They were the biggest band in the world and she was their biggest fan. "You were there in the beginning," George Harrison told her. "You're there at the end." Freda Kelly was The Beatles' PA for more than a decade. She ran their fan club and was a trusted member of their inner circle. Yet her story has remained untold – until now.
Breaking her silence for the first time in 50 years, Ms Kelly gives a unique insight into the band she idolised. Just 16 when she saw them play at the Cavern in the early Sixties, a year later she was working for the band and part of the extended Beatles family.
Ringo Starr's mother, Elsie, "was the nearest to a mother figure for me. I just adored her." Paul McCartney's dad, "Uncle Jim", took her drinking, and George Harrison's father, Harry, taught her ballroom dancing.
As for John Lennon's aunt, Mimi: "It wasn't that you were frightened of Mimi: you just watched your p's and q's."
According to Paul McCartney's stepmother, Angie McCartney: "The Beatles saw her as a sister and the families saw her as a daughter."
Now a grandmother in her late sixties, Ms Kelly beams as she remembers having "crushes" on each of the Fab Four. But did things go any further than that? Speaking in a new documentary, Good Ol' Freda, named after a dedication by The Beatles on one of their records, she laughs: "No!" Then she quickly adds: "Pass. There are stories but I don't want anybody's hair falling out or turning curly. That's personal!" The film has its world premiere at the SWSX festival in Austin, Texas, on Saturday.
Regret at failing to answer her late son's questions about The Beatles, and wanting to leave a legacy for her two-year-old grandson, Niall, prompted Ms Kelly to speak up in the end. "I would like him to be proud of me and see how exciting my life was in the Sixties and the fun I had."
She could "visualise the devastation" after the death of the band's manager, Brian Epstein, in 1967. "He was the anchor for everything." Towards the end of the Sixties "the penny was dropping with me that we haven't got any Beatles as a group any more".
At the age of 27, pregnant with her second child, she quit and lived "a normal life like everybody else".
Still living in Liverpool, and working as a secretary, she is tearful thinking about old times. "It is shocking how many people have gone that I knew. Fame and money doesn't mean anything; all the wealth doesn't cure cancer does it? I worked with a lot of good people, I did. I loved them."
But her memories also bring a twinkle to her eyes as she declares: "I'm still a Beatle fan. So although there's a 50-year gap since I started it, I still like to think that I'm back where I was in the beginning."
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