How Eddie Murphy Became the Fifth Beatle
Before the Beatles became famous, they had a saxophone player as their fifth member. At least that's the claim made by Clarence Walker, a character created by Eddie Murphy on Saturday Night Live.
Clarence showed up on the Feb. 11, 1984, episode as a guest on a talk show called Rock & Roll & Then Some, hosted by Buzzy Free (played by cast member Joe Piscopo). That week marked the 20th anniversary of the Beatles' arrival in America, so Buzzy invited Clarence to talk about his claim that he was responsible for the group's music and image.
"Yeah, man, I was ripped off by the whole group, and the whole group got a behind kicking coming to them when I see ’em," Clarence says. "I been lookin’ for them boys since 1962, and that’s why they got that around-the-clock security in their house, ’cause they know that when Clarence Walker find ‘em, he gonna take a chunk out of their behind."
Buzzy is clearly skeptical, so Clarence Walker offers a photo of the group with him in the middle as proof. He then claims the Beatles removed his saxophone and vocals from their songs, which Clarence says he wrote. He says he was behind such songs as "She Loves You,” which was originally known as "She Loves You, Man," and "Ticket to Ride," which was called “She’s Got a Ticket to Ride and the Bitch Don’t Care, Man."
You can watch the SNL sketch below.
For more proof, Clarence shows a photo from 1961 when the band was called the Clarences and sported Afros; he also plays a cassette that features saxophone and Clarence's vocals on "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and a spoken-word section on "Love Me Do." What finally convinces Buzzy is when Clarence plays the tape backward, revealing John Lennon and Paul McCartney agreeing to fire the saxophonist and steal his ideas.
The sketch recalled a scene from All You Need Is Cash, a 1978 TV movie produced by SNL creator Lorne Michaels about the Rutles, a Beatles parody group led by Monty Python's Eric Idle, who also plays a documentary filmmaker who travels to New Orleans to find the roots of the band's music.
There, he encounters Ruttling Orange Peel, a blues musician who insists the Rutles entered his house and took all of his songs. But his wife intervenes, saying her husband tells the same story every time filmmakers come by. "Last week, he claimed he started the Everly Brothers, Frank Sinatra and Lawrence Welk," she says.
Watch a Scene From 'All You Need Is Cash'
While those scenes were played for laughs, one musician actually claimed he played on early Beatles records without getting credit. In The Big Beat, E Street Band drummer Max Weinberg's book of interviews with artists who influenced him, Bernard "Pretty" Purdie said he played on 21 songs by the Fab Four, as well as tracks by the Rolling Stones, the Animals and the Monkees, because the original drum parts were "way off."
Purdie refused to give the names of the tracks, saying he would reveal the names only if he needed the money, and that his silence had been bought by Beatles manager Brian Epstein.
"They paid me for my month's work, for working on the tracks," he claimed. "Two or three weeks later, Epstein called and said, 'Listen, I don't want this business getting out in the street.' And I said, 'What are you talking about?' He said he wanted reassurance that I'd keep my mouth shut. He said, 'And I think this will reassure it.' He handed me a check." An incredulous Weinberg quickly changes the subject.
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