Liverpudlian Freda Kelly was the Beatles Fan Club Secretary from 1963 until it closed in 1972, two years after the breakup of The Beatles. The Official Beatles Fan Club originally formed in May of 1962 and was managed by Bobbie Brown, but when Bobbie became engaged in 1963, Freda took over and remained the secretary until the end. Freda met The Beatles first way back in the days when they were playing The Cavern Club in Liverpool and was actually one of the Cavernites – a group of protesters fighting to keep the Cavern from closing down in both 1963 and 1966 (it was eventually destroyed in 1973 and later rebuilt across the street from the original location). When The Beatles sent their first Christmas flexi-disc message to their fan club members in 1963, Freda was mentioned by George Harrison, as heard here:Xmas 1963 Beatles message (excerpt) - George Harrison
Note: After playing, click the play/pause button again to keep it from playing simultaneously with the interview below.
Another of the assistants mentioned, named as Anne Collingham, was actually a fictitious entity made up by Beatles public relations man Tony Barrow, to serve as the head of the fan club. By 1967, Freda had taken over the full running of the club and also worked for Beatles manager Brian Epstein’s NEMS Enterprises, as well as The Beatles own company, Apple Corps. Yet with all of her duties, it was Freda in charge of seeing that all of that fan club mail was opened (up to 400 letters a day!), and sending the newsletters and messages to the membership of over 16,000 people.
Freda was a special guest at the New York Metro Fest For Beatles Fans this year, and I had the pleasure of having a quick chat with her. Although I’m sure she has a lot of interesting tales to tell concerning her time with The Beatles, her time was limited with all of the Fest activities that she was a part of, but I was very thankful that we had the chance to talk. As you might expect, Freda is a very sweet person and was an absolute pleasure to speak with. My talk with her is shared below.
Note: The live music and “Fest-ing” in the background was not to be avoided as this is the atmosphere of Beatles Fests (or if it isn’t, there is a problem somewhere!). Nevertheless, Freda’s voice is a little soft so you may have to listen close in spots. Enjoy!Happy Nat - Freda Kelly