by William McCoy and Mitchell McGeary
An account of the many technical recording variations of Beatles' songs available commercially. Special chapters include the "White Album" and the "Rarities" LPs. These are followed by a song-by-song listing of available variations of songs by both the Beatles as a group and as solo artists.
In November 1973, John started hanging out with an old friend, singer Harry Nilsson. Harry had wandered into A&M Studios one night not knowing who was recording and ended up working on John's album for the next month. The two of them soon became drinking buddies and together they started putting away Brandy Alexanders "like milkshakes."
By March 1974, John was fed up waiting around for the Spector tapes so he decided to produce a Harry Nilsson album for RCA Records, Pussy Cats (US: RCA CLP 1-0570). John figured the best way to pull this project together in a hurry was to have everyone involved move into his Santa Monica beach house. Living under one roof were John, Harry, Harry's fiancee Una, Ringo Starr, Klaus Voorman and Keith Moon.
Reports of John and Harry's drunken antics became a staple of the Hollywood gossip columns. In March, the two of them were thrown out of the Troubador club in Los Angeles for heckling during a reunion performance by the Smothers Brothers. John finally had to lock himself in his bedroom for several days to give up booze so he could settle down to some serious recording with Harry and friends at Record Plant West.
About a month before the sessions started, Harry's voice became hoarse. Most of his friends attributed it to hard living and figured it would clear up in time. Others thought the problem was psychological. It turned out he was actually suffering from a ruptured vocal chord that was bleeding every time he sang.
During the sessions, rumors started to circulate about what had happened to Phil Spector. In April, Spector's secretary, Judy Sakawye, issued a statement that said Phil had been in a serious automobile accident somewhere between Los Angeles and Phoenix around February 10 and had received numerous head and body injuries. Sakawye said she got her information by phone from Spector's personal aide and bodyguard, George, but that no one she knew had actually seen Phil. (Phil's New York attorney, Martin Machat, later told Rolling Stone that the accident happened just outside Phoenix.)
Then on March 31, Spector was supposedly involved in a second accident, this time definitely in Los Angeles. Phil himself said he was thrown through the armor-plated front window of his car and suffered multiple facial cuts and severe burns when the automobile caught fire. According to Phil, he was almost pronounced dead on the way to the emergency hospital. Spector later told Roy Carr of New Musical Express that he received 380 stitches in his face and 480 stitches on the back of his head, that his nose had to be sewed back on after it was completely torn off the bridge and that his hair turned white overnight from shock. Phil also said that after being on the critical list for seventy-two hours, he underwent complete plastic surgery on his face.
Whatever the circumstances, Spector was released from the hospital the week of July 8. His first public appearance was in a Santa Monica courthouse where he was trying to keep ex-wife Veronica Bennett (Ronnie Spector of the Ronettes) from getting visitation rights to see the youngest of their three adopted children, five-year old Dante. The Spectors divorced earlier in 1974 and Phil was awarded custody of all three kids.
In August 1974, John finally gave up waiting to hear from Spector even though Phil was back in the studio producing an album for Dion. John flew back to New York to finish remixing Pussy Cats. He had also written a new song, Nobody Loves You (When You're Down And Out), and was anxious to record a new album of his own.
John had a court appointment to keep in New York as well. As of July 17, the U.S. Justice Department had given him sixty days to leave the country voluntarily or face deportation. John appealed the ruling.
Before leaving Los Angeles, John wrote the title track for Ringo's next album, Goodnight Vienna, and joined Ringo, producer Richard Perry and a host of familiar session men, including Jim Keltner, Jesse Ed Davis and Bobby Keys, at Sunset Sound studios to play piano on the cut.