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"We Should Have Been the Beatles!"

'We could have been as big as the Beatles if we'd had as much success as them.'
So says Burt Friggit, a 56-yr-old Liverpudlian binman, who claims that his own little known 60s band, The Cockroaches, missed out on fame because the Fab Four beat them to it, and furthermore alleges that the group stole a lot of his own band's ideas and songs!

We caught up with Burt Friggit recently, at first he kept running away from us. We finally managed to pin him down. It took three of us to hold him, but when we'd explained we weren't from the tax office he agreed to an interview.

The Band's story began in Liverpool, where else: four lads that almost shook the world.
'We had girls chasing us everywhere,' Burt tells us.
Really? You had girls chasing you?
'Yeah - we owed em a bit of money, like; well a lot of money. Sometimes it was their older brothers who came after us. Girls used to lend us money see; to buy equipment 'cos we were so poor. We thought girls were a soft touch, but up in Liverpool they're made of stronger stuff; they used to come after us and we used to have to fend them off by punching them one.'
You hit girls?
'We had to, to defend ourselves. We use to burst their noses and give them black eyes; they never bothered us again after that.'

But you were never really huge were you? In fact you stayed relatively unknown throughout the whole of the sixties - at the time you say you had your biggest success!
'Our biggest regret is that we never made it big in the States. We were only ever big in Bootle - but at least that's something!'

When you meet Burt Friggit, he is a typical cheery, quick-witted, mouthy scouser, but Friggit has a chip on his shoulder the size of the Hindenberg. As we interviewed him further we found out things, that if they're true, could alter the entire course of musical history.
'I whistled and sang bits of Love Me Do to meself in a chip shop in '62, while I was waiting for me chips.' he told us. 'John Lennon was in the queue. It came out as a single not long after. All Lennon did was write a few of the words different - and they weren't even as good as the lyrics I'd written!'

some girls

(Some girls scream for their money back)

You can tell Friggit is bitter, but as he was telling us about his little-know 60s band, he kept trying to cover up his resentment with typical scouse quips.
According to Friggit, it's not the only thing the Beatles stole from the Cockroaches.
'We invented the mop top,' he told us. 'We all had mop tops months before the Beatles.'
He then went on to tell us how the famous crop came about.
'The style happened by accident. Mick's mam said she'd cut our hair to make us look presentable for the inevitable fame that was coming our way. But she wasn't a hairdresser, so she put bowls on our heads and cut round the bowl. The result was amazing, we'd found a new look; we were very excited about it. Paul McCartney saw us down the bookies with our new haircuts and when I next saw the Beatles they all had hair like ours!'

But Friggit claims that more than anything it was his and his bandmates songs that they mostly stole.
'Gaz and Mick wrote Eleanor Rigby and Penny Lane. Ticket To Ride - that was one of mine, and they didn't even bother to change the words with that one. She Loves You, I Want To Hold Your Hand - I wrote loads of 'em, the fucking Beatles nicked loads of me songs. I would sue but they've got more money than me, they'd get fancy lawyers. I'm only a binman, what chance do I have?'

'And we came up with the concept of Sgt Pepper years earlier,' Friggit told us.

Oh come on now, do you expect us to believe that?
'It's true I swear. Our Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds was called Hilda In The Chip Shop With Emeralds.'

Can all this be true or just a bizarre series of coincidences, or is Friggit lying? I mean, you know what scousers are like!

But there's more ...

'And you know like Brian Epstein put the lads into suits?'
I suppose you're going to tell me he stole that idea from you?
'Damn right he did la. I met Epstein in '62 and then the Beatles where a bunch of scruffy teds, I had a suit on. "Like the suit Brian?" I said to him, trying to impress him like; 'cos I wanted me band to be in with a chance like.'

What about the humour? Surely they didn't pinch their famous sense of humour from you.
'All scousers are funny.'

Oh yeah what about Les Dennis?
'Well, nearly all scousers are funny; we were funnier than The Beatles.'

What else did the Beatles steal from you?
'Well Ringo Starr once nicked me car. It's a little-known fact, but the Beatles were joyriders, thieving gets!'


burt friggit

(Friggit (centre) - with some of the lads on the bins)

Surely not, surely this can't be true.
'He nicked me fucking car,' Friggit insists. 'Someone said they saw him legging it and what's more I found some drumsticks on the passenger seat, it must've been him.'

But surely anyone could've left some drumsticks on the passenger seat?
'It was him alright, I have no doubt.'

Are you bitter?
''Course I'm fucking bitter! Although, I am happy working with the lads on the bins - I've made some great mates, I love the humour. I mean you don't get to travel round the world, have screaming girls chasing you, live in luxury, or screw a different groupie every night, but it's a laugh and it pays the mortgage.'

So you firmly believe that this is the case, the Beatles owe everything to you?
'Lennon was the main culprit. That dickhead was the one that did most of the pilfering of me art.'

Why do you say this?
''Cos he kept coming in the chippy and fool that I am I kept whistling and singing the songs we'd wrote, and I didn't realise it at the time but he used to have a notebook, and he was jotting stuff down. It must have been our songs he was writing down.'

So you blame John Lennon?
'He wants shooting!'

Did you have any moments of glory?
'We were at the Cavern when the Beatles where there,' he said, his eyes lighting up with the memory.

You played on stage the same night as the Beatles?
'Not exactly on stage.'

Oh I see, you were just in the audience?
'Not exactly in the audience.'

Where then?
'Well ... outside. We couldn't get in, it was packed out!'

How did the name The Cockroaches come about, it seems like an odd choice?
'We wanted a name like The Crickets; you know, as in Buddy Holly and the Crickets.'

Isn't that where the Beatles said they got the idea of their name from?
'They stole that idea from us too. But we come up with a better name, I mean: the Beatles - what sort of a name is that?'


the beatles

(The Beatles - "Thieving gets!")

The Cockroaches only release was a single, Insect Love. The lyrics went, '... I'd like to get my feelers on you, I am an insect for your love ...'
'It was a catchy little tune too, but because of the Beatles it did nothing.'

Don't you think it's due to the fact that it's almost the same tune as the Fab Four's, I Wanna Be Your Man?
'Again, the Beatles nicked it from us, Ringo heard me humming it down the launderette. It really does me head in.'

Are you lying? We asked him straight.
'I don't blame you for thinking that, I would if I were you, it all sounds a bit far fetched.'

And that's an understatement.
'I know. I know how it sounds but it's true.'

Is it true? Could the Cockroaches have been the Beatles if the Fab Four hadn't beaten them to it? Burt, Gaz, Mick and Ron doesn't quite have the same Ringo to it, does it?