Stanley Parkes, a cousin of John Lennon who spent summers with him before Beatlemania and had a close relationship with the Beatle, has died at age 82, the Larg & Millport Weekly News reported today. His funeral, in late January, was attended by Lennon’s half-sisters Julia Baird and Jacqueline Dykins, the paper said. Author Ken McNab told Beatles Examiner Parkes had a significant role in Lennon’s life, especially early on.
“Stan Parkes and John had a lifelong bond that remained forever unbroken,” McNab said. “I met Stan at the outset of research into the links between the band and Scotland for my book ‘The Beatles in Scotland.’ He was a very warm and effervescent man. He lived in the seaside town of largs on Scotland’s west coast. After our first meeting I left convinced I had a worthwhile and fairly unique project. Stan’s mum Elizabeth remarried an Edinburgh dentist after the death of her first husband. Stan moved to Scotland,’s capital and made Scotland his home. The family had a croft in the village of durness on Scotland’s remote north coast. John spent several summer holidays there from the age of about 10. Both boys loved roaming the fields and playing in the coves. Stan was a treasure trove of stories. He had heartfelt memories of John and was a brilliant interviewee.
“As a huge John fan, I was mesmerized by his recollections and private letters John sent. I think both men really did love each other. Stan was seven years older than John and easily the big brother he never had. He was a forthright but unassuming man who will be sadly missed by the Beatles’ family and a man I have much to be grateful to.” “John, cousin Leila and I were very close,” Parkes once told an interviewer. “From Edinburgh, we would bundle into the car and head up to the family croft at Durness,” he said. “He loved his holidays up there.”
But after Beatlemania, things became quite a bit different. “They couldn’t lead a life. They couldn’t go to the pictures, they were trapped behind stage or recording studios,” he said in an interview. “When they were on stage they couldn’t hear. They needed ear plugs to block out the noise of the fans screaming. I took John to RS McColl’s to get a packet of cigarettes in Edinburgh, and the wee lassie just keeled over and fainted, she couldn’t believe it!’”
Parkes also said he witnessed some Beatles recording sessions and actually contributed to them, though he didn’t recall which ones. “Some of us would be given cymbals, drums, things to shake or bang or told to sing, ‘La la la’,” he told an interviewer in 2002. “Apparently all the pieces were used on some of the early records. I’ve no idea which ones I’m on, but that was my only brush with recording stardom.”
Though they kept in touch during the ’60s, after Lennon moved to New York their contact became less frequent. Lennon, however, hadn’t forgotten him. In a communication that turned out to be the last one he received from Lennon before his death, Parkes received a card saying, “Come on man, send me a postcard! Life is short. Love and Happy New Year, John.” (For the most up-to-date and exclusive Beatles news, please subscribe to this column using the button on this page.)