Actor and activist Ed Begley, Jr. joined host Kenneth Womack to talk about his decades-long career, Beatles stories, extensive environmental work and more on the Season 3 premiere of "Everything Fab Four," a podcast co-produced by me and Womack (a music scholar who also writes about pop music for Salon) and distributed by Salon.
Begley, known for his roles in many popular TV shows and movies, including "St. Elsewhere," "This Is Spinal Tap" and "Better Call Saul," says he first became aware of the Beatles as a boarding school student in 1963. And as a drummer in the marching band (and later a garage rock band), he became "obsessed" with being like Ringo and insisted on getting Ludwig drums.
He was soon devouring every song and album the Beatles put out, and following the ever-evolving trajectory of their musical journey. "They were doing something amazing," he tells Womack. And, as he later discovered personally, "they were amazing people. All four of them."
Indeed, Begley's career and friendships would lead him to meeting all the members of the band at different times. Notably, he tells Womack, a night out in New York City with legendary musician Harry Nilsson in the 1970s ended with dinner at John Lennon and Yoko Ono's home, which at one point put Begley in a position to "assist" with Lorne Michaels' famous Beatles reunion plea on "Saturday Night Live."
Listen to the full conversation:
He's also still friends with Ringo Starr to this day, and has maintained a close relationship with the Harrison family, even helping to return George's famed Rosewood Telecaster guitar to them. Much like Begley himself, he says George "cared deeply about the environment," and the two worked together on several planetary projects.
His own passion for conserving and saving started with his father, actor Ed Begley, Sr., who passed away right before the first Earth Day. And what started as a way to save money, turned into ways to save the planet. "People always talk about what they can't do," says Begley," and I always say, do what you can do." In terms of inspiring hope for the world, much like he agrees the Beatles did, he definitely believes "we're headed in the right direction."
Listen to the entire conversation with Ed Begley Jr. on "Everything Fab Four," and subscribe via Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google or wherever you get your podcasts.
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"Everything Fab Four" is distributed by Salon. Host Kenneth Womack is the author of a two-volume biography on Beatles producer George Martin, the bestselling book "Solid State: The Story of Abbey Road and the End of the Beatles," and most recently "John Lennon, 1980: The Last Days in the Life."
More "Everything Fab Four" conversations: