Chauffeur who became Beatles insider dies at 75

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Alf Bicknell was an insider with the Beatles at a time when the four young men from Liverpool truly shook the world.

Alf Bicknell was an insider with the Beatles at a time when the four young men from Liverpool truly shook the world.

He had been their driver only a few days when John Lennon grabbed his chauffeur's hat and flung it out of the car, saying: "You don't need that any more Alf, you're one of us now." He went on to inspire the band to write "Baby You Can Drive My Car".

It was the end of an era for fans of the Fab Four yesterday as Mr Bicknell, aged 75, died at the Oxford home he shared with his wife. A former promoter for the band, Sam Leach, paid tribute to the former driver who was among a handful of people who witnessed Beatlemania first hand. "Alf was a big teddy bear of a man who will be much missed," he said. "I'll always remember his sincere pleasure when talking about the Beatles."

Mr Bicknell was 34 when he was employed in 1964 as the official driver of their prized Austin Princess - registration SST 626 - a position he kept until the group stopped touring three years later.

The job got off to a rocky start when he had to flee the press after picking up the band from a photo session in Earl's Court. "In my rush to lose everyone I took a corner fast and George banged his head and lost his rag," he said in an earlier interview. "I thought that was it - that my days as the Beatles' driver were over before they'd begun. But George laughed and everything was fine."

But Mr Bicknell was forced to pay the price of the band's fame on a number of occasions. He was caught up in the infamous fracas in Manila during the 1966 world tour, and in Memphis, when the band received a death threat after Lennon remarked that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus, he had to crawl under the stage to check out a bomb threat.

In his post-Beatles days, Mr Bicknell worked as a chauffeur until a chainsaw accident in 1980. He shared his Beatles experiences in books and videos and attended fan conventions. He once said: "I love talking about them. It makes me feel warm inside."

Comments