Posted on May 11, 2020, in the week Little Richard died aged 87
❚ “NEVER INTERVIEW ACTORS OR POLITICIANS, because they’ve said it all before and have nothing new to add.” This was one of Maureen Cleave’s golden rules during her years of being one of the most effective interviewers in British journalism. She started out by accident having joined the Evening Standard aged 24 in 1958 and becoming the editor Charles Wintour’s secretary until the day when he recognised her nimble brain and fluency in prose and suggesting she write a weekly pop column. As the Sixties began to swing she started appearing on Juke Box Jury, wrote the first major piece discovering the Beatles in Liverpool and when Beatlemania exploded unlike any showbiz phenomenon before, she subsequently found the Fab Four seeking sanctuary from the screaming hordes at her London flat in Maida Vale.
When family life took first place Maureen moved on, later finding a credible niche at the Standard writing face-to-face interviews with all manner of folk, both celebrated and unknown, refreshing for their frankness in a period when being a star interviewer was all about point-scoring powerplay. By then she applied her golden rule to most popstars too, but when Little Richard hit London in 1985 – 30 years after he had declared himself the originator of rock-n-roll – she knew he was one popstar who still had plenty to say. After yesteryears of larger-than-life rebellion and variegated loucheness, he had by then discovered the Gospel, hence the headline on Maureen’s encounter: “And the Lord said: Let there be Rock”.
TAGS – Maureen Cleave, interviews, journalism, Evening Standard, Swinging Sixties, Little Richard, Beatles, pop music,