Don't Wanna Hold Your Hand

Who in his right mind would have passed up the chance to join the Beatles? Rock-and-raving pianist Roy Young did. Regrets? Don't get him started.

But Young isn't exactly waiting for the phone to ring. He's flying to Hamburg next week with his band to participate in the Star Club reunion show. He's still in demand for concerts throughout England and Germany. And Tony Sheridan and Ringo Starr are mulling over a possible Beat Brothers reunion.

But for Young's chums Hunter and Marsden, it remains a mystery that the master of the 88s never made it big in this country, never quite crossing that final hurdle into the realm of rock stardom. "We were a lot stupider then than we are now," Hunter laughs, mocking both his and Young's lack of prescience. "Over the years he could have been huge. He was never much of a writer, which is a drag. He was the star of the Star Club. Writing was just never thought of. Then the Beatles came and it all changed. I don't think it was so much that he couldn't write; I think it just never occurred to him. You know, he was a star in Hamburg, he was a star among a certain crowd in London, he was makin' a lot of money on the road. It was probably too easy for him. It's unfortunate that the same opportunity didn't just present itself ten years later. It's a shame, really. He just kind of walked another road."

"I don't know what happened really," mulls Marsden. "Maybe Roy was a little bit shy. He wasn't one to push himself forward. He liked to be in the background. But he definitely had the talent. He's such a quiet, nice guy. An ugly bastard, but a dear friend."

His years in the rock and roll trenches have left Young comfortable but far from wealthy. He doesn't have to work to get by, but he can't afford the luxuries to which many of his peers and former bandmates have become accustomed. "One day I was talking to my old drummer, Dennis Elliott, who left my band to start Foreigner," Young reflects. "I used to pay him 50 pounds a week retainer to play in my band. He lived in a one-room flat in London. Now he lives in a house on 28 acres of land in Connecticut. I tease him a lot. I say, 'Wouldn't you have rather stayed in England?' One time I invited him to come visit me down here; I told him I was buying a 23-foot fishing boat, we could go fishing. 'Really?' he says, 'I have two of those on my yacht.' Now, he didn't really have two boats on his yacht, but he could if he wanted to. I envied him for that. That he got there and I didn't.

"During that time in Paris with David Bowie," Young confides, "we used to take a lot of long walks together. He was changing his image, growing a beard. Sometimes we'd talk about his image, sometimes we'd walk in silence. One of those times, out of the blue, he just said to me, 'Roy, there's one thing I can't figure out. That you never made it as big as I did.' I kidded him that I could still walk down the street without being mobbed. That anonymity was worth more to me. But we both knew it really wasn't.

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