Alf Bicknell is one of those people who is easily forgotten in Beatle history as he was “only their driver” as many will say. But he was a driver who was there during many key moments in Beatle history.
He began working as a Chauffeur for the Beatles in mid-1964 when they were already hugely famous. He got an interview with Brian Epstein which Alf went to but Brian didn’t. Alf didn’t think anymore of it and went home until they called again a few days later in desperate need and Alf was off, driving the greatest band of all time.
It was as the pressure mounted on Neil and Mal that Alf got asked by John Lennon while he was driving them “Alf, would you like to come on tour with us as a Roadie?” Alf didn’t need asking twice and soon enough he was touring the world with the band, having girls break into his room in the hope he’d lead them to their idols, meeting Elvis and being impressed that the King of Rock and Roll called him and everyone else, “Sir”. Alf was also on the horrible tour of the Phillippines and got beaten up by the thugs at Manila airport after the Beatles unintentionally snubbed Imelda Marcos. George Harrison later said to Alf; “Anyone who got beaten up by Marcos’ gang is a mate of mine”.
After the American leg of the tour the Beatles stopped touring and Alf had to find other work. He drove for various musicians and film stars until an accident put a halt to his driving in 1980. Needing money he began to sell off his Beatles memorabilia which included rehearsal tapes of the Beatles singing religious hymns and nursery rhymes that John Lennon had given him in the 1960’s.
He also released an autobiography “Baby, You Can Drive My Car” in 1989 and then a video “The Beatles Diary” which included footage from Paul McCartney’s 1990 tour from the NEC in Birmingham which Paul dedicated ‘The Long and Winding Road’ to Alf in honour of the years they spent together.
Alf also recounted re-uniting with Paul backstage at the gig, who promptly told him to “lose the beard” which Alf had let grow out over the years. Alf enjoyed recalling his experiences with the Beatles for fans at Beatle conventions all over the world. Sadly, Alf Bicknell collapsed and died at his home in Banbury, England in March 2004 at the age of 75.