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from the Ottawa Beatle Site

 


Postcard kindly supplied by Alan Chrisman. Acknowledgements to Cavern City Tours
who hold an annual International Beatles Convention in Liverpool. Phone 0151-236-9091

 

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January 23

Ringo Starr talks about some of the drum kits that he has used over the years

 

 

 

January 20

Former Beatles drummer Sir Ringo Starr on marriage, lockdown and hanging out with music legends

Sir Ringo Starr had no plans to slow down before the coronavirus pandemic intervened.

by Keiran Southern for the Yorkshire Post

 

His youthful appearance and fizzing energy belie his 80 years – and had it not been for Covid-19, the man born Richard Starkey in a working-class area of Liverpool would have been on the road in 2020. But it turns out even a former Beatle cannot escape the consequences of a global health crisis.

 

As it stands, Sir Ringo’s All Starr Band is set to return to the stage in June, though he admits the plans are far from set in stone owing to the continued disruption caused by the virus.

 

The pause in performing gave him a chance to look back on three decades with the group, putting together the book Ringo Rocks: 30 Years of the All Starrs.

 

Reflecting proved to be an emotional experience, Starr explains from his home in Los Angeles. “The first band was like everything else – it’s brand new. And, ‘Oh, wow, it’s working’. And actually, people are coming to see it. That’s the good news. And I had a lot of great players.”

 

 

Musicians who have been part of the ever-evolving line-up include Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh, rocker Peter Frampton, New Orleans musician Dr John and R&B star Billy Preston, among others.

 

Starr is arguably the world’s most famous living drummer and as one quarter of the Fab Four was a member of the greatest rock ’n’ roll band of all time, a band that changed the face of popular music and was at the heart of a cultural revolution, the reverberations of which can still be felt today.

 

He spent 10 years in The Beatles alongside the supernova talents of Sir Paul McCartney, John Lennon and George Harrison, and admits that being the frontman in his All Starrs band was a nice change. “The only master plan is that you have to have number one singles,” he says.

 

“You have to have top five records... it’s all hit records. And it gave me a chance to be down the front, Mr Personality, while playing the drums for all these other tracks. So, I won both ways.”

 

In the absence of touring, Starr has been keeping himself busy by making new music – the single Here’s to the Nights, an uplifting track perfect for the pandemic, features a star-studded guest list including Sir Paul McCartney.

 

It will appear on the appropriately named EP Zoom In, due for release in March. “I like to do stuff, so I’m just doing stuff,” Starr, who was knighted in 2018, says while discussing the difficulties of recording amid the pandemic.

 

“I have a little guest house here and it’s now my studio, it’s been my studio for the last 10 years actually. This time it was a little awkward because people were getting tested to come and play. Or, if they had a studio, they could play in their own place. So that took the pressure off the lockdown a little because I was drumming and singing and hanging out with musicians.

 

“I do go to the gym quite a lot. And I also took half of the gym, and now that’s where my paint studio is. So I can make a mess without Barbara getting crazy.”

 

Barbara is of course actress Barbara Bach, his wife of 39 years, who is best known for playing Bond girl Anya Amasova opposite the late Sir Roger Moore in The Spy Who Loved Me.

 

While lockdown proved to be the undoing for many a relationship, the Starrs are as strong as ever and he describes being with Bach as a “pleasure”, while reminiscing about their first meeting. “I love the woman,” he says. “I loved her from when I first saw her at LAX in 1980. She was at the airport with a boyfriend and I was at the airport checking in, and we happened to be going to Mexico to do the same movie.

 

“And that’s how it happened. Not like it was a big plan. It was just ‘OK, here we go’. And we get on real well together. Of course, some days, I don’t do it properly. My room’s not tidy. I mean, regular s*** that goes down in any couple that has been together a long time. But I’m blessed she’s in my life, that’s all I can ever say.”

 

The Starrs have had their permanent base in Los Angeles for the better part of a decade. Sir Ringo cites the glorious Southern California sunshine as one of the biggest attractions (“This is just such a bad place to get through the pandemic, isn’t it?”) but he also loves the fact his famous friends are just a call away.

 

When putting together Here’s to the Nights, he flicked through his star-filled phone book and had Foo Fighters singer Dave Grohl and Grammy-winning blues musician Ben Harper over by the following Monday.

 

It can be dizzying speaking to a music legend as he casually mentions the other celebrities in his near orbit. Name-dropping is probably the wrong expression – after all, former Beatles are the stars towards which others gravitate – but it brings home his significance in not just the musical world but the wider cultural universe.

 

I am conscious that on the other end of the phone is a superstar. Which brings us on to another – Sir Paul McCartney, the other surviving ex-Beatle.

 

The two former bandmates had just got off the phone when I called. The two knights of the realm took to the stage together in July 2019 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, to the delight of the millions of Beatles obsessives around the world.

 

So, can Starr promise a repeat when Covid-19 is vanquished, some light at the end of the tunnel for us all to look forward to?

 

It is something he is open to. “I love that, getting up with him,” says Starr. “We did it at the O2 in England (in 2018). And then he called me and he said, ‘I’m doing Dodger Stadium, if you want to do a few numbers’.

 

“Sure. So he picked three numbers, and I got up and went down there. And it’s magic for the audience as well as us. I love playing with him. The audience is like, ‘Oh, there’s two of them! Wow’. It lifts everything, in a joyous way. So, yeah, I had a great time.

 

“We’re still pals. We don’t hang out with each other a lot. But if we’re in the same country, and if we’re in the same town we always have dinner, and we say hi or he comes over here, or I go over to his house.”

 

Our call comes to an end, but not before some wise words from the man himself. While the pandemic offered the chance to look back, the world’s favourite drummer prefers to look forward. “You know, life goes on.”

 

Ringo Rocks: 30 Years of the All Starrs is available now from www.juliensauctions.com

 

 

January 19

Ottawa high school principals were critical on the off-beat Beatle haircut  

 

 

 

January 18

Flashback: East Germany's first book on Beatles became an instant hit

 

 

 

January 17

Phil Spector, famed music producer and convicted murderer, dead at 81

by Christopher Weber and Linda Deutsch for the Associated Press via CTV News services

 

LOS ANGELES -- Phil Spector, the eccentric and revolutionary music producer who transformed rock music with his "Wall of Sound" method and who later was convicted of murder, has died. He was 81.

 

California state prison officials said he died Saturday of natural causes at a hospital.

 

Spector was convicted of murdering actress Lana Clarkson in 2003 at his castle-like mansion on the edge of Los Angeles. After a trial in 2009, he was sentenced to 19 years to life.

 

While most sources give Spector's birth date as 1940, it was listed as 1939 in court documents following his arrest. His lawyer subsequently confirmed that date to The Associated Press.

 

Click here to read the full report.

 

 

January 13

Apple Electronics: Inside the Beatles' eccentric 1960s tech subsidiary that spawned color-changing paint, the robotic housewife and the 'memory phone'

 

  • Apple Electronics was the tech division of the Beatles-owned record label which was founded in 1968
  • Greek engineer Alexis Mardas was a Beatles associate and was hired in to invent and market products 
  • The Daily Mail takes a look at some of Mardas' wackiest and most futuristic inventions while at Apple
  •  

    by Jonathan Chadwick for the Daily Mail

     

    Say the word Apple today and we think of Steve Jobs' multi-billion-dollar technology company that spawned the iPhone and the Mac computer.

     

    But a decade before the California-based firm was even founded, the Beatles-owned company Apple Electronics was working on several pioneering inventions – some of which were precursors to commonly available products on the market today. 

     

    Apple Electronics was led by Alexis Mardas, a young electronics engineer and inventor originally from Athens in Greece, known to the Beatles as Magic Alex. 

     

    He died on this day in 2017, aged 74, and was one of the most colourful and mysterious characters in the Beatles' story. 

     

    Dressed in a white lab coat in his London workshop, Mardas created prototypes of inventions that were set to be marketed and sold.

     

    These included the 'composing typewriter' – powered by an early example of sound recognition – and a phone with advanced memory capacity. 

     

    Also in development was a robotic assistant, about two feet tall, that would have scooted around the home on a track performing errands. 

     

    Alexis Mardas in his small workshop in Boston Place in Marylebone, central London. He was described by John Lennon as his 'guru'

     

    He also created a small electronic camera for £50 that could be plugged directly into a TV screen to display photos, and an automatic light dimmer for use in cinemas and theatres. 

     

    'It must be remembered that none of these had even been thought about by others at the time, although most of them are now in common use,' Mardas said in a statement published by the New York Times in 2010.  

     

    'For example, an electronic camera is now commonly used, as is the "memory phone'" and what was then called "the composing typewriter" and is now known as voice recognition. 

     

    'All these products were invented by me and we were in the process of patenting most of them in the United States.' 

     

    The Beatles reportedly intended to donate all the profits made from the inventions to help the world’s handicapped and underprivileged people. 

     

    Alex Mardas (Magic Alex), head of the electronics division of The Beatles' Apple business venture, pictured in 1968

     

    John Lennon was initially very taken with Mardas after meeting him through John Dunbar, owner of the trendy London Indica art gallery. 

     

    Lennon introduced Mardas to the other members of the Beatles as his 'guru', and he joined the electronics division of their ambitious new record company in February 1968.  

     

    Mardas was given his own workshop – in Boston Place in Marylebone, London – to develop the devices to be patented and sold by Apple. 

     

    By that November, the Beatles had spent £100,000 equipping the small laboratory, which would have cost £20,000 a year to run. 

     

    At that time, the inventions were going through an international patenting process with the aim of marketing and selling them in shops around the world; a few Apple Electronics ideas are still listed on Google Patents today. 

     

    But by the summer of 1969, Apple Corps was haemorrhaging money at an alarming rate and Apple Electronics was swiftly closed down by the band's new manager, American businessman Allen Klein. 

     

    As a result, Mardas' inventions at Apple Electronics – many of which were demonstrated to a Daily Mail reporter in 1968 – never progressed past the prototype stage. 

     

    Madras later returned to Greece and passed away in 2017, but his memorable ideas now epitomise the excitement of the late 1960s. 

     

    The 'memory phone'

     

    Mardas appearing in a short promo video for Apple Electronics. The subsidiary had plans to patent devices, sell them in shops around the world and use the profits for social good

     

    Just like today's smart speakers such as Amazon Echo and Google Home, the memory phone was voice-activated and never required a single handset to be lifted to make a call. 

     

    It could remember up to 100,000 phone numbers and ring any of them up when asked, and, if the person called took their time to answer the phone, it played music or gave the caller the latest Stock Exchange figures.

     

    The memory phone was allegedly able to identify who was calling and respond to its owner's voice.  

     

    Alex had kept a prototype of the memory phone in his office, using a few of its nifty features that are evocative of today's personal assistants.  

     

    Mardas told the Daily Mail in 1968: 'It rings me up every morning from the office on its own. 

     

    'I tell it at night to ring me at a certain time and where I have to go – the next morning at home the phone rings me from the empty office and tells me to get up and where my first appointment is.'

     

    The Bell Telephone Corporation of America offered Apple Electronics 1 million dollars (£416,000 at the time) for the device, according to Mardas.

     

    Cynthia Lennon, John Lennon and George Harrison are pictured with others watching Pattie Harrison modelling at the Revolution club in Mayfair. Between Lennon and Harrison is Mardas

     

    Colour-changing paint 

     

    Beatles guitarist George Harrison fondly remembered this invention, which had the capability of changing the colour of metal onto which it was painted. 

     

    The paint, which was initially blank and looked like a thick enamel, covered a thin piece of metal with two wires coming out of it.

     

    When it was connected to a power source, it lit up a bright, luminous green, according to Harrison, who wanted to coat his Ferrari in it so it would light up whenever he pressed down on the brake pedal. 

     

    'We asked, "Can you do other colours too?" – "Sure, whatever you want",' Harrison remembered in an interview in the 1990s for The Beatles Anthology book. 

     

    'The back of the car would be red, but only when you stepped on the brake.

     

    'The rest of the time the whole car would be connected to the revs on the gearbox – so the car would start off quite dull and as you shifted through the gears it would become brighter. 

     

    'You could go down the A3 and pass somebody and it would look like a flying saucer.'  

     

    George Harrison had plans to use Mardas' colour-changing paint on his yellow Ferrari (pictured) while driving down the motorway

     

    The record jammer

     

    The record jammer, which took six days and £10 to produce, was able to prevent any vinyl record being recorded onto tape.

     

    Apple Corps had worked out that for each vinyl record sold, as many as eight people taped pirate copies for free.  

     

    Mardas reportedly developed the system to transmit a high-frequency signal onto a vinyl record when it was being cut. 

     

    This would mean that when anyone bought the record and tried to copy it, all they would hear on the tape was a weird grinding noise.

     

    The record jammer was set to be given free to 200 world firms where vinyl records were manufactured. 

     

    Apple Electronics would have charged a small royalty for every record played using the jammer – estimated to have been more than 100 million records a year.  

     

    'Magic Alex' in his studio in Boston Place, London. Alex was the Beatles' personal inventor and head of the electronics division of the

    company, Apple Corps

     

    The hot-cold plate

     

    The hot-cold plate had started as a way to cool transistors but developed into what would have been a revolutionary device for the home kitchen.

     

    It consisted of plate, around one-sixteenth-of-an-inch thick, powered by the mains or a battery. 

     

    It was able to suddenly heat itself to 250 degrees Celsius in 20 seconds and cool to 28 degrees below zero in another 20 seconds – effectively intended to be a two-in-one device for storing or serving foods usually served at different temperatures.  

     

    The Daily Mail's Denis Holmes tested the invention in a tour of the lab in 1968, calling it 'so refined that it will open a new era in kitchen cookers, refrigeration and air conditioning'. 

     

    Holmes said: 'I put my hand on the plate and Alex pressed a switch – I counted five and had to snatch my hand away. 

     

    'I put my hand back, the switch was pressed in the opposite direction and my hand started to stick to the ice-cold metal.'

     

    Mardas said that some companies had offered to buy the device to make sure it never saw the light of day.

     

    He told Holmes: 'Offers are pouring in from firms who want to buy it and drop it in the river with our promise never to make one again, because every cooker and refrigerator will be out of date overnight.'

     

    The composing typewriter

     

    Mardas took two months and £400 to invent this automated machine, which looked just like a standard typewriter.

     

    But the prototype device, designed for people in the music publishing industry, featured an early example of sound recognition. 

     

    The silent automatic typewriter would listen as someone played music on an instrument or sang to it. 

     

    As he or she did so, the typewriter wrote out music and lyrics it heard ready for the publisher to take to print. 

     

    Mardas and the Beatles were always fairly tight-lipped on how such devices actually worked on the basis of secrecy. 

     

    John Lennon said in 1968: 'We've learnt in this happy business world that spies in brown raincoats and sunglasses go around, and so you can't say anything about a product until it's out.'  

     

    The robotic housewife 

     

    An idea for a robotic housewife was in development but never created – described as a long-term project that needed more time and money. 

     

    The subservient device was two feet tall and shaped like two huge tennis balls, one on top of the other.

     

    The upper sphere had eyes, nose and mouth 'just for fun', while the lower sphere could be affixed to a system of rubber tracks placed around the home. 

     

    This would allow the robot, which would have been sold for £50, to zip around the house, cleaning, polishing and making tea.

     

    The 'nothing box' - an Apple Electronics invention?

     

    Mardas is often said to have given Lennon a 'nothing box' – a small black box with eight lights in various colours that flashed in a random sequence.

     

    Lennon, who kept it in the living room of his six-bedroom house in Weybridge, Surrey, used it to complement the effects of an LSD trip – namely the flashing colours, which were reminiscent of hallucinations.  

     

    'Often he would stare at the blinking nothing box Alex had presented to him or at the walls and shadows until the drugs wore off,' said Peter Brown, board member at Apple Corps, in his 1983 book The Love You Make.

     

    However, Mardas was not the device's inventor. It was actually invented by US retail company Hammacher Schlemmer and released to the market in time for Christmas 1962. 

     

    Hammacher Schlemmer's ad for the nothing box described the lights as blinking continuously 'in no recognisable pattern and for no apparent reason for nearly a year' until the battery ran dry. 

     

    The novelty captured the fancy of the Beatles, who purchased hundreds of them as gifts, according to the firm's website.

     

    The 'nothing box' as it appeared in an ad. Its eight lights flashed continuously 'in no recognisable pattern for nearly a year' until the battery ran dry. It's often described mistakenly as an Alexis Mardas invention 

     

    Other concepts that were attributed to Magic Alex he later denied he had ever tried to invent, including an X-ray camera that could see through walls and paint that would make objects invisible.

     

    Another alleged idea was to build a force field around Ringo Starr's drums that would have isolated drum sounds from the rest of the microphones in the studio. 

     

    Mardas said in his 2010 statement: 'I once had a discussion with John Lennon about this topic. I said that it was possible, theoretically, to create an ultrasonic barrier generated by ultrasonic transfusers. 

     

    'This would prevent sound travelling over a certain field [but] I never suggested I would make such a barrier.' 

     

    Paul McCartney also remembered an idea Magic Alex had – using wallpaper that would act as loudspeakers – that never materialised. 

     

    Despite his efforts, Magic Alex was allegedly paid only a normal salary.

     

    He said in 1968: ‘Companies in America and Japan are offering me astronomical salaries to join them. Here I just take a few pounds a week.'

     

    Mardras left Apple Corps shortly after being tasked to kit out the Beatles' new recording studio in Savile Row – a job that he was never able to complete, he later claimed.  

     

    'I was designing and had actually finished a mock-up studio in Boston Place which, when ready, would be moved into the Savile Row premises [but] this was destroyed and the equipment taken away,' he said in 2010.

     

    As for Apple Corps, the company had a famous ongoing legal battle over rights to the name 'Apple' from 1978, which finally reached a settlement in 2007. 

     

    Apple Corps still exists and oversees the Beatles' empire, but its fascinating subsidiaries – which also included Apple Retail and Apple Films – are now sadly no longer operational.  

     

    APPLE CORPS VS APPLE COMPUTERS 

     

    Apple's logo still adorns Beatles products released today

     

    Apple Corps was founded by the Beatles in 1968. Its main purpose was to act as a record label, under its chief division Apple Records, but other ambitious subsidiaries were Apple Films, Apple Electronics and the Apple Boutique, a retail store at 94 Baker Street in London.

     

    Meanwhile, Americans Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne founded Apple Computers in April 1976 and started selling the Apple II computer the following year.

     

    In 1978, the Beatles' company Apple Corps filed a lawsuit against Apple Computer for trademark infringement.

     

    This was settled three years later in 1981 for $80,000.

     

    The agreement the two companies settled upon was that Apple Computer would never enter into the music business and in return Apple Corps would never enter into the computer business.

     

    In 1991, Apple Corps sued Apple Computer again, alleging that by adding sound to its computers, the computer company was in violation of the 1981 agreement.

     

    This time Apple Computer paid $26.5 million and agreed that although it may be involved in digital music, it would not package, sell or distribute any physical music materials, such as CDs.

     

    The climax of this dispute came after Apple unveiled iTunes in September 2003 and Apple Corps once again sued Apple Computer for breach of contract. 

     

    Apple Corps alleged the online iTunes music store violated the contractual agreement that the two companies had where Apple Computer would not enter into the music business.

     

    The main question that the court had to decide was whether Apple’s iTunes online music store distributed physical copies of music, such as CDs.

     

    This case was heard in the High Court of London in 2006 in front of single judge, who eventually ruled in favour of Apple Computer.

     

    iTunes’ distribution format was strictly digital, meaning it sold music that could be played on digital devices such as personal computers and iPods.

     

    Finally, in February 2007, Apple Inc (as it had been rechristened the previous month) and Apple Corps reached a settlement of their trademark dispute.

     

    Under this settlement, Apple Inc owns all trademarks related to ‘Apple’ and licenses certain trademarks back to Apple Corps for its continued use.   

     

    Apple Corps is still operational, but the American company effectively clawed the name 'Apple' from the London firm over the course of the legal battle. 

     

    Apple Corps is still operational and oversees the Beatles' business, however.

     

    According to the Mirror, company accounts filed to Apple Records Limited for the year until January 2019 show that the Beatles made £50,244,899 over a year. 

     

     

    January 12

    Abbey Road Studios Documentary ‘If These Walls Could Sing’ to Be Directed By Mary McCartney

    By Manori Ravindran for Variety

     
















































    Mary McCartney

    Abbey Road Studios will be the subject of a new feature-length documentary from director Mary McCartney.

    Universal Music Group-backed Mercury Studios is partnering with celebrated doc producer John Battsek’s Ventureland for the project, entitled “If These Walls Could Sing.”

    The doc marks the first time Abbey Road has opened its doors to a feature doc, and will be the centrepiece of the legendary studio’s 90th anniversary celebrations, which kick off in November. Billed as the untold story of the studio, the film will feature an all-star cast of interviews, and intimate access to the premises.

    Located in St. John’s Wood in North West London, Abbey Road Studios was opened in 1931 and has earned a reputation for groundbreaking recording technology. Although it was initially used for classical recordings, its repertoire eventually broadened to jazz, big band and rock ‘n’ roll. The Beatles recorded 190 of their 210 songs at the studios.

    “If These Walls Could Sing” will be produced by Battsek following a new development deal between Mercury Studios and Ventureland, whose recent credits include “Rising Phoenix” (Netflix), “Ready For War” (Showtime), “AKA Jane Roe” (FX), “The Life & Trials of Oscar Pistorius” (ESPN) and “American Rapstar” (SXSW ’20).

    Development of the doc has been overseen by Universal Music U.K.’s Marc Robinson and Mercury Studios CEO Alice Webb, who will executive produce.

    “Some of my earliest memories as a young child come from time spent at Abbey Road,” said McCartney, who is Beatle Paul McCartney and late photographer Linda McCartney’s daughter. “I’ve long wanted to tell the story of this historic place and I couldn’t be collaborating with a better team than John and Mercury Studios to make this creative ambition a reality.”

    Webb added: “Mercury Studios could not be partnering with a more visionary and passionate team than Mary McCartney and John Battsek to tell Abbey Road Studios’ incredible story on film for the first time. We are passionate about showcasing work of pioneering film makers of the highest quality – which is why we are delighted Mary is bringing her creative vision to this project.”

    Isabel Garvey, managing director of Abbey Road Studios, said: “If these walls could sing. I have lost count how many times I’ve heard that said at Abbey Road Studios over the years. I can’t wait for some of these stories to finally come to life in what will become a timeless documentary.”




     

    January 10

    Olivia Harrison, Devoted Widow of the Beatles’ George Harrison, Recovering from COVID in a London Hospital

    by Roger Friedman's Showbiz 411

     

     

    COVID is unsparing, as we all know. Now the great Olivia Harrison, beloved and devoted widow of Beatle George Harrison, reports that she is recovering from the virus in a London hospital.

     

    Olivia posted to Instagram today: “Redesigning my hospital room curtain. Unlucky to get covid but on the mend. Gratitude to all the selfless carers.”

     

    Olivia was George’s second wife (after Patti Boyd) and mother of his only child, son Dhani. Olivia and Dhani have been steadfast in preserving George’s legacy. She’s soft spoken, elegant, and up to the task of representing George in the Beatles’ extended family. (Her mother named her for Olivia de Havilland, so that gave her a good start!)

     

    I was reluctant to post this story but the very private Olivia felt comfortable enough to post to Instagram, where over 7,000 people have already responded with well wishes.

     

    To make her get better faster, take a look at the video posted below. Olivia and Dhani are incredibly charitable with the Material World Foundation, and here she’s asking for donations to a Los Angeles shelter. Send some money there today in her honor.

     

    She writes: “Material World is matching donations for what would have been our annual Christmas benefit for Alexandria House; a safe place where determined Moms and kids are living and working to get through tough times in a supportive community. You and I can give together. And as my mom would say, “take care of your pennies and your dollars will take care of themselves.” Any amount welcome.”

     

    Get well soon, Olivia! Much love from the Ottawa Beatles Site.

     

     

    January 7

    Music review: Paul McCartney - ‘McCartney III’

    By Clint Rhodes for the Pennsylvania Herald-Standard

     

     

    They say all good things come in threes. If that holds to be true, then the latest release from Paul McCartney fulfills the promise he started with the acoustic leanings of 1970’s “McCartney,” continued with bursts of electronic flavorings on 1980’s “McCartney II” and ultimately completes with the cathartic tone of “McCartney III."

     

    Recorded at his home in England during quarantine, McCartney once again serves as a one-man band by crafting 11 tracks that possess hints of his previous work as a Beatle, leader of Wings and as a solo artist.

     

    “Long Tailed Winter Bird” is the acoustic opener that gracefully begins the set before easing into a charming jam with McCartney repeatedly asking if he’s been missed. After the social distancing of 2020, it certainly is comforting to hear a familiar voice.

     

    “Find My Way” has McCartney offering words of encouragement and support as he proclaims, “You never used to be/Afraid of days like these/But now you're overwhelmed/By your anxieties/Let me help you out/Let me be your guide/I can help you reach/The love you feel inside.” It is during times like these that we should be reminded that love is all we truly need.

     

    McCartney addresses the pressures of celebrity and the constant demands of being in the spotlight with “Pretty Boys” and speaks to the importance of being a good example to others on “Women and Wives” as he declares, “What we do with our lives/Seems to matter to others/Some of them may follow/Roads that we run down.”

     

    The former Beatle temporarily goes electric on “Lavatory Lil” and “Slidin’” as heavy guitar riffs anchor these arrangements that would be a perfect fit for inclusion on “Abbey Road” or “Let It Be.”

     

    “Seize the Day” encourages making the most out of every opportunity as McCartney sings, “When the cold days come/And the old ways fade away/There’ll be no more sun/And we'll wish that we had/Held on to the day.” Indeed, the end will come soon enough. Regrets are to be reserved for viewing in the rearview mirror.

     

    The album comes full circle with “Winter Bird/When Winter Comes” tenderly bringing the set to a simplistic close. The track acts as a farmer’s lullaby with McCartney softly singing, “When summer's gone/We’ll fly away/And find the sun/When winter comes.” For me, this arrangement evokes memories of “I’ll Follow the Sun,” another McCartney fronted ballad from 1964’s “Beatles for Sale.”

     

    As we look to a new year with hope and optimism, it is only fitting that McCartney extends an open invitation focused on the importance of constantly following love and searching for the good in all things.

     

     

    January 4

    Gerry Marsden, a Hitmaker With the Pacemakers, Dies at 78

    by Jim Farber for the New York Times

     

     

    Gerry Marsden, whose band Gerry and the Pacemakers proved to be formidable rivals to the Beatles in the early Liverpool rock scene of the 1960s, scoring smash hits like “Ferry Cross the Mersey,” “Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” died on Sunday in the Liverpool area. He was 78.

     

    His death, at Arrowe Park Hospital in the Merseyside metropolitan area, was confirmed by his family in a statement. British news outlets said the cause was a heart infection.

     

    Gerry and the Pacemakers were the second band signed by the Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein, but they earned a No. 1 single on the official United Kingdom singles chart before the Beatles ever did, accomplishing that feat in 1963 with their debut single, “How Do You Do It.” It beat the Beatles’ maiden chart-topper, “From Me to You,” by three weeks.

     

    To read the full report, click here.

     

    Comments Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr from The Beatles on Facebook:

     

    "Gerry was a mate from our early days in Liverpool. He and his group were our biggest rivals on the local scene. His unforgettable performances of 'You’ll Never Walk Alone' and 'Ferry Cross the Mersey' remain in many people’s hearts as reminders of a joyful time in British music. My sympathies go to his wife Pauline and family. See ya, Gerry. I’ll always remember you with a smile." - Paul

     

    "God bless Gerry Marsden peace and love to all his family." - Ringo

     

    Beatles may have split up 50 years ago but their music 'carries on'

    by Jane Stevenson for the Toronto Sun

     

    “And in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love you make,” right?

     

    Or so goes the Beatles’ song The End, the final time the Fab Four recorded a tune together, in this case for 1969’s Abbey Road (which was recorded after but released before 1970’s Let It Be.)

     

    Well, “the end” of the Liverpool-formed group began 50 years ago on Dec. 31, 1970  when Paul McCartney filed a lawsuit against his bandmates John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr for dissolution of the group’s contractual partnership.

     

    “Paul just got fed up with it all and he was the one to initiate it,” said Toronto-based author Piers Hemmingsen, 65, who penned 2016’s The Beatles in Canada: The Origins of Beatlemania. “The shot was fired Dec. 31, 1970.”

     

    And that “shot” marked an iconic moment in rock’n roll history.

     

    “Why didn’t we let go in 1970?” said Hemmingsen.  “It carries on.”

     

    Hemmingsen says the split can be traced back to when Lennon performed with the Plastic Ono Band at the Toronto Rock and Roll Revival festival in September 1969.

     

    “That was a real signal to his bandmates — that there he was doing a concert without them,” said Hemmingsen.

     

    Meanwhile, McCartney was working on his first solo album, the self-titled McCartney, that would be released in April 1970. In fact, all four band members release their own albums that year.

     

    “The reason there was no legal action until Dec. 31, 1970, was that there were four Beatles and one company ,” said Hemmingsen, who is also penning a 2021 sequel, The Beatles in Canada: The Evolution (1964-1970).

     

    “Everything they were doing, even as solo artists, the money goes into Apple Corps. And for tax reasons, and for other financial reasons, you couldn’t just break that up. It was making a lot of money. So the advice they were given was, ‘You’ve got to hold on until we get things straight here.’”

     

    Yet, there’s  no single factor triggered the end of one of the greatest rock bands.

     

    Collectively, Beatlemania took its toll, especially on Harrison, and they stopped touring in 1966, their growing different musical directions put them at odds with each other, there were disagreements about the band’s management and Lennon’s close relationship with second wife Yoko Ono rubbed some the wrong way.

     

    Harrison was also becoming increasingly frustrated over his songwriting being ignored in favour of tunes by Lennon and McCartney.

     

    Hemmingsen, then living in Ottawa, saw 1970’s Let It Be, the movie which included some of the Beatles’ last public performance on the rooftop of Apple’s headquarters on Jan. 30, 1969, when the film was re-released in December after first being released as a flop in June that year.

     

    “I couldn’t take it — it was so depressing,” said Hemmingsen, who walked out of the theatre before the rooftop concert scenes but would see the movie in its entirety later.

     

    “Everything we heard in the press about the squabbling. And many, many fans did one thing, they blamed Yoko. And it was racist. It was mean. The British press were worse to Yoko than anybody else. It was clear to me, that this was just a sad film about a divorce.”

     

    Although appearing on each other’s solo albums in various formations in the decade leading up to Lennon’s 1980 murder, McCartney, Harrison and Starr reunited for the 1994 Anthology project using the unfinished Lennon demos Free as a Bird and Real Love as the basis for new Beatles songs.

     

    Lord of The Rings director Peter Jackson recently lit up social media with a sneak peek montage of his upcoming film, The Beatles: Get Back — culled from over 60 hours of unseen footage from the Let It Be recording sessions — that will be released this year.

     

     

    January 2, 2021

    Stunning photo by Mary McCartney revealed in a Happy New Year wish from Sir Paul McCartney

     

    A larger photo is available at the Beatles official Facebook web page. :)

     

    Photo credit: Mary McCartney

     

    "Wishing you a loving and peaceful new year - Paul x"

     

    Mojo Magazine February edition to feature John Lennon

     

    FORTY YEARS ON, MOJO remembers the devastating death of the Beatles’ troubled soul and relives the 20 times he changed our lives (and the world) forever. John Harris revisits a world in mourning, while Klaus Voormann, Earl Slick and MOJO’s writers remember the times and the ways his greatness changed the world.

     

     

     

    January 1, 2021

    Ringo Starr's Year End Review

     

     

    Ottawa radio station CFRA top Number One Songs as compiled by Dave Watts

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    December 31

    Let's rock out 2020 with Ella Fitzgerald's cover version of "Savoy Truffle"

     

     

    George Harrison on how he wrote "Savoy Truffle" for the Beatles White album:

     

    “‘Savoy Truffle’ is a funny one written whist hanging out with Eric Clapton in the ’60s. At that time he had a lot of cavities in his teeth and needed dental work. He always had a toothache but he ate a lot of chocolates – he couldn’t resist them, and once he saw a box he had to eat them all. He was over at my house, and I had a box of Good News chocolates on the table and wrote the song from the names inside the lid. I got stuck with the two bridges for a while and Derek Taylor wrote some of the words in the middle – ‘You know that what you eat you are.’

     

    “[Eric Clapton] got this real sweet tooth and he had just had his mouth worked on. His dentist said he was through with candy. So, as a tribute, I wrote ‘You’ll have to have them all pulled out, after the Savoy Truffle.’ The truffle was some kind of sweet, just like all the rest, ‘crème tangerine,’ ‘ginger sling,’ just candy, to tease Eric."

     

    Quoted from George Harrison's autobiography: "I, Me, Mine" and from American Songwriter by Paul Zollo "Today's Beatles: Savoy Truffle by George Harrison."

     

     

    December 29

    McCartney III goes #1 on the Billboard charts!

     

     

    Paul McCartney Delivers a Playful Gem with ‘McCartney III’

    His latest recalls the pastoral, laid-back sound of 1970 solo debut

    by Rob Sheffield for Rolling Stone 

     

     

     

    December 22

    Don't let it be: The untold story of the Beatles' demise

    by Michael Dwyer for the Sydney Morning Herald

     

    Ever get the feeling you've been cheated? Johnny Rotten's famous last words at the Sex Pistols' final gig are infinitely adaptable in showbiz. This week, thanks to filmmaker Peter Jackson and 56 hours of previously unseen footage of the Beatles in their twilight days of January 1969, they suddenly apply to the greatest story in pop.

     

    Look, here's John and Paul gleefully jiving in each other's arms. Here's Yoko and Linda sharing a chummy chat. Here's Ringo in shocking pink finery, clowning about juggling drumsticks. And there's Beatle George smiling cheekily, a lot, at everything and everyone.

     

    In fact, in Jackson's first, five-minute teaser montage of The Beatles: Get Back, there's more goofing-off and daft moves and general jollity than one tends to recall from the entire 80-minute cut of the original Let It Be movie.

     

    Though unavailable since the early '80s, Michael Lindsay-Hogg's 1970 bleak cinema verite documentary played a large part in lasting impressions of the Beatles' demise. The shoot was later described by Lennon as "hell". Harrison famously walked out on the "winter of discontent" in the cold, stilted surrounds of Twickenham studios, demanding a change of scene to the basement of Apple Corps HQ in Savile Row.

     

    McCartney, for his part, has long maintained the director's edit was sensationally skewed towards conflict and gloom. "My cut of the movie would have been different," Starr concurred in the '90s. "There was a lot more interesting stuff than Michael Lindsay-Hogg put in."

     

    Jackson's film, delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic and now due for release through Disney next September, appears to bear this out. Using the restoration techniques developed for his BAFTA-nominated World War I documentary They Shall Not Grow Old, the footage he personally introduced from his editing suite in New Zealand on Monday explodes with colour, literally and figuratively.

     

    Peter Jackson said 56 hours of previously unseen footage of the Beatles in their twilight days of January 1969 revealed a different story to that captured in 1970 documentary Let It Be.

     

    In the original film, the joyful, sometimes slapstick element of the Beatles' chemistry was largely confined to the edited rooftop concert footage (which Jackson has promised to reinstate in full). That historic moment aside, the most often cited sequences from Let It Be involve McCartney trying in vain to elicit a stony-faced Lennon's enthusiasm to perform live again, and then bickering with Harrison over guitar parts.

     

    Here, in the first five-minute glimpse of Get Back, the playful, all-for-one spirit of A Hard Day's Night and Help is everywhere. "We're bloody stars, you know," Lennon warns engineer Glyn Johns in his best satirical Scouse. Silly walks and dances rule. Cups of tea are liberally hoisted.

     

    What we learn is that even in the throes of their "discontent", being in the Beatles was a whole riot of pin-striped and frilly-shirted fun in 1969. Combined with superior sound and dazzling Carnaby Street colour, the experience so far is everything Jackson promised when the project was announced two years ago.

     

    "I was relieved to discover the reality is very different to the myth," the Lord of the Rings director said in a press statement at the time. "Sure, there's moments of drama — but none of the discord this project has long been associated with. Watching John, Paul, George and Ringo work together, creating now-classic songs from scratch, is not only fascinating — it's funny, uplifting and surprisingly intimate."

     

    McCartney and Starr duly echoed his sentiments at the time, although it's fair to note their rewriting of the Beatles' legacy — even with the approval of widows Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison — has attracted its share of dissent from purists since Lennon and Harrison departed (in 1980 and 2001 respectively).

     

    In 2003, McCartney realised a long-held dream to release Let It Be… Naked, an album closer to his original intentions than the product Phil Spector over-produced, at Lennon's instigation, back in the day. Critical reception was mixed, with Rolling Stone magazine grumbling that "novices should still get the original".

     

    After decades of promised and then mysteriously shelved re-releases, the original Let It Be movie isn’t likely to make it back into circulation anytime soon, although any novice with a broadband connection can no doubt find a dodgy transfer somewhere. As pop history continues to be rewritten by the winners, it's ultimately up to fans to decide when they're being cheated.

     

     

    December 21

    Watch a new preview of Peter Jackson’s Beatles documentary ‘The Beatles: Get Back’

    by Sam Moore for New Music Express

     

    Peter Jackson has shared a new preview of his forthcoming documentary about The Beatles, The Beatles: Get Back.

     

    The Lord of the Rings director is overseeing the new film, which has already had its release date moved from 2020 to August 27, 2021 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, which aims to “take audiences back in time to The Beatles’ intimate recording sessions during a pivotal moment in music history”.

     

    A preview clip of Get Back has been released today (December 21) to tide fans over until its summer release next year.

     

    The video begins with Jackson explaining that he and his production team in New Zealand have resumed work on the film after the coronavirus outbreak was largely contained in the country, with editing of the 56 hours of never-before-seen footage currently ongoing.

     

    Jackson adds that he and his team are “about half-way” through the editing process, and that they decided to share this sneak peek to showcase “the vibe and energy” of their film – you can see the clip, which includes in-the-studio footage of The Beatles recording ‘Get Back’, above.

     

    In an additional statement about the trailer, Jackson said: “We wanted to give the fans of The Beatles all over the world a holiday treat, so we put together this five-minute sneak peek at our upcoming theatrical film The Beatles: Get Back.

     

    “We hope it will bring a smile to everyone’s faces and some much-needed joy at this difficult time.”

     

    In a recent interview, Paul McCartney reflected on the death of his Beatles bandmate John Lennon 40 years on from his killing.

     

    “It’s very difficult for me, and I occasionally will have thoughts and sort of say: ‘I don’t know, why don’t I just break down crying every day?’ Because it’s that bad.”

     

     

     

    December 20

    Ottawa Beatles Site RetroGroove with the Beatles "We Can Work It Out" at the #1 spot

     

     

     

     

    December 18

    On this date, Paul McCartney premiers "Find My Way" from his new album McCartney III

     

    Excerpts from the Youtube write-up:

     

    The official music video for Paul McCartney’s ‘Find My Way’. Directed by Roman Coppola, the shoot utilized no less than 46 cameras to capture Paul on every instrument and from every angle, resulting in an unprecedented and intimate glimpse into Paul creating and performing a ‘McCartney III’ highlight.

     

    Following in the steps of his self-titled debut solo album 'McCartney', featuring Paul playing every instrument and writing and recording every song, Paul McCartney releases 'McCartney III.’ Paul hadn’t planned to release an album in 2020, but in the isolation of “Rockdown,” he soon found himself fleshing out some existing musical sketches and writing even more new ones.

     

     

    Other videos released on this day by Paul:

     





     

     

     

     

    December 17

    Ringo Starr’s End of Year Recap 2020

     

     

    Ottawa Beatles Site RetroGroove with the Beatles "She's A Woman" 

     

     

    Canadian Music News Hit Parade, December 11, 1964 with "I Feel Fine" and "She's A Woman" at the #1 spot

     

     

     

    December 16

    Ringo Starr Shares New Song With Paul McCartney, Jenny Lewis, Dave Grohl, Sheryl Crow, and More: Listen

    by Matthew Strauss for Pitchfork

     

     

    Ringo Starr has announced his new Zoom In EP. The five-track EP opens with “Here’s to the Nights,” which has vocals from: Paul McCartney, Jenny Lewis, Dave Grohl, Sheryl Crow, Black Pumas’ Eric Burton, Yola, Lenny Kravitz, FINNEAS, Corinne Bailey Rae, and others. Listen below.

     

     

    Diane Warren wrote “Here’s to the Nights.” In a press release, Ringo Starr explained:

     

    "When Diane presented this song to me I loved the sentiment of it. This is the kind of song we all want to sing along to, and it was so great how many wonderful musicians joined in. I wanted it out in time for New Year’s because it feels like a good song to end a tough year on. So here’s to the nights we won’t remember and the friends we won’t forget—and I am wishing everyone peace and love for 2021."

     

    Ringo Starr’s Zoom In is due out March 19, 2021.

     

    Zoom In EP:

     

    01 Here’s to the Nights

    02 Zoom In Zoom Out

    03 Teach Me to Tango

    04 Waiting for the Tide to Turn

    05 Not Enough Love in the World

     

     

    December 14

    The New Yorker reviews "McCartney III"

     

    The Beatles made statements, but McCartney seems to be perpetually sketching. Illustration by Malika Favre

     

    Since the Beatles officially broke up, in 1970, Paul McCartney has released more than thirty original albums and dozens of singles. They have included ragged, folksy home recordings; propulsive, glossy rock; children’s music featuring singing frogs; covers of fifties R. & B. favorites; duets with Carl Perkins, Michael Jackson, and Stevie Wonder; collaborations with members of Led Zeppelin and the Royal Liverpool Symphony Orchestra; and excursions into disco, ambient techno, and cut-and-paste soundscapes. By comparison, the Beatles released only twelve full studio albums—about nine hours of music. They made statements with their records, but McCartney seems to be perpetually sketching, pursuing a career of whims and compulsions. In 1971, he and his then wife, Linda, formed a new band, Wings, perhaps so that their family could spend more time together. “It was just something we wanted to do, so if we got it wrong, big deal,” he said. He characterized an album in the eighties as having started as “a mess-around.” Even when he compiled “Pure McCartney,” a 2016 retrospective of his post-Beatles career, he shrugged off any grand purpose, saying that it was simply “something fun to listen to.” No doubt McCartney takes his craft and his career seriously. But he’s a living legend who seems less interested in tending to his legacy than in scratching a chronic itch.

     

    He recorded his solo début in secret, in 1969 and 1970. The Beatles were in the process of disbanding, and he was reportedly sullen; the album, called “McCartney,” is a breakup record, though its heartache manifests less in the songs’ lyrics than in their tattered edges. The record is filled with gorgeous half-finished melodies that eschew the perfectionism to which Beatles fans had grown accustomed, baffling listeners. “The Lovely Linda,” for example, starts off as a pretty ode to his wife but then ends suddenly, as McCartney dissolves into giggles. In the eighties, as Wings was breaking up, McCartney recorded a sequel, “McCartney II,” on which he ditched rock classicism for synthesizers and drum machines. Perhaps it wasn’t a masterpiece, he told an interviewer, but it was “total freedom.”

     

    This year, as the pandemic swept across the world, McCartney and his family retreated to his farm in East Sussex. He turned his prodigious work ethic to home recording and started tinkering with a scrap of a song he’d begun in the nineties. He ended up with an entire album, “McCartney III,” which comes out on December 18th. The opener, “Long Tailed Winter Bird,” summarizes the one-man approach. He begins by casually strumming his guitar, almost as if he’s tuning it, and then works out a raga-like pattern. He adds layers: a friendly bass line, background coos, electric guitar, pounding drums, strings and woodwinds. It goes on a bit longer than necessary, as if he were just noodling around. “Deep Deep Feeling” opens with McCartney riffing about the highs and lows of love, exhausting the rhyming possibilities of the word “emotion” with “devotion,” “ocean,” and “motion.” He adds an ethereal synth line, a stretched-out blues guitar; together, the instruments convey a storminess that his words never quite capture.

     

    In the popular imagination of the Beatles, John Lennon was the anguished, hard-driving dreamer, the one plumbing his psychological depths or reaching for the impossible vision. McCartney was the simpler one: he was congenial and silly, pathological only about songwriting. He came up with melodies and left them unfinished because there were always more to write. There are a few moments of “McCartney III” that recall this sense of delight. “Lavatory Lil,” a trifling blues boogie, echoes the childish, character-driven songs of the Beatles’ “Abbey Road.”

     

    Since the nineties, many of McCartney’s albums have been produced in a way that seems conscious of his glory days, and his effect on British music. Sometimes it sounds as though he were singing over a simulacrum of a Beatles song, and at other times as though he were sharing in the fun of disciples like Oasis or Adele. The most affecting moments of “McCartney III” are when his age and his limitations show. (He’s seventy-eight.) He works his way through a lovely acoustic ballad called “The Kiss of Venus” slowly and gingerly, his voice carefully tracing an ascending guitar line. On “Women and Wives,” he sounds warbly, as though he were losing control of his instrument. “When tomorrow comes around / You’ll be looking at the future,” he sings sternly. “So keep your feet upon the ground / And get ready to run.”

     

    A few years ago, there was a trollish online debate about whether the Atlanta rap trio Migos was better than the Beatles. A version of it took place in my college dorm in the nineties; the challenger then was Boyz II Men. I’ve since decided that there is no way for the upstart to win this argument. One gets the sense that it simply entrenches the Beatles as a cultural monolith. Invoking their name connects us to the possibility of some universally agreed-upon standard of greatness, a kind of consensus that no longer seems within reach.

     

    In this way, McCartney can sometimes seem like a symbol rather than a person. Currently, his most streamed song on Spotify is “FourFiveSeconds,” a 2015 track featuring Rihanna and Kanye West. (It has seven hundred million listens, nearly two hundred million more than “Here Comes the Sun.”) Kanye and Rihanna are the stars of the song; McCartney’s presence seems gestural, a way for them to link themselves to the canon. But McCartney appears to relish these brushes with the Zeitgeist. In 2016, when Rae Sremmurd’s “Black Beatles” (streamed a hundred and thirty million more times than “Here Comes the Sun”) became the soundtrack for a viral “mannequin” challenge, McCartney took part, filming a video of himself frozen while playing a grand piano. “Love those Black Beatles,” he wrote on Twitter. In recent years, McCartney has sung on a track by the E.D.M. producer the Bloody Beetroots and performed with the surviving members of Nirvana. He is on this month’s cover of Rolling Stone, alongside Taylor Swift. Such moments give younger artists a bridge to history; McCartney satisfies his curiosity about kids these days.

     

    But it may be impossible for a septuagenarian ex-Beatle to grasp the anxiety-filled world that his musical descendants have inherited. The pandemic has provided an occasion for younger artists, including Taylor Swift, Charli XCX, and BTS, to release work that touches on the isolation and loneliness of contemporary life. By contrast, there’s something incredibly “Paul” about McCartney’s approach to the pandemic album: cheery, resilient, forever looking forward. It’s a reminder of one of the Beatles’ most powerful messages to baby boomers: life gets better. It’s getting better all the time.

     

    McCartney’s optimism feels vintage. In “Seize the Day,” he reminds us, over warm electric keys, to stay in the moment: “When the cold days come / When the old ways fade away / There’ll be no more sun / And we’ll wish that we had held on to the day.” For the album’s splendid closer, “Winter Bird—When Winter Comes,” he returns to the album’s opening guitar lick. The song then morphs into a folk tune that doubles as a to-do list of tasks around his farm: fix a fence, dig a drain, plant some trees. Time passes, he notes, and someday the trees will cast shade. The implication is that McCartney won’t be around to see them, but, by doing his part, he has helped a future visitor. The sentiment is lovely, and it harks back to a different generation’s sense of what’s possible. We’d all like to believe that love will prevail, that the earth will heal itself, and that we’ll leave things better than we found them. He’s written this song countless times. But it sounds a little different now.

     

    Published in the print edition of the December 21, 2020, issue, with the headline “Whims.”

     

    Hua Hsu is a staff writer at The New Yorker and the author of “A Floating Chinaman: Fantasy and Failure Across the Pacific.”

     

    George Harrison, Ringo Starr and Eric Clapton appear in "Freedom" video

     

    The movie "Water" was financed by George Harrison's own company "HandMade Films" and so why not share the spotlight in this comedy film in a cameo appearance which is what George did.

     

    In terms of critical reception, Wikipedia writes: "The film received a mixed review in the New York Times, which read in part "The folks who packaged this put-on operated on the theory that a lot of eccentric people doing nutty things produce hilarity. The ingredient missing from the fitfully amusing conglomeration of characters is a character for the whole. In kidding everything, the movie leaves us uncertain about whether anything is being seriously kidded.

     

    "The Los Angeles Times called it "so refreshingly funny that you're tempted to forgive its tendency to run dry in its last half hour... boasts some of the wittiest lines heard on screen since A Private Function."

     

     

     

    MOSCOW -- Photographer Boris Antonov doesn't remember exactly how he found out that former Beatle John Lennon had been shot to death in New York on December 8, 1980.

     

    It definitely wasn't from the Soviet media, he recalled. In his personal archive, Antonov still has a tiny clipping from a back page of the Soviet daily Trud that announced the news in three terse sentences on December 10.

     

    But word of Lennon's killing "spread rather quickly" among his friends, Antonov told RFE/RL.

     

    "It was a shock, of course," Antonov, who at the time was a student at the Moscow Communications Institute, said. "Because the Beatles seemed to be eternal. They had been there our whole lives."



    The tiny Soviet press clipping that Boris Antonov saw announcing John Lennon's death in December 1980.

     

    Antonov stressed that he was an ordinary Soviet kid from the outlying Moscow neighborhood of Kuntsevo.

     

    "No one in my circle had dissident views or any doubts about socialism," he said. "Downtown was where the kids lived whose fathers were in cinema or were diplomats or professors. The so-called Golden Youth who had blue jeans and the latest Deep Purple album."

     

    Antonov did, however, play bass in a neighborhood band. He remembers hearing the Beatles' 1965 song Girl when he was in the seventh grade on a Soviet compilation album called Musical Kaleidoscope No. 8.

     

    And there were rare glimpses of the English rockers even on Soviet television.

     

    "There was a television show called America In The Viewfinder that began with a clip from Can't Buy Me Love," Antonov remembered. "The show was about how hard life was for American workers. But we didn't care about that. The main thing for us was those 20 seconds of the Beatles."

     

    A young Boris Antonov plays guitar with a bandmate and a poster of Lenin in the background.

     

    One time, he said, he was in a record store when the clerk decided to show off to his friends by playing the 1969 hit Come Together.

     

    "That was a shock," he said, recalling how Lennon's vocals stood out compared to the Soviet pop stars that dominated the airwaves at the time. "We were surrounded by [Iosif] Kobzon, Aida Vedishcheva, Valentina Tolkkunova...."

     

    In the late 1970s, and especially as the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games approached, the atmosphere became more relaxed. In 1977, the Soviet record label Melodia released Lennon's 1971 album Imagine.

     

    On December 20, 1980, Antonov saw a small notice on a bulletin board at the Moscow Communications Institute. It invited "all admirers and fans of the music of the Beatles" to come "tomorrow" to the Lenin Hills overlook near the main building of Moscow State University (MGU) at 11 a.m. for a gathering of "those who want to honor the memory of John Lennon."

     

    The small notice that Antonov found on a bulletin board at the Moscow Communications Institute

     

    Across the bottom of the announcement, someone had written: "Those who are afraid of repressions please don't come."

     

    "It was evening, and I was putting on my coat to leave," Antonov told RFE/RL. "That's when I saw it. I wanted to take it because it was such a nice thing. I argued a little with myself -- maybe I should let more people find out about it. But it was already late, and the institute was about to close. I thought I wouldn't harm freedom or Lennon's memory, so I carefully took it down and hid it away."

     

     Antonov said he worried a bit about the possibility of trouble if he participated in the memorial, but that "just made it more interesting, with a little risk and fear."

     

    "Of course, we weren't worried that they would beat us or arrest us, but we knew that there could be trouble," he added, including the possibility of being expelled from the institute.

     

    That evening, a friend was celebrating his birthday with a listening of the Pink Floyd album The Wall. Antonov told them about the Lennon gathering, but none of them wanted to go.

     

    "They were simply afraid," he said.

     

    Already a budding photographer, Antonov loaded a fresh roll of film in his camera the next morning and headed to the Lenin Hills overlook, a prominent platform with a panoramic view over the Soviet capital. As it turned out, Antonov took almost all of the surviving photographs of the event.

     

     When he arrived at about 11:30, there were "200-300 people gathered near the famous granite barrier." Two people were holding a banner reading "To The Blessed Memory Of John Lennon." Another young man, apparently a student, had a sign around his neck with the word "Imagine" and the third verse of Lennon's iconic song of that title written on it.

     

     

     In a memoir written for the website Beatles.ru, Antonov said he saw a young man take off his hat and give a moving, heartfelt tribute to Lennon in a voice breaking with sorrow.

     

    "He spoke of Lennon as a great musician and as a fighter for social justice," Antonov wrote. "For the rights of blacks, for peace. He concluded with the words, 'Together with Lennon forever!'"

     

    Others stepped up and concluded their speeches with similar slogans that had Soviet echoes: "Lennon hasn't died!" or "Lennon forever!"

     

    "One young man shouted, 'Give peace a chance!' and threw up a peace sign," Antonov wrote.

     

    Antonov said he doesn't recall any particular anti-Soviet sentiment at the event. He said a single police officer stood nearby and watched. One or two photographers from the international press snapped photos. An article later appeared in London's The Daily Telegraph.

     

     

    Nonetheless, participants began being detained as the demonstration was breaking up and people were heading to the nearest metro station.

     

    "The police and, according to rumors, government collaborators from MGU, began to push the loudest participants around and shove them toward a bus," Antonov wrote in his memoir. "People couldn't believe their eyes. No one had any experience of anything like that. One guy asked a police officer to explain what was happening and began citing various rights and freedoms from the constitution.... The crowd started getting angry. You could hear people shouting some bold things at the police and particularly at the security officers in plain clothes who had until that moment been standing around pretending to be [Lennon] fans and who were now ushering activists into the bus."

     

    Antonov said the crowd linked arms and continued walking toward the metro. As they passed the bus with the detainees, Antonov said he shouted, "Guys, we are with you!"

     

    Altogether, a few hundred Beatles fans gathered in the Soviet capital to mark Lennon's death.

     

    For Antonov, the breaking point came when a police officer tried to detain the young man who had earlier been quoting the constitution.

     

    "'We won't give him up!'" Antonov recalled saying. At that point, the police grabbed him too. Antonov said he instinctively resisted, kicking out with his legs after both his arms were restrained.

     

    "But, of course, it was pointless," he said. "They kicked me into the bus."

     

    "We somehow felt that right was on our side," Antonov recalled. "We knew that we were innocent and that our cause was just."

     

    The crowd was even angrier, he said, because most of those who were detaining them were MGU student collaborators and informers.

     

    The detainees were taken to various police stations for questioning. Antonov said none of the officers was rude to him. One of them even said that he liked the Beatles himself.

     

    Antonov said he later heard that some of the detainees had various problems, including being disciplined at their institutes.

     

    "But none of the people I knew personally had any such problems," he told RFE/RL.

     

    A year later, in December 1981, Soviet Lennon fans tried to organize another, similar event on the first anniversary of the tragedy. But this time the Soviet authorities were prepared.

     

    Antonov and a couple of friends tried to approach the Lenin Hills overlook.

     

    "We were grabbed when we were still 300 or 400 meters from the viewing point," he recalled. "The police came up to us and said, 'Boys, where are you going?' 'Just taking a walk,' we answered. 'Well, take a walk with us then.'"

     

    The above article is written by RFE/RL senior correspondent Robert Coalson based on reporting from Moscow by RFE/RL Russian Service correspondent Valentin Baryshnkov for Radio Free Europe.

     

     

    December 11, 2020

    Three autographed Test Pressings of the new "McCartney III" will given away!

     

    Paul McCartney's Official Facebook page is reporting that if you "Pre-order Paul’s new album via the official store to be in with a chance of winning one of three autographed vinyl test pressings of 'McCartney III'! Find out more: https://PaulMcCartney.lnk.to/MC3Store

     

    Best of luck everyone!

     

     

     

     

    Beatles 'crushed Soviet Union's credibility' after material banned for being 'decadent'

    THE BEATLES "helped to bring about the collapse of the Soviet Union", a former bandmate of music icon John Lennon told Express.co.uk.

    by Josh Saunders for the Express

     

    Fans of the Fab Four remembered John Lennon this week on the 40th anniversary of his death, when he was fatally shot four times in the back by Mark Chapman in New York. The Beatles left an indelible mark on music during eight years together, when they released 188 original songs and 25 covers. Now, a link between the Liverpudlian band and the Soviet Union’s downfall has been revealed by a friend of John.

     

    Rod Davis knew the deceased singer-songwriter from the age of five, when they both attended Sunday school at St Peter’s Church, in Woolton, Liverpool.

     

    They grew closer in Quarry Bank High School through John’s cheeky antics in class including making cardboard dog collars for everyone in a religious studies lesson.

     

    Mr Davis was part of the original line-up for John's old band The Quarrymen and soon he met Paul McCartney – a moment that would change the history of music. 



    Beatles: John Lennon and Rod Davis (left pic, right) during a Quarrymen performance in the Fifties

     

    After that seminal moment, the band reformed with Mr Davis’ distrust of the rock and roll genre leading him to leave the skiffle group.

     

    Now The Quarrymen perform around the world and last took to the stage in Germany on October 9, which would have been John’s 80th birthday.

     

    During Mr Davis’ travels, he met a number of Beatles fans in Russia who believed the band helped “dismantle the Soviet Union”.

     

    He told Express.co.uk: “People say, ‘You must be joking,’ but they believe it over there.

     

    “We met a few people while playing in Russia and they seemed convinced that The Beatles’ music had something to do with it.”

     

    Music of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and others was banned in the nation during that era because of the fear that it was “subversive”.

     

    Beatles records were hard, but not impossible, to get a hold of on the black market, where they would sell for the equivalent of two week’s wages, the BBC reported in 2012.

     

    Sailors, actors and diplomats were all said to have smuggled the records into the state – and if they would have been discovered, their right to travel would have been revoked.

     

    Mr Davis told Express.co.uk: “It may sound stupid to people over here but we met quite a few people in Russia who said the influence of The Beatles’ music definitely helped to dismantle the Soviet Union.

     

    “Partly because they had been told that all Beatles records were ‘decadent and subversive’.

     

    “Then, when they heard them, it was the early-Beatles songs about boy meets girl and June moon, tune stuff.

     

    “They wondered why the party was being so critical and it started to erode the credibility of the Soviet Union’s regime.”

     

    Mr Davis went on to watch the 2009 documentary How The Beatles Rocked the Kremlin, which further explored the effects of Beatlemania behind the Iron Curtain.

     

    Due to vinyl being “scarce and expensive” in the Soviet Union, citizens concocted their own unique way to produce flexi disc records.

     

    Using discarded X-ray scans from Soviet hospitals, music could be pressed onto them with a modified record player.

     

    Mr Davis told Express.co.uk: “You get an X-ray photo of bones on thick plastic stuff and made flexi disc out of them, it was known as ‘making music on the bones.’”

     

    He met a Ukrainian fan who put together an exhibit of “Soviet-era Beatles stuff”, which included handwritten lyrics and the make-shift records, often displaying broken bones.

     

    Mr Davis recalled: “It was a really dangerous thing to do, there had been some recordings of The Beatles songs on Russian state labels.

     

    “But they were not acknowledged as being The Beatles and it was not them singing.”

     

    The dissolution of the Soviet Union happened over three years from 1988, eventually ending after President Mikhail Gorbachev resigned.

     

    He handed over power to President Boris Yeltsin, when the Soviet flag was lowered for the final time and in its place the Russian national flag raised.

     

     

     

    December 8, 2020

    A Monkee Got to Hear This Beatles Song Before Everyone Else

    by Matthew Trzcinski for Showbiz Cheatsheet

     

    The Monkees were sometimes dismissed as Beatles knockoffs, however, they had a decent relationship with the Fab Four. In addition, one of The Monkees, Micky Dolenz, got to hear one of The Beatles’ masterpieces in its early stages. Here’s a look into that experience — and why Dolenz decided to cover this Beatles song in addition to some other rock classics....

     

     

    Dolenz recalls spending time with the Fab Four in the studio alongside their producer, George Martin. He found the whole experience “funny.”

     

    “I don’t know what I was expecting when they invited me,” Dolenz said. “I’d met Paul the night before at his house. He had a dinner and he invited me to this session for this new album they’re doing called Sgt. Pepper and I’m like, ‘Oh, cool.’ I showed up all dressed up. I guess I was expecting some kind of Beatles fun fest freakout, you know, psycho Jell-O love-in kind of thing and I got dressed accordingly in my paisley bell-bottoms and tie dyed underwear. And I looked like a cross between Ronald McDonald and Charlie Manson. Something like that. And it was just four of them sitting there playing.”

     

    Dolenz was front and center for a piece of Fab Four history. “And John said, ‘You wanna hear what we’re working on?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, cool,’ and they played the [then unreleased] tracks to ‘Good Morning Good Morning.’ And I always remember that and I will for the rest of my life.

     

    The Beatles included “Good Morning Good Morning” on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. It did not become one of their big hits. In fact, it didn’t chart on the Billboard Hot 100.

     

    However, Dolenz would emphasize his connection to the song by covering it on his solo album Remember. In an interview with the Los Angles Times, Dolenz said he chose to cover “Good Morning Good Morning” because Remember was designed as a scrapbook of his life. In addition to covering “Good Morning Good Morning” for the album, Dolenz also performed a rendition of Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” because he auditioned for The Monkees by performing that hit.

     

    (for brevity sake, the above article was edited by the Ottawa Beatles Site.)

     

    John Lennon and the Politics of the New Left

    By Jon Wiener for Jacobin

     

    Forty years after his murder in New York City, we remember John Lennon’s record of political engagement as a champion of the anti-war movement and a self-styled “instinctive socialist” — which brought him into conflict with Richard Nixon and J. Edgar Hoover.

     

    When John Lennon was murdered forty years ago, on December 8, 1980, we believed Richard Nixon had been the worst president ever — because of the war in Vietnam, because of the repression that he called “law and order” and the racism of the Southern Strategy, and also because of his treatment of Lennon. Nixon had tried to deport Lennon in 1972 when the former Beatle made plans to lead an election-year effort to challenge the Republican president’s reelection with a campaign to register young people to vote.

     

    In the end, of course, Lennon stayed in the United States and Nixon left the White House in disgrace. But the seemingly endless battle in the immigration courts ruined his life for the next few years. To recover, in 1975 he left Los Angeles, where he’d been living apart from Yoko Ono in a kind of exile, and returned to New York and the Dakota.

     

    He and Yoko had a son, and he declared himself a househusband. He stayed out of sight for five years, then returned to music and public life with a new album, which opened with the glorious song “Starting Over.” Then he was shot and killed by a deranged fan.

     

    Giving Peace a Chance

     

    Of course, Lennon will always be remembered as part of the ’60s. He wrote and recorded “Give Peace a Chance”; on November 15, 1969, as they gathered at the Washington Monument to oppose the Vietnam War, half a million people sang Lennon’s song, while Nixon sat alone in the White House, watching football on TV. That was one of the best days of the ’60s.

     

    Lennon’s politics developed through several distinct stages, each marked by a new song. And “Give Peace a Chance” was not the beginning of Lennon’s life with the Left. He had taken his first steps toward radical politics in 1966, when he and the other three Beatles defied the advice of their manager and publicly denounced the war in Vietnam. “We think about it every day,” Lennon said. “We think it’s wrong.” That was a bold and risky move: at the time, only 10 percent of the American public agreed.

     

    Lennon addressed the Left directly the year before “Give Peace a Chance,” in August 1968, with a song that criticized radical activists: “You Say You Want a Revolution,” he sang — and concluded “count me out.” He complained about leftists “carrying pictures of Chairman Mao” and their “talk about destruction.” Genuine liberation, he declared in interviews as well as that song, consisted of “freeing your mind,” which could be achieved, according to Lennon, through psychedelic drugs and meditation.

     

     

     

    But that phase didn’t last long. Lennon released an alternate version of “Revolution” in November 1968, on the White Album, that was different from the single. This one was slower, so the words were easier to understand — and after the lines “When you talk about destruction, don’t you know that you can count me out,” he added a single word: “in.” Out, or in? He made his ambivalence clear.

     

    After he got together with Yoko Ono in May 1968, Lennon learned that in order to transform himself, he needed to join in the work of transforming the world. Instead of posing personal liberation as an alternative to political action, he and Yoko would work together on both. And he would use his status as a celebrity to challenge not only the war but also the conventions of left-wing protest.

     

    A Song for the Movement

     

    For their honeymoon in 1969, the couple invited the press to their room at Amsterdam’s Hilton Hotel, where they declared they were holding a “bed-in for peace” — staying in bed for a week to protest “all the violence in the world.” They offered the bed-in as an alternative to the traditional protest march and invited young people to create their own forms of anti-war protest — “grow your hair for peace.” As a counterculture media event, the bed-in was wildly successful, provoking ridicule from the media and enthusiasm from the longhairs.

     

    John and Yoko wanted to hold a second bed-in in the United States but were barred from entering the country — so they did one as close as they could get — in Montreal, at the Queen Elizabeth hotel. There, knowing that he was primarily a songwriter, Lennon set out to write an anthem for the anti-war movement — the result was “Give Peace a Chance,” which he recorded in their hotel room with friends joining in.

     

    In the streets, the song was sung mostly as a chant with a melody, one line over and over: “All we are saying . . .” The rest of the lyrics made it clear that this was offered as a criticism of the Left, with its analysis and arguments — “Everybody’s talking ’bout revolution, evolution, this-ism, that-ism,” he sang: “all we are saying, is give peace a chance.”

     

    It was a call for the anti-war movement to put aside political differences and unite around the simple demand for “peace.” The Left, of course, criticized those politics, but it suited the moment of the Vietnam Moratorium march in Washington in November 1969 — and many more in the years and decades to come.

     

    A Song for the Streets

     

    That same fall of 1969, Lennon called Tariq Ali, one of the leaders of the British New Left, to talk politics. Ali was a leader of the Vietnam Solidarity Campaign, which had organized the marches on the US Embassy in London at Grosvenor Square — big, militant events. Ali brought in Robin Blackburn, his fellow editor of the Red Mole, and Lennon agreed to an interview, which appeared in March 1971.

     

    Now he made himself part of the New Left project: “We should be trying to reach the young workers because that’s when you’re the most idealistic and have the least fear,” he said, adding, “We can’t have a revolution that doesn’t involve and liberate women.” In the United States, Ramparts magazine published the interview, with a cover headlined “The Working-Class Hero Turns Red.”

     

    Lennon’s conversations with Ali and Blackburn also led to a new song: “Power to the People.” John sang it as a song for the streets, a marching song, a fighting song. The record was released in time for the May 1971 spring offensive in Washington, “Stop the war or we’ll stop the government,” which brought hundreds of thousands to the streets of the capital.

     

    The Nixon administration responded with the largest mass arrests in US history: twelve thousand demonstrators arrested on a single day. Amazingly, “Power to the People” became a million-seller worldwide, receiving Top Forty airplay for nine weeks that spring of 1971.

     

    Lennon and Nixon

     

    John and Yoko moved to New York City in the fall of 1971, and he released “Imagine,” which quickly became the most popular song of his post-Beatles life. It proposes a utopia, presented in simple instructions: “Imagine no more countries,” “Imagine no religion.” Yet somehow it was widely misunderstood.

     

    Rolling Stone called it “irrational yet beautiful.” Did they believe “greed and hunger” were “rational”? The New York Times described it as a song of “optimism.” Okay, but did America’s national newspaper of record really think a call to “imagine no possessions” to be “optimistic”? The World Council of Churches asked John if it could use the song and change the lyrics to “Imagine one religion.” Lennon told them they “didn’t understand it at all.”

     

    In the fall of 1971, however, “Imagine” seemed to many movement people a hymn to the New Left in defeat. Activists were depressed and exhausted. Despite the largest peaceful protests in the nation’s history, combined with the most militant and widespread civil disobedience, Nixon was headed for an easy reelection.

     

    Lennon wanted to help stop that. He met with Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin and developed a plan for a national concert tour that would coincide with the 1972 election. The idea was to combine rock music with political organizing and do voter registration at the concerts.

     

    This seemed particularly promising in what would be the first election in which eighteen-year-olds had the right to vote. Everyone knew young people were the most anti-war constituency, but also the least likely to vote. The first US concert tour by one of the ex-Beatles would have been a huge event.

     

    They did a trial run in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in December 1971. John and Yoko played with a new band, and fifteen thousand people heard speeches from Rennie Davis, Jerry Rubin and David Dellinger of the Chicago Seven trial, and Bobby Seale of the Black Panthers. Allen Ginsberg chanted a new mantra, and surprise guest Stevie Wonder played “For Once in My Life” and then gave a brief speech denouncing Nixon. It was a triumph.

     

    FBI undercover agents reported to J. Edgar Hoover on the Ann Arbor concert and on Lennon’s plans. The CIA also joined in, and even Britain’s intelligence agency, MI5. Word was sent to Republican senator Strom Thurmond, the former Dixiecrat and segregationist who was at the time chair of the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee. He described the tour plans in a memo to the Nixon White House and suggested that “deportation would be a strategic counter-measure.”

     

    Within weeks, Lennon was served with a deportation order. His immigration attorney told him his case was weak and he would have to cancel the tour. So he did.

     

    An Instinctive Socialist

     

    In 1980, on the day he was killed, Lennon did a long interview for a New York radio station. He said growing up in working-class Liverpool had made him “an instinctive socialist.” It gave him a deep hostility to Britain’s ruling class, a hatred of war, and a distinctive kind of verbal humor. That made it easy for him to become a rebellious working-class hero. It also made it harder for him to become a feminist; for that, he needed Yoko.

     

    In retrospect, Lennon’s murder marked the beginning of the forty-year political crisis that culminated with four years of Donald Trump. A Republican president who proved to be more right-wing than Nixon seemed unimaginable in December 1980. Lennon was killed four weeks after Ronald Reagan was elected, six weeks before the former movie star became president.

     

    It was Reagan, not Nixon, who said “government is not the solution, government is the problem.” It was Reagan who argued for massive tax and spending cuts. It was Reagan, not Nixon, who used federal power to attack the labor movement, in the PATCO strike (Nixon had relished his support from conservative unions, which had refused to endorse his challenger, George McGovern, in that same 1972 election.) By 1988, when Reagan left the White House, we no longer believed Nixon was the worst Republican we could imagine. Then George W. Bush started a war in Iraq, and we no longer believed Reagan was the worst. And then we got Trump.

     

    The Republicans of our day are worse than their predecessors in Lennon’s time, but today’s movements are miles ahead of the ones Lennon joined. The summer of Black Lives Matter saw street protests not just in a few big cities but in virtually every city and town in America. Millions of people marched in the biggest protests in American history.

     

    The marchers were multiracial and part of a movement founded and led by black women. And they skillfully combined protest with politics. Lennon would have been eighty this year. He would have hated Trump, but he would have loved the summer of 2020.

     

    About the Author

     

    Jon Wiener is the author, most recently, of Set the Night on Fire: L.A. in the Sixties, coauthored by Mike Davis. His books include Come Together: John Lennon in His Time.

     

     

    December 7, 2020

    Rare picture of The Beatles as baby-faced teenagers in 1958 is unearthed by Paul McCartney's brother and unveiled in new book

    by Liz Hull for the Daily Mail

     

    Strumming their guitars in his auntie’s front room, this is Paul McCartney with John Lennon and George Harrison in what is thought to be one of the earliest colour pictures ever taken of the Beatles.

     

    The photograph, which has never been seen before, was unearthed by Sir Paul’s brother Mike McCartney, who took it in March 1958.

     

    It shows Paul and George, both 15, and John, 17, rehearsing to perform at a wedding reception. George has his back to the camera, hence the name on the negative – George’s Back.

     

     

    Mike stumbled across the negative while going through old files for a new book. He said he was 14 when he took the picture – along with a well-known second image, largely assumed to be the first colour picture of the band – at his Auntie Gin’s house in Huyton, Liverpool, at the reception for her 19-year-old son, Ian Harris.

     

    Dressed in grey jackets, white shirts and black ties, the band, then named The Quarrymen, appear to be rehearsing, with Paul open mouthed, presumably mid-song.

     

    Mike said: 'My filing system is non-existent, I’m always coming across lost drawings and pictures. I was going through some old files and came across a couple of negs and I realised that, because the other one was a better picture, I had put this one to one side.

     

    'I realised, "Oh my God, I must have taken this one earlier because there they are rehearsing, George has his back to the camera".'

     

    'It was a lovely discovery after all these years. Sometimes negatives fade if they haven’t been stored properly but this one was in prime condition. In those days colour film was very expensive so it would have been a special present from Dad to get the colour film for me.

     

    'We used to get Dad a £1 cigar every year for Christmas and he would have got this as my gift. It's brilliant to see their matching jackets in colour.'

     

    Harry Ian Harris, then 19, married Cecilia Jacqueline Gavin, 16, known as Jackie, in a Catholic church ceremony in Huyton on Saturday March 8 1958. Afterwards a party was held in their honour at 147 Dinas Lane, the home of Paul’s Auntie Gin.

     

    Ian asked Paul to bring some musician friends to play at the reception. George Harrison had met the Quarrymen only the previous month, and had turned 15 just days before.

     

    The other, more famous image, also taken at the reception, has been widely published previously and is well known among Beatles' fans.

     

    It is entitled 'John, Paul, George and Dennis,' in reference to the fourth man, Dennis Littler, a neighbour of Ian Harris who was pictured next to the musicians drinking a glass of stout.

     

    But after the new colour snap was previewed by Mike's publishers on Tuesday, it caused much excitement among Beatles’ fans on social media. 

     

    His limited edition book, Mike McCartney’s Early Liverpool, is due out next year from Genesis Publications (mikemccartneybook.com).

     

    It includes unseen pictures, from his very first photograph taken with the family Kodak Brownie, to capturing the emerging Merseybeat scene.

     

     

    December 6, 2020

    Paul McCartney opens up about friendship with John Lennon in new interview

    "We had certainly got our friendship back, which was a great blessing for me"

    By Elizabeth Aubrey for New Music Express

     

     

    Speaking to The Sunday Times, McCartney opened up about his friendship with Lennon in the period following The Beatles split.

     

    On being asked if he thought the Beatles would have ever worked together again, McCartney said: “We made a decision when the Beatles folded that we weren’t going to pick it up again. So we switched off from the Beatles. You talk about something coming full circle that is very satisfying; let’s not spoil it by doing something that might not be as good. It was a conscious decision to leave well enough alone, so I don’t really think we would have. But who knows? We could have.”

     

    Going on to speak about a potential reunion in light of his repaired friendship with Lennon, McCartney then added: “We had certainly got our friendship back, which was a great blessing for me, and I now will often think, if I’m writing a song, ‘OK, John — I’ll toss it over to you. What line comes next?’ So I’ve got a virtual John that I can use.”

     

    Elsewhere in the interview, McCartney, whose forthcoming new solo album ‘McCartney III’ is due to arrive on December 18, went on to reveal more about the group’s early days. Explaining that he’d just seen some footage from Peter Jackson’s upcoming film about the group, The Beatles: Get Back, McCartney said the footage helped him remember the friendships of the band.

     

    He said: “It was so reaffirming for me…Because it proves that my main memory of the Beatles was the joy and the skill…The proof is the footage. I bought into the dark side of the Beatles breaking up and thought, ‘Oh God, I’m to blame.’ I knew I wasn’t, but it’s easy when the climate is that way to start thinking so.

     

     “But at the back of my mind there was always this idea that it wasn’t like that, but I needed to see proof. There’s a great photo Linda took, which is my favourite, of me and John working on a song, glowing with joy. This footage is the same. All four of us having a ball.”

     

    When asked if the group experienced any mental health issues, McCartney said: “Yes, I think so…But you talked about it through your songs. You know, John would. ‘Help! I need somebody,’ he wrote. And I thought, ‘Well, it’s just a song,’ but it turned out to be a cry for help.

     

    “Same kind of thing happened with me, mainly after the break-up of the band. All of us went through periods when we weren’t as happy as we ought to be. Ringo had a major drinking problem. Now he’s Mr Sober of the Year! But you know there were a lot of things we had to work through, but you’re right — you didn’t talk about mental health.

     

    It was something really that, as four guys, you were more likely to make fun of than be serious about. And the making fun of it was to hide from it. But having said all that, we were reasonably well adjusted, I think.”

     

    McCartney recently delayed the release of his upcoming solo album due to “unforeseeable production delays”.

     

    The record is the long-awaited final part of the ‘McCartney’ solo album trilogy, following on from ‘McCartney’ in April 1970 and ‘McCartney II’ in May 1980.

     

    After previously setting a December 11 release date, ‘McCartney III’ will now arrive a week later on December 18.

     

     

    December 4, 2020

    Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Ringo Starr will be among participants in ‘Play On’ TV special

    by Jay Lustig for NJARTS.NET

     

     

    “Play On: Celebrating the Power of Music to Make Change,” a CBS TV special that will air Dec. 15 at 8 p.m.., will feature artists performing at historic venues in three cities, as well as other segments, and raise money for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and WhyHunger. The special will be viewable on YouTube beginning Dec. 15 at 9 p.m.

     

    Performing at the Apollo Theater in New York: Bon Jovi, Machine Gun Kelly, Sara Bareilles, Emily King, Jon Batiste, Pedrito Martinez and Steve Jordan.

     

    Performing at the Bluebird Café in Nashville: Maren Morris (both by herself and with The Highwomen), Sheryl Crow and Yola.

     

    Performing at the Troubadour in West Hollywood, Calif.: Gary Clark Jr., Andra Day, L.L. Cool J featuring DJ Z-Trip, and Ziggy Marley.

     

    Bruce Springsteen, Ringo Starr and John Legend are listed as making “special appearances from somewhere in the world.”

     

    Kevin Bacon and Eve will co-host. Bacon’s SixDegrees.org charity created the Play On Fund, through which the money will be distributed to the charities.

     

    For more information, visit playonlive.org.

     

     

    December 3, 2020

    Alanis Morissette shares cover of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s ‘Happy Xmas (War Is Over)’

    by Will Lavin for the New Music Express

     

    Alanis Morissette has covered John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s ‘Happy Xmas (War Is Over)’ – listen below.

     

    The Canadian singer-songwriter has recreated the iconic visuals from the 1971 track as well as stayed true to the original in sound.

     

    In the music video for her cover, Morissette and her family are seen tucked into a big, white bed surrounded by flowers, stuffed animals, a guitar, and Lennon and Ono’s famous ‘Bed Peace’ poster.

     

    “It is an honour to cover this heartwarming song,” Morissette said. “The lyrics feel more pertinent than ever and this year has been a year of great resilience and adapting and feeling all the feelings. May this song serve as a big hug to you and your sweet families and friends. Everything is going to be okay in the end, and if it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”

     

     

    Earlier this year, Alanis Morissette opened up about addiction and therapy in an interview with The Guardian.

     

    The Canadian rock star described herself as “such an addict” and said that without therapy, she’s not sure how she would have coped.

     

    Speaking about her addictions, Morissette said her main ones were “work addiction, love addiction and food addiction.” The musician also revealed that she’d suffered from an eating disorder since childhood.

     

    Meanwhile, Morissette has revealed she didn’t originally want her hit single ‘Ironic’ to feature on her classic record ‘Jagged Little Pill’.

     

    The singer-songwriter, whose ninth album ‘Such Pretty Forks In The Road’ arrived in July, said in a recent interview that she regarded the song as more of a demo but bowed to pressure from people who liked it.

     

     

    December 2, 2020

    The men behind the music of the Beatles

    by Graham Rockingham, Contributing Columnist for the Hamilton Spectator

     

    Photo taken by Jolaika

     

    Haley Marie is fascinated by the fact that as John Lennon reached the pinnacle of pop stardom in the mid-’60s, the lyrics for his songs became more and more downbeat. You can see it in their titles — “I’m a Loser,” “Nowhere Man,” “Help.”

     

    The songs show a creative genius struggling with the deep insecurities and anxieties that sometimes emerge with sudden and spectacular fame. To the outside world, the Beatles seemed to be living a fairy tale existence, but the music indicated something else was going on behind the scenes.

     

    These are the sort of issues dealt with in Marie’s new live show — “The Men Behind the Music, Beatles Edition.”

     

    “Everybody knows the stories that were on the front page of the newspapers and magazines, how amazing it was — and it truly was — but what I’m more interested in is what was happening in the hotel rooms where they were trying to come to grips with who they were in the world and how that affected John in depression and anxiety, in his tendency to overeat or overdrink,” Marie explains in an interview.

     

    Marie, Winnipeg-born and now living in Oakville, achieved her bachelor’s degree in classical flute at Montreal’s McGill University, a master’s degree in music from Yale University in Connecticut, and is a credited examiner with the Royal Conservatory of Music.

     

    She also loves playing pop-rock keyboards. But mostly she’s interested in the day-to-day lives of the great musicians and composers, both of the classical and contemporary eras.



    Photo taken by Jolaika

    “What drives them to work so hard at their art and make music that made them immortal?” asks Marie. “Whether we’re talking about Beethoven or John Lennon, this fascinates me.”

     

    With the help of more than 300 visual components and a three-piece backing band, Marie is performing “The Men Behind the Music, Beatles Edition” Thursday, Dec. 3, at The Mule Spinner in Hamilton’s Cotton Factory. The show, commissioned as a fundraiser for the charity Art House Halton, is being streamed online live with a limited viewing capacity of 400 (it’s sold out in advance).

     

    The show, which she hopes to perform live in local theatres once the pandemic is under control, consists of 17 Beatles’ songs. In between Marie tells the stories about what was going on in the personal lives of the four Beatles when they were written.

     

    “It is a live musical documentary,” Marie says. “It’s like watching a concert, but, in between all the music, is the live storytelling of who the musicians were. What were their inspirations? What were their day to day lives like behind the scenes?”

     

    Marie says she spent six months researching the show, reading everything she could find about the Beatles. To direct the show, Marie enlisted Mary-Lu Zahalan, a Juno-nominated singer who is also acknowledged as one of the top Beatles’ experts in Canada. Zahalan, also an Oakville resident, was the first graduate of the Beatles’ Master degree program at the Liverpool Hope University in England.

     

    “She’s brought the Liverpool flavour to the show, having lived for a time in the city where the Beatles started out,” Marie says about Zahalan. “She has given so much heart, polish and charisma to it.”

     

    Marie has done other “Men Behind the Music” shows, but previous ones have focused on classical composers such as Bach, Beethoven and Mozart. This is Marie’s first venture into the pop-rock world.

     

    “In the classical world, it’s explaining to people that these guys weren’t up on pedestals,” she says. “They were living lives with a lot of the things that our lives are filled with — rocky relationships, financial troubles and mental illness. The story is no different when you consider rock, pop or jazz musicians.”

     

     

    December 1, 2020

    Which vinyl pressing of Sgt. Pepper is the best one for listening experience?

     

     

    Bob Dylan Just Released the Ultra-Rare 1970 ‘George Harrison Sessions’ Without Warning

     

     

    The Bob Dylan – 50th Anniversary Collection 1970 was released as a super-limited set to avoid the recordings entering the public domain in Europe

    by Andy Greene for Rolling Stone

     

    A tiny number of Bob Dylan fans scored a valuable collectible on Sunday when a three-disc collection of songs cut in 1970, including the legendary George Harrison sessions, was quietly put on sale via the U.K. store Badlands.

     

    “This release is strictly limited to 1 unit per customer,” the store wrote when announcing Bob Dylan – 50th Anniversary Collection 1970. “Extremely limited release. It will sell out instantly … Thank you and best of luck.”

     

    This collection was released in response to a European law stipulating that recordings enter the public domain 50 years after their creation if they aren’t officially released by the copyright holder. To avoid legal Bob Dylan bootlegs from flooding the market, his camp has released yearly copyright protection releases going back to 2012 when the complete 1962 recordings came out.

     

    Many of them contain take after take of the same song and would be of interest to nobody but the most devoted Dylan scholars, but they’re become extremely valuable due to their scarcity. They often sell on the resale market for upwards of $1,000 each.

     

    This new one likely has a broader appeal than previous ones since it features Dylan and George Harrison’s complete May 1st, 1970 session where they casually jam on Dylan oldies like “One Too Many Mornings” and “It Ain’t Me Babe” along with the Beatles’ “Yesterday” and numerous tunes from the then-in-progress New Morning. It has circulated as a bootleg for years, but the sound quality on this is presumably a significant upgrade from anything heard before.

     

    It is rounded out by other recordings from the New Morning sessions where Dylan is joined by session pros like organist Al Kooper, bassist Charlie Daniels, drummer Russ Kunkel, guitarist David Bromberg, bassist Stu Woods and drummer Alvin Rogers.

     

    The collection sold out in seconds, but will likely be available soon to enterprising fans familiar with the world of BitTorrent. And stay vigilant in late 2021 when the complete sessions for Greatest Hits Volume 2 are likely to hit without notice. (Things will get real interesting in 2024 when they’ll have to release every recording in the vault from Dylan’s Before The Flood tour with the Band.)

     

    Here is the complete track listing for the Bob Dylan – 50th Anniversary Collection 1970.

     

    Disc 1

     

    March 3, 1970

    1. I Can’t Help but Wonder Where I’m Bound

    2. Universal Soldier – Take 1

    3. Spanish Is the Loving Tongue – Take 1

    4. Went to See the Gypsy – Take 2

    5. Went to See the Gypsy – Take 3

    6. Woogie Boogie

     

    March 4, 1970

    7. Went to See the Gypsy – Take 4

    8. Thirsty Boots – Take 1

     

    March 5, 1970

    9. Little Moses – Take 1

    10. Alberta – Take 2

    11. Come All You Fair and Tender Ladies – Take 1

    12. Things About Comin’ My Way – Takes 2 & 3

    13. Went to See the Gypsy – Take 6

    14. Untitled 1970 Instrumental #1

    15. Come a Little Bit Closer – Take 2

    16. Alberta – Take 5

     

    May 1, 1970

    17. Sign on the Window – Take 2

    18. Sign on the Window – Takes 3, 4 & 5

    19. If Not for You – Take 1

    20. Time Passes Slowly – Rehearsal

    21. If Not for You – Take 2

    22. If Not for You – Take 3

    23. Song to Woody – Take 1

    24. Mama, You Been on My Mind – Take 1

    25. Yesterday – Take 1

     

    Disc 2

     

    1. Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues – Take 1

    2. I Met Him on a Sunday (Ronde-Ronde) – Take 1

    3. One Too Many Mornings – Take 1

    4. Ghost Riders in the Sky – Take 1

    5. Cupid – Take 1

    6. All I Have to Do Is Dream – Take 1

    7. Gates of Eden – Take 1

    8. I Threw It All Away – Take 1

    9. I Don’t Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met) – Take 1

    10. Matchbox – Take 1

    11. Your True Love – Take 1

    12. Telephone Wire – Take 1

    13. Fishing Blues – Take 1

    14. Honey, Just Allow Me One More Chance – Take 1

    15. Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 – Take 1

    16. It Ain’t Me Babe

    17. If Not for You

    18. Sign on the Window – Take 1

    19. Sign on the Window – Take 2

    20. Sign on the Window – Take 3

     

    June 1, 1970

    21. Alligator Man

    22. Alligator Man [rock version]

    23. Alligator Man [country version]

    24. Day of the Locusts – Take 2

    25. Sarah Jane 1

    26. Sign on the Window

    27. Sarah Jane 2

     

    Disc 3

     

    June 2, 1970

    1. If Not for You – Take 1

    2. If Not for You – Take 2

     

    June 3, 1970

    3. Jamaica Farewell

    4. Can’t Help Falling in Love

    5. Long Black Veil

    6. One More Weekend

     

    June 4, 1970

    7. Bring Me Little Water, Sylvie – Take 1

    8. Three Angels

    9. Tomorrow Is a Long Time – Take 1

    10. Tomorrow Is a Long Time – Take 2

    11. New Morning

    12. Untitled 1970 Instrumental #2

     

    June 5, 1970

    13. Went to See the Gypsy

    14. Sign on the Window – Stereo Mix

    15. Winterlude

    16. I Forgot to Remember to Forget 1

    17. I Forgot to Remember to Forget 2

    18. Lily of the West – Take 2

    19. Father of Night – rehearsal

    20. Lily of the West

     

    August 12, 1970

    21. If Not for You – Take 1

    22. If Not for You – Take 2

     

    Bob Dylan – vocals, guitar, harmonica

    Buzzy Feiten – guitar

    Other musicians unknown

     

     

    November 30, 2020

    A new Beatles documentary with Mark Lewisohn: 

     

    Click on the above image to gain access to the documentary.
     

    ON RECORD & RETOLD is a specially curated festival that explores black music in Liverpool and the role it has played in the city

    and communities over the past 70 years.

     

    The Influence of Black music on The Beatles is unique two-part interview with Mark Lewisohn, the acknowledged world authority on The

    Beatles. He was joined by representatives of the Liverpool City Region Music Board, Paul Gallagher and Peter Hooton, to discuss the Black

    artists and Black music genres that inspired the Fab Four from Liverpool.

     

    The first of the two-part interview was shown on Monday 30 November and focuses on the early influences of Black music on The Beatles

    from 1956-1962. The second, to be streamed a week later, continues the story and focuses on their recording career, 1963 and beyond.

     

    This has been brought to you in partnership with National Museums Liverpool.

     

     

    November 29, 2020

    All Together Now: Howard Kaylen, Mark Volman, John Lennon, Canadian pop singer Anne Murray, Harry Nilsson, Alice Cooper

    and Micky Dolenz of the Monkees during a United States Thanksgiving in 1973

     

     

    Ottawa Beatles Site RetroGroove with John Lennon's "John Sinclair"

     

     

     

     

     

    WHITE PANTHER: The Legacy of John Sinclair (a short film by CHARLES SHAW*)

     

     

    The following is sourced from the Vimeo video writeup:

     

    "I'm here to tell you that apathy isn't it. And we can all do something if we try." ~ John Lennon

     

    "I just considered it part of my job. If you were gonna be a revolutionary, you were gonna have to go to prison." ~ John Sinclair

     

    John Sinclair is best known as the Sixties marijuana activist who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for giving two joints to an undercover policewoman. He was eventually freed when John Lennon and Yoko Ono spoke out on his behalf.

     

    Less understood is his role as the founder and chairman of the radical anti-war group, The White Panther Party, an offshoot of the Black Panthers. The Black Panther Party was a militant political organization formed after the brutal murders of Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Robert Kennedy.

     

    During the Cold War the US Government launched a secret program called COINTELPRO to disrupt and ultimately destroy the Black Panthers and the Anti-War movement. As part of this program, John Sinclair was set up and imprisoned on marijuana charges. When the government could no longer justify denying him a bond over two joints, they falsely charged him with a Federal conspiracy to blow up a CIA station, in order to make him disappear.

     

    In this case we find the secret origins of so much that troubles us today, like: classifying dissidents as terrorists, or the use of warrantless wiretaps and indefinite detention. The things that were revealed during his case are what the US government would prefer history forget.

     

    * with music by Thelonius Monk, Roy Harper & Jimmy Page, Jello Biafra & Mojo Nixon, Phil Ochs, Frijid Pink, Commander Cody, The Up.

     

    Related links:

     

    John Sinclair - An interview with a Counter-Culture Legend by Sensi Seeds

    John Lennon's drug testimony to the Le Dain Commission of Inquiry

    Power To The People: Pure Freedom verses Commitment  - The Changing Values of the Counter-Culture by James DeWilde

     

    Sir Paul McCartney in a yoga group with Alec Baldwin

    By Celebretainment

     

    Sir Paul McCartney is in a yoga group with Alec Baldwin.

     

    The Beatles legend revealed that he has fitness sessions with the Hollywood star and 'Saturday Night Live' creator Lorne Michaels.

     

    Paul said: "We have this little thing with Lorne, Alec, and a couple of mates. It's called The Yoga Boys, and we do yoga together, and we're terrible!"

     

    He also revealed that he has adopted Alec's approach to rejecting pictures in public.

     

    Paul explained: "I don't like to take pictures. When people say, 'Can I have a picture?' cause everyone's got a camera (on their phone)... I say, 'I'm sorry, I don't do pictures.'"

     

    The 78-year-old musician continued: "We were sitting around afterwards, talking and we're having a bite to eat outdoors. Someone comes up to Alec and says, 'Can I have your (photograph) with Sir Paul?' He looks, with that Alec look, and says, 'I'm sorry, I don't do pictures.'

     

    "He held it and I just thought, 'That's the line!'"

     

    Paul revealed that he would rather sit and have a chat with a fan and feels like a "monkey" when he asked to take part in a photo opportunity.

     

    He told the Smartless podcast: "I sometimes feel like I have to say, 'Look, I'm happy to talk to you, sit down, we can talk' – I like that, cause I'm still me.

     

    "The minute I put my arm around you, you put your arm around me, I feel like the monkey in St. Tropez – 'Come and have your picture taken with the monkey!' and I don't like that, it puts me off."

     

    McCartney quipped that the coronavirus pandemic has had a positive side as he can walk around relatively incognito in a face mask.

     

    He joked: "The one good thing about the virus is everyone's got masks."

     

     

    November 28, 2020

    The Beatles: How one cheeky fan snuck into Yellow Submarine premiere - 'who invited you?'

     

    THE BEATLES made a number of movies in their time, and one teenager did everything he could to meet them at their premiere - ending up sitting behind them on an extraordinary evening.

     

    By Jenny Desborough for the Express

     

     

    The Beatles movies were loved by fans all over the world and even helped George Harrison meet his first wife, Pattie Boyd. Thousands would gather to catch a glimpse of the band entering an auditorium on premiere day, as was the case for their movie Yellow Submarine. But one young man managed to do the unthinkable: get so close to his idols that he was sitting behind them.

     

    The Beatles film Yellow Submarine was released in the UK on July 17, 1968, and two months later in the USA.

     

    The film is based on the Lennon-McCartney song, Yellow Submarine, set in Pepperland, the home of the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

     

    Yellow Submarine was both animated and filmed, and saw thousands of fans lining the streets of Piccadilly in London, hoping to see the band members as they went into the cinema to watch it at the premiere.

     

    But one young man, David Clark, decided to take things to the next level, and, after spending some time on the roof of the auditorium, snuck his way in and used some clever inventions to sit right behind The Beatles themselves.

     

    Not only did he sit near them, but had the help of big names such as music publishing mogul Dick James and Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones.

     

    Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk ahead of his new book release, David said: “I just went along with my pal just to be part of the crowd...

     

    “The crowd was building up, then I suddenly saw someone go through a door next to the main entrance of the cinema, and I thought, ‘That is interesting.’

     

    “So we went to have a look at the door, and it was actually open. So we went inside.

     

    “Then we found another door which was to a lift, which went right up to the top, to roof level almost, and we spent about two or three hours on the roof of the cinema.”

     

    According to David, there was almost a “party” on the roof, and over time thousands of people began to descend onto the street.

     

    Eventually, the limousines and cars driving some of London’s hottest celebrities were entering the auditorium, at which point David decided to make his entrance.

     

    He continued: “I said to my pal, ‘We've got to try and get into this room,’ so we just walked a few steps down into the cinemas, and got into the top circle very easily.

     

    “Then we were immediately accosted by an usherette…”

     

    This usher wanted to see their tickets, but being without them, they pretended they were downstairs, at which point the manager was called.

     

     

    David said: “Of course, we were basically s****ing ourselves. But the manager comes over and asked, ‘OK lads, who actually invited you tonight?

     

    “And I said it was Clive Epstein, brother of the late Brian Epstein, who died the year before.

     

    “The reason I mentioned him is because I met him on holiday four years earlier. I was in Torquay with the family, and they were staying at the same hotel as us, just as Beatlemania was starting up...

     

    “So the manager said, ‘Ok, let's try and find him then, if we can. So he takes us down one level to the dress circle where all the stars are gathering.”

     

    By an extraordinary spot of luck, David spotted Dick, and despite having never met him before, he asked the music mogul whether Clive was expecting to come along this evening, but was told he had cancelled.

     

    This gave the manager confidence, meaning David and his friend could stay in the cinema, despite not having any tickets or seats.

     

    David added: “We just stood at the back of the dress circle and it all went mad, because The Beatles started coming in.

     

    “They all went to sit down in the front row circle and all the paps were following them and the place was going mad, the flashbulbs going off, it was very hazy.

     

    “As it started clearing, I suddenly saw there were two seats on the aisle, just behind John [Lennon] and Paul [McCartney]...

     

    “In the third seat along was Keith [Richards, of The Rolling Stones] with Anita Pallenberg on his right and I just asked him, ‘Excuse me, anyone sitting in these two seats?’

     

    “And he said, ‘No, they were for Mick and Marianne, but they're in New York. So you're OK there.’ So I sat next to him for the whole film.”

     

    In front of him was Sir Paul with Pattie Boyd’s sister, Paula, along with John and his wife Yoko Ono, George and his wife Pattie and Sir Ringo Starr and Maureen, his then-wife.

     

    Not only was he close to his idols but sitting in the seat of Sir Mick Jagger, next to Keith Richards.

     

    All in all, a teenager’s dream came true, but David met the band members a number of times more throughout his lifetime, as told in his new book.

     

    David’s new book It’s All Too Much: Adventures of a Teenage Beatles Fan in the ’60s and Beyond is out on December 8

     

     

    November 27, 2020

    George Harrison ‘All Things Must Pass’ Turns 50 Today

    by Paul Cashmere for Noise11.com

     

    George Harrison’s now classic ‘All Things Must Pass’ was released in 27 November, 1970 … 50 years ago today.

     

     

    To mark the occasion, the Harrison estate has released a 2020 remix of the title track by Paul Hicks, who also mixed the recent John Lennon 80th birthday releases.

     

    A collector’s edition 7” vinyl of ‘My Sweet Lord’ has also been released.

     

    ‘All Things Must Pass’ was George Harrison’s third solo album but his first at taking a solo career seriously. The first two ‘Wonderwall Music’ (1968) and ‘Electronic Sound’ (1969) were experimental pieces mixing Indians instruments with psychedelic rock. The made-up word ‘Wonderwall’ in the title ‘Wonderwall Music’ was where Oasis took their song ‘Wonderwall’ from.

     

    1970’s ‘All Things Must Pass’ was a triple album and his first release following the break-up of The Beatles. The first two record were songs George had written over the previous three years. The title track and ‘Isn’t It A Pity’ were intended for Beatles albums. George had presented ‘Isn’t It A Pity’ for inclusion on The Beatles ‘Revolver’ and then ‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ but it was not used. ‘All Things Must Pass’ was demoed for ‘The Beatles’ (The White Album) and was included on the expanded box set of that release. An early version was also included on The Beatles ‘Anthology 3’ (released in 1996).

     

    The third disc on ‘All Things Must Pass’ is titled ‘Apple Jam’. It features impromptu jams with Eric Clapton, Billy Preston, Ginger Baker, Gary Wright and Dave Mason.

     

    ‘All Things Must Pass’ was a number one album in Australia, the USA and the UK. It featured two singles, ‘My Sweet Lord’ and ‘What Is Life’.

     

    Bonus feature: An excellent in-depth look with quotes from various musicians about "All Things Must Pass" by Harvey Kubernik for Music Connection.

     

     

    November 26, 2020

    Paul McCartney Unveils New Trailer, Announces Songbook For ‘McCartney III’

    by Sophie Smith for Udiscovermusic

     

    Paul McCartney has shared a second trailer for his hotly-anticipated McCartney III – the latest title in the “McCartney” series, in which the legendary artist writes, records, and performs the entirety of the project himself. The long-awaited album, which follows his 1970 solo debut, McCartney, and 1980’s McCartney II, will be available on December 18.

     

     

     

    Today, the artist also announced the publication of the McCartney III Songbook, featuring piano, vocal, and guitar arrangements for every track on the new album. Currently available for preorder, each copy of the songbook will include a CD of McCartney III.

     

     

    McCartney’s latest trailer not only offers behind-the-scenes footage but also offers a preview of the album track “The Kiss of Venus.” His daughter Mary, who captured photos for the album, is also featured in the video. An acclaimed photographer, Mary follows in her late mother’s footsteps and continues the family tradition of taking the images for the latest McCartney album.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    “When dad asked me to take the photographs, it adds to the family feel a bit,” said Mary McCartney. She also spoke fondly of her childhood, sharing that, “when dad would come back from the studio, we would usually end up dancing around. Such brilliant memories.”

     

     

    McCartney III lands 50 years after Paul recorded his iconic solo debut, which included such classics as “Maybe I’m Amazed” and “Every Night.” In 1980, a decade after the Beatles had gone their separate ways, Paul released McCartney II, which featured hits like “Coming Up” and “Waterfalls.”

     

     

     

    While McCartney hadn’t planned on releasing a new album this year, the stripped-down collection of songs came about during lockdown, when the artist found himself inspired to flesh out existing musical sketches and create new ones.

     

    Advanced praise has already come in for the album, with Salon calling McCartney III “spectacular…one of his most compelling albums in decades.” They added that McCartney’s “musical chops are as exquisite and profound as virtually anyone’s. Ever.”

     

    Rolling Stone wrote, “McCartney returns to the pastorale sound of his early solo work for a laid-back gem… Like its two predecessors, it’s Macca at his most playful. He’s not sweating about being a legend, a genius, or a Beatle – just a family man kicking back in quarantine, writing a few songs to keep his juices flowing.”

     

     

    November 25, 2020

    Ringo Starr, Santana, Peter Gabriel among stars appearing on Peace Through Music livestream event next week

    by By Matt Friedlander for ABC 

     

    Ringo Starr, Carlos Santana, Peter Gabriel and Annie Lennox are among the many artists who will be featured during a special livestream event in honor of the 75th anniversary of the United Nations and coinciding with the 2020 GivingTuesday generosity celebration on December 1.

     

    The event, dubbed "Peace Through Music: A Global Event for Social Justice," will stream exclusively on the Playing for Change organization's Facebook page starting at 3 p.m. ET on December 1, and will, according to a press statement, "inspire people to act for peace, justice and equity,

    everywhere and for everyone."

     

    The presentation will feature new and archival performances by over 100 artists, including Starr, Santana and wife Cindy Blackman Santana, Gabriel, Lennox, The Doobie Brothers' Patrick Simmons, The Grateful Dead's Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart, The Band's Robbie Robertson, Mavis Staples, Sheila E., the late Dr. John and the late John Prine.

     

    In addition, a number of celebrities will make special appearances, including legendary TV writer and producer Norman Lear and pop star Sara Bareilles.

     

    The event is being produced by Playing for Change, which seeks to connect people around the world through music, in partnership with Blackbird Presents.

     

    Among the issues the Peace Through Music event seeks to promote are equality, human rights and ending discrimination.

     

    The livestream will raise funds for a number of charitable organizations, among them the Playing for Change Foundation, the United Nations Population Fund and The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation.

     

    GivingTuesday is a global generosity movement that seeks to inspire people and organizations to work toward positively transforming their communities, and the world.

     

     

     

    November 24, 2020

    Paul McCartney Says His List of Unheard Songs Is ‘Too Long’

    by Martin Kielty for Ultimate Classic Rock

     

    Paul McCartney said his list of unfinished and unreleased songs was “too long” and that he was in the process of channeling John Lennon to help with a track that was stumping him.

     

    He recently announced the release of McCartney III, his third completely solo album, which will be released a week later than originally planned, on Dec. 18, as a result of “unforeseeable” production issues.


    In September, McCartney said Lennon still influenced his creative process; in a recent interview with Uncut, he cited a new example. “I’m working on one at the moment that was going one way, but I didn’t like the lyric,” he noted, adding that he had told himself: “No, this is not happening, mate.”

     

    “This would have been the point where John and I would have said, ‘You know what? Let’s have a cup of tea and try and rethink this. We collaborated for so long, I think, ‘Okay, what would he think of this? What would be say now?’ We’d both agree that this new song I’m talking about is going nowhere. So instead of sitting around, we’d destroy it and remake it. I started that process yesterday in the studio. I took the vocal off it and decided to write a new vocal. I think it’s heading in a better direction now.”

     

    Discussing his backlog of potential releases, McCartney said: “ The problem with iPhones is that you can [record] an idea … and you think, ‘That’s good, I’ll finish this later.’  Then you realize you’ve got 2,000 of these ideas on your phone! ‘Oh, God! Am I ever going to get round to them?’”

     

    While the coronavirus lockdown presented the chance to “get round to a lot of them” as he tracked McCartney III, he added that he has "a list of songs that I started but didn’t actually finish or release.” Asked how long the list was, McCartney replied: “Too long! It’s songs I’ve written on holiday, songs from before COVID where I was in the studio, right after Egypt Station, but I didn’t need to come up with an album … and also songs I liked that got sidelined.”

     

    An analysis of the Hidden Voice in the Beatles "I Want You (She's So Heavy)"

     

     

     

    November 23, 2020

    Flashback: Bob Dylan Sings an Impromptu ‘Yesterday’ With George Harrison in 1970

    Weeks after the world learned that the Beatles were done, Harrison and Dylan met up in New York for an epic day of jamming

    by Andy Greene for Rolling Stone magazine

     

     

    On May 1st, 1970, just weeks after the world learned that the Beatles were breaking up, George Harrison and Bob Dylan met up at Columbia’s Studio B in New York City. Joined by bassist Charlie Daniels and drummer Russ Kunkel, their stated purpose was to start work on Dylan’s album New Morning. But midway through the day, they switched gears and started jamming on old favorites without any thought that the results would ever be heard by the public.

     

    Unsurprisingly, word of their jam session leaked out almost immediately. “Denials that the session took place were issued by Dylan’s personal secretary,” read a report in Rolling Stone later that month, “and by producer Bob Johnston, who chuckled: ‘Where did you hear that? Some people’ll say anything!’ But a session there was, and, according to reports, it was a monster.”

     

    Years later, the tape somehow leaked out of the Columbia vault and fans got to hear much of the historic session. It revealed that Dylan and Harrison began by trying out early renditions of New Morning songs “Sign on the Window,” “If Not For You,” “Times Passes Slowly,” and “Went to See the Gypsy.” But after their fifth attempt at “If Not For You” (a song Harrison would cut on his own weeks later for All Things Must Pass), they went back to Dylan’s early work and played “Song to Woody,” “Mama, You Been on My Mind,” and “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right.”

     

    It was the start of an epic, free-spirited jam where they played everything from Sam Cooke’s “Cupid” to Carl Perkins’ “Matchbox” and the Everly Brothers’ “All I Have to Do Is Dream” along with other Dylan oldies like “Gates of Eden,” “It Ain’t Me Babe,” and “One Too Many Mornings.

     

    Harrison’s own back catalog was ignored with the lone exception of “Yesterday.” Harrison hadn’t played the song since the Beatles stopped touring four years earlier, but it was a standard by this point, and Kunkel and Daniels clearly knew it well. Check out the whole thing right here.

     

    The vast majority of the Dylan/Harrison sessions have never been released, though one of the “If Not For You” takes appeared on the first Bootleg Series back in 1991 and their first stab at “Time Passes Slowly” along with “Working on a Guru” were on Another Self Portrait in 2013.

     

    The rest of the material is easily found on bootlegs. But according to European copyright law, recordings enter the public domain if they aren’t released 50 years after their creation. That means the Dylan Camp has just a little more than a month to somehow release them. If they don’t, any nudnik can sell them on CD in Europe next year without any legal consequence whatsoever.

     

    Handel Architects design high-rise complex surrounding Hollywood’s Capitol Records tower

    by Shane Reiner-Roth for The Architect’s Newspaper

     

    The two towers of the development would be among the tallest in Hollywood. (Courtesy MP Los Angeles)

     

    An apparent contrast between the low-lying buildings of Hollywood’s Golden-era and a slew of recently constructed towers is currently shaping the skyline of central Los Angeles. The largest development to date in the latter group comes in the form of a billion-dollar high-rise complex one block north of the Hollywood and Vine intersection. Developed by MP Los Angeles, Hollywood Center will be built upon 4.5 acres of former surface parking lots that once served the Capitol Records building, the Welton Becket and Associates-designed tower deemed the world’s first circular office building when it was completed in 1956.

     

    Designed by local firm Handel Architects, the development complements the iconic Capitol Records building with opposingly curved facades on its two tallest towers—35 and 46 stories tall, respectively, while their siting and oval-shaped plans are intended to preserve views of the Capitol Records building from the 101 freeway and popular tourist sites within Hollywood. Including two 11-story buildings, Hollywood Center has a total of 1,005 residential units, 133 of which will be set aside as affordable housing for seniors to be managed by the Los Angeles-based nonprofit Menorah Housing Foundation (according to Urbanize Los Angeles, the affordable housing component of the project is among the largest in the city’s history).

     

    Perhaps inspired by its proximity to the burgeoning L.A. Metro subway system, as well as the recently revealed master plan for the nearby Hollywood Walk of Fame, Hollywood Center will provide several public resources in addition to its private residences. The towers will be surrounded by two civic plazas, to be designed by James Corner Field Operations, that will add an acre of open green space to the park-starved neighborhood. The developers hope that the grounds will become a central hub for Hollywood, offering restaurants, cafes, as well as space for concerts and other community events.

     

    The most recent Draft Environmental Impact Report estimates that the project will begin in 2022 and will be completed in 2025.

     

    Hollywood Center surrounds the iconic Capitol Records building on either side of Vine Street. (Courtesy MP Los Angeles)

     

     

     

    A public park will activate the space around the iconic Capitol Records building. (Courtesy MP Los Angeles)

     

    Related link: Capitol Tower Transforms LA Landscape by Jim Murphy

     

     

    November 21, 2020

    Puscifer's "Bread and Circus" sounds a lot like Klaatu's "Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft"

    by John Whelan, special to the Ottawa Beatles Site

     

    If you are not familiar with the legacy of Klaatu, then rolling out the February 13, 1977, Providence Sunday Journal article will help you fill in the details on what captured the imagination of many Beatle fans: that the Beatles supposedly reincarnated themselves as a band going under the moniker as "Klaatu." 

     

    Terry Draper, drummer for Klaatu, explains in a February 9, 2016 Youtube video (see below) how their opening song "Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft" evolved in the recording studio. It was the opening track to the band's first album "3:47 EST."

     

    Ivan Ravendale for Classic Rock writes: "Released in August 1976, the Klaatu album earned several enthusiastic reviews. Canada’s Record Month called it “a terrific concept album”, while Trouser Press said it was “an impressive sci-fi answer to Bowie”. But the reviews didn’t translate into sales, and it looked like Klaatu was headed straight to the bargain bin.

     

    "Then, on February 17, 1977, a feature headlined ‘Could Klaatu Be Beatles? Mystery Is A Magical Tour’, written by Steve Smith, a young journalist working for Rhode Island daily newspaper the Providence Journal, changed everything."

     

     

     

    Quite recently a close friend of mine alerted me to a new release that sounded a lot like Klaatu. The band is called Puscifer. They are American. The musicians are: Maynard James Keenan (vocals); Carina Round (vocals, guitar, ukelele, tambourine); Mat Mitchell (lead guitar); Paul Barker (bass); Mahsa Zargaran (keyboards, samples, guitar, backing vocals) and Jeff Friedi (drums, programming).

     

    Their music is experimental rock: it embodies a seemingly magical transforming power or influence of electronic wizardry. "Existential Reckoning" is their latest album (an ironic title considering it's been released during the Covid-19 pandemic!) All of their songs from that album have a science-fiction feel to it.

     

    When referring to the opening track: "Bread and Circus", the band's approach is to make "cinematic albums that are kind of meant to listen to from start to finish," states Puscifer's Maynard James Keenan.

     

    "There’s a lot of movement," states band member Mat Mitchell. "It feels like the landscape kind of changes a couple of times, which we really like. We always like telling a story with the music as well as the lyrics. So, it felt like there was a nice journey, and it was a nice way to start with record."

     

    While band claims they are inspired by Pink Floyd concept albums, there is a lot of ideas bouncing around on the album that are definitely Klaatu influenced.

     

    Other worthy mentions on this new release are: "Apocalyptical;" "The Underwhelming"; "UPGrade;" "Personal Prometheus"; "Singularity;" "Fake Affront"; and "Bedlamite" that last of which sounds so much like a David Bowie track.

     

    "Existential Reckoning" is the surprise album release for October 2020. While the band has been recording for sometime, you can access their discography on Spotify. Enjoy!

     

     

     

     

    November 20, 2020

    Production delay holds back McCartney III release by one week

     

    The following is announcement if from Paul McCartney's official Facebook page: "Unforeseeable production delays have forced the release date of Paul's all-new all-Paul album 'McCartney III' to be moved back one week to December 18, 2020. Thank you to everyone for your patience, support and excitement for the album. We can't wait for you to hear it! - MPL"

     

     

     

    “Cousin Brucie’ Talks About The Beatles Launch And Being A CEO

    by Robert Reiss for Forbes magazine

     

    I don’t interview celebrities; I just, as you know, interview CEOs. But recently I had the opportunity to interview a beloved childhood hero because unknown to many, Cousin Brucie (whose actual name is Bruce Morrow) actually was a CEO! Below are some of his insights. And if you want to hear Cousin Brucie on the other side of the glass, here is the link to the actual interview with Cousin Brucie.

     

    What’s exciting is that Cousin Brucie is now reinventing himself again and coming back to his roots. His reunion with WABC actually happened because the man who is known by many to be the true heart of New York City, John Catsimatidis, recently purchased WABC and brought in ‘Cousin Brucie’ ... somewhat coincidentally and full circle, I grew up on 83rd Street in NYC and my local supermarket on 83rd Street and Broadway was the Red Apple which was actually one of Catsimatidis’ first group of supermarkets. Here are pieces I hope you enjoy from my interview with Cousin Brucie.

     

    Talk about your early involvement in helping bring the Beatles to radio in America.   

     

    The very first Beatles record was given to me by an armed security guard, and It was handcuffed to his wrist in an attaché case. The song was “I want to hold your hand”. And he says to me you can’t have it until 9 o’clock. So at 9 o’clock when I played it would automatically go on our syndication to 40 states.

     

    So I played, “I want to hold your hand”. Never played before. And I heard it. I played it eight times. I knew what was happening. Now it seems what happened is dozens of radio stations because of my reach copied that record. Now it wasn’t great quality. But the next day they all did what I did. And it went everywhere.

     

    How about Shea Stadium?

     

    The big day was Shea Stadium where I introduced them with Ed Sullivan. About 65,000 screaming fans. There was energy like I have never felt. But now I say, it was an energy of love.

     

    And in the dugout before we introduced them John Lennon comes up to me with Paul McCartney and John says, “Cousin, is this going to be safe? Is it dangerous?” And I put my fingers behind my back and I crossed my fingers because I was scared, and said, “John, Paul. This is going to be safe. All they want to do is be in the same space as you cause they love you.” Frankly I was scared stiff – I’d never felt a cacophony of energy like I’d never felt.

     

    So I’m walking up the stairs with Ed Sullivan and we were just feeling this huge energy – you could feel it through your body. And Ed says, “Is this going to be safe Cousin?” So I said to him since I wanted to give him a hard time, “Well Ed. I think it’s not going to be safe. It will be dangerous.” He then asked, “What do we do?” I said, “Pray, Ed, Pray.”

     

    Postscript, nothing bad happened that day. The 65,000 fans just wanted to see their  heroes. I’ll always remember the feeling of that day.

     

    CEO Bruce Morrow, better known as "Cousin Brucie' being interviewed by Robert Reiss, host of The CEO Show

    Photo credit: Renee Cassis

     

    Do you have any advice on connecting with an audience?

     

    Other than coming from Brooklyn? It’s something I tell young audiences all the time, “Never, ever talk at an audience”. Talk directly with people like you’re sharing space with you. And that’s the secret. I did that on Sirius XM for 15 years, and now I'm going back to WA Beatles C!”

     

    What was it like shifting and becoming a CEO?

     

    Becoming a CEO was a big change. My partner and I were buying radio stations, I brought my way of doing things. Sometimes a young person or DJ would explain the excuses of why they made a mistake, and I’d look at them from behind my CEO desk and tell them, “Son, don’t try to tell me that kind of thing, I invested that! So listen to me … make your mistakes, I did.” And I could see them relaxing. SO I continued, “Make your mistakes, but don’t do it again.”

     

    But honestly, sitting behind that desk was not as exciting as being behind the microphones … I love being with the audience. I give out my love, my emotions, my spirit and I get it back 10 times!

     

    Talk about what you’re doing now

     

    I’m now returning to WABC, or as I call it WA Beatle C!

     

    What advice do you have on being successful?

     

    Elvis Presley had a song he sung, “follow that dream”. That’s the message. And don't; tell me you want to be a star. Just follow that dream and if you work hard enough at it you might then become a star.

     

     

    November 19, 2020

    This is so cute to watch!

     

     

    And there is a new children's book simply entitled: John Lennon

     

    In this book from the multimillion-copy best-selling Little People, BIG DREAMS series, discover the life of John Lennon, the boy from Liverpool who dreamed of peace.

     

    When John Lennon formed a band while still in school, he couldn’t have known they were about to change music forever. With their exciting new sounds, rebel attitudes and gift for songwriting, everyone went crazy for The Beatles. Today, John is remembered not just as a musical icon, but as a champion of world peace. This inspiring book features stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, including a biographical timeline with historical photos and a detailed profile of the legendary Beatle’s life.

     

    About the author:

     

    Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara, born in Barcelona, Spain, is a writer and creative director in constant search of new concepts for children’s books and the author of the multimillion-copy best-selling Little People, BIG DREAMS series of picture books that explore the lives of outstanding people. Working for more than fifteen years for clients in top advertising agencies, her books combine creativity with learning, aiming to establish a new and fresh relationship between children and pop culture. 

     

    Canadian release date: In Chapters Book Stores on December 8, 2020.​

     

     

    New book: John & Yoko/Plastic Ono Band

     

    A definitive, in-depth, revelatory exploration of John Lennon's intensely personal first major solo album after the breakup of the Beatles.

     

    Described by Lennon as "the best thing I've ever done," and widely regarded as his best solo album, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band was released on 11 December 1970. With first-hand commentary by Lennon, Ono, and other members of the band, and packed with previously unseen photographs by those who documented their lives, this incisive volume offers new insights into the raw emotions and open mindset of Lennon after marriage to Ono and the breakup of the Beatles, to the making of the album and revealing interview with Jann Wenner in December 1970.

     

    Primal therapy had a huge impact on Lennon's songwriting, resulting in the creation of intensely personal, soul-baring tracks. This book takes his lyrics as a starting point and explores Lennon's life, career, and self-perception, from "performing flea" with the Beatles to authenticity as a solo artist.

     

    Canadian release date: See Chapters Book Store for details.

     

     

    A cover version of George Harrison's "Be Here Now" by Doyle Bramhall II featuring Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks

     

    Record Store Day Black Friday is coming up on Nov. 27th! Grab a copy of the exclusive 7" single of George Harrison's song "Be Here Now" by Doyle Bramhall II feat. Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks 100% of the proceeds go to Turn Up For Recovery , the charitable movement founded by Melia Clapton to offer hope and spread awareness of abstinence-based recovery through music.

     

     

     

    November 17, 2020

    Paul McCartney Band Guitarist - Brian Ray interviewed at the Musicians Hall of Fame Backstage

     

     

     

    November 15, 2020

    George Harrison Xmas Ornaments goes on sale!

     

    Please refer to George Harrison's Official Facebook pages for details on how to order these beautiful Xmas ornaments. And take a few moments and listen to George Harrison's terrific hit song: "My Sweet Lord."

     

     

     

    Reclusive Yoko Ono, 87, hands over her business interests in The Beatles and John Lennon to their son Sean

    by Jack Newman for the Daily Mail

     

    Ailing Yoko Ono is handing her business interests in The Beatles and John Lennon over to their son Sean.

     

    The reclusive widow, 87,  has not been seen in public for more than a year and now uses a wheelchair much of the time on the rare occasions when she leaves her New York home.

     

    She has been managing John's $800 million fortune since his death in 1980.

     

    Now Sean, 45, has been appointed a director at eight companies linked to the family and The Beatles according to The Mirror, including the multimedia Apple Corps.

     

    Apple Corps had reported assets of $36million last year, and Sean is also believed to be taking over at Lensolo, managing John's solo material, Maclen, which publishes John's work in the US, and Subafilms, a music film company.

     

    Click here to continue reading the in-depth report by the Daily Mail.

     

     

     

    November 13, 2020

    Lennon Produces Jagger's "Too Many Cooks" During "The Lost Weekend"

    from the solobeatles website

     

    In 1973 or 1974 (accounts vary) while Lennon was in L.A. during his infamous “Lost Weekend,” he produced a song for Mick Jagger — a cover of bluesman Willie Dixon’s “Too Many Cooks (Spoil the Soup).” Accounts also vary as to whether Lennon plays guitar on the track or appears at all, but it is in the vein of some of the funky tunes on his 1974 album WALLS AND BRIDGES, such as “Beef Jerky” and “What You Got.”

     

    It also features some of Lennon’s favorite session musicians: Jim Keltner on drums, Jesse Ed Davis on guitar, Bobby Keys on sax, not to mention Harry Nilsson on backing vocals. (Lennon was producing Nilsson’s PUSSY CATS albums around the same time.)  Other musicians include Jack Bruce of Cream on bass and Al “Like a Rolling Stone” Kooper on keyboard.

     

    It was not released until 2007, on the compilation THE VERY BEST OF MICK JAGGER.

     

     

    MUSICIANS ON MUSICIANS
    Paul McCartney & Taylor Swift

    On songwriting secrets, making albums at home, and what they’ve learned during the pandemic. The first in a series of new conversations between artists

    Written by Patrick Doyle for Rolling Stone Magazine


    Photograph by Mary McCartney for Rolling Stone. Produced by Grace Guppy. Lighting: Pedro Faria. Digital Tech: Alexander Brunacci. Retouching: The Hand of God. McCartney: Styling by Nancy McCartney. Grooming by Jo Bull. Jacket by Stella McCartney. Sweater by Hermès. Shirt by Prada. Jeans by Acne. Shoes by Stella McCartney. Swift: Top and jacket by Stella McCartney. Pants by Ulla Johnson. Boots by Dolce & Gabbana.


    Taylor Swift arrived early to Paul McCartney’s London office in October, “mask on, brimming with excitement.” “I mostly work from home these days,” she writes about that day, “and today feels like a rare school field trip that you actually want to go on.”

     

    Swift showed up without a team, doing her own hair and makeup. In addition to being two of the most famous pop songwriters in the world, Swift and McCartney have spent the past year on similar journeys. McCartney, isolated at home in the U.K., recorded McCartney III. Like his first solo album, in 1970, he played nearly all of the instruments himself, resulting in some of his most wildly ambitious songs in a long time. Swift also took some new chances, writing over email with the National’s Aaron Dessner and recording the raw Folklore, which abandons arena pop entirely in favor of rich character songs. It’s the bestselling album of 2020.

     

    Swift listened to McCartney III as she prepared for today’s conversation; McCartney delved into Folkore. Before the photo shoot, Swift caught up with his daughters Mary (who would be photographing them) and Stella (who designed Swift’s clothes; the two are close friends). “I’ve met Paul a few times, mostly onstage at parties, but we’ll get to that later,” Swift writes. “Soon he walks in with his wife, Nancy. They’re a sunny and playful pair, and I immediately feel like this will be a good day. During the shoot, Paul dances and takes almost none of it too seriously and sings along to Motown songs playing from the speakers. A few times Mary scolds, ‘Daaad, try to stand still!’ And it feels like a window into a pretty awesome family dynamic. We walk into his office for a chat, and after I make a nervous request, Paul is kind enough to handwrite my favorite lyric of his and sign it. He makes a joke about me selling it, and I laugh because it’s something I know I’ll cherish for the rest of my life. That’s around the time when we start talking about music.”


    Click here to read the full interview between Paul McCartney and Taylor Swift.
     

     

    November 12, 2020

    Retrieving some old Sgt. Pepper news files...

     

    My Grandfather is on the 'Sgt. Pepper's' album cover and here's the story        

    Written by Oliver Hall for Dangerous Minds

     

     

    The Summer of Love hasn’t begun. There’s LBJ at Expo 67, thanking God for putting the U.S.A. next to Canada instead of, say, Pakistan or Greece; there’s Cher modeling the short-cut pantsuit. There’s Robyn Hitchcock saying goodbye to his late grandmother with a little help from Brian Eno, and there’s my father, Gary, not yet 18, hearing Peter Bergman announce on Radio Free Oz that his own father, Huntz Hall, is pictured on the cover of the Beatles’ new album.

     

    In the original photo shoot for the album cover, Huntz appeared next to Leo Gorcey, his co-star in hundreds of Dead End Kids, East Side Kids, and Bowery Boys movies, or “pictures,” as he would have said. (Though Leo isn’t in in it, I’m partial to Looking for Danger, in which the Bowery Boys lend Uncle Sam a hand by impersonating Nazis in North Africa.) But Leo asked for money, and Peter Blake airbrushed him out. Huntz, bless him, did not ask for money, so he stands alone in the back row between a Vargas girl and Simon Rodia, whose head seems to be growing out of Bob Dylan’s. Lined up in front of him are Karl Marx, H.G. Wells and Paramahansa Yogananda.

     

     

    Now, some smart aleck will claim FEAR settled the balance when they conspicuously thanked Leo, but not Huntz, in the liner notes of More Beer, another album that is close to my heart. This game of one-upmanship will only end in triumph for my mighty clan and tears of shame for the rest of humanity. He can deny it all he likes, but Rick Nielsen of John Lennon’s onetime backing band Cheap Trick bit gramps’ style. And it was Huntz, not Leo, who shared the stage with Duke Ellington, busted a hang with Alice Cooper, and accompanied Ken Russell to a Sex Pistols show during the filming of Valentino. After which these candid shots of Huntz posing with members of THOR at a Travelodge in 1983 seem hardly worth mentioning. Q.E.D.!

     

    It is strange and puzzling to see your grandfather on the cover of a Beatles album. When you are on the playground 20 years after the Summer of Love and you tell your school chums your grandfather is on the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s, they respond that you are wrong and he is not. Juvenile rock scholars immersed in the backstairs literature of the Satanic panic tell you about the “Paul is dead” clues, so you lie awake all night wondering: My God, what was peepaw’s role in all that? And the title of the NME compilation Sgt. Pepper Knew My Father had an unusual resonance.

     

    The biggest puzzle was Huntz’s appearance. Squinting in the daylight, wearing a tarboosh, a green djellaba and a red velvet scarf, he looks more like a carpet dealer standing in the Jemaa el-Fnaa at high noon than a Depression-era NYC tough. But, at last, I have discovered the solution to this puzzle: he is not wearing any of those things. Thanks to the good work of the Sgt. Pepper Photos blog, I now see that cover artist Peter Blake’s source was this black and white group shot of the Dead End Kids, with Huntz in familiar attire.

     

     

    While Blake says the Bowery Boys were his choice, my father—who has contributed to a forthcoming book of essays about the crowd on the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s whose name I do not yet know—thinks the pot bust that sent Huntz to jail in 1948 must have endeared him to the Fabs. (Though he was exonerated, I can confirm that Huntz was a lifelong slave to the ruinous vice of marijuana abuse. He may have been a comedian, but take it from me: there is nothing funny about watching a loved one support a $2-a-day drug habit.) And no less an authority than Mark Lewisohn reports that “one or two books (while unaware of any connection) ponder if John Lennon was responsible for the choice.” All I know for sure is what Beatle Paul says in Conversations with McCartney:

     

      I asked everyone, Give us a list of your ten top heroes. John, of course, got far-out, as usual. He put Hitler and Jesus in. That was vetoed. Hitler particularly. It’s not who was his favorite character but ‘We’ve got to invent egos for these guys [i.e., Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band], who do they like?’ I put Einstein, Aldous Huxley, just various people that we’d read something of. Steinbeck.

    Then it got into funny ones. Cos you can’t go long in a group like that without it getting to be Billy Liddell, an old footballer. [Actually it was Albert Stubbins, another Liverpool player.] Dixie Dean [of Liverpool’s local rivals Everton]. And George came in with Sri Babaji, cos he was heavily into that, and this great idea that Babaji is one of the top Indian gurus, who keeps reincarnating. Fine, you know? Get a picture of Babaji, he’s in…

    Then I’d fight with EMI and we had to write letters to Marlon Brando, all the people. And I said, Just ask, write a nice letter. They said, ‘We’ll get sued!’ I said, no you won’t, just write them. I said to Sir Joseph Lockwood [EMI’s chairman], ‘Now Joe, come on,’ cos I had a good relationship with him. ‘It’ll be all right.’ So they wrote letters and everybody replied saying ‘Yeah, fine, I don’t mind, put me on a Beatles cover, it’ll be cool!’ Except one of the Bowery Boys [Leo Gorcey] who didn’t want to do it, he wanted a fee. So we said, fuck him, and we left him off. One of them got on [Huntz Hall], one of them didn’t.
       

    Huntz told me he spoke to the Beatles on the phone and they sent him four signed copies of Sgt. Pepper’s. I’m sure that’s true, but if so, the records were subsequently mislaid. If you find them, don’t forget to give them to me, so that I might own, possess and have them.

     

    The “super deluxe edition” of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band will be released tomorrow, May 26. Below, Bela Lugosi and the East Side Kids star in Spooks Run Wild. (And check out Robin Williams as Leo and Martin Short as Huntz in SCTV’s wonderful sketch “The Bowery Boys in the Band.”)

     

     

    Related link: Who's Who on the cover of the Sgt. Pepper's album by Jason Draper of Udiscover Music.

     

    'A cool family legacy:' Who was the Canadian Sgt. Pepper who protected the Beatles?

    by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

     

    'There was a mutual respect,' says Sgt. Pepper's granddaughter

     

     

    As Beatles devotees and music fans celebrate the 50th anniversary of the influential album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Cheryl Finn recalls her grandfather, a real-life Sgt. Pepper the British band encountered in Canada.

     

    In 1964, Ontario Provincial Police Sgt. Randall Pepper was tapped to head security detail for the Beatles, who were in Toronto for two concerts.

     

    "He took that very, very seriously even though he thought the Beatles were ruffians and hooligans. Of course, in the 1960s, young men were supposed to have nice, clean-shaven hair," Finn told CBC News host Heather Hiscox on Thursday morning.

     

    "There was a mutual respect" that grew between her grandfather, now deceased, and the band, she said.

     

    In 1967, however, when the band released its innovative album bearing his name, Sgt. Pepper still wasn't starstruck.

     

    "He didn't think too much [of the album]. My mother and my uncle thought it was fantastic, but my grandmother and my grandfather just kind of pooh-poohed it and thought it was silly," Finn said. 

     

    But what about that "O.P.P." patch on Paul McCartney's shoulder on the Sgt. Pepper's album cover? That led to headaches for the real-life Sgt. Pepper because it wasn't his patch, according to Finn.

     

    "He actually got into a lot of trouble from his supervisors because they thought he had given Paul that patch. That's kind of the mystery: where did that patch come from? I've heard some reports that an officer gave it to [the band] when they were leaving Canada, leaving the airport."

     

    While the music and style of the McCartney-driven concept album drew from multiple, wide-ranging influences — from his toying with the idea of a military band "alter ego" for the Beatles to facilitate more experimentation, to admiration of the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds to the rising 1960s counterculture movement — it was simple wordplay that inspired the title. McCartney has attributed it to an "aural pun" born of an in-flight chat about salt and pepper packets. 

     

    Still, Finn is happy to bask in the nostalgic celebrations around Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band for today's anniversary — and to share her family's connection to the Beatles.  

     

    "It's kind of a cool family legacy and it's wonderful to hear our family name in the news today."

     

    Sgt. Pepper was first heard in North America at Expo 67

    Sgt. Pepper: It was 50 years ago today…

    by Carmel Kilkenny for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

     

    Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the iconic Beatle’s album is being celebrated today on the 50th anniversary of its release.

     

    It coincided with, or perhaps heralded, what became widely known as the “the summer of love” in many places around the world.

     

    “A nice little Canadian connection”  

    Certainly in Canada, with the celebration of Expo ’67 in Montreal, it was a summer filled with great memories for many older Canadians.

     

     

    Piers Hemmingsen is a Beatles scholar and the author of The Beatles In Canada — The Origins Of Beatlemania!

     

    He says Expo ’67 was the scene of the North American premier of the album. Hemmingsen recounted the story today. on the CBC Radio program ‘Q‘.

     

    It took place at the very popular Youth Pavillion at Expo, he said. One of the employees, Gilles Gougeon, in an enterprising move, knew of a flight attendant for Air Canada.

     

    Gougeon and a friend got her to buy the album on a stopover in London, and it was on a turn-table at the pavillion by three that afternoon.

     

    “Normally there were hundreds of people at the pavilion but on that day there were upwards of four thousand kids listening to this record and taking turns looking at the jacket. They propped up the jacket in the window where the record player was and kids could take turns listening, or looking at the jacket while they listened to the record.”

     

    Hemmingsen says what was key for him was the fact that “this was probably the first time the album was played publicly in North America, not just Canada, North America!”

     

    OPP not OPD

     

    The insignia of the Ontario Provincial Police force, the OPP, on Paul McCartney’s sleeve, clearly visible on the inside cover photo, became part of the “Paul is dead” lore.

     

    As Piers Hemmingsen explained, people misconstrued the OPP badge, reading OPD, and translating that to “officially pronounced dead” in support of the conspiracy theories.

     

    According to Hemmingsen, it was most likely Corporal Glen Hickingbottom, an OPP officer assigned to the Beatles security detail in 1964, that gave the band the badges.

     

    “Somehow, four of these OPP badges got into somebody’s pocket. They would have sat on somebody’s dresser for up to three years before they were, before this one badge was used on Paul’s blue Sgt. Pepper’s suit, But definitely it does give a nice little Canadian connection to the Sgt. Pepper’s album.”

     

    There is a new anniversary edition of the album available. With 6 discs, it includes previously unreleased songs and stereo mixes of the songs, Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields.

     

    The work was done by Giles Martin, son of George Martin, the man known as the “Fifth Beatle”. He produced and mixed the original album.

     

    “Shouldn’t every summer be the summer of love?”

     

    The new release is winning rave reviews and today Giles Martin tweeted, “Shouldn’t every summer be the summer of love?”

     

    The anniversary edition sells for $149.98 (US) which is about $203 (Cdn) today.

     

     

    November 11, 2020

    Rock reviewers ratings for "Gimme Some Truth" - the best of John Lennon

      

     

    I bought the four LP Box Set. This release is a worthy "must have" for any big fan of John Lennon. The songs are beautifully remixed and in some cases have been stripped down a bit to give the listener a whole new audio experience. One example that immediately comes to mind is "Every Man Has A Woman Who Loves Him." On the Double Fantasy release, Yoko is the dominate lead singer with John Lennon providing back up vocal work. On the new release, producer Paul Hicks has Lennon doing the lead vocal work while utilizing Yoko's voice sparingly as a backup to Lennon's lead vocal. The results are stunning!

     

    I don't know if the following is on the CD mix, but there is a short surprise message in the run-out groove on side four of the album, just two words sums up blissful relationship the two of them had for each other.

     

    As Sean Ono Lennon stated in the video below, "Gimme Some Truth" is a gateway to all of the other Lennon solo albums. The overall score that I would give this box set release is *****/5. - John Whelan, Ottawa Beatles Site.

     

    Sean Ono Lennon is interviewed by Anthony Fantano: All about the new John Lennon "Gimme Some Truth" box set release and Sean's own personal thoughts about his mother and father who composed "Imagine" - does the recording still stand the test of time?

     

     

    Paul McCartney's Official Facebook page is reporting that Uncut magazine has featured interview with Paul that's available this week:

     

     

    Fleetwood Mac Inspired This Beatles Song

    by Matthew Trzcinski for Showbiz CheatSheet

     

     

    There are numerous books and articles about The Beatles’ influence on pop culture, however, The Beatles definitely drew inspiration from other artists. For example, Abbey Road is filled with references to other artists. Listen closely, and you’ll hear homages to everyone from Ludwig van Beethoven to Chuck Berry. In addition, one of the tracks from Abbey Road took influence from one of the Fab Four’s contemporaries, Fleetwood Mac.

     

    According to Paul McCartney’s website, George Harrison revealed The Beatles tried to replicate Fleetwood Mac’s “Albatross” when they made their song “Sun King.” “So we said, ‘Let’s be Fleetwood Mac doing ‘Albatross,’ just to get going,’” George revealed. “It never really sounded like Fleetwood Mac… but that was the point of origin.” George’s assertion that “Sun King” sounds nothing like “Albatross” is debatable. “Sun King” and “Albatross” are both blues rock songs with a low-key, melancholy energy. According to Metal Head Zone, John Lennon opened up about the origin of “Sun King” as well.

     

    “That’s where we’d pretend to be Fleetwood Mac for a few minutes,” John said. “So we did the introductions – we call it the ‘Sun’ riff – that little instrumental bit that’s like Fleetwood Mac but before we start singing. Then we did it again on the end, so when we came to sing it, to make them different, you know, so as it wasn’t just the same riff.” 

     

    How the public reacted to ‘Sun King’ vs. ‘Albatross’

     

    The Beatles were the kings of the pop charts for years, however, not all of their songs were hits. “Sun King” did not chart on the Billboard Hot 100, however, its parent album, the legendary Abbey Road, reached the pinnacle on the Billboard 200. Like the Fab four song it inspired, “Albatross” did not reach the Billboard Hot 100. Unlike “Sun King,” “Albatross was a stand-alone single with no parent album. “Sun King” and “Albatross” are not among their respective bands’ most well-known songs,. However, they serve as connective tissue between two of rock’s best groups — as does one of Stevie Nicks’ hits.

     

     

     

    November 10, 2020

    Disbanded, but The Beatles' company banked in over $90m last year

    by AsianOne online

     

     

    The Beatles' company banked in over £50 million (S$90 million) last year.

     

    Apple Corps Limited's annual accounts showed a turnover of £50,244,899 for the 12 months ending in January, the equivalent of £137,657 a day, despite the group having gone their separate ways more than 50 years ago.

     

    According to the Daily Mirror newspaper, surviving members Sir Paul McCartney and Sir Ringo Starr, along with John Lennon's widow Yoko Ono and George Harrison's widow Olivia, received £6.1 million each.

     

    This was made up of £1,417,000 in dividends and £4,719,500 in “connection with the provision of promotional services and name and likeness rights”.

     

    Apple Corps' figures also showed they made a pre-tax profit of £8,606,191.

     

    A large chunk of the money comes from the Las Vegas stage show Love, a joint venture with Cirque du Soleil.

     

    The figures are a huge growth on the previous year, when turnover was £36.5 million with a pre-tax profit of £5.5 million, and shares to Paul, Ringo, Yoko and Olivia were £3,685,000.

     

     

    November 9, 2020

    Former It girl Jenny Boyd has written a memoir about her life at the heart of the Swinging Sixties scene

    by Rebecca Cope for Tatler

     

    While her sister Pattie married George Harrison of The Beatles, she settled on Mick Fleetwood

     

     

    In many ways, 1960s It girl Jenny Boyd's life has been overshadowed by that of her more famous elder sister. Pattie met George Harrison of The Beatles while playing a school girl in A Hard Day's Night, later marrying him and inspiring several of his songs, before leaving him for his friend Eric Clapton, who wooed her with Lola, written about her. Yet now Jenny, aged 72, is stepping into the spotlight, with the publication of her own memoir, Jennifer Juniper: a Journey Beyond the Muse.

     

    Born on 8 November 1947, she met her future (two time) husband Mick Fleetwood aged 16, and was with him when he formed Fleetwood Mac, one of the most famous and successful bands of the 20th century. She headed to California to experience the hippy revolution of San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury aged just 19 in 1966, before joining her sister Pattie and brother-in-law George on The Beatles' famous trip to India in 1968, spending time with the band as they learned from guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

     

    While she married Mick twice (once in 1970, before splitting in 1976 after discovering his affair with Stevie Nicks, then remarrying for just a year in 1977), she also had dalliances with Roger Waters (of Pink Floyd fame), while the singer Donovan wrote a love-sick song about her (which inspired the title of her memoir, Jennifer Jupiter), as did Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones. She herself co-wrote two songs for Fleetwood Mac, although she was never credited. Her and Mick had two daughters together, Lucy and Amelia, during their first marriage, but parted for good in 1978. Next she met drummer Ian Wallace, marrying him in 1984, but has since remarried for a third time, to architect David Levitt.

     

    A model like her sister, she worked for brands of the era including Foale and Tuffin, but didn't reach the same dizzying heights (Pattie was on the cover of Vogue with the Rolling Stones). She later quit modelling, claiming it was a waste of her time - instead focusing on transcendental meditation. She went on to get a PHD and started an addiction rehab centre, completely leaving behind the rock 'n' roll lifestyle.

     

    Speaking to The Times about the memoir, she said: 'Everything I did had a leaf-in-the-wind feeling. It was, "Oh, OK," and off I’d go.'

     

    Jennifer Juniper: a Journey Beyond the Muse is out now.

     

    The MonaLisa Twins rock out at the Cavern with Please Mr. Postman and Wipeout

     

     

     

    November 8, 2020

    Read Ringo Starr’s Tribute to T. Rex’s Marc Bolan for 2020 Rock Hall of Fame Ceremony

    by Kory Grow for Rolling Stone

     

    Ringo Starr and Marc Bolan became close friends and drinking buddies in the early Seventies, and on Saturday, Starr inducted the late T. Rex frontman and his band into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in a pre-taped ceremony.

    Back in the day, T. Rex were quickly becoming a phenomenon, inspiring Beatles-like devotion from fans as leaders of England’s glam-rock scene alongside Bolan’s pal, David Bowie. Starr offered to document one of T. Rex’s concerts at Wembley Arena in early 1972, a few months before the band issued its landmark LP, The Slider. The footage featured prominently in Starr’s film, Born to Boogie, which came out in late 1972, and the Beatle has come to treasure the time he spent with Bolan before the T. Rex frontman’s death in 1977.

    Starr shared some of his favorite memories of the singer at the virtual induction ceremony, which also honored Depeche Mode, the Doobie Brothers, Whitney Houston, Nine Inch Nails, and the Notorious B.I.G. Read his whole speech below.
    Photo: Legendary pop icon rocker Marc Bolan
     

    From T. Rex, my good friend Marc Bolan. People knew him as a great musician, a songwriter, a guitarist, but he was also a poet. And he was really proud of that. He was always telling me that he was the Number One selling poet in Britain. In fact, his poetry was as important to him as his music. He had great style and was really unlike anyone else I have ever met.


    He was a great performer, just incredible. And that’s why I called the film we did together Born to Boogie, because he really was. I told Marc, I’ll bring the camera and everything else, you just bring yourself. We had a lot of fun together. I remember lots of laughter.


    WWe lost him way too young, but in his short life, he made over 12 albums that are as far out and ahead of their time as he was. With the help of [producer] Tony Visconti and his band T. Rex, Marc’s style started a lot of trends. They called it glam rock with singles such as “Get It On,” “Children of the Revolution,” and, of course, “Born to Boogie.”


    But it was always just great music to me. And that’s why people are still listening to T. Rex today. There’s no doubt they believe in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — finally. And I’m very proud to welcome them in right now. Peace and love to [T. Rex members] Marc, Mickey [Finn], Steve [Currie], and Bill [Legend], and peace and love to all the fans from me and T. Rex. Peace and Love.

     

     

    Related link from Billboard Magazine: "Why T. Rex's Induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Could Cap Half Century Goal of Breaking America."

     

     

    November 7, 2020

    Lake Street Dive and their cover of the Beatles "Don't Let Me Down"

     

     

     

    November 4, 2020

    'We were lucky people didn't throw tomatoes': Klaus Voormann on his Beatles and Plastic Ono days

    by Alexis Petridis for the Guardian

     

    He played with the Fab Four in Hamburg, inspired their moptops, drew the famed Revolver cover, and gigged with Yoko Ono. As his illustrations are published, the great musician relives his fabulous escapades

     

    Oh, we’ll rehearse on the plane’ … Voormann’s drawing of the Plastic Ono Band’s flight to Toronto.

     

    In September 1969, the bass player and artist Klaus Voormann, who had recently left Manfred Mann, received a phone call from John Lennon. There was nothing unusual in that. Voormann had known the Beatles for nine years and was part of the band’s tight inner circle. It was Voormann’s own band, Paddy, Klaus and Gibson, that Lennon and George Harrison had attempted to go and see live on the night they were famously dosed with LSD at a dinner party. Ringo Starr was already at the gig and was noisily confronted by his lysergically altered bandmates claiming that the venue’s lift was on fire. A year later, he had designed the Grammy award-winning cover of Revolver.

     

    The issue was more what Lennon wanted him to do. Lennon had whimsically agreed to perform live at a rock’n’roll revival festival in Toronto at two days’ notice and was trying to cobble together backing musicians to play as the Plastic Ono Band. Eric Clapton had agreed to play guitar, but Voormann took more convincing, on the not-unreasonable grounds that headlining a festival with a new band who hadn’t rehearsed didn’t seem like one of Lennon’s more inspired ideas.

     

    “John said, ‘Oh, we’ll rehearse on the plane.’ So there we were, sitting in the last row, next to the jets, and me playing an electric bass with no amplifier,” he says, crackling down the phone line from his home in Bavaria. “I couldn’t hear a thing that I was doing. I was more nervous for John than me. I mean, John – the Beatle – suddenly going up on stage with a band that hadn’t rehearsed. It was incredible.” /p>

     

    Moreover, Lennon had elected not just to play a brief set of rock’n’roll covers befitting a festival that also featured Gene Vincent, Little Richard and Bo Diddley, but to cede the microphone to Yoko Ono, who performed two ear-splitting improvisations, one of which lasted more than 12 minutes. “People were just open-mouthed. They are at a rock’n’roll festival with Chuck Berry, and then suddenly this avant garde thing is presented,” he says. “I was up on stage, standing behind Yoko, she’s screaming and shouting and croaking like a dying bird, and I felt ‘this is about the Vietnam war’ – I really saw tanks next to me and bombs falling and dead people, that was the thing she was expressing. But I thought: ‘My God, John must be mad to do this.’ I mean, we were lucky people didn’t throw tomatoes at him.”

     

    Still, he says, there were advantages to Yoko’s brand of live performance. “When you really know it’s that crazy, you don’t think: ‘Oh, what am I going to do on stage?’ You’re not scared, you just do it, it’s easy. I mean,” he laughs, “you can make all the mistakes you want – it doesn’t matter. It’s punk.”

     

    Perhaps Voormann should have been used to unexpected situations involving the Beatles. He was an art student with a love of jazz, Nouvelle Vague cinema and a penchant for dressing like a young French intellectual when he first encountered them in 1960. After storming out of his girlfriend Astrid Kirchherr’s home during a row, he found himself outside a particularly seedy club in Hamburg’s St Pauli district, transfixed by the racket emanating from within. He had heard rock’n’roll before, although his tastes tended more towards Miles Davis, but he had never heard it played live, and certainly not with the ragged energy of nascent Beatles. Nevertheless, he says, he was torn about entering the club, which was visibly “dangerous”.

     

    It’s easy to romanticise the Beatles’ years in Hamburg – Birth of a Legend, as one live album recorded there put it – but Voormann says the reality was genuinely frightening. “It was the dirty part of Hamburg, hookers and pimps running around. There were knife fights in the clubs. I thought: ‘Oh Christ, I’m not going in there.’ But eventually, I pulled myself together and did go in.”

     

    He later returned with Kirchherr and their friend Jürgen Vollmer: they looked so out of place that the waiters took pity on them and “took care of us if there was a fight going on”. After initially being rebuffed by Lennon, they struck up a friendship with the band, aided by the fact that Kirchherr invited them to her parents’ house so they could have a bath: the band’s living conditions were so squalid that they were forced to wash and shave using water from the club’s urinals.

     

    Kirchherr began a relationship with the band’s bassist Stuart Sutcliffe and, most famously, the band adopted the same appearance as their new friends, abandoning their leathers and quiffs in favour of combing their hair forward: the mop-top. Lennon dubbed the Germans “the exis”, short for existentialists, apparently incorrectly.

     

    “Maybe we looked like those French artists, but we were not existentialists,” says Voormann. “We weren’t political at all. We took them to the pictures so they could see these films we loved – Jean Cocteau, Louis Malle – and we went to exhibitions and turned them on to French art.”

     

    One night at the Kaiserkeller, Sutcliffe handed Voormann his bass guitar and told him to go on stage instead of him. He was a guitarist, but had no experience with the instrument. The first time he played bass was on stage with the Beatles, which seems faintly incredible, even if Voormann says the reality was less thrilling. “Well, you see, that sounds so fantastic,” he says. “But it was a rock’n’roll band, they were playing in the middle of the night, Stuart was wanting to have a break so he could cuddle with Astrid on the sofa. So I sort of played along on a Fats Domino number.”

     

    He says he always knew the Beatles were going to be big – “I couldn’t wait for them to be famous” – but clearly had no idea of the scale of what was about to happen. He came to England in 1963, by which time Sutcliffe was dead – he’d left the band to stay with Kirchherr in Hamburg before suffering a brain haemorrhage, aged 21 – and Beatlemania was in full swing. Voormann shared a flat with Harrison and Starr, struck by the sense of how pleased they seemed to see an old face amid the ensuing madness.

     

    Later, he watched the band slowly disintegrate: “Those 10 years were more than enough. Ringo would have stayed with the band, he loved everybody, but the rest, there was lots of anger, fights: they couldn’t have done it any longer because they were all in completely different directions. Abbey Road, it’s a beautiful LP, but … from a feeling point of view it wasn’t right to do it. They had to do it because they had obligations to the record company. But they did it really professional and fantastic, and that’s what makes a good band, you know?”

     

    Indeed, at one point during the band’s split, a persistent – and apparently completely unfounded – rumour suggested Voormann was going to join the Beatles, or rather, that Lennon, Harrison and Starr were going to form a new band called the Ladders, with Voormann replacing Paul McCartney. Instead, he played on all three’s solo albums throughout the 70s. He has a particular affection for 1970s John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band: “Everything done in two takes, no fussing about, so raw and fresh and direct … Nobody ever told me what to play. I always played what I felt would suit the spirit of the song or the lyrics.

     

    “He always did that, on all the sessions I did: Imagine, Walls and Bridges, Rock ’n’ Roll. But let’s say if I ever played a wrong note or played shit, he would have told me. The same with the cover of Revolver: if I hadn’t come up with a good idea, then I wouldn’t have got the job – ‘Sorry, Klaus …’”

     

    Voormann subsequently became an in-demand session musician – it’s him playing the famous bass intro on Carly Simon’s You’re So Vain and playing on Lou Reed’s Perfect Day, the latter a session he remembers largely for the amount of camp badinage passing between Reed and co-producer David Bowie. He spent the 70s in Los Angeles, returning to Germany at the end of the decade.

     

    Before he left the US, he visited Lennon at home in New York, and found him in househusband mode, boiling rice to make sushi and expounding on the joy of no longer having a record deal or the pressure that came with it. But he was struck by an odd sense of foreboding.

     

    “I went with my son, Otto, who was the same age as Sean. We went for a walk in Central Park and John had Sean in a backpack. We walked out through the basement, where the garage was, and I thought: ‘Oh Christ, this is scary. All those really crazy people in New York and there’s John Lennon just walking around with no bodyguards or anything!’ I was scared for him: ‘My God, if that’s what he’s doing every day … I don’t know.’”

     

    Back in Germany, Voormann worked with Trio, the post-punk band famed for the 1982 hit Da Da Da, but eventually gave up music to concentrate on writing and art. He designed the covers for the Beatles’ Anthology compilations, and in recent years, has published books and a graphic novel about his time with the Beatles and worked with Liam Gallagher on the packaging of his solo debut As You Were. At 82, he has contributed a series of drawings to a new book about Lennon’s early solo career, and the making of the John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band album – one of them depicts the chaotic in-flight rehearsal for the Toronto rock festival, the musicians crammed together at the rear of the plane.

     

    These days, he says, he no longer even owns a bass guitar. “To play bass all by yourself is a bit silly,” he says: who could he possibly play with? “I was spoiled,” he chuckles.

     

    John & Yoko/Plastic Ono Band is published by Thames & Hudson.

     

     

    November 2, 2020

    School teacher gets tough on music student in 1964!

     

     

    November 1, 2020

    Ottawa radio station CFRA - "Goodbye" by Mary Hopkin enters the charts at #26