Pete Shotton, John Lennon’s Close Friend, Dies at 75

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The Quarrymen in 1957

To many in Britain, he was just a businessman, first the owner of a supermarket and later the founder of the Fatty Arbuckle’s chain of American-style restaurants. But to those familiar with the small-print names in Beatles lore, he was John Lennon’s best friend: Pete Shotton died March 24, 2017, at age 75, according to a published obituary in the Liverpool Echo. The cause of death, which occurred at his home at his home in Knutsford, Cheshire, England, was reportedly a heart attack.

Although uncredited on the recordings, Shotton is said to have helped Lennon compose the lyrics to “I Am the Walrus” and assisted Paul McCartney on “Eleanor Rigby.” In another story, Shotton’s wife was the “pretty nurse” selling poppies in “Penny Lane.”

According to a story Shotton told, while composing “I Am the Walrus,” Lennon asked his friend about an old nursery rhyme they used to sing. Shotton recited: “Yellow matter custard, green slop pie/All mixed together with a dead dog’s eye/Slap it on a butty, 10 foot thick/Then wash it all down with a cup of cold sick.”

Related: The Beatles documentary Eight Days a Week reviewed

Born Aug. 4, 1941 in Liverpool, Shotton and Lennon became friends when both attended the Dovedale Infants School and Quarry Bank Grammar School. Both were known for their mischievousness and knack for getting into trouble, and were inseparable. In 1957, Shotton, playing the washboard as a percussion instrument, became a member of The Quarrymen, the skiffle group that also included Lennon. Lennon reportedly smashed the washboard over Shotton’s head at a party when Shotton confessed that he did not enjoy playing it.

Pete Shotton (left) with John Lennon, late ’50s

No matter—when McCartney joined the group, it was clear they were heading someplace else quickly. (Shotton returned to the revived Quarrymen from 1997 to 2000, then retired from playing music.)

Shotton was often invited by Lennon to sit in at recording sessions at Abbey Road Studios. He said that he drifted from Lennon’s life after the Beatle took up with Yoko Ono. Shotton served as manager of the Apple Boutique, then as the first managing director of Apple Corps, before taking on the management of a supermarket purchased by Lennon and George Harrison as an investment, which he ran into the late ’70s. He then launched the Fatty Arbuckle’s chain, selling it in the ’80s and moving to Dublin.

His memoir, John Lennon: In My Life, was published in 1983, and later republished as The Beatles, Lennon and Me.

Watch a 1984 interview with Pete Shotton

Here is part 1…

And part 2…

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  1. Skydog
    #1 Skydog 26 March, 2017, 13:53

    What a lame interviewer

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