February 1964: The Beatles’ “Do You Want to Know a Secret” and “Love Me Do” dominated the U.S. and U.K. charts. British songwriter Dave Humphries remembers it well — he was there. Humphries moved to San Diego in 1996, but at one time the native of Durham City, in northeast England, was known as someone on the periphery of the Beatles story. In fact, he holds the official title of “The Man Rejected by Apple Records [four times] More Than Anyone Else Alive.”
Humphries’s appearance at the local BeatleFair in 2003 allowed him to meet and play with another figure from the Beatles’ past: Tony Sheridan, for whom the Fab Four played on their first-ever recording, “My Bonnie,” credited to Tony Sheridan and the Silver Beetles. While Sheridan was at BeatleFair, Humphries talked him into cowriting and recording a song in Mission Hills: “38 Days” appears on a CD self-released by Humphries. The recording was made easier due to Sheridan’s longtime keyboard player Wolfgang Grasekamp living in La Mesa.
Humphries also tried to get onetime Beatles drummer Pete Best to participate in the “38 Days” recording, since Best was in town at the same time for BeatleFair. It was rumored that Best’s reaction to the invitation was “Show me the money.” Best’s agent reports that he’s paid $4000 to appear anywhere and upwards of $6000 to $10,000 if he performs. At least being rejected by the Beatles has paid off for someone.
Dave Humphries has recorded five albums, the most recent being Hocus Pocus on Joker Lane, released earlier this year.
CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR MUSIC FOR THOSE WHO MAY NOT HAVE HEARD IT?
“Melodic, with a lot of variety.”
WHAT’S IN YOUR CD PLAYER?
1) The Beatles in Mono box set, the Beatles. “The Beatles as they were meant to be heard.”
2) Exile on Main Street, the Rolling Stones. “The Stones never sounded sweatier.”
3) Within My Reach, Folding Mr. Lincoln. “A lovely Americana album.”
BRUSHES WITH FAME?
1) “By being involved with the Come Together Conventions, I’ve met and played with Jackie Lomax, Gordon Waller, Billy J. Kramer, and Hard Day’s Night producer Walter Shenson.”
2) “I sang a song once with John Sebastian at the NAMM convention, where I also got to meet Phil Everly, Albert Lee, and even Duane Eddy.”
3) “I ran into Dick Dale at a Denny’s in San Juan Capistrano, and he was a great guy.”
EVER WANTED TO KILL SOMEONE?
“Whenever I drive. I’m not a very good driver, and, of course, everybody seems to be on the wrong side of the road over here in the U.S.”
BEST THING YOU’VE HAD TO LET GO OF?
“My parents, when I came to live here. I can’t just pop over to see them anymore. And a beautiful Gibson Les Paul.”
WHAT’S STILL ON YOUR BUCKET LIST TO DO BEFORE YOU DIE?
“Sell a song and buy a bucket.”
FIRST PET YOU RECALL?
“A dog called Patch, when I was three. He was poisoned when I was four, along with five other dogs in our street, by some dog-hating bar steward.”
WORST TV COMMERCIAL?
“Any of the drug ads at tea-time. Have you noticed they all start at 5:30? ‘Ask your doctor about this, that, and the other drug.’ No wonder the health thing is a mess in the U.S. ‘Say no to drugs,’ eh?”
WHO SHOULD PLAY YOU IN A MOVIE?
“Bart Mendoza with an English accent.”
EVER BEEN A CRIME VICTIM?
“I had my ’60s Fender Telecaster stolen after a gig in England. I also had my little BMC Mini car stolen from outside my house, right after I’d spent a mint getting it all done up. The thieves must’ve been watching me.”
WHERE DO YOU TAKE OUT-OF-TOWN GUESTS?
“The airport. No, seriously, the Shakespeare Pub, of course, and the little English shop at the back of the Pub. Unless they’re British. Then, I’d take them through the Gaslamp Quarter, Old Town, and Point Loma.”
PSYCHICS — REAL OR FAKE?
IF YOU COULD CHOOSE YOUR OWN NICKNAME?
FIRST JOKE YOU REMEMBER?
“A man walks into a bar and says ‘Ouch’ — it was an iron bar.”
“That would be Sunderland, England, a few years ago. I brought the band over and we played a killer set. However, there was no response from the audience. During the break, I was told by the local MC that this was the only club where you had to walk through a graveyard to get to the stage. He said, ‘Don’t worry, son, the Titanic wouldn’t go down here.’”
SOMETHING ABOUT YOU FEW WOULD KNOW OR GUESS?
“I absolutely hate cheese.” ■