Saturday, December 06, 2008

The Beatles at the BBC: The Radio Years 1962-1970

by Kevin Howlett

Presenting an account of the partnership between The Beatles and the BBC, this book covers the pop group's radio career between 1962 and 1970, and includes BBC audition reports and letters. It draws on the reminiscences of producers and presenters who worked with The Beatles, and contains extracts from interviews, as well as memorabilia such as record labels, magazine covers, and listings, including a complete 1962-70 discography.

Friday, December 05, 2008

The Beatles From Cavern to Star-Club: The Illustrated Chronicle, Discography & Price Guide 1957-1962

by Hans Olof Gottfridsson

A meticulously researched chronology and discography of The Beatles’ recordings from 1957 and up until 1962.

Hans Olof Gottfridsson has mapped out from unreleased tapes, documents and interviews with key persons this legendary period of The Beatles’ early career. For the first time ever all significant dates and recordings are covered, from the moment when John and Paul met at the Woolton Garden Fete in 1957 to the last Star-Club recordings in Hamburg during December 1962.

The book contains a complete review of all German, English, French, Swedish and American releases of songs which were recorded during this period and released up until 1970. All singles, EPs and LPs are depicted. Every release has been priced according to rarity and collector’s item status. The author has succeeded in tracing – previously believed to be lost – the original protocols from the Polydor recordings, which show beyond any doubt that The Beatles did record "Swanee River." The book features the first complete facsimile reproduction of Polydor recording sheets, contracts and much more. Once and for all it is now made clear which of the Tony Sheridan releases The Beatles actually took part in and played on.

Comprises more than 400 illustrations, including lots of photos of rare records and acetates. This is the most comprehensive book available on the subject and it reveals new information about early Beatles history. An essential sourcebook both for seasoned collectors and for those just starting out.

Written contributions from Tony Sheridan, John Duff Lowe (The Quarry Men) and Bill Harry (founder of legendary music paper Mersey Beat).

Interviews with amongst others the original Quarry Men members Rod Davis, Len Garry, Colin Hanton and John Duff Lowe, plus Johnny "Guitar" Byrne (Rory Storm and The Hurricanes) and Roy Young (who played piano on some of the recordings The Beatles and Tony Sheridan made together in Hamburg), as well as Karl Hinze and Günther Sörensen, two former sound engineers at Polydor in Hamburg who recorded The Beatles.


A vinyl EP is enclosed. The record contains four tracks with The Beatles and Tony Sheridan. The original 1962 version of "Sweet Georgia Brown" is released here for the first time ever in stereo!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Beatles Undercover

by Kristofer Engelhardt

Beatles Undercover is a reference book which explores the origins and evolution of The Beatles' contributions to other artists' music, along with a brief biographical sketch of each of these artists. In short, this book is about The Beatles' admiration for and generous support of their friends and fellow musicians. It's neither a price guide nor a discography per se. It does not seek to expose the artists' personal lives or critique their work. For those of you who thought the music of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr was confined to The Beatles and their solo recordings, you are in for a very big and pleasant surprise.

"Kris Engelhardt knows more about us than we do!"
--Levon Heim (The Band)

"This book stands alone as the last word on The Beatles' work for other artists. The research and attention to detail are astounding."
--Roy Cicala (John Lennon's recording engineer)

"I love Kris' book so much it makes me want to come back in the next life as one of the surfing Beatles."
--Bruce Johnston (The Beach Boys)

"Kris' book shows that a less-publicized part of The Beatles' greatness was their ability to influence and inspire (and assist) other artists with their professional careers."
--Tony Sheridan

"This history of The Beatles' musical contribution to other artists' recordings is my guidebook for the All-Star Band Concept."
--David Fishof (producer for Ringo Starr's All Star Band Tours)

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

June 24, 1965 - Velodromo Vigorelli, Milan

Taped: Thursday 24 June 1965
Aired: Thursday 25 May 2000

The Beatles played their first Italian show in Milan at the Velodromo Vigorelli, a 22,000-seater open-air arena. Brian Epstein was not pleased at all the empty seats, particularly during the afternoon show when many of the fans were at school or work and only 7,000 people attended. The press suggested that a combination of high prices and a heat wave had kept the fans away.

Kenny Everett Debuts Sgt. Pepper on BBC Radio

Sgt. Pepper Radio Special
BBC Where It's At
Broadcast: Saturday May 20th 1967

PM: This is Paul McCartney, saying this is where Chris Denning is at. This is where it's at, Chris, take it.

CD: Thank you Paul. Yes, this is Chris Denning on the first of the new 90-minute "Where It's At" programmes and, apart from the usual show, for this week only, a special bonus. Kenny Everett, here in the studio, talks to the Beatles on their new LP, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. For an introduction, over to our commentator, John Lennon.

JL: We're sitting in the hushed semi-circular theatre, and waiting for the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band to come on, and here they come now, playing the first number, ah let's go! Alright? I can't do it for them all, or then I'll all be dizzy.


KE: Hey, alright, alright, alright, Ringo Starr and the track from the new Beatles album, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Also during the next X-minutes on the BBC light wireless programme, we're going to be playing most of the tracks from the album, so stay tuned. And we're going to have wonderful words from the wise four.


KE: Well, by George in the studio, we have old Ringo Starr, of the Beatles fame. Ringo, what have you been doing since I last saw you in America a year ago?

RS: Um, very much.

KE: Really?

RS: Yeah, well, I went on holiday, we made an LP, we've made a few more tracks, we've sort of been busy.

KE: What do you think of this new LP? It's a bit strange compared to the others, would you term it psycheDEALic?

RS: Only if you want to think of it as psycheDEALic.


KE: Talking about things psycheDEALic and weird sounds, of which this album is full of . . . them, here is one of the most instantly beautiful tracks of the whole thing.

JL: Now we'd like to play you one, it's a sad little song, how does it go? Oh, well this is it, yeah. Picture yourself on an old-fashioned elephant. Lucy in the sky for everyone, now.


KE: Well, there you go, did it strike you immediately? Ah! Lovely. "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds." And, there's a story behind it. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin. One day, months ago, Julian, son of Lennon, came home from school with a painting he had just drawn. A picture of a lady bursting with colours. John Lennon said, "What's that you got there, junior?" To which junior replied, "It's Lucy in the sky with diamonds, daddy." Shut up! Ow!

KE: The story you have just heard is true. On now to track three on the album, Paul McCartney by himself. . .


KE: Yeah good, yeah good. Paul McCartney and "Fixing A Hole" in the roof where the rain is and it stops my mind from wandering. By the way, if you notice, that mostly through the LP they're using very odd sound effects. Not sound effects as we know them, but sort of phased distortion on the voices. This is where they get two of the same sound and push it through hundreds of machines and it comes out of the other end sounding electric.


KE: How long did you take over technical details like phasing?

JL: Phasing is great! Double-flanging we call it. Now there you go, right, we're on the same thing. Flanging is great, right. We're always doing it.

KE: You used it on "Lucy In The Sky."

JL: You name the one it isn't on! You know, you name it! You spot it, you get a prize! You get a Sgt. Pepper badge.

KE: Or a paper moustache.

JL: Try anything you like. Phasing is too much!


KE: There you go, the Beatles and "For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite," sung by John all by himself. Did you catch the sounds on that one? It sounds like it's travelling around the room, you see, well travelling around this studio, anyway. The song, by the way, was taken from a poster, an old circus poster that John got hold of and said, "I'll write a song about this. Oh, this is good."

KE: Well, that's this half of the Beatle programme, although we'll be back in X-minutes, with another three million, seven hundred and four thousand watts of BBC light programme Beatle power!


KE: There you go, the title track, "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." Well, more Beatle sounds from "Where It's At" in just a moment.

CD: Over now to our commentator, Kennis Everett.

KE: Welcome back, Beatle people, for part two of the BBC light programme, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Ha! Paul McCartney starting off part two, "When I'm Sixty-Four."


KE: Ah, lovely. The simplest track on the whole album, and also the first one that they recorded, way back in September [sic]. This is probably the longest time taken ever to record a pop album, I think. Not quite sure. Anyway, a lovely track.


KE: How many takes did you usually do on this album before you got the perfect take?

PM: We did quite a few on each one, but it's just because it's changed, you know. Like in the old days, of the LP Please Please Me, we went in and did it in a day, because we knew all the numbers and you know, they'd been . . . we'd rehearsed them and done them and we'd been playing them for about a year. But nowadays, we just take a song in, and all we've got you know is the chords on a guitar and the words and the tune. So we've got to work out how to arrange it, and that. So we do a lot of takes on each one, you know.


KE: Ah, lovely. Peaceful, fantastic. Gets me right here. Well, no, perhaps a bit higher, just here. Fastastic. John Lennon and Paul McCartney. I think that Paul composed that one all by himself, it sounds like one of his, doesn't it? Very peaceful. Anyway, that's called "She's Leaving Home." A word about the FANTASTIC album. Yes, friends, this is the most expensive album ever produced by any manufacturer I would venture to say because not only inside does it have the album, it also has the words of every track on the back. And it's a double feature album, which has a free paper moustache, a badge, and a picture of Sgt. Pepper, no less. Excuse me. This next one's called "Lovely Rita" and it's sung by Paul McCartney. Pay special attention to the drums.


KE: Yes, leave it. Lovely. John Lennon in the background, Paul McCartney in the foreground. Meter maid, which is an American expression for one of those ladies, one of those diabolical people, who goes around putting tickets all over your car.


KE: Do you like to have a lot of people in the studio when you're recording, or do you like to do it completely alone?

PM: It doesn't matter, we had a lot of people on some of the tracks, and sometimes we use them, you know, ask them to clap and that. Depends if it's good people, who don't hassle anyone and don't try and mess a session up, then it's great, you know, because it's company, good company.

KE: I hear you had the Rolling Stones in a session.

PM: They came down, because we had a lot of people there, you know, because it was a big session and we wanted to make a happening happen. And it happened.


KE: Paul talking about people gathering around them while they were recording the album. Now, we have two tracks to go. This one is called "Getting Better."


KE: Yes, Beatles and "Getting Better," that one sung by Paul McCartney. Superb. And for all those haters of special effects, that's a completely dry run for you, none on that one. Okay, one track to go now, and a very special one it is too. Oh, we've had everything on this programme, Chris Denning, Kenny Everett, Beatles. The only thing we haven't had is chickens.

[chicken sound]

KE: I beg your pardon?


KE: Yes, very good, very good, very good. Fade, fade, fade. Well, that was the last track, friends. Just a little bit more music before we leave and a word from Paul McCartney.

PM: This is James Paul McCartney, Upper 5 B, saying that Kenny Everett is just about one of the finest disc jockeys in the world, as disc jockeys go, aren't you Kenny?

KE: Oh, you're lovely. Yes.


KE: I don't think ever in my experience as a disc jockey I've ever heard a sound as beautiful and superb as this new album. It's an achievement of our modern age of genius, an advancement in the recording technique, the Beatles!

PM: I'd just like to say, thank you.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Get Back Sessions - Lunch Room Tape - January 13, 1969

With George Harrison having left the Beatles three days before, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono, Linda McCartney, and Mal Evans sit in the Twickenham Film Studios lunch room and discuss George's departure, while Let It Be director Michael Lindsay-Hogg secretly records the proceedings...

CAMERAMAN: This is roll 132, roll 132 coming on now.

CAMERAMAN: This is roll 132, slate 232, camera A.

JOHN: I knew it wasn't... anything from her... You know, I sacrifice it all to her which is how it was, you know. And that's all it was, so I...

PAUL: So where's George?

YOKO: You can get back George so easy, you know that, you know.

JOHN: But it's not that easy, because it's a festering wound that was allowed to - I mean, yesterday, we allowed it to get even deeper, but we didn't give him any.... and it's only because George - when he comes up, when he is that far in it - we - that ego...

RINGO: Well, if it'll help I'll get me...

JOHN: How do - you know, what do you do?

MAL: What do you want, Paul?

PAUL: Dos Equis, please.

MAL: Linda?

LINDA: Water.

JOHN: It was yesterday, really - or even the day before when we went to George's...

PAUL: I wouldn't like you to dig your heels in. I mean, if I'm to look - if I'm sort of behind this - I really don't like to be smothered. If I could sit up on a shelf... thinking we're... or literally I wanna...

JOHN: I was asking do I want it back, whatever it is... then if it is enough I'd have to... for you and I have to... for you, to carry on for whatever reasons there is, and so...

PAUL: Everyone's asking what I'm trying to do. 'Cause I've gone long enough.

JOHN: ...bored last year, then he has... because I think he's been on a good ride... he could afford to be more... whatever it was...

PAUL: Could it just be... Kevin?

JOHN: ..whatever it was, you know. This year, he suddenly realized. And - it's just that, you know. It's only this year that he suddenly realized who I am or who he is, or anything like that. But the thing is...

PAUL: ...process...

JOHN: Like you were saying, like George did some other part... but up 'til then, you'd had a... your thing that carried you forward. I know I deduced it before you - all right, that'll make me hipper than you - but I know that I suggested to you before that, for selfish reasons, not knowin what I was doing, all these reasons...

MAL: Lemonade?

JOHN: ...and allowed you, you know, if you wanted to... seen what you've been doing, and what everybody's been doing, and not only felt guilty about it, the way we all feel guilty about our relationship to each other, meaning we could do more - I know - the thing is that I'm not putting any blame on you... it might have been masochistic... the goal was still the same, it's self-preservation. You know, and I knew that... I know where... and let him do what he wants, and George too, you know...

PAUL: I know, I know the one thing...

JOHN: But I think you have... whatever it is that he has.

PAUL: Yeah, I know, but I'm...

JOHN: Because you... I know that because of the way I am, like when you were at Mendips, like: "do you like me?", or whatever you did, I've always played that one. But this year, it's all happening to you, and you've - you're taking... suddenly, as if - you've said, oh yeah, you know I'm... and then you start... I know what it's like - "I know he used to kick people - I know how he connived with Len, Ivan, and" - you know - fuckin'... all that. So you've taken the five years, because you've... you've taken the five years of trouble this year. You know, so, half of me says, y'know, I'll do anything to save you, to help you, and the other half says, well, serves him fucking right, I've been through fucking shit because of him for five years, and he's only just realized what he was doing to me. So, they both... you know, it is incredible.

PAUL: Yeah. Well, I don't know. The only thing I can see is just sort of... see, I'm just assuming he's coming back, you know. I'm only assuming he's coming back.

JOHN: Well, what if he isn't?

PAUL: If he isn't, then it's a new problem.

RINGO: I should think Michael would force us to sit down...

JOHN: Well, like if we said -

PAUL: The four of us.

JOHN: If we wanted - if we do want it - I still do want the four, man, whether I do want it... but if we do decide we want it as a policy, I can go along with that, because the policy has kept us together.

PAUL: Well, the thing is -

JOHN: But if we want it because we want it - the thing is, like George saying yesterday, the Beatles, to me, isn't just the four of us. I think that I alone was treated as equals. I think you've put... I'm not sure that...

RINGO: Because he's...

JOHN: Well, all right - I'm just telling you what I think - I don't think that the Beatles revolve around four people. It might be...

PAUL: I'll tell you...

JOHN: It's like you joining instead of Pete. It's like... to me, it is like that.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Mal Evans - Quotations

23 January 1963
Following a day of BBC Radio appearances in London, the Beatles, in the early hours of the morning, head back for Liverpool for another show at the Cavern Club. The driver of their bus today is Mal Evans, a Cavern Club bouncer and Post Office engineer...

"I took them to London because Neil Aspinall was ill. They had to do some radio shows and it was in the middle of winter. It was freezing cold, snowing heavy and we had just left London when the windscreen shattered. So I had to go two hundred miles, in the middle of the night, without a windscreen. I got off on it, you know. I didn't mind doing things like that. It became an in-joke. Every time that things got rough, the Beatles would say, 'It's two hundred miles to go, Mal.' Two hundred miles is the distance between London and Liverpool."

"When I started going to The Cavern, I went there so often I became a bouncer, and that was George's instigation. He said, 'Look, you're big and ugly enough, why don't you be a bouncer on the door? You get paid for it, you get in the band room and you see the bands.' George was the first of the Beatles I made contact with, really. So we were close to begin with. The first time I went to the Cavern, the Beatles were on and I had that feeling, 'Oh, this is the greatest thing in the world!"

August 31, 1964
From their room at the Lafayette in Atlantic City, Paul makes an arranged phone call to the King of Rock 'n' Roll, Elvis Presley.

"A guy from London, who works for the New Musical Express, had arranged for Paul to speak to Elvis. So, Paul said, 'Hey, Mal, come in the bedroom. I've got a surprise for you!' So, I wandered into the bedroom and suddenly there was Paul who was talking to Elvis. He was saying, 'Oh, you've bought a bass guitar, Elvis.' And Elvis was saying, 'Yeah, I've got blisters on my fingers!' Paul was saying, 'Don't worry, man. It'll soon go.' And then he said, 'Evlis, there's a great fan of yours. He works for us, mind you. You can call him Mal.' So, he put me on the phone, and I'm, 'Er . . . er . . . er . . . hello . . . hello, Elvis.' I was tongue-tied. But he was so polite, saying, 'How are you, sir?' He was so nice."

September 5, 1964
"The fans were very inventive. We were in Chicago and we were coming out of the hotel, ready for the show and, suddenly, I spied a girl in the crowd and she was about to slam a handcuff on Paul's wrist. What she had done was attach one end of the handcuff onto her wrist and she was going to attach the other end onto Paul's wrist. It was a great idea, but she just didn't make it."

March 8, 1965
"This was one of the most exciting moments in my life, because I had a part in the Bahamas. In the Bahamas, I was chased by a stingray! I had to go out, at the end of the film, and tread water until the scene started. I was treading water, waiting for the action to start, and then Dick Lester called me in. He said, 'Hey, Mal, come on in. We're not going to do it right now,' and when I swam in and walked up the beach, they said, 'There's a big stingray.' They were right up the beach and could see right into the water that this big stingray was chasing me. I've never swam so fast in my life after that."

March 14-20, 1965
"In Austria, they put a big hole in the ice and it was really freezing! What I had to do was go down, under the water, and then come up and say, 'White cliffs of Dover?' And then, go down again. So, the first time I go down, I come up and I can't talk. I'm just frozen to the bone. I can't talk at all. So, I had to do it again and I come up the next time and I say the words okays, but I can't stay down while they finish the shot. I kept bobbing up. So, the third time, they put a big iron weight in the bottom of the hole and Dick Lester says, 'Hang on to it as long as you can while we finish the shot.' So, I come up, say the line, 'White cliffs of Dover?' and hang on, under the water, until I'm blue in the face, and they're all shouting, 'You can come up, Mal.' But, of course, I can't hear anything. I'm hanging on, thinking, ' 'Ol trooper Evans does it again. He gives his life for the film industry.' When I eventually come up, I get out of this hole and I walk three of four hundred yards in my bare feet in the snow. I never felt a thing, and the whole crew just stood up and cheered and clapped. I ended up spending three hours in a hot bath in a local police station with a bottle of rum. I had pins and needles from head to toe."

April 1966
"Things get tense, sometimes even between close friends, and recording is not the easiest thing in the world, you know, especially when you've got four people with different ideas and you've got to gel them all together into one direction. I was always making tea, sandwiches or scrambled eggs, just doing anything to look after them, to make sure we kept them working well. The whole thing was, 'You make the music and I'll do anything in the world to make you comfortable.' So, I walked into the control room one night and the air was electric. You could cut it with a knife, everyone was snarling and I just walked in and dropped the tray of cups, and they all turned round and said, 'Hey, look at the dummy!' But then, they had a common enemy . . . They got diverted and so I broke the ice. Then, they were all joking and laughing. Cups were all over the floor, and they went back into the music again. I didn't mind. While they were laughing at you, they couldn't be shouting at you."

"At the time, Neil Aspinall and I were staying in a hotel in London and we had been up rather late, until about seven o'clock in the morning, and we were really whacked out. And at nine o'clock, there is a bang at the door and jolly ol' Paul comes in with a smile from ear to ear. 'Good morning, lads. Thought we'd come and have breakfast with you.' 'Oh, sure, Paul,' we replied. Then I said, 'I've got this song of mine and I'm stuck for a line.' So, he sits down, plays it for us and sings it, and the line I came up with was 'Watching her eyes, hoping I'm always there.' I'm very eye conscious."

August 12, 1966
"The first night of any tour, you can bet your life, I would go crazy testing all the equipment. The guys would be worried because it was the first show and you would test out everything perfectly. But, the minute they step on the stage, the damn thing goes off. At the opening night in Chicago, there was a balcony on either side of the stage, and when the other acts were on, the backstage area was crowded, because everyone was trying to get to the Beatles' dressing room. But, as soon as the Beatles went on stage, everyone rushed into the balconies and, at that minute, all the amplifiers were going off. Everything was going crazy and I was on the stage changing amplifiers. I couldn't figure out what was wrong. But, luckily, we found it pretty quickly. The main supply to the stage came through the balcony and they were twist-grip connections, so when they were dancing in the balcony, they were also kicking and breaking the power supply."

August 28, 1966 - Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles
"Following the show, the exit doors didn't work, so we had to come back and the fans started shouting, 'They're coming back! They're coming back!' And the reason why we came back was because we couldn't get out!"

Ringo: "Paul wrote a song with Mal Evans called 'Sgt Pepper'. I think Mal thought of the title. Big Mal, super roadie!"

"The first song I ever wrote that got published was 'Sgt Pepper'. At the time, I was staying with Paul as his housekeeper. His previous housekeepers (the Kellys) had left for some reason." (Their departure was enforced because Paul had discovered that they had written an article about his home for an Australian magazine.)

"I stayed with him for four months and he had a music room at the top of his house with his multi-coloured piano and we were up there a lot of the time. We wrote 'Sgt Pepper' and also another song on the album, 'Fixing A Hole'. When the album came out, I remember it very clearly, we were driving somewhere late at night. There was Paul, Neil Aspinall and myself and the driver in the car, and Paul turned round to me and said, 'Look Mal, do you mind if we don't put your name on the songs? You'll get your royalties and all that, because Lennon and McCartney are the biggest things in our lives. We are really a hot item and we don't want to make it Lennon-McCartney-Evans. So, would you mind?' I didn't mind, because I was so in love with the group that it didn't matter to me. I knew myself what had happened."

April 11, 1967
"Paul said to me, 'Do you fancy going to America, to have a party for Jane for her 21st birthday?' So, we came over and we flew to Denver, where she was appearing. We stayed there a few days and that was when Magical Mystery Tour started. We were talking about doing a TV show, involving a mystery trip, where we could get into all sorts of silliness and the magical thing was because you could really get into a lot of silliness and you didn't have to explain anything."

December 7, 1967
"Ringo was doing a film called Candy and Richard Burton was in it, and we were in Rome. Ringo was very friendly with Richard and his wife, Elizabeth Taylor and had been out with them socially before. I gave Richard a poem that I had written and he thought it was wonderful. So, we spent one weekend with them, at Anzio, when we weren't filming, on their yacht, which was wonderful. Marlon Brando was there. He got us up at six in the morning to go running on the beach in the pouring rain. We got soaked!"

India, 1968
"Paul was meditating one day, they were writing all the time, and I came to him in a vision. I was just standing there, saying, 'Let it be, let it be,' and that's where the song came from. It was funny; I had driven him back from a session one night, a few months later. It was three o'clock in the morning, it was raining, it was dark in London and we were sitting in the car, just before he went in, just laughing and talking. He said, 'Mal, I've got a new song and it's called 'Let It Be', and I sing about Brother Malcolm,' but he was a bit shy. So, he turned to me and said, 'Would you mind if I said, 'Mother Mary', because people might not understand?' So, I said, 'Sure.' But, he was lovely."

February 1968
"The great thing with the Beatles was always the surprises that they spring on you. You never knew what was going to happen. When Apple was starting to get together, and we all had a meeting, Paul said to me, 'What are you doing, Mal?' And I said, 'Well, not much at the moment, 'cause I'm not working.' So, he said, 'Right, you're going to be president of Apple Records.' I thought, 'Great, but what does a managing director do? He's got to be groovy and go out and find talent for the label.' So, I found this group called the Iveys, which turned into Badfinger."

September 13, 1969
"When I overheard John saying that he had been asked to appear in a rock 'n' roll show in Toronto, I paused only to grab a handful of leads in one hand and a couple of dozen plectrums in the other. I already had one foot out of the door waiting to go when John mentioned that he hadn't got anyone to play with him. Then the mad scramble started to get hold of the people whom John had chosen to make up the Plastic Ono Band. It didn't take long to get hold of Klaus Voormann and Alan White, Alan Price's ex-drummer. They both agreed to join in immediately.
"John particularly wanted Eric Clapton to make up the five-some, but we couldn't get hold of him at home, or at any of the clubs we telephoned until 5.30am the next day. Our plane was due to take off at 10am, and by 9.15am, most of us had arrived at the airport and clocked in. Then, John turned up with Yoko and told us that it was all off because they had not been able to reach Eric. However, shortly after, we learned that Eric had finally surfaced and he would be able to make the trip. Apparently, he had been in bed at his house all the time, and he hadn't heard the phone. Just before he gave up his all night search, Terry Doran, George's personal assistant, had sent a telegram to Eric's house. It had been opened by Eric's gardener, who woke him up to tell him about the concert.
"As Eric couldn't make the airport for the earlier plane, we cancelled our flight and re-booked on the 3.15pm from Heathrow Airport. Everyone arrived for the flight. Everyone being John and Yoko, Eric Clapton, Klaus Voormann, Alan White, Anthony Fawcett, John and Yoko's assistant, and Jill and Dan Richer, who have been putting all of John and Yoko's recent activities on to film. They were due to make a permanent record on videotape of the Toronto concert. That's when it hit me . . . None of the people, who were due to make the concert tonight, had ever played together before. How on earth were they going to get a show together before they went on stage that same night? John had obviously thought about it too because he and Eric walked down the aisle to the back of the plane after a quick snack to have their first rehearsal.
"The five who were going to appear on stage, John, Yoko, Eric, Klaus and Alan, had to work out all the songs that they were going to perform and also run through them together. A big bundle of sheet music had been delivered to London Airport that morning, and they all played through dozens of numbers, pointing out the ones that they knew pretty well. Despite tremendous difficulties, they did eventually manage to settle on eight numbers which would probably be okay, provided they got a bit more time to rehearse before they actually went on stage.
"The Toronto Rock 'N' Roll Revival Show was taking place in the Varsity Stadium and the stage was a 12-foot dais in the middle of the football pitch, facing half of the arena where the audience sat. When the 20,000 strong crowd sensed that John was there, there was such an incredible feeling of excitement. But, he and the rest of the band had other problems to worry about, and they gathered together backstage, plugged all their guitars into one small amp, and started running through the numbers they were going to perform. Just imagine, John Lennon, Eric Clapton and Klaus Voormann all plugged into one small amp. Actually, John wasn't feeling very well during these rehearsals, but he was determined to put on a good show.
"Allen Klein, who had also flown over, had arranged for the whole of John's performance to be filmed. Finally, at midnight, Kim Fowley, a well-known singer, producer and songwriter in his own right, went on stage to announce the Plastic Ono Band. He had all the lights in the stadium turned right down and then asked everybody to strike a match. It was a really unbelievable sight when thousands of little flickering lights suddnely lit up all over the huge arena. Then, John, Eric, Klaus and Alan went on stage, and lined up just like the old Beatles set-up. Bass on the left, lead guitar next, then John on th right with the drummer right behind. Just before they launched into their first number, John said into the mike, 'We're just going to do numbers we know, as we've never played together before.'
Then John said, 'Now Yoko is going to do her thing all over you.' Yoko had been inside a bag howling away all through John's numbers. She sang two numbers, 'Don't Worry Kyoko' and 'Oh John (Let's Hope For Peace)'. At the end of 'Oh John', all the boys stood their guitars, still turned on, against the speakers on the amps and walked to the back of the stage. While the feedback started to build up, John, Eric, Klaus and Alan stood back and lit cigarettes. Then, I went on and led them off stage. Finally, I walked back on and switched off their amps one by one. It was over.
"I'll always remember turning round during their performance and finding Gene Vincent, who was standing next to me, with tears rolling down his cheeks. He was saying, 'It's marvellous! It's fantastic, man.' "

September 20, 1969
"All of them had left the group at one time or another, starting with Ringo, but the real ending was when John came into the office and said, 'The marriage is over! I want a divorce,' and that was the final thing. That's what really got to Paul, you know, because I took Paul home and I ended up in the garden crying my eyes out.
"It really became real . . . The group became too small to contain them. There was too much talent for the group as an entity, I think."

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Inside John Lennon

Label: Passport Video

Inside John Lennon is an intimate account of the life and career of the most controversial Beatle. From his difficult beginnings in wartime Liverpool to riding the wave of Beatlemania to becoming a peace activist with his outspoken soulmate, Yoko Ono, John packed a lot into his forty short years.

Hear touching and revealing stories from his sister, Julia. Find out how it felt playing alongside John from the Quarry Men themselves. Hear anecdotes from the Beatles' first manager, Allan Williams. And, of course, there is frank, witty, and sometimes blunt commentary from Lennon himself.

DVD Bonus:
As a special bonus, you'll also hear unedited Lennon stories from the Beatles' chauffeur, Alf Bicknell, and Apple General Manager, Alistair Taylor.

Rent or purchase this DVD from

John Lennon on Bob Dylan - Part 1

August 25, 1964

Q: What about folk music, Joan Baez and that type of thing? Your views on that.

John: Well, we all like Joan Baez, but we love Bob Dylan.

Q: Bob Dylan.

John: Yeah.

Q: Joan's boyfriend, there.

John: Oh, is that what it is? Well, well, Bob, you've got to watch the image, you know!

September 13, 1964

Q: John, when you were in New York, what did you like best about it?

John: I just like cities, you see, and preferably big ones. That's why I liked it. And we met some good people like Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, you know, and I enjoy meeting people I admire.

August 15, 1965

Q: Do you like New York? Have you ever had a chance to go 'round anywhere?

John: I've seen - I saw a bit of it one time. Went off with Bob Dylan and some people, and we - but it was very late at night, so I saw - saw quite a bit, you know.

August 17, 1965

Q: John, is it true that you and Bob Dylan are really the same person?

John: I didn't read that article, but I think it's quite funny. No, we're not. Mind you, we could be.

August 29, 1965

Q: You don't plan on - I don't wanna correct Ringo, but you'll be back from San Francisco at the time the Dylan concert will be on -

Ringo: We'll both be playing the same night.

John: We won't, because we're leaving exactly - we play the same night as he's here.

Ringo: He's here -

John: And then we leave for England.

George: And we leave on Wednesday for England.

John: And we saw him in Britain, you know. And it was good but we're - not gonna flog it.

June 6, 1968

Q: Does it feel the same to you when you’re writing something on paper and when you’re writing a song lyric?

John: Er, it does now. In the old days I used to think song writing was this and you know, “I love you” and “You love me” and my writing was something else you know. Even if I didn’t think of it quite like that. But then I just realized through Dylan and other people, Bob Dylan - not Thomas, that it is the same thing. That’s what I didn't realize being so naive you know, that you don’t write Pop songs and then you do that and then you do that. Everything you do is the same thing, so do it the same way. But sometimes I’ll write lyrics to a song first and then I get the same feeling as Kakky Hargreaves or a poem and then write the music to it after. So then it’s a poem sung, sometimes the tune comes and then you just put suitable words to fit the tune, if the tune’s doo der loo der loo der la and then you have shagga boo choo cha - you know, you have sound words then, just the sound of it, ‘cus it is all sound, everything’s vibrations I believe, you know, everything is sound really or vision. And just the difference between sound and vision I’m not quite sure about.

September 18, 1968

Q: Do you feel free to put anything in a song?

John: Yes. In the early days I'd... well, we all did... we'd take things out for being banal cliches, even chords we wouldn't use because we thought they were cliches. And even just this year there's been a great release for all of us, going right back to the basics. On 'Revolution' I'm playing the guitar and I haven't improved since I was last playing, but I dug it. It sounds the way I wanted it to sound. It's a pity I can't do it better... the fingering, you know... but I couldn't have done that last year. I'd have been too paranoiac. I couldn't play: ('Revolution' guitar intro) 'dddddddddddddd.' George must play, or somebody better. My playing has probably improved a little bit on this session because I've been playing a little. I was always the rhythm guitar anyway, but I always just fiddled about in the background. I didn't actually want to play rhythm. We all sort of wanted to be lead - as in most groups - but it's a groove now, and so are the cliches. We've gone past those days when we wouldn't have used words because they didn't make sense, or what we thought was sense. But of course Dylan taught us a lot in this respect.

Another thing is, I used to write a book or stories on one hand and write songs on the other. And I'd be writing completely free form in a book or just on a bit of paper, but when I'd start to write a song I'd be thinking: dee duh dee duh do doo do de do de doo. And it took Dylan and all that was going on then to say, 'oh, come on now, that's the same bit, I'm just singing the words.' With 'I Am the Walrus,' I had 'I am he as you are he as we are all together.' I had just these two lines on the typewriter, and then about two weeks later I ran through and wrote another two lines and then, when I saw something, after about four lines, I just knocked the rest of it off. Then I had the whole verse or verse and a half and then sang it. I had this idea of doing a song that was a police siren, but it didn't work in the end (sings like a siren) 'I-am-he-as-you-are-he-as...' You couldn't really sing the police siren.

Q: What did you think of Dylan's version of 'Norwegian Wood'?

John: I was very paranoid about that. I remember he played it to me when he was in London. He said, 'What do you think?' I said, 'I don't like it.' I didn't like it. I was very paranoid. I just didn't like what I felt I was feeling - I thought it was an out-and-out skit, you know, but it wasn't. It was great. I mean, he wasn't playing any tricks on me. I was just going through the bit.

Q: Is there anybody besides Dylan you’ve gotten something from musically?

John: Oh, millions. All those I mentioned before - Little Richard, Presley.

Q: Anyone contemporary?

John: Are they dead? Well, nobody sustains it. I’ve been buzzed by the Stones and other groups, but none of them can sustain the buzz for me continually through a whole album or through three singles even.

Q: You and Dylan are often thought of together in some way.

John: Yeah? Yeah, well we were for a bit, but I couldn’t make it. Too paranoiac. I always saw him when he was in London. He first turned us on in New York actually. He thought "I Want to Hold Your Hand"- when it goes "I can’t hide"- he thought we were singing "I get high." So he turns up with Al Aronowitz and turns us on, and we had the biggest laugh all night - forever. Fantastic. We’ve got a lot to thank him for.

Q: Do you ever see him anymore?

John: No, ‘cause he’s living his cozy little life, doing that bit. If I was in New York, he’d be the person I’d most like to see. I’ve grown up enough to communicate with him. Both of us were always uptight, you know, and of course I wouldn’t know whether he was uptight, because I was so uptight. And then, when he wasn’t uptight, I was - all that bit. But we just sat it out because we just liked being together.

Q: What about the new desire to return to a more natural environment? Dylan’s return to country music?

John: Dylan broke his neck and we went to India. Everybody did their bit. And now we’re all just coming out, coming out of a shell, in a new way, kind of saying, remember what it was like to play.

September 13, 1969
Q: Did you hope to take the group to the Isle of Wight, to the Dylan show?

John: We went to the Dylan show, and if there had been a jam, we'd have got up. It was killed before it happened. It was so late by the time he got on. We would have jammed, if it had been earlier. The crowd was dying on their feet, by the time he got on.

Q: Do you feel there's some sort of change that has happened to music festivals?

John: This is only the second one I've been to. I was at the Isle of Wight, and here. They're great. The police and the kids seem to get along well together. I think it's fantastic. That's why we go to them.

December 22, 1969
John: One of the main points is that the media, being encouraged by the Establishment, or whatever way to -- mind you, the Woodstock thing, we learned what really happened through the underground or through the grapevine. I was at the Isle of Wight gathering, at a Dylan concert, and there weren't as many people; so it was the biggest European gathering ever, and it was a beautiful experience, this calm -- there wasn't a breath of air or vibration disturbing the atmosphere from any of the people there. It was written up as if it was a holocaust, and that established in the minds of the people already decided, of the other generation, what's going on. It reaffirmed their fears of this generation with its haircuts, and its nakedness, and its pot smoking. The first thing we have got to do is to break through the media and get them to talk sense, and the only way they'll do that is if they are directed because they are directed on everything else, and they must be directed on what is happening because that's establishing a fear in the adult world that this generation is going to kill them or frighten them or, you know, go insane, like the "Satan" guy, and to make the "Satan" guy -- that killer, to expunge -- as a -- to use him as the leader or the image of this generation is as insane as saying everybody in the thirties was Hitler, and I don't know how we break that.

Lennon and Dylan Timeline: the 1960s
August 28, 1964: Following their show in New York, Bob Dylan visited the Beatles in their hotel suite and gave them their first real taste of marijuana.

May 9, 1965: The Beatles attended Bob Dylan's concert at Royal Festival Hall in London.

May 27, 1966: John and Bob Dylan were filmed in the back seat of Dylan's limousine from John's Weybridge home to the May Fair Hotel. That night, John and George attended Bob Dylan's concert at the Royal Albert Hall. Later, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, and the Rolling Stones socialized at Dolly's, a nightclub.

August 31, 1969: John Lennon, Ringo Starr and George Harrison attended a Bob Dylan concert at the Isle of Wight Festival.

September 1, 1969: After his performance at the Isle of Wight, Bob Dylan returned to John's house to visit with the three Beatles.

Dark Horse: The Life and Art of George Harrison

by Geoffrey Giuliano
Updated Edition

"This guy knows more about my life than I do."
--George Harrison on the author, 1983

"Giuliano has written a revelatory biography of the elusive Harrison and his constellation of spiritual and secular interests."
--Library Journal

"Plenty to savor . . . Evenhanded and soundly researched."
--Rolling Stone

"This book is a must for anyone interested in the serious aspects of rock music."
--London Times

"[A] lively and sympathetic biography."
--Publishers Weekly

"What actually makes Giuliano's opinion worth listening to is the depth of knowledge and affection he has for the Beatles."
--Liverpool Daily Post

The least understood and most paradoxical of the Beatles, George Harrison has parried for more than twenty-five years any attempt to penetrate the public enigma that cloaks the private man--that is, until Dark Horse. In the mid-1980s Geoffrey Giuliano lived in the "often wonderfully unreal" world of Harrison and his friends, interviews with whom are the basis for much of this vivid and revealing portrait. Here are Harrison's Liverpool childhood, the forging of the Beatles, their unheralded ascendancy, and the bitter break-up; his solo career with its soaring successes and harrowing setbacks; his reincarnation as a Traveling Wilbury; his impact as a record and film producer; his oft-publicized and misjudged spiritual quest; and much more. This edition includes an additional chapter that discusses Harrison's recent life through the 25th-anniversary reunion of the surviving Beatles, as well as updated appendices and rare, previously unpublished photos. The result is a comprehensive, illuminating look at George Harrison's musical career and inner life.

Geoffrey Giuliano, one of the leading authorities on the Beatles, is the author of Behind Blue Eyes: The Life of Pete Townsend; The Lost Beatles Interviews; Blackbird: The Life and Times of Paul McCartney; The Beatles' Album; John Lennon, My Brother (with Julia Baird); The Beatles: A Celebration; and many other books on rock music and culture.