Former Beatles tour manager Mal Evans met a tragic end and now a previously unseen notebook belonging to ‘Big Mal’ is to go on display at The Beatles Story in Liverpool. Tony McDonough reports
Many people watching Peter Jackson’s The Beatles: Get Back, the three-part documentary on the Fab Four, will have been fascinated by the cast of characters around the band.
One of them was the imposing figure of Mal Evans, a former telephone engineer who befriended George Harrison and was hired as a doorman at the legendary Cavern Club. He later became the Beatles’ tour manager, from 1963 until the break-up in 1970.
Now a never-before displayed notebook featuring Beatles song lyrics and scribbles from Mal’s time with The Beatles is to go on show at The Beatles Story, a museum on Liverpool waterfront that tells the story of the band that ‘shook the world‘.
Father-of-two Mal was later nicknamed the ‘Gentle Giant’ and ‘Big Mal’ and was a constant companion of the group. On Get Back he can be seen striking an anvil with a hammer as the Beatles played Maxwell’s Silver Hammer.
Post-Beatles he became a music producer in his own right but his life met a tragic end. Early in 1976 his wife Lily, whom he’d met at a funfair in New Brighton, asked for a divorce. Mal, who was living in Los Angeles, fell into a depression.
On January 5, 1976, he was visited at his apartment by the co-writer of his biography, John Hoernie. At some point during the visit a troubled Mal started brandishing an air rifle. Police were called and he reportedly pointed the air rifle at them, at which point they shot him dead.
The rare notebook, compiled between 1967-68, features Paul McCartney’s handwritten draft lyrics for Hey Jude, a part-lyric for Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, recording notes by George Harrison for All You Need Is Love as well as lyrics for a number of other songs.
Filled with original scribbles using brightly coloured ink from John, Paul, George, Ringo and Mal, the notebook offers a glimpse into the ground-breaking era in Beatles’ history when they produced Sgt Pepper and The White Album.
As well as lyrics, poetry and doodles, the notebook also includes a design for the famous ‘Sgt Pepper’ drumskin featured on the cover of the record, and a list of other requirements for the song, including a ‘piano painted for John’.
Stephen Maycock, consultant specialist in Beatles Memorabilia, said: “Mal’s notebook is a unique document, covering as it does such an important period in the career of the most important band in pop music history. It provides a fascinating insight into the Beatles’ creative process and shows just how close Mal was to that.”
Described as the ‘ultimate memento’, the item was put up at Sotheby’s rock and pop memorabilia auction by Mal’s widow Lily Evans in 1998. It was purchased by Liverpool businessman Alan Murphy who made his fortune after founding a business called AM Paper in 1983 which manufactured toilet rolls. He was dubbed the ‘bog roll king’.
He gave the notebook to his daughter Davinia, a former Hollyoaks actress, on her 21st birthday. Davinia said: “As a family we are absolutely delighted to be able to share this treasure worldwide.
“As a Scouser and huge Beatles fan, my dad felt it was so important for the notebook to be available in his hometown of Liverpool and for everyone to enjoy these precious insights into the world’s best band.”
The notebook will be on display for visitors to Liverpool’s leading Beatles’ attraction, The Beatles Story, from this month. The interactive demonstration will include a digital display scrolling through every page of the notebook and the Hey Jude lyrics alongside a biography about Mal Evans.