meta name="p:domain_verify" content="2a5558d39595a805d8e58431034ef756"/> Sir Paul McCartney & The Beatles guest band Purplemelon: For 15 years I lied for Macca. I didn't tell him but it was easy - smoking all that cannabis helped
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Saturday, May 12, 2007

For 15 years I lied for Macca. I didn't tell him but it was easy - smoking all that cannabis helped

By: LAURA COLLINS - More by this author »
Last updated at 22:05pm on 12th May 2007

Comments: It was not an easy call to make but when news emerged of Sir Paul McCartney's split from Heather, his wife of four years, Geoff Baker did not hesitate. He telephoned Sir Paul and told him that if he ever wanted his help he needed only to ask. As for Paul's response, Geoff smiles: "We hadn't spoken for about 18 months but he didn't tell me to f*** off. We had a really good chat. I've made my peace with him - that means a lot." And little wonder.

Right hand man Geoffbaker sticking close to Paul and Linda in 1995

Geoff, a former pop journalist, had been Paul's publicist for 15 years - devoted to looking after the former Beatle's interests - before an acrimonious split. On the road or at home, pushing his music or championing environmental causes, it was Geoff who acted as spokesman between Macca and "the planet". He also became a friend of his first wife Linda and, until she died of breast cancer in 1998, his place in the McCartneys' inner circle was secure.

But Geoff didn't get on with Heather and it was this personality clash that was blamed when he lost his job in 2004.

Geoff worked as Sir Paul's publicist for 15 years before an acrimonious split

The one thing of which there was no doubt was that the end of their relationship was messy, chaotic and regrettable, so much so that Geoff has never spoken about it - until now.Speaking exclusively to The Mail on Sunday, Geoff, 51, tells of his years with Paul and the torrid final 12 months that took him to the brink of a breakdown.

He says: "I had one of the top jobs in the industry for one of the biggest stars on the planet and one of the nicest. "The reason I ended up befriending Paul is simply because he's a likeable guy, and I think that regardless of what happened at the end. "Linda was something else and she and Paul showed me great kindness. She was just a fabulously wonderful, perceptive and thoughtful woman."

Geoff Baker today

They are not attributes often ascribed to her successor and Geoff admits: "I don't like Heather. She knows that, although she was always pleasant enough to me to my face." He adds: "I'm sure she'll be a huge act in America. She doesn't have a particular talent but she doesn't need one. Certainly Linda's death and Heather's subsequent arrival one year later cast a very different light on the court of Paul. And it coincided with Geoff becoming increasingly dependent on drink and drugs.

He says: "I would have died if I had stayed. There was a lot of drinking, I was taking a lot of cocaine and cannabis. It wasn't recreational. It wasn't fun.
"It's difficult for me to talk about it. By the time I emailed my resignation I'd been diagnosed as severely depressed. "I was so hacked off with the music industry. It's full of some of the most loathsome, despicable people there are.

"For a while I enjoyed it and it paid very well and it was fun. But by the time I left it was like Dante's Inferno to me." At the time, Geoff vowed never to work in it again. But two-and-a-half years on, with not a drop of alcohol, he's back and launching a new band. Purplemelon - an unsigned foursome - could hardly be more different to his intentionally lauded former employer. But they have, Geoff insists, reignited an enthusiasm he thought long gone.

Geoff had been the showbusiness editor of the Daily Star and was working as a freelance journalist when he was introduced to Paul. He explains: "It was 1989 and Paul was about to do his first international tour for 13 years. But his PR, Bernard Doherty, didn't want to go so they decided to get a journalist out there to handle the journalists on tour while Bernard was the king pin steering it all from London."I was the scuzzy little hack Bernard contacted. I went along to one of their rehearsals at Elstree Studios.

"It was a big tour - ten months, 34 songs - and they were running through the whole set. Paul's manager took me in and said, 'Watch this, then you'll meet Paul.' "I remember thinking that I really didn't care about getting the job. I was standing in the middle of this vast hall, bopping around, an audience of one to this amazing Paul McCartney gig. "He came over to me after and introduced himself. I said, 'You're going to tear their f***ing heads off with that show.' "Paul just laughed and said, 'Right. I'll see you around.' That was my interview. A few weeks later we were on tour.

"Because I knew the business so well I was flying kites all over the place. "One of the first stories I concocted was that some French promoter had been approached by a business who wanted to can Macca's sweat and sell it to fans because the show was so energetic.
"It was complete rubbish of course but it was harmless and the point was to get across that it was a rocking show. "I wouldn't discuss these things with Paul, I just did it. He doesn't condone telling fibs but he doesn't get uptight about it. It was fun."

But less than a month into the tour life became far less "fun" for Geoff when his wife, Mandy, called to say she was leaving him for another man and started divorce proceedings.
"I was 32 years old, I had a wife, two children, a quarter-of-a-million-pound house and I was working for Paul McCartney. Then my life just completely and absolutely fell apart.

"It mattered not a jot to me whether I lived or died at that point. Paul and Linda saved my life.
"That was when our relationship changed. These two very good people looked after me when I was up for jumping out of hotel windows at any opportunity. "My behaviour was appalling. I smashed up hotel rooms and they didn't fire me. They were kind to me and so I stayed alive. I spent the next 15 years trying to repay that."

Geoff was always, he admits, particularly protective of Linda with whom he shared a similar outlook on life: "I'd been a vegetarian since I was 21 and it made us a bit like-minded."
As far as he was concerned nobody mattered more than Paul and Linda and during his time working for Paul, he was on call 24 hours a day. The years of touring, promoting albums and championing environmental causes were intense.
"It was the nature of the beast that it had to be played out publicly," he says.
But not entirely truthfully.
When Linda died in April 1998, Geoff chose to lie for his employer, claiming that the family were in Santa Barbara, California, when they were really in Tuscon, Arizona. "I lied to the Press. Absolutely. A columnist in New York wrote that I should be hanged for it, but I'd do it again.
"I can't talk about that period, I'm not allowed to. There's nothing you can say that can possibly capture how bleak and just totally unfair that whole time was." Nothing would ever be the same again.

Geoff says: "Basically you take Linda McCartney out of any equation and it will change. The situation will change." But after a decade with Paul the world of celebrity held less and less appeal, particularly after he met Heather. Geoff and Heather clashed over various deeply held beliefs. He admits: "Heather and I didn't get on. We come from totally different backgrounds, saw things differently. "I remember Heather went on some TV programme and said she thought the people who smoked cannabis should be jailed and I thought that was ludicrous. That's the sort of thing we clashed over. It's just stupid. The logic is ludicrous. How could I be expected to get on with her?"

Disillusioned, Geoff's behaviour became ever more outlandish. In September 2003, after a meal with Paul and his band, Geoff and Paul took a stroll by the Thames to see American illusionist David Blaine, who at the time was performing a stunt which saw him suspended in a glass box by the river. Geoff says: "I was drunk and stoned and nobody seemed to be paying much attention to us. I thought, 'Hang on the real star's here - never mind that prat in the box.'
"I didn't run it by Paul, I saw a snapper and I pulled him over." Geoff was fired the following day but didn't take it seriously.

"I just thought, 'Oh f*** off. You can't fire me for getting a photographer, you're a bloody star!'"
And his instinct was right: Paul did not sack him.
But over the next 12 months Geoff histrionically "quit" many times until the partnership finally came to an end in September 2004.

Eighteen months later, Geoff could only watch from the sidelines as Paul's marriage to Heather imploded. Since his resignation he has "vented his spleen" by writing a very bitter novel, so far unpublished, featuring a rock star and a publicist. It is not, he insists, about him and Paul. Instead he wanted to show the corrosive nature of showbusiness. But after more than a decade representing a star worth £760 million, the business still has some attraction.

Geoff, who bears more than a passing resemblance to Dillon from the Magic Roundabout - with his sparse cloud of grey hair and liberal views on (and use of) cannabis - says: "The time I've spent in the industry has allowed me to see potential in Purplemelon that others might not see yet. "These guys are really good. They're going to be huge." In a rather cheeky footnote, among the "admirers" listed by Geoff on Purplemelon's biography is one Sir Paul McCartney.

It seems a generous gesture from Paul. "Well, that's a bit of embellishment," Geoff smiles.
And as for the fact that the release date for Purplemelon's first song - June 5 - coincides with the release of Paul's forthcoming album, well that's just "sheer coincidence". Geoff hasn't spoken to Paul since he called him to offer his help and enjoyed their first chat in 18 months. But if he's disappointed he doesn't show it: after 15 years as the former Beatle's publicist, finding a positive spin is second nature.

"Some people have said, 'Oh you were treated badly.' But I don't agree with that. I don't harbour any ill feelings," Geoff says. "Actually I hope he doesn't call me because he'd have to be in real trouble to do that and I wouldn't wish that on him."

*****
Purplemelon will perform at The Troubadour Club in London on Thursday, May 31.

Hosted By: Purplemelon
When: 16 Jun 2007, 19:00
Where: The Troubadour Club
265 Old Brompton Road,
Kensington London, LO SW5
United Kingdom

Description: Purplemelon
• smile Geoff
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