Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Longest Cocktail Party: An Insider's Diary of The Beatles, Their Million-Dollar 'Apple' Empire and Its Wild Rise and Fall

by Richard DiLello

The Longest Cocktail Party is among the most fascinating Beatles books ever written. It is a unique document of its time. Keenly sought by fans and collectors of rock'n'roll history, Richard DiLello's Apple memoir has been unavailable since its first publication in 1972.

Working at the London headquarters of Apple, The Beatles' inspired and erratic enterprise in pop music from 1968 through 1970, DiLello advanced from the position of 'House Hippie' to a brief and final role as Director of Public Relations.

The Longest Cocktail Party recounts the hilarious and often shocking incidents that were the daily life of Apple. The riotously colourful cast of bizarre and eccentric visitors that swirled around The Fab Four provides the fabric of the book. DiLello's candid account of the dramatic chaos inside The Beatles' headquarters is coloured with affection, as well as a cool, sardonic view of intrigue and self-indulgence.

Full of period detail, The Longest Cocktail Party is paced like a fifty-yard dash. At the same time, it is an immensely poignant portrait of the demise of The Beatles, a social document of pop culture and a narrative of the death of the '60s dream.

This edition comes with a new foreword by the author and many exclusive photographs.



1 - The House Hippie

SO HOW DID you come to get this job? What were you doing before and where are you from?"

"I don't really like talking about myself -"

"Well look, this book is your idea not mine. I mean you've got to say something."

"I was born on September 28, 1945, at 8 A.M. at Flower Fifth Avenue Hospital, New York, New York."

"And then what? You can't just say, 'I was born on September 28, 1945, at 8 A.M. at Flower Fifth Avenue Hospital, New York, New York.' You've got to go on from there. Then what happened?"

"At twenty-two I found myself in San Francisco in the summer of 1967 trying to figure a way out of California where I'd been for five years because I really wanted to come to England."

"So you came to England."

"Yes, in November of '67 and London was miserable so I went to North Africa for four months and when spring rolled around I made it back to England."

"How did you land this job?"

"I was at someone's house one night and I picked up one of the musical papers and there was this picture of Derek Taylor, the Beatles' Press Officer, he looked like he was walking right out of the paper and he was talking about this thing called Apple."

"Where did you know Derek from?"

"My Hollywood days. Everybody knew Derek."


"So I went in to see him and say hello and asked him for a job."

"Just like that?"


"What did he say?"

"He told me he'd think about it for a while and told me to call him back in a few days."

"And what happened when you called him back?"

"He said, 'Come in next Monday and start work.' But there was the problem of a work permit. He wrote to the Home Office requesting an application for working papers for a foreigner already in Great Britain. In reply to the standard Home Office query that was sent him he wrote a charming but rambling abstract letter which must have raised a few question marks because a few days later a man from the Home Office called Derek. He said, 'Mr. Taylor, we have your application for working papers for a Mr. DiLello but your letter has me a bit confused as to what it is that Mr. DiLello does that an Englishman can't do.' Well, Derek was in there like that! 'He's a young man of great importance to a company such as ours which has to deal with artists who happen to be much closer to his age than to mine and, I might add, to our employers, The Beatles, who themselves are rapidly approaching thirty. He's able to relate to them in such a manner that I find at times impossible. I've got a wife and five children that I go home to every night and at times jumping this generation gap is a very strenuous ordeal. He's in touch with the current record scene in America where the largest percentage of our record sales come from. He has his fingers on the pulse beat of the times! He's literate, informed and in fact totally indispensable to this company. Because of his previous background as what we call a gofer in the record business, he has a practical working knowledge of this very important overseas market. This is an industry that is as elusive and erratic as quicksilver. We cannot afford to be out of touch with its needs, direction and fluctuating whims.'"

"And what did the guy from the Home Office say to that!?!"

"He said, 'Yes, well I understand a bit better but, uhh, exactly what is it that he does?'"

"He's The House Hippie!!!"

"Ahh! Now I understand perfectly, Mr. Taylor. I'll be putting my recommendation this afternoon for the young man's working papers. We'll say he's the Client Liaison Officer rather than The House Hippie. It sounds better. Well, sorry to have taken up so much of your time. Best of luck to you and the company. Good-bye."

And that's how I became The House Hippie of Apple Corps, Ltd.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Lives of John Lennon

by Albert Goldman

"Compulsively readable."
- Time

"When Goldman's biographies were originally published, they were sensational scandals that made him famous. With the perspective of time, and with a plethora of rock biographies in their wake, it is clear that no other rock writer has come close to Goldman's achievement or possessed Goldman's erudition, skill, work ethic, and willingness to always go one step further. . . . His book on Lennon remains so superior to anything written about Lennon in some five hundred books on the Beatles, 'It is too starv'd a subject for my sword.'"
- Victor Bockris, author of Keith Richards and Warhol

Genius, rebel, masochist, saint . . . This book reveals the whole truth behind the legend!

The result of six years of research and some twelve hundred interviews, this book takes you deep into John Lennon's secretive world, from his traumatic childhood to his golden days with the Beatles to his hidden life with Yoko Ono. What emerges is a fascinating portrait of an endlessly complex personality. While the Lennon of legend enjoyed a gifted and inspired life, the private Lennon lived in torment. Even as millions idolized him, he poisoned himself with drugs and self-hatred. When he was assassinated in 1980, the world mourned him as a martyred saint, the standard-bearer of a cultural revolution, and a musical genius.

The Lives of John Lennon exposed for the first time all of Lennon's various lives. It is a lasting tribute to his brilliant achievements and a revelation of the price he paid for them.

Albert Goldman wrote the bestsellers Ladies and Gentlemen - Lenny Bruce!!! and Elvis. His other books include Freakshow, Disco, Grass Roots, Sound Bites, and Elvis: The Last 24 Hours.


W A K E - U P T A S T E

Like a Zen arrow flying through the night, Kit Carter comes winging up Central Park West in the predawn darkness of a December morning in 1979. When he reaches the intersection with 72nd Street, he glances up at the Dakota, glimmering dimly in the light of a solitary streetlamp, like a ghostly German castle. Darting across the street to the iron portcullis guarding the tunnel-like carriage entrance, he gives the night bell a short, sharp jab. Shuffling restlessly in the chill wind off the park, he waits for the doorman to emerge from the wood-and-glass windbreak surrounding the building's recessed entrance. As soon as the gate lock is snapped. Kit slips through and bounds up the steps to the concierge's office, where he exchanges a perfunctory nod with the night man before plunging into the maze of passageways that leads to the tall oak door of Studio One, the office of Yoko Ono.

Lightly he raps. Instantly he is answered by the metallic snap of the dead bolt. As the towering wooden leaf swings open, there stands little Yoko, her face masked by black wraparound shades. While Kit notes how ill she looks - and that she's dressed in the same black shirt and jeans that she's worn all week - she reaches up like a cat and snatches out of his hand a packet of tinfoil. Ducking into her private bathroom, she slams the door and turns on the faucets full blast. As Kit removes his shoes, preparatory to entering the back office, he hears above the rush of water a series of loud snorts, followed by the hideous noise of retching.

Yoko's retreat is sumptuous and eerie. Concealed lights shine up from the thick white carpet, casting shadows on the cloud-bedecked ceiling and reflections on the smoked-glass mirrors that rise from the waist-high oak wainscoting. An immense Egyptian revival desk stands catercorner to the shaded windows on the courtyard, its gleaming mahogany sides inlaid with large ivory reliefs of the ibis-headed Thoth, god of scribes, and the winged disk-and-cobra symbol of the sun. Yoko's commanding seat is an exact replica of the throne found in King Tutankhamen's tomb.

As Kit sinks into the creamy white leather couch, he stares at the objects that give the room its magical air: the gray little skull between the two white Princess phones, the Egyptian baby's gold breastplate, the bronze snake slithering along the crossbar of the coffee table by Giacometti. This is the sixth week since he began making these deliveries, but he still thinks about the first time.

He had been so frightened that he had brought the heroin in a hollowed-out book wrapped in brown paper. Yoko he found sitting behind the accountant Richie DePalma's desk in the outer office, talking on the phone in Japanese. For five long minutes she continued to jabber away, as unconcerned as if she were holding a delivery boy from the pharmacy. Finally, she hung up and said nonchalantly: "Oh, hi! You're Kit!" Extending her hand, she took his package, dismissing him without another word or look. Later he learned that she had been intensely curious about him, but it was her practice in such situations to feign indifference.

Initially, he made his deliveries once or twice a week. The night before he would pick up the stuff from a 57th Street jeweler, who was the connection. At first a gram of H cost $500, but as soon as Yoko started running up her habit, the price increased. Now Kit is paying $750 for that same little gram, which means that Yoko has got herself a $5,000-a-week habit. A street junkie could score that much smack for a quarter of what Yoko is paying, but she doesn't care. Why should she? John Lennon is a rich man.

By the time Yoko rejoins Kit, she's walking like La Sonnambula, trying to appear cool and casual, but betrayed by the faint traces of white powder about her nostrils. She's bearing, as usual, a tray with two turquoise cups in which Lipton's teabags are steeping. Kit was puzzled at first by Yoko's insistence on serving tea every time he made a drop. Then he realized that a highborn Japanese lady can't score her wake-up taste like a common junkie. She has to save face by masking the sordid transaction with a gracious ceremony.

"How are you today?" inquires Yoko politely, as if she were laying eyes on Kit for the first time that morning. "I can see you're miserable," she continues before he can answer. She lights and puffs once on a brown Nat Sherman, before waving it from her mouth with a theatrical gesture. "We're all miserable!" she intones in her drowsy, singsong voice, adding, as if offering the clincher, "I'm miserable!" Then, without a trace of irony, she quotes Woody Allen as if he were Confucius: "There are two states in which we live - miserable and horrible." A long silence signals that the topic is closed.

As Yoko and Kit take their tea, the plant lights, controlled by an unpredictable timer, suddenly brighten. Instinctively Kit flinches, expecting to hear a tough voice bark, "Freeze! This is a bust!"

Once the demands of Oriental decorum have been satisfied, Yoko rises deliberately and sleepwalks to her massive desk, banging it in passing with her hip. She opens a drawer and removes her antique bag. Snapping its top, she hauls out a huge wad of $100 bills. Counting off eight mint-fresh notes, she hands them wordlessly to Kit. (He always receives a $50 tip.) Before he can turn to leave, Yoko seats herself upon her throne. Fixing him with an imperious look cast through her dark Porsche goggles, she warns, "John must never know."

John Lennon comes to consciousness before dawn in a pool of light cast by two spots above the polished dark wood of his church-pew headboard. These lights are never extinguished because John has a horror of waking in a dark bedroom. Darkness to him is death. The first thing he looks for with his feeble eyes are the fuzzy red reflections in the big oval mirror above his bed. These smudges assure him that his life-support system is working, for night and day he lives buffered by its soothing sounds and flickering images, like a patient in a quiet room.

So faintly does the rhythm of the day beat in this secluded chamber that only John's internal clock can wake him. No sounds from the streets below penetrate the enormously thick walls of this century-old building, whose floors are packed with tons of soil from the excavation of Central Park. Daylight is barred by the dark wooden shutters and clumsily hung fabric that seal the big window looking down seven stories to 72nd Street and across the park to the towers of midtown Manhattan. As shadowy as an attic, the room is filled with lumber: an old wicker chair, an Art Deco vanity, cardboard cartons, stacks of discarded newspapers and magazines, an upright piano with its lid closed. Even the futuristic red guitar suspended above the bed testifies dustily to desuetude. If it were not for the sighing sounds of the speakers over John's head and the colored flickering of the two big TV sets at his feet, this dark chamber with its narrow spill of artificial light could be a tomb.

Lennon has confined himself to this room for the past three years. Save for summer holidays in Japan, he rarely leaves his queen-size bed, to which he clings like a sailor aboard a life raft. Much of the time he sleeps, perhaps half the day, in two- to four-hour spells. The balance of the day he spends sitting in the lotus position, his head enveloped in a cloud of tobacco or marijuana smoke, reading, meditating, or listening to tapes, including self-hypnosis cassettes with titles like I Love My Body or There's No Need to Be Angry. Sometimes he makes an entry in his log, a New Yorker diary with a cartoon on every page, which he may redraw or retitle. Everything he prizes most - his drugs, his manuscripts, girlie mags, his British harmonica - he keeps at the foot of the bed in a little domed chest blazoned LIVERPOOL. His raft is rigged with excellent communications gear, all the controls lying convenient to his right hand in a white Formica cabinet. With an endless supply of books and cassettes, records and videotapes, he has everything he requires for journeys that take him not only to the ends of the earth but back through the roll call of civilizations and forward through space into the world of the future.

Though he is lying in the bosom of his family, John could not be much more removed from them even if he spent his life out on the road. The only times he sees them are for an hour or two in the morning and during supper and a little thereafter, when Daddy, as he likes to call himself, watches TV with his little boy, Sean. All the rest of the day Lennon is back here in his room, alone and silent.

Lennon's only companions aboard his raft are his three cats, Sasha, Misha, and Charo, owl-faced, yellow-eyed, black-haired Persians. When he makes out his list of chores every morning, the needs of the cats stand first. If one of them appears to be missing, John will sound an alarm on the intercom to the kitchen, and the maids will start scouring the halls, even knocking on the neighbors' doors. Though averse to any kind of physical effort, John loves to cut into tiny morsels the cats' prime beef and costly liver and to groom their gleaming coats with his array of combs, brushes, and clippers. The other members of the household dislike these animals because they foul the rooms with their hair and excrement, but John insists that his pets be treated as if they lived in ancient Egypt.

To satisfy his need to play a part in the family's life, John has cast himself in the role of "househusband." He and Yoko have exchanged sexual stereotypes, with her becoming the breadwinner and he the bread baker. Yoko has sustained her part with grim determination, spending her whole life pent up in her office. John's role is largely fantasy. He did try his hand once at baking bread, but what he really wanted to pop out of the oven was a tray of hash brownies. Given his druthers, John would pig out on junk food - Burger King Whoppers; gooey, tangy slices of pizza; huge, one-pound Hershey bars. But what he's done for most of his adult life is starve himself to perfection. Far from being a bread baker or even a hearty eater, John Lennon is a hunger artist.

The onset of his anorexia can be traced back to the year 1965, when some fool described him in print as the "fat Beatle." That phrase struck such a blow to his fragile ego that the wound has never healed. Now, at thirty-nine, his supreme goal in life is to recover the body image he presented at nineteen. Volumes could be filled with the history of his punishing diets, dangerous fasts, and self-lacerating attacks of guilt over that extra cup of coffee or slice of toast. He's forever reading the kind of book that admonishes: "Success is ours when we can smilingly make a meal off ten carefully counted beans flavored with slices of preserved radish." An instinctive ascetic, John can deny the flesh anything but coffee and cigarettes. His addiction to these legal substances has cost him far more worry than his habitual use of virtually every drug listed in Schedule I. Nowadays, to be sure, he has relented a bit in his war on food. He will take a couple of bites of fish or chicken with his brown rice and boiled vegetables. But he still runs a string around his waist every morning on arising, and if he sins by eating something forbidden, he will duck into the bathroom and stick a finger down his throat.

As he slips out of bed now to perform his yoga limbering exercises, he displays the bag-of-bones body of an Indian fakir. His arms are clay pipe stems, not just skinny but so devoid of muscle that when he picks up a hollow-bodied guitar, he complains of its weight. You could pour a cup of water into the hollows of his collarbones. His once-shapely legs resemble the stalks of wading birds. He's pale, naturally, because he never goes out in the sun, but what is strange about his skin is the way it glows. This unnatural sheen is produced by bathing a dozen times a day and washing his face and hands twice as often.

He shrinks from contact with either flesh or fabric, rarely wearing clothing, apart from a pair of backless slippers. If he spies a few of his wife's long, coarse black hairs on the pure white carpeting that covers the entire flat, he will summon the maid to remove the offensive threads. Sometimes in Yoko's presence, he will tilt up his nose, sniff delicately, and then, registering an expression of disgust on his face, turn and leave the room. As a rule he avoids touching anyone. If in a rare access of parental affection he takes Sean on his knee, John will make sure to seat the child facing away from him so that the boy will not have the opportunity to plant a wet, smacky kiss on his father's face.

As John ducks into his surgically clean bathroom, whose big old-fashioned tub only he is permitted to scrub, the image he presents to the mirror is startling. No wonder that on those infrequent occasions when he slips out the side of the building and walks down 72nd Street to buy a paper, nobody ever recognizes him. John Lennon no longer resembles himself. His trademark granny glasses have long since disappeared, replaced by ordinary plastic specs with blue-tinted lenses to shield his weak, hooded eyes, so sensitive to light that he complains of the glare from the tiny bulbs on the Christmas tree. The famous Lennon nose is still prominent, but it has caved in so badly along the sides that it resembles now the proboscis of a strange bird. The rest of his face is concealed by an ugly, scraggly, untrimmed beard and a wispy mustache. His hair has grown so long that he wears it in a ponytail that he secures with a barrette embellished by a tiny Barbie or Ken doll. John claims that he resembles Prince Myshkin in The Idiot, the Christ-like epileptic hero who screams so violently when he throws a fit that his would-be assassin drops his knife and flees in terror. In truth, Lennon looks less like a prince than an old beachcomber.

As soon as John has satisfied himself that he is perfectly clean, he clacks through the curtain of white beads, made by the ancient Tairona Indians of Colombia, that Yoko purchased for $65,000 to guard the bedroom against the intrusion of evil spirits. Turning a corner, he opens the door that leads from his room into the long, tunnel-like central corridor. Striding along with his jerky, pigeon-toed gait, he passes a series of lofty white chambers that offer panoramic views of Central Park: past the White Room, furnished with white overstuffed furniture and the white piano from Imagine; past the Pyramid Room, filled with Egyptian antiquities, including a gilded sarcophagus containing a 3,000-year-old mummy; past the Black Room, with its ebony-finished furnishings, where John was quarantined for six months after l'affaire Pang; past the Library, which offers an amusing confrontation between Yoko's black lacquer Shinto altar and John's collection of girlie mags and pornographic books; past the Playroom, facing the rear courtyard, whose ambiance is signaled by yards of butcher paper affixed to the hallway walls, bearing the exuberant crayon and watercolor daubings of Sean and his playmates, until at last he reaches the northernmost room, the Nursery, where Sean (if he has not crept into bed with Daddy) will still be sound asleep in the arms of his nanny, Yoko having spent the night in her office, calling overseas or catnapping on her mink-upholstered Napoleonic camp bed.

Turning sharply to the left, John flips on the tracklights of the kitchen, illuminating a space as large as a loft, divided into separate areas for work and recreation: first, a home entertainment center, stacked with the latest audio-visual gear and stocked with thousands of LPs massed on fifteen-foot shelves; then a lounge, with a pair of sofas facing across a cocktail table and a desk set against the opposite wall for Yoko beside a door that opens upon a full bath; and finally, the kitchen proper, lined along both sides with appliances and white Formica counters and shelves. Filling the kettle and settling it on the hooded restaurant range, John struggles to catch the pilot light, a trick he has never quite mastered. As the water heats, he examines carefully the open shelves, searching for foods that are on his index expurgatorius, which includes the vast majority of things that people eat. If he discovers a substance that is forbidden, he will hurl it into the garbage can . . .

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Beatle News

Late Coach

As all the National press found out very quickly, the Mystery Tour coach which the Beatles had hired for their trip round South West England was two hours late arriving to pick Paul McCartney up on the first day, Monday September 11th.

Paul spent the time being photographed, signing autographs and having a cup of tea at a nearby canteen.

The forty-three seats of the coach were filled by 7 technicians, the 4 Beatles, Mal Evans, Neil Aspinall, Press Officer Tony Barrow, Freda Kelly and several other friends including an elderly couple and fan club secretaries Sylvia Nightingale from Sussex, Barbara King from Essex and Jeni Crowley from London . . . lucky girls?

Director John

As you know, the Beatles have planned the whole Mystery Tour themselves and they're also directing it. On Wednesday September 13th John directed a sequence in which Scotch comedian Nat Jackley chased a bevy of girls round a swimming pool. Although the Beatles are completely in charge, they do have a camera director with them who is taking care of the technical side.

Big Change?

Lots of clothes designers down Carnaby Street have been wondering whether the Beatles were about to spark off a craze for gangster style clothes after the pictures appeared in the papers of them wearing Al Capone suits at the start of their Mystery Tour. Sean Connery wore a similar outfit to a big fancy dress party that Brigitte Bardot gave only a few days before. But reports from people on the Mystery Tour say it's not happening yet. To quote one, "As soon as they got into the hotel they changed straight back into their 'love' gear".

No Studio

When the Boys came to book a film studio in which to shoot the interior scenes for their Mystery Tour, they found that all the film studios around London were booked up solid. But a little problem like that has never stopped a Beatle yet and they got hold of an empty hangar in West Malling, near Maidstone in Kent.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Lennon In America: 1971-1980, Based in Part on the Lost Lennon Diaries

by Geoffrey Giuliano

"He was a macho pig in a lot of ways and he knew it. The only thing that made it okay was that he could admit it. That was his saving grace. He tried to overcome it." - SEAN LENNON

"I probably knew him as much as you. That's how warm it was! Dad could talk about peace and love to the world, but could never show it to the people who supposedly meant the most to him. . . . How can you talk about peace and love and have a family in bits and pieces, no communication, adultery, divorce?" - JULIAN LENNON

"John was a great guy, but part of his greatness was that he wasn't a saint." - PAUL McCARTNEY

Beyond the carefully cultivated image of John Lennon (1940-1980) as a loving husband, father, composer, and dedicated peace activist, what do we really know about him? In this first-ever in-depth look at his milestone years in America, where he spent a quarter of his brief life, the myth of Lennon as the swaggering, tough-talking, working-class hero is forever shattered.

Lennon in America is based on more than sixteen years of exhaustive research, utilizing exclusive interviews with Beatles insiders and family members, private letters, and most notably, the explosive contents of Lennon's written and taped diaries in which he recorded his most private, uncensored thoughts. Beatles authority Geoffrey Giuliano has taken these raw materials and, with his incisive perspective, expertly transformed them into an unforgettable biography. The result is a candid, no-holds-barred look at the troubled interior life of a brilliantly gifted artist and enduring cultural icon.

Here is John Lennon as both the devoted husband and thoughtless adulterer; the doting dad and absentee father; a macrobiotic health enthusiast who wrestled with alcoholism, heroin addiction, and bulimia; a pitchman for world peace unable to control his volcanic temper; a vocal feminist and recalcitrant chauvinist; an innovative and influential songwriter who renounced music for years; a lonely Liverpool superstar whose wealth and power allowed him to act with impunity.

Also revealed are Lennon's intimate opinions on the heretofore unchallenged hierarchy of rock 'n' roll, including Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Mick Jagger, Elton John, David Bowie, Paul Simon, James Taylor, and countless others. John Lennon was essentially tragically lonely, a lost and unfulfilled man longing for the freedom of his youth and ever-reeling from the reality of his sophomoric, sex-obsessed, drug-induced isolation and near-perpetual uneasiness.

As this work makes abundantly clear, Lennon was painfully conscious of his personal excesses and failings. To his credit, however, he spent a lifetime struggling to understand himself and reconcile the conflicts within him, a journey that ended with his assassination in New York City in 1980. Filled with countless revelations, rare previously unseen photographs, and never-before-told anecdotes, Lennon in America offers a revolutionary and all-too-human view of the twentieth century's most legendary rock 'n' roll philosopher and pop prophet.

Geoffrey Giuliano is the author of numerous bestselling books on the Beatles and popular culture, including The Lost Beatles Interviews, The Lost Lennon Interviews, Things We Said Today: Conversations with the Beatles, Blackbird: The Life and Times of Paul McCartney, and Dark Horse: The Life and Art of George Harrison.



Revolution For The Hell Of It

There was something oddly portentous about the way John Lennon departed England for the last time. His rambling 74-acre Ascot estate, Tittenhurst Park, lay in shambles. The white Georgian mansion resembled a crumbling mausoleum. When he all but gave it to Ringo in 1973 for payment of back taxes and the sizable repair tab, the formerly easygoing drummer-turned-lord-of-the-manor suddenly became a changed man: now volatile and moody, a heavy drinker and unfeeling womanizer. Unceremoniously dumping his loyal wife Maureen, Starr fled abruptly to Los Angeles. It seemed as if Tittenhurst had a negative influence on those who lived there.
In reality the internal, bookish Beatle was not at all made for America. Arriving in the United States, Lennon wasted no time choosing a new home. As he later recalled, "It was Yoko who sold me on New York. She'd been poor here and knew every inch. She made me walk around the streets, parks, squares, and examine every nook and cranny. In fact, you could say I fell in love with New York on a street corner. . . . Not only was Yoko educated here, but she spent fifteen years living in New York, so, as far as I was concerned, it was just like returning to your wife's hometown."
John's departure from England was given a significant push from Yoko. While Lennon loved the old estate and had for a time considered it his final home, the place was a constant reminder to Ono of how irrevocably tied she was to her husband's overwhelming success. While she had hoped to springboard her own dubious "career" on John's popularity, it hadn't quite worked out that way. Frankly, Yoko's mile-high ambitions could not be satisfied by hiding out in rural Berkshire. So she set to work convincing John to emigrate, goading him with her tales of glory as the "Queen of the Happening," hoping to retrace her early steps in New York's burgeoning avant-garde. There are certainly mixed views as to how influential an artist she was in those days. Lauded by some, condemned by others, Ono's enduring legacy as a conceptual artist depends on to whom you speak.
Furthermore, in England, Yoko was also faced with the issue of access to her husband. Their lavish and spacious Ascot showplace gave family and friends an ample excuse to visit. There was John's faithful cousin Leila, whose close kinship with the eccentric Beatle proved difficult to undermine. George Harrison and Ringo Starr also enjoyed hanging out at Tittenhurst, and thus came around frequently. Most problematic, of course, was the reintroduction of John's estranged son Julian, at six years old no longer a baby to be shunted out of mind. Yoko was secretly worried that any close contact with the boy might bring her new spouse closer to Cynthia, whom she despised.
In luring John to America, Yoko utilized two major factors to her advantage. The first was his vulnerability to heroin, which Yoko admittedly introduced to his life. She encouraged the move by pointing out that they could both escape the long shadow of John's 1968 drug conviction and enjoy greater freedom to experiment with various pharmaceuticals. Besides, the drugs were purported to be much more potent in America. Overnight, John's eagerness to depart for the "Promised Land" increased significantly.
The second draw was the recently completed Imagine album and its documentary companion (both produced at Tittenhurst), which required active promotion in the States. "Imagine is a bit hit almost everywhere," said John at the time. "An anti-religious, anti-nationalistic, anti-conventional, anti-capitalistic song, but because it's sugar-coated, it's accepted. Now I understand what you have to do. Put your political message across with a little honey. This is what we do, Jerry [Rubin], Yoko, and the others, to try to change the apathy of young people. The apathy which exists in America (but which is infiltrating everywhere because everyone follows the American pattern), above all because of the music. The lifestyle of this century has been fashioned by America. Young people are so apathetic. They think there is nothing worthwhile to do and everything is finished. They want to take refuge in drugs and destroy themselves. Our work is to tell them there is still hope and still a lot to do. We have to change their minds; we have to tell them it's okay. Things can change and just because flower-power didn't work, it doesn't mean everything is finished. It is only the beginning. The revolution has only just begun. It is just the beginning of big changes!"
Drummer Alan White remembers the "Imagine" sessions at Tittenhurst: "I spent about ten days down there. We all slept in the house, which was being heavily remodeled. John wanted to watch a particular program and the only telly was up in one of the bedrooms. I remember Clapton, John, Yoko, and myself all lying on the bed watching the telly after a session!
"George Harrison kept poppin' in, different people were coming in from town, and we'd all sit around a big oak table in the kitchen with the builders working around us. It was very close. Being around John and George, having a couple of Beatles in the room, is very hard as they're the axis of everything that goes on. Especially a person as strong-willed as John, who always knew exactly what he wanted. He had that sound in his head. John played us 'Imagine' before we started the album. He gave us a set of lyrics for every song and said, 'This is what you're about to be saying to the world.'"
According to photographer Kieron Murphy, also on hand for the sessions, Phil Spector garnered the most respect, especially from John, who treated the legendary producer like royalty. Their collaboration had begun with Lennon's infectious 1970 hit, "Instant Karma," and continued with the Plastic Ono Band. "It was almost as if he'd come out of the floor in a puff of smoke," said Murphy of Spector. "He had a very strong presence. Phil seemed to arrive without even coming into the room. Lennon was almost as in awe of Spector as I was of John. He leapt up to give him his chair, fussed around him, and got him tea. Everybody else was being a bunch of boisterous lads, swapping football stories, but Spector just sat there. Then Phil says to him very quietly, 'John, I think we should make a start.' Whereupon Lennon leapt to his feet and literally took the cups of tea out of the people's hands, frog marching them into the studio: 'Phil wants us now!' I was amazed to see that John Lennon was willing to obey anybody!"
Lennon offered rare insights into the recording of Imagine via an only recently discovered unpublished overview he wrote in 1971. The blistering "I Don't Want to Be a Soldier," for example, hailed from his "Working Class Hero" period. John praised its odd beat, but poined out that many of the final lyrics were either lost or wrong. His wandering off-key vocals, reminiscent of Yoko's quirky deliveries, drew high praise from his wife.
Lennon's moody treatise on self-doubt, "How," was George Harrison's favorite. While the verses were penned in 1970, the middle-eight - George's favorite part - was knocked off during the session, Lennon conceded the vocal could have been better, but was pleased overall with the number. He also noted that the guitar breaks were a challenge.
The lengthy piece went on to discuss "How Do You Sleep?" - his stinging telegram launched at McCartney in response to Paul's cutting volleys on his Ram LP. John deemed it Harrison's finest guitar work and was especially proud of his own searing guitar riffs, although Lennon was critical of his rather strident vocals.
Murphy recalls John writing the tune with Yoko at his feet taking down the lyrics. "He was literally making the album up as he went along and was teaching it to them. I thought at first it was a slag off to the fans because the first line is, 'so Sgt. Pepper took you by surprise.' But it began to click when he sang 'The only thing you done was "Yesterday" and so on.'"
Artistically, when Lennon left his homeland for America, he was at the top of his game. Following the stark emotional purge of his complex Plastic Ono period, he now returned to more familiar poetic musings with the just completed Imagine (released in October 1971), his most successful solo work. The bittersweet holiday single "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" would became a perennial holiday favorite. Lennon was also on the verge of making important social and political contributions, speaking out on leftist issues in venues such as Tariq Ali's Marxist popular manifesto, Red, and supporting the landmark British miners' strike. But in his private life Lennon desperately sought an escape from fame and its oppressive trappings. He had also grown angry and weary of the media's relentless assaults upon Yoko. Thus, America afforded a real solution on several fronts. Wild and woolly, open-all-night America, the birthplace of rock and a haven for the downtrodden. But America was also the place where everything was for sale, including innocence and the very fame from which he had fled. As John's tragic karma rolled on, America would play a major part in his undoing. Still, John was very optimistic upon his arrival, as he noted, "I know there are rough areas in New York, but I don't visit them often. The district can change abruptly within one block, but I find I can walk the streets quite freely. People recognize me, but they don't trouble me too much. Sometimes they want to audition right there on the street, which can be a bit embarrassing. But they don't recognize me as much since I shaved my beard off. I shaved it off because I was finding it difficult to eat.
"The cab drivers treat me almost as one of the locals. The younger, hippie types still regard me as a rock superstar; they're always turning right round to ask questions and terrifying me.
"I like New Yorkers because they have no time for the niceties of life. They're like me in this regard. They're naturally aggressive, they don't believe in wasting time."
During this period Yoko initiated an extended custody battle for her daughter Kyoko. It was an abrupt change of attitude considering her previous indifference to her daughter. Yoko, who had once referred to her pregnancy as a "tumor," had a history of dumping her child on anyone willing to take her. At one point she left her one-year-old daughter in Tokyo with her husband Tony Cox to travel to New York to pursue her "art." When Cox finally joined her, Ono left the toddler with Tony's relatives for some nine months, even arranging an adoption with Tony's aunt before her husband put a last-minute stop to it. When she migrated to London in 1966, she virtually abandoned Kyoko to pursue her affair with Lennon, only rarely spending time with her daughter. As longtime associate Jon Hendricks once put it, "Yoko never put her child before her career."
In the wake of the Lennon's Primal Therapy, Yoko's third miscarriage, and the awareness that John's son Julian was growing up, Ono had a change of heart and decided in April 1971 that she wanted her daughter back. The resulting custody battle was so tenacious, acrimonious, and confusing that at one point both Tony and Yoko had legal custody in several different jurisdictions.
For John the battle was particularly wrenching. Lennon's hot and cold relationship with Cox was revealed in a letter "welcoming" Tony to London: After telling Yoko's ex that Kyoko wanted her dad to visit, John none too tactfully exposed his jealous insecurity. Yoko was the only woman for him, he stressed, and he didn't want anything or anyone, particularly her former hubby, to rock the boat. John begged Cox to make his excuses that he couldn't get away and come see them after all. John made it clear he could hardly even abide speaking with Tony on the telephone.
The court fight quickly became intensely personal when a judge asked Kyoko to choose between her parents. It brought back anguished memories of the day John was confronted with a similar choice: "I remember when it was happening to me. I was shattered." In Lennon's turbulent life everything seemed framed by the torment of his own fragmented childhood.
Eventually, Lennon enlisted a regiment of top detectives, headed by a $50,000 Pinkerton investigator, in a full-blown, two-year search that ranged over the Virgin Islands, Texas, and California. Lennon gave Jon Hendricks some money to snoop around Houston and Sausalito, where Cox had been sighted, and Hendricks often had to jump into action at a moment's notice whenever a frazzled Yoko swore she'd seen her daughter.
Another key figure in these activities was Ken Dewey, a talented performance artist from the wealthy New York Dewey family, and a former intimate of Ono, who had been tapped to become director of the New York Art Council. Tragically, while searching for Kyoko, he died in a small plane crash in Connecticut in August 1971. A memorial service was held at the family's estate in Sommerville, New York. Dressed entirely in black, a pale-faced Lennon appeared sombre and agitated as he and Yoko gave a silent concert, with John playing air guitar and Yoko an imaginary piano. When a photographer snapped a photo during the proceedings, Lennon exploded. He grabbed the camera, confiscated the film, and tossed the photographer a wad of money, screaming "I don't want you taking pictures!" After the service, Lennon hosted an exhibit of his drawings and writings in the Deweys' barn. The tribute further included an embarrassing John-and-Yoko blood-brothers ritual. Those close to the rocker say guilt over the young man's death eventually convinced John to call off the worldwide search.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Lennon: The Definitive Biography

by Ray Coleman

Updated With A New Introduction

"The definitive work - a fine biography." - Boston Globe

Completely revised and updated, this new edition of Lennon stands as the definitive life of the most complex and fascinating of the Beatles.

Ray Coleman, former editor-in-chief of England's Melody Maker magazine and a friend of the Beatles since their early days, has drawn on previously unmined family papers, photographs, and extensive interviews to create the most balanced and comprehensive biography of this influential musician.

"Important.... Coleman was the first music journalist introduced to the Beatles by their manager Brian Epstein.... It's good to see Lennon as a human being for a change, warts and all."
- Saturday Review

"Once in a great while a book will appear that is written with the heart as well as the head.... Coleman's straightforward and sensitive approach to the complex man that was John Lennon could not have been written by an outsider.... The ultimate biography of John Lennon."
- Milwaukee Sentinel

"Coleman delves into the uncongenial aspects of John's personality - the lad's early penchant for fistfights, his vicious public attacks on Paul McCartney, and his tendency to use and discard women. But overall he celebrates Lennon as the genius-artist with a razor wit and a heart of gold."
- People

"What's hot? Ray Coleman's intimate biography of John Lennon.... John and Ray were close friends right up to Lennon's tragic death in 1980, and the easy familiarity with which this book is written is one of the things that make it special."
- St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"The best biography that's ever been written about him. It is one of the most thorough works ever written about anyone in pop music."
- Goldmine

Ray Coleman is the author of The Man Who Made the Beatles about Brian Epstein, Clapton! about Eric Clapton, and the coauthor with Bill Wyman of Stone Alone. He lives in London.



'Oh God, Buddy Holly's dead'

She loved him, but the smell of scallops in his hair and on his body drove her crazy. Liverpool scallops were slices of potato surrounded by a greasy, thick batter, dipped into fat, and deep-fried. John Lennon was addicted to them. Most lunchtimes, as a student at Liverpool College of Art, he crossed the road to the chip shop in Falkner Street and piled himself up with a bag of chips and a bag of scallops. He would take them back to one of the classrooms, perhaps play the guitar while eating, and enthral a few students. The gentleness of his playing contrasted vividly with his hell-raising personality. To many students, this reprobate seventeen-year-old was absolutely magnetic.

But he stank. 'It permeated from his head, through his clothes, and his entire body reeked of greasy scallops,' recalls Helen Anderson, one of the students who adored the 'lovable swine' who dressed like a teddy boy. She nagged him to wash the grease out of his hair and get rid of the DA ('duck's arse') style at the back. 'Get lost,' Lennon would snap. The greased-back hair, DA at the rear, sideburns, drape jackets, crepe-soled shoes, tatty checked shirt, and drainpipe trousers, all based on Elvis Presley whom he regarded as the king, were central to Lennon's personality. For they made him stand out from the rest of the students. Nothing was more important to him than individuality.

Helen Anderson had a unique, direct line to John Lennon's thoughts: he would confide in her about his love affairs. She was a patient listener and admirer of his wit, and since there was never any suggestion that they would become lovers she became a platonic friend and confidante.

She possessed a major attraction for John Lennon. At sixteen, she had actually met a pop star of the day. Lonnie Donegan, whom she had painted in oils for the astronomical fee of $40. There had been stories in the newspapers about her artistic talent. 'Hey, are you that bird who painted Lonnie Donegan?' John asked her on her first day at art school. He was impressed.

As John's undisciplined, hilarious behaviour made more of an impact on her, Helen would go home and tell her mother every day about John's crazy antics that had broken up the class. She demonstrates how John crept up behind people and suddenly boomed one of his favourite songs into their ear. It was Screaming Jay Hawkins's hit, 'I Put A Spell On You'. Helen and John's special friendship was sealed when he regularly gave her his trousers to narrow the legs into drainpipe style. 'Take these in for me, would you, Heloon, they're too bloody wide.' (Heloon was his nickname for her because she always laughed uproariously at his outrageous behaviour.) Dutifully, she often took John's black trousers home and returned them next morning tapered. The 'drainies' were worn underneath his 'regulation shape' trousers until he reached the bus stop on his way to college, where he slipped them off. That way, his Aunt Mimi would not see over breakfast that he was a latent 'ted'. He had to find many similar methods of fending off her wrath about his untidy appearance.

Those who were at art college with John Lennon are unanimous: he was destined to be a great public figure, a triumphant star with unique gifts, or else he would be a layabout, a burden on society who achieved nothing. There would be no halfway for this extraordinary teenager who roared through Liverpool, making an impact on everybody who was willing to be touched by him.

'Even at sixteen I knew he was destined to some sort of grandeur and greatness,' says Helen Anderson. 'In his first six months at college, his paintings were very wild and aggressive. Every one he did incorporated the interior of a night club and they were very strongly drawn, very dark, and there was always a blonde girl sitting at the bar looking like Brigitte Bardot. There were always musicians in John's early drawings, a band on a bandstand, dim lights, something sleazy. I always liked them. But very few people noticed his work in his early days at college.'

To the teachers Lennon was a pest, a danger. His work, erratically presented, was the last thing they worried about. It was his behaviour as a catalyst for trouble in every classroom that they outlawed in unison. Eventually, Lennon and the masters became polarized, just as they had done at his previous school, Quarry Bank High School, Woolton. The more they bored him with their orthodox, predictable, unyielding methods of education which he abhorred, the more he would seek his own route. 'The masters were not interested in him,' says Helen Anderson. 'He was a nuisance to the entire college, distracting everybody else who wanted to learn.'

Lennon didn't care. He had his gang, camp followers like the laconically funny Geoff Mohammed, who was a perfect foil for John's pungent humour. There was Tony Carricker, who joined in the crowd who laughed almost non-stop at John's ribaldry. And there was even June Furlong, the twenty-seven-year-old model who was the subject of the life class in which they would all have to draw her body. Even she became convulsed with laughter on many days when she was supposed to be a serious art subject. Lennon discovered early in his teen years what was to be one of his most endearing characteristics when he was in deep trouble: he could always make people laugh with his very distinctive, cruel, exploitative sense of humour.

In the very warm life class of room 71 at the college, fifteen students were set their weekly task of drawing June. Some would doze off when the teacher left the room. Suddenly Lennon would give out a little giggle. Nobody would take much notice. Two or three minutes later, his giggle would be louder. That would disturb people, especially those trying to concentrate on drawing. A real laugh followed, and a few minutes later his loud, hyena-like cackle totally broke up the class. By then everyone was hysterical at John's calculated disruption. To top it off, Lennon then jumped out from behind his easel, ran into the middle of the room where June was sitting, naked, rocking with laughter and trying to stop her body from shaking for the benefit of the students who wanted to continue to draw it. Finally, for his pièce de résistance, Lennon brought laughter to the entire class by leaping around the room where silence and decorum were the rule.

During another life class session, the whole class produced proper drawings of the model which were soberly dissected by the teacher, Teddy Griffiths. When John came to hand in his effort, he had perversely drawn nothing of June. He produced a drawing of the only item on June's body - her wristwatch. Students were aghast at his nerve - and originality.

While John's eccentric behaviour, non-conformist dress, and swearing in front of the teachers were enough to make him prominent, a less rational, disturbing side to his character emerged soon after he joined the art college. He quickly developed a bizarre obsession for cripples, spastics, any human deformities, and people on crutches. He had a particular fascination for warts. It was a subject that was to manifest itself throughout John Lennon's years of fame. It took root, firmly and with a gaggle of students embarrassed at their own sick sense of humour in laughing at him, here at art college.

Deformities cropped up in his drawings all the time. So did his dry wit, the quality that dominated his personality. For a seventeen-year-old he had a subtle sense of humour way ahead of his time. There was always life and movement in his drawings, to redeem that streak of cruelty. Every person he portrayed had a physical affliction, usually a wart sticking out of the side of the head. Asked why, John would shrug it off, with the implication that if you had to ask, you weren't on his wavelength, so there was no point in discussing it.

By 1958, in his eighteenth year, with all the guns blazing at the art college which bestowed upon him lots of freedom in dress and demeanour, but which was unsuccessfully grappling on all fronts with his wildness, John Lennon could not be missed. He was desperately short-sighted, which somehow added to his mystique among the girls. He wore teddy boy clothes, and his black horn-rimmed spectacles, worn only under the greatest pressure, for he had an ego, were held together at the joints by Elastoplast. He rarely had any money and borrowed it permanently from his gang. He scrounged cigarettes all the time, somehow managing to get through between ten and twenty Woodbines a day. He drank too many pints, usually black velvets, in Ye Cracke, the sudents' pub in Rice Street near the college, and since he could not take much beer without feeling its effects, he frequently behaved either obnoxiously or violently. He kept losing his artist's materials and would constantly ask his Aunt Mimi for more money on the pretext of neednig a new pen or other equipment.

He was a startlingly talented, non-conforming artist, but so lazy that even his close college friend, the serious intellectual Stuart Sutcliffe, could not drag John's attributes into line and get him properly on course. Music, rock 'n' roll, Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Little Richard - it was all too much of a pull for Lennon, who would stalk the college with a guitar strapped to his back, ready for the lunchtime sessions over scallops and chips in Arthur Ballard's classroom with two other kids from the more academic Liverpool Institute next door. Their names were Paul McCartney and George Harrison.

On 4 February 1959 John walked solemnly into the classroom, visibly shaken. It was not often that students saw Lennon vulnerable, broken, unhappy. 'Oh God. Buddy Holly's dead,' he muttered. Holly, a vital pioneer of early rock 'n' roll, a singer of plaintive love songs wedded to jerky, haunting melodies, was one of John's idols. He had died in a plane crash in America. Unlike many of the students, John did not cry over the news, but went silent for the day and took some time to snap out of the shock. Lennon always buried his feelings deeply.

It was the third great emotional death to mark John's life, and he was still only eighteen. Seven months before Buddy Holly's death John's mother, Julia Lennon, had died instantly at the age of forty-four after being knocked down by a car when leaving the home of John's Aunt Mimi, with whom John was living. The death of Uncle George, Mimi's husband, who doted on John and had bathed him, protected him, and been a warm and loving father-figure during his childhood, had rocked John at the age of fourteen. And now, just as John was getting inspiration from Buddy Holly, and totally absorbing the wonderful, embryonic sounds of American rock 'n' roll music, it was like another death in the family.

For the teenager who had come from a broken home, despite all his natural inner orthodoxy, respect, and sentimentality, there seemed only one way to get through his early life after eighteen years punctuated by physical fights and emotional scars. That was to erect a cocoon of belligerence, aggression, sick or vicious wit, and castigation. The real John Lennon, from his birth until his death, was a vastly misunderstood man. His drawings and his spoken word may have injured or hurt, and he was capable of wounding with pertinent jibes that shot straight through the heart of the victim. But he always aimed his arrows at people he could not respect, and beneath that abrasive exterior beat a heart of pure gold.

Monday, July 21, 2008

In His Own Write

by John Lennon
With A New Introduction By Yoko Ono

With a new introduction from Yoko Ono, here is a handsome new edition of John Lennon's whimsical, wonderful, writerly classic book of stories, poems, and drawings.

Best known as a singer-songwriter for the lengendary Beatles, JOHN LENNON was born in Liverpool, England. In 1969, Lennon married Yoko Ono and the two formed the Plastic Ono Band. Lennon was killed by a deranged fan outside his apartment building in New York on December 8, 1980. For more information, see "About the Awful."


I was bored on the 9th of Octover 1940 when, I believe, the Nasties were still booming us led by Madalf Heatlump (Who only had one). Anyway they didn't get me. I attended to varicous schools in Liddypool. And still didn't pass - much to my Aunties supplies. As a member of the most publitied Beatles my and (P.G. and R's) records might seem funnier to some of you than this book, but as far as I'm conceived this correction of short writty is the most wonderfoul larf I've ever ready.
God help and breed you all.


Partly Dave

There once upon a time was a man who was partly Dave - he had a mission in life. 'I'm partly Dave' he would growm in the morning which was half the battle. Over breakfast he would again say 'I am partly Dave' which always unnverved Betty. 'Your in a rut Dave' a voice would say on his way to work, which turned out to be a coloured conductor! 'It's alright for you.' Dave used to think, little realising the coloured problem.

Partly Dave was a raving salesman with the gift of the gob, which always unnverved Mary. 'I seem to have forgotten my bus fare, Cobber,' said Dave not realising it. 'Gerroff the bus then' said Basubooo in a voice that bode not boot, not realising the coloured problem himself really. 'O.K.' said partly Dave, humbly not wishing to offend. 'But would you like your daughter to marry one?' a voice seem to say as Dave lept off the bus like a burning spastic.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


Olivia Harrison

GEORGE HARRISON was one of the most adored and accomplished musicians of the rock & roll era. His brilliant, understated guitar playing helped define the sound of the Beatles, and his songs - including "Something," "Here Comes the Sun" and "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" - are among the group's finest. Harrison's lifelong quest for new sounds had a profound influence on the Beatles; he introduced the sitar and other Eastern instruments into the group - and to rock & roll. In the late sixties he also led the Beatles to explore Eastern religion and embarked on a personal spiritual journey that continued for the rest of his life. In 1970, following the Beatles' breakup, Harrison released a solo masterpiece, All Things Must Pass, and the next year he pioneered rock's first large-scale charity event with the Concert for Bangladesh. Harrison launched a solo tour in 1974 and made a series of wonderful solo albums and side projects with friends like Eric Clapton, Ravi Shankar and fellow Beatle Ringo Starr. In the late eighties he formed the Traveling Wilburys with his friends Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne, but Harrison spent most of that decade and the nineties at home in England and Hawaii, tending to his garden, playing the ukulele and enjoying a quiet life with his wife, Olivia, and son, Dhani.

ROLLING STONE featured George Harrison on its cover three times for his post-Beatles work and eight times as a Beatle. He was also featured on the cover of a special commemorative issue, as well as on the magazine's regular edition, following his death from cancer at age fifty-eight, on November 29, 2001. Now, in a definitive tribute that features a new foreword by Olivia Harrison, the editors have drawn on their archives and hundreds of photographs, both the iconographic and the rarely seen, to celebrate the life and career of one of the most important musicians in rock & roll history.

COMPILED by the editors of ROLLING STONE, Harrison chronicles the guitarist's life before, during and after the Beatles. Contributing editor Mikal Gilmore offers an expansive, thoughtful new essay, "The Mystery Inside George." ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award winner and ROLLING STONE senior editor David Fricke tells the stories behind Harrison's best-known songs, and offers a guide to twenty-five essential Harrison recordings. Harrison also features news stories and interviews with the guitarist from throughout ROLLING STONE's history - from his first Q&A with the magazine, in 1968, to his last, a 1987 interview with ROLLING STONE contributing editor Anthony DeCurtis.

Harrison also collects more than one hundred photographs - from intimate, never-before-seen family photos to iconic images of Harrison as a member of the world's most photographed band. The work of nine renowned photographers is featured in a stunning sixty-page gallery. Included among them are German photographers Max Scheler's and Jürgen Vollmer's early photos of the band's wild days in Hamburg. There is also the deeply personal work of Astrid Kirchherr, who shot the Beatles' earliest formal portraits in a Hamburg fairground and became a close friend of George's. P.J. Griffiths photographed the band for a newspaper article in 1963 on the Liverpool scene. David Hurn shot the filming of A Hard Day's Night and Help! Curt Gunther was one of the few photographers allowed to travel with the group during their 1964 North American tour. And Mark Seliger shot what became the definitive late-period portrait of Harrison for ROLLING STONE's twenty-fifth anniversary issue in 1992.


A Few Words About George


THE SILENCE of George's absence in our lives is deafening. Although he often renounced his role as an entertainer, my life with him was never boring. There were many comedies and a few tragedies but, most of all, deep love for all living things. He was a warrior who faced life's battles with extraordinary courage. In the words of Bob Dylan, "He had the strength of a hundred men." The power of his convictions was as strong as a hundred men, all right. As Arjuna asked Krishna for guidance on the battlefield, so George faced the many battles before him with spiritual courage and unwavering conviction.

Our son, Dhani, and I, like George's friends, were spoiled by his rich and loving presence: from the morning wake-up call, which could have been (depending on our location and mood) a morning raga, a Vedic chant, a Mozart concerto, Cab Calloway's "Bugle Call Rag," or Hoagy's earliest instrumental version of "Stardust," to the day's final tune, maybe whistled on his way to bed and which I would wake up in the morning singing. He loved planting the seed of a song and would sometimes whistle a tune I disliked just to see if he could get it rolling around in my head. After I would complain about it, he'd say, "Okay, here's one to replace it," and whistle another.

All senses were satisfied as incense blew in the morning breeze, mingling with the steam from hot cups of tea. If he stepped out the door for a breath of morning air, he always returned with a flower or leaf that would have gone unnoticed by everyone else, in the same way many among us would have gone unnoticed were it not for his ability to "see" the true person inside the bodily form. He always went straight to the heart of a person, and that ability extended to any subject or matter or work before him. His ability to penetrate to the core gave him, as he put it, "a different slant, a different patter," than anyone I ever knew.

George said he felt closest to God in nature, and some may assume his passion as a landscape gardener was founded solely on his immense love and knowledge of plants as well as his extraordinary vision. But the driving force was his desire to know God. "If there is a God, we must see Him; if there is a soul we must perceive it. Otherwise it is better not to believe. It is better to be an outspoken atheist than a hypocrite," as he used to remind us! Though he often quoted spiritual greats in this way, George did not, contrary to popular belief, "belong" to any spiritual organization, although many claimed him as their own. George also said, "He who tells all that he knows, tells more than he knows." This usually applied to those who declared they knew the very private George's innermost beliefs. In fact, his spiritual knowledge and experience was many faceted. Still, he managed to dive deep to the heart of each practice, never content to skim the surface. He embraced the essence of all religions although he had little patience for organized religions or dogma that espoused guilt, sin or mystery. For George, there was no mystery, and he would gladly spend hours discussing God with an interested person - and some not so interested!

He was so deep, and I for one was at times guilty of indolence - probably because I knew that the tide of his devotion was so strong that I cold ride those currents with him toward our shared goal of God consciousness. Now, without him, we all have more paddling to do.

George left the world his uniquely beautiful melodies, and some of them were barely born, played once, maybe. Every Dictaphone or tape machine in the house was found with a cassette inside bearing the beginning of a new song, some on piano, ukulele or guitar, some with hysterically funny words, some with fiercely serious lyrics, but all crafted from creativity he knew to be a divine gift.

Besides the company, conversation and wisdom of my beloved friend, I already long for the live background music to our lives. If I began singing a song - any song - he would accompany and encourage me. If I played three chords on the uke (compulsory instrument in our home), he would be my band. George was so generous and "grateful to anyone that is happy or free." A good moment to him was always worth making better.

I love you, George. The joys, sorrows, lessons and love we shared are more than enough to fill my heart until we meet again.

-January 2002

Loving John

by May Pang

She was the woman who shared John's love.

May Pang was just twenty-two, but to John Lennon and Yoko Ono she had become indispensable. She typed their letters and picked up their clothing where they dropped it; she carried irreplaceable tapes and files between ABKCO in New York and the Lennon estate in England. She budgeted and contracted for their albums, recruited 365 pairs of bare legs for a Lennon peace film, and even "passed" trunkfuls of Yoko's clothes through customs. The Lennons' whims were her commands, and no matter how bizarre the orders, May managed to follow them.

Then, one morning at the Dakota, Yoko informed May that she was to begin loving John.


"Listen, May," Yoko began when she called early the next morning, "I heard you were holding hands in the studio last night." She must have had spies everywhere; I felt like I was in a samurai movie. "You know you are not supposed to do that."

I didn't want her to get John upset, so I said, "I'll take care of it." John was still asleep, and Yoko said that she would call back. John and she spoke periodically during the day, but no matter what she said to John, he remained jubilant.

That night Spector came over to the house to work on "Angel Baby," which John and he planned to record the following night. The fact that they refused to plan the entire album in advance and were working track by track seemed inefficient to me, but John pooh-poohed me. He and Spector enjoyed those nights together, nights that gave John yet another opportunity to sit back and be amused by Spector's antics.

Before the second session John once again poured himself a flask of vodka. He looked at me. "We both know you don't need a security blanket," I said jokingly.

"I don't . . . but I'm takin' one anyway."

When John, Arlene, and I got to the studio, the atmosphere was subtly different than it had been on the first night. The mystery and suspense of the first night had evaporated; everybody knew what was in store - a long, grinding evening. The musicians who had been cool and professional with each other on the first evening greeted each other like long-lost army buddies who had suddenly been recalled to fight one more war. Everyone seemed almost too relaxed, too jolly.

After the musicians had gathered, Spector, followed by George, marched into the studio. He was wearing a costume, a white surgical gown with a stethoscope around his neck. Spector was in a wild mood. He took out his bottle of Courvoisier and took a swig. Then he flashed his gun. Everyone cheered. Once again chairs had to be pushed into place to accommodate the orchestra. Chattering wildly, Spector ran from musician to musician, revving each up for the evening's work.

He ran down "Angel Baby," then the orchestra played it together. Then he went into the booth to work with the rhythm section. On the first night the musicians had stayed in their seats, waiting for instructions. On the second night, knowing that the rhythm section was in for a long haul, they got up and went into the hall. John followed after them. John and Jesse Ed Davis had begun to pass the flask of vodka back and forth.

"Come on, have another drink," said Jesse, and John obliged. "Have another one," Jesse said a few minutes later. Once again John did as he was told. Jesse was fascinated by his ability to manipulate John, and John was delighted to have found a playmate eager to encourage the bad boy in him.

Then they circulated the flask. Unexpectedly musicians pulled out their own bottles. Arlene and I looked at each other - we sensed trouble.

As the night wore on, Spector continued to work with the rhythm section. They looked tired and thirsty and cranky and bored. "Again," ordered Spector. "Again."

One of the musicians said to John, "Hey, man, why did he call us for seven? It's already eleven, and we haven't played a thing. We've been here four fucking hours!"

A saxophonist said to me, "You don't know what hell is until you've heard 'Angel Baby' forty times!"

Meanwhile John and Jesse continued to hang out in the hall and swig away at the vodka. John's drinking made me nervous. He marched over, grinned, and kissed me. Then he kissed me harder and slipped his hand into my blouse.

"Please don't drink any more," I said as I pulled away, embarrassed.

"Why not? I'm just hanging out with the boys. Don't you like me to hang out with the boys?"

"I think we should go home."

"I haven't done my vocal yet."

"Please, let's get out of here."

"Don't worry about a thing. You just stay straight so that there will be someone who knows what's going on."

John laughed and kissed me on the chin, then sauntered back to Jesse.

When I saw Joni Mitchell arrive, I got up and went back into the studio. John followed after me. Neither of us was in the mood for her. In the studio, Spector was working with the horn section.

Suddenly a clarinetist stood up and put down his instrument. Spector rushed from the booth. "What the fuck is your problem?" he bellowed at the musician.

"I've spent five hours, man, doing twenty minutes of work," the musician replied.

"What records have you done, man?" barked Spector. "Minor-selling jazz artists like Gil Evans? Do you know the records I've made, man? The Ronettes, The Crystals, Ike and Tina? What have you done, man?"

The horn player yelled back. For twenty minutes Spector and the musician harangued each other.

John grew tense. He hated seeing people abuse each other. "Let's go," I kept urging him, but he insisted on staying. While we waited Joni Mitchell waited, too. She did not take her eyes off John.

Finally John marched into the booth. "When are you goin' to get to me?" he asked Spector.

"I'll get to you, I'll get to you," Spector replied, paying him almost no attention.

"You'll get to me!" John picked up a headset and smashed it angrily against the console. It shattered, and the pieces fell onto the floor. There was a moment of dead silence while everyone stared at John and Spector. Then John laughed, and his laughter dissipated the tension.

"Now, what did you do that for? You're slowing things down," Spector growled.

When the strings and horns were done, Spector gathered the orchestra together, and John and I went into the booth. I held John's hand while he sang "Angel Baby." Again it took only a few takes.

When the session was over, I took John by the arm. He was weaving slightly as we walked out of the studio. Outside he suddenly turned, started wildly at Jesse, rushed over to him, and kissed him. Jesse laughed. He thought it was very funny. He leaned over and kissed John back. John reached out and sent Jesse sprawling across the parking lot. "Faggot!" he screamed.

I had never seen John like that. I approached him and stared at him. His eyes were so glassy, he couldn't see me. Suddenly I realized that liquor was the one thing that enabled him to overcome his desire to be controlled by a strong woman. It was obvious no woman - not even Yoko - could handle him when he was drunk. I was very nervous. Still, I did not want to leave his side.

I looked around. Elliot wasn't waiting for us. Spector and George suddenly pulled up in one car; Roy Cicala pulled up behind him. "In here," said Spector, pushing me into Cicala's car while he hustled John and Arlene into the other.

"I want to ride with John," I said.

"In here," he ordered.

"Do what Phil says," John said drunkenly.

"No, I want to ride with John."

"It's a short drive." Spector grabbed me by the arm and pushed me into the other car.

It was early morning, and the roads were deserted. As we drove I could hear John in the car behind me. He was screaming at the top of his lungs. First he screamed "May." Then he screamed "Yoko." Over and over again I heard him scream "May . . . Yoko . . . May . . . Yoko . . ."

When we got to the house, I dashed out of the car. Arlene got out of the other one and ran to me. She looked very frightened. "John's gone mad," she said. "He tried to kick out the windows of the car. He's been hitting everyone and pulling their hair. Jim Keltner tried to sit on him and hold him down, but it was impossible."

I saw John stagger out of the car and I went to him and put my arms around him. "Let's go inside," I said.

"He's a very skinny man, and it's hard to believe how strong he is," Keltner told me. "I'm much bigger than he is and I couldn't hold him down. I can't believe it. He's stronger than I am. I think he's uncontrollable."

"We should put him to bed," I said.

"He's too drunk to sleep," said Spector. "We should sober him up. Otherwise the alcohol in him is going to make him crazier and crazier. In his condition he's capable of anything. You're in great danger. Don't you understand that? We should sober him up. Do as I say. Make some coffee. Otherwise you'll be sorry. You could be hurt."

"We should put him to bed," I shouted.

"Make some coffee!" Spector bellowed. "Do as I say."

I made the coffee, and Spector tried to get John to drink it.

"What are you bastards doin' here?" John suddenly screaming. "None of you is any fuckin' good."

"Easy does it," said Spector. "Easy does it. Drink some more coffee."

Although Spector had said that he was just trying to calm John down before letting him go to sleep, everything he actually did was having exactly the opposite effect. The more coffee John drank, the more argumentative and violent he became. Suddenly it struck me that Spector had taken total control of that epsiode just as he had at the recording studio. The same climate of hositility, mistrust, and general pandemonium was beginning to reign at the house.

"Get the fuck out of me house." John started to weave toward Spector. He was too drunk and uncoordinated to do any harm, but Spector jumped as if he were under attack.

"We've got to get him upstairs," Spector said. "Now - we have to put him to bed before he hurts someone. Grab him!" Phil shouted.

George grabbed John by one arm, and Spector grabbed him by the other. Together they began to walk John up the stairs. I followed after them. "Don't come with us," Spector said dramatically. "This man is capable of great danger. Keep your distance."

No matter what Spector said I kept following behind them. They got to the head of the stairs, then took John into the bedroom. I followed after them, but Spector slammed the door in my face.

Suddenly I heard John scream. "I can't see. You Jew bastard, give me me glasses. I can't see!"

I banged frantically at the door, then I tried to force it open, but someone was standing against it.

"What are you doin' to me?" screamed John. "Get away!"

I heard the sounds of a fight and I knew I needed help. I ran to the phone.

"Who are you calling?" Arlene shouted from the bottom of the stairs. "You're not calling the police?"

"Are you crazy? I'm calling Tony King. I need a man here - a man John will listen to." While I dialed Tony's number John's scream grew even louder.

I told Tony that Spector and his bodyguard were in the room with John, that John was screaming, and that I needed help quickly.

After I got off the phone, Arlene and I stood there, listening to the screams. We were both terrified. Finally Spector and George walked down the stairs.

"What did you do to him?" I called out.

"He kicked me," said George.

"We tied him up." Spector glared at me. "He was too dangerous. We tied him up tight so he won't be able to harm anyone and he'll be able to sleep it off. Untie him in the morning. Let's go, George." They headed for the door. "Good night," said Spector. "By the way, wasn't it a terrific session?"

After Spector left, it was quiet for a few minutes. Arlene and I said nothing. We were both too afraid to go up the stairs. Then we heard John scream. "Untie me, May, damn it. You had better untie me or else!"

The screaming continued for another five minutes. I didn't know what to do. I wanted to help him, but at that moment I was just too panicked. Then I heard John trashing around, as well as the sound of glass shattering. I knew that John had ripped himself loose and had just thrown something through the plate glass window in the bedroom.

"Fung Yee," he screamed, "where are you?" John staggered out of the bedroom and stood at the top of the stairs. He wasn't wearing his glasses. His feet and wrists had been tied with neckties. He had pulled his wrists apart, snapping the ties in the process. Two ties dangled from his feet.

Squinting, John stood at the top of the stairs. "Yoko! Yoko!" he screamed. "Yoko, you slant-eyed bitch, you wanted to get rid of me. All this has happened because you wanted to get rid of me." He stumbled down the stairs. "Yoko, I'm goin' to get you."

John was lost in a nightmare. His brow was bathed in sweat and he was literally foaming at the mouth. He began to shake as if he were going to have a convulsion. "Yoko, look what you've done to me," he roared. He tried to focus. Humiliated and tortured, he seemed overwhelmed by confusion. He stood there not knowing what he wanted to do. Then he began to moan. It was the sound of a wounded wild animal. He looked at me, but he did not recognize me. He did not know where he was, "Yoko, I'm goin' to get you," he screamed. He looked at me blindly. Then he charged wildly at me. I had never been more terrified in my entire life.

"John," I screamed. I turned and dashed out the door, Arlene following after me. As I ran down Stone Canyon Road, a Jeep drove down the road, and the driver jammed on his brakes when he saw me, almost hitting me, but I kept going.

Finally I reached the Bel-Air Hotel. As I headed for the entrance I heard John's voice cut through the night. "Nobody loves me," he roared. "Nobody gives a shit about me! . . . Everybody just uses me! . . . No one cares about me!" I hoped no one in that exclusive neighborhood would call the police.

I ran into the hotel lobby, told the desk clerk that I had been locked out of my house, and asked to use the desk telephone. Then I called our engineers, Roy and Jimmy. "Come over now," I scaremed. "John's gone crazy, and I'm afraid."

I left the hotel, and then Arlene and I paced back and forth on the road. I could hear John screaming in the distance. He hurled abuse at Yoko and at Spector. He called out for me. He kept screaming, "Why doesn't anyone love me?" I stood in the middle of the road, waiting for Tony. John's voice resounded, and the noise was horrible enough to give me goose bumps. I looked at Arlene and shook my head in amazement. Everything was so peaceful and beautiful on that lovely summer night, and there was John screaming his heart out - and there was nothing I could do.

The Beatles - Telecasts 1982-1984

Label: FAB

A Series Featuring Rare Interviews, Specials, Documentaries of The Beatles.

1. Paul on Today 4/82
2. Paul on ET 4/20/82
3. Paul on MTV 6/5/82
4. Beatles MTV Contest 1982
5. Peter Brown on Thicke of the Night 1983
6. Musician Mag ad with Paul
7. Paul on ET 12/1/83
8. Paul on Friday Night Videos 12/24/83


9. GMA 2/7-9/84
10. Various News Reports
11. 1965 Grammys
12. Paul Interview 1967
13. Beatles In Chicago WGH 1964
14. Remembering John MTV 12/8/84
15. Sotheby's 1984
16. Pete Best on PM Magazine 1984

The Beatles - Telecasts 1981-1982

Label: FAB

A Series Featuring Rare Interviews, Specials, Documentaries of The Beatles.

1. Chapman Gets Sentenced 1981
2. Cynthia's Artwork - GMA 9/5/81
3. 1965 Top Ten 9/81
4. Goodbye Sadness - SNL 9/81
5. George on GMA 10/16/81
6. Mike McGear on GMA 11/24/81
7. Top Ten British Acts 10/81
8. John on GMA 12/8/81
9. John on INN News 12/8/81
10. Hard Days Night on ET 11/81
11. Ringo on ET 11/81
12. Ringo on Top Ten 11/21/81
13. Beatles on 20/20 11/81
14. Beatles on Roots of Rock 'N' Roll 11/81
15. Top Ten XMAS Special 12/24/81
with Paul & Ringo
16. Pete Best on ET 5/82
17. Pete Best on Letterman 5/82
18 Grammy's 2/24/82

The Beatles - Live: Before America, May 1963 - January 1964

Label: Purple Chick, PC-159/160

You probably don't need another live Beatles collection, but here's one anyway: every surviving non-radio performance between the Star Club and Ed Sullivan.

Carefully compiled and restored from the best sources we could find. As always, we didn't just copy the audio from the listed sources - instead, we tried to work some of our patented sonic magic when necessary. Of course, the quality still varies from dire to delightful, but you knew that already.

Anyway, enjoy this peek at the Beatles at their peak: before they landed in the U.S.A.


Pops and Lenny - 16 May, 1963
1: From Me To You (video)

The Mersey Sound- 27 August, 1963
2: Twist And Shout (Can You Hear Me)
3: I Saw Her Standing There (Can You Hear Me)
4: She Loves You (Can You Hear Me)

Sunday Night at the Palladium - 13 October, 1963
5: intro (Road Runner + Mythology)
6: From Me To You ((M + RR)2 + Mythology + Anthology 1)
7: I'll Get You (Anthology 1 + Mythology)
8: She Loves You (Mythology)
9: Twist And Shout (Mythology + Road Runner)
10: outro

Pop ‘63 - 24 October, 1963
11: intro (Swedish Radio Show)
12: I Saw Her Standing There (Swedish Radio Show)
13: From Me To You (Swedish Radio Show)
14: Money (That's What I Want) (Swedish Radio Show)
15: Roll Over Beethoven (Swedish Radio Show)
16: You Really Got A Hold On Me (Swedish Radio Show)
17: She Loves You (Swedish Radio Show)
18: Twist And Shout (Swedish Radio Show)

Drop In - 30 October, 1963
19: intro
20: She Loves You (In Case You Don’t Know)
21: Twist And Shout (ICYDK + Anthology DVD)
22: I Saw Her Standing There (Anthology DVD)
23: Long Tall Sally (Anthology DVD)
24: outro (Anthology DVD + video)

The Royal Variety Performance - 4 November, 1963
25: From Me To You (vid + Ant dvd + M + Ant 1)
26: She Loves You (Anthology 1)
27: Till There Was You (Anthology 1)
28: Twist And Shout (Anthology 1 + Mythology)
29: outro (Mythology)

The Early Beatles - 9 Nov, 1963
30: I Saw Her Standing There (We’d Like To Carry On)

The Jack Paar Program - 16 Nov, 1963
31: From Me To You (Live! Make As Much Noise As You Like)

The Beatles Come To Town - 20 November, 1963
32: She Loves You (November 1963)
33: Twist And Shout (Addendum 1)
34: From Me To You (reprise) (November 1963)

Morecambe and Wise - 2 Dec, 1963
35: intro (Mythology + Anthology 1)
36: This Boy (Anthology 1 + Mythology)
37: All My Loving (Mythology + Hollywood Bowl Complete + Mythology)
38: I Want To Hold Your Hand (Mythol + Ant 1)
39: not like it was in your day (Anthology 1)
40: Moonlight Bay (Anthology 1 + Mythology)
41: outro (Mythology)


It’s The Beatles! - 7 December, 1963
1: From Me To You (youtube)
2: I Saw Her Standing There (youtube)
3: All My Loving (youtube)
4: Roll Over Beethoven (youtube + Mythology + youtube)
5: Boys (youtube)
6: Till There Was You (youtube + Mythology + youtube)
7: She Loves You (youtube [with Mythology])
8: This Boy (youtube + Mythology + youtube)
9: I Want To Hold Your Hand (yt + ULM + yt)
10: Money (That’s What I Want)
(youtube + Ultimate Live Masters + youtube + Ultimate Live Masters)
11: Twist And Shout (Ultimate Live Masters + youtube + ULM + yt + ULM + yt)
12: From Me To You (reprise) (youtube + ULM)

Sunday Night at the Palladium - 12 January, 1964
13: intro (Mythology)
14: I Want To Hold Your Hand (Mythology)
15: This Boy (Mythology)
16: All My Loving (Mythology)
17: Money (That’s What I Want) (Mythology)
18: Twist And Shout (Mythology)
19: outro (Mythology)

Cinéma Cyrano, Versailles - 15 January, 1964
20: From Me To You (

L’Olympia Theatre, Paris - 16 January, 1964 (afternoon)
21: From Me To You (City Of Light)
22: I Saw Her Standing There (City Of Light)
23: this boy intro (City Of Light)
24: Twist And Shout (City Of Light)
25: From Me To You (reprise) (City Of Light)
26: Long Tall Sally (City Of Light)
27: From Me To You (reprise) (City Of Light)

L’Olympia Theatre, Paris - 16 January, 1964 (evening)
28: From Me To You (City Of Light)
29: She Loves You (City Of Light)
30: This Boy (City Of Light)
31: I Want To Hold Your Hand (City Of Light)
32: Twist And Shout (City Of Light)
33: From Me To You (reprise) (City Of Light)
34: Long Tall Sally (Johnson-Penniman-Blackwell) (tumult und die beatles)
35: From Me To You (reprise)(Lennon-McCartney) (tumult und die beatles)