Caught up in the orgy of news surrounding the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ first US visit? Celebrate with a documentary on Netflix as unassuming as its subject, Freda Kelly. Good ol’ Freda was a shy teenage fan who discovered The Beatles in the early days when they played the lunchtime gig at the odiferous, subterranean Cavern Club in Liverpool.
Her friendship with the band led her to help organize their fan club as a volunteer. When Beatlemania struck, manager Brian Epstein hired the 17 year-old to assist him and the band as their secretary. For the next decade, Freda spent her days carrying out official business for the Beatles in their office and her nights answering fan club mail at home. Along the way, she experienced some amazing opportunities as a Beatles insider: Paul McCartney insisted she move forward on the bus during the filming of MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR, and so, she is forever captured sitting behind Paul and beside Ringo. There’s a shout-out to “Good Ol’ Freda” on one of the Christmas recordings. When 200,000 Liverpudlians gathered in the streets to welcome home their heroes in 1964, Freda was on the balcony with The Beatles and their families (because Mrs. Starkey, Ringo’s mother, had the kindness to include her as a family member when compiling Ringo’s list).
Freda was friendly with all the parents and relatives of the Beatles. Freda’s own mother had died when she was an infant and, particularly touching is her recollection of her weekly visits to Ringo’s mother, who treated her as the daughter she’d never had.
Her father forebade her moving to London when the band’s operations shifted there, but Freda continued working for Brian and the band from Liverpool, managing the Fan Club and providing the official link between John, Paul, George and Ringo, their families and their hometown fans.
It is her small anecdotes about the individual band members that will warm the heart of the most fanatical fans: John, attempting to fire her backstage at the Empire Theatre; Ringo, asking for her help with answering his unmanageable load of fan letters (there were 9); George, realizing that Freda’s own autograph book was among the many awaiting his signature and pocketing it so that he could get the others to sign it with a special message for their loyal friend and fan.
For the last 50 years, Freda has guarded the band’s privacy as ferociously as she has her own. Charming and down-to-earth, she refuses to indulge the public’s desire for “kiss and tell” confessionals. Freda worked for the band until after their break-up. She presided over the official closing of the fan club as she awaited the birth of her second child and continued to answer the mail long after her employment with Apple had ceased.
GOOD OL’ FREDA features anecdotes from other Liverpool insiders, including Tony Barrow and Angie McCartney and was produced with the official blessing of Paul and Ringo. Unlike many of the documentary films that have attempted to cash in on The Beatles legend, it’s a film that sheds new light on the individuals and the phenomenon that changed the world so very long ago.