When Mal Evans died in 1976, rumors swirled that he had been working on some memoirs. Tentatively titled “Living the Beatles Legend,” the book was to have been based on some 15 years of diary entries in which Mal was ensconced in the life of all four Beatles as they rose to superstardom, wrote and recorded scores of classic songs and ultimately broke up.
One would have thought that like other posthumous works, Mal’s memoirs would have been published soon after his death. This had the potential to be the mother of all Beatles biographies: A member of the Beatles’ inner circle – one that was honest to a fault – giving the real scoop on the Fab Four.
But the diaries vanished.
No one knew of their whereabouts; a briefcase was once found in Sydney, Australia that allegedly contained the lost diaries, but further inspection revealed it to be a fraud. Three years ago, however, the London Sunday Times Magazine revealed the truth. The diaries had been with Mal’s widow, Lily Evans, ever since the mid 1980s, when Yoko Ono saved them from the basement of a New York publisher.
While a book has yet to be published containing the full story, the Times published excerpts of the diaries that are tantalizing at times, but reveal little about the Beatles. It does, however, give us a great deal of insight into Mal’s life and his devotion to the Fab Four.
Only Mal Evans could (or would) chronicle his time with the Beatles with recollections such as, “Late afternoon went over to the McCartney’s in Wirral, and had dinner with them. Paul and Jane [Asher, McCartney’s then girlfriend] had traveled up for the New Year – also Martha. Fan belt broke.” He writes of these times nonchalantly, but he was there when the Beatles let their guards down.
He gives us insight into possible alternatives to the name for Abbey Road, mentioning Four in the Bar, All Good Children Go to Heaven, Turn Ups and Inclinations as possible titles (none seem to fit in retrospect, do they?). He played on several Beatle songs; in a hilarious prelude to the Saturday Night Live “cowbell” skit, Mal played one on “With a Little Help From My Friends,” prompting Paul to ask, tongue-in-cheek, “Who played that great cow bell?”
At times, though, Mal felt he was being taken for granted. Being paid a pittance for his devotion and work – less than £40 per week – he was often broke, having to support a wife and two children while spending most of his time with the Beatles. He was the main go-fer boy: “”I would get requests from the four of them to do six different things at one time and it was always a case of relying on instinct and experience in awarding priorities.” Often, John would be in a stupor, only to snap out of it and mutter, “Socks, Mal,” and off Mal would go to the local department store to get several pairs of socks. Once, the Beatles had no cups to drink milk with their sandwiches; Mal pulled out four plastic cups from his pocket.
Mal realized his role within the Beatles, and it bothered him, but he was doing what he truly loved. In perhaps the most poignant moment of the diaries, he confesses:
I feel very hurt and sad inside – only big boys don’t cry. Why I should feel hurt and reason for writing this is ego… I thought I was different from other people in my relationship with the Beatles and being loved by them and treated so nice, I felt like one of the family. Seems I fetch and carry… I always tell myself – look, everybody wants to take from, be satisfied, try to give and you will receive. After all this time I have about £70 to my name, but was content and happy. Loving them as I do, nothing is too much trouble, because I want to serve them.
Here, There and Everywhere (London Sunday Times)
Next: The Death of Mal Evans