Over the years nearly everyone remotely connected with the Beatles has offered up an opinion or experience about them and their music. The number of Beatle books listed on Amazon numbers more than 7,700. So it is very special that one of the few living connections to those early days of Beatlmania still has a story to tell that hasn’t been told. Freda Kelly, who became president of the Beatles’ official fan club as a teenager, and was soon after hired as manager Brian Epstein’s secretary, is the main subject of the documentary Good Ol’ Freda. Now a modest 60-ish grandmother, Freda has kept quiet all these years as part of the Beatles family, but here she details her story.
If you are looking for scandalous revelations, you won’t find them here. Freda’s honest charm and personality is the main driver of the film, and we get to know her as she sifts through the boxes of Beatles memorabilia kept in her attic. She was the link between the band and their families, and the tireless responder to millions of fan mail letters. With its photos and simple interviews (including Billy Kinsley of The Merseybeats) the documentary is a pleasant trip down memory lane. We get to hear some great anecdotes about getting a dress from Maureen (Ringo’s wife) or how the death of Brian Epstein really accelerated the band’s downward spiral into internal feuding.
The extras on the DVD are pretty essential. The deleted scenes seem important, yet would have slowed the narrative. Included is the Q&A from the Chicago Fest for Beatle Fans, which is mainly a collective hug by the audience. Freda was with the band from the very beginning to the very end, and with the passing of so many connected to that era of pop history, we’re glad to have met this loyal Liverpudlian. Good Ol’ Freda is available now.