Leslie Cavendish, The Bea­tles’ hair­dresser

The Daily Telegraph - Telegraph Magazine - - CONTENTS - In­ter­view by Eleanor Steafel

I AL­WAYS THOUGHT of my­self as the Bea­tles fan who won the lot­tery. Peo­ple all over the world dreamt of get­ting close enough to John, Paul, Ge­orge and Ringo to breathe the same air as them. I was only 20 when I be­gan cut­ting their hair and it was the great­est thrill a Bea­tles fan could have.

It’s all thanks to Jane Asher that I be­came their hair dresser. I was an ap­pren­tice at Vi­dal Sas­soon in Lon­don and Jane used to come into the sa­lon. I would wash her hair be­fore one of the stylists cut it, but her hair­dresser was al­ways too busy to see her, so even­tu­ally she asked me to do it. We all knew she was Paul Mccart­ney’s girl­friend, though we never said any­thing. One day, when I’d fin­ished her hair, she said to me, ‘What are you do­ing this af­ter­noon? Could you come and cut my boyfriend’s hair at home?’ It wasn’t an of­fer I was go­ing to turn down.

I thought it would be a one-hit won­der, but a cou­ple of weeks later I was called back. Af­ter that I would go round once a month. This was early 1967 and the Bea­tles had stopped tour­ing to write their next record. The world was wait­ing with baited breath to see what they would do next, and I had a front-row seat.

One day, I was at Paul and Jane’s house in St John’s Wood and asked – as ca­su­ally as I could – if they were work­ing on any­thing. ‘Yes, we’re record­ing at Abbey Road ac­tu­ally,’ Paul said. ‘Why don’t you come down?’

I went along and sat in the box up­stairs with pro­ducer Ge­orge Martin and en­gi­neer Ge­off Em­er­ick, while the Bea­tles worked in the stu­dio. The band used to start record­ing at eight or nine at night and fin­ish at seven in the morn­ing. No girl­friends were al­lowed – though I do re­mem­ber see­ing Yoko there once and Paul didn’t look best pleased about it. The al­bum they were record­ing?

Sgt Pep­per’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Ge­orge came up­stairs at one point and said, ‘I fancy hav­ing my hair cut, could you do some­thing with it?’ I al­ways took my hair­dress­ing equip­ment with me, and so in a break from record­ing, I did Ge­orge Har­ri­son’s hair.

It can be a very in­ti­mate thing, cut­ting some­one’s hair. I re­mem­ber Ge­orge clos­ing his eyes and, for that mo­ment, he just re­laxed. Then it was back down to the stu­dio to record She’s Leav­ing

Home. Soon I was cut­ting all their hair (apart from Ringo, whose wife was a hair­dresser). ‘If it’s good enough for him, send him in,’ said Len­non, af­ter I’d fin­ished Paul’s hair once.

One day, I was at Mccart­ney’s house and he said, ‘What are you do­ing next week? There’s a whole load of us, we’ve got this bus and we’re go­ing to drive down to Corn­wall. We’ve got the Bea­tle fan club mem­bers com­ing, we’ve got a few ac­tresses, why don’t you come down as the hair­dresser and be part of the crew?’

I t hought: ‘I don’t be­lieve this, I’m go­ing on tour with the Bea­tles.’ They picked me up out­side Madame Tus­sauds and off we went on what would be­come the Mag­i­cal Mys­tery Tour, shown on BBC One on Box­ing Day, 1967.

This pic­ture was taken out­side the At­lantic Ho­tel in Corn­wall. There I am at the front with a cig­a­rette hang­ing out of my mouth; 20 years old and hav­ing the time of my life.

Five years ago, Giles – Ge­orge Martin’s son – remixed the film’s sound­track and they showed it in glo­ri­ous tech­ni­colour at the BFI in Lon­don. Mccart­ney was there, and I hadn’t seen him for years. Af­ter the screen­ing, we caught each other’s eye. ‘Leslie!’ he called to me. I al­ways used to say to him: ‘The good thing is, Paul, you’ll never lose your hair.’ He had good, thick hair. Walk­ing out of the cin­ema I said, ‘I was right then, you’ve still got all your hair.’ ‘So I have,’ he said. —

Ge­orge came up­stairs and said, ‘I fancy hav­ing my hair cut. Can you do some­thing with it?’

Out­side the At­lantic Ho­tel in Newquay Leslie Cavendish is in the front, sec­ond from right

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