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Beatles Insider Plants Seeds of Faith

After a storied career as a music executive -- including a gig with Apple Records -- Ken Mansfield says the high point came atop a roof in London. It was a cold, January day in 1969.  Ken was one of a few spectators at a private performance of the legendary Beatles -- all told in his newest book, The Roof.

Scott Ross: “The Roof. What roof? What are you talking about?"

Ken Mansfield: (Laughs) “The top of the Apple Building in Savile Row in downtown London.”

SR    “And the Beatles, of course, were well-known to my wife, Nedra, with the Ronettes, because they toured together.”

KM    “Exactly.”

That rooftop session was recorded for the Beatles’ “Let It Be” film.  But it wasn’t just another performance …

SR    “And actually the Beatles had not played together … “

KM    “In two years.”

SR    “Two years! And almost for the last time that they were together?”

KM    “It was the last time. A strange thing happened that day.  Now I'm sitting about four to six feet away from them, and they started playing, and it was either John looked over at Paul or Paul looked over at John, and it was like they just looked at each other and went ‘You know what? This is us. We've been mates for a long time, we've done things nobody's every done, we've been close forever, and right at this moment, this is who we are, a good rock 'n' roll band.’  I wrote my favorite line in the book:  I said, ‘They came up on the roof without a sound check, but they went back down the stairs with a soul check.’"

SR    “How did – how well did you get along with the lads? You were with them a lot.”

KM    “I got along with them real well. The interesting thing is when they – I worked with them in '65, and that was when they were just super on top, you know? It was only the second time they came to America. And I was this young guy with a suntan and a Cadillac convertible living in the Hollywood Hills in a house, and a pool.”

KM    “And now they're working with a young guy their age and uh, so they start asking me a bunch of questions, like ‘Where's Mulholland Drive?’ And uh Ringo wanted to know if I could introduce him to Buck Owens, cause Buck was on Capitol.  So that started a relationship, both as a business relationship and a personal relationship that developed out of that.

SR    “Looking back now -- what do you want to convey?”

KM    “Well, I want to convey that they were really nice guys. I know they weren't perfect and I know they had some times – and those times got more publicity than anything, but they were real people.  I wanted people to get the feeling what it was like to be around them. Cause I also liked to spend a lot of personal time with them, and there was just this sense that they were – I use the word ‘common’ cause they grew up common, you know, and they never left that.”

SR    “How did it – how did it affect you, years later, when John was shot – and George died?”

KM    “Mainly when John died, because the dream was over. The Beatles were never going to, you know, reunite.  And my sense of loss was not ‘Wow, I lost a friend.  I lost an associate.  I lost something like that.’ My feeling was I went back into the universal sadness that we all shared.  Everybody shared around the world.  No more songs, you know, no more craziness, no more Beatles reuniting. And so it was a very, very emotional day.”

SR    “And George, of course.”

KM    “And George, yeah. Well, George we had time to think about and we knew he was going. “

SR    “But it was John who – that famous quote that got him in a lot trouble – that they were more popular than Jesus now.  How did that affect the thinking of the band and their lives at that point?”

KM    “Well, John, and he has talked about this several times, and he's told me, he said, ‘I was just trying to make a point -- there's something wrong with the youth today that they're worshipping a band, instead of worshipping, like - Jesus.‘”

SR    “Where did Jesus intersect your life?”

KM    “Ah, He intersected my life when I was about as down as far as you could go. And uh, then I met a young, beautiful lady who became my wife, and I had a guru, and I was broke, and I was a stoner and I was bad news then.  One day she called and she said, ‘We need to talk. I see where our relationship is going and I have to make a choice between you and Jesus, and I choose Jesus.’ I went home and I thought, ‘I want something be so dear to me that I'm willing to give up something that's very important to me,’ which was our relationship.  I thought, ‘I want that.  I want that more than anything.’ I became the spiritual head of our relationship, I devoured the Bible, I didn’t read anything but the Bible for three years. I was all in.”

SR    “This brings us, you know, again to the book.  Why did you write it?  What do you want to say to people?”

KM    “I realized what I had here was a chance for ministry. I'm a seed planter and it was just a way to plant seeds.  I wasn’t tryin’ to make a sale, I was just tryin’ to plant some seeds.  I thought, ‘I've got the Beatles fans, and I'm staying true to them, you know, I'm giving them all the things they want to know. So at the end, I want to talk to them about God now.’”

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