Ticket to Ride: The Ultimate Beatles Tour Diary
by Alf Bicknell & Alasdair Ferguson
Publisher: Glitter Books
ISBN#: 1 902588 01 0
Ticket to Ride isn’t so much an autobiography (no pun intended), but rather a series of short stories from Alf’s life with the Beatles, beginning in October 1964 and ending in a dressing room after the Beatles final concert in 1966. It’s an informal, almost chatty book, which can be easily digested in one or two sittings.
While there are no earth-shattering revelations, Alf does dispel a couple of Beatle’s myths, and more importantly gives us a fresh perspective – of the Beatles as four ordinary, albeit very talented, guys in an extraordinary situation. The authors paint images of sitting with John at his home “surrounded by toast and a freshly brewed pot of coffee”; of sharing a bedroom loft with George in the Harrison household after Christmas in 1965; and of hunting for antiques in London with a not too cleverly disguised Paul McCartney.
The 215-page book is broken up into twenty chapters, each an annotated snapshot from his life on the road with the Beatles. Subjects include his frantic first encounter with the band, the ’65 North American tour, life in the studio, and the Beatles emotional return to Hamburg in 1966. Alf also devotes a chapter to each Beatle and to Brian Epstein, and it is in these pages that we are treated to a glimpse of each, not as a musician/performer/icon, but simply as a human being.
The thorny issue of drugs is also tackled, emphasizing the naivety of those involved, and how those who weren’t made a point of looking the other way. However my favourite stories included one about an impromptu relay race around the grounds of Cliveden House during the filming of “Help!”, when ‘Team Beatles’ (including Alf and Neil Aspinall) challenged the fittest of the film crew…I won’t tell you who won 🙂 Another favourite is Alf’s account of the Beatles one and only meeting with Elvis in his Beverly Hills mansion, including the acoustic jam session which took place in his living room. Most fans will also be intrigued to read the blow-by-blow description of the Beatles dangerous escape from Manilla in 1966. George even refers to this in his endorsement when he exclaims “Anybody who was beaten up by Imelda Marcos’ bully squad is a friend of mine!”.
Ticket to Ride is an enjoyable read, and I reckon it to a tasty homemade meal made with simple ingredients, lovingly prepared, and served up in just the right proportions. Tuck in!