because at that time… I was signed with Apple Records…. I was recording with George Harrison. I think it was a good-bye, and it had feeling too, they played with spirit. They played with Billie Preston which added something to their sound. They were good… they were a GOOD live band. Yeah it's the fortieth anniversary of The Beatles on the Rooftop Concert. I'm playing Liverpool's Carling Theatre on the 28th of August, which is the culminating concert of Beatles week. I don’t know with whom, yet, or how; we’ll see.
Joel: Was there something happened at the rooftop show, where Paul McCartney sung... ‘hey Jackie’ ?
Lomax: He was singing Get Back. I do think that he was there playing bass on Sour Milk Sea and at the end of Sour Milk Sea, I started singing Get Back, why don't you get back to where you once belonged.... And I do think there's a trace of that that... comes into Get Back, to where you once belonged...
Joel: Who else was on the roof, as you recall?
Lomax: Anyone really who was hanging around. There weren’'t more than 20 people on the roof. I was standing over by the chimney.... It's on a DVD isn't it?
Joel: So what happened when the police crashed The Rooftop Concert?
Lomax: Well, it paralyzed the whole area which was a business area; there were people hanging out of windows of these office buildings all around so, therefore productivity went to zero…....so the businesses were all going crazy saying "what's going on…there nobody's working" so somebody called the cops, but they came up against a brick wall, in the form of Mal Evans.
Joel: He'd been a bouncer at The Cavern, originally and was, at that time, road manager, assistant and friend of The Beatles?
Lomax: He was a great guy. I saw what went down; there were two cops came, the young cop went up to the roof, the sergeant stayed in the lobby. Mal was standing at the doorway. I was behind Mal. The guy says 'you've got to turn it off, you've got to turn it off.’' Mal says 'look, the lads are playing, and you’'re not gettin' on the roof. When they're finished you can go on the roof, but you ain't going anywhere.' He was covering the whole doorway, you can't get past him, no - way. So, the young cop got all red in the face and ran down 4 flights to tell the sergeant that this guy wouldn’t let him on the roof. So then the sergeant came up, and starts yelling at Mal… and Mal is saying the same thing very calmly, 'I will let you on the roof when they’re finished playing'.... and they didn't get on the roof until The Beatles said, 'Thank you very much, and I hope we’ve passed the audition,’'and then they turned off the amps and the cops came on the roof. Nothing really happened; that was the end of their performance…...... they were saying goodbye to Apple and everyone really….
Joel: How did they all play off one another ?
Lomax: Apart from Ringo, they were all great songwriters, all of them, you know.
Joel: Innovative? Abbey Road/EMI Studios they do orchestrations in there…. The Beatles shook them up, man. Paul said 'So what have we got in here, a four track? Well, am I right in believing we've also got a four track in studio B. Why don’'t we roll that in there, too ?’'And the guy went, 'That’'s brilliant!' He’d been working there for years but it had never occurred to him to roll his other four track in, and eventually they rolled Studio C in too, and they had 12 tracks.
Joel: Some of those albums were real complex...
Lomax: ...but it's usually 4 track to 4 track to 4 track, each time mixing down; they were brilliant!
Joel: You'd say The Beatles were innovative?
Lomax: The world was hanging on their next thought. It was magical. It was not without sweat and tears and it wasn’'t without a lot of arguments. You can see that in Let it Be....things were getting tense....
Joel: Ok, Current... How’s your band in Liverpool doing now?
Lomax: The Undertakers, my old band from Liverpool... I recorded with them last year in August for the new Undertakers album, yeah... and I wasn't booked then; I went on my own dime. This year I'm going on theirs... for Cavern Tours.
Joel: What's going on in Liverpool now, musically ?
Lomax: Well, it's interesting. When I go back, all I hear is Beatle's music now. Seems like every band wants to do I Saw Her Standing There. It starts to drive you a little crazy. I always thought that is what we're in it for; we do original stuff. Write it, yeah, use the experience of doing someone else's song to find out how it feels to you and what the structure is, and then you use that to interpret it your own way. That doesn't seem unreasonable to me. That's all I've been doing all my life....why would I stop now and go back and copy something, but that's what seems to be happening is copy bands… Here we see, copy of The Who, copy of Janis Joplin, a copy of this, that and the other, and it's like there's this yearning for those bands of the 60s because they were all so different. They all forged their own way. You can't say the Grateful Dead was a copy of The Beatles, you can’t say that Cream was a copy of what? Cream... the BEST trio I have ever heard….
Joel: Wasn't Paul knighted by the Queen?
Lomax: Yeah...John was the anti-social one…he was usually right, but he could be abrasive and aggressive. Paul McCartney was like Mr. Fabulous, he's always on and smiling. I think Paul got knighted out of shame for them taking all that tax money off him. It's like 90 percent, in his bracket. He must have floated the economy at one time….You see that's why so many people have moved over here. You pay quite a bit of taxes over here on large amounts, too. I don't know what the answer is. Those guys with the 40 million dollar parachutes should be put in stocks in the streets, so that the people can throw rotten food at them. Joel: hahahaha.......Where do you see Rock n’ roll heading ?
Lomax: I don't see it heading anywhere.
Joel: Is there hope?
Lomax: There's always people out there who are undiscovered talent. Those are the people who sound original, who write original. There is no music business, it's all on-line. You don't need the Capitol Building anymore, even though it's an icon, it's all on-line and it's every man for themselves on-line. That's not good to me. For instance, everyone is buying blank discs and writing on them with pens….I want to see the art work; I want to see who played on the tracks, I want to read the lyrics, all of that is part of the package to me because that's where I come from. IN my version I had the lyrics printed out.
Joel: Now, it's who's the best 'internet guy'?
Lomax: Still a lot of luck. You have to get a totally repetitive thing, where it gets played over and over again, to get noticed. I have a song called Home is in my Head that's been done by a lady singer in Norway; Anuk, she's done a live version that's 11 minutes long, and then she did a DVD of it that’s been repeated on the radios as well. So that song is disproportionate to my other songs. You just never know….I didn't plan that, I never thought anyone in Norway would ever have heard
Joel: What role does rebellion have in Rock n’ Roll?
Lomax: Well, it's rebellious enough to play an electric guitar. Usually an expensive electric guitar, and running around the country getting laid, and having partying times, I mean that’s rebellious enough. I mean my parents were horrified when they learned I was in a band because they equated it with being in a gang, they were disowning me….my father didn’t speak to me for three years.
Joel: Recent times....who were the players; the musicians on your, The Ballad of Liverpool Slim record?
Lomax: The usual suspects; Jack Joshua on bass, Dave Stewart on drums, there were some other member in the band... Eddie Duenez on keyboards played some keyboards, Jimmy Calire and his son Mario, and there’s another guy Mark Andres (Canned Heat, Spirit, Jo Jo Gunne, Firefall, Heart, and more) who played bass on some of the tracks. He’s from Heart, a very good bass player.
Joel: How are things going?
Lomax: I've been very good, optimistic. Well, I didn't think I'd get a record deal and I did. Even though this album has been around for like 5 years, it's just my product. It was 3 or 4 different sessions I had to go through pro tools to make them sound like they were all done at the same time. It's a collection of songs I was doing with the blues band around Ojai and Ventura.
Joel: Tell me about 'Liverpool Slim’?
Lomax: Ballad of Liverpool Slim. Well, I was on a pool team for the Hub and I think I came up with it me self because someone said, 'Minnesota Fats couldn't come up with a shot like that.' So, I couldn't be Minnesota Fats, so I said I'm more Liverpool Slim and they all laughed… so the name stuck and it sounds bluesy. It sounds like a blues guy, doesn't it?
Joel: And you did the artwork on this. I didn't know you were an artist?
Lomax: I didn't know me self.
Joel: You've got 14 tracks on here!
Lomax: I'm always into value for money, so I always think you have to have at least 12 tracks for an album. So I had 12, it was just me, you see I own this, I did it by myself on my own dime, I took it to Liverpool 5 years ago and sold special editions all that I could print up and I sold them all.… I don't think I even have a copy left for myself. It was kind of dormant for a while and then this record company showed up and offered me a deal. Through a friend, they said they like it, they sent me a contract that was fair and respectful of artists; the best I've ever seen. Because I wasn’t going to print up any more. So now it will get into record stores in Europe and Asia, & the U.K. Unfortunately they are not in the U.S., but some label might contact them, you never know.
Joel: What's the common thread in the music?
Lomax: Blues, I think it's the best album I've done, I'm much more expressive guitarwise on this than I've ever done before.
Joel: Get better as you get older?
Lomax: Well, that's my theory, but that doesn't seem to be the theory of businessmen. They think when you reach 40 you're done.
Joel: How does that work ?
Lomax: Well, it took me years to figure out that what I was doing on the bass, finger picking style, could be
transferred to the guitar....I didn't think of it for like 20 years….then, once I started doing it, it all came to me very fast.
Lomax: I'm much more adventurous playing-wise. I've got some up-tempo stuff that people like, I've got some ballads that people like. I particularly like When my Soul is Free at Last. You know, I'm critical of myself too. I think it's a really good song. I hope somebody picks up on it and does their version. You never know.
Joel: What's it about ?
Lomax: It's sort of autobiographical, but I like to be vague about that.
Joel: You can get this on-line though ?
Lomax: Yeah I believe so, just go to www.jackielomax.com
Joel: So, tell me why you added the last 2 tracks?
Lomax: Well, I can tell you that. Simply they wanted me to do an old song again, a new version. So I told them I have this live album with Sour Milk Sea is on it Live. I sent that to them and they loved it. I love the
whole album….it's from 1976. That was my funky band from Los Angeles, two horns....even this version of Sour Milk Sea is funky, not like the original version at all which was straight rock. Then I've added Friend of Mine, which is a tribute to George Harrison which I wrote after he died. Well, I was at the dedication in Hollywood for George, there's a trail there up to the Hollywood sign…they planted a tree in his honor. The TV was there and the mayor and the head of the observatory, and I sang Friend of Mine, acoustic and there was a guy in the audience who said 'I've got a state of the art recording studio do you want to record that?' and I said yeah I do, and I put a nice slide solo in the middle that sounds like George would do. It uses chords that George used a lot.
Joel: Well.... was that a way of letting George go?
Lomax: Well, I lost another best friend the same month. That's why it’s called Friend of Mine, it doesn't say George, it doesn't say Kim, it doesn't say Entwistle, they are all friends of mine. This is a great example of George Harrison: a lot of Americans were coming over, hippies. The Hells Angels came over once and invaded the building, Apple Records. They said they were coming, they just came in and opened every door they wanted to. I was with George Harrison and we were in the press room and we were talking about the release, when it's gonna be, it's business, right…there were three of us in the room. Me, George and Alistair. And like all of a sudden the door flew open and there's this HUGE Hell's Angel guy standing there, and he just stares at us. Well, George immediately and quickly strode right into his face, right up to him like right here like that, and he said 'what do you want?’ And the guy said, 'I know you...' but he was backing away as he was saying it….and George was saying 'you've got no business here; we're busy ok,' and he closed the door in his face. Now that biker could have kicked all three of us out. George was like very intense, and this guy backed down. I think the guy couldn't handle that he had just met one of The Beatles…I think it sort of scrambled his brain. That was about 69….we were recording a project….let's
go for a ride…..
– Joel Anderson, editor
SOURCE: VIEW Issue 12, Mar. 2009
LINK: Classic VIEW Website