Saturday, April 11, 2009

May 21, 1971 - Tittenhurst Park, Ascot

Taped: Friday 21 May 1971

The recording of "Oh My Love."

Friday, April 10, 2009

Beatle People: Pete Shotton

Peter Shotton (born 4 August 1941 in Liverpool) is an English businessman best known for his long friendship with John Lennon of The Beatles. Generally referred to as "Pete," he was a close boyhood friend of Lennon's, and also attended the Dovedale Infants School and Quarry Bank schools.

Shotton was Lennon's bandmate in The Quarrymen, playing percussion (specifically, a washboard), until Paul McCartney joined. He was "fired" from the band when, after confiding in John that he really did not enjoy playing, Lennon smashed the washboard over his head at a party. However, he remained a friend and confidant—as he became with all of the Beatles as the group formed.

After they became stars, Lennon and George Harrison bought a supermarket on Hayling Island, and gave it to Shotton to manage. Later, he served as manager of the Apple Boutique, then as the first managing director of Apple Corps.

Shotton regularly visited Lennon's house (Kenwood) on weekends, leaving his wife and young son at home to keep Lennon company, or escort Cynthia Lennon for a night out when her husband was busy with band matters or songwriting.

Shotton had a minor, but uncredited, role in the Beatles' music. He was occasionally invited to observe them recording at Abbey Road Studios, and played percussion (maracas, tambourine) on a few records. Shotton also helped Lennon with the lyrics to "I Am the Walrus" (remembering a nonsense rhyme they had loved as boys) and McCartney with the storyline of "Eleanor Rigby" (he suggested that the two lonely people in the song meet, but too late).

After Lennon began a relationship with Yoko Ono, and Apple started to founder as the group grew apart, Shotton parted company with Lennon and the Beatles, resuming management of the Hayling Island supermarket, which he continued to run until the late 1970s. He then began the Fatty Arbuckle's chain of restaurants, which were later sold for an undisclosed sum. He later moved to Dublin, Ireland, living as a tax exile.

Upon hearing the news that Lennon had been murdered in December 1980, Shotton visited Harrison at Friar Park, Harrison's home.

Shotton is the co-author of John Lennon: In My Life (1983, republished later as The Beatles, Lennon and Me), which told the (unexpurgated) story of their friendship, from the age of six until Lennon's death in 1980.


Thursday, April 09, 2009

Beatle People: Alf Lennon

Alfred "Alf" Lennon (14 December 1912 – 1 April 1976) was the father of English musician John Lennon. He spent many years in an orphanage—with his sister, Edith—after his father died. Alf was known as being very witty and musical throughout his life—he sang and played the banjo—but not as being very dependable. Although always known as Alf by his family, he later released a record as Freddie Lennon, and was quoted in newspapers under that name.

Alf and Julia Stanley married in 1938. John Lennon was their only son together, but Alf was often away at sea during World War II, so consequently did not see much of Lennon during his infancy. Alf later found out that Julia was pregnant with another man's child and offered to look after Julia, Lennon and the expected baby, but Julia rejected the idea. Alf had very little contact with Lennon until Beatlemania, when they met again, but later had intermittent contact with each other. Alf died in Brighton, where he had gone to live after marrying the 19-year-old Pauline Jones.

The Lennon family

James Lennon (b.1829) and Jane McConville (b.1831)—Alf's grandparents—moved with their respective families to Liverpool in the 1840s. James and Jane were both from County Down, Ireland, and were married in St. Anthony's Chapel, Scotland Road. Liverpool, on 29 April 1849. James was a warehouseman/Cooper at the time. They had seven children together: Elizabeth (b.1850) James, John "Jack", William George, Richard Francis, Joseph (b.1865) and Edward. Jack Lennon (b. 1855)—a shipping clerk/bookeeper—is the father of Alf Lennon and the grandfather of John Winston Lennon.

In 1888, Jack married Margaret Cowley (from Liverpool) and they had two children: Mary Elizabeth Lennon, and Michael Lennon. Margaret died giving birth to Michael (who also died 15 days later) on 19 August 1892.

Shortly after Jack began living with Mary "Polly" Maguire as man and wife. In total they had fifteen children, eight who died young. In 1901, Jack, Polly and his daughter, Mary, were living at 3 Lockhart Street, Liverpool. They lived in the Toxteth Park area of Liverpool, and at least five of their children were born there: George Lennon (1905, in Denton Street), Herbert Lennon (1908), Sydney Lennon (1909), Harold Lennon (1911) and Alfred Lennon (1912) were born at 27 Copperfield Street.

Jack eventually married Mary (Polly) Maguire in 1915, after they had moved to Elmore Street, Everton. One of the witnesses at the wedding was Polly's sister, Catherine Seddon. Daughter Edith Lennon was born that year and then Charles (21 November 1918—26 May 2002). The Lennons moved back to Toxteth Park, and Jack died in 1921, at 57 Copperfield Street. He is buried in a common and unmarked grave (along with five unknown adults and three children) in the Anfield Cemetery, Liverpool.

Polly couldn't read or write, but was reported to be very humorous and supposedly had psychic abilities. After Jack had died, Polly did not have enough money to keep the whole Lennon family together, so she placed two of her children, Alf and Edith, in the Bluecoat School Orphanage. It was situated just around the corner from Newcastle Road (where Julia Stanley lived). Polly died on 30 January 1949.

The urban legend

It has often been claimed (by the Lennon family) that Alf's grandfather was a professional singer, a ship's cook, and that he emigrated to America, and that Alf's father, Jack Lennon, became a "refined" British minstrel, who toured America with 'Roberton's Kentucky Minstrels' Vaudeville troupe in the late 1800s. It is also claimed that Jack's first wife was an American, who died during childbirth after they had both moved back to Liverpool. This has been proven—by checking birth certificates, the 1861, 1871, and 1901 censuses—to be false.

Alfred Lennon

Alfred Lennon (always called 'Alf' by his family) was known as being happy-go-lucky, and "couldn't resist having a good time". Alf had rickets as a child and wore leg braces, which led to his growth being stunted at 5'4". In 1927, Alfred auditioned for a children's music hall act, Will Murray's Gang, at the Liverpool Empire Theatre. Having passed the audition he ran away from the orphanage and joined the show. Alf travelled with the troupe for a time before being discovered in Glasgow and returned to the orphanage, where he was severely punished. Alf was known as being always quick with a joke or a witty line, but never held a job for any length of time. When he was 15-years-old he left the Bluecoat orphanage and found a job as an office-boy, but preferred to visit Liverpool's many vaudeville theatres and cinemas, where he knew the usherettes by name. His brother Sydney often lent money to Alf, after Sydney got a job in a tailor's shop.

Julia Stanley

It was at the 'Trocadero' club (a converted cinema on Camden Road, Liverpool) that Alf first saw an auburn-haired girl with a bright smile and high cheekbones; Julia Stanley. Although Alf did not speak to her, he saw Julia again in Sefton Park, where Alf had gone with a friend to pick up girls. Alf, who was dressed in a bowler hat and holding a cigarette holder, saw "this little waif" sitting on a wrought-iron bench. The 14-year-old Julia said that Alf's hat looked "silly," to which the 15-year-old Alf replied that Julia looked "lovely," and sat down next to her. Julia asked Alf to take off his hat, so Alf promptly took it off and threw it straight into the lake.

Alf was musical, and specialised in impersonating Louis Armstrong and Al Jolson. He played the banjo, (as did Julia) though neither Alf nor Julia pursued music professionally. (Julia would later teach Lennon how to play the banjo). They spent their days together walking around Liverpool and dreaming of what they would do in the future—like opening a shop, a pub, a cafe, or a club. In March 1930, Alfred took a job as bellboy on board the Cunard passenger liner SS Montrose. He kept in touch with Julia, writing to her and meeting her whenever he docked in Liverpool. Alf was later offered a job on a whaling ship for two years—which could have earned Alf enough money to buy a house—but turned it down when he found out that Julia's father had arranged the job, so as to keep Alf as far away from Julia as possible.

On 3 December 1938, eleven years after they had first met, Julia married Alf after proposing to him. They were married in the Bolton Street Registry Office, and Julia wrote 'cinema usherette' on the marriage certificate as her occupation, even though she had never been one. None of Julia's family were there, but Alf's brother Sydney acted as a witness. They spent their honeymoon eating at 'Reece's' restaurant in Clayton Square (which is where Lennon would later celebrate after his marriage to Cynthia Powell) and then went to a cinema. On their wedding night Julia stayed at the Stanleys' house and Alf went back to his rooming house.

Julia's family did not like Alfred at all: Julia's father said Alf was "certainly not middle class," and Julia's sister Mimi was particularly opposed to him. Julia's father demanded that Alf present something concrete to show that he could financially support Julia, but Alf's only idea was to sign on as a Merchant Navy bellboy on a ship bound for the Mediterranean. He later worked on Ocean liners that traveled between the Greek islands, North Africa and The West Indies. Alf graduated from bellboy to steward during the months he was away, but when he arrived back in Liverpool he moved into the Stanley home in Newcastle Road. He auditioned for local theatre managers as a "ship's entertainer," but had no success, and went back to sea.

John Lennon

Julia found out that she was pregnant in January 1940. Lennon was born on 9 October 1940, in the second-floor ward of the Oxford Street Maternity Hospital in Liverpool, during the course of a German air raid in World War II. Alf first saw Lennon that November when he returned from working as a merchant seaman on Troop-transports during World War II. He sent regular pay cheques to Julia, who lived with Lennon at 9 Newcastle Road (the Stanley family's home). Alf occasionally went back to Liverpool, but did not stay long before he was sent off on another ship. The cheques to Julia stopped when Alf went AWOL in 1943. Neither Julia nor the Merchant Navy knew of Alf's whereabouts. Julia only found out because she stopped receiving her allowance money, and the Navy wrote to her to inform her that they were looking for Alf.

Julia had started going out to dance halls in 1942, and met a Welsh soldier named "Taffy" Williams who was stationed in the barracks at Mossley Hill. Alf blamed himself for this, as he had written letters telling Julia that because there was a war on, she should go out and enjoy herself. Julia took his advice, and often gave the young Lennon a piece of chocolate or sugar pastry the next morning for breakfast that she had been given the night before. She became pregnant by Williams in late 1944, though first claiming that she had been raped by an unknown soldier.

When Alf eventually came home on 13 January 1945, he offered to look after Julia, Lennon and the expected baby, but Julia rejected the idea. Alf took Lennon to his brother Sydney's house, in the Liverpool suburb of Maghull, a few months before Julia came to term. The baby girl, Victoria, was subsequently given up for adoption (after intense pressure from Julia's father and family) to a Norwegian Salvation Army Captain. Julia later met Bobby Dykins and lived with him, but after considerable pressure from Mimi—who twice contacted Liverpool's Social Services and complained about Lennon sleeping in the same bed as Julia and Dykins—Julia reluctantly handed the care of Lennon over to Mimi. Whilst Alf was away at sea, Charlie said that people used to visit the Lennon house in Copperfield Street, offering large sums of money (up to £300) if Alf would divorce Julia, but were told to "get lost" by Charlie.

In July 1946, Alf visited Mimi's house at 251 Menlove Avenue and took Lennon to Blackpool for a long 'holiday'—but secretly intending to emigrate to New Zealand with him. Julia and Dykins found out and followed them to Blackpool, and after a heated argument Alf made the five-year-old Lennon choose between Julia or him. Lennon chose Alf (twice) and then Julia walked away, but in the end Lennon, crying, followed her. Alf lost contact with the family until Beatlemania, when he and Lennon met again. In 1968, Lennon told Hunter Davies that he soon forgot his father, saying, "It was like he was dead."

Later life

Alf later told his version of what happened while he was AWOL (Absent Without Leave) in 1943. He claimed that he had sailed from America to Bône, North Africa, but was arrested for stealing one bottle of beer from the ship—consequently serving nine days in a military prison. After his release he became involved in various "shady deals," and was supposedly rescued from a criminal gang of Arabs. He eventually served on a troop ship from North Africa to Italy before finally boarding a ship that was making its way to England, in 1944. In 1949, Alfred's career at sea ended when he was sentenced to six months imprisonment. He had been drinking when, late at night, he saw a mannequin in a wedding dress in a shop window. He broke the window, picked up the mannequin, and danced with it in the street until he was arrested.

In 1958, when Alf was working with Charlie Lennon in The Barn Restaurant in Solihull, their brother Sydney sent a newspaper clipping from The Liverpool Echo reporting that Julia had died. A saddened Alf left Solihull for London, but kept in touch with Charlie by phone.

Alf made no real attempt to contact his son again until the height of Beatlemania (claiming he didn't know who they were). Alf was working as a kitchen porter at the Greyhound Hotel in Hampton, South London, when someone pointed out a photograph of Lennon in a newspaper and asked if Alf was related to Lennon. Alfred and Charlie visited one of the The Beatles' Christmas shows at the Finsbury Park Empire in London. When The Beatles were filming a scene for A Hard Day's Night in the Scala Theatre in Soho in April 1964, Alf walked into Brian Epstein's NEMS office in Argyle Street with a journalist. "I'm John Lennon's father," he explained to the receptionist. When Epstein was informed, he "went into a panic," and immediately sent a car to bring Lennon to NEMS office. Alf was shabbily-dressed, with his unkempt, balding gray hair greased-back. He stuck out his hand, but Lennon did not take it, saying "What do you want?" Alf placated Lennon somewhat by saying, "You can't turn your back on your family, no matter what they've done." Their conversation didn't last long, as Lennon soon ordered Alf and the journalist out of the NEMS office. The Beatles' personal stories were kept out of the newspapers—by agreement with journalists who were offered exclusive stories in return—but one day Lennon opened a copy of The Daily Express and saw a photo of his father.

A few weeks later, Cynthia opened the door of Kenwood (Lennon and Cynthia's home in Weybridge) to see a man who "looked like a tramp," but alarmingly, with John's face. Cynthia invited Alf in, and gave him tea and cheese on toast until Lennon came home, which he was expected to do in an hour or so. Whilst waiting, Cynthia offered to cut Alf's "long, stringy locks" of hair, which he allowed her to do. After waiting for a couple of hours, Alf left. Lennon was annoyed when he came home, and told Cynthia (for the first time) about Alf's visit to the NEMS office a few weeks before. Lennon relented slightly and contacted Alf over the next few months, telling Cynthia that Alf was, "Alright, Cyn. He's a bit 'wacky', like me." After Christmas, in 1965, Lennon was embarrassed to hear that Alf had made a record: "That's My Life (My Love and My Home)," released on 31 December 1965. Lennon asked Epstein to do anything he could to stop its release, or becoming a hit. The record never made it into the charts, and was soon forgotten.

Pauline Jones

Three years after meeting Lennon in the NEMS office, Alf (who was then 56-years-old) turned up at Kenwood again, with nineteen-year-old student Pauline Jones, who was Alf's fiancée. Pauline had been an 18-year-old Exeter University student when she met the 54-year-old Alf in 1966. They said that they were in love and wanted to get married, although Pauline's mother was horrified and totally against the idea. Alf asked Lennon if he could give Pauline a job, so Pauline was hired to help looking after Julian Lennon and also the piles of fan mail. Pauline spent a few months living at Kenwood in the attic bedroom, but Cynthia remembered Pauline, "crying all the time and arguing with her mother on the phone."

Alf and Pauline grew tired of trying to convince Pauline's mother to allow them to get married, so they eloped and were married in Gretna Green, Scotland. Alf and Pauline moved to a flat in Bourne Court, London Road, Patcham (in a suburb of Brighton) before relocating to Ladies Mile Road, Brighton, in November 1969. Alf had two sons with Pauline: David Henry Lennon and Robin Francis Lennon, half-brothers whom Lennon never met.


Late in his life, Alf wrote a manuscript detailing his life story which he bequeathed to John. It was Alf's attempt to fill in the lost years that he had not been in contact with his son, and to explain that it was Julia, and not Alf, that had broken up their marriage. Lennon commented: "You know, all he wanted was for me to hear his side of the story, which I hadn't heard." By 1976, Alfred had contracted terminal stomach cancer. Pauline contacted Lennon via Apple to make sure that he knew that his father was dying. Lennon sent a large bouquet of flowers to the hospital and phoned Alf on his deathbed, apologizing for his (John's) past behavior. When Alf died, Lennon offered to pay for the funeral, but Pauline refused, and paid for the arrangements herself. In 1990, Pauline published a book called Daddy, Come Home, detailing her life with Alf and his meetings with Lennon. Pauline later remarried, and is now known as Pauline Stone.


Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Beatle People: Allen Klein

Allen Klein (born December 18, 1931) is a controversial American businessman and record label executive. His career highlights included celebrated clients such as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. Many of his famous clients eventually turned against him, however, and he became involved in acrimonious legal battles against them.

The accountant

Allen Klein was born the son of Jewish immigrants from Budapest, Hungary. His father was a butcher, and his mother died before he reached the age of one. As a teenager, he worked several jobs while attending evening classes. He excelled at mental arithmetic, and graduated from Upsala College, East Orange, New Jersey, in 1956. He did bookkeeping for several show-business people, and audited record companies. In 1957 he began his own business, a partnership with his wife Betty. A couple of years later, while attending a wedding, he met singer Bobby Darin. He asked Darin "How would you like to make $100,000?" A stunned Darin asked what he had to do. "Nothing," was Klein's reply. He then pursued Darin's record company for what he regarded as monies owed to the singer. Darin let Klein audit his accounts and received the check, exactly as promised. This 'no win, no fee' approach became his trademark. Record industry insiders began to fear his blunt-speaking tenacity, and celebrities began to recommend him. Klein regarded himself as a shrewd and tenacious businessman, exampled by him having a modified bible quote on his desk, reading: "Though I walk in the shadow of the valley of evil, I have no fear, as I am the biggest bastard in the valley."

Sam Cooke

Following the death of his son in 1963, Sam Cooke started to take control of all aspects of his career. He demanded his own record company. Klein became his business manager (a role which never previously existed), someone who would take the artist's side in negotiations with the recording industry. He secured an unprecedented agreement, with Cooke starting a new label (Tracey Records) that would own the rights to all of his future recordings (it would be distributed, at first, by RCA), site fees, gate revenues for concerts, 10 percent of all records sold, and back royalties.

When Cooke died in 1964, his wife Barbara became the owner of Tracey Records. She later sold these rights to Klein.

Cameo Parkway

Cameo Records was formed in 1956 and Parkway, a subsidiary, was formed in 1958. They were based in Philadelphia and specialized in pop music for the teen market. They had run out of hits by 1964, but struggled on until 1967, when Klein bought them, together with rights to music by The Animals, Herman's Hermits, Bobby Rydell, ? and the Mysterians, Chubby Checker and recordings produced by Mickie Most.

The Rolling Stones

In 1965, Klein replaced Andrew Loog Oldham as business manager of The Rolling Stones. Mick Jagger had studied at the London School of Economics and was initially impressed enough with Klein's business skills to recommend him to Paul McCartney. Not long after, however, Jagger started to doubt Klein's trustworthiness. By the late 1960s the Stones decided to fire Klein, and set up their own business structure in 1970; however, a legal settlement meant giving Klein the rights to most of their songs recorded before 1971. Klein's ABKCO label released the rarest of all Stones albums, Metamorphosis (1975). By the late 1990s, some of the 1960s albums were becoming hard to acquire on CD. Finally, in 2002, Klein's son Jody oversaw a remastering of the 1960s albums, to much acclaim. Outside the Americas, they are licensed to Universal, now owner of their original home, Decca.

The Beatles

During the filming of Rock and Roll Circus, Klein and John Lennon met casually, but did not discuss business. Following the death of Brian Epstein in 1967, The Beatles had been without a manager per se, although NEMS, headed by Epstein's brother Clive, had been taking care of day-to-day business, with Peter Brown acting as liaison to both the Beatles and the Epsteins, and Paul McCartney steering the band artistically. Without a performing schedule, and with recording and filming dates in their own hands, the Beatles had not needed a traditional kind of manager. They had, however, gradually lost many of the people Epstein had made business deals with early in their career, such as music publisher Dick James and financial adviser Dr. Walter Strach, which had secured the band financially. They were used to asking for something to be done, without thinking of the price; much of Apple Corps had been set up in this way. Epstein had been the one to put the brakes on spending, talk over practicalities, and say "no". This had been all but forgotten. Without a damper, the band had overspent, and over-trusted, and problems arose.

By 1969, Apple Corps was in a financial mess, and it was becoming obvious that a business brain was needed to sort things out. Several names were considered, including Lord Beeching. Paul McCartney favoured Lee Eastman (father of McCartney's wife, Linda) as the man for the job, a suggestion that did not sit well with the other three Beatles, as they felt that Eastman would be batting for McCartney's interests ahead of those of the rest of the group. Klein contacted Lennon after reading his press comment that the Beatles would be "broke in six months" if things continued as they were. Klein was willing to break precedent, and only take a commission on increased business; if Apple continued to lose money, he would be paid nothing.

After a meeting at Klein's suite in the Dorchester Hotel (opposite London's Hyde Park), where Klein impressed Lennon with both his in-depth knowledge of Lennon's work (he could quote lyrics from all of his songs) and his "streetwise" attitude and language, Lennon convinced George Harrison and Ringo Starr that Klein should take over instead. McCartney agreed to pose for photographs with Klein as a show of unity, pretending to sign a new contract, but he never put his signature on the paper. This fundamental disagreement about who should manage them, fueled by a decade-long build up of resentments and insecurity about other matters such as power and influence within the group, was one of the key factors in the eventual break-up of the Beatles.

In 1969, Klein re-negotiated their contract with EMI, granting them the highest royalties ever paid to an artist at that time; 69 cents per $6-7 album. In exchange, EMI was allowed to repackage earlier Beatles material as compilations, which Brian Epstein had not permitted. Klein oversaw the issuing of the single "Something"/"Come Together", at a crucial point when Apple needed income. He helped rescue the abandoned Get Back project (released as Let It Be), by bringing Phil Spector to England to work with the band. He also transformed office habits at Apple, installing a time clock for the staff and insisting meals be pre-ordered from the building's kitchen (instead of cooked on demand). Klein slashed expenditures at Apple, canceling payouts and charge accounts for many Beatles associates, and friends of friends, who had worked or consulted for the company.

On the other hand, Klein also managed to alienate many of the people who had previously been part of the Beatles's business and personal circle, with his abrasive style of management and negotiation. His cost-cutting measures at Apple included what was considered by some as "cold-blooded" firing of many of the employees that had flocked to the band's experiment in "western Communism" (including the erratic Magic Alex, and Epstein's old friend Alistair Taylor). Klein also closed the Zapple Records imprint. He spoke occasionally at Apple and Beatles press conferences; a reporter for the London Evening Standard remarked later that Klein "must have set some kind of record for unprintable language" at one such conference. He was also unable to save Northern Songs from a buyout by ATV, which took away ownership of nearly all the band's song copyrights.

McCartney continued to distrust Klein, though admitting to him at one point "If you are screwing us, I don't see how." Following their informal agreement to split in late 1969, he eventually sued the other three Beatles for what he called 'a divorce', and the Beatles as a business unit came to an end. McCartney has stated he chose to legally dissolve the Beatles rather than allow Klein to milk and diminish their artistic legacy, which (of all the Beatles) McCartney was most passionate and protective.

Solo Beatles

Klein helped Lennon and Ono with their film Imagine, and helped Harrison to organise the Concert for Bangladesh. It was here that his reputation started to unravel. Rather than prearrange matters with UNICEF, Klein waited until after the concert to approach them, leading to questions about the proceeds, and finally a US tax investigation. While a check was cut at the time, additional proceeds meant for UNICEF were frozen in an escrow account until the 1980s. Also, Klein had sided with Harrison in believing Yoko Ono should not perform at the concert, wanting Lennon to appear without her, causing Lennon to cool on Klein. (He later took out his feelings toward Klein in "Steel And Glass", which appeared on his 1974 album Walls and Bridges.) After several suits and countersuits, Klein settled for a final payment of £3.5 million in 1977. In 1978, he was parodied by John Belushi as "Ron Decline" in the TV film All You Need Is Cash (which spoofed the Beatles' story).

It turned out Klein and Harrison were not completely finished with each other. While Klein had supported and advised Harrison during the first phase of his "My Sweet Lord" lawsuit, Klein later bought Bright Tunes, the music publishing company that sued Harrison, thus becoming his legal opponent. A judge ruled later that Klein had unfairly switched sides in the lawsuit, and it counted against Klein in court. (Harrison ultimately became the owner of "He's So Fine", the song at the heart of the case.)

Phil Spector

Klein bought the rights to music produced by Phil Spector, such as the Philles Records and Phil Spector International catalogs, in the 1980s.

The Stranger films

Klein produced a trilogy of spaghetti westerns starring and written by Tony Anthony copying Clint Eastwood's The Man With No Name. A Stranger In Town and The Stranger Returns were released in the USA by MGM. A dispute with MGM over the last one, The Silent Stranger, led to it not being released for seven years after production. Klein and Anthony also collaborated on the film Blindman featuring Ringo Starr as a Mexican bandito. Klein also appeared briefly on camera, in a similar role.

Alejandro Jodorowsky films

Lennon, after seeing and being impressed with Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky's El Topo, persuaded Klein to buy the rights and bankroll Jodorowsky's next film, The Holy Mountain (1973). The Jodorowsky-Klein collaboration was an artistic success, but plans for a follow-up never materialized. Witnessing the commercial success of hard-core pornographic films, such as Deep Throat and The Devil In Miss Jones, which broke through to the mainstream, Klein saw similar potential in Pauline Réage's bestseller The Story Of O, but Jodorowsky walked out on the deal. In retribution, Klein withdrew every print of El Topo and The Holy Mountain, and turned down all subsequent requests by film festivals from around the world to show them.

Both films were withdrawn from circulation for more than 30 years, with sporadic, bootleg appearances on video - usually of poor quality. Jodorowsky publicly endorsed these pirated copies of his work, since he was unable to show or distribute it legally. The dispute over the films ended in 2004, when Jody Klein contacted Jodorowsky and offered a reconciliation. In response to the films' re-appearance, both the Cannes and London Film Festivals currently organise gala screenings. Both films are also available in DVD format.

The Verve

On their song "Bittersweet Symphony", the British rock group The Verve sampled an orchestration from The Rolling Stones' "The Last Time", the rights to which are owned by Klein's ABKCO Industries. Before the release of the album, The Verve negotiated a licensing agreement with Klein, who administers The Stones' catalog, to use the sample (at least the composition rights to the sample). In 1997, The Verve's album Urban Hymns peaked at No. 23 on the Billboard charts. A bitter legal battle ensued, resulting in The Verve turning over 100% of the royalties to ABKCO. Klein argued that The Verve had violated the previous licensing agreement by using too much of the sample in their song. Capitalizing off the success of the song, Klein licensed The Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony" to Nike, who proceeded to run a multimillion dollar television campaign using The Verve's song over shots of its sneakers. Klein also allowed the song to be used in advertisements for Vauxhall automobiles. (Additionally, though the song was authored by The Rolling Stones, the Andrew Loog Oldham Orchestra performed the sampled recording, and also filed suit upon the success of the song. When "Bittersweet Symphony" was nominated for a Grammy Award, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones were named as the nominees, and not The Verve).


Tuesday, April 07, 2009

September 8, 1971 - The Dick Cavett Show

Taped: Wednesday 8 September 1971
Aired: Saturday 11 September 1971

In New York, at the television studios of ABC TV, John and Yoko record their first appearance on The Dick Cavett Show. (The programme will be transmitted on September 12.) The Lennons chain-smoke throughout the 90-minute interview where, at one point, John looks up to the camera and jokes: "Didn't work did it, Arthur?" This was a reference to the fact that their four-month primal scream therapy last year with Janov was supposed to cure their addiction to nicotine. The general light-hearted conversation contains some unique play-offs between John and the host.

John: "Ella Fitzgerald dear Watson ... that's a pun on elementary."

Cavett: "That's known as word play."

John: "Yes, I'm always playing with myself!"

Then on a more serious note ...

Cavett: "Yoko, you've even been called the dragon lady who broke The Beatles apart."

Yoko: "Yes."

John (instantly defending): "Well, if she took us apart, can we please give her the credit for all the nice music that George made, Ringo made, Paul made and I've made since they broke up!"

Yoko: "It turned out all right, didn't it?"

John (continuing): "Anyway, she didn't split The Beatles. How can one girl split The Beatles, or one woman, y'know? The Beatles were drifting apart on their own!"

Cavett: "Can you remember when you realised it was inevitable that you thought that you'd split up?"

John: "No. It's just like saying do you remember falling in love. It just sort of happens."

The "black bag" idea is resurrected when two friends (one of which is May Pang) appear on the set. This prompts John to recall the incident when the black bag conception was used on BBC TV's Parkinson in July.

"We did a talk show in England and every time the man wanted to talk about 'Beatles', because I'm fed up talking about them, I asked him to go in a bag and he did it. The interviewer, the Dick Cavett of England, he was in the bag all the time, so every time the cameras panned to him, the audience broke up, so he could never get the questions out. It was a very good show!"

To compensate for the fact that John and Yoko will not be performing on the show, they bring along with them excerpts from the film Imagine ('Mrs. Lennon' and 'Imagine' itself), Erection and Fly. John concludes the show by announcing that they will be going out on the road next year with a band. One viewer of the show in New York is George Harrison. (The Lennons will return to The Dick Cavett Show on May 5,1972.)

After the final credits for the programme roll, and the audience stop clapping, John and Yoko decide that they would like to carry on talking. Besides resuming a conversation with Cavett, John and Yoko also take questions from the studio audience, on topics including John's songwriting and whether or not drugs effected it. Yoko is also asked her opinions about the overpopulation of the world. This sequence is included in the show transmitted on September 19.

Following the broadcast, critics are quick to attack the show, saying John and Yoko "annoyed most of the watchers by spending 90 minutes plugging everything they had ever done or ever hoped to do. There was very little conversation; instead viewers were treated to excerpts from films and albums the couple have done separately and together." The controversy continues the following day when American radio airs complaints about the show. Listeners voice their opinions, saying that the constant plugging of the Lennons' products made them feel that they were "being taken for a ride".

Incidentally, a clip from the show where John recalls the writing of the song 'Imagine' later appears in the 1994 Tom Hanks film Forrest Gump.