Saturday, June 07, 2008

Mal's Diary

Mal Evans reports on the boys' recent recording session TV show and George's visit to Greece

I expect you've read the exciting news somewhere else in this issue about the imminent Beatles' LP records which will be coming out on the Apple label. Not long to wait for them, either! The fellows are putting the finishing touches to the final tracks as I write this month's diary piece for you. The aim is to have the set of two LP records issued in the middle of November at the latest so that everyone has plenty of time to collect them before Christmas.

In the November Beatles Monthly I'll go through all the LP recordings in detail -- about 24 of them in all -- and tell you exactly who wrote what, who sings what and who plays what on each of the new numbers. The titles are still "hush-hush" as yet but I'll be able to listen them all and give you all the answers in the November issue.

What I CAN say now is that there's a fantastic selection of different types of song, different backings, different moods amongst the LP material. To beat "Sgt. Pepper" we all know the Beatles had to come up with something really special. When you hear all the new recordings I think you'll agree that they make a worthy follow-up to "Sgt. Pepper". Beatles '68 are even better than Beatles '67--and that's certainly saying SOMETHING!

What else can I tell you about the LP? One of Paul's numbers is a calypso-style song about a bloke who has a barrow in a market place, a story-ballad about how he gets married. Both Paul and John play a fair bit of piano and John uses his own very special new electronic organ. Even the guitars and amplifiers used for all these sessions are new. Also the fellows move around and exchange guitars more than they have done in the past. On one track you find John and George playing bass together while Paul sings and plays lead guitar. Another track which started out lasting 24 minutes before the fellows shortened it has John on bass, Paul using Epiphone guitar and George on his new Gibson. Then there's a beautiful Paul ballad which he recorded on his own in the middle of the night after the other three had packed in. Just Paul sitting there alone in the box with an acoustic guitar. A few nights later he added a brass quartet backing and the whole thing was complete.

Anyway, I'm sure I'm teasing you unfairly by telling you all these bits and pieces without being able to give you the full story. So the rest of the LP details will be here next month.

Meanwhile it's time I looked back in my diary and caught up with the rest of the Beatles' latest happenings. How did you like the "Hey Jude" and "Revolution" telly appearances? Believe me, a lot of work went into those?

On previous occasions in the past year or two the Beatles have made little films showing themselves recording, walking around and so forth with their record playing in the background. Naturally, some of these ran into trouble with the telly people because the fellows came pretty close to miming sometimes and THAT is a terrible Deadly Sin so far as the unions are concerned. You're not allowed to mime to records on telly.

This time the Beatles decided to avoid all the problems by producing a full-scale LIVE performance, done in colour, at Twickenham Film Studios and intended for showing all over the world.

Pop Producer

The day before Neil and Suzie got married at the end of August I was asked to start making all the shooting arrangements with Michael Lindsay-Hogg, a television and film director who has been involved in plenty of big pop shows in the past.

It was Thursday night. By the following Wednesday we had to get together the technical crew, no less than 300 extras and a 36-piece orchestra! In between there was the August Bank Holiday weekend which meant it was hard to get hold of half the people we needed to reach to set things up.

How did we get that crowd of 300 extras together? We got 20 students to distribute invitation leaflets for us. The result was that all sorts of walks of life were represented--postmen, railwaymen, teenagers, senior citizens. I recruited a bunch of Beatle People from outside the recording studio and told them they'd be welcome to join us all at Twickenham and bring along a few mates.

Paul decided he'd like a 'twenties atmosphere at Twickenham so the musicians of the orchestra were dressed up in smart white tuxedos and colourful carnations for the occasion.

And very evident amongst the gathered -- together 300 was old Billy from Soho. Billy is a real character. If you've walked around Wardour Street or Old Compton Street in Soho you may have seen him, possibly with a bottle on his head, selling or giving away flowers. And, like as not, he'll have pulled out a photograph he's very proud of. It was taken months ago and shows him with the Beatles in a film cutting room--when the fellows were editing "Magical Mystery Tour". The photo went into the Daily Mirror at the time. So old Billy just had to be in on the "Hey Jude" and "Revolution" filming!

Paul on Piano

The Beatles arrived at Twickenham around lunchtime--1.30 p.m. The line-up was Paul playing an upright piano, George on bass, John on guitar and Ringo on drums. PLUS the 36-piece orchestra PLUS 300 singing extras to join in the big building-up on "Hey Jude" towards the end of the number.

While lights and cameras were being set up Paul entertained on the piano. He hadn't really planned to do so but old Billy came up on to the stage and yelled "Come on, Paul, give us some of the good old songs". And Paul did just that!



Looking back further in my diary I've got notes about my August trip to Greece with George. With George? Well, actually, it was with George, Pattie, George's mum and dad, George's two brothers Harold and Peter, their wives and children, plus my wife, Lil, and our youngster, Gary. Fifteen of us all told, including four kids and one baby!

Luxurious

We flew from London to the Greek island of Corfu on the morning of Saturday, August 17. Moored at Corfu, which is just to the west of Greece, was the M.V. Arvi, the same luxurious boat we used when the rest of the fellows visited Greece last year. We set sail on the Saturday night, wasting no time because for George this was to be a brief three-day mini-holiday with London recording sessions to get back to no later than the following Wednesday night. Everyone else was all set for a full fortnight in the sun, but for a Beatle and yours truly--duty called!

On Sunday we sailed to the isles of Ali Yannis and Parga. And we went to see (would you believe!) a SWEDISH film with GREEK subtitles in an open-air cinema. We watched from steel-framed chairs set out on the ground as birds flew in and out of the projector beam. We left after about 20 minutes when the lights came up for the man to change over reels! Very primitive!

Mostly we spent our days swimming, playing cards, sunbathing on the deck and water-skiing. Now water-skiing is something George is very good at. Our boat had all the right gear from flippers and underwater equipment to a nifty little speed boat. We just put life-jackets on the kids and threw them into the sea. They couldn't swim but they had a marvellous time. The crew was great. We all felt safe even when the kids were out of sight because we knew the crew were quite capable of looking after them and us.

All told there were eight or nine crew members. The food was fine too. All the usual cornflakes, egg and bacon for breakfast with Greek specialties to be sampled later in the day. Aubergines with everything!

On the Monday night we had ourselves a marvellous barbecue on the shore. Well, in the corner of a field just by the shore. George and I played Tarzan in the trees swinging on ropes all over the place! A lamb had been roasting for hours. At nine in the evening our party demolished it!

Fantastic

Tuesday was the last day for George and yours truly. A huge boatload of fantastic-looking birds and guys pulled up alongside in our bay. Turned out to be French students. They saw our Union Jack so they sang "God Save The Queen". We stood up, saluted smartly and gave them the French anthem to the tune of "All You Need Is Love"!

At seven on Wednesday morning we got up and had cornflakes and omelette. Before eight we had a quiet sit on the top deck thinking about all the ski-days we were going to miss. Then we caught our 'plane to Athens. From there it was London via Paris and home in time for George to be at the Beatles' session that same night!

I think that brings you up to date on my diary jottings for this month. And next month we'll have the LP special as promised.

MAL EVANS.

The Fifth Beatle Gets Married

Two months ago the BEATLE NEWS page of our Monthly Book recorded the wedding of 26-year-old Greek electronics wizard Alexis Mardas. The Beatles have known Alexis -- "Magic Alex", who now heads their Apple Electronics company and has devised the luxurious recording studios built into the basement of the new Apple headquarters -- for several years.

One afternoon in July Alexis walked around the Apple offices declaring his intention to get married the following day. Next morning at half-past-eleven he was busy telling everyone to get into taxis and follow him to the Greek Orthodox Church at Bayswater, West London.

Six weeks later, on Friday, August 30, came a second Apple-type wedding, arranged with equal speed. This time the bridegroom was Neil Aspinall and the bride was 24-year-old Suzy Ornstein, daughter of a top movie executive.

Neil's wedding took place at Chelsea Register Office in London's famous King's Road. Best Man was Alexis Mardas and the bride was given away by Peter Brown, a Beatle executive who is also a director of NEMS and was formerly personal assistant to the late Brian Epstein.

Neil had known Suzy for just over a year. They met at a party last year and if you have spotted Neil amongst a Beatle crowd at discotheques or film premieres in the last few months the very pretty little girl with the long, straight, dark hair at his side was certainly Miss Susan Ornstein.

If anyone can honestly lay rightful claim to the title Fifth Beatle it must be Neil Aspinall. "Nel" has been the Beatles' closest on- and off-duty buddy for the best part of eight years. He was at school--Liverpool Institute--with Paul and George. His best-friend in those days was Pete Best, the boy who became the Beatles' drummer for a couple of years at the beginning of the 'sixties.

Although he was a fan of the Beatles, Neil never had any ambition to join one of the hundreds of beat groups which were building up on Merseyside in 1960 and 1961. Instead he stuck to his task of training to be an accountant after leaving school with an impressive set of eight G.C.E. examination passes.

Then Neil began to drive the boys about in a battered old van, acting as their part-time helper, setting up some of the equipment in the score of different clubs, hall and palais places at which the Beatles made their earliest appearances in and around the city of Liverpool. Eventually they offered him the full-time position of Beatles' Road Manager. Neil accepted, quit accountancy and began to travel everywhere with John, Paul, George and Ringo.

Job Changed

Later on the group needed not only Neil but Mal Evans to take care of them on tours. So Neil's job changed and while Mal looked after stage suits, instruments, amplifiers and other equipment, Neil spent his time with the four boys, making sure that the wrong people were kept out of dressing-rooms and that the right people were allowed in, seeing that the Beatles got to and from their dates with minimum inconvenience, giving them telephone "wake-up" calls when they had an early session.

After Brian's death at the end of August 1967, the Beatles decided that it would be impossible to replace him with another Personal Manager. On the other hand they needed someone totally reliable to head their new Apple operations. That's when they decided to appoint Neil as Managing Director of Apple Corps Limited. And that's when Neil took over the weighty responsibility for co-ordinating all the varied activities of the Apple group of companies, a task which he continues to carry out.

If it hadn't been for Peter Brown there wouldn't even have been a reception after Neil and Suzy had been through their brief Register Office ceremony. Neil was all for keeping things nice and quiet and just getting the marriage over without a lot of fuss. But Peter organised a secret reception, an afternoon party at a restaurant just a bit further down King's Road. There, to Neil's surprise, all his closest friends and business buddies assembled to toast the bride and groom with champagne and to take a splendid salad-type lunch which was served at tea-time! Amongst the guests were Paul, Ringo and Maureen, most of the top Apple people like records boss Ronald Kass, films chief Dennis O'Dell, Mal Evans, record producer Peter Asher, Alistair Taylor, Derek Taylor, Terry Doran and Tony Bramwell, plus Beatles' Press officer Tony Barrow and the group's American representative, Nat Weiss from New York.

FREDERICK JAMES.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Two Portraits of George

He'll never go back
says Frederick James

One Friday afternoon in January George became the unwilling centrepiece of what the public were led to believe had been a Beatle Punch-up. In fact not a fist had been clenched nor a Beatle voice raised in ager. But, it was true that George had walked out in the middle of a day's recording rehearsal at Twickenham Film Studios and left John, Paul and Ringo at the canteen table to finish their lunches.

Disagreement

Basically the point of disagreement between George and the other three had been on the question of making a public performance. For months we'd read plans, rumours and tentative dates for The Beatles to give their first 'live' performance in front of a concert audience in more than two and a half years. Throughout the 60-minute show, cameras would capture both performance and crowd reaction to make a TV concert for the world's Beatle People to see.

Paul was the main man behind the whole thing. When all the Apple aides reported that they had problems finding a venue for the affair, Paul popped up with the suggestion that they forget indoor locations, take camera crews and guitars into a field and film it all there by the light of bonfires.

George's attitude was that to do any 'live' show was like going back to the touring days instead of maintaining the group's standard of progress. It's true that John and Ringo were not quite as sold on the whole effort as Paul but George came right out and declared that he felt far too much Beatle energy was being put into something which all four had agreed to stop doing in 1966--concert work. He made his point in discussion at first and, finally by leaving Twickenham and driving home. And the demonstration worked, for that very afternoon the rest of the group agreed to scrap their show plans and concentrate on the LP instead.

Had he stormed off, raged about amongst them in a temper, it would have been non-typical of George who thinks silently for a long time before making decisions and then speaks their contents firmly but quietly. George is easy-going but determined, a superb guitarist who cares much more about the techniques of the music he makes than the other Beatles and has studied his subject with deep care. Just as he studied meditation and Indian sitar playing with a devotion which all but obsessed him for spells in 1967 and 1968.

Kind-Natured

George can be the most polite, kind-natured and considerate of The Beatles. Yet he can be cruel in his bluntness too when he thinks the time is right. When unwelcome strangers invade Beatle sessions and neither Mal nor Neil notice their presence, chances are the cry of 'Mal--Cripples!' will come from George who knows that this cryptic cry will lead to the instant departure of the intruding person(s) as soon as Mal gets the message.

George has changed a great deal since we met in the early days of the group and the earliest days of The Beatles Monthly Book. I think he was the last of the four to show outward signs of Beatlemania strain yet as a highly sensitive boy and, today, an equally sensitive man, he must have bottled up within him in 1963 and 1964 enormous pressures which would break many a weaker mortal's spirit. So, having weathered the most hectic times without display of temperament, George found in his studies of Eastern culture a new interest great enough to divert him from being a Beatle. By 1966 he was the first to assure himself that The Beatles should cease to exist as a touring show and should stick together only as a recording group. He was the first to put behind all the trappings of pop stardom. Yet, at the same time, it's important to notice that he will still take a genuine pleasure in stopping short outside a studio entrance or beside his car to talk to fans. So here's the curious mixture that is George--the hatred of letting Beatlemania living beyond its first three years plus the pleasure of making small-talk conversation that's far from artificial with a Beatle Person who wants to spend moments in his company.

Too Honest

Summing him up, I'd say he's a bit too honest for today's plastic world. With relatives, colleagues or casual acquaintances he'll say what he truly feels at the time. And if he's sore about something at the time it'll show without any cloak of conventional politeness to hide his bitterness.

He and Pattie have very few close friends but for those several trusted buddies George would do almost anything. Even on a professional let alone social level just look at the help he's given one-time Liverpudlian group rival Jackie Lomax upon whose new solo career George lavished his time and energy throughout the last months of 1968. And look at his loyalty to the friendship he's built with Ravi Shankar, a closeness that made him willing to travel 6,000 miles to America's West Coast for a minutes-long guest appearance in a documentary film with Ravi.


The helpful Beatle
by Billy Shepherd

He's certainly the last show-businessy of them but he's also the Memory Man when it comes to harking back to those image-building loud-stamping days in Hamburg or Liverpool. And he's surely the most dedicated instrumentalist of the four.

Where do you start to analyse the man inside the lean, angular frame? I'll start at the beginning. A very early recording session at E.M.I's Abbey Road studios. Paul was the public relations expert of the team . . . moving straight over to a visitor, hand extended. 'Like to ask you about how it all started' . . . and right away Paul pointed to a lounging George and said: 'Oh, ah--HE'S your man.'

George talked slowly, taking pains to make sure that every fact offered was accurate. He recalled names and places and dates -- putting them in chronological order. He was literally the fount of all knowledge on Beatle matters. And, as the source of info, he became the one I latched on to. For his generous patience I'm still very grateful. In those days, life for the Beatles was hectic to near breaking-point, but George was always willing to give up time to answer even the most futile-sounding questions.

As he told me: 'It gets me down when I read untrue things about how we started. It's worth it to me to get things right, even if it takes a fortnight.' But the facts which interested George, the down-to-earth Beatle, were musical facts . . . not so much the fan fodder as to what he ate for supper or how often he changed his socks.

What also impressed me at this stage was his dedication, love almost, for his guitar. One could see Paul or John virtually sling their guitars away after a show, but George treated his with the utmost reverence . . . almost as if it was a part of him. He'd re-tune it, polish it, rehearse on it. His sober appraisal of other guitarists was a revelation--he was almost like a top soccer manager when it came to working out the weakness and strength of the opposition.

In those days, I felt that nothing could ever shake George out of his collected calm. He talked languidly, never seemed to get excited, even by the fan furore. Once, approaching the boys' Bournemouth hotel, I moved peacefully up behind a mass of fans, looking for a gap in the ranks. George, peeking behind a curtain, spotted me, flung open the window and yelled, 'Hi, we're up here'. And, of course, everybody outside went mad. Later George said, 'I honestly forgot that sticking my head outside can cause that sort of scene . . . '

And it was easy to believe him. Super-cool, often baffled by Beatlemania. Yet as the strain began to tell, George proved that he was capable of getting ruffled. In Paris, he got upset with the non-stop stream of visitors. 'Leave me alone,' he blazed. 'For the time being this is my home, and I don't see why people should traipse uninvited round my pad.' Later he unleashed a load of orange juice over a member of the entourage . . .

Losing Patience

As time went by, it was obvious that George was losing patience with the non-musical side of a Beatle life. That was when his mind started wandering to India and things Indian. The culture and the music of the Far East appealed to him because it gave him fresh fields to explore. The one-time Rocker had gone off at a tangent. For a time, it was much more difficult to talk to him. He felt, I believe, that it was time-wasting to simply chat about things that 'most people' didn't understand. In the company of Indian-music experts like Ravi Shankar, George felt at ease . . . and miles away from a Beatle life that, to him, was becoming rather routine.

For a while, George virtually disappeared from the scene--submerging then emerging for the occasional recording session. And the rumours started. 'George has gone so far out nowadays that he's almost vanished. And if he does talk about anything normal, it's usually about money . . . '

True, I'd always found that George WAS interested in the financial side of the business. He often asked me if I knew how much such-and-such an artist was getting. Once I 'caught' him studying the Financial Times. He grinned and said, 'It's just a new prop to enable me to live up to my image.'

Then, suddenly, I met up with George again. An informal gathering, the usual instant recognition, the handshake. Rarely did he forget a face or the name which went with it. And whatever he'd been like during his 'Eastern' period, this was George back on a rock kick . . . talking about his mate Jackie Lomax and the single he'd produced for him.

Generally speaking, the quiet, thoughtful, slow-to-anger Beatle, George Harrison, values his friends even if he is slower than most to make friends, and a man with a worthwhile ability to switch off his Beatle-image and retire into his Harrison-image. It's not too easy to maintain that ability when you are such an important international figure.

But I think of him still as the HELPFUL Beatle.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

The Never-Ending Song: Helter Skelter

"The Beatles were fundamentally a rock band, not a pop band that just happened to play rock 'n' roll. 'Helter Skelter' in particular was, as Paul said, "the loudest, nastiest, sweatiest" rock song they could conceive of. Although an English person recognized 'helter skelter' as a type of amusement ride, to an American the term signified disorganized chaos. And, indeed, the first time the Beatles recorded the song at Abbey Road, they got so caught up in its heavy, screeching fury that they jammed on for more than ten minutes on one version, over twelve minutes on a second, and an epic, yet still tightly played, twenty-seven minutes on a third. On September 9, the night they taped the version of 'Helter Skelter' heard on the record, they held the length down to four and a half minutes but went just as wild, both on tape and off. Ringo's impassioned scream, 'I've got blisters on my fingers,' was caught on tape, but had the Beatles also been filming a video that night, it would have shown George setting fire to an ashtray and running around the studio, wearing it on his head like a crown of fire."
-Mark Hertsgaard, A Day In The Life

And it is this 27-minute version of "Helter Skelter" that remains one of the most sought-after Beatles recordings. But why have so many never heard this recording? This post is an introduction to the whole "Helter Skelter" myth, and takes an in-depth look at the recording sessions, plus available outtakes.

"Pete Townshend in Melody Maker said the Who had some track that was the loudest, the most racous rock 'n' roll, the dirtiest thing they'd ever done. It made me think, 'Right. Got to do it.' I like that kind of geeking up. And we decided to do the loudest, nastiest, sweatiest rock number we could. That was 'Helter Skelter.' "
-Paul McCartney, Musician (February 1985)

"The version on the album was out of control. They were completely out of their heads that night. But, as usual, a blind eye was turned to what the Beatles did in the studio. Everyone knew what substances they were talking, but they were really a law unto themselves in the studio."
-Brian Gibson, technical engineer

Instrumentation
McCartney: bass, lead guitar, lead vocal
Harrison: rhythm guitar, backing vocal
Lennon: bass, lead guitar, saxophone, backing vocal
Starr: drums
Mal Evans: trumpet

Convicted murderer Charles Manson took the title as the name for the race war and apocalypse he believed was destined to happen when the Black Panthers would rise up and kill the white "piggies." Manson had his group commit the Tate and LaBianca murders to show blacks how to "rise." In England the term helter skelter applies to an amusement-park slide. Lennon supposedly supported the slide meaning later in court.

"I don't know what I thought when it happened. I just think a lot of the things he says are true, that he is a child of the state, made by us, and he took their children in when nobody else would, is what he did. Of course he's cracked, all right."
-John Lennon, (December 1970)

Lennon found Manson's interpretation of "Helter Skelter" absurd. Manson's zealous reading of lyric sign and symbols was typical of Beatle fans, but - also typical, Lennon said - he came up with a message that simply did not exist in the song.

Mark Lewisohn, author of books such as The Beatles Recording Sessions and The Complete Beatles Chronicle, had this to say about the 27-minute track, plus it's possible inclusion on Anthology:

"Helter Skelter is perhaps the most legendary Beatles outtake of them all. At the time of the White Album being issued, I think it was Neil Aspinall wrote in the Beatles Monthly magazine, that The Beatles had recorded a 27-minute version of Helter Skelter, which quite obviously, they were not releasing, but they had done it anyway. From that moment on, it became like the holy grail for Beatles fans, they had to hear this song. To this day I know of many people who don't want to die until they've heard the 27-minute Helter Skelter, then they can die.

"I made it clear to George Martin when we doing Anthology 3, that the fans are desperate to hear this and I urged him to listen to it, because I don't think initially he was going to do so. He listened it, and he said 'well, why is this important?'. I said forget the quality of the sound, or forget the fact that it's not quite in tune or whatever, what a producer would normally be looking for, just respect the fact please that it is hailed as the most important outtake of them all, and the fans will go crazy if you don't include this on the Anthology. So he took all that on board, which George always does, and he's very good at that sort of thing, he listens. But, the next time I went in there, they said 'here it is' and it was like 5 minutes, and they'd trimmed it right down. And in fact they didn't use the 27 minute one, there was another one as well that was 12 minutes, which they used, and they'd trimmed it down to 5 minutes. They said 'this is all people will stand, they won't stand the whole thing'. And I said 'well, I think a lot of them will actually...' "

Many people automatically assume that since a 27-minute version of "Helter Skelter" was recorded, that it is just as wild and fast-paced as the album version. Not so, the version you hear on the album was recorded almost 2 months later, the 27-minute version played at a slow, march-like tempo, much like the track on Anthology 3. A more in-depth look at the recording of "Helter Skelter" is found below:

"I came back from my holiday, and there was a note from George [Martin] on my desk ‘Chris: Hope you had a nice holiday; I’m off on mine now. Make yourself available to the Beatles. Neil and Mal know you’re coming down.’ It took a while for the Beatles to accept me. Paul was the first one to walk in - I was sitting in the corner wearing a suit and tie! - and he said ‘What are you doing here?‘. I felt like such an idiot, but managed to blurt ‘Didn’t George tell you?’ ‘No.’ ‘Well, George has suggested I come down and help out.’ Paul’s reply was ‘Well, if you wanna produce us you can produce us. If you don’t, we might just tell you to **** off!’ That was encouragement? I couldn’t speak after that..."
-Chris Thomas, producer for the album version of "Helter Skelter"

Thursday, July 18, 1968
Studio Two - 10:30 pm-3:30 am
Helter Skelter - takes 1-3
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Ken Scott
Second Engineer: Richard Lush

The remainder of the day/night of July 18 was spent recording three extended versions of ‘Helter Skelter’, a new McCartney song invoking the name of a spiral slide at a British fairground. The version of ‘Helter Skelter’ which appears on The Beatles is entirely different from the versions taped on this day, however. That album recording, a re-make, was begun on September 9th. The July 18 versions are essentially rehearsals. Take one lasted 10:40, take two 12:35 and take three an epic 27:11, the longest ever Beatles recording. All three versions were similar: drums, bass, lead and rhythm guitars played live - positively no overdubs -with a very heavy drum sound, heavy guitars and a magnificent vocal delivery by Paul, with - surprisingly - all but identical lyrics to the re-made version. Each take developed into a tight and concisely played jam with long instrumental passages.

Assigned as technical engineer on the session was Brian Gibson. "They recorded the long versions of ‘Helter Skelter’ with live tape echo. Echo would normally be added at remix stage otherwise it can’t be altered, but this time they wanted it live. One of the versions of ‘Helter Skelter’ developed into a jam which went into and then back out of a somewhat bizarre version of ‘Blue Moon’. The problem was, although we were recording them at 15 ips - which meant that we’d get roughly half an hour of time on the tape - the machine we were running for the tape echo was going at 30 ips, in other words 15 minutes. We were sitting up there in the control room - Ken Scott, the second engineer and myself - looking at this tape echo about to run out. The Beatles were jamming away, completely oblivious to the world and we didn’t know what to do because they all had foldback in their headphones so that they could hear the echo. We knew that if we stopped it they would notice. "In the end we decided that the best thing to do was stop the tape echo machine and rewind it. So at one point the echo suddenly stopped and you could hear bllllrrrrippppp as it was spooled back. This prompted Paul to put in some kind of clever vocal improvisation based around the chattering sound!"

Monday, September 9, 1968
Studio Two - 7:00 pm-2:30 am
Helter Skelter (re-make) - takes 4-21
Producer: Chris Thomas
Engineer: Ken Scott
Second Engineer: John Smith

The July 18 recording of ‘Helter Skelter’ had partly fulfilled Paul’s wish to create a rock music cacophony. The problem was, with that day’s ‘best’ take running to more than 27 minutes, the song was likely to fill one entire side of an album. So on this day the Beatles taped a re-make: 18 takes of an equally cacophonous maelstrom, but at the regular length of three to four minutes. Actually, the length was the only "regular" aspect of the re-make for this was, by all accounts, a mad session. "The version on the album was out of control," says Brian Gibson. "They were completely out of their heads that night. But, as usual, a blind eye was turned to what the Beatles did in the studio. Everyone knew what substances they were taking but they were really a law unto themselves in the studio. As long as they didn’t do anything too outrageous things were tolerated."

All sorts of instruments were being bandied about. The end result - take 21 and additional overdubs recorded the next day, September 10 - was a song in which John played bass guitar and, of all things, a decidedly unskilled saxophone, Mal Evans played an equally amateurish trumpet, there were two lead guitars, heavy drums, a piano, built-in distortion and feedback, backing vocals from John and George, various mutterings and - the icing on the cake - a supremely raucous Paul McCartney lead vocal. If ‘Revolution 9’ was John’s excursion into mayhem on The Beatles, ‘Helter Skelter’ was Paul's. But it was Ringo who added the perfect finishing touch. Having drummed as if his life depended on it, his "I’ve got blisters on my fingers!" scream was preserved as the song’s great climax.

Tuesday, September 10, 1968
Studio Two - 7:00 pm-3:00 am
Helter Skelter - overdub onto take 21
Producer: Chris Thomas
Engineer: Ken Scott
Second Engineer: John Smith

Final overdubbing onto ‘Helter Skelter’. Chris Thomas recalls, "While Paul was doing his vocal, George Harrison had set fire to an ashtray and was running around the studio with it above his head, doing an Arthur Brown! All in all, a pretty undisciplined session, you could say!"

Tuesday, September 17, 1968
Studio Two - 7:00 pm-5:00 am
Helter Skelter - mono remix 1, from take 21
Producer: Chris Thomas
Engineer: Ken Scott
Second Engineer: Mike Sheady
Saturday, October 12, 1968
Studio Two - 7:00 pm-5:45 am
Helter Skelter - stereo remixes 1-5, from take 21
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Ken Scott
Second Engineer: John Smith

The remixing of ‘Helter Skelter’ was a vital ingredient to the song, yet it threw up a major difference between the mono and stereo versions. The mono (done September 17) ends at 3:36, the stereo (October 12) runs on for almost another minute, to 4:29. The latter has a fade down and up within the song, the former doesn’t. The latter has Ringo’s blistery shout, the former does not. There are also other minor differences.

Wednesday, October 9, 1968
Studio Two - 7:00 pm-5:30 am
Helter Skelter - tape copying of take 3
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Ken Scott
Second Engineer: John Smith

During this session, Paul withdrew from the tape library the original July 18 recordings of 'Helter Skelter' and made a copy of the longest take - the 27:11 version - for his own private collection.

So with all this talk of alternate versions, what is currently available in terms of "Helter Skelter" outtakes? Read on...

June 11, 1968
A month before a studio version of "Helter Skelter" was taped, a short acoustic version was filmed in between rehearsal takes of "Blackbird". It was filmed in colour by Tony Bramwell, and was intended for use as an Apple promo. This acoustic version was aired on Dutch television's "Vara's Puntje" on September 27, 1968.



This outtake is available in most complete form on the bootleg "Gone Tomorrow Here Today" (Midnight Beat 113)

July 18, 1968
An outtake from this first studio session of "Helter Skelter" is available thanks to Anthology 3. Officially released now is take 2, albeit in edited form. The original take 2 runs 12:35, Anthology 3 cut it down to under 5 minutes.

Monday, September 9, 1968
Available from this session is an acetate of the album version of "Helter Skelter" but with a bit of extra guitar at the beginning and a count-in. It's on the bootlegs "Lord Of Madness" (Masterfraction MFCD001) and "Primal Colours" (Masterdisc MDCD009) in different mixes. Don't get fooled by the fake mix on "Off White Vol. 3" (Red Phantom 1138), which contains, among other things, a count-in from "12-Bar Original"!

Sources
Hunter Davies. The Beatles.
William J. Dowlding. Beatlesongs.
Mark Hertsgaard. A Day In The Life.
Mark Lewisohn. The Complete Beatles Chronicle.
Steve Turner. A Hard Day's Write.
Jann Wenner. Lennon Remembers.
Allen J. Wiener. The Ultimate Recording Guide.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Dylan in the Isle of Wight

Full report on the Beatle visit to the big August Happening

The boys have been admirers of Bob Dylan for a long time now. Nobody's quite sure whent hey first became conscious of his compelling songs with their searching lyrics, but it was soon after they themselves became international stars.

Introduced

They were first introduced by Al Aronowitz in 1964 in New York during their first U.S. trip, and the mercurial Beatles hit it off very quickly with the slow-talking American folk-singer. They had both changed their image somewhat to get noticed and they all soon became close friends.

George and Mal Evans met Bob in 1968 and stayed with him in his home in Woodstock on Thanksgiving Day and the rest of the week. Mal sums up Dylan by recalling the line from Julia which goes: "Half of what I say is meaningless, Julia." As Mal explains: "Dylan doesn't bother to say the half that's meaningless."

There have been regular meetings ever since so it was only natural that George should get in touch with Bob as soon as he heard that he was coming over for his Isle of Wight concert.

Meetings

Like the Beatles, Dylan has always worked very hard to keep his private life hidden from the harsh spotlight of publicity and newspaper photographers and reporters. He is really just a normal family man, loves his four kids and prefers to spend his time at home--a big rambling house in Woodstock.

George arranged to meet Dylan at London Airport and was told by the airline that the 'plane would be 40 minutes late. So he and Mal got to the airport around a quarter to nine, only to find that the 'plane had arrived 15 minutes earlier. TWA had whisked Bob and his wife Sarah through the special services block and away in a car long before George had even got to the airport.

Farmhouse

Dylan went straight to his farmhouse in the Isle of Wight. On Tuesday, August 26, George rang Mal at his home and said: "I'm driving down to see Bob on the Isle of Wight -- do you want to come?" Mal immediately chucked a few things into a case and dashed off to meeting George, and they drove down to Portsmouth together.

Mal had a bit of an accident while they were in Portsmouth. George and he went into a milk bar to get a cup of tea and whilst they were waiting to be served, Mal decided to go back to the car and check that everything was alright. When he opened the boot, he hit his head against the corner and cut himself quite badly.

Pain

He was in a lot of pain and wanted to wash the blood off the cut so he walked back into the cafe and aimed straight for the first door which seemed to say "washroom" or "toilet". He went in, washed the cut and then, when he was drying his face, began to realise that he was in the "wrong" small room. He beat a hasty retreat and as he came out a woman who was sitting at a nearby table gave him a very odd look. He turned round to check and, sure enough, the sign on the door said "Ladies".

Met by Bob

When they arrived in the Isle of Wight they were met by Bob and the man who originally introduced them, Al Aronowitz. They stayed with Bob Dylan on Tuesday night and came back to Esher on Wednesday evening.

Patti and George returned to the Isle of Wight on Thursday and Mal and his wife, Lil, and their two children drove down on Friday and stayed at a local hotel.

John and Ringo also wanted to see the show, but they had worked out a new and trouble-free method of transport.

It's very simple. All they did was to ring up and order two helicopters to appear in the sky over their houses at a certain time. Then they just sat back until the appointed hour came round, taking things easy, waiting for the helicopter pilots to put their machines down in their back gardens.

Sky-Birds

Then John and Ringo and Maureen and Yoko, of course, climbed aboard their private sky-birds and were lofted up over the south of England to the Isle of Wight.

Mal and George knew they were coming, of course, and duly collected some sheets which they laid out on the ground so that the pilot would know where to land. They also waved at the helicopters when they came clattering into view.

The only trouble was that pretty well every other visitor to the Isle of Wight had the same idea. They all had tents, sheets and blankets lying all over the place and they also liked waving at the odd helicopter which appeared over them, so the poor pilot got a bit confused for a time as to precisely which group of waving people on the ground was the right one.

Landing

But both pilots quickly got their bearings, landed, and Ringo and Maureen, John and Yoko hurried off to Bob's house to meet him.

Bob Dylan had taken over Forehands Farm in Bembridge and, contrary to expectations, the Beatles and the Dylans got down to a good game of tennis. This was followed by a unique jam session in the farm barn where Bob had been rehearsing for the previous four days with his Band.

Bob told the party that he had not intended to do more than his normal 60 minute show and claimed that the rumours that were put about that he was due to appear for three hours were just that--rumours!

Great Show

When he finally made it on to the stage his performance was a knockout! The Beatles thought that his singing was absolutely beautiful and that Dylan and the Band really got it together.

It was marred by one or two unfortunate incidents. The Press, as usual, got in the way and lots of photographers at the front stood up and started taking shots when he first appeared on stage. Quite naturally, the people behind got very annoyed by having their view of the stage obscured and so they started chucking beer cans at the Press to make them sit down.

Party

After the concert was over, Bob and the Beatles went back to the farm and they all had a party.

John and Ringo came home by 'plane on Monday. The rest of the party hired a hovercraft.

Bob Dylan seems to delight in teasing reporters and photographers who worry him constantly. He has only recently, of course, made it known that he is married. The Beatles must have envied his ability to keep the secret for so long.

He also goes to great lengths to avoid photos of him being taken with his wife, but he was not completely successful during this visit and many of the national papers did carry pictures of Bob Dylan in dark glasses with his wife Sarah.

Beatle fans may be interested in knowing what Sarah is like. Apparently she is very similar to Bob. Very quiet, doesn't say a lot. Mal Evans describes her as "a really sweet person".

Will the Beatles follow Dylan's example and give an open-air concert of their own in some suitable location? The answer, for the moment, seems to be definitely no.

The boys all agree that Dylan and the Stones have given really marvellous performances and that their concerts have gone off tremendously well, but they still believe that it is not the sort of thing that they should do at this time.

Big Crowd

If, however, they change their mind, then I am absolutely certain that they would have the biggest crowd ever and also that there would be two old friends there in the audience to see them -- Bob and Sarah Dylan.

Tracks You've Never Heard

This month The Beatles bring out on their own Apple label a king-sized collection of recordings, a total of thirty tracks collected onto a pair of LPs which form the group's first-ever double-disc album package--the logical extension of their decision around this time last year when they put all their "Magical Mystery Tour" material onto a couple of EP discs as part of an attractive "look-and-listen set" which included a cartoon and photo book.

Had they put out one instead of two LP records they would have been left with at least a dozen very recent recordings "in the can". In all probability these would never have been released because The Beatles move forward so fast in their musical thinking that by the early months of 1969 they will be regarding anything put on tape in 1968 as "a bit stale".

Not Issued

Meanwhile it's interesting to look at earlier recordings which The Beatles have completed on tape in one way or another, but which have never been issued to the public. These include enough material to fill two LP records with "live performance" tracks made during Beatles concerts in America -- at the famous Hollywood Bowl on August 29, 1965 and at San Francisco's Candlestick Park precisely one year later on August 29, 1966!

The earliest unissued Beatles recording dates back to the last months of 1962 when they taped Mitch Murray's "How Do You Do It" as producer George Martin's suggestion. George saw this as a promising follow-up single after "Love Me Do", but The Beatles were far more enthusiastic about making their own composition "Please Please Me" the top deck of their second Parlophone release. So that everyone could listen to and compare the two numbers in the form of finished productions, The Beatles taped both "How Do You Do It" and "Please Please Me". As you know the latter, released in January 1963, went to Number One whilst the former track stayed "in the can" and has never been released to this day. The song itself wasn't wasted -- it put Gerry And The Pacemakers at the top of the charts a few months later.

A much more recent example is "Across The Universe", a very potent piece recorded in February of this year with John handling the lead vocal and a couple of hastily recruited fans who had been waiting outside the studios--Beatle People Lizzie Brave and Gayleen Pease--helping to add high falsetto voice effects to the accompaniment. At one stage it looked as though "Across The Universe" would be on The Beatles' first new single of 1968--until they completed "Lady Madonna" and decided to issue that instead. So the "Universe" tape was put back into stock with the vague idea that it might form The Beatles' promised contribution to an all-star charity LP. To date that charity LP has not gone into production so "Across The Universe" has stayed "in the can" with no available information about its future use.

Four Tracks

Also shelved for many months have been the four recordings which The Beatles made in the early part of the year and even before that for the soundtrack "Yellow Submarine". They are George's "Northern Song" plus "Hey Bulldog", "All Too Much" and "All Together Now". For these items the prospect is brighter since Apple Records plan to issue all the "Yellow Submarine" cartoon recordings very shortly.

Let's get back to those "live performance" concert tapes I mentioned earlier. Unlike the other unissued tracks, these have been kept "in the can" because The Beatles realise their quality is nothing like as good as stuff done in the studio. On the other hand the 1965 Hollywood Bowl recordings are of an acceptably high standard and were made under George Martin's supervision with the full facilities of the Hollywood headquarters of Capitol Records.

Live List

The 12 numbers are "Twist And Shout", "She's A Woman", "I Feel Fine", "Dizzy Miss Lizzy", "Ticket To Ride", "Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby", "Can't Buy Me Love", "Baby's In Black", "I Wanna Be Your Man", "A Hard Day's Night", "Help!" and "I'm Down". 18,000 Californian Beatle People were at Hollywood Bowl to see The Beatles' show that night; the same number attended a second performance at the same venue the following night, Monday August 30. Preserved on tape are the best possible recordings from both concerts -- complete with wildly enthusiastic audience reaction.

The other set of concert recordings are of a much lower technical standard. In fact they were made on a completely amateur basis without the use of professional recording equipment. They are preserved on a tiny tape cassette belonging to Beatles' Press Representative Tony Barrow.

Says Tony: "I taped the whole of the Candlestick Park concert as a personal souvenir of what we all knew would be the last 'live' show The Beatles were planning to do. It was just a sentimental thing really with no idea of doing a professional job. I used my own recorder and a Beyer mike held out towards the stage in the middle of this field. The main purpose of the recorder was to keep my own record of all the press conferences The Beatles gave during their tours. Naturally I've kept the concert cassette carefully because it's a unique souvenir of that final show. At the time the idea was to make just half a dozen LP discs so that each of The Beatles could have their own private copy. We never got round to making the discs but now you've reminded me about it I expect we shall".

Grim

I have listened to the Candlestick Park cassette and even if, as Tony Barrow admits, the recording quality is pretty grim, it does recall the full atmosphere of a truly exciting--if not historic--occasion. Before the first number, The Beatles are heard tuning up on stage while even in the open air the noise of the crowd constantly overloads the sound capacity of the cassette recorder. When John tests one of his microphones with a "Hello!" there's a mighty roar of approval from thousands of San Francisco Beatle People.

Then they launch straight into their first two numbers, "Rock And Roll Music" and "She's A Woman". Next Paul introduces George's "If I Needed Someone" and John leads up to the following number like this: "We'd like to carry on now, carry on together, one together and all for one, with another number that used to be a single record back in (heavy guitar chord) a long time ago, and this one's about the naughty lady called Day Tripper".

Reminder

Then comes "Baby's In Black", "I Feel Fine" and "Yesterday". After that Paul reminds us that there was a cold wind blasting out across San Francisco that grey day as he introduces the next number like this: "Thank you very much everybody and, or, it's a bit chilly! We'd like to do the next number now which is a special request for all the wonderful backroom boys on this tour. The song is I Wanna Be Your Man and to sing it . . . . RINGO!" Defeaning screams from the crowd!

After Ringo's spot they do "Nowhere Man" and at the end of that number Paul finds himself ad libbing a bit while the security guards race across the field to catch up with several fans who had broken through from the crowd and were heading for the stage. We hear Paul say: "We'd like to carry on, I think. I'm not really sure yet. I'd like to carry on, certainly! Well, shall we just watch this for a bit first?" Eventually he introduces "Paperback Writer".

Finally it's Paul again announcing the last number: "We'd like to say it's been wonderful being here, with this wonderful sea air. Sorry about the weather. We'd like to ask you to join in and clap, sing, talk, do anything". And with that The Beatles go into "I'm Down" [sic], an aptly titled finale to their very last American concert performance.

With The Beatles talking quite seriously about the possibility of re-thinking their present "absolutely no stage shows" policy, it is particularly interesting to listen again, two years after as it were, to the way they sounded in "live" concert performance. We all know that any new concert The Beatles might decide to give this year or next would be very different from Hollywood '65 and San Francisco '66 but speculating upon just how different is fascinating food for thought!

I asked Tony Barrow if he thought either of the two concert tapes would ever be released commercially to the public. He said it was unlikely but not impossible.

"Obviously Capitol did a fine job on the Hollywood Bowl tapes" he told me "but most record collectors will have all those same numbers in their original studio-recorded forms. You'll notice that in any case there's a lot of duplication between the 1965 and 1966 programme content. Five of the songs were the same on both occasions.

Souvenir

"Equally obviously all this material has substantial souvenir value on a private level. Even if it is never put on an open market it's a valid part of The Beatles' own museum. Of course there is another alternative--that the recordings might be made up into some sort of very special limited edition LP album. Not to sell but to give away in strictly limited quantity to, say, Beatles' Fan Club members--perhaps as prizes in some sort of members' competition or Beatles Monthly Book competition".

And there, for the moment, the matter rests. Certainly the prospect of a souvenir LP of un-issued concert tapes as a competition prize is thoroughly intriguing--but one knows that umpteen reels of red tape would have to be cut through to turn the idea into fact. So keep watching the Beatles Monthly Book and we'll see what can be done!

FREDERICK JAMES.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Behind the Spotlight

by Billy Shepherd and Johnny Dean

Spring was in the air, turning fast towards summer. The year: 1963. And those star-shooting Beatles were getting a real taste of the hectic world of one-nighters, scurrying between dates, learning all the joys and worries of "taking on" different audiences night after night in different parts of the country.

The tour, principally, featured American artists Chris Montez and Tommy Roe. Chris, with his wild on-stage presentations and his hit record "Let's Dance"; Tommy Roe with his more dignified song-selling almost in the Buddy Holly style. In most parts of the country, it was the Beatles who were regarded as being the unknown quantity.

We'd talked to Chris Montez just before the tour started. He said: "For an American, any trip to Britain is important. But the first time here . . . well, it's wildly exciting. But tell me, who are these guys the Beatles? I try to keep up to date with the British scene, but I don't know their work. I dig guys like Cliff Richard and Adam Faith and the others, but first thing I heard at the airport was that I should watch out for the Beatles . . . that they were gonna be real big."

Chris, and Tommy, were soon to find out just HOW big. In fact, on the opening night of the tour. The Beatles, with not-too-much in the way of hits behind them, were definitely there in a supporting role. As had been general practice, the Americans ruled the roost; got all the billing space; were treated as the big stars.

It came to the first house. Audience reaction welled up tremendously as soon as the curtains parted to show the Beatles on stage. There were screams--and not merely for patriotic reasons. Paul blinked in the glare of the arc-lights, turned and grinned happily at the others. They launched into a couple of numbers . . . and the atmosphere became real wild. It was immediate communication. The audience loved them. Arms waved, feet stomped, hands clapped. And that wail of appreciative yells and shouts hit ear-bursting frequencies.

The American visitors did the best they could. But even the status of their hit discs, some of Tommy's having been truly international "biggies", didn't make the right sort of impression. And so the Beatles were changed round in the second show . . . and became stars of the show.

History Making

Though audiences in that provincial theatre didn't realise it, this was really a slice of pop-music history. It was the first thin wedge of British stars against the accepted American domination. We weren't to get the full impact of this for . . . oh, the best part of a year! . . . but it was a step in the right direction.

The Beatles, backstage, were modest about their improved position on the bill. But they couldn't hide their elation. Those nail-biting worries about whether fans outside the Liverpool arena would appreciate their style of music . . . those moments were apparently over. "Hey, we're stars now", said John Lennon. "We've got to start behaving ourselves." Of course, nothing REALLY changed.

And so the tour ploughed on. The receptions, if anything, got bigger and better for the Beatles. Chris Montez and Tommy Roe put in early publicity plugs for the Liverpudlians--mainly through their letters back to the States. And Chris, to his credit, joined Roy Orbison in being thoroughly convinced that the Beatles were sufficiently different from the run-of-the-mill U.S. outfits to make a name for themselves 'cross the Atlantic.

Appearances on radio shows like the mass-audience "Saturday Club" did the Beatles plenty of favours, too. Brian Matthew, one-time producer and host of the show, told us: "We were getting just about everybody in the business on this Saturday slab of pop music . . . all the biggest names in the industry. But I think everybody was impressed with the Beatles on these early dates for the simple reason that they weren't afraid of being individualistic. If they were ever nervous, they certainly didn't let it show. There was a sort of basic good humour coming through in everything they did."

Created Atmosphere

"You could easily be fooled into thinking they were a bit slap-dash and unconcerned about their performance. Maybe that stemmed from the way they looked--though their hair wasn't half as long two years ago as the cartoonists were drawing. But once those boys started in on a number, they gave it one hundred per cent concentration. Even without an audience to perform to, they had this knack of complete communication. In the case of 'Saturday Club', it was communication to members of other groups and other singers. They created an atmosphere. Not always easy, that, in a B.B.C. studio."

And the boys were just as popular whenever they visited the E.M.I. recording studios in Abbey Road, St. John's Wood, North London. Beatlemania struck early on these premises where many top stars had been recorded. The ladies who served cups of tea in the canteen simply adored John, Paul, Ringo, George. The lads went out of their way to be helpful, friendly, and always found time to share a quick gag.

Little gifts from the fans were appearing at the studios. Paul's birthday brought a deluge of postcards and birthday cards and little presents. We remember Paul, in the midst of hectic activity, sitting over a fast-cooling plate of sausages and chips and determinedly ploughing through a pile of mail. He said he couldn't believe so many people even knew the date of his birthday. He also gagged that some of his nearest relatives had difficulty in remembering the date.

The doorman, the head commissionaire, at the E.M.I. studios was also clearly impressed with the fast-talking, Northern-accented lads. He said: "Almost from the start, we could tell something special was happening. Recording sessions weren't exactly shouted about . . . we did our best to keep fans away if possible. You couldn't keep secrets from the Cliff Richard fans, of course . . . but the Beatles were drawing great crowds of fans just waiting for a glimpse of the boys. Must say the Beatles were tremendously polite and thoughtful, though they used to take the mickey out of each other in such a straight-faced way that I sometimes wondered if they were actually being serious."

Separate Characters

We've hinted at the emergence of British domination--at least, on the Beatle touring dates. There was something else. In double-quick time, the Beatles were being established as four separate characters. This was definitely a new trend. Fans of the Shadows, for instance, tended to support the whole group.

Same with the Tornados who had a number one with "Telstar". The individual names weren't important. It was the sound--with actual presentation only being important on stage. But the Beatles were pulling in their individual support. Extraordinarily, it seemed each Beatle had moments of being thought "most popular" in different parts of the country. Ringo, true, lagged behind the others at this time . . . but then he was the newest Beatle and he was also rather in the background on stage. "But there'll never be any jealousy inside the group", vowed Paul.

Continued next month when we find out what the boys were like backstage in those early days.

The Piano on "Rock and Roll Music"

Dear Beatles (especially Paul),

Could you please answer a question that has been driving me mad, since I first heard "Rock and Roll Music," who plays the piano on this record? Is it Paul?

When I was listening to "Ticket to Ride" I wondered whether you got your ideas from things which you had experienced, e.g. have any of your girl friends left you and got a 'ticket to ride' anywhere, and just didn't care about it: or have you ever had a girl friend, who still loves another boy, as in the song "Baby's in Black"?

Lots and Lots of Beatle 'Luv',
Glenys Millar,
London, S.E.17.

Paul answers:--
John, George Martin and I all had a go on the piano on Rock 'n Roll Music, Glenys. George M. is the real piano player--John and I just bash away.

Your Album Queries

Answered by Mal Evans

Last month I told you I'd been ploughing through a huge mountain of mail from readers on the subject of the recent two-record album set. Of course, many of you asked the same questions so I've been able to choose just 40 favourite queries from your letters for the WHO-WHAT-HOW piece which follows.

1. Where was the photograph taken which shows Ringo (bearded) dancing with Elizabeth Taylor?

Answer. During a party at London's Dorchester Hotel.

2. Which Beatle put his lip prints on the album picture poster?

Answer. The lip prints don't belong to any Beatle (Beatles just don't wear lipstick you know!!).

3. Is the cat behind a cushion in one of the colour photographs Paul's Thisby?

Answer. In a word--No!

4. On the poster with the album there's a big picture of someone lying back in a bath. Is it John or Paul?

Answer. Fellow with soap suds all around his head is Paul.

5. There's one very old snapshot showing two boys in black leather gear. It looks as though it might be a picture of two Beatles taken in Hamburg days but the heads are cut off.

Answer. It is indeed an early Beatle pic but not taken in Hamburg. That's Paul with John in Paris.

6. Who does the high "Beach Boys" voices behind Paul on Back In The U.S.S.R.?

Answer. John and George together.

7. Who plays the main guitar accompaniment behind John's voice on Dear Prudence and what sort of guitar was used?

Answer. John played his own backing here and used his epiphone guitar.

8. How was the violin-like effect achieved at the end of Glass Onion?

Answer. Would you believe--with violins!!

9. Who plays piano on Ob-la-di Ob-la-da?

Answer. Pianist is Paul.

10. Who says "Thank You" at the end of Ob-la-di Ob-la-da?

Answer. Thankful Beatle concerned is John.

11. Who sings the line "Not when he looked so fierce" in a sort of childlike voice on The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill?

Answer. Wasn't one of the fellows at all, it was Yoko.

12. Who plays guitar (the introduction and accompaniment) behind George's singing on While My Guitar Gently Weeps?

Answer. Eddie Clayton--but not the Liverpool Eddie Clayton (remember Ringo was once with the Eddie Clayton Skiffle Group on Merseyside around the first half of 1960 before he began drumming for Rory Storm's Hurricanes).

13. Does Paul play his own piano accompaniment for Martha My Dear?

Answer. Yes he does.

14. Which album track has Mal Evans playing a bit of trumpet?

Answer. That's Helter Skelter which also has John playing saxophone!

15. Who plays acoustic guitar behind Paul on Blackbird?

Answer. Paul himself. He recorded the accompaniment first and then did the vocal.

16. How does George get that funny nasal effect on his voice midway through Piggies?

Answer. I don't want to get too technical about this so let me just say that his voice had to be filtered through special studio equipment to create that effect.

17. Who plays guitar accompaniment behind Paul on Rocky Racoon?

Answer. Again it's Paul himself and again the singing and playing were recorded at separate times.

18. Who plays harmonica on Rocky Racoon?

Answer. John.

19. Who plays that honky-tonk piano bit at the end of Rocky Racoon?

Answer. Our record producer George Martin.

20. Who plays Hammond organ on Don't Pass Me By?

Answer. Nobody plays an organ but the sound you mean comes from a specially prepared piano played by Ringo.

21. What instruments are behind Paul on I Will?

Answer. Normal Beatles line-up here with John on skulls!

22. Who does the "2-3" count-in at the start of Yer Blues?

Answer. Ringo.

23. Did Paul write Mother Nature's Son while he was on his farm up in Scotland? It sounds as though he was inspired by his surroundings?

Answer. I know what you mean about the atmosphere of the words but John and Paul wrote this while they were in India about this time last year.

24. Details please of the backing on John's rocker Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except For Me And My Monkey?

Answer. No additional musicians here, just the usual Beatles line-up.

25. Whose idea was the extra ending for Helter Skelter and who shouts at the very end of it "I've got blisters on my fingers".

Answer. The extra ending was a joint idea really and none of the fellows can remember who suggested it first. The blistery voice belongs to Ringo.

26. Is Ringo's drumming speeded up in some technical way at the end of Long, Long, Long, or did he really play as fast as that?

Answer. He really played as fast as that!

27. Does George Martin play piano on Revolution 1?

Answer. No--it's Paul at the piano again.

28. How did Paul make his voice sound like an old gramophone record for the words "Now she's hit the big time" in Honey Pie.

Answer. Technical trick. Highly secret!

29. What brass instruments are there on Savoy Truffle?

Answer. Two baritones and four tenors.

30. Whose voice says "Number Nine" at the opening of Revolution No. 9? It sounds like John or Mal. Is it the same voice later on?

Answer. Yes, the same voice all through but it doesn't belong to me or John. It was taken from an educational record from library stock.

31. Before Revolution No. 9 you hear a bit of conversation with someone saying to George: "I'd have brought some claret for you, George, but I forgot. I'm sorry. Will you forgive me?" The voice didn't sound like Neil's or Mal's.

Answer. That's because it wasn't Neil's or mine! It was Alistair Taylor's voice. Alistair is office manager of Apple.

32. Did George Martin do that beautifully warm orchestral arrangement for Ringo's Goodnight?

Answer. Yes, he did.

33. Did Paul make a mistake when he was recording the vocal Ob-la-di Ob-la-da? Towards the end Desmond stays home to do his pretty face instead of his wife, Molly, the band singer?

Answer. No mistake. Just a twist-around of the verse which comes earlier on.

34. Who plays an organ on Cry Baby Cry?

Answer. Nobody. It's a harmonium played by George Martin.

35. Who plays the harpsichord (or is it a doctored piano?) on Piggies?

Answer. It is a harpsichord and the player is George Martin's assistant whose name is Chris Thomas.

36. What are the extra instruments heard on Dear Prudence?

Answer. Apart from the normal line-up of guitars and drums, you hear Paul on the piano and playing a flugelhorn, John and I on tambourines and a whole crowd of us including Jackie Lomax and Paul's cousin John lending pairs of hands for the clapping.

37. Why did you release the album set in stereo first and not in mono until later?

Answer. We didn't!! The fact is that for the first week or two at the end of November the factories just could not keep pace with the public's demand for copies of the album. So in some places you'd find a record shop had only stereo copies available because fewer people choose stereo and the really big demand is still for mono records.

38. Who plays what on Long, Long, Long?

Answer. Other than the usual instrumentation we had George playing acoustic guitar and Paul on Hammond Organ.

39. Is the chorus on Goodnight just the Beatles singing. It sounds like far more than four voices in the background.

Answer. It is far more. Eight in fact. Four boys and four girls who were brought in to add the backing voices.

40. Who was first to make another recording of a song from The Beatles to put out as a single?

Answer. We heard of several all at once. Including the Marmalade doing Ob-la-di Ob-la-da, Cliff Bennett singing Back In The U.S.S.R. and the Vic Lewis orchestra and singers doing versions of Goodnight and Julia.

Following the Beatles

Keeping up with the Beatles as they toured round the world through Denmark, Holland, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand was one of the toughest, but most enjoyable assignments, I've ever had.

Now, fasten your seat-belts and join John, Paul, George and Jimmy Nicol as they drove into London Airport on Thursday, 4th June with chauffeur, Bill, at the wheel of their Austin Princess. A quick stop for Customs and then straight on to the plane to embark before the other passengers.

They're immediately "raided" by members of the crew for autographs. The boys oblige. But the co-pilot doesn't seem to know Ringo is in hospital and keeps asking for his signature. Finally, he gets the idea that Paul is Ringo. George immediately steps in and urges Paul to sign; "Go on, Ringo", he tells Paul. "Give him your signature". The Beatles love this sort of situation and can never resist pulling somebody's leg.

The other passengers file aboard and the plane zooms off the runway and heads for Denmark.

Danish Welcome

At Copenhagen, they get a terrific reception from over 6,000 fans. But, there's something different here. Unlike most of the other welcomes that the boys have had, with girl fans leading the chorus, in Denmark, and later on in Holland, it is the Beatle boys who do all the yelling, while the girls stay shyly in the background. And the fans are wearing the latest styles which they have gleaned from the British newspapers. They all follow Britain very closely on the Mods and Rockers kick.

The boys book into the Royal Hotel in Copenhagen, opposite the Tivoli Gardens, where they are appearing that evening. First thing they found was that they were staying in the same suite of rooms as Russia's Mr. Kruschev has booked for his visit two weeks later. George, in fact, is sleeping in the same bed, as will be used by the Russian leader. Says George: "Right, I'll be leaving a note for him under the pillow!"

Inside the Tivoli Gardens is the KB Hall--a sports arena owned by the local football team. The boys work out their programme, with "stand-in" drummer Jimmy Nicol paying particular attention. They've got a new way of "remembering" the order of songs: road-manager Mal writes out the titles on slips of paper and sticks them on the guitars with Sellotape.

Rehearsing

The boys rehearse with Jimmy Nicol. Tell him when to speed up and when to slow down. Our photographer Leslie Bryce says: "I didn't realise how difficult it was to be a Beatle until you see a new man among them." He's right. The Beatles have a special way of saying things, of talking to police, people, politicians. Jimmy, understandably, found it hard to fit in. But he was obviously very excited, very proud.

The British Ambassador in Copenhagen visited the boys . . . and 4,400 fans packed the theatre for each of two performances. Riots, as ever, at the end of the second show--especially when the master of ceremonies announced that the boys would not be coming back on stage. One Danish lad picked up a pot of Delphiniums and threw it at him!

After-show note: Jimmy Nicol had gone outside to meet somebody . . . and stood there unmolested as he watched the crowds yelling for The Beatles.

Incidentally, Jimmy wore Ringo's stage suits--only the trousers were too short for him. Telegram sent to Ringo from Paul read: "Hurry up and get well Ringo, Jimmy is wearing out all your suits".

Back at the Royal Hotel, the boys ate smorrebrodsseddel, an exotic sort of "jam buttie". And a call came through from Brian Epstein, who reported that poor Ringo had a temperature of 103 but was improving.

Next day: on to Amsterdam. Girls presented the boys with bunches of flowers and traditional Dutch hats. Beatles went straight to a television rehearsal at the Tres Long restaurant in Hillegram some 26 miles from Amsterdam. And whatta show! Fantastic! The audience jumped up onto the stage and sang with the boys into the mikes. Again, it was mostly boys who showed the fanaticism. Mid-way, Neil Aspinall managed to get them off . . .

Canal Trip

On to Saturday--and a highly publicised hour long trip through the canals in a glass-topped boat. Huge, shouting crowds crammed every yard of the banks. And again we noticed the big banners saying, in English: "Ringo, Quick Recover". Some of the fans dived into the canal, which upset the Beatles because the police certainly weren't gentle in fishing them out again. Said John Lennon: "I've got to protest about this." And he did. He couldn't understand why the police were so tough on the teenagers.

Then they went to the Exhibition Hall, Blokker, about 36 miles from Amsterdam for two concerts they travelled in style in two white Cadillacs, with motor-cycle escort. The motor-cyclists had side-cars, which leaned over dangerously, as they roared round the corners . . . the Beatles thought it reminded them of Brands Hatch on a race day.

Into the hall. A positive battery of microphones. Malcolm reckoned there must have been eight at least. Seems that just about every radio station had tried to get in on the act. Most of the mikes were turned off eventually and the boys got down to work.

Local groups, usually with girl singers, made up the rest of the bill. The one just before the Beatles wore a startling stage garb like members of the Klu Klux Klan, complete with white hoods.

The boys had a break between shows. Because of the crowds outside, they had to stay in their dressing-room and, feeling the strain more than a little, they tried to curl up and go to sleep, the screams still ringing in their ears.

John pulled off their suit covers, made himself a comfy little bed and went off to sleep without much difficulty at all. Jimmy Nicol slid under the table in the dressing-room and was undisturbed. This is a trick often used by travelling groups. Most dressing-rooms are tiny and barely furnished--and it is the only place you can avoid being trodden on by "invaders". George, too, found himself a handy little corner to catch a little kip.

No one told them

But this rare moment of rest actually caused the boys a lot of trouble. For it turned out the boys were expected to attend a civic reception at a big restaurant and were also to have gone to visit a traditional Dutch village. This was O.K. . . . except that nobody had told them about these arrangements. So while they were slumbering fitfully, the papers were preparing "knocking" stories about how the Beatles had let people down, which was completely unfair to the boys.

But this was the only black cloud in a tour which was a howling success from start to finish. The boys liked the countryside--and what they managed to see of the scenery. They liked the food--and they loved the reception given them by the fans. Said Paul: "Sometimes we thought they were going to get out of hand . . . but nobody ever started any real trouble."

Just shows how much the Beatles DO worry about their fans. And how much they like to show themselves as often as possible to their supporters.

Cynthia Lennon linked up with the boys in Amsterdam, returning with them from the fan-lined airport for their brief return to London. And at London was Aunt Mimi, that wonderful lady who was responsible for bringing up John Lennon--Both were going with the party to Hong Kong.

As the papers have already reported the plane back to London was held up by BOAC for an hour. But some of the comments about this were unkind because the aircraft company had notified passengers about the intended delay.

Hong Kong

Then right across the world by jet plane to Hong Kong. That isolated, bustling little island, and slice of the mainland, sitting there right on the edge of Communist China.

The Chinese promoter had decided to sky-rocket the price of seats for the two shows in the Princess Theatre. Result was that many of the local teenagers, who gave the boys a rapturous welcome at the Airport when they arrived, were unable to afford the money to see them perform. Lowest priced seats were £2 a time, which is a lot of money in low-wage Hong Kong. But still, the theatre was almost filled for both shows.

The busy streets were so congested with shopping housewives, street traders, beggars and all the other Hong Kong dwellers that John, Paul and George hardly ventured out.

It would have been too dangerous if they had been recognised. The city is notorious for its excited mobs rapidly getting out of control and the boys might have been torn to pieces. Only Mal went out to try a rickshaw ride.

Then back into a jet and on to Sydney, the biggest city in Australia.

Rainstorm

The Beatles were all looking forward to that beautiful, hot sun for which Australia is so famous. So they got the shock of their lives when they landed at the Sydney Airport in one of the heaviest downpours they had ever seen. "We must have landed in the wrong country", said George. And to top it all they had to drive round the Airport in an open-top bus!

Everyone was absolutely soaked to the skin. It completely ruined the terrific welcome that the Sydney fans had lined up for the boys. Even so about 2,000 of them braved the drenching rain to say a very wet "Hello".

Into Sydney and the Sheridan Hotel. News had already got around that "they had arrived" and hundreds made their way to the hotel to catch a glimpse of the famous Beatles.

The boys wanted to wave to the crowd from their hotel window, but first of all they had to get out of their wet clothes. Their luggage was still at Sydney Airport so a frantic search was made for dry togs.

John and Paul managed to find some, but George couldn't get hold of any trousers so he finally ended up by wrapping a towel round his lower half and dancing out on to the balcony like that!

"I thought their winter was just like our summer", commented John, "but it's freezing. Come on, turn on all the electric fires". And the boys settled down to get the blood moving through their veins again.

They launched straight into a terrific round of press conferences, photo sessions and meetings with all the local big-wigs.

Ringo Better

In London, Ringo had finally been passed fit by the Doctors at the University College Hospital and was discharged on Thursday, 11th June. Everyone was a bit concerned that he should be flying straight off to Australia as he really should have had at least a week to convalesce. But, Ringo insisted that he must join up with the boys again. So, on the following day, he left with Brian Epstein, flying to Australia via San Francisco.

Back "Down Under", John, Paul, George and Jimmy Nicol started their Australian Tour with riotous concerts in Adelaide on 12th and 13th June. Then, across the great Australian desert to Melbourne where the four Beatles finally join up together again.

Ringo looked a bit worn after his long trip, but the very next day he seemed back on his usual top form. They stayed in Melbourne until 17th and then flew back to Sydney for appearances on 18th, 19th and 20th. The 21st June saw them in the air once again on they way to Auckland, New Zealand for a week's visit to "Kiwi Land" taking in Christchurch, Dunedin and Wellington. Following their last concert on 27th, they flew back to Australia for a further three days' stay and are due to arrive back at London Airport on 2nd July.

Beatles Talk

Another in the special series in which FREDERICK JAMES lets his tape recorder listen in on informal conversations between John, Paul, George and Ringo.

F.J.: This month's BEATLES TALK session is going to be a bit different. As you know, I've been responsible for several features in past issues of our Monthly Book where we've taken a bunch of current Beatle rumours and knocked them for six. After all, if you can't find out the real facts in their own magazine where can you find 'em? Recently the biggest and most ridiculous rumour of the lot has been going the rounds. I'm talking about the one that goes "Are the Beatles slipping?" Now before we get going let me make it very, very clear that this isn't going to be a "Defend The Poor Old Beatles" affair. Let's face it, the most popular and most famous group in the world needs no defending. George looks as though he's ready to start the ball rolling so let's make a start with him.

GEORGE: I just wanted to say something general about Number One records. The papers are making a lot more news out of the charts nowadays and this has two results. First of all people who never buy any pop records know a bit more about the Top Twenty and this is a good thing. On the other hand when they read a story saying "Fred Nurke topples Elvis Bone" they think Fred Nurke is now the most highly-paid and highly-honoured entertainer in the world and this guy Bone has had it forever.

JOHN: We're quite safe at the moment. It's nothing to do with us. We haven't got a record anywhere near the Top Twenty this week!

GEORGE: And we can't possibly have until the next one is released--but what I'm getting at is this. You can't blame anyone who isn't a fan for reading through the Top Twenty in the papers and saying to themselves "There you are, The Beatles aren't in the Top Twenty any more. They're right out of things. They've had it!" Or Elvis Bone or Fred Nurke has had it as the case may be!

F.J.: If I can come in here for a moment . . . .

JOHN: Well it's your own tape you're wasting.

F.J.: Do you think it really matters to a group as important as The Beatles whether or not you ever have a record at Number One again--let alone whether you happen to have a new one selling at the moment?

PAUL: You're joking! Of course it matters. The more success you've had in the charts the more you're going to worry when things aren't going quite so well.

JOHN: Yes, but what he means is that if we can make successful films and things they're more important than the Top Twenty anyway.

PAUL: Do you think they are?

JOHN: Me? No, I don't. I'm just telling you what he means.

RINGO: Alright--so if "Help!" doesn't go to Number One straight away we're going to sit around and cry!

GEORGE: I expect we would too! It's funny really--I mean funny peculiar--when you've got a new record out you can't wait to hear how it does after the first week. It doesn't matter how many Number Ones you've had, the next one is always the most important.

RINGO: When we tell people we had a great big shindig to celebrate getting to Number One they can't understand it.

PAUL: Yes--they say "Aren't you used to that yet?" I don't think we could ever get used to it. We hope for a Number One right away but it's still a surprise each time it really happens.

F.J.: Well, I'd say that with or without another Number One, there aren't any real signs of The Beatles slipping. You've only to look at your own fan club membership list. Or take the American tour in August, for example, where you'll have 55,000 Beatle People watching your first concert at Shea Stadium in New York. According to reports I've read from the States you could have sold out all over again with extra concerts right through the tour if there'd been time to add the extra dates.

PAUL: There must be a few less Beatle fans than there were, say, eighteen months ago. Whenever there's something new happening you'll find people sort of jumping on the bandwagon to have a go. Then some of them get fed up and jump off again. I don't think you can get away from that.

RINGO: In other words, what we've got now--readers of the Monthly and fan club members and so on--are the REAL fans. The ones who don't just buy each Number One record BECAUSE it is a Number One record.

F.J.: If you're reading the Monthly Book now . . .

JOHN: Well they must be mustn't they?

F.J.: . . . you can stand up and take a bow. You're all officially long-term Beatle People as of this moment!

JOHN: Thank You, Beatle People. You can't actually see the four of us kneeling down because the microphone's pointing the wrong way. Thank you, thank you, thank you. That was me miming for the other three.

F.J.: You say you'd be worried if you didn't get a Number One . . .

RINGO: If we don't? WHEN we don't, you mean. You can't go getting Number Ones for ever.

F.J.: Alright, WHEN you don't get to the top first week off--but what about some of these press stories. The "Beatles slipping" ones. Do those worry you?

JOHN: It's difficult to answer that. If we say "Yes" that's not really true but if we say "No" it sounds all big-headed as though we can't take criticism.

PAUL: None of us minds criticism. We want that. We want to know what people think, whether they're fans or writers or whatever they are. It would be terrible if we just didn't want to know and tried to pretend we were little gods with a halo round each of our heads.

JOHN: It's angels that have a halo.

PAUL: It's just as bad to read stupidly good things about ourselves as it is to see stupidly wrong rumours.

GEORGE: It's bad when all the writers say wonderful things about something just because it's "in" and fashionable to do so. Constructive criticism is far more sensible than blind praise.

F.J.: Let's get on to one of the other current rumours. I've seen some of your fan mail from people who have got the idea you don't fancy tours any more.

RINGO: No. Untrue. I think doing live shows is one of the most important parts of working in the entertainment world. We all do.

PAUL: You see this is a case of somebody twisting something we've said to make a story turn out THEIR way. His way, her way, or whatever. If a journalist comes up to us and we're sitting backstage at some theatre and it's freezing cold and Mal hasn't come back with the food and . . .

GEORGE: And then the reporter says "Do you still love touring?"

RINGO: And we all yell out "No. We're never doing another one. So there!"

JOHN: And he believes us. He honestly does--or else he wants to think he does for the sake of his story.

RINGO: Anyway, we're spending a lot of this year doing "live" shows one way and another.

JOHN: Of course it's more comfortable to live at home and just go down to a film studio every morning. No travelling and packing and bribing waiters to give you a sandwich in the hotel after the show. Everybody finds SOMETHING to grumble about so that they can be happy--but none of that means we don't enjoy touring.

PAUL: We'd have done a Spring tour of Britain for sure if we hadn't been working on "Help!" No, we're not against tours and we'll certainly be doing plenty more concerts here and abroad.

F.J.: I know there's plenty of tape left but I can see this session running overtime or overspace as far as the Monthly Book is concerned if we don't stop here. May I just round off by saying that I'M sure "Help!" will be a Number One record AND a Number One film. Beatle People won't agree that John, Paul, George and Ringo have any chance of slipping while they go on writing, singing, playing and acting just the way they have been doing so far this year. Good luck on the European tour, boys, and see you when you come home!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Behind the Spotlight

by Billy Shepherd and Johnny Dean

Individuality: that's the key word that really sums up the career of the Beatles . . . and the point where we left, last month, our behind-the-scenes story of the triumphs of the epoch-making foursome. We were explaining how Brian Epstein, then a newcomer to group management, decided to "give the boys complete freedom".

So each Beatle pursued an individual course. Ringo, of course, tended to be the "odd man out" as the boys returned from their highly successful tour of Scotland with Helen Shapiro. He still felt he was a new boy. We remember asking him about his early school days and he said: "Come off it, nobody's interested in all that. It's the other three who matter, not me."

That was soon to change. But the others dominated the Beatles determination to be different from the other artistes on the scene. After all, there WAS a pattern. New stars all conformed, in that they immediately ordered shiny mohair suits and turned up on stage looking as if they all came out of the same grooming-school. The Beatles rejected this image . . . not as a result of long discussion, but because they didn't think for a moment of following the rest of the herd.

Appearances

It wasn't so much a matter of gimmicks. Their hair? Not really a gimmick, not at this time. They wore black suits, leather gear. They looked sombre in appearance--it was their personalities which made all the difference.

Dignity really didn't matter much to the Beatles. Where other fast-rising pop artistes put on the stuck-up, big-star, routines, the Beatles just didn't mind. If photographers wanted crazy and way-out pictures, the boys did their best to oblige. They'd pull any sort of mad-style faces. Recalls Johnny Dean: "They didn't, at any time, compose their minds . . . or their faces! They were just themselves."

No Formula On Stage

It was much the same on their stage appearances. Again, there was a formula for most groups. "Two steps to the right, one forward, make announcement, step back, smile, nod head in tempo, start playing." All that sort of rigid performance routine. The Beatles had nothing to do with such regimentation.

Paul explains: "The thing was that we were really pulling in the screams and it was impossible to adopt a set pattern of performance. Things happened in the audience that made us react according to the mood of the moment. On announcement, most of the words couldn't be heard, so John found himself just getting a word in edgeways wherever he could. There was no point in sticking to a script."

Most of the stage announcements came from the simple process of one or other Beatle simply pointing at the one who was next to do something! Nothing was completely fixed. They'd even confer on stage and alter the numbers they were doing. "Sometimes an audience needed building up; sometimes quietened down. So we ring the changes," explained John at one backstage session. "We find it impossible to keep exactly to a set routine."

Best Sound Possible

And George chipped in with: "What we don't like are those groups who stick on fixed, mechanical grins when they're doing something happy--and turn on the sad-faced frowns when they're doing the old sincerity bit. We just like to get the best sound going that's possible under the conditions on stage and fill in the personality side in the way we feel at a particular moment."

Certainly no other group worked up such a sweat as the Beatles did on stage. Night after night, they came off, shirts literally sticking to Beatle bodies. Even if they'd had a bit of a party the night before, they never gave less than maximum. We remember various Beatles slumping in chairs in dressing rooms and looking at just about knock-out point. But happy, too. Beatles are always happy when they've had a taste of uninhibited applause.

They didn't mind being photographed with glasses containing a mixture of whisky and Coke. Or being "caught" by cameramen with cigarettes clearly on view. "Ciggies" is a word devised by the Beatles.

Their philosophy was simply that they did like the odd drink, did smoke . . . and it would be less than honest to try to hide the fact. Though Beatle pay-packets were fast getting bulkier, they'd often forget to carry cigarettes or loose change. That was true even when "Please Please Me" hit the top of the charts--surefire proof that the Beatles, and Liverpool, had hit the top of the pop world.

Even then, John and the others hit back in the face of usual "star behaviour". The Liverpool Sound was headlined all over the world. But the boys didn't think there even was such a thing! Said George, in what seemed like a million interviews: "When you think about it sensibly, our sound really stems from Germany. That's where we learned to work for hours and hours on end, and keep on working at full peak even though we reckoned our legs and arms were about ready to drop off."

Hamburg Stamp

"Sure WE come from Liverpool. There are hundreds of groups there, many on an R and B kick. But you won't hear us shouting around about a Liverpool Sound, or Merseybeat, simply because it's been dreamed up as an easy way to describe what's going on with our music. 'Hamburg Stamp and Yell' music might be more accurate. It was all that work on various club stages in Germany that built up our beat."

While the Shadows worked in mohair suits and performed steps in time with their music, the Beatles developed a frenetic form of head-shaking, hair flopping interminably round Beatle heads. Again, it was something that stemmed from their own individuality. Not from a set plan.

Ever try shaking your head in that crazy way? For most people it leads to a fast and splitting headache. How the Beatles, specially Paul, managed to keep it up for so long in those early days of stardom is another point that fascinates us. Paul said once: "I don't even know I'm shaking my head most of the time. It's just something that comes up from the music . . ."

No Lapels

Those early Cardin-designed suits worn by the Beatles . . . light grey, with no lapels. They contrasted with the black "gear" worn off-stage and came about because of a holiday John and Paul had in Paris. From being very disinterested (mostly because they didn't have the cash to become well-dressed young men), the Beatles were guided by Brian Epstein into taking a great interest in picking and choosing their own wardrobes.

The stage suits looked good on the one-nighter tours. But the actual SOUND of the Beatles was more important. Just by way of a change, audiences were getting the same sound on stage from a group as was on the record. In fact, the Beatles reckoned that they sounded even better on stage, most of the time, simply because they had the roar of an appreciative audience to urge them on.