Transcript: Chris O'Dell on Her Access to Music Legends

Chris ODell sat down for an interview with ABC News Kate Snow on Oct. 9,2009.ABC News
Chris O'Dell sat down for an interview with ABC News' Kate Snow on Oct. 9,2009.

Chris O'Dell sat down for an interview with ABC News' Kate Snow Oct. 7, 2009. The following transcript of their interview has been edited for clarity.

KATE SNOW:
The first thing I wanted to ask you is can you just ... can you just really quickly summarize all of the many, many bands that you have worked for because there are so many I'm not even sure I know the whole list?

CHRIS O'DELL:
OK, and sometimes I forget.

KATE SNOW:
Can you remember how ... how ... do you know how many? Have you ever counted?

CHRIS O'DELL:
No I've never counted.

KATE SNOW:
OK.

CHRIS O'DELL:
I just figured that whoever was around at that time I usually have a story connected to so ...

KATE SNOW:
Right.

CHRIS O'DELL:
So starting with the Beatles. The Stones, Bob Dylan, um ... George Harrison when he toured with Ravi Shankar, Santana, Earth, Wind and Fire, Phil Collins, um Fleetwood Mac, and I'm sure there are more.

KATE SNOW:
Linda Ronstadt.

CHRIS O'DELL:
Linda Ronstadt, Jennifer Warnes. Yeah.

KATE SNOW:
It's not a shabby list.

CHRIS O'DELL:
No.

KATE SNOW:
It's a pretty good list.

CHRIS O'DELL:
That was a pretty good list.

KATE SNOW:
How did you break into this world? How did you get into this in the first place?

CHRIS O'DELL:
Well I ran away from home sort of. My parents drove me, literally, and ended up in L.A. and I just had to get out of Tucson. I needed to do something different and I loved music. But it was totally by accident that I ended up working at a record company and met Derek Taylor who was The Beatles' press agent and was going back to London at Apple and we became friends and he said why don't you come over?

KATE SNOW:
Do you remember that moment? It must have

CHRIS O'DELL: Yeah. I do.

KATE SNOW:
I mean now looking back it's a pivotal moment in your life, right? If you had said no none of the rest of it would have happened.

CHRIS O'DELL:
absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah I remember thinking oh yeah right, never. That would never happen. I couldn't name but I didn't even believe he really knew them.

KATE SNOW:
The Beatles.

CHRIS O'DELL:
Yeah.

KATE SNOW:
And then you get there.

CHRIS O'DELL:
And then I get there.

KATE SNOW:
And I think on your first day at least one if not two Beatles walked in the door.

CHRIS O'DELL:
Well two; Paul ... Paul came in and I could hear his voice through a wall and it was like oh my gosh, you know? And then I walked out of the door and there was ... there were John and Yoko sitting there and it was ... was the ... the most fabulous day because they went from being like these magazine photos and .. .and these people I'd seen on TV to being real live people. Yeah.

KATE SNOW:
How did you deal with that? That ... were you star struck at first? Were you, you know, shy, anxious around them or did ... or would ... do you think ... do you think maybe ... I'm wondering if maybe some of the reason they always wanted you around from then on out was because you were comfortable around them.

CHRIS O'DELL:
Uh ... I have a ... I think I have a really good way of ... of kind of minimizing my anxiety andand my shyness and and covering it up with an ability to seem confident and and to just look at the person for who they are and I think they recognized that.

KATE SNOW:
Yeah. The '60s, the '70s; pretty wild time um .. .and your book kind of makes it seem that way. What was it...what was it like just overall? Let's talk big picture first. What was it like to be part of the inner sanctum of that world, of the late '60s early '70s?

CHRIS O'DELL:
It was like being let go in Disneyland. That's what it felt like. It's like here are the keys to Disneyland, go and enjoy yourself. And I was constantly aware that I was watching history in the making and that was exciting. So every day had some, or certainly every week, had something, a twist to it that made it really exciting.

KATE SNOW:
You didn't have big jobs at first, right?

CHRIS O'DELL:
No, no, no I had to start at the bottom. I wa...what was I? I was the paper clipper or the uh ... what's it called? The ...

KATE SNOW:
Clipping out.

CHRIS O'DELL:
Clipping, yeah. The...

KATE SNOW:
Clipping out the clips for the day.

CHRIS O'DELL:
Yeah.

KATE SNOW:
From the newspaper.

CHRIS O'DELL:
From the newspaper.

KATE SNOW:
Literally with scissors at that time, right?

CHRIS O'DELL:
Literally scissors oh yeah, yeah.

KATE SNOW:
Now it's all computerized.

CHRIS O'DELL:
No, scissors, glue, on the floor and into scrapbooks.

KATE SNOW:
You were running to get lunches.

CHRIS O'DELL:
Mm hmm.

KATE SNOW:
You were doing personal errands for people.

CHRIS O'DELL:
Right.

KATE SNOW:
Then you started sort of house sitting for big music stars.

CHRIS O'DELL:
Well I actually got a job working as a secretary, which they call in England personal assistant which sounded much better, for Peter Asher. So I was in Apple. Once I got into Apple as a ... as an employee um ... then I went to work with George as his personal assistant after that about a year later.

KATE SNOW:
What um...what was it like to be in Apple Records at that time. And I'm talking about the first time. I mean I know you went back a second time and it was sort of down on its luck. But the first time around, just explain me kind of the atmosphere. Can you? Can you capture it in words? What was the atmosphere?

CHRIS O'DELL:
It was um ... every day there was something going on. First of all The Beatles were there a lot so at different times one of them would kind of be in charge of Apple. Paul started off being the guy in charge and he would be there every day and involved with us and doing things with us. So there was a ... it was ... it felt like you were in the place where everybody in the world wanted to be, you know, because people were always dropping in. Lauren Bacall would drop in. Dwayne Eddy would drop in. I mean sometimes people you didn't even know um ... that you didn't even know were there. You know, and you would hear the rumor and everything.

But it was...it was the place where most of us, I think probably anybody in the world would have thought oh I'd like to be there.

KATE SNOW:
Do you know where the purple desk is now?

CHRIS O'DELL:
No idea. No idea.

KATE SNOW:
Yeah. I was curious. Um ... of all the experiences that you had with The Beatles, let's just talk Beatles, of all the experiences you had with The Beatles what's the one that stands out? Is there one story that you when you think Beatles oh that's the story?

CHRIS O'DELL:
Um ... I think probably the first night in the recording session and actually being able to see them. I mean there were many of them. You know, on the roof was a wonderful experience also and their last concert. But something about walking into the recording studio and being in that ... that sacred place was very memorable.

KATE SNOW:
What was it like to be in a recording studio with any of them?

CHRIS O'DELL:
Um ... it was ... well it was ... there was the music, you know, that was playing and I think at that time I wasn't even paying attention to what was...what was going on in terms of the music. I was just watching them, you know, and realizing that I was watching these people that produced this amazing music while they were making this music.

KATE SNOW:
Right.

CHRIS O'DELL:
So it was very interesting.

KATE SNOW:
Tell me about the concert on the roof because everybody remembers that and I was looking at the pictures. There's that picture in the book of they're on the roof and then there's a blurry face over here and there's...that's Chris O'Dell.

CHRIS O'DELL:
Yeah the blurry face.

KATE SNOW:

CHRIS O'DELL: Um ... it was ... well first of all I was lucky to have been there because the roof was actually very weak at the top of Apple and so they told all of us that we couldn't go up there. None of the employees could. And I had gotten to know the camer ... I always got to know the right people so I got to know the cameraman.

KATE SNOW:
I'll say.

CHRIS O'DELL:
And he said come up, you can help me. So I went up and I just sat there thinking god I hope nobody realizes that I'm not supposed to be here. But it was ...i t was freezing cold. That is, I mean that I remember more than anything – how cold it was up there. But also it was just so exciting to think originally the idea was that they were going to ... they were doing it so that everybody in the whole West End of London could hear the music and in fact the amps weren't that big. So the people on Saville Row could hear it and it was fun to watch them looking up trying to figure out what was that?

KATE SNOW:
ou peered over the edge at one point, right?

CHRIS O'DELL:
Yes I did. Uh huh.

KATE SNOW:
And what did you see down below?

CHRIS O'DELL:
Oh people looking up in bowler hats and...and you know, all kind of people, because this was in a pretty distinguished part of London, trying to figure out where was this music coming from?

KATE SNOW:
And what was the music like?

CHRIS O'DELL:
Um...well it was very similar to what I had, you know, I'd...I hate to say this, but I'd gotten kind of used to hearing The Beatles .

KATE SNOW:
You got kind of over them after a while.

CHRIS O'DELL:
Yeah I kind of got used to it. It wa...but it was very exciting. It was so exciting.

KATE SNOW:
Did you know then that it was sort of a magical moment that the...maybe the end of a...of an era?

CHRIS O'DELL:
I don't think I knew it was the last time they would ever play together live. Um...I don't think I...I realized that then. I knew that it was getting pretty close to the end of the group though.

KATE SNOW:
Because you saw some of the tensions up close over years, right? You were there I think when basically when Paul decided to leave, right?

CHRIS O'DELL:
I was living at George's house and um...we found out through the newspaper or at least that's the way I remember it is that they...someone must have called George that morning and said, you know, Paul's quit the band. And so we had all the newspapers there and...and I mean the newspapers literally, not newspaper people. And that's how he found out.

KATE SNOW:
How upset was he?

CHRIS O'DELL:
I think he was very upset and I say that because he, you know, by that time they'd all quit. Every one of them had quit before Paul and Paul had talked...

KATE SNOW:
To go do their own solo things.

CHRIS O'DELL:
Yeah. Well they all said OK I'm out, you know? And I mean George actually one time in a...in a rehearsal they were doing at Friar Park said if you want to leave this band how would you do it and someone said well you just get up and say I quit and so Paul said or Jo...George stood up and said OK I quit and he took off. But then he came back. So Paul kind of talked them into coming back. They talked each other.

So when Paul left it was kind of like they all felt a little, I think um...

KATE SNOW:
Undercut maybe?

CHRIS O'DELL: Uh yeah, yeah. That he hadn't told them.

KATE SNOW:
Or deceived.

CHRIS O'DELL:
Deceived I think yes. Disappointed certainly.

KATE SNOW:
I want to ask you about living at the house with George and Pattie because that was really, it seems like to me that that was really the first big, huge moment of being in the...really the inner, personal inner sanctum of...of these folks.

CHRIS O'DELL:
Right.

KATE SNOW:
What was that like?

CHRIS O'DELL:
Um...well it was very...this was a really big house. I mean 100 and...

KATE SNOW:
100 and some rooms?

CHRIS O'DELL:
I can't remember how many. I think 125 or something. I don't know if I ever saw them all. But um...so first of all it was...I was actually the party that Pattie had for her birthday was my first kind of introduction...introduction to The Beatles' social life and I'd heard about it. You know, the special parties and you had to...you...it was very inner circle stuff. And so it was quite something to realize my gosh I'm here, you know? Here I am in this party with them.

KATE SNOW:
Did you ever feel like an imposter?

CHRIS O'DELL:
Um...I don't think so, no then. Sometimes today when I talk about it I do. I think wow this isn't who I am anymore, but you know? Um...no, not really. I just kind of kept thinking how lucky I was that I was really lucky.

KATE SNOW:
Pin...pinching yourself.

CHRIS O'DELL:
Yeah. Really lucky.

KATE SNOW:
What was it like day in and day out though being out there at the house with them? I mean cause it...it seems like it almost got a little...

CHRIS O'DELL:
Boring.

KATE SNOW:
Yeah.

CHRIS O'DELL:
It got a little boring because what we were doing is polishing doorknobs and light fixtures and fixing up things and buying furniture and they were very involved in their house both of them at that time. And I think that it got a little difficult sometimes just the tensions that were also going on underneath it all.

KATE SNOW:
Between Pattie and George?

CHRIS O'DELL:
Between George and Pattie, yeah.

KATE SNOW:
Did you...you knew that? I mean it was obvious or...?

CHRIS O'DELL:
It was...you could feel it. I don't know that we talked about it that much but I think it was...it was pretty apparent that Pattie was feeling a bit left out.

KATE SNOW:
You didn't know that she was having an affair with Eric Clapton, right?

CHRIS O'DELL:
No. No, where was I?

KATE SNOW:
You were right there.

CHRIS O'DELL:
No I thought he...I thought he liked me. Um...no, I didn't know. They kept it very well hidden.

KATE SNOW:
You thought he liked you.

CHRIS O'DELL:
Yeah I thought he liked me. I thought he kept coming over because of me.

KATE SNOW:
For years, right?

CHRIS O'DELL:
Well for a while. He and I were very good friends for a while and spent some time together and only later did I realize that part of that was because of hers and my friendship.

KATE SNOW:
And he wanted to see Pattie.

CHRIS O'DELL:
Yeah.

KATE SNOW:
yeah. You...you developed quite a friendship with Pattie, right? Which I think still is ongoing today, right?

CHRIS O'DELL:
Yes.

KATE SNOW:
What...what kind of...how would you describe that friendship? I mean was it sisterly or...?

CHRIS O'DELL:
Very much and her sisters are friend of mine...are friends of mine too, but she and I just clicked right at the beginning and we still can go back to that. We just go right back to where we left off.

KATE SNOW:
I'm not sure if I'm going in order here, probably not, but Hey Jude. Somewhere in all that Beatles time you were in a recor....tell...will you tell me that whole story of Hey Jude and how you ended up singing on the chorus?

CHRIS O'DELL:
Okay.

KATE SNOW:
Cause that's got to be one of the highlights, right?

CHRIS O'DELL:
That was a highlight, yeah.

KATE SNOW: Okay so what was I just asking?
Hey Jude.

CHRIS O'DELL:
Hey Jude.

KATE SNOW: Will you just tell me the story of how...how on earth did, you know, a little girl from Tucson end up on the chorus?

CHRIS O'DELL:
On that. Um...I...well I hu...I went to the studio a lot. I had a free pass so I figured I would use it. So I wa...I just was at the studio that night and was watching them record it. They were actually putting on the instruments, all the instruments, the orchestra and Paul came up and said come on down, we're going to put some vocals on and I thought oh, you know. Every time, I don't know, I didn't know till I read the book...

KATE SNOW:
Are you a singer?

CHRIS O'DELL:
No. That was that was the paralyzing part of is that it's like oh my god I can't sing. So um...I went down to the studio cause it was downstairs, went down and there were just a bunch of us standing around the microphones and he told us what to sing and it wasn't difficult. The words are not difficult on the chorus.

KATE SNOW:
Yeah it's la, la, la. Right.

CHRIS O'DELL:
Not tricky. But at first I just mouthed the words cause I thought oh my god I don't want to screw this up. Then I realized wait a minute there are a lot of voices here. So then I got into it and it was fun.

KATE SNOW:
Can you hear yourself on the track?

CHRIS O'DELL:
No.

KATE SNOW:
That's a very cool story to hold onto though. Um ... the other story that I was interesting in, and I don't ... and again you tell me if you have others that are more of your favorites, but the Bob Dylan concert when you were ... you had to get on a helicopter and bring him, what was it?

CHRIS O'DELL:
Oh, harmonicas. Yes.

KATE SNOW:
Tell me that story.

CHRIS O'DELL:
Okay we were um ... I was ... had planned to go to the Isle of Wight concert because this was Bob's first concert in, I don't know, a couple of years I guess he had been kin ... very private. Um ... so it was a uh ... very big occasion and this was um ... something I definitely wasn't going to miss. So I told ... a friend of mine who worked there we decided we were going to pack our little suitcases or our backpacks and go down and just be like regular people going to a concert. And within a couple days we got a call from George saying Bob forget his harmonicas, could we stop and ... could we go shopping and pick up some harmonicas.

KATE SNOW:
Bob Dylan forgot his harm...yeah OK.

CHRIS O'DELL:
Yeah, Bob Dylan forgot his harmonicas and so we kind of went oh OK. So we got his harmonicas and then George called back who was staying with Bob at the Isle of Wight and said well just take that ... a helicopter down. So we went from going to catch the train like regular people to flying in a helicopter with Bob Dylan's harmonicas in ...

KATE SNOW:
To a farmhouse on an idyllic island, right?

CHRIS O'DELL:
To a farmhouse, yes. And landing basically in the backyard. And as we were coming down in the helicopter there's Bob sticking his head out the bedroom window upstairs kind of watching us and I thought this is a reverse.

KATE SNOW:
He's watching you.

CHRIS O'DELL:
He's watching me.

KATE SNOW:
And then on the way home from that trip you ended up getting a ride. You thought you were going to take the train again, but you get a ride with ...

CHRIS O'DELL:
Then ... then John Lennon asked how we were getting back and ... and the guy I was with had worked for them too and said uh ... well we're going to take the train. He said no, fly with us. So we got on their little plane and flew back to London.

KATE SNOW:
Do you want to tell the story of what happened on the little plane?

CHRIS O'DELL:
Yes I can tell the story.

KATE SNOW:

CHRIS O'DELL:
Uh ... well we smoked a ... some very good hashish more than likely um ... and were just kind of passing this joint around and suddenly I just got very paranoid and thought for sure the pilot was getting as high as I was and that for some reason my imagination was that his idea would be to just fly straight up. So I was convinced he was going to fly straight up into the sky. And while that was happening the plane started actually hitting some turbulence and then John and Yoko started singing Hari Krishna, the Hari Krishna chant and then I thought oh now we are in trouble.

So we just chanted our way to the earth basically until we landed and it was like oh, OK. And I thought well if I die here at least I'll be on the front page.

KATE SNOW:
With John and Yoko on the plane, yeah.

CHRIS O'DELL:
With John and Yoko – two Apple employees.

KATE SNOW:
Um ... you ... I guess I sort of already asked you this about whether you ever felt like an interloper, but you were sort of there by accident. You know, that ... that one phone call back in L.A. getting you to Apple was the beginning of all of this. Did you ever feel that? Did you ever feel ... I guess there's a quote I could uh ... read back to you. You said in the book um ... that you were being paid to live someone else's life.

CHRIS O'DELL:
Right.

KATE SNOW:
Just tell me about that. What ... what it feel like to be there but then to be ... you're not the musician. You're not the one making the records. You're just sort of there.

CHRIS O'DELL:
I think that's why I became such good friends with the wives um...because I ... I could connect with them. I mean we could sit around and talk while they were doing ... while the bands were playing or the musicians were doing their thing or I could go to their house while they were in the studio. Um ... I felt more when I went on tour was when I really began to feel I was living other people's lives because it was all about getting people from here to there.

Back at that time I was still in awe working for The Beatles particularly.

KATE SNOW:
So I was just asking about page 158 in the book you say you were being paid to live someone else's life. Why did you feel that way?

CHRIS O'DELL:
Um...well for a ... a lot of the time it was because everything I did was to help other people in their life. That particularly happened during the touring days um...and you know, when Pattie and George became such good friends of mine wherever they were I'd kind of be with them. So it was their limo, their hotel suite, their house ...

KATE SNOW:
Their money often.

CHRIS O'DELL:
Their money, yeah. And um ... you know, that was more in a friendship. When I was working for the bands, but I think it was true especially with touring when I was working for them. It was always about what did they need. What were they...you know, where were they supposed to be? What was their schedule? It was always somebody else's. Particularly the idea that it was um ... their ... their money, their limos.

KATE SNOW:
So when you read the book it sort of seems incredible at times, unbelievable at times that you fall into, you know, here you are here. Oh and then you're with the Rolling Stones and then you fall into Crosby, Stills and Nash and then ... you know? It almost seems unbelievable that you somehow keep landing in each of these roles without ... sometimes without even really a concrete role. You would just sort of be there.

CHRIS O'DELL:
Yeah.

KATE SNOW:
And then they'd find something for you to do.

CHRIS O'DELL:
And that's what it felt like. A lot of times it just felt like I was at the right place at the right time. And I also know that I was willing to do, you know, if somebody said let's do this I'd go OK, this sounds like it could be fun. So I was willing to take a chance where some people might have held back and wanted more security. But definitely it was being in the right time at the right place.

And then after a while I had a pretty good resume.

KATE SNOW:
You had their trust too, right?

CHRIS O'DELL:
Yes, definitely.

KATE SNOW:

You never talked.

CHRIS O'DELL:
No.

KATE SNOW:
You didn't go to the press and tell their stories.

CHRIS O'DELL:
Mm mm. No.

KATE SNOW:
Could you have?

CHRIS O'DELL:
I couldn't have. I mean that wouldn't have...that just wouldn't have felt right to me because they were friends and ... and I knew that ... that they ... I knew what their lives were like and that their private time was really their private time.

KATE SNOW:
I imagine that's a part of why you kept getting asked to come back because they knew they could trust you.

CHRIS O'DELL:
Yeah.

KATE SNOW:
Um ... you also say in the book that you started at the top and climbed down. I think you said that around when you were talking about the Rolling Stones, that you sort of had done The Beatles which is up here and then you so...did...did you sort of feel like you went backwards a little?

CHRIS O'DELL:
Yeah it was kind of uh ... climbing down the ladder. That's...that's the way I ... I have actually said that more than a few times in my life. And that was from my perspective The Beatles were the top. I believed they were the ... the best band and their music was good ... was the best. And then the Stones kind of were like OK after that and it just kind of felt that way. And I wasn't particularly a Dillon fan as a kid so that, you know, but as I worked for The Beatles I started to admire him because they ... they admired him.

KATE SNOW:
You say he always stared right through you, right?

CHRIS O'DELL:
Oh yeah.

KATE SNOW:
Every time you saw Bob Dylan.

CHRIS O'DELL:
He could defi ... that was his defense. He definitely could do that.

KATE SNOW:
Tell me about the Rolling Stones though just quickly. Um ... and I have to ask, you were on tour with them, but then you started sleeping with Mick Jagger, right? How did that happen?

CHRIS O'DELL:
Um ... well I guess it was part of the job. Um ...

KATE SNOW:
At that time.

CHRIS O'DELL:
It just ... it just seemed sort of natural to be honest. It was kind of we were very close. We were together every day. I spent every day at his house probably seven days a week, you know, into the evenings, into the studios. You know, I was the person he turned to. I went to parties with him and everything.

KATE SNOW:
Everybody wants to know what is he really like.

CHRIS O'DELL:
Um ... pretty much like you would imagine. He's...he's got a devilish, impish way about him and it comes across in all aspects of who he is. And, you know, he .. he um ... I always felt like we were just really good friends. You know as I look at my diary ...

KATE SNOW:
It wasn't a romantic thing.

CHRIS O'DELL:
No, no. There was never anything of oh I could be Mick Jagger ... uh ... no thank you. That wasn't the position I was seeking.

KATE SNOW:
His wife.

CHRIS O'DELL:
Yeah.

KATE SNOW:
Was he married at the time? I can't remember.

CHRIS O'DELL:
He was married to Bianca.

KATE SNOW:
Bianca.

CHRIS O'DELL:
And she was pretty independent. She spent a lot of time you know, doing dif...other things. Yeah.

KATE SNOW:
I don't want to get anybody in trouble, but I would imagine they had a fairly open marriage at that time.

CHRIS O'DELL:
Yeah.

KATE SNOW:
Um ... uh ... shoot, I just had a thought and I was ... oh yes, uh ... Keith Richards.

CHRIS O'DELL:
Mm hmm.

KATE SNOW:
Around that same time when you were on the tour, how long were you on that tour? Was that like a year or ...?

CHRIS O'DELL:
Well I worked for them for about a year.

KATE SNOW: About a year.

CHRIS O'DELL:
And I was their personal assistant and then the tour was a month, two months. Seemed like a year.

KATE SNOW:
There was a time ...t here was a time when Keith Richards asked you to go to Los Angeles just to get him drugs.

CHRIS O'DELL:
Mm hmm.

KATE SNOW:
You did a drug run for Keith Richards.

CHRIS O'DELL:
Yeah, but I ...

KATE SNOW:
Does that seem startling now?

CHRIS O'DELL:
Today it's a little start ... it's much more startling than it was then. Then it was just kind of oh, OK, you know, this is what I did. I worked for them and they asked me to do a drug run that's where I went, you know? I do know that I was a little nervous about it.

KATE SNOW:
What did you get?

CHRIS O'DELL:
I think it was cocaine because I believe that we had some when I got back to the tour, you know? But I had already done a run for Mick to New York to get his camera fixed and so these little runs happened. This was the drug run ... first drug run though.

KATE SNOW:
But the drugs were so much a part of everyday life, right?

CHRIS O'DELL:
Yes.

KATE SNOW:
I mean can you describe for me the way you do in the book what a day would have been like? I guess maybe even post-Rolling Stones in that period where you were really...

CHRIS O'DELL: Well the Rolling Stones were kind of my first as they would say in recovery, it was my first bottom because on the tour everything was available so you know, I just like everybody else thought ... I mean Keith once said to me you can do this just like a guy and I thought oh that was such a compliment where today, you know? But ...

KATE SNOW:
He would stay up for days at a time.

CHRIS O'DELL:
Yes he would stay up for days at a time. And that was almost a goal. You know, it's like wow if Keith can do it so can I. Let me try to do it. Um ...

KATE SNOW:
What are we talking about? What kind of drugs?

CHRIS O'DELL:
He ... well he was doing both heroin and cocaine, but ...

KATE SNOW:
But you?

CHRIS O'DELL:
Cocaine. I was not into heroin. It wasn't my drug of choice at all. But I did cocaine and alcohol. Lots of alcohol. So uh ... you know uh ... a day for me would be get up, have a line and maybe coffee first, but it just depended on how tired I was and what time I went to bed. But that was pretty much what happened all day long was the cocaine was there. And they had a doctor on tour with them so we had really good cocaine -- pharmaceutical cocaine.

KATE SNOW:
The doctor was ...

CHRIS O'DELL:
Yeah.

KATE SNOW:
OK. OK. Um ... I think it must have been a little later in the book then that I'm thinking of because I remember a time and I don't know where exactly it was in time, but when you described up down up down during the day.

CHRIS O'DELL:
Right.

KATE SNOW:
That you would get up at like noon.

CHRIS O'DELL:
Right.

CHRIS O'DELL:
But you tell it to me.

KATE SNOW:
That was right after the tour. I came off the tour and ... and suddenly there wasn't anything to do anymore. I didn't have a job. The Stones went back to England. Um ... I was just sort of left sitting in L.A. in my little apartment. But I did have a good supplier and so I would take drugs and do Quaaludes and drink pretty much all day and I mean...

KATE SNOW:
How did the day go?

CHRIS O'DELL:
You know it was, it was up late and stay up late and ... and didn't see very many people. I hibernated a lot. I went into a really, really deep depression during that time obviously from all the drugs and alcohol. Um...yeah.

KATE SNOW:
I'm thinking back to the...the up down because I don't know the names of the drugs, but you were saying that you .. .you would start with cocaine.

CHRIS O'DELL:
Oh the mixing.

KATE SNOW:
Right, yeah. What, I mean cause I think around...you would get up around noon. You'd start with the cocaine and then you'd take Quaaludes or something or some ...

CHRIS O'DELL:
Right.

KATE SNOW:
What was it again? Yeah.

CHRIS O'DELL:
The uh ... oh ... oh the Seconals. Those came in too. Right.

MAN: It sounded like you would like take something to take the edge off and then you'd take something else.

CHRIS O'DELL:
Right.

KATE SNOW:
The only reason I'm trying to get you to say it is just cause then we can understand where you were at in your life.

CHRIS O'DELL:
OK, OK. Right.

KATE SNOW:
Because it was pretty much rock bottom, wasn't it or somewhere around there was rock bottom.


CHRIS O'DELL:

It was very much rock bottom, right. And it started with the Stones tour and then it just kind of kept on going. The tour was over, but I kept on going and I kept on going by basically keeping myself ... trying to find the perfect high, trying to find the perfect balance. So it would be, you know, do a line of coke or a couple lines of coke and then that would be too edgy so it would be OK have a Quaalude or a Seconal, something that kind of pulled me down or pushed me down. Then I'd get too down so I'd have to do something more and then by the evening I was using alcohol to also take the edge off.

So it was always looking for that perfect balance, but never finding it.

KATE SNOW:
Do you remember when you hit bottom? Bottom-bottom.

CHRIS O'DELL:
Yeah it was the day that I was supposed to go see my hypnotherapist who I was seeing for who knows what actually. It should have been drugs, but it wasn't. And I couldn't get to the car. I couldn't get down the stairs of my apartment. I had taken enough Quaaludes that, well too much Qua...too many Quaaludes that I couldn't do ... I couldn't manage the stairs. So ...

KATE SNOW:
You could have killed yourself.

CHRIS O'DELL:
Yeah absolutely. But I never thought of that. I mean that wasn't something that we thought of back in those days. We thought of the fact, or at least I didn't think we thought of it. You know, we just thought that was getting high and people who died died because they just didn't know how to stop. You know, that's part of the denial.

KATE SNOW:
And even when you did stop a lot of friends in the music business that you were still in were telling you not to stop, right?

CHRIS O'DELL:
Right.

KATE SNOW:
They were encouraging you to keep going and ...

CHRIS O'DELL:
Right. It was 1973 was ...'70 into '72-'73 and people .. .my hypnotherapist got me to stop by using hypnosis and, but nobody ever suggested anything to support it. Nobody said AA or anything like that back at that time. So and there wasn't the idea of OK you stop and you stop forever.

But I did try to stop and the people around me were like saying oh, come on you're so boring or come on O'Dell let's, you know, have a little. A lot of that. So the pressure was definitely there.

KATE SNOW:
And you did for many years have a little, right? I mean you still kept drinking.

CHRIS O'DELL:
Yeah I didn't ... yeah.

KATE SNOW:
When did you finally get clean?

CHRIS O'DELL:
I got clean in 1988. Yeah.

KATE SNOW:
Good for you. That's great. Um ... tell me about, this is jumping a little, but tell me about Miss O'Dell, the song written about you. Uh ... do you ... I guess he ... he was in L.A. or visiting L.A. and he was sitting out in Malibu and trying to get you to call. Is that kind of the story?

CHRIS O'DELL:
Right, yeah. He came into L.A. to do some work and he called me up. And this was during the period when I was doing a lot of Seconal and a lot of coke. And you know, it just you ... as I think back now it doesn't make sense to me even. Why would I not go and see George at the beach, you know? But for some reason I ... I just thought I couldn't handle it and it was too far to drive or I didn't want to deal with the people that were there and I just couldn't handle it. So I just kept not going.

KATE SNOW:
And not calling.

CHRIS O'DELL:
And not calling and he would call and say are you coming and ... and I would go oh yeah, yeah I'll be there and then I wouldn't go. And so what happened is that he um ... wrote a song one night when I didn't come out to the house. He wrote a song saying why don't you call me because I wasn't calling. So you know, it probably happened over three or four days where I just didn't go out.

KATE SNOW:
When you listen to the song it ... it's well known for the laughing in the middle of the song. He starts kind of messing up the lyrics and just laughing through it.

CHRIS O'DELL:
Right.

KATE SNOW:
Were you there when he recorded that?

CHRIS O'DELL:
No. He did that in London. Um ...

KATE SNOW:
Do you know why he was laughing?

CHRIS O'DELL:
Yes I do. He told he forgot the lyrics and later I read, not that long ago I read that the lyrics he forgot...he started singing something about the rice rolling up to your front door and if you actually listen to the song you can still hear him sing that and so he burst out laughing. And then I think once he started laughing other guys that were working they started laughing and Capital Records wanted him to release it as the A side because they said it would be fun for people to hear him in...in that more human aspect and he didn't do it.

KATE SNOW:
Yeah he did a B side.

CHRIS O'DELL:
Yeah.

KATE SNOW:
But still a B side from one of the...

CHRIS O'DELL:
I'm a B side.

KATE SNOW:
Yeah from one of the former Beat...that's not too bad. How do you...

CHRIS O'DELL:
That's not bad.

KATE SNOW:
How does it feel to have a song immortalizing you?

CHRIS O'DELL:
Uh ... you know, I love that song and it means so much. I have three songs that were written for me and um...you know, I just it's ... they stay with you forever. You've got them all your life. They're the greatest gifts.

KATE SNOW:
Yeah. Um...I feel like I'm jumping around here so let me just look down at my notes for a second. Uh...we haven't talked about Maureen and Ringo Starr which we probably should. Um ... it kind of seemed I mean you were closer to Maureen first, right? CHRIS O'DELL: Pattie.

KATE SNOW:
No I'm talking about Maureen.

CHRIS O'DELL:
The two of...between her and Ringo yeah.

KATE SNOW:
Didn't you...you sort of developed the friendship with Maureen and she trusted you and she asked you to look after Ringo...

CHRIS O'DELL:
Right.

KATE SNOW:
...when he came on a trip and that's not quite how it worked out.

CHRIS O'DELL:
No um...

KATE SNOW:
But it's ... see it's ... it's ... I guess I'm asking because it always ... it seemed like you were pretty respectful of the wives in general you were and that's why they liked having you around too. They knew you weren't going to try to steal their husband.

CHRIS O'DELL:
Right.

KATE SNOW:
But then you go ahead and sleep with Ringo.

CHRIS O'DELL:
Well she told me to.

KATE SNOW:
She told you to.

CHRIS O'DELL:
She told me to. I think at that particular time there was a lot of confusion in general amongst these peop...amongst that group of people and ...

KATE SNOW:
They were all trading wives and husbands.

CHRIS O'DELL:
Yeah and I think the best way to explain that is that because those ... that group was basically pretty small again. That you know, when George finally told Ringo that he was in love with Maureen Ringo's response was well better you than someone else. And you know, I think that sort of ... it's like OK at least it's not somebody that we don't know.

KATE SNOW:
It's all in the family.

CHRIS O'DELL:
It's all in the family. And I think that's kind of the way it was at that point.

KATE SNOW:
So you were part of the family too so it was OK for you to sleep with Ringo.

CHRIS O'DELL:
Well.

KATE SNOW:
Is that kind of ...?

CHRIS O'DELL:
I think what happened is that, you know, he ... he came to L.A. and he was very sad and depressed because his divorce, because of the marriage, not that they were divorcing yet and we started hanging out together and, you know, as things happen you find an attraction and you kind of go with it. But it wasn't a very comfortable attraction throughout the whole time. And we were good friends so again it was a situation where the friendship outlasted the attraction.

KATE SNOW:
And that never happened with George, right? You were ... it was always ...

CHRIS O'DELL:
He was like a brother. That would have been incestuous.

KATE SNOW:
Um ... what else?

CHRIS O'DELL:
Actually, you know, one of the things that ... that I ... that I did say is that Pattie pretty much asked me not to. That was sort of the condition of our friendship at the very beginning ... you know, as long ... if you do have anything with George then, you know, that's it with us.

KATE SNOW:
We can't be friends.

CHRIS O'DELL:
We can't be friends.

KATE SNOW:
And you valued her friendship so much that you would never break that.

CHRIS O'DELL:
Right, right, right. And I think that if I hadn't seen Maureen and George together that would have probably been different with Maureen too. But it ... it was kind of like oh well they're doing it, you know? What were ... we were in our 20s, you know?

KATE SNOW:
Yeah. It was a crazy time.

CHRIS O'DELL:
It was a crazy ... it was the '70s.

KATE SNOW: It really was. Um ... you were one of the only female tour managers, jumping ahead a little bit, when you started with I think Crosby, Stills and Nash, right was the first ones you actually managed?

CHRIS O'DELL:
Right.

KATE SNOW:
So what was it like to be one of the fir ... you're really sort of a frontier pioneer woman doing the work of...that had always been done by men.

CHRIS O'DELL:
Yeah and I didn't think of ... about it at the time. Um ... it was hard work. I wasn't prepared for that. I thought that it would be oh this is going to be a lot of fun going out with the band even though I had been on the Stones tour and I knew that was really difficult I wasn't working the tour. I wasn't organizing. I was still taking care of them. And after the third or fourth day I thought I was going to die because you don't get any sleep. And you know, you're up in the morning first thing to get everybody else up and to organize everything and you're the last one to bed at night because you've got to get everything organized for the next day. So it was really hard work. I think I gained the respect of the people ... men, because I worked mostly with the men ... with men of the men that I worked with because I worked really hard.

KATE SNOW:
Yeah. Pretty clearly you did over and over and then those next years.

CHRIS O'DELL:
Over and over again.

KATE SNOW:
Um ... we didn't talk about Leon Russell. Do you want to talk about Leon Russell?

MAN:
I think it would be interesting to know, you know, because that was ... it sounds like in the book it's your first love and then like his first songs.

KATE SNOW:
What I thought was interesting too was that that was only four months. You know, when I was reading it I thought oh this was such a ...t his was a big affair in her life and then I realized no, it was only four months.


CHRIS O'DELL:
I know.

KATE SNOW:
Everything happens ... everything in that whole period, those couple of years, was it like '70 to '72 was like on hyper speed.

CHRIS O'DELL:
Yeah it was.

KATE SNOW:
Everything was happening in matters of days, but it seemed like things that should be happening over months.

CHRIS O'DELL:
Wow it's so interesting that you picked up on that because it really ... even as I was writing the book I went you know, it would be like well how much time was this and it was like oh that wasn't very long. It felt like years. But it was only four ... you know, I thought it was a year at one point and it was like four months I was with him. But it took me a year and a half to get over ... Leon.

KATE SNOW:
Why? What was it about him?

CHRIS O'DELL:
Do you know, I don't really know. I think it was the um .. .the fact that it was my first love gone bad and he was starting to become popular as we were breaking up. So it was ... I couldn't .. .every time I turned around I was hearing about Mad Dogs and Englishmen and Leon Russell and I just couldn't quite get it out ... away from it.

KATE SNOW:
Did dating him give you almost a little more cachet in the music world?

CHRIS O'DELL:
I don't think so.

KATE SNOW:
No.

CHRIS O'DELL:
I mean George was...really liked him and George was very ...he told me that he was upset that when we broke up because he thought it would be very good for ... but I don't really think so.

KATE SNOW:
Yeah.

CHRIS O'DELL:
I don't think it mattered.

KATE SNOW:
Leon Russell's still around.

CHRIS O'DELL:
He's still playing.

KATE SNOW:
Does he know about this book? Have you talked to him about the book? Told him what you've written?

CHRIS O'DELL:
Oh he ... He read it. I asked him to read it. He and Pattie both read it early on and...and did a little endorsement for the book. So yeah it was nice to see him ru...to see him be able to read that ahead of time. He had told me when he wrote Pisces Apple Lady for me he said you know, I thought if I never saw you again that one day you'd hear this and know how I felt. So what I said to him is you know, I thought if I never saw you again you could find out how I felt.

KATE SNOW:
One day you'd read the book and know how I felt.

CHRIS O'DELL:
Yeah.

KATE SNOW:
That's good. Um ... the last chapter of the book you condense. I mean it's like everything happens like I said in warp speed over just a few years and then all of a sudden you jump to the '80s and you jump to getting married and having a kid and that all seems to happen ... Did ... did something in your life just at some point slow down and click and you said I've got to ditch this music thing? Or how ...?

CHRIS O'DELL:
I ... I got tired of it. One night I was in Germany, living in Germany, and ... and promoting uh...groups and I was with some band, I don't even, you know, I think Echo and the Bunnymen -- some band I didn't sort of relate to very much and they said would you get me a towel and it hit me. I went what am I doing? And I just said I think you can go get your own towel or go get your own damn towel. One of those two things. And...and I thought I'm done. I can't do other people's lives anymore. I'm finished.

KATE SNOW:
And you did what?

CHRIS O'DELL:
So um...I went back to London and um ... met my ... my son's father, my ex-husband and kind of got into that world which was a whole other world.

KATE SNOW:
Yeah he was ... he's royalty.

CHRIS O'DELL:
Well he's aristocracy, yeah. He's titled. His father is ...

KATE SNOW:
Yeah I guess that's not royalty, but yeah.

CHRIS O'DELL:
We like ... Americans like to think of it as royalty. But um ... yeah he was ... he ... is father is a Lord in the House of Lords still as a matter of fact.

KATE SNOW:
And your son is now 23 years old.

CHRIS O'DELL:
Mm hmm.

KATE SNOW:
What does he think about his rock and roll mom?

CHRIS O'DELL:
It is so hard to tell. When I said to him I want you to read this book before it comes out because I want you to be aware of everything in here I said with great trepidation and he ...

KATE SNOW:
There's a lot in there I'm not sure I'd want my son to read about me.

CHRIS O'DELL:
Exactly. I know. But you know, he was...that was a year or so ago so he just said mom, you were...you were like young then and he just kind of blew it off. And I don't know, I think he scanned it and loo ... maybe he looked up his name or something, you know? But um ... there was stuff in there he didn't know. I know he didn't know.

KATE SNOW:
Are you proud of what you did?

CHRIS O'DELL: Yes, yes. You mean in terms of the work I did?

KATE SNOW:
Yeah everything.

CHRIS O'DELL:
I'm proud ... I'm proud ...

KATE SNOW:
Proud of your life.

CHRIS O'DELL:
Yes I really am. I mean I ... I ... I'm a survivor I think in a lot of ways and I ... I was so fortunate to be able to do all those things I did in the early part of my life. And then I turned around and got very serious and went back to school and raised a son and ...

KATE SNOW:
Became a therapist.

CHRIS O'DELL:
And became a therapist, yeah.

KATE SNOW:
To help other people struggling with addiction.

CHRIS O'DELL: Right. Yeah.

KATE SNOW:
It's kind of a whole 180 there.

CHRIS O'DELL:
It is kind of yeah. It was like preparation. And someone asked me, you know, if it...if it helped and I said oh yeah that ... I was being a counselor all those years, I just didn't know it in many, many ways.

KATE SNOW:
It helps you ... it helps you be a counselor now.

CHRIS O'DELL:
Yeah, yeah.

KATE SNOW:
Um...the only other question I have is some people when they look at this book if they look at the cover they're going to think oh it's the story of a groupie. Do you consider or did you ever consider yourself a groupie?

CHRIS O'DELL:
I didn't. Um ... and ... and interestingly enough you know, when people have said that in the past and...and they do, that's the first place most people go to – oh, were you a groupie? And I kind of...I say no, but I have these...I have this ambiguous um...feeling about that because really the groupies are what made these bands. So I hate to say ... I don't want to use it in a derogatory way because I think those girls, the majority of them, were really very strong fans which I was, but also I worked and I worked really hard and I became a friend.

And in fact one of, Bobby Whitlock who was in Derek and the Dominoes wrote me an email recently when he read that somewhere about me being a groupie and he said I didn't know that. I was really surprised by that. I just thought you were someone who worked and were a friend. And I thought OK that's good. Yeah.

KATE SNOW:
You still talk to a lot of these folks. You're emailing.

CHRIS O'DELL:
Yes, yes. We're ... we're all on Facebook.

KATE SNOW:
Say hi to Mick for me, will you?

CHRIS O'DELL:
Yeah I don't Facebook with him.