Interview: The Beatles Confidante Maureen Cleave

Written by CNN Staff

With a sensational back story that began as a teenage dream and ended as a tragedy, Maureen Cleave has been called “one of the most influential and charismatic individuals to come out of Britain” during the Beatles era.

A journalist for the “Sunday Post” and “Daily Mirror,” Cleave began her career as a Liverpool girl’s friend but as she rose through the ranks, the romance would sour.

Cleave and the Fab Four would begin as pals but would meet up at legendary locations such as 1963’s Y Not pub in Liverpool.

CNN’s Poppy Harlow speaks to Maureen Cleave, Beatles Confidante and writer of The Beatles Years, about what it was like to be close to one of the greatest pop bands of all time.

Cleave explained how the press picked up on the relationship, saying, “The papers and the (TV) show picked us up…then he (John Lennon) started to act more like a boy — not a flirt — and I think he became very unhappy. So that’s when we parted and I did have a relationship with him.”

Cleave broke off their relationship with a letter that announced the termination of their illicit affair and described the time spent with Lennon as the most depressing, hurtful and challenging relationship of her life.

“My whole life was confused. I should have been a teenage supermodel, but we split up, and I read a lot of things about him. Lots of stuff said he was mentally unstable. I read that he used drugs and his problems weren’t with me. You never knew what was true then,” she said.

The moment the Beatles split up — Cleave witnessed the deaths of one of her mentors and friends, Malcolm McLaren.

“I think I was crying that day … I was saying this is it — he has gone. He has gone and done himself in. And I have lost another friend, whom I was really close to. That was a big effect on me,” she said.

Cleave says she remains open minded about some of the players of the Beatles era:

“Yeah, I think some of them (John Lennon and Paul McCartney) are not great people but they were the Beatles. Some of them have done amazingly well since then and some are still very active in show business.”

Cleave has written about herself extensively in her books about the history of Beatlemania, The Beatles Years, and the Beatles Family.

“I wanted to write the book based on my relationship with the band, and in 1962 I was asked to write about them and then they split up and I got over it,” she said.

“I spent 14 years listening to them. I didn’t have anything to say about them. So when I got to the 1960s I said ‘That’s now — we are on our own now’.”

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