Saturday, January 09, 2010

Beatles News

January 9, 1969 - Can You Hear Me, Commonwealth?

The Beatles perform "Get Back," "Tennessee," "House of the Rising Sun," and the ad-libbed "Commonwealth."

Friday, January 08, 2010

Paul McCartney on "Penny Lane"

"'Penny Lane' is a bus roundabout in Liverpool and there is a barber's shop showing photographs of every head he's had the pleasure to know -- no, that's not true, they're just photos of hairstyles, but all the people who come and go/stop and say hullo. There's a bank on the corner so we made up the bit about the banker in his motor car. It's part fact, part nostalgia for a place which is a great place, blue suburban skies as we remember it, and it's still there.

"And we put in a joke or two: 'Four of fish and finger pie.' The women would never dare say that, except to themselves. Most people wouldn't hear it, but 'finger pie' is just a nice little joke for the Liverpool lads who like a bit of smut."

Beatles News

January 8, 1969 - Good Morning

The Beatles have some fun turning "Two Of Us" into a rock song, with John and Paul sharing a microphone. "I've Got a Feeling" takes shape through repeated rehearsals.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Beatles News

January 7, 1969 - Get Back Sessions

The Beatles make their way through "Across the Universe" and "Dig a Pony" as Paul looks disinterested. John asks: "Has anybody got a fast one?"

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

John Lennon on "Tomorrow Never Knows"

"Often the backing I think of early on never comes off. With 'Tomorrow Never Knows' I'd imagined in my head that in the background you would hear thousands of monks chanting. That was impractical of course and we did something different. I should have tried to get near my original idea, the monks singing, I realise now that was what it wanted."

Beatles News

Beatles Covers: U2 - Helter Skelter

John Lennon's Record Collection: Larry Williams - Short Fat Fannie

January 6, 1969 - The Row Between Paul and George

The Beatles sounding "not together" on their third day at Twickenham Studios, rehearsing "Two Of Us." Paul says to George, "I'm trying to help, you know, but I always hear myself annoying you." Paul strikes a nerve in bringing up the recording of "Hey Jude" (where Paul had asked George not to play guitar). George responds: "I'll play whatever you want me to play, or I won't play at all if you don't want me to play. Whatever it is that will please you, I'll do it."

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Beatles News: Yoko Ono to Write Memoir

Beatle People: Fred Seaman

Frederic ("Fred") Seaman, (born October 10, 1952) is the former personal assistant to John Lennon and Yoko Ono, during the former Beatle's final years, when Lennon and Ono lived in The Dakota Apartments in New York City.

Life with the Lennons

Seaman first met the Lennons in October 1975 at the Russian Tea Room and was introduced through his aunt, Helen Seaman. In need of a job, he renewed his acquaintance with them in 1978. Lennon was in need of a personal assistant at the time, and there were several factors in Seaman's favor which helped him land the job. First, Seaman was primarily a jazz fan and knew little about Lennon's career in The Beatles. Ono is said to have performed a numerology reading on Seaman and found him to be promising in that respect (he was born in the Chinese Year of the Dragon, and his birthday fell one day after Lennon's). Lennon was struck by the way the name "Fred Seaman" related so directly to Lennon's own father, Freddy, who was a life-long sailor in the merchant marines; literally a "sea man." During the approximately 24 months that he worked at the Dakota, Seaman was publicly credited by Lennon for introducing him to the music of The B-52's, a band whose offerings Lennon felt certain had been inspired by Yoko Ono's music. Seaman was mentioned by name in Lennon's last interviews for BBC Radio and RKO Radio and was given a credit in the liner notes to Double Fantasy.

Legal problems

After Lennon's murder on December 8, 1980, Seaman, by his own admission, took several items from the Dakota apartments, including stereo equipment and John Lennon's personal diaries. After his arrest, Seaman insisted that Lennon had specifically instructed him to give the diaries - handwritten and assumed to be intensely private - to his eldest son Julian in the event of his death. In 1983, Seaman was convicted of stealing the diaries, which had by then been returned to Yoko Ono, and sentenced to five years' probation.

In 2002, Seaman also lost a long and contentious court battle against Yoko Ono for copyright control of more than 300 photos he took with a camera the Lennons owned during his employ.


Seaman is author of The Last Days of John Lennon: A Personal Memoir, a book detailing his time as Lennon's private aide (initially published in September 1991 by Birch Lane Press). A British edition retitled John Lennon, Living on Borrowed Time: A Personal Memoir was published in spring 1993, and editions soon followed in German, French, Czech, and Japanese translations. The book is considered controversial by many Lennon fans and observers due to its portrayal of Lennon and Ono's marriage, and for the glimpses he offered into the secluded and often unhappy life Lennon lived inside the Dakota apartments. A review in the June 1991 edition of Library Journal states: "Seaman reveals the day-to-day minutiae of the Lennon lifestyle, and what emerges is a sad portrait of a tormented man. Recommended." In publishing his story, however, Seaman failed to abide by the terms of the non-disclosure agreement he signed when commencing his time in the Lennons' employ. The book is now out-of-print.


Beatles T-Shirts

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Beatle People: Pete Drake

Pete Drake (8 October 1932 – 29 July 1988), born Roddis Franklin Drake, was a major Nashville, Tennessee-based record producer and pedal steel guitar player.

One of the most sought-after backup musicians of the 1960s, Drake played on such hits as Lynn Anderson's "Rose Garden", Charlie Rich's "Behind Closed Doors"' Bob Dylan's "Lay Lady Lay"' and Tammy Wynette's "Stand by Your Man". (Drake's work on this last tune is debatable, in that some sources claim Sonny Curtis to be the steel guitar player on that record.)

Drake was born in Augusta, Georgia, the son of a Pentecostal preacher, in 1932. In 1950, he drove to Nashville, heard Jerry Byrd on the Grand Ole Opry, and was inspired to buy a steel guitar. He organized a band, Sons of the South, in Atlanta in the 1950s, which included future country stars like Jerry Reed, Doug Kershaw, Roger Miller, Jack Greene, and Joe South.

In 1959 he moved to Nashville and went on the road as a backup musician for Don Gibson, Marty Robbins and others. In 1964 he had an international hit on Smash Records with his "talking steel guitar" playing on the album Forever. His innovative use of what would be called the "talk box", later used by Peter Frampton, Joe Walsh and Jeff Beck, added novel effects to the pedal steel guitar. The album Pete Drake and His Talking Steel Guitar, harkened back to the sounds of Alvino Rey and his wife Luise King, who first modulated a guitar tone with the signal from a throat microphone in 1939. The unique sound of the talk box with a steel guitar was new in the 1960s, and it made the sounds of vocalizing along with the strings of the steel guitar. According to an interview of Drake:
"You play the notes on the guitar and it goes through the amplifier. I have a driver system so that you disconnect the speakers and the sound goes through the driver into a plastic tube. You put the tube in the side of your mouth then form the words with your mouth as you play them. You don't actually say a word: The guitar is your vocal cords, and your mouth is the amplifier. It's amplified by a microphone."

The equipment was only loud enough to be useful in the studio for recordings.

Drake played on Bob Dylan's three Nashville-recorded albums, including Nashville Skyline, and on Joan Baez's David's Album. He also worked with George Harrison on All Things Must Pass, and with Ringo Starr on Beaucoups of Blues in 1970.

Drake produced albums for many other musicians, and founded Stop Records and First Generation Records. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame's Walkway of Stars in 1970 and the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame in 1987. He died in Nashville in 1988, of lung cancer. He is buried in Spring Hill Cemetery, Tennessee, inscription reads "His Courage, His Smile, His Talent and His Love, Warms Our Hearts." His headstone is inscribed "For Pete's Sake."