Beatles ex-staffer invited for a catch up with Sir Paul in Australia

Thursday, 30 November 2017, 09:50:17 PM. Imagine being asked to catch up with a friend and former work mate who just happens to be The Beatles' Paul McCartney?

Five men in suits are sitting around a table talking and smiling Photo: The Beatles and their manager Brian Epstein (C) talking business in the 1960s. (Supplied: Joanne Petersen)

Imagine being asked to catch up with a friend and former work mate who just happens to be The Beatles' Paul McCartney?

Audio: Date with a Beatle (ABC News)

That is what just happened to northern NSW resident and former Londoner Joanne Petersen, then Joanne Newfield, who was the personal assistant for Beatles manager Brian Epstein in the 1960s.

Ms Petersen, who now lives in the small town of Bangalow, has been invited to catch up with Sir Paul in Brisbane in December during his Australian tour.

She says it has been nearly 40 years since she has seen him and there is a lot to catch up on.

"I would be typing in the office and Paul and John would be writing songs, scrawling down lyrics, and throwing the pieces of paper on the floor," she said.

"I would look at the mess they were making and thinking to myself 'what slobs, why can't they put their rubbish in the bin?'"

Struggles with sexuality

Ms Petersen was close to Epstein and knew he was a gay man.

It was Ms Petersen who found Epstein dead in his Chapel Street home from an accidental drug overdose in August 1967.

She said she wished that he was alive today to see the support for gay marriage.

"I think about him a lot and would love to sit down now, at this great age, and have a conversation about the vote for same sex marriage," she said.

"Back in the sixties you couldn't come out as a gay man as it was illegal, and as the Beatles' manager he could of easily have been blackmailed or publicly humiliated.

"Brian was lonely. I saw loneliness there."

A man and woman stand next to two cars in a London Street in the sixties Photo: Joanne and Colin Petersen admire their cars in London in the sixties. (Supplied: Joanne Petersen)

With a little help from my friends

Ms Petersen was in her early twenties when she got the dream job.

She said she was dancing in an exclusive London club when she caught the eye of Ringo Starr and George Harrison.

"I heard this voice say 'so, where did you learn to dance like that?'" she said.

She turned around and saw two cheeky lads grinning at her.

"It comes naturally," she said she replied.

Both men asked for her name and she cheekily asked what their names were.

"They said they were Paul and John (Lennon) and we all laughed."

Ms Petersen told the pair she was unhappy where she worked and the pair told them to ring "Eppy", as he was looking for a new assistant.

She did, and got the job after cheating on her typing test.

Working for Epstein she spent time with the Fab Four regularly, saying they had very different personalities but all worked hard for the band, inserting their individual styles into the famous melodies.

Ms Petersen says Epstein loved the Beatles and managed their egos beautifully, saying he really was the fifth Beatle.

And she still remembers listening to the Sgt Pepper's album and being blown away.

Sgt Pepper's turns 50 Video: Sgt Pepper's turns 50 (ABC News)

Unresolved rift

Ms Petersen said Lennon and McCartney were good mates, but their friendship suffered during The Beatles' break-up.

Despite public opinion, she said the rift continued until Lennon was murdered in December 1980.

She believed Paul is haunted by the fact that he never got the chance to be close again to his childhood friend.

She said no-one could have predicted how influential and famous the Beatles were to become.

"I should of grabbed that half-eaten chocolate biscuit that John Lennon had eaten and put it in a bag and kept it for 40 years, and then sold it as 'A half eaten biscuit by John Lennon' and made a fortune," she laughs.

"Why didn't I do that?"

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