Thursday, June 30, 2016

History: Beatles Book Monthly June 1966


"Paperback Writer," released as a single on June 10, 1966, in Britain, is the primary focus of that month's issue of the Beatles' official fan magazine.

The issue includes numerous photos taken during an overdub session for the song and captures some behind-the-scenes moments, such as when Paul hit upon the idea of incorporating the French children's song "Frere Jacques" into the background vocals:

 

The article about the session also notes the abundance of instruments and recording equipment the band was now using to create its work. Finding new, "unusual" sounds was the order of the day - something that would be made even more clear with the release of the Revolver LP later in the summer.



 

John plugs the new Rolling Stones LP
The numerous takes and overdubs the group started doing around this time coincided with the beginning of Ringo learning to play chess, which he did from Beatles road manager Neil Aspinall in order to kill time as he waited until he was needed.



There are also indications of Paul becoming "bossy" with the others in his search for the perfect sounds for his songs:


Meanwhile, in the "Beatle Talk" section, George and Paul make some predictions for the future:


And on the letters page, John makes a clarification regarding a recent hit song:


There's also an article looking back at the band's 1964 tour of Australia. You have to wonder how this item would go over today:




And, finally, the news page provides clarification about Paul's chipped tooth (mentioned in the previous issue) and an update on the band's automobile lineup:



See the new video for "While My Guitar Gently Weeps ("Love" version)"


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Video: The Beatles Love - Making of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"

Hello, Goodbye - New Genesis Publications book captures Beatles in Japan

Genesis Publications is out with another of its high-end, low-run Beatles photo books.

"Hello, Goodbye: The Beatles in Tokyo, 1966" features the work of photographer Shimpei Asai, the only Japanese photographer to gain official access to the band during their Tokyo stay.

The book ships in November and you can learn more here.





Friday, June 24, 2016

See the "Pure McCartney" TV ad


Beatles Bits: Weekly news roundup

A batch of letters written to Beatles fans by George Harrison's mother and sister are up for auction.
"Dear Sal", says Louise in another letter. "George is a very happy and kind person, I think he is kind of interested in Patti (Boyd, George's wife between 1966-1977) as she is also quite a jolly person."
-----

A new German book collects images from more than 200 films featuring or inspired by the Beatles.

http://amzn.to/28Tg8Bo

-----

Yoko Ono, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr are among musicians signing a special cover of Billboard magazine that functions as an "open letter" demanding the U.S. Congress to take action on gun control. Nearly 200 other artists, including Lady Gaga, Selena Gomez and Jennifer Lopez, also signed.

-----

Paul McCartney signed another letter this week, too. This one calls on Congress to reform the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, because it doesn't prevent YouTube from posting music with little or no compensation to the artists. Other signers include Taylor Swift and U2.

-----

Liverpool's Beatles Story attraction is displaying one of the late Stu Sutcliffe's school report cards.
“The notes provided by a former teacher on the back of the report card make it clear that while Stuart wasn’t necessarily the most academic pupil, from an early age he was considered to have an artistic streak and was happily involved with the arts."

------

Phillip Norman, author of the best-selling (but badly aged) Beatles biography "Shout!" along with one about John Lennon and a new one about Paul McCartney, counts down his Top 10 Beatles books for the Guardian. Interestingly, there not one title by leading Beatles scholar Mark Lewisohn, whose "Tune In" Norman really should've read before writing his book on Macca.

-----

Beatles writer Spencer Leigh has a new book about the Cavern Club and its role in the Beatles story. You can read and excerpt - including some recollections contributed by Paul McCartney - here.

-----
Paul McCartney's brother, Mike, voted against Britain leaving the European Union.

History: The Beatles Live At Circus Krone 1966




Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Full news release for Ron Howard's "The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years"

Academy Award®-winner Ron Howard’s authorized and highly anticipated documentary feature film about The Beatles’ phenomenal early career The Beatles: Eight Days A Week - The Touring Years has set its US theatrical release date for September 16th, 2016 and debuts the first trailer from the film and the official poster to launch the campaign, it was announced today by Imagine Entertainment, White Horse Pictures and Apple Corps Ltd.

Hulu will be the presenting partner for the theatrical release of the film in the US where the film will become available to stream exclusively to Hulu subscribers on September 17th.
Featuring rare and exclusive footage, the film is produced with the full cooperation of Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono Lennon and Olivia Harrison. White Horse Pictures’ Grammy Award-winning Nigel Sinclair, Scott Pascucci and Academy Award®-winner and Emmy® Award-winner Brian Grazer of Imagine Entertainment are producing with Howard. Apple Corps Ltd.’s Jeff Jones and Jonathan Clyde are serving as executive producers, along with Imagine’s Michael Rosenberg and White Horse’s Guy East and Nicholas Ferrall.


Studiocanal is an anchor partner on the film having acquired UK, France, Germany and Australia and New Zealand rights.



 The Beatles: Eight Days A Week - The Touring Years is based on the first part of The Beatles’ career (1962-1966) – the period in which they toured and captured the world’s acclaim. Ron Howard’s film will explore how John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr came together to become this extraordinary phenomenon, “The Beatles.” It will explore their inner workings – how they made decisions, created their music and built their collective career together – all the while, exploring The Beatles’ extraordinary and unique musical gifts and their remarkable, complementary personalities.


The film will focus on the time period from the early Beatles’ journey in the days of The Cavern Club in Liverpool to their last concert at Candlestick Park in San Francisco in 1966.

Richard Abramowitz’s Abramorama will handle the US theatrical release of the film that is set to be an event driven experience with a few special surprises planned for cinemagoers.


Hulu will have the exclusive US streaming video on-demand rights to the film on SVOD beginning September 17th – marking the first feature film to debut on Hulu following its theatrical premiere. The Beatles: Eight Days A Week - The Touring Years is the first film acquired by Hulu’s Documentary Films arm which will serve as a new home for premium original and exclusive documentary film titles coming to Hulu.


Following an all-star world premiere in London on September 15th, the film will roll out theatrically worldwide with release dates set in Japan (September 22nd), Australia and New Zealand (September 16th) and UK, France and Germany (September 15th).


Award-winning Editor Paul Crowder is the editor. Crowder’s long-time collaborator, Mark Monroe, is serving as writer. Marc Ambrose is the supervising producer.



BACKGROUND INFORMATION ABOUT THE BEATLES: EIGHT DAYS A WEEK - THE TOURING YEARS

This project was originally brought to Apple Corps by One Voice One World, which has conducted extensive research around the globe, including inviting Beatles fans to send in clips of home movies and photos that they acquired during this extraordinary period. OVOW’s Matthew White, Stuart Samuels, and Bruce Higham are co-producing the film.

Nicholas Ferrall is the executive in charge of production for White Horse Pictures, assisted by executives Jeanne Elfant Festa and Cassidy Hartmann. The Beatles documentary is one of the first projects under Nigel Sinclair’s new White Horse Pictures banner, which he founded in 2014 with long-time business partner Guy East. Their recent documentary, David Gelb’s A Faster Horse, had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival where it received rave reviews.


The Beatles began touring Europe in late 1963, after an extraordinary arrival on the British scene in 1961 and ‘62. However, it was their much-heralded Ed Sullivan appearance on February 9, 1964 that caused The Beatles’ popularity to explode. By June, the band had commenced their first world tour, and continued on a relentless schedule for two subsequent years. By the time the band stopped touring in August of 1966, they had performed 166 concerts in 15 countries and 90 cities around the world. The cultural phenomenon their touring helped create, known as “Beatlemania,” was something the world had never seen before and laid the foundation for the globalization of culture.


Beatlemania was not just a phenomenon. It was the catalyst for a cultural shift that would alter the way people around the world viewed and consumed popular culture. This film explains what it was about that particular moment in time that allowed this cultural pivot point to occur, examining the social and political context of the time, and revealing the unique conditions that caused technology and mass communication to collide. The film also explores the incomparable electricity between performer and audience that turned the music into a movement – a common experience into something sublime.

Anatomy of an album cover: "Yesterday ... and Today"

Cross post with Pop '66!





THE MUSIC BEAT ..... ASSOCIATED PRESS INTERNATIONAL ..... JUNE 1966

THE HIGH-RIDING BRITISH BEATLES MAY HAVE HAD A CLOSE CALL WITH ECONOMIC DISASTER...THE LOSS OF POPULARITY IN THE UNITED STATES, WHERE THEY MAKE MOST OF THEIR MONEY.

NOT BECAUSE OF THEIR VOCAL TALENTS...WHICH IS ANOTHER QUESTION.... BUT BECAUSE OF THEIR SAD TASTE IN ALBUM JACKET ART. 

THE NARROW SQUEAK CAME WHEN CAPITOL DISTRIBUTED TO AMERICAN DISK JOCKEYS A NEW BEATLE ALBUM CALLED "YESTERDAY" AND TODAY." 

THE JACKET WAS A BIZARRE, GRISLY PICTURE OF THE BIG-BEAT GROUP WEARING WHITE BUTCHERS' SMOCKS AND SADISTIC GRINS. EACH OF THE SHAGGY-HAIRED BEATLES HELD PARTS OF A DOLL WHOSE HEAD HAD BEEN CUT OFF AND ITS BODY DISMEMBERED. 

IT WAS A GORY SCENE. THE BEATLES APPEARED TO BE AMUSED BY THE CHUNKS OF MEAT AND BONE.

DISK JOCKEYS WHO RECEIVED THE ALBUM...FORTUNATELY BEFORE IT WAS PUT ON SALE...WERE SHOCKED BY THE GROTESQUE JACKET PICTURE AND SOME EVEN REFUSED TO PLAY THE RECORD.

A CAPITOL SPOKESMAN IN CHICAGO SAID THE PROTESTS REACHED "RATHER LOUD" PROPORTIONS NATIONWIDE...AND AT THIS POINT THE RECORD COMPANY STARTED CORRECTING WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN A BAD BEATLEMANIA BLOOPER.

A COMPANY SPOKESMAN IN LOS ANGELES HAD THIS TO SAY: "THROUGH A SAMPLING OF PUBLIC OPINION WE DISCOVERED THE ALBUM PICTURE WAS MISINTERPRETED...SO IT HAS BEEN WITHDRAWN IN FAVOR OF A MORE CONVENTIONAL COVER."

THE ALBUM IS THE TENTH THE BEATLES HAVE MADE FOR CAPITOL. THE PREVIOUS NINE RECORDINGS HAVE MADE THE BRITISH GROUP MILLIONAIRES...SELLING MORE THAN 35 MILLION COPIES IN THE UNITED STATES.

CAPITOL SAYS THE GORY ALBUM PICTURE WAS TAKEN IN LONDON AND WAS THE BEATLES' OWN IDEA OF POP ART SATIRE.

OTHERS REGARDED THE ABBATOIR EFFECT AS RESEMBLING HUMAN CARNAGE. THERE IS AN OLD SAYING THAT "YOU CAN'T TELL A BOOK BY ITS COVER"...AND PERHAPS IT MIGHT BE APPLIED TO LONG-PLAYING RECORD ALBUMS. 

BUT MAYBE NOT.





Monday, June 20, 2016

See the poster for Ron Howard's "Eight Days a Week"


See a trailer for Ron Howard's Beatles' touring years documentary "Eight Days a Week"


The Beatles: Eight Days A Week - The Touring Years is based on the first part of The Beatles’ career (1962-1966) – the period in which they toured and captured the world’s acclaim. Ron Howard’s film will explore how John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr came together to become this extraordinary phenomenon, “The Beatles.” It will explore their inner workings – how they made decisions, created their music and built their collective career together – all the while, exploring The Beatles’ extraordinary and unique musical gifts and their remarkable, complementary personalities. The film will focus on the time period from the early Beatles’ journey in the days of The Cavern Club in Liverpool to their last concert at Candlestick Park in San Francisco in 1966.

The film is available for streaming on Hulu in the United States starting Sept. 17. A premiere in London is set for Sept. 15 and the film will also appear in select theaters in the U.S. and worldwide.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Beatles Bits: Weekly news roundup

Sony/ATV, which holds rights to most of the the Lennon-McCartney song catalog has signed a licensing deals that will make Beatles lyrics available for plastering on various products such as coffee mugs and greeting cards.
"We envision a broad licensed products campaign that encompasses everything from apparel, accessories and wall art to home electronics, gifts, stationery, and more," commented Lisa Streff, Epic Rights' executive vp of global licensing. "From All You Need is Love to Hey Jude, the opportunities to develop high quality merchandise that incorporates the words and sentiments of Paul McCartney and John Lennon's lyrics are limitless."
-----

Work is underway to digitize 76 reel-to-reel recordings of lectures Indian musician (and George Harrison collaborator) Ravi Shankar gave while teaching at New York's City College between 1967 and 1972.

-----

Via WogBlog: Newly discovered documents shine light, and raise new questions, about the Beatles' recording sessions in Hamburg with Tony Sheridan.

-----

Mary McCartney talks about her mom's pioneering range of vegetarian meals and her own work to help launch the Meat-Free Monday campaign.
"She didn't even realise what a food revolutionary she was," says Mary proudly. "Vegetarian food ranges are quite mainstream now, but when she started, it was completely unheard of to have a range like that. I think we're all quite proud of it, and we want to work to ensure it carries on her ethics."
-----

An economic study predicts the Beatles "brand" will generate $600 million this year alone.
The study found that tribute bands and live performances of Beatles music generate $225 million ($US) annually, or approximately 40% of the total. Book authors, Beatles-themed radio shows, museums and tours of famous Beatles locations generate an estimated $140 million ($US) annually.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

New video from Paul McCartney: "We stand together with Orlando"


Ringo Starr makes birthday plea for peace and love in wake of Orlando tragedy

Ringo Starr has made a birthday tradition of asking fans to think of "peace and love" at noon (your local time) on his July 7 birthday, and this year is asking fans to keep those affected by this week's shootings in Orlando especially in mind.

Speaking to The Associated Press, Ringo said:
“I don’t understand that mindset that you could decide to injure and kill a lot of innocent people. I’m really not a supporter of wars either, but you can understand there’s two sides having a go at each other. But this is so random.

“It’s a difficult situation because it just happens. Some guy — so far it’s always some guy isn’t it, not some girl — gets up in the morning and maybe is mad, maybe is angry — we don’t know, I don’t know — and decides to cause a lot of hurt, you know. It’s sad.”
Ringo will be 76 this year.

Former Wings guitarist Henry McCullough dies

Guitarist Henry McCullough, who played in Wings in the early 1970s died Tuesday at age 72.

McCullough played the famed guitar solo on Wings' "My Love" and is also featured on "Live and Let Die" and other releases from 1971 to 1973. He left the band just before the Band on the Run sessions and later played with Ronnie Lane, Donovan and others. He also briefly replaced Wilko Johnson in Dr. Feelgood.

He also played in Joe Cocker's band at the Woodstock Festival.

McCullough's voice can also be heard saying ""I don't know; I was really drunk at the time" during the fadeout of "Money" on Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon LP.

The guitarist's solo album, Mind Your Own Business, was released on George Harrison's Dark Horse Records imprint.

Paul McCartney issued the following statement:
"I was very sad to hear that Henry McCullough, our great Wings guitarist, passed away today. He was a pleasure to work with, a super-talented musician with a lovely sense of humour. The solo he played on 'My Love' was a classic that he made up on the spot in front of a live orchestra. Our deepest sympathies from my family to his."

Friday, June 10, 2016

Listen to Paul McCartney on NPR's "All Things" podcast

Paul discusses the craft of songwriting and his new Pure McCartney best-of collection.

Listen here.
"If I was to sit down and write a song, now, I'd use my usual method: I'd either sit down with a guitar or at the piano and just look for melodies, chord shapes, musical phrases, some words, a thought just to get started with. And then I just sit with it to work it out, like I'm writing an essay or doing a crossword puzzle. That's the system I've always used, that John [Lennon] and I started with. I've really never found a better system and that system is just playing the guitar and looking for something that suggests a melody and perhaps some words if you're lucky. Then I just fiddle around with that and try and follow the trail, try and follow where it appears to be leading me. And sometimes it leads me down a blind alley so I have to retrace my steps and start again down another road.

"But I'm of the school of the instinctive. I once worked with Allen Ginsberg and Allen always used to say, 'First thought, best thought.' And then he would edit everything. But I think the theory is good. 'First thought, best thought.' It doesn't always work, but as a general idea I will try and do that and sometimes I come out with a puzzling set of words that I have no idea what I mean, and yet I've got to kind of make sense of it and follow the trail."

Hear the extended "Master Tapes" interview with Paul McCartney

Now available for download and streaming from BBC 4.
Paul McCartney joins John Wilson at BBC Maida Vale studios to discuss songwriting, his solo career in the years immediately after The Beatles and to answer questions from the audience. He also reflects on his recent collaborations with Kanye West, as well as recalling working with George Martin, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson and - inevitably - John Lennon.

Beatles Bits: Weekly news roundup

This week marked the sad passing of Muhammad Ali, who the Beatles met as Cassius Clay during their first U.S. visit in February 1964.

The band posed for a memorable series of press photos with the up-and-coming fighter while in Florida for one of their early appearances on "The Ed Sullivan Show." Ali, at the time, was training for his legendary upset against heavyweight champ Sonny Liston.

Both Paul and Ringo posted tributes online.

Paul wrote:
"He was great from the first day we met him in Miami, and on the numerous occasions when I ran into him over the years
"Besides being the greatest boxer, he was a beautiful, gentle man with a great sense of humor who would often pull a pack of cards out of his pocket, no matter how posh the occasion, and do a card trick for you.
"The world has lost a truly great man."
While Ringo posted: "God bless Muhammad Ali peace and love to all his family."

-----

Ringo also recalled the famed photo session in an interview with Rolling Stone:
"And then he's carrying me. I don't know why, he just picked me up!" Starr says. "It wasn't like, 'OK, pick him up now!' He just suddenly did." Surely there must have been some sort of warning? "No, he just grabbed me and lifted me up! What was I gonna say? 'Hey, come outside. …'" The drummer raises his fists, but his mock-tough expression quickly breaks into a grin. "We only got out of the ring because he put me down."
And the Sun features an excerpt from Ali's authobiography, in which he recalls how John Lennon once asked for a pair of his bloodied boxing shorts to feature in a charity auction.
I had given them as a souvenir to Michael Abdul Malik, a black militant from Trinidad, who had exchanged them for all the hair on Lennon’s and his wife Yoko’s heads.

The hair and the bloody trunks were auctioned off to raise money to fight for world peace.

I never knew how much my trunks were bought for but Lennon said he was glad to see Henry Cooper’s blood used for a good cause.
-----

A New Jersey news site, meanwhile, recounts Ali's role in a 1970s attempt (one of many) to reunite the Beatles. Didn't work.

-----

In a recent interview, Paul McCartney regrets his use of racial slurs as a young man and his recent work with Kanye West, who has been publicly criticized by Oprah Winfrey and others for using the n-word.
"It was just the normal thing to use certain words you wouldn’t use now.

"Along the way we suddenly realised how it would make the people you were talking about feel.

“Then someone points out ‘well that’s denigrating...you know in my case black people’ and then the penny dropped.”

...  "People like Oprah, who's a little conservative about that stuff, said, 'You shouldn't do it, even black people shouldn't use that word.'

 "I said, 'Yeah, but it's Kanye! And he's talking about an urban generation that uses that word in a completely different way.'
"It's the context. So I was actually pleased with it."
-----

Kicking off his U.S. summer tour in Syracuse, New York, earlier this week, Ringo said he remembered "absolutely nothing" about spending time with John Lennon in that city back in 1971. Rumors still circlulate about a near-Beatles reunion at that time in celebration of what would've been John's 31st birthday. George Harrison was expected to be present, too, but evidently didn't make it.

-----

Also in Syracuse, Ringo laughed off disparaging remarks made about the Beatles reportedly made by legendary rock'n'roll crank (and Syrcacuse native) Lou Reed.
Starr laughed and said even if Lou Reed didn't like the Beatles, he liked Lou Reed.
"Everybody has their choice," said Starr. "That's OK. Everyone didn't like us, you know? Some of them couldn't understand it. Some of them thought we were worthless. But thank God the majority didn't think like that."
 Reed, in a 1987 interview, said  "I never liked The Beatles. I thought they were garbage."

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Lego to produce Beatles Yellow Submarine set

Lego has announced plans to create a Beatles Yellow Submarine building set after choosing the design from a number of finalists in the company's Lego Ideas competition.

The Beatles set, proposed by Lego fan builder Kevin Szeto, was up against eight other fan-created designs. A fan design for NASA's Apollo 11 Saturn 5 rocket was also selected as a winner.

Now both winning sets will go through a final design process overseen by the company before going into production sometime next year.

Year's a look at the winning Yellow Submarine design:


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Hot Wheels unveils range of Beatles "Yellow Submarine" cars

In honor of the 5oth anniversary of the song "Yellow Submarine" from the Beatles' Revolver LP, Hot Wheels has rolled out a series of vehicles inspired by the animated film of the same name, which came out a couple years later, in 1968.

The cars will be available in the Beatles Shop at the Hotel Mirage starting tomorrow and  in U.S. Walmart stores starting June 15.

Here's a look:








Saturday, June 4, 2016

The Beatles and Muhammad Ali

Sad news today about the passing of the great Muhammad Ali.

The fighter, like the Beatles, was an icon of the 1960s and both entered the public consciousness at around the same time.

The group and Ali, then known as Cassius Clay, met and posed for a series of publicity pictures in February 1964 in Miami, as Clay trained for his triumphant fight against Sonny Liston and the Beatles appeared a live broadcast of "The Ed Sullivan Show."

Here's a look back:

Friday, June 3, 2016

Book review: Norman's "Life" of McCartney isn't definitive

It's thick, heavy and billed as "The Life," but possibly the most surprising thing about Philip Norman's new biography of Paul McCartney is its author.

For years, Norman has been considered "anti-Paul" - critical in the extreme of Macca's talents and musical output while crediting John Lennon as the brightest, edgiest and most influential Beatle.

In fact, Norman's bestselling 1981 biography of the Beatles, "Shout!", was so Lennon-centric and critical of Paul that McCartney himself reportedly took to calling it "Shite!"

The author's evident dislike for McCartney, meanwhile, stretched from both before and after publication of "Shout!

In the early 1970s, Norman published a poem that referenced Paul's "unmusical spouse" Linda and his songs full of "cliches and cloy."

And, in 2003, Norman wrote a disapproving "open letter" to Paul in the Daily Mail, chastising him for lashing out at a photographer during the depths of his too-public breakup with Heather Mills and calling him a "ruthless perfectionist and autocrat" while also taking the time to knock Macca's dyed hair, "not very good" paintings and "at best mediocre" poetry.

While some of us may generally share in these assessments of Paul's post-Beatles career, Norman takes his criticism to a personal extreme, judging McCartney not just as a songwriter and performer, but as a human.

It's an odd and extreme case of a grown man choosing a "favorite Beatle." Or, more accurately, a "least favorite" one.

The strangest thing about it all is that, as Norman details in this new book, he met Paul only once before writing about him - early on during the Beatles years. And that meeting was both brief and friendly. Norman was a young reporter nervous about talking to the band. Paul provided some good quotes, let Norman try out his Hofner bass, and that was that. The reasons for all the animus that followed remain a mystery.

So, yes, Philip Norman writing a book about Paul McCartney is surprising. Even more so, is that's it's not a complete hatchet job. However, it's also not very revelatory.

Despite the jacket copy that promises a book that reveals unknown truths about a "long misunderstood genius," those of us who have followed Paul's career could easily paint the same portrait Norman provides:

McCartney is a brilliantly talented musician and crafter of melodies. He came from humble Liverpool beginnings and became one of the most successful, and richest, artists in history. He's written a list of classic songs longer than both his arms. Yet he still worries over his legacy, and about being overshadowed, even in death, by John Lennon. Where John often gets credit for being the "weird and experimental" Beatle, Paul messed around with tape loops first. He's capable of great work, but can't seem to self-edit, which often leads him to releasing work that should've been better.  He smoked a lot of weed, yet is apparently a husband and father worthy of admiration. He loves being on stage and is a born performer.

Norman details this and appears surprised by it all. It's the author here who seems to be learning about Paul McCartney, not the reader.

Amazingly, despite his fractious history with the author, Paul gave permission to friends, family members and associates to speak freely to Norman if they wished. Yet, new insights and details are few and far between.

Things that stick out are some new details about Paul's growing-up years in Liverpool, which come from his brother Mike and others; his early years in London living with Jane Asher's family, detailed by Jane's brother Peter (of Peter and Gordon fame), and a relatively sympathetic portrayal of Linda McCartney detailed by some of her close friends and her brother, John Eastman.

Norman also presents details shared by Paul's "secret girlfriend," Maggie McGivern, who carried on an affair with McCartney while he dated Jane Asher.

But there are huge swaths of the book that are more summary than substance. Norman doesn't write much at all about Paul's music but merely rattles off song titles and album names without critique or analysis. If Paul's life isn't about music, what is it about?

When the author does pause for exploration, it's usually to kick up some dirt or stir up some controversy. Norman foreshadows and details Paul's 1979 drugs bust in Japan as if it's the seminal event of his life - not just an idiotic mistake. And Heather Mills gets more attention than Sgt. Pepper, Abbey Road and Band on the Run combined.

Strangely, given Norman's esteem for Lennon, John comes across here as a bit player. The author seems unable to focus his attention on more than one Beatle at a time. Yes, this book is about Paul, but you can't tell his story without detailing John's, and vice versa. Norman also seemingly always needs a Beatle to pick on and, in this book, it's George Harrison, who he dismisses as a humorless mystic. Ringo Starr barely gets mentioned.

As in "Shout!" Norman's focus on the negative and unseemly manages to sap all the excitement, energy and joy from the Beatles' and Paul's stories. Younger readers, if there are any, may be left wondering why these guys appealed to anyone at all.

There are also little, silly, mistakes throughout. Norman perpetuates the "Cunard Yanks Myth" - the notion that the Beatles were influenced by American records brought home by Liverpool sailors, which has been disputed by Paul himself. Plenty of American songs were pressed on records by English labels and readily available. Norman says Brian Epstein's assistant Alistair Taylor made a visit to the Cavern at Brian's request before Epstein chose to go himself. That doesn't square with other accounts. Norman also says the Beatles' live sets, once they became famous, were so short they only included six or seven songs. The sets were short, but not that short. Generally, fans could count on at least 10 or 11 tunes, and generally in shows that also featured three of four other bands playing before the Beatles took the stage.

And, in writing about Paul's first solo album, Norman says Paul's intention was to create a record so simple and homespun that it would include "no tricksy editing, overdubbing or post-production." Yet, the album was all about overdubbing. Featuring Paul playing every instrument, the record couldn't have been made without it.

Despite his errant focus and lack of homework, Norman is a polished wordsmith. I love his phrase "souffle speak" to describe Paul's pleasant but unrevealing way of charming his way through interviews.

From a historical perspective, there's some good, new material here from John Eastman about the Beatles' breakup. He and his father, Lee, both music business attorneys, were hired by Paul to go to war against Allen Klein, the manager the rest of the Beatles favored. But, apart from that, it's of little use to researchers.

Norman doesn't provide any foot- or end notes, so it's presumed that all the quotes come from interviews he performed. However, that's not always the case. There are many quotes from Paul, for example, that are from interviews performed by others, yet the sources and dates aren't shared.

While it's billed as a definitive biography, this book isn't. Much of this material has been covered more engagingly, and with full participation from Paul, elsewhere.

There's the "Beatles Anthology," of course, but also Paul's memoir with author Barry Miles, "Many Years from Now," which covers his life from childhood through the end of the Beatle years, and Tom Doyle's recent, excellent, "Man on the Run," which focuses on Paul's life from the aftermath of the Beatles through his mid-1970s breakthrough as a solo star.

Despite it's heft, its subtitle and all the hype surrounding it, this is not "the life" of Paul McCartney, but just another view of it.

Ringo Starr plans 2017 album

Speaking with Billboard during the start of his summer All-Starr Band tour, Ringo says he hopes to release a new LP this year.
Starr, who's been recording at his home studio in Los Angeles, tells Billboard that he has eight songs in motion, mostly needing lyrics. Two are co-written with Toto and All-Starr Band guitarist Steve Lukather and will be finished during the upcoming tour. "We've got the tracks down; now we have to write the words," Starr says. "We know where it's going. We've got the idea. We've got the first verse of one of them. The second will be a ballad. We're gonna finish them while we're on the road." Another track, meanwhile, is a collaboration with Dave Stewart originally intended for a country album the two were hoping to make this month before the All-Starr tour was scheduled.

"We thought, 'Well, we'll get some songs together,' so we did," Starr says. "So there's stuff around. We'll do the country album another time now. There's lots you can do."

First video from Sean Lennon, Les Claypool project sort of pays tribute to Michael Jackson

"Bubbles Burst," inspired by Sean's memories of Michael Jackson's pet chimp, is the first single off The Claypool-Lennon Delirium's new LP, Monoliths of Phobos, out today.



Thursday, June 2, 2016

Artifact: George Harrison-signed dinner bill from 1964

Via Heritage Auctions:
A 5.875" x 9.625" printed form filled out by hand for a dinner for two with wine and bar tab, signed at the bottom in blue ballpoint: "George Harrison". He and his guest (assumed to be Pattie Boyd) dined on Steak Diane at this legendary club located at 44 Berkeley Square, London, W.1. Included is an 8" x 10" b&w glossy photo of the two together at another period London hotspot, The Saddle Room.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Artifact: Beatles Southport Odeon Cinema Concert Ticket Stub and Book, 1963

Via Heritage Auctions:
The Beatles played two shows each on six consecutive nights at this British seaside town, August 26-31, with the BBC filming there for inclusion in a television documentary, The Mersey Sound.