The Interview

After 16 years in the Media & Entertainment business, Michael Manning has built a significant portfolio of newspaper, magazine, radio and television interviews ranging from actors and musicians to CEO’s in the world of business and much more.    

What distinguishes “The Interview” from many Television and Radio programs of the same genre, is that Michael chooses to casually “visit” with each Guest, (many selected from his Blogroll) as if they were having coffee at a café and just sharing conversation casually. "In this setting, my Guests are much more relaxed and encouraged to be themselves, and the result is usually having the honor of spending some quality time with someone in a more reflective mood", said Michael. "I have been on both sides of the table, and that experience has allowed me to pose questions with the utmost respect and care to my Guest  without depriving the audience of gaining a sense of their personality. In comes the warmth and often humor resulting in a meaningful experience that really stays with you for some time. And that's what the experience should be!" he said.  

 Please join Michael for his newest segment, simply called: "The Interview".

Saturday, August 15, 2009

THE INTERVIEW: BEATLES' PRODUCER & AUTHOR KEN MANSFIELD! (PART 3)





Ken with George Harrison

...with Paul McCartney

...and of course Ringo Starr!
Manning: I found it amusing that you had to borrow a suit for the interview at Capitol Records. For those who are reading about this for the first time, tell us how this came about?
-
Mansfield: I kept getting called back because the competition for this job was so stiff ,and I didn't have any clothes. I mean, I was just out of college and I had a Folk club and was a Folk singer and I certainly wasn't going to church. So, I didn't need anything for that. My buddy's father was a very wealthy San Diego surgeon and they were out on a European trip, so he took me to his father's closet and there were all these thousand-dollar suits and all of this jewelry, watches and cuff links and tie tacks and all that kind of stuff. He just dressed me up for my interview. Unfortunately, his father was heavier than I was and shorter than I was. So, I had to fold in and double fold the pants and wear them kind of low so they would come down far enough. I had to kind of hold the jacket. But it looked pretty good as long as I didn't move! They kept calling me back, and I would have to go with another outfit. I like to say that I got my job with somebody else's clothes.
-
Manning: As I read on, it was a bit overwhelming to me to think of you entering The Beatles' inner sanctum. I can't even imagine what that must have been like. Could you share some of that with us? What was it like to, ultimately, enter The Beatles inner sanctum?
-
Mansfield: Well, the thing that made it possible for me is that when I worked with them for the first time, I worked with them as the District Promotion Manager for Capitol Records on the West Coast. That was my responsibility with the band when they came to the area. First of all, I was an American executive with Capitol Records and that gave me credit with them. But they had grown up being fascinated with California. Here I was, the typical tanned, young hot-shot guy who started to let his hair grow, with a Cadillac convertible and the home up in the Hollywood hills with a pool. I was everything they ever read about! I had a single life back then. In a funny way, they were just as fascinated with me as I was fascinated with them--with their funny way that they said things and I said things like a Californian. Secondly, they were pretty taken with me that I was their age and that everybody else they worked with in the industry was a Chairman of the Board at EMI or Lord of EMI, president of Capitol or whatever. They felt comfortable with me and we got to spend on the first trip...they had a day off and they just wanted to know more about California. They invited me up to the house that they rented to spend time around the pool and stuff. When they came back the next year, we got to work together again and it was comfortable. So, when it came time to set up their record company (Apple) I was the executive they knew in America. They had a pretty high impression of me and they felt comfortable with me. I'm the guy they selected because they really didn't know anybody else except maybe some old fart. When they sent for me, at that point in my career, I just thought that I was as big a deal as they were. I wasn't intimidated by them. I didn't quite understand why they were so big. I knew they were big, I just didn't quite get it. So, I wasn't in awe of them and I wasn't nervous around them. George would store his guitars at my house and all the Capitol guys would stay at my house with a pool and the big house up in the Hollywood Hills. And it was just a natural kind of thing that we were in it together. I didn't think that much of it. As time evolved, there was levels of being in their inner circle--and I found myself on one of the inner circles. There was a couple of circles inside that I wasn't in--that would be the original guys like Neil (Aspinall) and Mal (Evans)--the guys they grew up with. At some point I was really in there to the point where they could talk to me about personal things.

Manning: Ken, for the benefit of my readers who may not be familiar, and correct me if I'm wrong. You're referencing producer Neil Aspinall and The Beatles' road manager Mal Evans?

-
Mansfield: That's right.

-
Manning: Okay. Ken, you'll have to forgive me here, because there is simply no way that I can avoid asking you this question. You knew each of The Beatles as friends. Could you give us a thumbnail sketch of each member of the group? You write that John Lennon was the more complicated of the four?
-
Mansfield: Yeah. John was the one I felt that I never got to know because he was rough on me all the time, and was always yelling at me and expecting so much of me. I never felt like he really felt like I was doing what I was supposed to be doing for them. Later on, when he died, Ron Kass who was president of Apple, told me that John was the one that liked me best...

Manning: ...Oh, my.

Mansfield:... and the reason that he was like that was because he trusted me. And then I understood, because he didn't have to bullshit me. He just cut through the bull and just told me what he was thinking and what he expected, what he liked and didn't like and he was just being straight up with me. That was just his nature.
-
Paul was like the most popular kid in high school. Everything seemed to revolve around what Paul thought--not badly--it was like, he was the one with all the ideas. It seemed like every project we did was because Paul had come up with it, and that Paul was the guy who kept it going. Paul would just wear you out! I mean. I went out with him at night and I'd have to beg off and go home, and I'm tired. I'm driving with one of the most famous people in the world and I'm just hanging out. But gee, gosh! You could only keep up with that guy for so long.
-
Ringo was just easy. He and I had the longest relationship. He was the most common, in a way, just the simplest, easy one to be with.
-
Having said that, George was the one that I really felt the closest to because of George's spiritual bent. He was just so pleasing to me and so gentle, and so caring and so kind, just so soft. And I would have all this responsibility. But I used to get the feeling that George was taking care of me instead of me taking care of him. Each was very individual, very individual.
-
Manning: There's a lighter note in your book that I just loved. You describe a rather humorous Thanksgiving where Ringo Starr payed a surprise visit to your home and to several of your friends--to of all things--carve a Turkey and then leave! This made for some great laughter about Ringo. Would you mind sharing a little of that for someone who hasn't picked up the book yet?
-
Mansfield: Well, you know Ringo afterward lived in L.A. for years. That was his favorite residence. And there was just a group of us. It was a very small, tight group of people that hung out together like Harry Nilsson, and a bunch of us that they had long, old relationships with. It was a very tight group that was very comfortable with each other. And we'd just hang and he was always a Beatle. That particular Thanksgiving...and Ringo and I had a tradition of spending every New Years Eve together for years. We would either have it at his house or my house, or this other fellow's house. It was just a tradition with us. But anyway, on that Thanksgiving, there were a handful--probably only three or four of us that invited Ringo over for Thanksgiving dinner. He just didn't feel that he could pick one of us and forget the others. He just got a bone handled English carving set, you know, just a beautiful carving set. So, he decided to just ask each one of us what time we were going to have our Turkey served. And in a couple of cases, we had to adjust our time a little bit and he just said, "I'll come over and carve the Turkey for your guests". So, we had about twelve people there and nobody knew and he comes in with his carving set. The Cook brings the Turkey out, sets it on the table and Ringo just says hello to everybody and starts carving the Turkey and putting it on our plates (laughter). When he was done serving everybody, he took a glass and toasted everybody, takes his carving set and leaves!
-
Manning: That's funny! You know, I've seen him a couple of times with his All Starr Band and I've just always enjoyed that experience. Are you still in touch? Are you still friends today?
-
Mansfield: You know, a couple of years ago--we hadn't seen each other in quite a while--and I was just a guest at one of those shows, and backstage we had a hard time keeping a conversation going. And here's two people who had real history. We'd gone through our up's and down's together, and wives together, and the drug scene, and messing up our lives, and getting our lives back together. I represented him later in the 90's and helped him bring his career back. I mean, we had so much history together! And yet, because we hadn't seen each other for years and now I'm in the ministry and he's still rockin' and after, you know--'How's Barbara (Bach) doing?' and 'Man. you know, how are you doing?' I think we'd just look at each other and it was uncomfortable.
-
Manning: Oh!...
-
Mansfield: ..I think for both of us. And to me it was like we had just gone our separate ways and just nothing bad, I don't know. It was very strange! Very strange.
-
Manning: My oldest brother and I were reminiscing about our late father coming to America through Ellis Island and my brother said to me, 'Back then, you could basically just get a job and eventually make it in America'. And those words came back to me when I was reading your book, because you had a similar quote where you write: 'Back then, you used to have a dream and just go for it. Talent and imaginings could come off the street with heart and a handshake and become famous'. How is that different, Ken, from today's crowded music scene? And what are your observations about today's artists and the music you hear?
-
Mansfield: Well, what was possible then is not possible now. Because now, you have to have a whole consortium behind you. You have to have had a lot of prior history in terms of experiencing making your own records and prove that you can sell records and you can sell out auditoriums, and you have to have a manager and an agent and you have to have money behind you and all that. It's all become big business! It's all accountants and attorneys. The groups are no longer...in a lot of cases...like we were in those days, we picked each other because we liked each other and we liked what we did. And we had a history together in other ways. But you know, now groups are manufactured a lot where they pick a guy from St. Louis with a low voice and a guy from Chicago with a high voice and you pick, maybe some good looking guys for the girls and they just fabricate these groups. And even though these groups are making good records, they never last. But the Stones and The Beatles and all these people are still out there performing in the geriatric stage of their life. It's because they were real people! They were put together because we loved the music...
-
Manning: ...Absolutely, yeah!
-
Mansfield: ...We would have done it for free, you know? So, there's a different mind set about the whole thing. Now it's a way for the Black kid to get out of the ghetto. It's a way for a White kid to get a Mercedes, just a way to make money and become famous. Almost everybody I knew back then, we were startled when we became successes! It wasn't our main goal. Our main goal was to make music! And then all of a sudden, all of this stiff starts happening. It was confusing to us, for the most part. The music business today? ...As successful as I was for so many years, I couldn't even begin to be successful these days because I just don't have that mind set.
-
Manning: And the music being made today...do you stay current, Ken?

-
Mansfield: I do, I do. And from the standpoint that I really like what's happening with the Alternative bands these days because I can hear the influence of maybe five or six bands from the past in there.
-
Manning: Oh, really?
-
Mansfield: Yes! I hear it as influence and not as copying. I hear it as music they grew up with. You know, riding in the car with their Dad and Mom was making breakfast and playing her music. I hear this music being part of them. They're picking up on things that they've gathered over the years. I mean I hear a lot of creativity. The fact that they can't get a record deal done like they used to and they have to go their avenues. And the young, Alternative bands are returning a little bit more to what we were like in a way. So, I find it very crazy. The only problem I find is I'll hear a band...I'll hear a record that knocks me out! But I can never remember the name of the band because I never hear another record by them. It's very seldom. I just heard a band that did a song on, So You Think You Can Dance? and they're called Blue October. I loved the song. I'm curious to see if I can hear anything else by them.
-
Manning: Yeah, I'm reminded of Hoobastank and their hit, 'The Reason' (2004). And I never did hear anything after that. (The group actually had two additional hits: 'Crawling in the Dark' and Running Away'). Not long ago, I wrote a Blog about what it was like for me sitting in the second row at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas at a Tom Jones concert. with some young guys from Wales. And he managed to pull off his own arrangement of 'The Reason', and the place went nuts! He was that good, I mean--a standing ovation.
-
Mansfield: Yeah.
-
Manning: I have the CD from that band (Hoobastank) but then, nothing.
-
Mansfield: Well, yeah.
-
Manning: Do you find that there are friendships with those people who were part of your career before you found God? Are those friendships still intact now that you're into your ministry?
-
Mansfield: I found that when I became a Christian, I felt that all of those past relationships would go away, that they wouldn't like me anymore. But what I found instead was a sense of respect that I really didn't lose any friends. If I did lose them it was just because they were so out there that they actually rejected me. But that was not the main thing. I found that I didn't lose any friends. It was a sense of 'Oh, Ken's got it together now. That's cool.'
-
Manning: A sort of relief.
-
Mansfield: They respected the choice I made. Like Glen Campbell. Glen and I were crazy back in the old days, but it was a double-edged sword. We were really able to share our faith together, which was really neat. But it's real special in that way. And I've had some of my old rocker friends come up to me and just say, 'There's something different about you now. What is it, you know?' (laughter)...they didn't know that I was saved. They just knew there was something different about me. I liked that a lot. And I was able to witness to them .
-
My amazing visit with Ken Mansfield concludes this Sunday. His new book is called "Between Wyomings: My God and an Ipod on the Open Road" and it's very cool. We'll be back here Sunday for some final thoughts from Ken. Stay with us!


HOME | PHOTOS | ABOUT | NEWS | REEL | BLOG | CONTACT

All contents © 2008 Michael Manning All Rights Reserved

Website designed and maintained by Jason Buckley