Peter Perfect: 1940-2013
The death of 60s pop legend Peter Perfect, frontman of the Merseybeat combo Peter and the Perfects, signals the end of an era and the passing of a man believed by many to be the sixth Beatle.
Born simply Peter Aaronovich in Bootle in 1940, Perfect’s early love of popular music wasn’t shared by his parents, his mother going so far as to burn his records and steal the needle from the gramophone, hiding it in her hair. Perfect wouldn’t be dissuaded. He practiced his guitar religiously in church and at 15 formed a band with three local lads: Matthew, Mark and Rongo. In 1960, they were offered the chance to play in Hamburg. Peter was the leader of the band at this time and had a charisma that was once memorably described by Rongo, real name Mitch Steadfast, as part shouting, part mental-illness. “He definitely had something,” said Steadfast. “In truth, we all had something by the time we left Hamburg.” The Perfects struck up a friendship with another Merseybeat band in Hamburg, a little-known four piece known as, ‘The Beatles’. There is some discrepancy amongst Beatle historians as to how much the two bands overlapped, Peter and the Perfects having since been airbrushed out of Beatles history. In later years Perfect would assert himself as the sixth Beatle, claiming to have co-written, amongst others, She Loves You, From Me To You, Help!, Yesterday, Eleanor Rigby, Strawberry Fields, Here Comes the Sun, and the baseline to The Ballad of John and Yoko. Mitch Steadfast sees it very differently, claiming that Lennon hated Perfect and would always trip him up, punch him or smash him in the face with a telephone whenever the two met.
On returning from Hamburg Perfect married his now-pregnant girlfriend, Timid Sue, Cilla Black acting as best man. The band soon secured a recording contract and in June 1963 their debut single, ‘I Know John Lennon’, reached Number Two in the hit parade. Over the next two years Peter and the Perfects were rarely out of the top ten, with a series of hits including, ‘I Want to Kiss your Face’, ‘Me and Ringo down by the Schoolyard’ and their only number one, ‘Can’t Buy Me Lunch’. With an American tour lined up for the spring of 1965, Perfect gave an interview to T.S. Eliot of the Evening Standard: “We’re bigger than the Beatles,” he said. “The Beatles will go, without question. I quite like John and Paul but the other two are thick and ordinary. They’ve had their day.” This throwaway remark was leapt upon in the US where Beatlemania was at its peak. The Perfects’ records were publicly burned, spat and shat on, and the American tour was cancelled.
Perfect’s wild mouth and unpredictable behaviour was placing the band under considerable strain and in 1966 he had a breakdown, whilst on the M56. Drummer Steadfast took over the song-writing responsibilities and local guitarist, Mike McMc, was brought in to front the band on stage. Perfect grew increasingly delusional and in the autumn of 1968 was sectioned after being caught impersonating The Monkees’ Micky Dolenz in Liverpool Town Centre. Thus began a pattern of institutionalisation and bed-wetting that would continue for the next forty years. Mike and the McPerfects would go on to great success, selling hundreds of records and playing to packed pubs throughout the world. All the while Peter Perfect was sat at home in Bootle, wearing his ‘Sixth Beatle’ t-shirt and rocking gently back and forth to some imagined beat, trying to find the number for Syd Barret, or talking to walls in institutions across the North West. The inquest ascribed the cause of his death to, “swallowing someone else’s tongue”. He was 68 and is survived by absolutely nobody at all, not a sausage.