‘My dad’s car is on the cover of Abbey Road’ says Beatles superfan
- Credit: PA Wire/PA Images
David Stark has more Fab Four stories than most. As a lad he hung around outside the studios to catch a glimpse of the band – but over the years he would meet them all. He spoke to Sam Gelder to mark the legendary album’s 50th anniversary today.
"It was my first encounter with a real life Beatle - and I got told off."
David Stark, 66, is recounting the time John Lennon arrived at Abbey Road studios in his black Rolls-Royce - speaking "gobbledigook" into a plugged-in microphone to entertain the hundreds of screaming fans - and shouted "get that bloody bike out the way".
David, who had been a huge fan of the band since hearing them burst onto the radio in 1963 when he was 10, had cycled almost 10 miles from his home in Stanmore to the famous studio to get a glimpse of the band and parked it against the studio wall.
It was 1966 and he could take no more of his school friend, who lived just down the road, bragging on the playground about seeing The Beatles heading into the studio on a regular basis.
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For David, it was the first of many interactions with the Fab Four over his lengthy career in the music industry, and he would come out on top in terms of bragging rights, too.
As the world celebrates the legendary Abbey Road record on its 50th anniversary today, David will be telling people to quite literally look beyond the iconic pose of John, Paul, George and Ringo at the Abbey Road zebra crossing.
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"My dad lived three streets away in Abercorn Place and he always claimed it was his car, a 1963 Humber Sceptre Mk1, driving away into the distance," said David, who now lives in Belsize Park.
"I've tried zooming in on the image but it's too far away, and it's only in that one shot. They took six shots on the day but it's not in the others. Maybe I'll try again."
David, who later founded SongLink International, has been inside Abbey Road many times over the years in his roles as a music executive and still loves seeing tourists young and old striking the famous pose on the zebra crossing.
"More kids today listen to The Beatles than ever before thanks to their parents and grandparents," he said. "And it will never stop."
David now sees Paul McCartney every year at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA) awards, where he presents the SongLink Prizes. Paul, who founded the school, gives an annual speech to the students.
He also managed to meet John Lennon properly for the first time in 1968, when he gatecrashed the premiere of Yellow Submarine at the London Pavilion.
"I snuck in and sat right behind The Beatles, next to Keith Richards," he explained, nonchalantly.
"There were two empty seats and he said they were for Mick [Jagger] and Marianne [Faithful], but they were in New York.
"At the end of the film the band couldn't move and I was right there chatting with them."
He also got a letter from John and Yoko Ono after defending their Unfinished Music albums in the press.
Like most, he had never listened to them, and told them as much when he met them at the premiere of Ringo's film The Magic Christian.
"They remembered the letter and laughed their head off," he said.
David was also one of a handful of fans to win tickets to a planned TV concert in 1968.
"There was a competition in Beatles Monthly in November, in which a number of winners would get tickets to this show.
"They didn't know where or when it was going to be, but they had booked out three nights at the Roundhouse. I was waiting for an invite but it never happened.
"Then they went on the rooftop in Savile Row on January 30, 1969. I was at school and they never told me about it.
"I got a letter a few months later from Beatles and Co saying they were very sorry and I would get an advance copy [of Abbey Road].
"It's still my favourite album. It's just a perfect recording. It's hard to believe it's 50 years old because it sounds incredible.
"They are on top of their game musically, lyrically, the production and George Martin's arrangements."
Like the Ham&High, David's favourite song on the album is You Never Give Me Your Money, but he loves the whole medley on side two and says The End - the last song recorded by all four members - was the perfect finale to their career.
"They made the album the way they used to do it," he added.
"And I never get bored of hearing it."
The BBC is celebrating Abbey Road's 50th anniversary with a four-day pop-up digital radio station broadcasting live from Abbey Road Studios.