March 17, 2020 Interview – Angie McCartney
Born in Liverpool, England in November of 1929, Angie McCartney has led quite a fascinating life. Living through World War II as a child, in spite of educational disadvantage due to the circumstances of the time, she would go on to find success as a writer, as well as an entrepreneur with both a tea and wine company.
The widow of Jim McCartney, the father of legendary Beatle, Paul McCartney, Angie was a part of Paul’s life during the height of Beatlemania…and she has some very interesting stories to tell. First doing so with her 2013 book My Long and Winding Road, she returned in late 2019 with her new book, Your Mother Should Know. A combination of Beatles stories and general stories of her life, Angie’s writing grabs your attention as if you are having a one-on-one conversation.
Gracious for the chance to tell her stories, plus hopefully spread some cheer to the world, Dr. Angie McCartney recently sat down to chat about her experiences, her books, The Beatles, and a lot more.
Cryptic Rock – You have led a very interesting life. As a child you grew up during World War II and would go to pursue writing, explore other business ventures, and become quite the entrepreneur. How would you describe your very rich life to this point?
Angie McCartney – Very varied, of course – even more so these days. I recently turned 90. I just published my second book, and I started to research my third one. I live with my daughter and her husband in Los Angeles, and we run a multimedia business/branding agency, so I have lots of things going on. Although some of my parts are a bit creeky, like my knees and things, my brain is keeping pretty active because I have so much work to do for the kids; I do all the bookkeeping for all our business. It keeps me on the go and I’m always interested. I always say thank god for Google because you can learn so much every day.
Cryptic Rock – Wow, you are very busy! Happy belated birthday, as well.
Angie McCartney – Thank you. I always say any day above ground is a bonus. (Laughs)
Cryptic Rock – (Laughs) Well it’s wonderful how active you are. You released the book My Long and Winding Road back in 2013, and your most recent book, Your Mother Should Know just before Christmas 2019. This new book is stories of your life, as well Paul McCartney’s father Jim, Beatlemania, etc. What was it like putting this book together?
Angie McCartney – Well, actually, I hadn’t really thought about writing a second book, but early last year one or two people said to me, “Since you’ve published that book, a lot more things have happened in your life.” I’ve gotten into all sort of lines of business; I’ve owned a tea company, wine company, there is all this artificial intelligent stuff that’s floating around. I’ve also had two titanium knees implanted, I’ve got microchips behind my eyes, a plastic hip. I need to go and have an oil change every now and again. (Laughs) I just thought, I suppose I have a few more stories in me, so I just started jotting down a chapter here and there.
Ruth (my daughter), Martin, and I do a little show called Behind The Beatles. In this show Ruth and I tell the stories behind the songs, and Martin has put together a great multimedia show of, not just Beatles news, but what was going on at various times in their lives and my young life. Between us we put together this quite interesting show that people in Texas have us put on occasionally. One occasion, I met a gentleman that became the publisher of my second book. He said to me, “If you ever write a second book, let me know.” I did, and here we are.
Ruth decided we should put in quick response codes at the end of several of the chapters which leads you to see YouTube videos, newspaper articles, or photographs – it gives the reads more bang for their buck. Apart from reading the book you can get the app on your cellphone, click on the QR codes, go off into another world and learn all sorts of stuff. It’s proving quite interesting actually.
Cryptic Rock – It is very interesting, and the book has received phenomenal reviews. The way the book reads, it is as if you are right next to the individual reading talking directly to them.
Angie McCartney – That is nice to know. I left school when I was 11 because of the wartime; Hitler came over and bombed the crap out of Liverpool every night. Our schools were taken over for people to live in who lost their homes, so after the age of 11 I only went to school once a week in a lady’s house where we would all assemble. The teacher would do the role call, check on us, but no real teaching was happening. I always felt like a lack of education was a real disadvantage to me. Since I came to live in America, which was about 30 years ago, I was encouraged greatly by people saying, “You can do it! If you think you can do it, you can do it.” So I’m still trying. (Laughs)
Cryptic Rock – You are doing a great job. You spoke briefly about your tea and wine company. What inspired these two business endeavors?
Angie McCartney – The tea came first. A few years ago, here at the house we had a 4th of July party, everyone was having wine, cocktails, beers, etc. One gentleman in the company who was a recovering alcoholic said, “If you could just make me a nice pot of tea, I’ll be happy.” So I dug out the old big brown teapot that I carried around the world with me – I’ve had it for about 50 years. I took it to Australia, Germany, and now it’s safely in Los Angeles. He said to me, “Have you ever thought about being a tea company? What’s more British than tea and what’s more Liverpool than the name McCartney?”
We started from there. We researched and made sure we found a distributor where it is all fair-trade, where children don’t have to work or anything like that. Most of it is grown so high up in most of the countries like India. It’s so fair high in the altitude that none of those areas need to have any crop spraying, so it’s all organic. When we decided whatever profit we make, which is not much, a little here and there, we make a donation to the Linda McCartney Breast Cancer Center in Liverpool. That encouraged people to buy it, as well. We also gave all the names of tea different Beatles’ themes: we have Abbey Road Apple and Strawberry Fields, etc.
Cryptic Rock – That is a lot of fun! What about the wine company?
Angie McCartney – A few years later when we started doing these Beatles shows in Houston, there is a gentleman there who runs a winery named David Skinner. He said, “Why don’t I make some wine out of similar flavors to your tea flavors?” He gets the juices from California, ships them down to Texas, and then puts Texas fruits into them. We have five lines of those, and they have similar names, as well. Each of them have a little story on the label to go with them, and again, it helps to make a little donation to the Linda McCartney Center in Liverpool. It’s not a big business, just a little homespun thing I run on the side. I enjoy it, though, and it helps to make friends with a lot of people too.
Cryptic Rock – It is a great, fun business. It is wonderful how you mix in The Beatles theme.
Angie McCartney – We thought that would attract attention because the whole Beatles’ phenomenon is not going away – it seems to be growing all the time even.
Cryptic Rock – Absolutely. We are now over six decades since The Beatles formed and they are a cultural phenomenon. They are the biggest Rock-n-Roll band ever and affect so many people. Are you sometimes amazed just how powerful it all is?
Angie McCartney – I know. Ruth and I used to sometimes go to these things called Beatles Fest, run by a man in New York called Mark Lapidos; he has been running them for over 50 years. He ran into John Lennon one time in the very early days and said, “I’ve been thinking about running some fan club, would that be alright with you?” John said, “Yeah, sure, why not!” Once he knew he had John’s blessing he started this thing in a very small way called Beatles Fest. It stills go on: they have them 3 or 4 times a year in New York, Chicago, maybe Los Angeles, but there are literally thousands and thousands of people who go to these things. They have sing-a-longs, face paintings, merchandise, and they bring their old records and sell them; it’s just a big love fest. That, in itself, helps to keep the name alive.
The interesting thing I’ve found when we go to those Beatles’ events, if you’re on a panel sitting on a stage chatting about things, there is such an age range in the audience from grandmas to little toddlers. When the music strikes up every age joins in and sings, all the kids know the words! It’s just amazing! With all the sadness and troubles there are in the world these days it’s nice that something like music can do that. I think laughter and music are the most important things in our lives.
Cryptic Rock – Yes, and music has that powerful way of connecting us. In your two books you tells stories of the Beatles very vividly. You were there when Beatlemania took off, and Paul and the boys were all very young when it all took off.
Angie McCartney – Well, they were all born during World War II in Liverpool. Which I think is one of those things that originally gave them that kind of togetherness, fellowship, and why they bonded. Their sense of humor is absolutely unmatchable. That is one thing, if you are born in Liverpool or that area, you are born with a sense of humor plugged in; everybody jokes and teases each other. The ability to laugh at yourself and not take yourself too seriously is paramount.
Cryptic Rock – Most certainly. You experienced it all with them. Growing into an adult as a Beatle, was it a challenge for them?
Angie McCartney – I think they were always ambitious when they first met. Of course, Ringo had joined the band a bit later, but the other three had already really bonded together. Ringo, of course, has a great sense of humor too: very dry, he’s quiet a lot of the time, and will just drop something into the conversation that will have you rolling on the floor. They were going to Hamburg in a van and sleeping in the van, really living it rough. Then when it got big, and they had been on the Ed Sullivan show, the world went crazy.
They were more or less prisoners everywhere they went, screaming the place down for them and a few nutters as well; there always were a few headcases who wanted to have a piece of them, cut their hair off or whatever. They used to be more or less marooned in their hotel suite everywhere they went. They used to say, “I’ve been around the world and I’ve seen nothing except for the inside of a limo and inside of a hotel room.” That is how it had to be for safety in those days.
Cryptic Rock – Wow. It is crazy to hear about all of that. Living the rich life you have, what are some of the more important lessons you have learned from life?
Angie McCartney – I’ve learned if you love people you must tell them every opportunity you get – you just don’t know what’s around the corner. I live with my daughter, Ruth, and her husband Martin, and every night before we go to bed we always tell each other we love each other – even if we’ve been a pain in the neck. (Laughs) I think that, to me, is one of the most important things. Also, the people you work with, just give them a kind word and let them know you appreciate what they’re doing instead of just moaning at people.
I see on Facebook people grumbling or just writing about their aches and pains, which is maybe because they have nobody to talk to. My feeling is even if I might feel like six bags of you know what, if someone asks “How are you?,” I will say “Splendid!” even if I’m not. If you say it often enough, you believe it yourself.
Cryptic Rock – Yes, that is the power of positive thinking.
Angie McCartney – Absolutely! I have about three Facebook pages with about 5,000 followers each. When I get about around 5 o’clock in the morning, I always look for something funny – a little cartoon, something nice about animals or nature – and stick it on Facebook. You would be amazed how many people who get back to you and say, “God, I needed that!” It is wonderful if you can just make somebody smile for a second.
Cryptic Rock – Agreed, especially when it seems all the news is bad news. With the book out, are you doing any book signings?
Angie McCartney – I’m not right now. It’s being sold through Amazon now. I autograph them here and get them out if people buy the book from my website. The tea page is where people can order tea and the book and get it autographed. I’m not sure if we think there’s that much volume, but I’ve got to be positive. As Myton Python would say, “Always look on the bright side of life.” (Laughs) I’m ever optimistic, but if it ever comes to that I would be very happy to do book signings.