Sixties City presents a wide-ranging series of articles on all aspects of the Sixties, penned by the creator of the iconic 60s music paper  Mersey Beat

The Cutting Edge - Leslie Cavendish


BH: They are memories from quite a long time ago, why did you wait so long to write your biography?

LC: The reason I decided to write the book now was because I lived through an important time in history "The sixties" where everything was changing which included music/fashion/hair and all the important social changes that was happening at that time. I was also lucky to have been involved with Vidal Sassoon with his geometric haircuts and The Beatles who experimented with all different styles of music. Don't forget I was a BIG Beatles fan so to me It was like winning the Beatles Lottery.

I was taught at Vidal Sassoon that the best way was to keep quiet and listen and not ask to many questions and that was why when I met Jane/Paul I just got on with my work and never bothered them with autographs and asking for locks of hair and Beatles questions etc. I have kept quiet for a long time and I felt now was the time to let people know what an amazing journey I was on through that period of change and also my magical time with THE FAB 4, so I have now put it all down in my book THE CUTTING EDGE.

BH: How did you go about finding a publisher? Did you do it prior to writing or when you finished the book?

LC: I had the story to tell as I have a good memory and many press cuttings letting me know that I wasn't dreaming it. I found the publisher "Alma Books" after I had contacted many publishing houses who all said it was a good story but... I met Lorenzo who is a book agent (Book on Tree), he read the synopsis and decided that it was a story that had to be told as it was different to any he had read about life with the Beatles and the culture of the sixties. He then got in touch with Alma books and they thought that it would make a good read and they believed in it and so it was published on August 21st, 2017.


BH: You had two collaborators. What help and suggestions did they provide?

LC: I had met Neil McNaughton at my tennis club who is also a writer. As we are of a similar age I told him about my book and how I wanted to expand it so it wasn't just about The Beatles but of the culture change that happened at the same time. He was born in Liverpool and his local club was The Cavern so he was perfect as he knew where I was coming from. We then went through it bit by bit and expanded the story so we could take the reader on a journey rather than just stating facts. Eduardo Jauregui is a British born writer who lives in Spain and it was my agency Book On Tree who has worked with him before was asked him to look at the final draft and to iron out the creases which he did and now 'The Cutting Edge' was ready to be published.

BH: The publicity so far has been really good, can you outline the promotion you have had to date?

LC: I have been doing many events and also newspaper/radio and TV to promote the book. Whitechapel Library-Oldham Library-Home Guard Barnes-The Book Club Shoreditch-The Club at The Ivy(London) -TV documentary at the Sassoon Academy-Gulf Radio-Talk radio Spain-Litchfield festival-German Beatles Convention-Daily Express and a few other news publications, and I have been asked to go to New York in March for the Fest for Beatles to do a Q/A and book promotion as the book will be published in March 2018 in the USA.

BH: Who are some of other the Sixties stars who were your clients?

LC: I have cut The Dave Clark 5, The Who, The Bee Gees, Tony Curtis, James Taylor, Bob Weir, Peter Cook, Jane Asher and many Apple recording artists, Linda McCartney, Suzanna Leigh, James Hunt, Lance Percival, Sir Stirling Moss and their wives and girlfriends, Robert Stigwood and many DJs from the BBC Emperor Rosco, Stuart Henry, Ashton, Gardener and Dyke. Terry Stamp and brother Chris, and not forgetting the Apple staff.

BH:
Let potential readers know how Jane Asher led to you becoming the Beatles......


LC: Jane Asher was a client of mine and one Saturday morning after cutting her hair she asked if I was doing anything this afternoon because if not could I go around to their house and cut the boyfriend's hair. I knew her boyfriend was Paul McCartney so of course I said yes and after her saying that's good she said "what time is convenient for you" so I said about 6pm (I had gone to football to see QPR v Swindon we won 3-1) and she said that time is fine, I asked where do you live and she said 7 Cavendish Ave (next to my second favorite sporting place Lords cricket ground) ,I said that's really strange because that's my surname. Jane said to me "well maybe it was meant " and it was.


BH: There are some very good anecdotes, relate the one about the John Lennon baldness story.....

LC: I was asked to do an interview for Disc magazine and the journalist was also a client of mine. So, we went to the Picasso cafe in the Kings Road and she asked me about the texture of the Beatles hair, I hadn't realized that she was up to something and because I thought I was Jack the Lad (street wise) I just went along with it. "What about Paul's hair ?" she said. His hair is in good condition and he has also a good head of hair. George - very good hair and it's quite thick. Ringo - his hair is also thick and good to work with. John - his hair is ok ..... mmmmmmmmmmmmm. She picked up on that, so would you say if any of The Beatles in years to come was going to lose their hair I suppose it would be John? I hesitated and said, "Well if you say it like that I suppose that could happen." Then we just carried on for a bit and then the interview was over. A few days later I get a call from Derek Taylor (Beatles press officer) at 11pm at night and as I picked it up I knew something was wrong as he wouldn't call at that time unless it was important."

"What have you said to the press?" I replied I don't know what you mean. So why are they saying that Beatles hairdresser Leslie Cavendish says that Lennon is going bald? In the morning I bought the papers and yes, there it was 'BEATLES HAIRDRESSER SAYS JOHN LENNON IS GOING BALD'. I knew when I went to work that morning Lennon was going to call me and after about 1 hour the phone rang and it was John Lennon. As I answered it I could tell it was his voice because he said in that John Liverpool accent "Leslie", with that I just said I'm sorry about this but they took it out of context and I blabbered on for at least 1 or 2 minutes just saying I didn't say it. Lennon then interrupted my pathetic apology and said "Don't tell me about the f-----g press taking things out of context - look what they did to me saying that I said The Beatles are bigger than Jesus Christ", With that he stopped and said "Am I really going f-----g bald?". Again I said no "well you better come over now just in case it starts to fall out". I then went over to Saville Row and met him and trimmed the ends of his hair. He could have been really uptight with me but he wasn't and it showed he had a sense of humour."


Also see: Sixties City 'Fashion - Hair'

The Cutting Edge: The Story of the Beatles' Hairdresser Who Defined an Era
Leslie Cavendish
He was the hairdresser of The Beatles and many more 60s celebrities including The Bee Gees, The Who, James Taylor, Peter Cook, Terence Stamp, Bob Weir of The Grateful Dead, Crosby, Stills and Nash. Leslie's fascinating first hand account (which he has waited fifty years to tell) includes anecdotes from the drug-fuelled insanity at Apple Corp, Leslie's experiences on the Magical Mystery Tour's psychedelic bus, how one of Leslie's haircuts changed rock and roll history, leading directly to the creation of the groundbreaking Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, behind the scenes portraits of John, Paul, George and Ringo, at home, in the recording studio and in town, and why Leslie never kept a single lock of the Beatles' valuable hair (one of John Lennon's locks was recently auctioned for £25,000 pounds!)
The publication of this book coincides with the start of the most important fifty-year anniversary of the Beatles and of the 60s counterculture. Containing unpublished photographs, the book was printed in August 2017 for release in September 2017 (Alma Books 9781846884313 14.99 Hardback).




Mersey Beat Magazine Bill Harry attended the Liverpool College of Art with Stuart Sutcliffe and John Lennon and made the arrangements for Brian Epstein to visit The Cavern, where he saw The Beatles for the first time. Bill was a member of 'The Dissenters' and the founder and editor of 'Mersey Beat', the iconic weekly music newspaper that documented the early Sixties music scene in the Liverpool area and is possibly best known for being the first periodical to feature a local band called 'The Beatles'. He has worked as a high powered publicist, doing PR for acts such as Suzi Quatro, Free, The Arrows and Hot Chocolate and has managed press campaigns for record labels such as CBS, EMI, Polydor. Bill is the critically acclaimed author of a large number of books about The Beatles and the 60s era including 'The Beatles Who's Who', 'The Best Years of the Beatles' and the Fab Four's 'Encyclopedia' series. He has appeared on 'Good Morning America' and has received a Gold Award from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors.


Article Bill Harry 2017               Original Graphics SixtiesCity 2017

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