26 Oct Rikki’s Story – Part 1: Meeting John Lennon

Rikki Farr, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer of RIVA Audio, tells the story of how a bar fight defending his father’s honor led to him meeting John Lennon and getting into the music industry.

“My father, was a coal miner. And, when he grew up, he wanted to learn the skills that he would never have had as a coal miner. So he ran away from the coal mines, joined the boxing both and ended up fighting Joe Lewis in 1937 for the world title. Went fifteen rounds and was a great…was a very celebrated sportsman. Specially in the British Isles and the British Empire.

So consequently, being the champs son, there was always somebody who wanted to put a notch on his belt. There was a time when my brother and I were in a pub in Brighton and some guys thought that they’d have some fun with us. So we got into it. And huh, I suppose some of my fathers skills are rubbed off on my brother and I and we did some damage. But the unfortunate part of that was that, I…um, I got into trouble. So it was in the newspapers. My father, actually was wonderful about it. He said, “Hey look. You were defending your name and defending yourself. It was five against two.” So he said, “Here’s a $100 pounds and a passport. You’re going to leave the country. And you’re going to learn about the world. Learn about yourself. And get a little bit more self-control. Long story short, I went straight to Sweden because as a young man, we all knew that’s where the beautiful women were. And…ah…went from Sweden down to Denmark. Ah, I got thrown out of the country for working without a permit. They didn’t send me back to England, they sent me over to Germany.

So I had literally four or five deutsche marks in my pocket and I was standing on the corner and it’s starting to rain, thinking “This is crazy.” I have enough to get a chili dog and then I’ll go to the YMCA or the seamen’s mission and I’ll get a night’s sleep and then I’ll think from what I do after that. So I’m standing in line and I hear this voice behind me that goes, “Oh you’re the boxer’s boy. You were in trouble. I saw you in the newspapers.” And I turned around going, “Oh, here we go again. What’s ???” and he goes, “Hey, my name’s Lennon. John Lennon, I’m with The Beatles over at The Star Club.” I go, “Oh, really? What’s that?” and he says “Oh you know, we’re playing Bo Diddley, Chuck Barry and all that sort of stuff.” So I went over there. And I fell in love with it.

I came back to England and I went up to Liverpool and The Beatles were there at The Iron Door. This was before The Cavern. They were at The Iron Door. I saw them at The Iron Door. And then we would start chatting. I was chatting with some of the musicians and and they said, “You know Rik, you’re a good talker. Why, why don’t you book some halls and put on shows.” So I started booking and renting local town halls in Croydon and Sussex. Spending $3 pounds on posters and at night when no one is looking, sticking up the posters. All of a sudden it start…happening. In Manfred Mann, and then The Animals. I had one night, I had Charlie Eskimo Fox, The Yardbirds, and The Pink Floyd. All on one show. And then on another night I had little Stevie Wonder. He was little Stevie Wonder, with his hit, Fingertips. Little Stevie Wonder, Progo Harem and Bluesology featuring Elton John. I mean, seven shillings and six pence and we use to pack the places. Little did I know it, but looking back I was building a bridge for these artists to take their music to the public.

Rikki Farr
Chairman & Chief Creative Officer