Thursday, March 05, 2009

August 1968 - No. 5: Smile

Taped: August 1968

John and Yoko collaborated on their first film projects, Film No. 5 (Smile) (a slow-motion record of John doing just that) and Two Virgins (in which the couple's faces merged into one).

Yoko: "They were done in a spirit of home movies. In both films, we were mainly concerned about the vibrations the films send out - the kind that was between us. Imagine a painting that smiles just once in a billion years. John's ghostly smile in Film No. 5 might just communicate in a hundred years' time, or maybe, the way things are rolling, it may communicate much earlier than that. I think all the doors are just ready to open now."

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

October 20, 1964 - Scotland

On their British tour, the Beatles played Caird Hall, in Dundee, Scotland.

On this day, June Shields from Grampian Television interviewed the Beatles in their dressing room for the programme Grampian Week.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Beatles Q&A: The Beatles and Smile

What did the Beatles think of the Beach Boys' Smile LP?


As George Martin reveals in the documentary included with the Brian Wilson presents SMiLE DVD, they were aware of Smile at the time (1966), but since the project was shelved, they never were able to hear the album. Another of the interviewees recalls Brian Wilson being upset upon first hearing "Strawberry Fields Forever," reportedly remarking that the Beatles had "got there first." When Wilson finally finished the album and debuted it in a performance at London's Royal Festival Hall on February 20, 2004, Paul McCartney was in attendance and can be seen both in the crowd and backstage on the aforementioned DVD.


Submit your Beatles questions here

Monday, March 02, 2009

December 5, 1969 - Apotheosis 2

Taped: Friday 5 December 1969

BBC1 filmed John and Yoko for The World of John and Yoko in the snow-covered Suffolk countryside, where they were filming their second balloon movie, Apotheosis 2. John and Yoko, and the BBC 24 Hours film crew spent the night at The Bull in Long Melford, Suffolk.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Their Big Fear

One thing worried them all, though. That was a terrible fear of reaching saturation point as far as personal appearances were concerned. Don't forget, they hadn't then actually conquered America. Much of their time here was spent in touring on one-nighters . . . and they feared that they might become too familiar to the fans. Especially as most of the national newspapers were also showing great interest and running long biographical stories.

"We want to get to America and see the scene there, we want to make a film success and we want to get enough time off to really enjoy holidays". That was Paul's summing up. They more or less found everything came true.

Funny thing is that one paper wondered if the boys were likely to be knighted for their services to the British music industry. Sir Ringo etc.--the boys laughed their heads off at that theory. But some couple of years later, there they were at Buckingham Palace, receiving their MBEs from teh Queen herself. It's a funny old world.

These record awards also intrigued the boys. Tally for the year was two Gold Discs, two Silver LPs, one Silver EP, two Silver Discs. They also had special mementoes from their recording manager, George Martin. The boys immediately agreed that they would split the awards up so that each had something to show for their efforts. There were never any real arguments among the boys . . . just a fast-growing sense of togetherness so that it seemed as if they could almost read each other's thoughts.

But of all the things that happened in December, '63, perhaps the most important was the "Beatles Christmas Show" at the 3,000-seater Astoria, Finsbury Park, in North London. A shattering, sell-out success. And a slap in the teeth for the cynics who said the Beatles just couldn't fill a theatre for more than a couple of performances at a time. It was estimated that more than 100,000 people had visited the show, which ran from Christmas Eve to January 11.

The boys were very much involved in the production--it was a spectacular sort of show, presented by Brian Epstein with Peter Yolland as his producer. The Beatles made their first appearance in a helicopter on stage, and the noise was fantastic.

You might like to look back at this show in a little more detail. Also featured were Rolf Harris, Tommy Quickly, the Barron Knights, Cilla Black, Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas, the Fourmost. The Beatles' act during the run comprised "Roll Over Beethoven", "All My Loving", "This Boy", "I Wanna Be Your Man", "She Loves You", "Till There Was You", "I Want To Hold Your Hand", "Money", "Twist And Shout". A long act, punctuated by clever lighting effects. And obviously dead right for the fans.

But the national columnists specially pleased the Beatles. Some were a bit lukewarm about the actual musical content, but they raved happily over the way the boys projected their bits and pieces of comedy. They were likened to the Marx Brothers even at this stage. But George insisted they didn't want to be like anybody else at all . . . "We just want to remain the original, one-and-only Beatles", he gagged.

Funnily enough, the boys really didn't think, at this stage, that they could become a truly international attraction. They felt that they were essentially British and Liverpudlian . . . and they'd found that quite a few people in the southern fields of show business quite genuinely found it difficult to understand them.

But let's consider the American scene as it was, Christmas 1963. The Beatles were due to go on February 7, but weren't particularly important in the charts there. Del Shannon, oddly, had had a fair-sized biggie with the "From Me To You" Beatle-composition. Biggest of our groups were the Caravelles, two girls--though technically they were a duo, not a group. They had a hit with "You Don't Have To Be A Baby To Cry".

So the idea of British artists going there was a bit of a gamble. It was known, though, in that December that Brian Poole and the Tremeloes, Gerry and the Pacemakers, the Searchers and the Dave Clark Five were planning New Year trips. They all could have been dreadful flops. But the Beatles were going to be the first to make the trip . . . and therefore the strain was greater for them than any of the others. After all, if there was any bias against British groups . . . the boys would carry the can--and the others could simply cancel their trips.

So as the New Year rolled in, the main subject of conversation among the Beatles was about how they'd go in America. And they leaned heavily on the knowledge of George Harrison, who'd looked the country over when he went across to visit his sister, Louise.