Beatles’ secretary in documentary film

This video is called Good ‘Ol Freda – Interview with Freda Kelly, Head of the Beatles Fan Club.

By Joanne Laurier in the USA:

27 May 2013

Good Ol’ Freda

Good Ol’ Freda is a charming documentary by filmmaker Ryan White about the Beatles’ fiercely loyal secretary, Freda Kelly. The title comes from the group’s 1963 Christmas message, aimed at their fans, in which George Harrison first thanks their secretary in Liverpool and the four shout, “Good Ol’ Freda!” The Beatles—Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr [whom Freda affectionately calls “Richie” in the film]—was the most successful pop group in history, selling more than one billion records.

In 1962, Freda, then a shy 17-year-old Liverpudlian, was asked by the band’s manager Brian Epstein to serve as its secretary. A devoted fan since the musicians’ early days performing at the city’s famed Cavern Club, Freda held the job for 11 years, until after the Beatles ended their 10-year relationship.

Freda arranged bookings, did the payroll and diligently answered fan mail, which at the height of Beatlemania escalated to between 2,000 and 3,000 letters a day. She not only had a personal friendship with the legendary artists, but also with their families. During the closing credits, Ringo says in a video testimonial, “Freda was like part of the family.”

Director White comments in an interview: “The amount of personal attention and true affection that she served the Beatles’ fans with—teenage girls, mostly—will probably go unmatched throughout music history.” A number of amusing anecdotes prove the point.

Freda, who neither made money nor sought notoriety as a Beatles’ insider, explains in an interview: “I didn’t want to talk about it [her experiences with the group]. I was in a different life then. I closed the door.”

The unassuming woman, now in her late 60s, has for the last 20 years worked as a secretary for a law firm in Liverpool. Wanting to explain the Beatles’ chapter of her life to her grandson, Freda approached filmmaker White, a family friend, whose uncle Billy Kinsley had been in the Liverpool band, The Merseybeats. Like the Beatles, the group performed early on at the Cavern Club. White’s aunt also worked with Freda for the Beatles fan club.

“I could have been a millionairess if I had kept things like photographs and autographs,” she says at one point in the film. Instead, she handed them out to fans, always cognizant that she had been one herself.

Good Ol’ Freda also functions as a lively and straightforward account of the relatively humble origins of the British pop music scene in the 1960s. The film’s touching moments speak to the solidarity and generosity of spirit that characterized working class Liverpool at that time.

Because the music was an organic part of life, it would have never occurred to Freda to cash in on her “dream job.” It is Kelly, with her many fascinating stories told with modesty and authenticity, that makes the documentary so endearing. She is cast from solid stuff, truly uninterested in celebrity and ego-boosting. Many friends and even family members were unaware of her unusual past: that, at one time, she was the world’s most envied clerical worker.

In a recent interview with the Daily Beast, Freda was asked what she hoped would be achieved with the film. “Clear the debt,” she said, speaking about the cost of making the film. “Seriously, I would like to walk away and have everyone get paid for what they’ve done, because they’ve all worked for nothin’ and worked flippin’ hard. They’ve worked so many hours, and you should be paid however much an hour—not a fantastic rate, but the going wage!”

26 thoughts on “Beatles’ secretary in documentary film

  1. Pingback: Everly Brother Phil dies | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: Louis Armstrong in jazz history | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: George Harrison Beatle tree killed by beetles | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  4. Pingback: British rock music history and the New Musical Express | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  5. Pingback: Japanese young people against militarism | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  6. Pingback: Top 2000 songs in the Netherlands | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  7. Pingback: Beatles producer George Martin dies | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  8. Pingback: Ringo Starr against homophobia in North Carolina, USA | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  9. Pingback: Rolling Stones say Trump, stop abusing our music | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  10. Pingback: NATO boss praises Turkish war in Syria | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  11. Pingback: British Conservative David Cameron, buh bye! | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  12. Pingback: British 1970s punk rock | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  13. Pingback: Trump, Theresa May, Beatles parody song | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  14. Pingback: English singer-songwriter Alun Parry interviewed | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  15. Pingback: Clash punk album forty years ago commemorated | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  16. Pingback: British Labour leader at rock concert | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  17. Pingback: British artists about why they vote Labour | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  18. Pingback: British Theresa May, Trump’s climate destruction poodle | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  19. Pingback: Trump’s state visit to Britain postponed till 2018 | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  20. Pingback: Donald and Melania Trump, Beatles musical parodies | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  21. Pingback: Rock and roll singer Little Richard, RIP | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  22. Pingback: New beetle species named after Beatles | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  23. Pingback: American punk bassist Steve Soto, RIP | Dear Kitty. Some blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.