Leslie Cavendish was born in East London and grew up in a large Jewish family in Burnt Oak, North London. He was apprenticed to Vidal Sassoon in 1962, becoming a stylist in his own right three years later. He became Paul McCartney’s private hairdresser in 1966, and soon began to work on the image of all four Beatles, at the Apple offices and in their recording studios, and was even invited along as a friend and participant on the Magical Mystery Tour. In 1967, he opened his own salon, backed by Apple and the Beatles, at 161 King’s Road, Chelsea.
We talk with Leslie about his time with The Beatles, Jane Asher, his upcoming book release and more…
How did you get interested in hairdressing ?
I got interested in hairdressing because when I was 15yrs I thought that like everybody else that I would like to be a footballer but although i was pretty good as a defender i wasnt good enough.
One day I went to meet my mum at the local hairdressers and outside the shop was a flashy American car.When i walked into the salon the owner whose car was parked outside was surrounded by women.and i thought straight away what a good working environment to be in.
My best friend lawrence who also left school 6 months before me and also wanted to be a footballer told me that he was going to do an apprenticeship as a hairdresser .So i thought if its good enough for him to do it I will as well.We are still best friends to this day.
Where did you learn your job ?
I started my apprenticeship at Vidal Sassoon’s salon in London’s Bond St.at the age of 15yrs.
I then went as a junior(apprentice) to Vidals new salon at the Grosvenor House hotel in London’s Park Lane.
My apprenticeship was for 3 years but i became a qualified junior stylist after two and half years.
Before you were accepted as a SASSOON stylist at his salon you had to become a junior to Mr Vidal himself and when i was asked i knew i would be staying.
Many celebrities attended your hair salon , including Jane Asher . Please , tell us about your meeting with Jane Asher and your impressions when you first saw Paul McCartney afterwards
I used to wash Janes hair when she went to her stylist Roger and because her hair was very long and thick I would spend 1 hour blow drying it so when i became a stylist i used to style her hair (not wash) whenever Roger couldn’t do it because i knew how she would like it.
Rogers biggest mistake was that had he not refused to do her hair on that saturday morning i wouldnt be telling you this story.
In a chapter in my book The title is “Almost the Pete Best of the Hairdressing World” and that will explain how I nearly lost out on cutting Paul McCartney and the other beatles.
When i went around to Paul’s london house for the first time and met him i was feeling quite nervous but I made sure he didnt know it and when he opened the door to the house which i didnt expect he said in a very relaxed way “Jane said you’re coming over to cut me barnet(cockney rhyme for hair (barnet fair)” .
That put me at ease straight away and the rest is history.
How did you become Beatles official hairdresser ?
After cutting Pauls hair in October 1966 I was asked to go to Apple offices which had just been formed and there I met Neil Aspinall who organised my payment and while i was there he asked me to cut his hair.
Then Derek Taylor became another client and it was he (thanks Derek) who introduced me to the other beatles and thats when i became the “Beatles official hairdresser”
Did the Beatles request an special haircut ? Or did you suggest some hairstyle ?
They never requested any special hairstyle while I cut their hair it was always what their mood was which dictated their hair (let it be ) album is a perfect example.
I did cut Pauls hair very short for a reason and in the press they said “The man who made Paul a skinhead”
but read the book to find out more!
Maureen was Ringo s hairdresser . Did you ever cut Ringo s hair ?
Yes I cut Ringos hair on a few occasions but most of the time Maureen did it.
I was asked to go to the film studio to style his hair when he was making the film (Magic Christian) and he did occasionally come to the salon in Chelsea.
Do you remember any other special customer at your hair salon ?
Keith moon (The Who) The Bee gees, Apple recording artists (Jackie lomax/James Taylor etc) Bob weir(Grateful Dead) Tony Curtis (film actor) Suzanna Leigh (co/star with Elvis in “Paradise Hawaiian style)
James Hunt (formula 1 World champion) Dave Clark 5 (DC5) Peter Asher ,Graham Nash (CSN) Linda McCartney, Ashton .Gardner and Dyke and many more bands.
How was your relationship with the Beatles after their break up ?
My own personal relationship with them was ok.
The difference was that I saw more of Paul because he was at his home and wasn’t going into the Apple office.
John was spending more time with Yoko and the other two where doing there own thing so I didnt see much more of them after that except if Derek or Neil would call me to do there hair.
Which one is your favorite Beatles song ? And which one is your favorite LP ?
I have two so I have a Double A side. “And I Love her” and “Things we said today”, and my album:
A Hard Day Night LP.
Paul McCartney, Leslie Cavendish and crew waiting for the Magical Mystery Tour bus, 1967.
What was your first reaction when you received the news of Lennon s murder and Harrison s death ?
John and George’s death made me feel numb because I remembered the times i had spent with both of them.
George at the salon in the Kings rd where i cut his hair and the MMT coach trip that we were all on.
As a Beatle fan I couldnt believe that someone could murder John and also George was attacked at his home and then died of cancer a few years later. Can you imagine if they were still with us
Please tell us about your soon to be published autobiographical book
My book is about my journey through the sixties and the magical journey I was on with the help of The Beatles
The stories of how I made Paul a skinhead/The hells angels episode/MMT journey/Beatles recording at abbey Rd and obla di obla da evening and much more to tell.
Photo: Apple Tailoring at 161 Kings Road. Leslie Cavendish’s hair salon was in the basement.
Leslie, tell us about your VIP Beatles tour in London
I go to Places where other Beatle guides cant take you because they only show you the outside..
With me i will tell you what went on inside the Apple offices/Abbey Rd and MMT because I was there.
my website will tell you the tours that I do Beatles Hairdresser Official Site Home page
Are you going to be at the next International Beatles week in Liverpool ?
Yes I have been asked to be a guest speaker at “International Beatles Week” at the Adelphi hotel on the sunday 27th August.
I will also be doing book signings at Waterstones/Beatles story museum and Penny Lane Project .
Please look at my website or facebook for times of the events.
Leslie, thank you very much for your time and the interview, Is there something you want to add to all the Beatles fans around the world?
Thank you BEATLES MAGAZINE, this magazine is for ALL BEATLE FANS please make sure you read it because if you don’t you will miss out on interviews like mine and many other people connected to the WORLD OF THE FAB 4.
Thank you very much again Leslie for this interview !
The Cutting Edge: The Story of the Beatles’ Hairdresser Who Defined an Era, will be published on 24 August 2017.
PRE-ORDER … HERE
Don´t miss our Exclusive Interview with LESLIE CAVENDISH, the Beatles’ Hairdresser Who Defined an Era… this weekend on @BEATLESMAGAZINE
The Cutting Edge: The Story of the Beatles’ Hairdresser Who Defined an Era, will be published on 24 August 2017. A special limited edition is also available.
The Beatles’ hair changed the world. As their increasingly wild, untamed manes grew, to the horror of parents everywhere, they set off a cultural revolution as the most tangible symbol of the Sixties’ psychedelic dream of peace, love and playful rebellion. At the centre of this epochal change was Leslie Cavendish, hairdresser to the Beatles and designer of the four iconic men’s hairstyles, a brand image as immediately recognizable as the Nike swoosh or the Coca-Cola bottle. But just how did a fifteen-year-old Jewish school dropout from an undistinguished North London suburb, with no particular artistic talent or showbusiness connections, end up literally at the cutting edge of Sixties’ fashion in just four years? His story – honest, always entertaining and inspiring – parallels the meteoric rise of the Beatles themselves, and is no less astounding.