Saturday, April 24, 2010

Beatle People: Brian Ray

Brian Thomas Ray (born January 4, 1955) is an American session musician, musical director, rock guitarist and singer-songwriter.

Early life

Brian Ray grew up in southern California.

His first musical performances were in front of his peers - at show and tell - setting his own lyrics to the tune of old folk songs.

By the age 9, he began playing the guitar. His elder sister Jean (of folk duo Jim and Jean) spurred his interest in rock music through her record collection. Jean invited Ray to play at the LA Troubadour when he was 15 years old. She was "probably the most important and influential person" in Ray's early life.


In 1973, shortly after graduating high school, Ray began his musical career as part of Bobby Pickett and the Crypt Kicker Five, playing the "Monster Mash" at a fund-raising benefit hosted by and for Phil Kaufman. Kaufman took Brian in and would later introduce him to singer Etta James at a rehearsal for the world famous Troubadour, just as James was on the brink of a career come-back. That brief introduction would eventually lead to Brian's l4 year career as Etta James' musical director and guitarist.

While working for Etta James, Ray also shared stages with musicians such as Keith Richards, Santana, Joe Cocker, Bonnie Raitt, John Lee Hooker and Bo Diddley. At this time he also began focusing more on songwriting. Ray spent the late 1980's collaborating with musicians such as Peter Frampton, Rita Coolidge, Michael Steele (of The Bangles) and Steve LeGassick, who became a songwriting partner for 13 years. It was this somgwriting partnership with LeGassick that would create the 1987 Smokey Robinson award-winning hit "One Heartbeat," which has received over 2,000,000 air plays.

Previous to working with Sir Paul McCartney in 2002, Ray was working on tour in France with two different French artists, Mylene Farmer and Johnny Hallyday. Abe Laboriel Jr., a drummer who had worked with Brian Ray, mentioned that Paul McCartney was in search of a guitarist who could easily switch between bass guitar and guitar. After meeting with McCartney's producer for Driving Rain, David Kahne, Ray joined Paul McCartney for the pre-game ceremonies at the NFL's Super Bowl XXXVI in 2002.

Ray joined the rest of Paul McCartney's band for the Driving Rain tour in promotion of the album. As of then, he has appeared on McCartney's solo albums, such as Back in the World, Back in the U.S. and Memory Almost Full, as well as two concert DVDs: Paul McCartney in Red Square and The Space Within US.

In addition to being a session musician, Brian Ray has also contributed to film scores such as the soundtrack to the film Heartbreakers in 1985. In 2002, Ray and Abe Laboriel Jr. composed the score for the independent film The Failures.

Solo Career

After decades of performing, writing and recording with musical artists, Brian Ray released his first solo album, Mondo Magneto on October 16, 2006 through his record label Whooray Records.

"People have always asked me when I was going to do my own thing," Ray said, "I guess I was just busy."

Musicians on Mondo Magneto include Scott Shriner from Weezer, Davey Faragher from Elvis Costello's band, as well as Abe Laboriel, Jr., Wix Wickens and Rusty Anderson from Paul McCartney's band. When Ray asked the blues singer and former boss Etta James if she would sing with him on the album her answer was simple, and immediate - "I'll do anything for Brian."

Mondo Magneto's record release party was held at The Mint in Los Angeles, California on January 21, 2006. Ray's live band, Black Unicorn, includes musicians Peter Thorn on guitar, John Button on bass, and Matt Laug on drums. The band perform their music in Los Angeles clubs, such as The Viper Room and The Mint.


Year Album Artist Notes
1976 Etta is Betta than Evvah Etta James
1977 Crackin' The Reggie Knighton Band
1978 Deep in the Night Etta James
1981 Hot Spot Steve Goodman
1987 One Heartbeat Smokey Robinson Co-writer, arranger, programming and guitars on recording with Smokey Robinson
1989 Joy Crystal Lewis
1992 Backstreets of Desire Willy DeVille

Love Lessons Rita Coolidge Writer, arranger and producer
1994 Live From San Francisco Etta James Live album; co- producer and music director, guitars
1995 Loup Garou Willy DeVille
1996 Greatest Hits Brenda Russell Writer, producer and guitars
2002 Back in the U.S. Paul McCartney Live Album; guitars, bass guitar
2003 Back in the World Paul McCartney Live Album; guitars, bass guitar
2004 Blues to the Bone Etta James
2005 Chaos and Creation in the Backyard Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney in Red Square Paul McCartney Live DVD; Guitars, bass guitar

Mondo Magneto Brian Ray Debut solo album

Undressing Underwater Rusty Anderson
2007 The Space Within US Paul McCartney Live DVD; guitars, bass guitar

Memory Almost Full Paul McCartney
2008 Pistola Willy DeVille


Friday, April 23, 2010

"Good Morning Good Morning"

"Good Morning Good Morning" is a song composed by John Lennon (credited to Lennon/McCartney) and performed by The Beatles on the 1967 Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album.

Lyrical inspiration

Inspiration for the song came to Lennon from a television commercial for Kellogg's Corn Flakes. The jingle went: "Good morning, good morning, The best to you each morning, Sunshine Breakfast, Kellogg's Corn Flakes, Crisp and full of fun."

The line "It's time for tea and Meet the Wife" refers to a BBC sitcom Meet the Wife.


The track was recorded on 8 February 1967, with overdubs on 16 February (bass and vocals), 13 March (brass section), 28 March (backing vocals and guitar solo), and 29 March (animal noises). The guitar solo was played by Paul McCartney.

At Lennon's request, George Martin brought in Sounds Incorporated to play the brass section with their signature saxophone sound.

Lennon asked engineer Geoff Emerick to arrange the animal noises heard at the end of the song so that the animal was capable of devouring or frightening the animal that came before it.

The final sound effect of a chicken clucking was so placed that it transforms into the guitar on the following track "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)."

Differences between mono and stereo

In the mono version, the length is 2:35, whereas in the stereo version, the length is 2:40 because there are more animal noises.

Time signature

The song, which is played at 117 beats per minute, has an unusual time signature in that 5/4 alternates with 4/4. For transition between 5/4 and 4/4 beat, 3/4 is used.


* John Lennon – double-tracked vocal, rhythm guitar
* Paul McCartney – backing vocal, Lead guitar, bass
* George Harrison – backing vocal, lead guitar
* Ringo Starr – drums, tambourine
* Barrie Cameron – saxophone
* David Glyde – saxophone
* Alan Holmes – saxophone
* John Lee – trombone
* Unknown – trombone
* Unknown – french horn
* Sounds Incorporated – brass
* Geoff Emerick – engineer
* George Martin – producer

Album: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Released: 1 June 1967
Recorded: Abbey Road Studios - 8, 16 February; 13, 28, 29 March 1967
Genre: Rock
Length: 2:41
Label: Parlophone
Writer: Lennon/McCartney
Producer: George Martin


Thursday, April 22, 2010

What Did the Beatles Think of Charles Manson?

The Beatles were no doubt shocked to learn of Manson's "barmy" interpretations of songs from the White Album that in some way inspired the Manson Family murders in 1969. His interpretations were so out of whack that he not only heard subliminal messages about an impending race war, but also the wrong lyrics (he misheard Lennon's warbling of "riiiight" in "Revolution 9" as "rise"). The only Beatle known to have spoken on this subject at length was John Lennon, in an interview to Rolling Stone in 1970:

"I don't know what I thought when it happened. I just think a lot of the things he says are true, that he's a child of the state made by us. And he took their children in when nobody else would, is what he did. But of course he's cracked, alright."

What were your feelings when he quoted "Helter Skelter"?

"Well he's barmy. He's like any other Beatle kind of fan who reads mysticism into it. I mean we used to have a laugh--put in this, that or the other in a light-hearted way, that some intellectual would read as some symbolic youth generation whatsit. But we also took seriously some parts of the role. But I don't know what's "Helter Skelter" got to do with knifin' somebody, you know? I've never listened to the words properly, "Helter Skelter," which is sort of a noise."

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Pattie Boyd's "Letter from London"


It's super to be writing my first column for
16--my first column for ANY magazine, come to that! I'd best start by telling you something about myself. My full name is Patricia Anne Boyd. I am 20 and was born on a farm in Somerset, which is one of the prettiest counties in the west of England. I don't remember anything about our farm except playing with the animals. When I was three, the family moved to Nairobi, in East Africa. Six years later we returned.

We're a big family, we Boyds. I'm the eldest. After me comes Colin (18), Jenny (16), Paula (14), David (10) and Robert (8). With all those older sisters, Robert has been hopelessly spoiled! We all look like one another, but Jenny and I favor most. She is still in school, but hopes to be a fashion writer one day. Paula has started training for an acting career and has already done little bits on TV.

I left home about 18 months ago to live on my own and model in London. Touch wood, I've been busy ever since -- mainly working for fashion magazines. I share a mews (that is a little private street off a main street) cottage with a girl friend called Mary Bee. We used to go to the same boarding school, then we teamed up again to share our first flat in Chelsea. That was a horrid place with a pokey kitchen, and we seemed to live on hot dogs most of the time.

Our present Ovington Mews cottage is absolutely super. We have two floors with a living room, dining room, huge kitchen and two bedrooms--and we have a little black kitten named "Wee-Wee." Mary and I are very much alike. I am five feet six inches tall and we have about the same measurements, which means we can borrow each other's clothes--and that comes in handy. We both love cooking, and when we have special guests for dinner--like a couple of Beatles!--we join forces over the meal. My specialty is veal scallopine and Mary makes marvelous apple-crumb cake.

When we go out of an evening we usually head for one of the new clubs which have opened to cater to the smart young set in London. Our two favorite clubs are the Crazy E (stands for Elephant) and the Ad Lib. They're both small and cozy, the lighting is dim and the music is DEAFENING--which is how we like it. Once in a while some poor mistaken middle-aged couple wanders in dressed to the nines. They blink like they don't know what hit them! As I say, our clubs are strictly for the young. What's so nice about these clubs is that no one stares at you or wants an autograph, so quite naturally the Beatles often go there. On a busy evening you are liable to bump into Ringo, George, John and Paul. Brian Jones of the Stones is a regular customer, as are the Animals. When I date George, it is usually in a foursome.

Fashions are free and easy in London. Trouser suits are very
in, as are "Granny" dresses like the one I'm wearing in the picture with the Stones. As for fads in words, "super" is replacing "fab" and "grotty" (from grotesque) is for something--well UGGHH! I'm afraid "gear is going out, too. We mostly say the whole word -- fabulous -- for something that is extra "super." Get it?

My fave American singers are the Supremes, Impressions, Exciters and Dionne Warwick. I think the Animals are the most promising newcomers. More, next letter. Cheerio!

Beatles Covers: The Cyrkle - I'm Happy Just To Dance With You

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Rare Beatles Songs: "Window, Window"

Surfacing first during the Revolver-era in 1966, "Window, Window" was what George Harrison called "a nice song," written in the folk tradition and seemingly in the glow of his marriage to Pattie Boyd ("I once knew a beautiful girl..."). When played for feedback, John Lennon remarked that it sounded too derivative and the song was then passed over in favor of other material. The lyrics clearly needed work; when played for engineer Glyn Johns in 1969, Johns seemed amused at the rhyming scheme (e.g. "girl" rhyming with "curl").

Harrison recounted the song's history during sessions for Let It Be in 1969 at the urging of Mal Evans, who apparently was quite fond of it; however, the song failed to find a home there either. "Window, Window" was last demoed for Phil Spector in the sessions leading up to All Things Must Pass, where Harrison called the song "a bit silly," evidenced by its bizarre second verse, where the protagonist goes out to "the shed" to "check out the paint and the lead."

January 1969 with Glyn Johns and Mal Evans:

May 1970 Demo for Phil Spector:

Monday, April 19, 2010

"Glass Onion"

"Glass Onion" is a song by The Beatles from The Beatles primarily written by John Lennon and credited to Lennon/McCartney. This is the first track on the White Album to feature Ringo Starr on drums. Starr briefly left the group during recording sessions for the album and was replaced on drums by Paul McCartney on both "Back in the U.S.S.R." and "Dear Prudence."


Among the major song references are: "Strawberry Fields Forever," "I Am the Walrus," "Lady Madonna," "The Fool on the Hill," and "Fixing a Hole." There are also subtle, passing references to "There's A Place," "I'm Looking Through You," and "Within You Without You."

The song's "The Walrus was Paul" lyric is both a reference to "I Am the Walrus" and Lennon saying "something nice to Paul" in response to changes in their relationship at that time. Later, the line was interpreted as a "clue" in the "Paul is dead" urban legend that alleged McCartney died in 1966 during the recording of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and was replaced by a look-alike and sound-alike. Coincidentally, the line is preceded with "Well, here's another clue for you all."

Lennon was asked if there was a deeper meaning to the mysterious lyrics: "I threw the line in—'the Walrus was Paul'—just to confuse everybody a bit more. It could have been 'The fox terrier is Paul.' I mean, it's just a bit of poetry. I was having a laugh because there'd been so much gobbledygook about Pepper—play it backwards and you stand on your head and all that."


* John Lennon – double-tracked vocal, acoustic guitar
* Paul McCartney – bass, piano, recorder
* George Harrison – lead guitar
* Ringo Starr – drums, tambourine
* George Martin – string arrangement
* Henry Datyner – violin
* Eric Bowie – violin
* Norman Lederman – violin
* Ronald Thomas – violin
* John Underwood – viola
* Keith Cummings – viola
* Eldon Fox – cello
* Reginald Kilby – cello
* Alex Ashtiani – banjo

Album: The Beatles
Released: 22 November 1968
Recorded: 11 September 1968
Genre: Rock
Length: 2:17
Label: Apple Records
Writer: Lennon/McCartney
Producer: George Martin


Sunday, April 18, 2010