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DEVIN McKINNEY • Written in November 2002, cut from the Magic Circles discography:
The Star-Club material has been reshuffled and reissued in a variety of forms over the years, none odder than that of 1962 Live at Star Club in Hamburg, issued in 2000 on the Walters label. Two dozen of the Star-Club songs (including most of the finest, and in the best available sound) are packaged with a booklet of notes authored by someone calling himself Gary Michael Walters—an individual whose bona fides are never offered, but for whom the label is presumably named. The first hint something might be a bit off is that the Beatles’ name is printed just once on the outer box, in tiny lettering. Clearly Walters means to trade on the Star-Club legend without incurring the legal wrath of the Beatles’ protectors.
Go inside the box, and you find a little dream world. In his notes, Walters tells of one George McIndoe, “a vagabond child of the sixties” whose travels took him to Hamburg just in time to hear, meet, and become a close ally of the Beatles. Those of cynical bent might wonder why there are no pictures of McIndoe then or now, or direct quotes from the man himself; or why, although he supposedly took many pictures of the Beatles with “his trusty Leika camera,” the booklet reproduces none of them—only a few of the more familiar Hamburg shots by Jurgen Vollmer and Astrid Kirchherr.
Walters goes on to claim that it was McIndoe, not the legendary King Size Taylor or the more recently-rumored Adrian Barber, who recorded these performances. This bold bit of invention is then filled out by Walters’s interview with a fellow named Tom Larkin. Larkin counts himself an intimate of the mysterious McIndoe, claiming the latter told him of the existence of these tapes in 1993. Larkin didn’t elect to release them until 1997, when he met our modest chronicler Gary Michael Walters, whom he knew “would treat these historic tapes with the respect they deserved.” (On the basis of what? Who is he?) The rather stupefying McIndoe saga and Larkin revelations are followed by a set of song lyrics—some accurate, some clearly transcribed by an auditor for whom English is not the first, or any, language. (The opening stanza of Tommy Roe’s “Sheila” looks like this: “She’s little, she’s my own Sheila/ You’re the only tailed/ It’s so long just to just make you my own/ How can I send the love this while.”)
It is all most bizarre. “I’m sure this will be an exciting project,” Larkin is quoted in regard to the history-making Star-Club release. Indeed it was—back in 1977, when it actually happened. Gary Michael Walters, whoever he is, has managed to construct a fantasy in a box and market it through major outlets. This incomprehensible item with its whole-cloth rewrite of history is available at Amazon.com this very moment, accompanied by several customer reviews—only one of which points out the bogus nature of the whole enterprise. Only one? Walters may already have succeeded at writing himself into Beatle history.
You don’t know whether to say “What a nerve” or “More power.” Either way, what do we have here but more mything in action?
Postscript, 2009: This item is still listed at Amazon, now long out of print but easily obtainable. And a couple more reviewers take care to puncture the Walters-McIndoe-Larkin ruse, with one clever Dick suggesting “George McIndoe” as a take-off from “John Doe.” (Any anagramologists out there willing to take a crack at these names?)
Post-postscript, 2013: Read the comments below to find how some of this shook out—then draw your own conclusions, or none at all.
A cursory web search reveals that John McIndoe (b. 1948) was the British singer/guitarist/actor best known in U.S. for his role as “IQ” in the Bugaloos (I loved that TV show). He was cast for the role in 1969, beating out one Phil Collins, but before that, he was working with Beatles’ publicist Brian Summervile and also sang lead in band under the Apple label.
John has a brother named George, who incidentally was one of the producers for the recent film, “The Bank Job”. However, it’s unclear whether George McIndoe is older or younger than John, but John would’ve been 14 at the time of the Star Club recording.
It seems there is a possibility, however remote, that George McIndoe was at the Star Club in 1962. No? Maybe we can send him an email to settle this…
This is all quite fascinating (read this story from the “Telegraph” before you read the rest):
Consider that, with “The Bank Job,” George McIndoe (different one? same one?) is asserting another imaginative tale of cloudy veracity, pivoting like the Star-Club fairy tale on his own proximity to notorious people and deep secrets.
Consider too that a key figure in McIndoe’s tale is Michael X — pimp, crime boss, Black Power messiah, and executed murderer whose cause was briefly taken up by John and Yoko, among other celebrities. (They cut their hair to raise money for his Black House commune, a year or so before the murder charge.)
Consider finally that in the Telegraph article, as in the Star-Club notes, there are references galore to Mr. McIndoe’s assertions (“claims to have met at least two of the real-life robbers”: what does that mean, “at least two”?), but not a single quote from McIndoe himself. In neither case does the writer of the present account appear to have met the man; in both, he is the shadowy intermediary between a piece of hidden history and those who present it to the public.
Even if the “Bank Job” tale is true (which at least one person directly involved refutes), obviously the Star-Club narrative is false. Which makes it likelier to me that the two Georges are, in fact, one, and that the movie is every bit as fictitious. Yet it leaves me wondering, even more than before, who Mr. McIndoe is and what his game(s) might be.
Could different people be appropriating the same nom de mysterie? Is “George McIndoe” a name people use when they wish to obscure their own involvement, like “Alan Smithee”?
Anyway, it makes me curious to see “The Bank Job,” the heist-by-tunnel-from-adjacent-shop scenario of which recalls the identical centerpiece of “Sexy Beast,” a great little UK crime movie from 2000.
That is a tremendous photo of Ringo–where’d you find it?
Not for sure but it probably came from The Beatle Photo Blog (http://beatlephoto.blogspot.com), for nearly four years an apparently bottomless source of new and amazing images from earliest days to latest. You could spend hours lost in its archives.
Added to the “Links” section. Really great stuff there. Did those guys EVER take a bad picture?
I know George and his brother John and Johns wife. They are indeed real and did hang with the Beatles from what I can tell. I have seen LOTS of paraphernalia and photos including early pictures of other newbies of the day like Steve Winwood…But nevertheless, George’s life is still a bit mysterious…
Questions…I can write you directly if you post some kind of way to.
By all means, we’d like to know more about George and would be happy to set the record straight (to the degree he will reveal it). First questions, off the top of my head:
1) Why are no photos by George included in the Walters Hamburg box?
2) If he has memorabilia, memories, photos, etc. relevant to the Beatles’ early days, why haven’t we heard more about him (outside the box, as it were)? Clearly he is not entirely averse to being known and having his stories in circulation; why not allow some independent verification?
3) Why did George lend his name to a story of the Hamburg tapes that is so obviously fabricated?
I don’t mean to sound pugnacious–we’re just a curiosity blog, not “60 Minutes”–but you gotta admit there’s a lot here to be curious about.
Reply to email@example.com and one of our trained operatives will be in touch.
Just a side note:
Last April, I sent an email to Bill Ung, webmaster of Tranquility Forest, the world famous Bugaloos fansite. I asked him if he could contact John to ask him if his brother George was in Hamburg in 1962 with the Beatles. Bill wrote back that he had forwarded the question on, but I haven’t heard from him either way.
Well, since this thread has been rekindled, I went back to Tranquility Forest. On the chat board, I noticed that John McIndoe had responded to a fan query as recently as Jan 12. Seeing this, I decided to post my own question about John’s brother George.
For anyone who’s interested, here’s the website: http://www.bugaloos.com/
Hopefully we hear back this time.
AN OPEN LETTER TO BEATLES FANS:
THIS INFORMATION IS TO CLEAR UP ONCE AND FOR ALL THE MISINFORMATION SURROUNDING THAT EVENT.
I was in Hamburg during that time I was driving a friend who was a photographer around because he did not drive. I myself was driving with a “Forged” license because I was underage.
He was covering youth culture in post war Germany for a magazine. we spent a lot of time taking pictures of the various Beat Clubs in and around Hamburg, at that time a lot of English bands were very popular and played at the STAR PLATZ…. we spent a lot of time in the club taking pictures of the kids and there reaction to the bands. I remember hanging out and taking some photo’s of the club and the various bands, but mostly the kids. The night the Beatles played the clubs sound engineer and stage manager Adrian Barber recorded the session I think it was on a TANBERG reel to reel tape recorder, a copy was given to a singer called KING SIZE TAYLOR (He was a bit over weight.) also Tony Sheridan’s road manager got a copy. I Had a small PHILLIPS portable reel to reel, and made a 1.78 ips copy. We stayed on to finish the photo assignment, I remember years latter at APPLE someone came and tryed to sell George Harrison the tapes. They later turned up as a BOOTLEG in Germany around 1972.
When I was living in California some Lawyer and a bussiness person removed a bad cassette copy of the tapes and put them out on CD with some stupid made up story that used my name.
In short I never recorded the “SESSION” the story has been distorted over the years by people who were never there.
I have never exploited my Friendship, relationships or sold out, or gossiped about my friends…I have turned down money interviews,trust is a thing I value and would never break it.
Hello Devin If you would email me your phone I think I can clear up the George McIndoe mysterie, a friend on my web site http://www.bugaloos.com contacted me with this. Best Regards John McIndoe