Saturday, July 19, 2008

Tributes to Brian Epstein

The death of Brian Epstein hit everybody, especially the Beatles, with all the impact of an atomic explosion. The man who had master-minded the boys into the position of the greatest thing in popular music was dead . . . and the newspapers rallied to give their tributes.

Here are just a few:

"Brian Epstein, the quiet Svengali of world pop. The man who took four ordinary Scouse lads and made them so extraordinary . . . I'm not too sure whether this rather gentle man invented the Beatles or the Beatles made him. But what is certain, though, is that never since the invention of the gramophone has one man caused so much swinging joy throughout the world of the young". This story was headlined "Seven Short Years To Live A Legend" . . . Fergus Cashin, Daily Sketch.

"In the world he made for himself he was a God, pleased while he was creating, exhausted and beset by personal doubts when he had created . . . Occasionally the joy of knowing he was no longer a failure in the public eye welled up in him." Alix Palmer, Daily Express.

"He was the man behind a marvel . . . He consciously created the image of innocence, cleanliness and respectability which won over the mums and dads as well as the kids. He understood the young people of the 60's . . ." --Michael Cable, Daily Mail.

Headline: The Fifth Beatle. "He wanted to make you see that the Beatles were close friends, not just business acquaintances. For the Beatles are not just a money-making machine, they are successful as artists. Success didn't change Brian Epstein".--Henry Fielding, The Sun.

"He was the man who picked up the first loose threads and wove them into a design for living . . . and so created a country of new ideas, where the young were as important as the middle-aged, finding their own identity, changing it from month to month, wearing an army uniform one day, a flowered shirt the next . . ." Alix Palmer and Judith Simons, Daily Express.

"The news of Brian's death is so awful that I scarcely know what to say. That any great man, so young and so talented, should lose his life is tragic. But it means more when the man is someone so close. He was a close friend and adviser who has guided every step of my career." --Cilla Black.

"Of course it is a big personal loss. The thing is not to get too selfish about it--if you get depressed, it is a form of self-pity, because you are sympathising with your own loss. Brian's spirit is still here and it will always be here". --Ringo Starr.

"Brian has died only in body and his spirit will always be working with us. His power and force were everything and his power and his force linger on. When we were on the right track he knew it, and when we were on the wrong track he told us so and he was usually right." --John Lennon, in Disc.

"He was one of the most honest men I've ever met. He always kept his word and was tremendously loyal to the people whom he admired or respected." --Norrie Drummond, New Musical Express.

"Brian wanted to know all about life, as we all did. He was one of us. You can't pay tribute to him in words" --George Harrison, in the Daily Express.

"The man who revolutionised pop music in our time" --New York Times.

And so the tributes roll in--and that's not counting the headlines which paid their own respects to a man who earned his own respect the hard way.

Brian Epstein is dead, but the scene he left behind lives on . . .

Friday, July 18, 2008

John At Home

It was beautiful sunny day when the Beatles Book photographer and I went to call on the fourth Beatle at his home.

John's house is situated in the same wooded stockbroker belt, near Weybridge in Surrey, as Ringo's and George's but George's home is several miles away, while Ringo's is only a couple of hundred yards down the hill.

Just as we were driving through Esher we suddenly found Pattie's bright orange Mini in front of our Jag.

Pattie was driving with George in the passenger seat. He spotted us behind, asked Pattie to stop the car and when she had done so, popped his head through the sun roof. "Going to John's" he yelled, we nodded back at him, "I'll lead you there", he said and dropped back into his seat.

After what seemed like a dozen right and left turns through the country lanes, we eventually entered the estate where John and Ringo live. George left us at the entrance to John's road. We shouted our thanks at him and Pattie gave a quick smile, slammed the gear lever home and roared off up the road.

The entrance to John's estate is marked by a pair of huge wooden gates. We drove through them and up the path which winds around to the front of his house.

Front Door

My first impression was of a large mock Tudor mansion, lots of red brick, white walls and an iron-studded, oaken door. But this door was slightly different. It had been sprayed with paint aerosols in many colours. Over the large knocker was the crest of the Lennon clan.

John opened the door himself. After a quick "Come in," he led the way into the house.

I was completely overwhelmed with the fantastic collection of instruments, pictures, furniture, antiques, flowers, stickers, models, books, which met my gaze. I can honestly say I have never seen so many different things gathered under one roof. The result is extraordinary because it all fits. I don't know whether John or Cyn is the genius, but rooms have two pianos in them, or a statue with a gorilla mask and a pipe stuck in its mouth, and still seem right.

On the ground floor there is a large, entrance hall, lined with shelves of books stretching from floor to ceiling. To the right it leads to the kitchen, which is situated in the centre of the house, and to the left to two rooms, one very large, one small. As soon as we entered the house Julian appeared. He is a fascinating boy now, solemn-faced with sharp brown eyes, very like his father's, which follow your every movement. It's no good trying to get Julian to do anything he doesn't want to. He has got a mind of his own, again like John. He obviously gets on tremendously well with Dad who lets him work out his own small problems in his own way, and after studying us for a minute or two he very quickly made up his mind that, if his father was going to be photographed that day, then so would he.

Two Pianos

The smaller room contained two pianos, one Broadwood, one Bechstein. The mahogany case of the Bechstein, however, was fast disappearing under a psychedelic design, which was being painted on by two Dutch artists, Simon and Marijke. Simon had shoulder-length hair and a white sweatshirt covered with different coloured paints, on which was emblazoned "Jesus Saves". Marijke had on a long, rugby-sweater type dress, made up of green and orange rings, well daubed with paint. The right-hand wall was covered with a bookcase. In the middle of the room was a television set covered with stickers. John loves these coloured stickers, with upside-down phrases on them, like "Quiet Please, Explosion Nearby", and "This Cemetery Welcomes Dangerous Drivers". In fact, he picked up a sheet of stamp-like slogans and stuck a few on the front of the television set while I watched Simon and Marijke at their work.

The next room was very large with three beautiful, soft sofas in it. In one corner was an extraordinary Chinese screen cutting, and next to it the brass statue with the gorilla's mask on it, and a pipe stuck in its mouth, upside down, that I mentioned before. On one side of the fireplace were three turntables. John is very fond of putting on L.P.'s of noises these days, and one played constantly while I was there, broken only by bursts of "All You Need Is Love".

On the shelves near the record player were arranged several of John's gold discs. The Beatles have collected so many awards for their record sales, that each of them has shelves full of gold discs, statuettes, and certificates.

In the centre of the fireplace was a huge colour television. John was one of the first people to buy a colour set in the country. It is reported that only two thousand had been sold when the first colour transmissions started during Wimbledon week.

Cyn's Kitchen

We went next door to the dining room, or rather the room in which the Lennon family eat. The centrepiece was a beautiful antique table surrounded by chairs. The kitchen led off the dining room. All the Beatles houses have fabulous kitchens, and Cyn's is no exception. She's obviously very proud of her home and mistress of her kitchen. There's a most unusual stove in the middle of the room which consists of a table-like surface, built of white tiles, in which are fitted the hot-plates for cooking. I offered to carry something in, but Cyn said, "Certainly not, leave it to the women." She served up a tasty tea of ham, sweet corn, french fried, which was followed by a delicious trifle--obviously Julian's favourite.

"Would you like to take some shots of me with the Rolls?" John asked. Leslie Bryce, the Beatles' photographer, could hardly ram the film into his camera fast enough, as John led the way to the massive double garage at the right-hand side of the house. The newly-painted Rolls certainly looked magnificent. The intricate designs had been painted on with great precision by a local fairground painter.

To be continued next month

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Gimme Some Truth: The John Lennon FBI Files

by Jon Wiener

"Just when you thought there may be nothing left to say about The Beatles or the Nixon Years, the FBI has opened up its secret files on the late John Lennon."
Dan Rather, CBS Evening News, reporting the settlement of Wiener v. FBI

"A strident and impermissible effort to second-guess the wisdom of the FBI. . . . A potpourri of conjecture, supposition, innuendo and surmise."
from the FBI's court documents

"A classic case study. There is humor here and mystery, too. But most of all, there is hard evidence - in the FBI's own words - of what happens when government substitutes paranoia for law."
Floyd Abrams

"Jon Wiener has put together a remarkable compilation of documents. Wiener's commentary is as sprightly as the documents are foolish. He is thorough, appropriately droll at times, and rightly focuses on the question of whether the FBI and CIA were keeping to their lawful mandates during the years of abandon and evasion."
Todd Gitlin author of The Sixties

"The book sheds light on many issues far broader than John Lennon - the Nixon administration for example, and, not less importantly, the particular machinations of Clinton, Tony Blair, and other current world leaders. Very few people know how the process of seeking and retrieving documents supposedly available under the Freedom of Information Act really works; Wiener's book makes this all very clear."
Eric Foner, Columbia University

Jon Wiener is Professor of History at the University of California, Irvine, author of Come Together: John Lennon In His Time (1994), and a contributing editor of The Nation.



Getting Started

Early in 1981, shortly after John Lennon's murder on December 8, 1980, I filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for any files the FBI had kept on Lennon. The FBI released some documents in May. But of the 281 pages staff said they had reviewed, they withheld 199 (more than 70 percent) in their entirety. The documents were withheld mostly under three different FOIA exemptions: protection of the privacy of others named in a document, protection of the identities of confidential sources, and "national security."

The documents that were released included one page that had Lennon's name at the top but was otherwise blocked out under the national security exemption (see p. 170); a variety of documents discussing the Nixon administration's effort in 1972 to deport Lennon, including a letter suggesting that Lennon be "arrested if at all possible on possession of narcotics charge," which would make him "immediately deportable" (see p. 289); and several pages, completely blacked out, from the Detroit FBI reporting on Lennon's appearance at the "John Sinclair Freedom Rally" in Ann Arbor in December 1971 (see pp. 110-119). Most interesting was a letter from J. Edgar Hoover to H. R. Haldeman, assistant to the president, dated April 25, 1972, that had been withheld in its entirety under the national security exemption (see p. 240). Since Haldeman was the closest official to Nixon, this document provided crucial evidence that the Lennon investigation was a political one, significant at the highest levels of the Nixon White House.

When these documents began arriving in my mailbox in the spring of 1981, American politics was beginning a shift of historic proportions toward the right. Ronald Reagan had been elected in November 1980, bringing to power the Republican right wing that had failed to elect Barry Goldwater sixteen years earlier. The "Reagan Revolution" rested on an ideological commitment to "law and order," which Lennon had challenged, and a passionate hostility to "the sixties," which Lennon personified. The fight for the Lennon files would be a battle with the Reagan administration.

When the FBI informed me it was withholding 70 percent of the Lennon files, the letter also said, "You may appeal to the Associate Attorney General." I did. My appeal argued that information about Lennon's plans to demonstrate against Nixon should not have been withheld under the "national security" exemption, a decision I called "arbitrary and capricious." I argued that the other withheld material was "not properly covered by the exemptions claimed."

Reagan's assistant attorney general for legal policy, Jonathan C. Rose, responded six weeks later: "After careful consideration of your appeal, I have decided to affirm the initial action in this case." The national security material, he wrote, was "being referred to the Department Review Committee for review," but the rest had been "properly withheld."

Six months after that, the assistant attorney general informed me that the review committee had completed its work and concluded that eight of the national security pages could be declassified. But the FBI still wasn't going to release them. While those pages were no longer being withheld on national security grounds, the bureau now claimed they fell under other exemptions: personal privacy and confidential source information. So my administrative appeal produced little of significance. The assistant attorney general's letter denying my appeal concluded, "Judicial review of my action on this appeal is available to you in the United States District Court for the judicial district in which you reside." It was time to find a lawyer.

The FOIA gives federal courts the power "to order the production of any agency records improperly withheld from the complainant." That's what I wanted the courts to do. I asked a variety of organizations and attorneys for help in bringing an FOIA lawsuit against the FBI. Victor Navasky, editor of The Nation magazine, suggested four criteria for picking a lawyer: find one you trust; who understands the case; who cares about it; and who will do it for no money except an award of fees at the end. Courts had awarded attorney fees in some successful FOIA appeals, recently in an appeal for documents about Vietnam Veterans against the War (VVAW), so money at the end remained a possibility.

In search of a lawyer, I talked to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, the Fund for Investigative Journalism, and the Fund for Open Information and Accountability ("FOIA, Inc."). I talked to the Media Alliance in San Francisco and the Center for Investigative Reporting in Oakland. I talked to the American Historical Association's Committee on Access to Documents. I talked to the Playboy Foundation, well known for its defense of the First Amendment. I talked to Frank Wilkinson, who had sued the FBI for his file, the largest on any individual, and who headed an organization called the National Coalition against Repressive Legislation originally established to fight HUAC. I talked to the San Francisco attorney who had been awarded fees in the VVAW case. I talked to prominent radical attorneys including Leonard Weinglass. I talked to Leon Friedman, who Victor Navasky called "the best FOIA attorney in the country."

All the attorneys told me the same thing that Leon Friedman did: "I took a couple of these, hoping to win, and got burned. I'm not in a position to do this kind of thing. You can't win on national security any more. Try the ACLU."

So I talked to Ramona Ripston and Fred Okrand of the ACLU of Southern California. Okrand, who was legal director, told me, "I don't know of anyone who'd be interested, but I'll ask around and if I come up with anyone, I'll have them call you." That was in January 1983, and it didn't sound promising. But shortly thereafter, Okrand's successor, Paul Hoffman, called to schedule a meeting at which I would present my case to him and Mark Rosenbaum, the ACLU general counsel.

At the meeting, I presented my documents and arguments, anxious that this was my last best hope. Nervously, I showed that I had followed the ACLU's model letters requesting material under the FOIA and that I had exhausted my administrative appeals. It turned out that their biggest concern was not about the case but about their potential client, the possible plaintiff: was I some kind of obsessed fan? or perhaps a burned-out hippie, living in the past? or a conspiracy buff, eager to prove Reagan had ordered Lennon's assassination? They brightened noticeably when they learned I had been granted tenure six years earlier at the University of California, Irvine; that I had published not just in Radical America, Dissent, and Socialist Review but also in the American Historical Review and the Journal of Modern History, and the distinguished British scholarly journal Past and Present. They saw they would be able to argue that the plaintiff was a respected historian who sought the Lennon files as part of his research on the American past. Convinced that their potential client was a mild-mannered professor and not some kind of nut, the two of them decided the ACLU of Southern California would take the case. Rosenbaum, who eventually succeeded Hoffman as ACLU legal director, served as the colead attorney throughout the next fifteen years of litigation.

In a 1998 interview, he discussed the ACLU's considerations in taking the case: "It was simple to decide. The timing was coincident with a national frustration with the administration of the FOIA, particularly in the areas of national security and informants. Agencies were coming forward with boilerplate refusals. The law's presumption in favor of disclosure had, for all intents and purposes, been dissolved, and the FBI in particular was choosing what they wanted to disclose. If any case could take us back to legislative objective favoring disclosure, this would be the one." So the ACLU's first goal was not just to get the documents, but to challenge "systemic problems in implementing the FOIA."

The ACLU had a second goal: to publicize the value of the FOIA and expose the ways in which it was being subverted by the FBI. The files on Lennon provided an excellent example that could win media attention.

Mark Rosenbaum is a remarkable figure. Known as both a brilliant legal strategist and a passionate and effective courtroom advocate, he graduated from the University of Michigan in 1970 and went on to Harvard Law School. In 1973, on the verge of dropping out because the classes seemed so uninteresting, Rosenbaum went to work as a clerk in the law office of Leonard Boudin and Leonard Weinglass. At that moment, they, along with Ramsey Clark, happened to be representing Daniel Ellsberg, the government researcher who was being prosecuted by the Nixon administration for leaking the Pentagon papers to the New York Times. Rosenbaum describes the experience of working on the Ellsberg defense as "the turning point of my life."

After the Ellsberg case, Rosenbaum went back to Harvard Law School and graduated in 1974. He then joined the ACLU of Southern California as a staff counsel - hired by the new executive director, Ramona Ripston. Stanley Sheinbaum, then head of the ACLU Board of Directors, personally put up the $10,000 required to pay Rosenbaum's salary for the first year. The year before taking on the Lennon FBI files case, he had gone to the Supreme Court, along with Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe, to challenge school segregation in Los Angeles.

In subsequent years Rosenbaum would serve as colead counsel in the ACLU lawsuit seeking to overturn California's Proposition 187, the anti-immigrant initiative, and as the point man in the ACLU fight to maintain affirmative action programs. He also successfully defended the constitutionality of the "Motor Voter" registration act, challenged by California governor Pete Wilson before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. And in 1995 he argued before the Supreme Court a case in which the Court held that residency requirements for Aid to Families with Dependent Children program recipients were unconstitutional.

When the ACLU decided in 1983 to take the Lennon files case, Rosenbaum called Dan Marmalefsky, a Los Angeles attorney with the firm Hufstedler, Miller, Carlson & Beardsley (which later merged with Morrison & Foerster). Another brilliant young lawyer, Marmalefsky had graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 1976 and from Yale Law School in 1980, where he received an award for his work in legal services. He went on to specialize in complex civil and criminal business litigation. In 1982 he had served as co-counsel for a group of Salvadorean refugees seeking political asylum, assisting with an appeal to the Ninth Circuit. He also had experience with FOIA litigation, primarily from using it for discovery in criminal cases, starting with the defense of John DeLorean in 1982, and had worked with Rosenbaum pro bono on several other ACLU cases. Marmalefsky accepted Rosenbaum's offer to work on this one, and the two served as co-lead counsel for the next fifteen years.

Marmalefsky told me that the decision to take a pro bono case was his alone and didn't require permission from anyone at his firm. "The basic question concerns time, balancing pro bono work against the amount of fee-generating work I do," he explained. "Because when I take pro bono cases, I don't do it halfway. I treat them the same as any other matters and devote the necessary time - whatever it takes."

The two had just won a case before the Supreme Court in 1983, an ACLU challenge to the California Penal Code section making it a crime for a person to refuse to provide identification when asked by a police officer. The Court accepted their argument that the law violated the First Amendment and voided the statute for vagueness and overbreadth.

In 1985 he and Rosenbaum would bring to the Supreme Court a case challenging the constitutionality of the enforcement of draft registration. He also litigated prosecutors' duty to present exculpatory testimony before a grand jury and the right of public access to juvenile court proceedings. But Marmalefsky's practice wasn't all pro bono; in other cases he helped successfully defend Kirk Kerkorian in a $1 billion damage suit over the sale of MGM to Giancarlo Parretti in 1990, and as co-counsel, he won an $11 million verdict for an investor defrauded in commodities trading.

When Rosenbaum and Marmalefsky went to work on the case, 69 pages out of 281 in the Lennon FBI file were being withheld in their entirety under various claims, and portions of dozens of others were also withheld. The FOIA not only allows judges to order agencies to release withheld documents but also requires that if a requester brings a case before a judge, "the court shall determine the matter de novo, and may examine the contents of such agency records in camera to determine whether such records or any part thereof shall be withheld . . . and the burden is on the agency to sustain its action." Equally important was the section of President Reagan's executive order on classification, which declared that "in no case shall information be classified in order to conceal violations of law . . . [or] to prevent embarrassment to person, organization, or agency."

Because the FBI cited three different exemptions under the FOIA for withholding most of the information, challenging the withholding required litigating each exemption separately, and each had a separate body of case law to be studied and invoked.

When Rosenbaum and Marmalefsky sat down to discuss strategy, they conceded that the law was clear that we would never get some of the withheld information; the names of confidential informants, for instance, were clearly protected. So we decided at the outset to notify the FBI that we were not seeking those names, the names of FBI or nonfederal law enforcement officers, or technical source symbol numbers. We were challenging the claims made for withholding only some of the information: particularly the material claimed under "national security" and the information provided by confidential sources. We were not seeking the names of the informers, but we were seeking the information they provided.

The "national security" information provided the most obvious target - how could release of twelve-year-old information about a dead rock star possibly endanger the national security? - but was also the most difficult to obtain. Mark Rosenbaum told me that the biggest problem in the case was that "courts fear divulging national security documents. They believe that courts should tread lightly in this area. They pay enormous deference to executive branch claims concerning national security."

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Come Together: John Lennon In His Time

by Jon Wiener

Engagingly written by a professional historian, Come Together recreates two decades of rock and rebellion, from the formation of the Beatles in 1960 to the assassination of John Lennon in 1980.

"By setting Lennon squarely within his era, Wiener's study is exemplary. Lennon does not appear 'larger than life,' but as passionately involved in it." - Michael S. Kimmel, Newsday

"Stands out as one of the few [books] that don't want to deify, dish the dirt about or otherwise exploit the slain former Beatle. A sympathetic documentary history of Lennon's political thinking (which went through many phases), Come Together says that during the counterculture's flowering, rock music had real clout in the American political arena. Certainly some government officials thought so, or they wouldn't have initiated deportation proceedings after Lennon aligned himself with the activist left. Jon Wiener . . . obtained twenty-six pounds of FBI and immigration and Naturalization Service files on Lennon under the Freedom of Information Act, and there is some grim humor in his chapter about this material." - Stephen Holden, New York Times Book Review

"Documents the campaign of surveillance and harassment against Lennon by the FBI and the involvement of the Nixon Administration at the highest levels in ordering and overseeing this campaign. All the deliberate abuses of power revealed in the Watergate scandal make their appearance here as well." - Ian McMahan, American Book Review

"When history professor Jon Wiener made a Freedom of Information request to the federal government for the late John Lennon's file, he could hardly have hoped for a richer payoff." - Time

JON WIENER is a member of the history department at the University of California at Irvine and the author of Social Origins of the New South.


"The Dream Is Over"

Is rock revolutionary? A burning issue not so long ago, today this question sounds absurd. But it was not so clear in the late sixties that rock was compatible with the status quo. Rock was the music of young people who opposed injustice and oppression. The war in Vietnam and the antidrug laws stood for the injustices of America, and the rock world rallied against them. Rock as a whole was at least antiestablishment, and much of the rock world openly defied and ridiculed the nation's political and corporate leaders.

Time magazine's claims for the political significance of rock were as strong as those made in the underground press. After half a million young people turned up at the Woodstock festival, Time explained rock was "not just a particular form of pop, but . . . one long symphony of protest . . . basically moral . . . the proclamation of a new set of values . . . the anthem of revolution." The FBI files on John Lennon indicate that the Nixon administration held the same view.

The clearest sign that something was wrong with this picture came in 1969, a year when antiwar demonstrators in many cities were being arrested and beaten by police. That year Columbia Records ran a series of ads in underground newspapers headlined "The Man can't bust our music." Ramparts, the New Left's glossy muckraking magazine, explored the issues in an article titled "Rock for Sale." It pointed out that Columbia, among others, was finding the youth "revolution" a source of impressive profits. Rock's proportion of Columbia's sales had increased from 15 percent in 1965 to 60 percent four years later.

The New York Times reported that "several large establishment-oriented corporations are interested in cashing in on the youth market that Woodstock proved exists. These firms are hiring highly paid youth consultants to advise them on forthcoming trends." The most important intermediary between the counterculture and the corporations was Rolling Stone, founded by Jann Wenner in 1967 (with John Lennon in How I Won the War on the first cover), which reached a circulation of a quarter of a million by 1970 and bought the back page of the New York Times to advertise, "If you are a corporate executive trying to understand what is happening to youth, you cannot afford to be without Rolling Stone."

Despite this evidence, those who concluded that rock was nothing more than a capitalist commodity were wrong. The corporate world found that it could not shape youth culture the way it was used to shaping consumer society. In 1967 the record companies had been taken by surprise by the triumph of Janis Joplin's "Piece of My Heart" and Grace Slick's "White Rabbit." Scrambling to regain control of pop music, they set out to find a successor to this "San Francisco sound," as they dubbed it. San Francisco: lots of colleges, students, bands, something like . . . Boston! Thus MGM Records launched an expensive promotion of the "Boss-town sound."

The effort met with disaster. Young people ignored MGM's claim that Ultimate Spinach was 1968's successor to Big Brother and the Holding Company. Jon Landau led the campaign of refusal, writing a series of scathing reviews in Rolling Stone and demonstrating the self-consciousness and confidence of the counterculture.

Hearst Publications launched a magazine in 1968 aimed at the youth audience. Eye ran John Lennon on the cover, Bob Dylan inside, and an article titled "10 Students Rebels Explain Their Cause." Nevertheless the magazine quickly failed. Heart learned the same lesson that MGM Records had: the counterculture had partial autonomy from corporate domination.

The record companies concluded that they had to advertise in the underground press. Some radicals feared that the undergrounds were being co-opted by the ads, but they needn't have worried. Underground papers did not change their editorial content to get ads, and readers demonstrated an impressive ability to resist being manipulated by the companies. (This situation also precipitated the papers' downfall a couple of years later, when the FBI orchestrated the withdrawal of corporate advertising from the radical newspapers.)

During the sixties black music reached its largest white audience in history. This simple fact marks one of the most significant political dimensions of the counterculture. Fifties rock had led in breaking down some of the racial barriers in America. But not until the sixties did white youth celebrate a black superstar - Jimi Hendrix. Never before had so many whites danced to black music, like the Supremes' "You Keep Me Hangin' On" and Martha and the Vandellas' "Nowhere to Run."

The contrast to the Reagan years could not be more striking. In 1981 and 1982 there were virtually no black musicians played on America's rock stations, and in 1983 there were two - Michael Jackson and Prince. Many stations that had once been leaders of counterculture rock found that on the rare occasions when they played black artists, irate listeners called demanding that the "nigger music" be taken off the air. The stations too often complied.

All this suggests that no simple equation can be drawn between rock and radicalism; that rock is a medium capable of carrying contradictory politics; that the corporations have tried to dominate it, but have not consistently succeeded.

Rock could become a real political force, however, when it was linked to real political organizing. The 1972 anti-Nixon tour John Lennon planned with Jerry Rubin and Rennie Davis was intended to forge that link. Many others worked on similar projects, including radio stations like Boston's WBCN, which mixed music that challenged the status quo with news about protest movements.

In this undertaking, making music posed a problem: what could politically radical rock sound like? What could it be as music? Elephant's Memory was a movement bar band, playing Chuck Berry riffs and singing left-wing lyrics. That was good for raising people's spirits, and for the party after the demonstration. The MC5, which John Sinclair managed, wanted more: they wanted their music to be radical in form. They developed an early version of punk, anticipating by several years the elemental rage of the Clash. The 1970 album John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band represented another possibility.

As a politically committed artist, John fought a destructive as well as a creative battle. Beginning in December 1970 with the release of Plastic Ono Band and his historic Rolling Stone interview Lennon Remembers, he worked to destroy his own status as a celebrity, to attack the Beatles as a cultural ideal of joy and fun. He described them as commodities created by a capitalist industry, he exposed their alienation as artists, he portrayed them as "a contradictory and doomed social institution within an exploiting culture," as New Left activist Todd Gitlin wrote at the time. Along with this work of destruction came a struggle to create new music, music that would bring his experience together with the larger issues of the day. With Plastic Ono Band John took rock music across a threshold, beyond the themes of youth rebellion, beyond the established forms of protest music, toward a radical new synthesis of the personal and the political.

The album contains the song titled "God," in which John declares that he doesn't believe in Jesus, in Kennedy, in Buddha, in Elvis; the litany goes on, until he sings "I don't believe in Beatles," when the music suddenly ceases - but only for an instant. It ends

I was the Walrus
But now I'm John
And so dear friends
You'll just have to carry on
The dream is over

In the song John takes the chord changes of the classic rock and roll slow dance, plays them more slowly than they had ever been played before, and builds on them some of the most moving music in all of rock. "God" rejects political, religious, and cultural false consciousness. John undertakes a deliberate shattering of the illusions of the sixties, starting with the dream of the Beatles as the representation of a genuine community, a harmonious group of equals, filled with creative energy. This is a false dream, John says, and it is finished now. He can't and won't serve as our god any more; he declares that he is a person, like we are - he's just "John." For us to carry on, we need to find a way to shatter these gods outside of us, to transfer power from our mythical heroes to ourselves, to each other. In this project we are no longer his fans, but in a much more human way his "dear friends." This suggests a profound and radical truth. In one stroke it brings together the personal and the political.

This view was challenged after John's death by radical journalist Andrew Kopkind in New York's Soho News. "Long before Tom Wolfe, Lennon announced the advent of the Me Generation, declaring his disbelief in every cause, cult hero and movement . . . 'I just believe in me,' he sang." But the litany John recites does not reject "every movement." It was carefully written to include pop heroes, liberal heroes, and the varieties of Eastern mysticism that had captured large parts of the counterculture. Political radicalism is not on the list.

In fact, the same Andrew Kopkind wrote nine years earlier one of the most thoughtful articles on the song's achievement: "What's so startling and so wrenching about the Lennon documents . . . is that they suggest a radical way out; a way to deal with dreams. Lennon's way, it seems to me, is a revival of honesty, a commitment to authenticity of feeling that overcomes real fears of self-contradiction, failure, and pain. In that sense, the value of his personal depositions . . . is not in the promulgation of a 'correct line,' but in the presentation of a real personal and public struggle to be free." Others recognized the song's significance for the New Left: Todd Gitlin, who was putting together an anthology of movement poetry, wrote, "To make private pains and struggles public, as Lennon has done, is to say, 'you can do it too.' Lennon revives the idea of leader as exemplar."

The second song on Plastic Ono Band was "Working Class Hero." In his 1970 interview Lennon Remembers, John called it "a song for the revolution. . . . It's for the people like me who are working class, . . . who are supposed to be processed into the middle class. . . . It's my experience, and I hope it's a warning to people."

Keep you doped with religion and sex and TV
And you think you're so clever and classless and free
But you're still fucking peasants as far as I can see
A working class hero is something to be . . .
If you want to be a hero, well, just follow me

In "Revolution" John had insisted on the separation of the personal from the political: "free your mind instead" of changing institutions. Here he abandons that separation and takes on the project of bringing the personal together with the political, by locating the social origins of his own personal misery. In attempting to "free his mind," he suggests, he remained a "fucking peasant."

Many people took the title "Working Class Hero" as John's affirmation of his roots. In fact, it was profoundly ironic. To be this kind of "hero," he declared, was to be destroyed as a person. John was working to escape that fate, to become a different kind of hero. John wanted to "be real," he often said. But he knew he couldn't achieve that just by being himself. His self was precisely the problem. His Beatle identity was obviously unreal. But the song declared that his pre-Beatle self, his working-class self, was also a creation of oppressive social and cultural forces. To be himself he couldn't simply rediscover his identity in his roots. He had to create his identity. To become real was to take the self as problematic, as a vast field of possibility. John was setting an example for young people who claimed the freedom to "become real" in their own ways. He was undertaking what New Left political theorist Marshall Berman identified as the politics of authenticity.

John was also undertaking a second project; exposing the social origins of suffering that people thought was purely personal and private. Through self-disclosure he hoped to achieve a critical distance from his feelings. He was seeking insight into the historical forces, reproduced in psychological form, that had shaped those feelings of suffering. Although his own experience as a superstar was unique, he was playing an exemplary role for a New Left that was just beginning to examine the personal dimension of social crisis.

John was suggesting that the personal crisis experienced by youth in the late sixties had become a political issue in its own right. He was suggesting that a radical movement had to explain how the isolation people experienced in bourgeois society could be overcome, and what "liberation" meant for personal relationships. John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band sought to illuminate the intersection of history and private experience. That project, bringing together the personal and the political, lay at the heart of New Left radicalism.

John could claim "Working Class Hero" as a "revolutionary" song because it confronted the obstacles facing revolutionary movements. John explained, "The workers are dreaming someone else's dream . . . As soon as they start being aware of all that, we can really begin to do something. . . . The idea is not to comfort people, not to make them feel better, but . . . to constantly put before them the degradations and humiliations they go through to get what they call a living wage."

And in his interview Lennon Remembers, conducted just after the album was released, he expanded on his portrayal of the workers as "fucking peasants," powerless despite the appearance of change in the sixties: "The people who are in control and in power, and the class system and the whole bullshit bourgeois scene is exactly the same except that there are a lot of middle-class kids with long hair walking around in trendy clothes . . . The same bastards are in control, the same people are runnin' everything. . . . They're doing exactly the same things, selling arms to South Africa, killing blacks on the street, people are living in fucking poverty with rats crawling all over them, it's the same. It just makes you puke. And I woke up to that, too. The dream is over."

The blackness of John's political mood in that winter of 1970-71 in some ways matched that of the New Left, which had gone through the Chicago Seven trial, the invasion of Cambodia, and the Kent State killings. Despite the most massive protest in the history of American colleges and universities, the Nixon administration continued to destroy the people and countryside of Southeast Asia. Many radicals felt the same sense of powerlessness John expressed in the Rolling Stone interview. The seriousness of their commitments, and the depth of their despair, gave them a growing sense of isolation.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Blackbird Singing: Poems and Lyrics, 1965-1999

by Paul McCartney
Edited by Adrian Mitchell

A landmark event and cause for celebration - never before collected, the poems and lyrics of Paul McCartney

To actually read Paul McCartney's poems, whether exuberant love ballads or poignant messages of deepest grief, is to revel in the sheer power of language and to appreciate the electrifying confluence of dream and song. Indeed, his words are as pure and magical as we remember them. Here, in his first collection of poems and lyrics, McCartney emerges with a dreamlike yet thoroughly mature voice that confirms his stature as one of the most original and best-loved poets of our time.

While readers will be familiar with many of the lyrics - like "Yesterday," "Penny Lane," and "Hey Jude," all of which are part of the twentieth century's most cherished songbook - this volume also contains dozens of poems never seen before, including the autobiographical "In Liverpool," and the moving tribute "Ivan," an elegy for his dear friend Ivan Vaughn, which broke the dam and inspired a torrent of original poems written throughout the 1990s.

McCartney's emotional range and brilliant wordplay remain remarkably consistent throughout the lyrics and poems. As Adrian Mitchell insightfully writes in his introduction, "Sometimes his poems are light as feathers. They can tickle or fly or delight the eye. Sometimes he writes four lines as heavy as a double-decker bus, or the heart itself."

Inspired by his late wife, Linda McCartney, Blackbird Singing gives us extraordinary access to the inner life of one of the most influential figures of twentieth-century culture. Whether commenting on the strange unpredictability of life ("Little Willow") or the heinous folly of nuclear weapons ("Chasing the Cherry"), McCartney uses language to soar above the selfishness and intolerance that can bring us down. The poems here demonstrate, against an acknowledgement of the solitariness of existence, an irrepressible belief in the power of words and music "to take a sad song and make it better."

Sir Paul McCartney is one of the most-admired contemporary poets and songwriters of the twentieth century. He lives in England.


I spent my early life in Liverpool
Something I'm not likely to forget
People blend with places
Faces that I know but never met

Upstairs on a bus behind a man
Talking to himself or so it seemed
Repeating names of old comedians
And laughing at them . . .

Down the pierhead where the preachers met
Each of them his own imagined crowd
Giving us his version of the book
That God had written . . .

In a house before they built the road
Raising jam jars for a worthy cause
Prince the dog with one eye to his name
Wants to follow . . .

By the sports field of the Institute
Lives Soft Sid the harmless village fool
Greeting kids who pass the other side
Saying Hello Children . . .

Listening to the bin man holding court
Promising to buy a brand new bike
King of little children for a day
He gives them money . . .

Walking with the boys of Dungeon Lane
Aimlessly towards a muddy shore,
Telling tales about the Chinese farm
And getting captured . . .

I spent my early life in Liverpool
Something I'm not likely to forget
People blend with places
And the faces that I know but never met

In Liverpool.


Mist the mind over
with damp's foggy dew
Slide like a tidal wave
over the rock and
Drowning in merriment
Tell me I am not alone

Hum through the carpet
Nudging the undergrowth
Call out the bad names
To curse every midgy mite
Spin me a reverie
To crack me up

And, helpless with laughter
Drop down the mount
A highland waterfall
searching for love


You've got me dancing
In a figure of eight
Don't know if I'm coming or going,
I'm early or late.
Round and round the ring I go,
I want to know, I want to know,
Why can't we travel a continuous line?
Make love a reliable covenant all the time,
Up and down the hills I go,
I got to know, I got to know.

Is it better to love one another
Than to go for a walk in the dark?
Is it better to love than to give in to hate?
Yeah we'd better take good care of each other
Avoid slipping back off the straight and narrow,
It's better by far than getting stuck
In a figure of eight.

Figure it out for yourself little girl,
It don't go nowhere at all,
It's nothing more than a tape loop
In a big dance hall.
You've got me running in a figure of eight,
Don't know if I'm coming or going
I'm early or late,
Round and round that little ring I go,
I want to know, I want to know

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Beatles as Musicians: The Quarry Men through Rubber Soul

by Walter Everett

The second volume of Walter Everett's magisterial look at the music of the Beatles (though dealing with the earlier portion of their canon) is a comprehensive, chronologically ordered study of every aspect of the musical life of the early-period Beatles, from their beginnings in 1956 through 1965. Of central importance is the discovery of the Beatles' innovative and captivating compositional techniques, beginning with a representative study of their performances of hundreds of songs written by others. Everett's main focus is on the materials and structures of their melodies, harmonies, counterpoint, rhythms, colors, and textures, and the expressive ways in which these musical devices portray the themes and imagery of their poetry. But other key topics are examined as well, including performance practice (the qualities of the Beatles' instruments and voices are detailed here as they have never been before), recording procedure (studio habits and innovations), historical context, and reception (measured in concert itineraries, record sales and chart histories, commentary by perceptive journalists and scholars, and their legacies with fans and other musicians).

Everett has sifted through every available reliable musical document, including many thousands of audio, video, print, and multimedia sources. But this volume is not only a compendium of facts; it is also a richly interpretive study, with fascinating and authoritative judgments and creative suggestions for ways of hearing interspersed with recording data and composition credits. Along with its companion volume, this book represents the first sustained study to apply modern analytical tools, some newly developed for this project, to the relationships between musical and text-poetic expressive devices in any popular music literature. The Beatles as Musicians will be required reading for Beatles fans at all levels of interest and expertise.

Praise for

"The Beatles As Musicians is a well-researched, serious-minded scholarly work that stands easily as the best volume of its genre" - Goldmine

"Stunning in its thoroughness....An ambitious and serious analytical undertaking, and the only contribution of its kind to date, this book deserves careful attention from all who would include all musics in the 20th-century canon." - Choice

Walter Everett is Associate Professor of Music in Music Theory at the University of Michigan.


The lively new skiffle beat and then the all-out-wild rock and roll of the mid-1950s invited all teenagers to drop everything and dance, all shaking to a vibration that didn't seem to excite parents the same way. Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Gene Vincent: all seemed to speak directly to adolescents in a code that only they could understand. Some listeners shook right through to the soul, enough so that they too needed guitars to fully express their joy. This is the story of a few such souls who shook so joyously, the world was happily caught in their wake.

This chapter is organized in two parts, the first recounting the early history of the musicians who would enter Hamburg in August 1960 as the Beatles, the second analyzing the group's musical interests and talents during this formative period. Propelled by British skiffle, American rock and roll, and a joy in discovering new sounds, John Lennon leads the Quarry Men to semiprofessional ability as he picks up an interest in composing from guitarist Paul McCartney. The addition of George Harrison, a guitarist intent on blues and modal scales, gives the young group a local identity that stands out against the predominantly bland backdrop of British pop music of the late 1950s. Table 1.1 provides a time line summarizing the major events of the Beatles' career through the summer of 1960.

Table 1.1 Time Line of Major Events for the Beatles, 1940-July 1960
July 7: Ringo Starr born as Richard Starkey, Liverpool
Oct. 9: John Lennon born, Liverpool
June 18: Paul McCartney born, Liverpool
Feb. 25: George Harrison born, Liverpool
Sept.?: John Lennon picks up guitar and begins to form skiffle band, the Quarry Men
Mar.?: First public performance of Quarry Men
July 6: Paul McCartney meets John Lennon: Quarry Men recorded playing "Putting on the Style" and "Baby Let's Play House"
Oct. 18: Paul McCartney first performs with the Quarry Men, as guitarist
Feb. or Mar.: George Harrison joins Quarry Men as guitarist
Summer: Quarry Men record "That'll Be the Day" / "In Spite of All the Danger"
July 15: John's mother killed
Aug. 29: Quarry Men open the Casbah Club
Nov. 15?: Johnny & the Moondogs audition for TV show "Discoveries" in Manchester
?: Lennon and McCartney commit to songwriting partnership
Oct.: Group begins rehearsing at Jacaranda
Jan.: Stu Sutcliffe joins group as bassist
Mid-Apr.?: Silver Beetles make Forthlin Road recordings
Apr. 23-24: John and Paul play as Nerk Twins in Caversham
May 20-28: Silver Beetles, with Tommy Moore on drums, tour northern Scotland with Johnny Gentle
June 2: Name "The Beatles" first appears in print
July: Norman Chapman drums with Beatles on three July gigs; Beatles play one week at New Cabaret Artistes Club, Liverpool

Historical Narrative

Musical Beginnings: The Quarry Men

The skiffle craze, spearheaded by Scotsman Lonnie Donegan (once a trad jazz guitarist), dominated Britain in 1956-57. Playing mostly Leadbelly's post-plantation blues and other American folk tunes, often tinged by bluegrass in numbers such as "Rock Island Line," "Alabammy Bound," "Cumberland Gap," and "John Henry," skiffle groups, including the Vipers and those led by Donegan, Johnny Duncan, and Chas McDevitt, encouraged all young Brits so inclined to take up guitars, tea-chest basses, and washboards. All this was standard equipment for creating the sound carried by a lead singer (vocal technique was not an issue), a guitarist who could handle three open chords (I, IV, and V, with optional sevenths welcome on any of the three - mastery not required) in a small handful of sharp keys, and a homemade rhythm section that could manage to place a heavy accent on the backbeat. Backing singers were required by only the most polished recording groups. John Lennon bought a 78-rpm copy of "Rock Island Line," got hold of a guitar, and gathered his willing Woolton mates into such a group.

The provenance of John's first guitar(s) has become confused over the years. As best as the memories and legends can be conflated, it seems that John begged Mimi for a guitar and she refused: he ordered one through a newspaper ad and had it shipped to Julia's, telling Mimi that his mother had bought it for him. John's musical cohort Rod Davis has recalled this being a Dutch-made Egmond, just like the first guitar owned by George Harrison. Mimi apparently replaced this unsuitable guitar (March 1957 being the accepted date), with a second-hand Spanish-style Gallatone Champion, a steel-stringed instrument purchased at Hessy's, a music shop on the city center's Whitechapel Street, across the intersection from the more upscale Rushworth's Music House. Mimi only allowed him to play it on her tiny enclosed front porch.

By 1956 Julia had shown John a good bit on the banjolele, a hybrid instrument joining a banjo head and bridge with a small-scale ukulele neck. Unschooled in the guitar's proper tuning, John and Julia removed two strings and tuned the other four to her uke configuration, probably an octave below the soprano ukulele's G tuning: G-B-f#-a. Mother and son worked out all John's chords with unorthodox positions - it certainly made no difference for a skiffle player. Julia's musical interests encouraged John's. They started with Fats Domino's "Ain't That a Shame," a 1955 hit. Beginning with the May 1956 release in Britain of "Heartbreak Hotel," she would regularly play Presley's three-chord, twelve-bar-based hits, "Hound Dog," "(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear," and "Jailhouse Rock" on the banjolele while he worked them out on his guitar. "My mother taught me quite a bit, my first lessons really. Most of our stuff then in the early days was just twelve bar boogies, nothing fancy. Of course, Paul came along later and taught me a few things." The guitar became John's obsession, and Aunt Mimi saw it as an interference with his schoolwork. Although she did buy him a better instrument, she is well known for having told the boy, "the guitar's all right as a hobby, John, but you'll never make a living from it."

John and his friend Pete Shotton formed a duo they called the Black Jacks in the fall of 1956, John on guitar and vocals and Pete on washboard played with thimbles. When personnel were added over the succeeding month, they became the Quarry Men, named for their school song. "Quarry Men, Strong before Our Birth." Perhaps the school's motto echoed for Lennon the sweat-gleaming skiffle stories of poleaxes, pig iron, and shackles. New members included Rod Davis on banjo; Eric Griffiths, guitar (duplicating John's banjolele tuning); Colin Hanton, drums; and Bill Smith, Ivan Vaughan, or Nigel Whalley, and then Len Garry, appearing with a tea-chest bass. All participation other than Lennon's was highly intermittent. Table 1.2 approximates the group's evolving membership and assignments. The first numbers performed by the skifflers are said to include "Rock Island Line," "John Henry," "Worried Man Blues," "Wabash Cannonball," "Cumberland Gap," "Don't You Rock Me, Daddy-O," "Railroad Bill," "Freight Train," "Last Train to San Fernando," "Maggie May," and "Putting On the Style." John was an ethusiastic strummer and by all standards was tough on his instrument: fellow Quarry Man Davis says he frequently broke his strings. The photographic record from August 1960 through February 1964 shows three different sets of knobs, a cracked pickguard, a change of tailpiece/vibrato unit and a total refinishing of the body on his first Rickenbacker guitar, suggesting a battering beyond normal heavy use, so we can assume that the Gallatone was worked pretty hard as well.

As John gained technique and repertoire, the band began to cover his favorite rock-and-roll records. Although the BBC played no such music, Julia was not John's only source for this literature. Shotton says that he and John got their earliest exposure to records by Presley, Bill Haley, Gene Vincent, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, and Buddy Holly through late-night continental broadcasts: "Our salvation proved to be Radio Luxembourg, which boasted a late-night program, 'The Jack Jackson Show,' devoted primarily to original American rock and roll recordings." Ray Coleman reports that the first rock-and-roll numbers to be added to the Quarry Men's skiffle repertoire were "Jailhouse Rock," Perkins's "Blue Suede Shoes," and Holly's "That'll Be the Day." Other 1957-58 additions included Presley's "Baby Let's Play House" and "All Shook Up," the Everly Brothers' "Bye Bye Love," Holly's "Peggy Sue," and Berry's "Johnny B. Goode."

McCartney Joins the Group After he saw Lonnie Donegan at Liverpool's Empire Theatre on November 11, 1956, Paul McCartney traded the trumpet his dad had given him for his first guitar, a natural-finish flattop acoustic model of unknown make with eighteen frets, only twelve of which were clear of the body; dot inlays appeared on only the fifth, seventh and twelfth frets, marking this clearly as a beginner's instrument. As was the case with Lennon's, this first box must have been unsuitable, because 1957 photographs already show Paul playing the Zenith that he was to use through 1960.

Building on an introduction to the banjolele courtesy of his cousin Bett, Paul learned a bit of guitar from his friend Ian James, and he often tells a story of taking the bus to find someone who supposedly could show him how to form a B7 chord. Paul's brother Michael remembers that Paul worked hard at the instrument in a wide variety of styles but that he most often covered songs by Presley and Little Richard. Among the first songs that Paul learned to play were Eddie Cochran's "Twenty Flight Rock" and Vincent's "Be-Bop-A-Lula." He says he and a schoolmate entertained at one end-of-term class party by standing on a desktop with guitars, Paul screaming through Little Richard's "Long Tall Sally."

It was Paul's mate at the Liverpool Institute (the city's best high school), Quarry Man Ivan Vaughan, who suggested he come to St. Peter's on July 6, 1957, to hear his group, which on that day played "Cumberland Gap," "Railroad Bill," "Maggie May," "Putting On the Style," "Baby Let's Play House," and the Dell-Vikings' hit "Come Go with Me." John says that this date was his first attempt to perform the last-named song "in public with a real band," and he hadn't quite learned the lyrics; reportedly he sang at least one chorus as "come love me darlin', come and go with me / down, down, down to the penitentiary." In a private jab in a very public forum, in the song "Too Many People" (Ram [McCartney 1971]), Paul once told John that their relationship had been Lennon's lucky break. He might have been referring to their meeting on this July day, for it happens that "Come Go with Me" was the first record Paul had ever bought, and the correct lyrics to this song and to "Be-Bop-A-Lula" proved an immediate talking point between them when they met after the garden performance at the hall across Church Road from St. Peter's. McCartney: "I knew all the words and they didn't. That was big currency." A far luckier break was that Paul was able to show John the correct tuning for his instrument, and he taught his new friend a few chords besides. To top it off, Paul demonstrated his own technique in "Twenty Flight Rock"; "then I did my Little Richard imitation, went through all the stuff I knew. John seemed quite impressed."

John was quite impressed. After a few weeks of wrestling with his ego, Lennon decided that the group's musicality was more important to him than was his unrivaled musical leadership; on July 20 McCartney was invited to join the band. After a stay at scout camp and a family holiday, Paul finally joined and had his first gig with the Quarry Men on October 18, 1957 ("well, I suppose that you could say that we were playing hard to get," Paul was to write in "Here Today," Tug of War [1982]). From then on, the two met regularly for musical give-and-take. They practiced together on the tiny Mendips porch. With Paul's dad at work, they would "sag off" school to have the run of Paul's front parlor and its piano. John having begun classes at the Liverpool College of Art in September 1957, Paul would bring his guitar from the Institute right next door, and they would entertain the art students through the lunch hour with Paul's frenetic vocalizations of "We're Gonna Move," "Rip It Up," and "Good Golly Miss Molly," John's "Peggy Sue" and "When You're Smiling," and both of them in soft harmony for "All I Have to Do Is Dream." They would meet at Julia's - her Blomfield Road home was just a few blocks from Paul's - and work in the vibrant acoustics of the upstairs bath, with other Quarry Men often crammed in besides. Julia loved it. Paul recalls, "She was always teaching us new tunes. I remember two in particular, 'Ramona' and . . . 'Wedding Bells are Breaking Up That Old Gang of Mine.' Much later, during the Beatles years, John and I often tried to write songs with that same feeling to them. 'Here, There and Everywhere' was one we wrote along those lines.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Beatles After The Break-Up 1970-2000: A Day-by-Day Diary

by Keith Badman

"Until now,
The Beatles story
has been simply

From 1970 onwards the disbanded Beatles
were at last free to follow their individual interests.
From that point on there were four separate stories...
but they were stories that would form a complex
overlapping history of quarrels and reconciliations,
personal projects and sporadic collaborations.

For the first time ever, a noted Beatles expert has
meticulously documented the entire period of
The Beatles after the break-up.

Keith Badman has produced a dazzling and
astonishingly detailed day-by-day chronicle of what each
of the ex-Beatles did from April 1970 onwards.

It's all here, day by day.
All the...concerts...solo releases
...known meetings between ex-Beatles, TV and radio appearances deals, legal battles and personal feuds
...Beatles-related births, marriages and deaths.

Starkly punctuated by the murder of John Lennon,
here is the as-it-happened story of four individuals
emerging from the straitjacket of pop music's
greatest ever success story.
And for the first time ever their solo careers are
shown to be every bit as fascinating as their
legendary decade together.

With an introduction by Miles, author of
The Beatles: A Diary and Many Years From Now,
the authorised biography of Paul McCartney.

Fully illustrated with scores of pictures documenting
John, Paul, George and Ringo...
after the break-up.

The Beatles After The Break-Up 1970-2000 is the first book ever to catalogue just about everything that John, Paul, George and Ringo did after the group disbanded...every record, every concert, every TV and radio appearance, every interview...and much more besides. Every Beatle related event is covered, whether it be as awesome as the tragic death of John, or as predictable as the staggering prices reached in yet another auction of memorabilia.

Author Keith Badman has listed every known encounter between John, Paul, George and Ringo, for whatever reason, whenever and wherever it took place. Included are details of meetings both important and trivial, in the studio, on stage and in their lawyers' chambers. Here are extracts from key interviews which explain the ebbs and flows of the complex relationships between the four, and later three, surviving Beatles.

Here is the ongoing saga of popular music's most enduring 20th Century romance... a comprehensive history of the greatest pop group of them all.

Keith Badman is a regular contributor to The Beatles Book magazine and Record Collector. He was a consultant on the documentary television series The Beatles Anthology and has presented video shows at Beatles conventions throughout Europe. Regarded as a world authority on film footage of The Beatles and pop in general, Keith has spent years searching the globe for film of The Beatles, both as a group and as individuals. He was consultant on all three series of the Channel 4 pop profile series My Generation, the BBC music history series Dancing In The Street, and many other TV rock documentaries. Keith Badman is the co-author of Good Times Bad Times, a definitive diary of The Rolling Stones during the Sixties; Quite Naturally, a biography of The Small Faces; and Empire Made: A Guide To Everything Mod.

"I woke up and didn't have a job anymore! Oh Jesus! No band. What do I do? I've got to work out something for myself now." - Paul

"Big bastards, that's what The Beatles were. You have to be a bastard to make it, that's a fact, and The Beatles are the biggest bastards on earth!" - John

Wednesday April 1
- Ringo becomes the last Beatle to play at a Beatles recording session at EMI's Abbey Road Studios in London when, working with Phil Spector in studio one, he overdubs his drum parts on the tracks 'Across The Universe,' 'The Long And Winding Road' and 'I Me Mine'.
- John and Yoko issue a hoax press release announcing that: "They have both entered the London clinic for a dual sex-change operation." In truth, the couple enrol themselves in a four-week course of Primal Therapy with the American psychologist Dr. Arthur Janov at his private London hospital at 20 Devonshire Place. At John's invitation Janov met John and Yoko at the Lennon's Tittenhurst Park mansion in Ascot the previous day. John was greatly impressed by Janov's book The Primal Scream - Primal Therapy: The Cure Of Neurosis, which had been sent to him in an unsolicited package in the middle of March. The Lennons decide to attend treatment in his clinic because their Ascot mansion is full of builders who are currently renovating the place. Meanwhile, the John Lennon Lithographs, seized by police at the London Arts Gallery in New Bond Street on January 16, are produced at Marlborough Street Magistrates' Court where they are compared to similar works by Picasso. Mr David Napley, defending Mr Eugene Shuster, a director of London Arts Incorporated who ran the exhibition, hands over a set of John's lithographs to the court and says: "I hope the officer will not mark them because, no doubt, by the end of the case they will be worth more than £550!" When Mr Napley said that the prints appear to depict the marriage and honeymoon of John Lennon and his wife, Inspector Cliff of Scotland Yard replies: "Only if they were described and introduced that way!"

Thursday April 2
- Phil Spector's final task on the Let It Be album is to mix the tracks into stereo and edit those recordings on which Ringo overdubbed his drum tracks yesterday.
- In an interview with the Evening Standard, Paul states: "We all have to ask each other's permission before any of us does anything without the other three. My own record (McCartney) nearly didn't come out because Klein and some of the others thought it would be too near to the date of the next Beatles album . . . I had to get George, who's a director of Apple, to authorise its release for me. We're all talking about peace and love but really, we're not feeling peaceful at all."

Sunday April 5
- Ringo appears live on the BBC Radio One programme Scene And Heard broadcast between 3:01 and 3:59pm where he is interviewed by the host Johnny Moran.

Monday April 6
- Allen Klein arrives in London to conclude the business deals for the United Artists film Let It Be.

Thursday April 9
- The Beatles' Apple organisation denies that Paul McCartney has left the group. Mrs Mavis Smith, Derek Taylor's assistant and head of Apple's public relations office, states, "This is just not true. Although it is true that there are no plans at the moment for more Beatles recordings, this is quite normal. Next month, their new LP will be issued. It has already been recorded so, consequently, as there is already material available, there are no plans for more recordings. I hope that The Beatles will get together for another recording session after the summer." Mavis reveals that Paul has not been seen at Apple's HQ in Saville Row since before Christmas, but adds, "He communicates by telephone and, as he has got recording studios at his home, it is not necessary for him to come in. Paul will issue a statement today with the release of his new album, but any critical statements do not mean a real break-up of the group!"
- Meanwhile, aware of the contents of the interview enclosed within advance copies of his McCartney album due for release tomorrow, Paul phones John at Janov's clinic to inform him of its release but shies away from telling John he is leaving The Beatles. As John recalls, "Paul said to me, 'I'm now doing what you and Yoko were doing last year. I understand what you were doing', all that shit. So I said to him, 'Good luck to yer.'" The first that John hears of Paul's split from the group is when news breaks in the media the following morning.
- The Daily Mirror newspaper receives an advance copy of Paul's statement and uses this to form the basis of tomorrow's world-shattering front-page story.

Friday April 10
- The Daily Mirror's front-page story is headlined: Paul Is Quitting The Beatles.
- Paul publicly announces the break-up of The Beatles and says that the band will never work together again. His announcement takes the form of a printed "self-interview" sent out to the national press, various broadcasting organisations and included within advance promotional copies of his McCartney album. In it, he explains why he has broken with The Beatles, claiming it is down to "Business and musical differences, but most of all, because I have a better time with my family." He adds, "I do not know whether the break will be temporary or permanent" and in conclusion states, "I do not foresee a time when the Lennon & McCartney partnership will be active again in songwriting."
- Later, Paul admits that he didn't really consider this "self-interview" to be an official announcement of The Beatles split; instead he claims that he simply filled in the answers to questions that had been prepared by the Apple assistant Peter Brown. Apple's press officer Derek Taylor announces from his Saville Row office: "They do not want to split up, but the present rift seems to be part of their growing up . . . at the moment they seem to cramp each other's styles. Paul has called a halt to The Beatles' activities. They could be dormant for years." He also explains Klein's business relationship with Paul: "It is no secret that Klein and Paul have never hit it off. Paul has been into this building just twice since Klein came here. He opposed the appointment of Klein and wanted to make his father-in-law John Eastman, a New York lawyer, manager."
- Fans distressed by the news of the split begin to converge outside the offices at 3 Saville Row. Among those present are the Apple Scruffs, a small group of girls who, for years, have been regularly hanging around the Apple offices and Abbey Road studios just to get a brief meeting with a Beatle. A reporter asks Carol Bedford, a member of the Scruffs, "Will anyone ever replace The Beatles for you?" She replies, "No! It's just one Beatles group. That's it! We don't want there to be another. We grew up with them. When they started, they were younger when we were younger, and all through the years we've just developed!"
- A news team from CBS in America has arrived and proclaims on its evening news broadcasts, "The small gathering in Saville Row is only the beginning. The even is so momentous that historians may, one day, view it as a landmark in the decline of the British Empire . . . The Beatles are breaking up!"
- Meanwhile, as news of Paul's split from the group spreads like wildfire round the world's media, top-level business meetings involving the various factions of The Beatles, are being held in the Apple offices. Asked about Paul's now obvious dislike of him, Klein remarks to journalists, "It's never pleasant when someone appears not to like you!"
- George is also to be found in Saville Row, away from the bedlam, being interviewed for the religious programme Fact Or Fantasy? subtitled Prayer And Meditation. This filmed appearance will be first transmitted on BBC1 on Sunday April 26 and then repeated the following day. He ends the day alone in his Saville Row office watching an early version of The Long And Winding Road, the official history of The Beatles' career. A close friend of George remarks, "George doesn't want to talk about it (the split). He just wants to be left alone."
- John, still with Arthur Janov, is preparing more lithographic artwork displays. When asked about Paul's departure, he says enigmatically, "You can say I said jokingly, he didn't quit, he was fired."
- Ringo, staying aloof, remarks, "This is all news to me."
- Paul, Linda, Heather and Mary leave their home in Cavendish Avenue for Scotland. A close friend of the family tells reporters outside the house: "He's not giving any interviews at the moment. In fact, fans and other people have been making his life a bit of a misery lately by picketing his pad. I wish they'd leave him alone to live his life now."

Saturday April 11
"I woke up and didn't have a job anymore! Oh Jesus! No band. What do I do? I've got work out something for myself now." - Paul
- Respected Times columnist William Mann writes on Paul's decision to leave The Beatles. "If The Beatles were just another pop group there would be no cause for alarm in Paul McCartney's suggestion, announced yesterday, that he may never work with them again. The others would simply find another bass guitarist and lead singer and go on roughly as before. But The Beatles' image, and influence on pop culture in the last ten years has depended on four distinctive personalties working well together." Mann concludes: "They would not be the same without Paul."
- As The Beatles single 'Let It Be' reaches number one in the American charts, John and Yoko, even though they are in London, partake in the two-month Fluxus Group Arts Festival in New York. Subtitled Fluxfest, the event takes place at the Greenwich Village store in Canal Street owned by the Fluxus member Joe Jones, the founder of the Tone Deaf Music Company. The first week of the festival, which runs until April 17, features Do-It-Yourself By John And Yoko. Also on display is Two Eggs By John Lennon.
- Meanwhile in England, Paul's first duty after leaving The Beatles is to purchase the film rights to the cartoon character Rupert The Bear. The transaction is handled by his new company, McCartney Productions Ltd (originally Adagrove Limited, formed on February 12, 1969).

Friday April 17
- The album McCartney is released in the UK. (The American release takes place on April 20.) The track listing is: side one: 'The Lovely Linda', 'That Would Be Something', 'Valentine Day', 'Every Night', medley: 'Hot As Sun - Glasses - Suicide', 'Junk', 'Man We Was Lonely'; side two: 'Oo You', 'Momma Miss America', 'Teddy Boy', 'Singalong Junk', 'Maybe I'm Amazed' and 'Kreen-Akrore'. (Recordings begin in December 1969, utilising several locations which include Paul's home, EMI's Abbey Road Studio 2 and at Morgan Studios in Willesden, London.)
- Sir Lew Grade, the head of Associated Television (ATV), the company which in 1969 acquired the publishing rights to The Beatles' songs, describes Paul's album as "absolutely brilliant".
- George is asked about the album: " 'That Would Be Something' and 'Maybe I'm Amazed' I think are great and everything else I think is fair, you know. It's quite good, but a little disappointing, but maybe I shouldn't be disappointed, it's best not to expect anything, then everything's a bonus. I think those two tracks are very good and the others just don't do anything for me. The arrangements for 'Teddy Boy' and 'Junk', with a little bit more arrangement could have sounded better. Me, Ringo and John, not only do we see each other, but we see so many musicians and other bands, maybe Paul does too. But I just get the impression that he doesn't. That he's so isolated from it, he's out on a limb. The only person he's got to tell him if the song's good or bad is Linda. In the Beatle days, if someone came in with a song that had a corny line and some of the others got a bit embarrassed by it, we'd say it!"
- Today, in the American Rolling Stone magazine, John announces: "I'm telling you what's going on. It's John, George and Ringo as individuals. We're not even communicating with or making plans about Paul. We're just reacting to everything he does. It's a simple fact that he couldn't have his own way, so he's causing chaos . . . Paul was the same with Brian (Epstein), at the beginning. He used to sulk and God knows what. It's always been the same, only now it's bigger because we're all bigger."

Saturday April 18
- Arthur Janov suggests to John that he should pay a visit to his first wife Cynthia and their son Julian. But the family get-together is halted when Cynthia's housekeeper informs the party that, "Yoko has just called and is threatening to commit suicide unless John returns home immediately!" Meanwhile in America, Fluxfest continues, where this week, until the 24, John and Yoko offer two New York bus tickets to the show Tickets By John And Yoko.
- Today's Melody Maker prints an article entitled "Paul - The Truth", in which they describe his decision to leave The Beatles as "possibly the non-event of the year". Alongside it is Richard Williams' review of McCartney. He describes it as containing . . . "the best and worst of an extraordinary talent . . . 'Maybe I'm Amazed' would have been a classic had it been included on say, Abbey Road . . . 'Man We Was Lonely' is sheer banality. If it had been sung by Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich, I (and you) would've sneered and turned it off. It's the worst example of his music-hall side."

Sunday April 19
- In an unprecedented move for a pop-promotional film, the London area of ITV, London Weekend Television, screen in its own 6:00-6:04pm slot, Paul's promotional clip for 'Maybe I'm Amazed', produced by the film director David Putnam. It features a montage of still photographs of Paul, Linda, and her daughter Heather. A further screening occurs in America, on CBS Television's The Ed Sullivan Show, between 8:00 and 9:00 EST.

Tuesday April 21 & Wednesday April 22
- London's Evening Standard newspaper publishes a two-part interview with Paul, where he goes to great lengths to explain his problems with the Phil Spector arrangement of 'The Long And Winding Road': "A few weeks ago I was sent a re-mixed version of my song 'The Long And Winding Road' with harps, horns, an orchestra and women's choir added. No one had asked me what I thought, I couldn't believe it. I would never have female voices on a Beatles record . . . anyway, I've sent a letter asking for some of the things to be altered, but I haven't received an answer yet."

Thursday April 23
- Taking advantage of his recently acquired brief US visitor's visa, George, along with Patti and Derek Taylor, depart from London's Heathrow Airport en route to New York where George starts work on producing Billy Preston's Apple album Encouraging Words and spends time checking out Apple's new New York offices at 1700 Broadway.
- Apple Corps in London release the following press statement: "The film Let It Be will, in Britain, be simultaneously premiered in both London and Liverpool on May 20, and, under the distribution agreement with United Artists, the film will open in New York on May 13 and will be shown in 100 cities all over the world! Let It Be is described by United Artists as a 'Bioscopic Experience'."

Friday April 24
- Ringo's album Sentimental Journey is released in America and within two weeks will sell over half a million copies. (The album was released in the UK on March 27.)

Saturday April 25
- The Fluxfest festival continues with the exhibition of Measure By John And Yoko, in which the vital statistics of the viewing public are the centre of attraction. Further Fluxfest fun and games take place between May 2 & 8, with an exhibition called Blue Room By John And Yoko, which features Three Spoons By John Lennon and Needle By John Lennon. Between May 9 & 15 Fluxfest features Weight And Water By John And Yoko, which involves the flooding of the Canal Street exhibition room. Between May 16 & 22 the festival features Capsule By John And Yoko, and between May 23 & 29 Portrait Of John Lennon As A Young Cloud, where the exhibition room is filled with 100 drawers, 99 of which are empty. The other contains John's smile. Between May 30 & June 5 it focuses on a collection of New York ticket machines, which are presented as The Store By John And Yoko, and during the final week, June 6-12, patrons are tested on what they have learnt over the previous nine weeks, in a piece entitled Exam By John And Yoko.

Monday April 27
- In a dramatic London High Court ruling, summonses against the London Art Gallery of Bond Street, and its director Eugene Schuster, over John's Bag One lithographs, are dismissed and ruled not to be obscene by Marlborough Street magistrates' court. Mr Schuster, who was forced to make two journeys from America for the case, says after the hearing, "We shall try to get the prints on view again tomorrow morning. We shall hang the prints in the gallery as soon as we get them back. They are still in police custody. Mr Lennon, who is working in London now on his second set of prints, will be immediately told about the case." Schuster adds, "The first set of John's prints are on view in America. I think they have already sold out in New York."

Tuesday April 28
- During his visit to the Apple offices at 1700 Broadway, George gives an interview to the WPIJ Radio reporter Howard Smith.

Wednesday April 29
- Following twenty-eight straight days of shouting, screaming, sketching and eating 28 different colours of ice cream. John and Yoko's therapy sessions with Arthur Janov at his London offices are concluded. He recommends that the Lennons fly out to Los Angeles and resume their treatment at his Primal Institute clinic in California.
- George and Derek meet Bob Dylan at his MacDougal Street townhouse in Greenwich Village, New York.

Thursday April 30
- John and Yoko depart from London's Heathrow Airport en route to Janov's Primal Institute in Los Angeles. They will stay in California for four months at a rented accomodation in Bel Air.
- Paul appears on the front page of Rolling Stone magazine in America. Inside is an in-depth interview with the former Beatle, carried out by Jann Wenner. The issue also features a report on George acquiring his Friar Park mansion.
- George, meanwhile, joins Bob Dylan for an informal jam session in Dylan's MacDougal Street townhouse. They perform the tracks 'When Everybody Comes To Town' and 'I'd Have You Anytime', which are recorded by Dylan on his home recording equipment. (Columbia acetates cut from the tape of this session are later sold by the auctioneers Galston & Co. and subsequently find their way, in the late Seventies, on to various bootleg records incorrectly dated as May 1.) George and Derek are invited by Bob to attend his recording sessions tomorrow.

- Mr. Richard Dunn of the Linguaphone Group reveals that John has recently taken out an audiocassette course on "How to speak Japanese".

Friday May 1
- In Studio B at the Columbia Recording Studios in New York City, George joins Bob Dylan in a recording session for his album New Morning. George picks up a guitar and jams with Bob, Charlie E. Daniels (on bass), Russ Kunkel (drums) and Bob Johnston (piano), who also serves as producer, on the following tracks: 'Sign On The Window', 'If Not For You', 'Time Passes Slowly', 'Working On The Guru', 'Went To See The Gypsies', 'Song To Woody', 'Mama, You've Been On My Mind', 'Don't Think Twice, It's Alright', a cover of The Beatles' 'Yesterday', 'Just Like Tom Thum's Blues', 'Da Doo Ron Ron', 'One Too Many Mornings', 'Ghost Riders In The Sky', 'Cupid', 'All I Have To Do Is Dream', 'Gates Of Eden', 'I Threw It All Away', 'I Don't Believe In You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met)', 'Matchbox', 'Your True Love', 'Las Vegas Blues', 'Fishin' Blues', 'Honey, Just Allow Me One More Chance', 'Rainy Day Women Nos. 12 & 35', 'It Ain't Me Babe' and 'Tomorrow Is A Long Time'. Some of the songs, in true Get Back sessions style, are only 17 seconds in duration. The recordings, which include overdub sessions, take place between 2:30-5:50pm, 6:30-9:30pm and 10:30pm-1:30am on the morning of May 2. (Note: A take of 'If Not for You' with George on slide guitar is released in 1991 on Dylan's The Bootleg Series Volume 1-3 (Rare and Unreleased) 1961-1991. (In order not to upset Apple, George's appearance at this session is not logged in the CBS recording contracts.)

Saturday May 2
- Melody Maker's Mailbag section publishes a letter under the headline: "Who Does Paul McCartney Think He Is?" It reads: "Who does Paul McCartney think he is? We don't see anything of him for a year, and then out he pops from his mysterious hermit like existence, advertising his new record in a publicity-crazed manner. Does he really think, we'll believe that he played all the instruments? Let's face it, Mailbag, we're not suckers. It's obvious George Martin had a lot to do with it. In fact if you listen carefully to the end of the third track played backwards, you can almost hear him whistling." The letter is signed Paul McCartney.

Tuesday May 5
- George and Derek Taylor return home to England.