Glyn Johns is a fashion favorite in “The Beatles: Get Back”
“It’s just squeaky,” said Glyn Johns, the sound engineer and producer who plays a leading role in “The Beatles: Get Back,” Peter Jackson’s marathon documentary series about the fateful sessions of the Beatles in 1969 which culminated in “Let It Be”.
Mr. Johns wasn’t talking about the nearly eight-hour series, which critics and fans alike considered a landmark TV event, but the Austin Powers outfits his 26-year-old self carries him throughout. “I look like a goddamn clown,” he added.
It’s not easy to stand out in a documentary featuring four of the 20th century’s most famous characters. But with his flair for accessories and cool skinny pants, Mr. Johns has found a new set of appreciators half a century after the fact.
For Mr. Johns, 79, the experience was fun – up to a point.
“I’m fed up now, I’ll tell you,” he laughed on a phone call from his home in Chichester, England. “I have 9,000 emails and texts from people in my past, all taking the Mickey mercilessly.”
“Some people say, ‘Oh, the jacket you wore on Day X was fantastic’ or ‘Where did you find the goatskin coat? But in general they laugh at how ridiculous I looked, which is of course true.
Mr. Johns was hardly the only peacock during those fateful weeks, as The Beatles struggled to overcome their differences and return to their roots with a no-frills rock n ‘roll album, accompanied, in theory, by a special televised concert.
What you need to know about “The Beatles: Get Back”
Peter Jackson’s seven-hour documentary series, which explores the most contested period in the group’s history, is available on Disney Plus.
While John Lennon and Paul McCartney generally appeared to be dressed for comfort, befitting long hours of studio work, Ringo Starr showed up to a shoot in a lime green striped suit with a forest green musketeer shirt. George Harrison wore a similar ensemble in pink and purple. (Fashion sites, including W and Marie Claire, have offered guides on how to purchase the looks in “Get Back”.)
In such an endeavor, it’s a little surprising that Mr. Johns has garnered so much attention. He was already an industry heavyweight, who would later become the go-to sound man for The Who, Eric Clapton, the Eagles and many more. But at that time, Mr. Johns was anything but a Beatles insider. He was associated with the Rolling Stones, with whom he had worked since the early days. In fact, when the Beatles first contacted him, he was dubious.
“I was home on a very rare night off and the phone rang, and the person on the other end of the line announced himself with a Liverpudlian accent as Paul McCartney,” he said. -he declares. Mr. Johns thought it was Mick Jagger playing a joke, so he told him to get lost, albeit in more salty language.
“And of course there was silence on the other end of the phone,” added Johns. “He did it all over again and I thought, ‘Oh, that is Paul McCartney, Jesus Christ! “
The influence of the Stones fashion on Mr. Johns is undeniable. “I remember Brian Jones took me to a store on Carnaby Street once, and we bought stuff,” he said. “I remember Mick gave me a fabulous shirt.”
“The coolest thing I think I wore in the movie was the Levi crocodile jacket, which was actually given to me by Keith Richards,” he added. “We were in Paris, and Keith had this jacket made for him in France, and it had been delivered to the hotel. He took it out of the wrapper, put it on and said, ‘Here you have it, I don’t want it.’ I have no idea what happened to him. May be I gave it.
He also doesn’t remember where he got the goatskin coat that viewers haunted viewers, although he does remember how it smelled after a rainstorm.
“I vividly remember standing in line for a plane wearing this coat, and the people in front of and behind me walked away from me because it really stank,” Johns said. “And of course back then, if you had long hair, you were suspect anyway.”
Fans rightly praise Mr. Johns ‘look in the film as the epitome of cool’ 60s British rocker, and the sartorial whimsy he (and various Beatles at various times) display in “Get Back” has all the time. color and exuberance of the peak – psychedelic moment.
By 1969, however, rock was taking a harsher and darker turn, as evidenced by the Rolling Stones’ “Let it Bleed” and Led Zeppelin’s self-titled debut album (which Mr. Johns worked on), not to mention the songs of the Rolling Stones. Beatles like, yes, “Come Back”.
The Beatles’ public image was starting to reflect this. For the cover photo of “Abbey Road”, taken on August 8 of the same year (coincidentally, the same day that four members of the Manson family visited Sharon Tate’s house in Los Angeles), Mr. McCartney and Mr. Starr went for dark navy and black, Mr. Lennon slate white and Mr. Harrison, “gravedigger” denim – at least according to the viral Paul-is-dead conspiracy theory of the day.
The Beatles also didn’t seem to get carried away for their last public appearance on a London rooftop – the climax of “Get Back”.
No more Technicolor satins. Mr. McCartney was essentially dressed for the office in a dark black three-piece suit and an open-necked shirt. Mr. Lennon, in sneakers, and Mr. Starr went minimalist in black on black, although the former wore a fur coat borrowed from Yoko Ono and the latter, his wife Maureen’s bright red raincoat, presumably for protection. winter cold. George Harrison looked somewhat festive, if a bit thrifty chic, in bright green pants and a Mongolian lamb fur coat resembling a grizzly bear. And then, of course, there was the ubiquitous Ms. Ono herself, in her ubiquitous darkness.
One mainstream analysis was that The Beatles had stopped airing showbiz tunes by then because they were arguing over money and management, and were heading for a breakup. This view became canonical after the release of “Let It Be”, the dark 1970 documentary by Michael Lindsay-Hogg, which plays a leading role in “Get Back,” and captured the hours of never-before-seen footage that appear in the series.
For Mr. Johns and many others, “Let It Be” has all the joy of divorce proceedings.
“It’s horrible, terrible,” Mr. Johns said of the previous film. “I remember we had a great time and everyone got along really well. The fact that George left the band for 24 hours is no different from any other band I’ve worked with, or anyone who works in an office. People who work together for years fall out and come to terms with each other. It’s normal.”
He would never have guessed that The Beatles were heading for a split.
“The four of them had had this gigantic experience, from the moment they were unknown, to become four of the most famous people in the world,” he said. “There was this huge bond between them. They were like family, really.
He remembers much less what he was wearing and why.
“Look, mate, that was 50 years ago, how can I remember?” Mr. Johns laughed. “Everyone has their own style, I guess. But I was busy working.