Molly Meldrum salutes The Beatles on VH1

Update: following pressure from Daryl Somers, Seven has reversed its decision to not allow Molly Meldrum to appear on the Hey Hey It's Saturday reunion specials on Nine. Firstly, for visualisation purposes is your hat on?

Molly Meldrum: Yes, the hat is on. Great. You're saluting The Beatles on VH1 on Saturday 5th Sept. Can you tell us a bit about it?

Meldrum: It's 24 hours and it's on the 5th, this coming weekend and it's called The Beatles: A Day in the Life. We go through the whole Beatles history. We go through The Beatles record collection itself with all the videos and I comment on a few of them. Then we move on to the solo careers of The Beatles with John, George, Ringo and Paul. We also have the Top Ten of The Beatles cover versions. What's been your most prominent Beatles memory?

Meldrum: Well, it's funny because before I even met The Beatles I was one of the ones outside The Southern Cross when they arrived to tour and perform in Melbourne. I was there screaming and yelling. In fact, I pretended I was one of the security guards and had my foot run over by their car and that's all on Channel Nine's footage. So I never dreamed back then that I would be meeting The Beatles let alone working with them. Yet, of course, going to London and getting The Beatles interview with John and Yoko announcing that The Beatles had split up was a major start to my career, if you call it a career I guess. Most definitely! It was actually reported that you got on top of their car when in fact it ran over your foot.

Meldrum: Yes, I was holding back the crowd pretending to be security. Little did I know back then, and the fans back then, that it was actually a decoy car so we all thought it was The Beatles in that car when in fact they left through the back entrance of the Southern Cross so the actual exercise was useless! But at the end of the day, years later you were there and you did get the scoop on The Beatles breaking up. What did you think at the time when John Lennon was saying that to you?

Meldrum: I was so nervous I have to tell you. I'd already gone to London. I'd become a record producer myself and I had the success of "The Real Thing". I went to London to work as a junior producer at The Abbey Road Studios and I also knew the guy that was looking after The Beatles after Brian Epstein and he gave me a gig also working at Saville Row, which was The Beatles headquarters, and I was there working on this particular day.

I was also working on a paper back home called "Go Set" and John and Yoko decided to do an interview with me. I used a crappy little tape recorder and they did the interview and then I dutifully sent it back to Melbourne. About a week later I had my editor call me up and say "Why didn't you call us and tell us The Beatles had broken up" and I said "have they? I don't know" and they said "What are you talking about it's in your interview" and I said "What??"

The way John put it though was that "the marriage" was over and it suddenly became world news. As you've touched on, your career has been so extensive and it has covered many facets within the entertainment world. What role whether it be music critic, record producer, TV host or journalist gives you the most personal joy and sense of achievement?

Meldrum: Definitely record producer. You know I never really wanted to be on television and as Red Symons says: "For someone that never wanted to be on television, he's been on bloody television for the last 40 years..." But no, definitely without doubt, record production. I love being in the studio for hours, days or sometimes weeks. I'm really at home with that. I'm actually working on a project now where we're doing a cover version of Fleetwood Mac's "Tusk" with two unknown singers. In terms of Australian music bands, who's exciting you at the moment?

Meldrum: There's so many that are exciting at the moment, like young girl Lisa Mitchell who got up at the Aria Hall of Fame. She's amazing. I know she was a finalist in Australian Idol in 2006 I think, but an extraordinary voice, she's got so much poise. She's a true, true talent.

There's a lot of debate all the time in the music industry about Australian Idol -- that it's useless, worthless and it's a pretender. I don't agree with that. I think there's a lot of talent that's come out over the years. Did Australian Idol approach you to replace Kyle Sandilands in a judging role?

Meldrum: I know I was ahead in the polls, but I would be useless as a judge because in my case I try to find the positives in everyone even if they are what other people say are really bad and off. I can't look at it that way so I'd be useless as a judge. And what's more, I'm also signed to Channel Seven so I can't do that, I mean I can't even do Hey Hey! That's what I wanted to ask you. Were you approached for Hey Hey! It's Saturday and are you not involved then?

Meldrum: Well at the moment no because I respect David Leckie's (who's our boss) decision in saying no and I work for Channel Seven and they're really good to me. If you could host any TV show what kind of show would it be? On Channel Seven, of course.

Meldrum: You know what my dream would be and I could never do it anyway? I would love to be a football commentator. You could imagine me being on a football show or covering the footy and I'd be going "um" and "err" when they first bounce the ball and then it would be already 10 minutes into the game and I'd still be "umming" and "erring" for god's sake. So I don't think that's my forte you know. That's funny! The Beatles Rock Band is about to be released. What part do you think these games play in the future of music?

Meldrum: A lot. I've seen these games and the effect they have is quite extraordinary. Any group I've ever interviewed have all been in awe of The Beatles, their songs and how they were structured. So therefore I think that them having a game that has the most amazing visuals can bring a whole new generation into the thinking of The Beatles and their songs and I think that's a good thing.

To see Molly Meldrum salute The Beatles watch VH1 from midnight Saturday (September 5) to midnight Sunday (September 6).

Comments (1)
Sep 10, 2009
In updated news Channel Seven has caved in to pressure from Daryl Somers regarding David Leckie's decision to say no to Molly Meldrum returning to Hey Hey It's Saturday on Channel Nine. Molly will be part of the Hey Hey It’s Saturday reunions.