Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Beatles are "just as bland as Bieber"

That's the claim of pop music blogger Joel Friedmark, who says the "grumpy generation" is putting modern pop down for insipid songs and lyrics, where their own "classic" music is just as dumb.

It's the latest iteration of one generation's music versus another's, of course, and fails to dig deeply when it comes to things such as melodic content, musical growth over an act's career and an artist's lasting cultural impact and influence.

But I did get a kick out of the lyrical comparison's Friedmark makes:

Friday, May 30, 2014

Video and photos of Sotheby's John Lennon letters and drawings auction

Here's a video for Sotheby's landmark auction of drawings and handwritten poems, stories and letters by John.

And here's a story and some new pics via the Daily Mail.
The largest private collection of doodles, comic drawings and nonsensical poems by the Beatles singer John Lennon will be sold by Sotheby's in New York next Wednesday.
Ranging from gibberish descriptions of Lennon's native city Liverpool, in northern England, to a drawing of a ‘National Health Cow’ in an apparent jab at Britain's National Health Service, the collection reveals a lesser known side of the celebrated British singer, who was shot dead in 1980.
The drawings and original manuscripts are part of a collection of publisher Tom Maschler, creator of the prestigious literary award the Booker Prize, who published them in two books, In His Own Write (1964), and A Spaniard in the Works (1965).

Pics: Beatles LP covers at full frame

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Is "A Hard Day's Night" coming to your town?

The newly restored "A Hard Day's Night" is out on Blu-ray and DVD soon, and will also be shown in theaters nationwide starting July 4. Go here to see if there's a screening in your town.

The Blu-ray and DVD are out June 27.

1929 newspaper ad - Abbey Road for sale

Via the Steve Hoffman music forum, here's a 1929 real estate ad for Number 3 Abbey Road, later (and currently) home to EMI's London recording studio, where the Beatles made most of their records.

Video: Celebrity choir sings "With a Little Help from My Friends" to support British Dementia Friends charity

Advert to encourage the public to become a Dementia Friends at

The advert features Gina Shaw, a former nurse who has been diagnosed with dementia, singing the iconic Beatles track 'I get by with a little help from my friends'. In the advert, Gina is joined by her friends, and celebrities including Chris Martin, Lily Allen, Lesley Manville, Ray Winstone, Amanda Holden, Jim Sturgess, Simon Pegg, Pixie Lott, Hugh Dennis, Alesha Dixon, Paul O'Grady, Fiona Phillips, Ruth Langsford & Eamonn Holmes, Michael Vaughn, Ruth Jones, Huey Morgan, Tim Wheeler, Leighton Baines, Antonia Thomas, Sir Terry Pratchett, Meera Syal and Angela Rippon who help her to sing the song.

Video: Beatles in Australia highlight reel

A new video from EMI Australia celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Beatles' tour Down Under.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Bugs Bunny rides a Dark Horse in rare George Harrison promo item

Spotted on eBay by Chained and Perfumed, check out this rare George Harrison promotional lapel pin featuring Warner Bros.' Bugs Bunny atop the logo for George's Warner-distributed Dark Horse record label:

Remembering Jimmie Nicol's short stint as a Beatle

Beatles historian Kenneth Womack, author of "Long and Winding Roads: The Evolving Artistry of the Beatles," has a posted a short piece about session drummer Jimmie Nicol's brief tenure as a Beatle in 1964, filling in for an ailing Ringo Starr.
In total, Nicol played eight shows with the band until Ringo was cleared to rejoin the group in Melbourne, Australia, on June 14. At the airport, Epstein presented him with a gold wristwatch with the inscription, “From the Beatles and Brian Epstein to Jimmie — With appreciation and gratitude.” It had been a bizarre experience for everyone involved, including Starr, who admitted that “it was very strange, them going off without me. They’d taken Jimmie Nicol and I thought they didn’t love me any more — all that stuff went through my head.”

Video: John and Yoko's "Bed Peace"

This has been on YouTube for nearly a year, but Yoko is giving it a fresh plug via Twitter.

Dear Friends,
In 1969, John and I were so naïve to think that doing the Bed-In
would help change the world.
Well, it might have.
But at the time, we didn’t know.
It was good that we filmed it, though.
The film is powerful now.
What we said then could have been said now.
In fact, there are things that we said then in the film,
which may give some encouragement and inspiration
to the activists of today.
Good luck to us all.
Let’s remember WAR IS OVER if we want it.
It’s up to us, and nobody else.
John would have wanted to say that.
Yoko Ono Lennon
New York
26 May 2014

The other side of Abbey Road - the hidden history of one of rock's most iconic LP covers

Wogblog has a series of intriguing posts this week looking at the pre-Photoshop manipulations at work on the Abbey Road LP cover -- specifically the back side of it. The word "Beatles" on the back was definitely added in after the fact, but the "Abbey Road" street sign was apparently "real." How about the girl in the blue dress -- was she added in intentionally or snapped at random? Interesting points to discuss. Look here and here.

Where was Paul during the first moon landing?

In bed, according to this recent installment of his "You Gave Me the Answer" feature on his official website:
Bill Salter from the USA has been in touch to ask Paul where he was during another important news story. He asks,

“Paul, who were you with and where did you watch man first land on the moon?”

We caught up with Paul recently to find out. He replied,

“Thank you for your question, Bill. As I remember it, Neil Armstrong first walked on the moon in the middle of the night and I was in bed with Linda in London while we watched it. A pretty amazing night!”

Years later, in November 2005, Paul became the first musician to broadcast a live performance out to space when he played ‘English Tea’ from his Chaos and Creation in the Backyard album to the astronauts on the International Space Station.
FYI: The moon landing took place at 4:41 U.S. Eastern Time, which is 9:41 p.m. in Britain. Evidently Paul turned in early that night.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Hear the Beatles' last concert recording: Candlestick Park 1966

Via Open Culture:
Paul McCartney asked the band’s press officer Tony Barrow to record the concert on a hand-held tape recorder. Barrow described the atmosphere as an “end of term spirit,” even if “it wasn’t a spectacular occasion […] nothing like Shea Stadium.”

His recollection might seem strange, but we should keep in mind that the band had been touring incessantly, playing massive shows to arenas packed with screaming fans. The Candlestick Park concert by contrast had large sections of empty seats, with only 25,000 tickets sold in a stadium with a 42,500 seat capacity.

Barrow recorded the show, then, as he recalls, made one copy and locked the other away:
Back in London I kept the concert cassette under lock and key in a drawer of my office desk, making a single copy for my personal collection and passing the original to Paul for him to keep. Years later my Candlestick Park recording re-appeared in public as a bootleg album. If you hear a bootleg version of the final concert that finishes during Long Tall Sally it must have come either from Paul’s copy or mine, but we never did identify the music thief!

Paul released from Japanese hospital

A week after illness forced him to cancel shows in Japan and Korea, Paul McCartney is reportedly on the mend and has been released from St. Luke's International Hospital in Tokyo.

The Beatles legend was well enough to take a private jet from Tokyo and was en route home.
It is not known whether he is heading to either his London or Sussex property or his pad in New York's The Hamptons.

But a source confirmed he was excited about seeing the rest of his family and to continue his recuperation.

The pal said: "Paul has really been through the mill. He was desperately sad he had to cancel those shows but he was really poorly. But he is on the mend which is great news."

The 71-year-old was admitted to St Luke's International Hospital in the Japanese capital last Tuesday with a serious viral infection.

Sir Paul's wife Nancy Shevell, 53, was by his side throughout as he spent six nights being cared for by doctors.

Landmark auction of original John Lennon drawings this week

Via Sotheby's:
Thursday 29 May 2014 at 10:00am.  1334 York Avenue (@ 72nd St).
An important collection of John Lennon autograph drawings and manuscripts produced by the artist for his critically acclaimed books: In His Own Write (1964) and A Spaniard in the Works (1965). Including 89 lots ranging from $500 to $70,000, this is the largest private collection of John Lennon’s work ever to come to market. The sale coincides with two important landmarks for Lennon: the 50th anniversary of the publication of In His Own Write; and the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ landmark first appearance in America on the Ed Sullivan show, which launched them into the pop stratosphere.

Unseen Beatles Magical Mystery Tour pics up for auction - see them here

Beatles Examiner reports Frasers' Autographs is auctioning off a batch of unseen Beatles pics.

Details from Frasers':
BEATLES - MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR A set of approx. 125 original negatives on celluloid strips, taken from cinefilm shot by an unknown photographer / filmmaker given access to the set of the Beatles' filming of the 'Magical Mystery Tour' television movie in 1967. There is some old damage or loss to some of the negatives, but it appears to this cataloguer that images could quite comfortably be developed from most of the negatives. We have a set of three contact sheets that were developed from the strips in 1999 showing The Beatles working and relaxing on the set. Viewing highly recommended.

The Beatles hit Harvard, 1964

The Harvard Crimson looks back at how Beatlemania struck campus back in 1964. 
 “Like everything in pop culture, [the Beatles] were disdained by [kids] who were trying to get away from pop culture and be in some sort of elite…There was definitely a hangover of the ’50s,” Merry W. Maisel ’62, said. “The Beatles on the contrary were something very new, and daring, and different, and therefore we didn’t catch on.”

Maisel remembered thinking how different they were from other pop and rock music, and she recalled the optimism and openness to the world that they signified.
“The Beatles had different rhythms and they had different tunes, everything was different. A symbol of what was to come,” Maisel said.

By early spring 1966, the Beatles were everywhere, remembered Hendrik Hertzberg ‘65.

“‘Rubber Soul’ had been released a few weeks earlier,” Hertzberg wrote. “As I walked around the Square and the Yard, there was never a moment when I didn’t hear a song from that album, ‘Norwegian Wood’ or ‘Run For Your Life,’ wafting through an open window.”
 This vintage 1964 article from the Crimson is pretty fun, too.

"Let it Be" film is a "bore," according to 1970 Observer review

The Guardian shares a vintage review of the "Let it Be" film, first published in 1970 by filmmaker Tony Palmer.
The Beatles appear to know about themselves with unnerving accuracy. This is Paul talking (as usual about the Beatles as if they were someone else) from a deleted section of the film: "Having scaled every known peak of showbusiness, the Beatles quite deliberately never came home again. They went their own private way, found their own friends and became less reliant on each other for guidance and friendship. Today, all of them find acute embarrassment at the stories of one another's adventures and conduct." This is John talking to Ringo (in a pontifical BBC arts documentary voice): "Now what do you think about mock Tudor houses in Weybridge?" (where three of them used to live). Ringo: "Well, I don't mind them being in Weybridge. It's just when they put them in London I think they get in the way of the traffic."

The film is a bore. It's supposed to show how the Beatles work, but it doesn't. Shot without any design, clumsily edited, uninformative and naive, it would have destroyed a lesser group. Yet, there they are, singing away, charming the pants off the most cynical of pop-music haters.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Upcoming book features Beatles' songs in their own handwriting

Beatles biographer Hunter Davies follows up his recent collection of John Lennon's letters with "The Beatles Lyrics: The Unseen Story Behind Their Music," featuring images of the Beatles' original handwritten manuscripts for their songs.

Many books have appeared over the years about the Beatles lyrics - about the words of those songs which the whole world knows and sings, and will sing for ever, as long as we have the breath to hum the tunes.
But no one has ever tried to track down and publish the original versions of the classic songs - showing the words in the Beatles' own handwriting, how they first wrote them, how they scribbled them down on pieces of paper or backs of envelopes, with all the crossings out and changes.
By revealing and publishing these original manuscripts for the first time we gain a unique insight into the creative process of Lennon and McCartney, how they did it, what they were thinking, how they changed their minds, and then came up with the words we now all know.
Such a book has never been published, firstly because of copyright reasons, with ownership divided between Michael Jackson and Sony, and secondly because no one has been able to track them all down.
The author of the only authorised biography of The Beatles, Hunter Davies, has sought out nearly one hundred Beatles lyrics. His expert introduction describes the creativity of the greatest ever rock band - then he lists and illustrates each song, in chronological order, putting each song in context: what the Beatles were doing at the time, how and when they came to write and then record it, how the original version differs from the final one.
The wonder is that almost every Beatles song has a great story behind it - whether it is 'In My Life', 'For No One', 'Yesterday', 'Eleanor Rigby', or 'Yellow Submarine'.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Australian promotor remembers booking the Beatles 50 years ago

The Daily Telegraph catches up with Kenn Brodziak, who says he took a lucky roll of the dice when booking the Beatles for their manic Australian/New Zealand tour back in spring 1964.
It was on a trip to London in mid-1963 that he first came across The Beatles, quite by chance after being given a list of five bands by an agent who wanted him to book them for an Australian tour. Brodziak didn’t want five but said he’d take one — and if that worked out well he’d book the others.

“The agent said, ‘which one would you like?’,” Brodziak said. “And I said ‘I’ll take The Beatles’. That was all there was to the story. I didn’t know anything about the group except that their name sounded familiar, I think because of their playing in Germany.”

On the strength of that, a verbal agreement was struck with Beatles manager Brian Epstein for a flat fee of 1500 pounds a week. It seemed like a reasonable deal all around, but the events that unfolded in the following months turned it into one of the shrewdest — and most lucrative — deals in Australian rock history.
By the end of the same year, The Beatles had notched up three UK No. 1 singles and their debut album, Please Please Me had been sitting atop the chart for 30 weeks.

...Brodziak recalled in an interview years later: “One of the first things that George (Harrison) said when the band arrived in Sydney was, ‘You got us at the old price, didn’t you?’ I said ‘Yes’, but he didn’t seem to mind.”

New tribute comp celebrates 50th anniversary of Beatles' Australian Tour

Australia gave the Beatles an ecstatic welcome -- minus a malcontent-hurled egg or two -- when the band toured there 50 years ago. Now EMI is observing the anniversary by packaging up a batch of Beatles covers by Aussie groups ranging from the Bee Gees to the Hoodoo Gurus.

Here's the track list for Then and Now: Australia Salutes the Beatles:

Disc One
  1. FROM ME TO YOU – The Bee Gees
  2. YESTERDAY – The Seekers
  3. FOR NO ONE – Little Pattie
  4. IT WON’T BE LONG – The Rajahs
  6. ALL MY LOVING – Johnny Young
  7. OBLA-DI, OBLA-DA – The Executives
  8. I FEEL FINE – Masters’ Apprentices
10. TOMORROW NEVER KNOWS – Wendy Saddington
11. HEY JUDE – Max Merritt & the Meteors
12. COME TOGETHER – The La De Das
13. DEAR PRUDENCE – Doug Parkinson In Focus
14. ELEANOR RIGBY – The Zoot
15. CARRY THAT WEIGHT – Colleen Hewitt
16. NOWHERE MAN – Sherbet
17. PAPERBACK WRITER – Glenn Shorrock

Disc Two
  1. HELP – John Farnham
  2. OH! DARLIN’ – The Models
  3. BIRTHDAY – Sunnyboys
  4. I’VE JUST SEEN A FACE – Jenny Morris
  5. BABY YOU’RE A RICH MAN – Company of Strangers (w/James Reyne)
  6. A HARD DAYS NIGHT – The Hoodoo Gurus
  7. I’M SO TIRED – You Am I
  8. I’M ONLY SLEEPING – The Vines
  9. TWO OF US – Josh Pyke & Bob Evans
10. GIRL – Glenn Cardier
11. BLACKBIRD – Katie Noonan
12. ACROSS THE UNIVERSE – Rachael Leahcar
14. THINGS WE SAID TODAY – Marty Rhone
15. LIKE DREAMERS DO – The Beatnix
16. ‘TIL THERE WAS YOU – Harrison Craig

More writing by numbers with the Beatles

Here's the latest example of using a Fab Four angle to offer up  no-brainer advice as wisdom. From Forbes, it's 'Five Leadership Lessons from the Beatles" (I would have gone with "Five lessons from the Fab Four, but whatever).

What can the Fab Four teach us this time?
1. Push the boundaries.
2. Show up fully.
3. Surround yourself with great people.
4. Build and nurture a fan base.
5. Keep it simple.
There you have it. Good luck on making your first million.

Paul McCartney health update

Details are vague on the illness that led Paul to cancel a slate of concerts in Japan and Korea recently, but the general consensus from insiders is that he's on the mend.

According to the Liverpool Echo, Paul's spokespeople provided little information about Paul's ailments and treatment at Tokyo's St. Luke International Hospital:
...but his personal spokesman insisted: “He will make a complete recovery and has been ordered to take a few days rest.”

He added: “Paul has been extremely moved by all the goodwill messages he has received from fans all over the world.”
Added the Echo:
Macca’s musician brother Mike, a singer with the Scaffold, revealed that he had received a reassuring text from the star. He said: “Paul told me he was recovering slowly but surely, so I’m sure he’s on the mend.”
The following statement appeared on Paul's official site:
"Since contracting a virus last week that led to the postponement of tour dates, Paul received successful medical treatment at a hospital in Tokyo. He will make a complete recovery and has been ordered to take a few days rest. Paul has been extremely moved by all the messages and well wishes he has received from fans all over the world."
The International Business Times ran this later statement from Paul's team:
"Paul McCartney will regrettably have to cancel the remaining Japanese shows. Paul is still not feeling better and this cancelation is unavoidable. He was hoping to be better but the doctors have ordered him complete rest. Paul has been extremely moved by the messages from his fans and is upset to be letting them down."
Paul is set to begin U.S. Tour June 18 in Lubbock, Texas.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Still sick, Paul cancels South Korea concert, too

On the heels of canceling three performances in Japan, Paul McCartney has also called off a planned concert in Korea next week -- all due to illness. He hopes to make up the shows at a later date and is recuperating in advance of an American tour set to begin June 14.
“Paul McCartney will regrettably have to postpone his forthcoming concert in Seoul, South Korea. After coming down with a virus in Japan, doctors have ordered Paul complete rest. Paul is still not feeling better and this cancellation is unavoidable,” said a spokesperson for Paul McCartney. “All possibilities to reschedule this show are being explored.”

“I was really looking forward to visiting and playing in South Korea for the first time and I’m sorry to be letting fans down. I’m very disappointed by this and hope to be able to visit soon,” McCartney wrote in the cancellation statement.
More info on Macca tour dates at his official site.

Photographer Chuck Gunderson recalls the Fabs' U.S. tours

Here's an interview with San Diego author Chuck Gunderson, who recently self-published a hefty tome focused on the Beatles' 1960s American tours.
The author declares the touring era “the most fascinating period” of the whole magical mystery tour. “Let’s face it: They didn’t start their career in a studio. They started their career on hot, cramped, sweaty stages in Liverpool and Hamburg, Germany. That’s where they cut their craft,” Gunderson said in a visit to The Foxhole.

“I realized that really no good book had been written about the tours of America. Maybe one of the tours or two of the tours [had been chronicled, in books that were] very short in nature, not a lot of detail, hardly any photographs. I decided to break the mold. I wanted to give the reader a day-by-day, hour-by-hour synopsis of the entire [set of] tours: every city they visited, from the moment the plane touched down to the moment it left, and then all the negotiations that happened before the Beatles even got to that city.”

...Asked to identify the show that found the Beatles at their peak as live performers in America, he cites their appearance at the Hollywood Bowl in California, on August 23, 1964, parts of which were later released officially in the 1977 Capitol LP The Beatles Live at the Hollywood Bowl.

“Here’s four guys from Liverpool,” Gunderson said, “playing one of the most famous and most iconic venues in all of North America. And as John said when he was asked, ‘Which of all the concerts did you like the best?’ John would always answer: ‘The Bowl.’”

Sunday, May 18, 2014

George's first Rickenbacker sells for $657,000, plus Lennon's "Shroud of Tourin"

A black-and-white 1962 Rickenbacker 425 played by George Harrison during his early Beatles years sold at auction for $657,000.

According to Julien's Auctions:
[The guitar was] purchased in 1963 in Mount Vernon, Illinois by Harrison while on a two-week visit to see his sister, Louise (serial # BH 439). The guitar was originally purchased at Fenton’s Music store and refinished by the owner from a Fireglo finish to the black George requested to match John Lennon’s similar Rickenbacker.

Harrison used the historical Rickenbacker for The Beatles first appearance on the television program Ready Steady Go! in October of 1963 and on the program Thank Your Lucky Stars in December of 1963. He also used it during a week-long tour in Sweden. Harrison was photographed with the guitar extensively and the entire band has been photographed posing with the guitar. This is purported to be the only known photograph in existence of all four members of The Beatles holding a single guitar.

George Harrison played the 1962 Rickenbacker 425 in the Abbey Road studios when The Beatles recorded I Want to Hold Your Hand. This song gave The Beatles their now infamous big break in the United States. The same studio session included the recording of “This Boy.”

Both George Harrison and John Lennon played this guitar. Lennon played it backstage at a performance in Glasgow, Scotland on October 5, 1963. A photograph published in an August 1964 issue of Beat Monthly magazine shows Lennon with this very guitar. In the late 1960s or early 1970s Harrison gave this guitar to George Peckham, who had a long association with George Harrison and also Apple. Peckham originally borrowed a guitar from Harrison for his own appearance on Top of the Pops as a rhythm guitarist in the band The Fourmost.Upon returning it Harrison asked him if he would like to keep a guitar and showed him the Rickenbacker 425 considering is a “great rhythm player.” Peckham kept the guitar on the condition it would never be modified. The guitar case was given later to Peckham by Noddy Holder of Slade after Holder saw Peckham walking around with the guitar without a case and could not personally bear to see a Beatles guitar carried around without one.

The rare Rickenbacker 425 guitar with exceptional Beatles history is accompanied by two letters from Harrison’s office which confirm he gave the guitar to Peckham. One from Olivia Harrison and the other from Caroline Foxwell, Harrison’s assistant. Also present with the guitar is a letter from Peckham explaining the circumstances of the guitar. The guitar has also been exhibited at The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, the GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles, the John Lennon Museum in Saitama, Japan and the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, Arizona.
Also sold at the auction was a handwritten placard with doodles signed by John Lennon and Yoko Ono from their 1969 anti-war "bed-in" in Montreal, which fetched $187,000. A Hofner bass rented by Paul McCartney in the mid-1960s sold for $125,000.

Also sold, for $408,000, was another guitar with John and George associations: A semi-hollow custom made by Vox -- played, at least a little, by both Beatles:
 The guitar was a prototype instrument custom-built for Lennon in 1966, said Martin Nolan, executive director of Julien's. Lennon gave the VOX guitar as a gift in 1967 to Yanni "Magic Alex" Mardas, who was the electronics engineer for the band's Apple Records label, the auction house said.

 ...Harrison played the instrument, distinguished by two symmetrical flared shoulders on the upper body, while practising "I Am The Walrus," and Lennon used it in a video session for the song "Hello, Goodbye," according to a statement from Julien's.

 FYI: This guitar does NOT appear in the released "Hello, Goodbye" promo film.

Another auction item of interest detailed by Julien's :
John Lennon’s Original Signed Shroud of Tourin Art Work (Estimate $20,000-$30,000) created by the legendary Beatle titled at the top right corner “Shroud of Tourin” will also be offered. The mixed media on unstretched canvas artwork shows the image of a man, who appears to be Lennon, wearing two pairs of glasses and the Batman symbol across his chest. He has his fists held in front of him and written on his knuckles are the words “love” and “hate” respectively. To the left of the figure is a cross on a hill with a crown hovering over it, the word “Elvis” in what may be a bowl beneath the cross. Words and phrases are written across the image in different directions including “Spectacles/wife child love/maijhuana” – “Holy Batman I knew this would happen,” and below the drawing of a radio “tune in if you/want.” Signed by John Lennon above the radio and beneath another drawing of a cross on a hill. 

I haven't found any confirmation on whether this sold, nor any larger pictures. Please give a shout if you have any more information!

McCartney cancels two more Tokyo shows

Illness has forced Paul to cancel his second Tokyo concert this week, along with a makeup show he'd planned to perform tomorrow.

UPDATED: The cancellations mean Paul will need to reschedule any Japan dates until later in the year, or after that. He's set to play next week in Korea and will then tour the United States.

Via Facebook:

Tokyo National Stadium shows to be postponed 18th & 19th May

Doctors have ordered Paul complete rest and he has been doing all he can to get better. Paul has only ever had to reschedule a handful of shows in his entire career and is so upset about this situation, he hates to let people down. This morning he told his staff he was going to try and perform tonight against doctors orders, but his team, along with the doctors, wouldn't allow it. He has been very moved by the fan's reactions and messages of love and support he has received in Japan.

Paul has instructed his team to look at rescheduling options.

Message from Paul:

"Thank you so much for your kind messages of support. I’m so very touched. Unfortunately my condition has not improved overnight. I was really hoping that I'd be feeling better today. I'm so disappointed and sorry to be letting my fans down.



Saturday, May 17, 2014

Beatle bug forces Paul to cancel Japan concert

A virus forced  Paul McCartney, under doctor's orders, to cancel his Saturday, May 17 Tokyo show, but he hopes to feel well enough to play Sunday and a make-up concert on Sunday.
"I am very sorry to all my fans as I was greatly looking forward to the concert, but the situation is out of my hands," the former Beatle said on the official Facebook site for his "Out There Japan Tour 2014."

Friday, May 16, 2014

Beatles' pal Cilla Black receives career honor, recounts her story

Set to receive a special award at this year's BAFTAs, Cilla shares her career memories with the Daily Mirror.
“ I remember the day that changed my life. It was 1964, a freezing February Sunday, and I’d been waiting for hours in the phone box in Scottie Road.

“Brian [Epstein] was going to ring from London to tell me how my single, Anyone Who Had a Heart, was doing in the charts.

“Then he called. He said: ‘It’s selling nearly 100,000 copies a day. It’s at No 1’. I ran out of that box beside myself with happiness.”

Epstein predicted Cilla would be “one of the biggest stars in this country for the next 30 or 40 years”.
Cilla smiles: “He was only 10 years out then! I only expected to last three years as a pop singer... that’s all you got then. I don’t know why he liked me so much, but I was definitely the darling of Brian’s bunch. He saw me as the new Judy Garland! I was never going to be like that.

Check the link for a nice photo gallery, too. Some pics of Cilla with the Fabs:

"Beverly Hill Pawn" host purchases revised 1962 Beatles contract

Yossi Dina, star of The ReelZ Channel's "Beverly Hills Pawn" and owner of The Dina Collection in Beverly Hills has purchased the signed, revised Management Agreement between The Beatles and their manager, Brian Esptein dated Oct. 1, 1962, four days before the release of the group's debut single, "Love Me Do." 

The eight-page document of mimeographed typescript, is between NEMS Enterprises Ltd., Brian Epstein and John, Paul, George and Ringo. It's also signed by Harold Harrison and James McCartney, George and Paul's fathers, as both Beatles were under 21 at the time.

The contract was the second drawn up between the Beatles and Epstein. The first was signed by John, Paul, George and then-drummer Pete Best. Brian Epstein didn't sign the first contract himself. As he explained in his autobiography, a "Cellarful of Noise":
"I had finally secured their signatures on a contract on January 24th, 1962, but had not signed it myself. It provided them with safeguards against unemployment, protected them and me against any breach of faith and made the terms of my percentages quite clear. Why had I not signed it? I believe it was because even though I knew I would keep the contract in every clause, I had not 100% faith in myself to help the Beatles adequately. In other words, I wanted to free them of their obligations if I felt they would be better off."

Sean Lennon counts down his fave psychedelic classics

His dad kinda sorta invented psychedelia and Sean claims it's his favorite period of rock'n'roll.

He's a deep listener of the genre based on the list he provided Rolling Stone, which includes songs by July, Os Mutantes, Kaleidoscope, Bubble Puppy and other bands the Beatles probably never heard of back in the Sixties.
10. West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, "Eighteen Is Over The Hill"
I can understand why this band is overlooked, because their records are very hard to listen to – they're really out there. They almost make Frank Zappa seem mainstream.​ But then they have these moments where it just works. This is one of their best songs.

Video: Teaser for restored "A Hard Day's Night," available on DVD, Blu-ray and iTunes

Paul McCartney music video: Appreciate

Here's is Paul's video for the song "Appreciate" off the New album.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

New video: Paul McCartney introduces "Newman" - star of upcoming "Appreciate" clip

From Paul's official YouTube channel:

Paul introduces his friend Newman who features in the new 'Appreciate' music video. Coming soon...

New book, John Lennon: The Collected Art, coming this fall

John was a visual, as well as musical artist. We've seen numerous examples of his sketches and cartoons in his books and various Beatles' histories, but it looks like this will be a more comprehensive collection, including previously unseen works.

Throughout the course of his career, John Lennon’s work as an artist expressed common societal themes from every epoch he witnessed. Until now, little of this work has been seen in one place. For the first time, John Lennon: The Collected Artwork offers a visually captivating history of Lennon’s art, including more than 200 images and featuring 25 never-before-published pieces from the archives of Yoko Ono.

Often surreal and extremely vibrant, Lennon’s drawings were widely considered some of the finest interpretive art of the era. His 1969 Bag One series, frequently censored due to its overt eroticism, is part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, and his peace-themed sketches have been used in antiwar movements since the 1970s. Selections from these and many other series are featured in this matchless collection, a beautiful showpiece and a timeless record of Lennon’s emotional, political, and imaginative spirit.
Out Oct. 7, 2014, 264 pages.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Ringo's pre-Beatles "peace" button

Take a look at Ringo Starr's left lapel in this pic, published recently on the Meet the Beatles For Real photo site. Looks like a peace symbol, right? But this is the very early 1960s -- pretty early for a peace symbol, even though Ringo looks like a hippie with that scraggly beard.

But (as is noted in the comments to the post) it's not a peace symbol -- at least not yet, but a sign of support for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, then very active in Britain. It was only a few years later that the symbol came to represent the broader anti-war movement.

It would be interesting to learn how the button ended up on Ringo's jacket. Did he just like the look, or was he a supporter of the campaign? In 1964 interviews, the Beatles' drummer speaks passionately about the futility of war -- especially the nuclear variety. Could it be at least one of the Beatles was politically engaged earlier than commonly realized?

Liverpool's Cavern Club fighting Hard Rock Cafe for naming rights

Turns out the Hard Rock Cafe trademarked the name "Cavern Club" in the U.S. back in 1994 and is using it in Boston and Las Vegas -- much to the chagrin of the original Cavern in Liverpool.

Liverpool's Cavern -- a rebuilt version of the one where the Beatles held residency during the early 1960s -- would like to nail down exclusive rights to the name and is filing suit to do so.
Cavern Club director Dave Jones said: "It is absurd for a billiards room in Boston to be passed off as having anything whatsoever to do with the history and heritage of music’s most famous club in the world."

"The Boston Hard Rock is also selling merchandise not only with the words Cavern Club on it but also bearing an image of the fascia of the real Cavern Club in Liverpool and an image of Beatles boots."

"It’s an outrageous insinuated claim to an association with fame that has nothing whatsoever to do with them.'

....The Hard Rock corporation, which was bought by the Seminole Tribe of Native Americans in 2007 for $965m, is based in Orlando.

The Cavern Club has appealed to the tribe council chairman, Grammy-nominated musician James E Billie, whose stage name is Chief Jim Billie, and have offered him a gig on the stage where the Beatles performed if he intervenes.

Cavern Club director Bill Heckle said: "We are sure that as a musician Chief Jim Billie will see the history and the right to our claim.

"This trademark row began long before the Seminole Tribe took ownership of the Hard Rock, so we don’t consider it’s of their making."

He added: "If Chief Jim Billie instructs the Hard Rock to try to see it our way not only will right be done but we’ll put him and his band on at The Cavern Club as part of the deal."

The Hard Rock has registered the US rights to use the Cavern Club name for any room at its outlets in the US and Mexico. The principal outlet currently promoting a ‘Cavern Club’ on the premises is the Hard Rock café in Boston and the chain has another ‘Cavern Club’ in Las Vegas
The article also mentions that the current Cavern in Liverpool is co-owned by John Lennon's "sister." This would be his half-sister, Julia Baird.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Beatles "backlash/fatigue" in the late 1970s?

Interesting discussion at the always busy Steve Hoffman Music Forum: Was there a backlash against the Beatles in the late 1970s, spurred by this initial post:
I was on YouTube watching Ringo's 1978 TV special and somebody left this in the comments:

"It's amazing to me that they had to hire people to get a crowd for Ringo at the beginning of the show, such was the strange and fortunately short-lived anti-Beatles sentiment of the late 70s".

Now, I was only 8 years old in 1978 so I can't say I know but I just can't believe there ever was a 'backlash' against the Beatles in the late 70s. Capitol were still issuing Beatle comps and of course all of the albums were mainstays in the stores. Still heard Beatle songs on the radio. Of course Paul was huge as a solo artist in the late 70s, George was still commercially viable to an extent.....The only thing I can think of is that Ringo's records by 1978 were flopping and going straight into the cut-out bins.....But I don't see how they would've had to 'hire' people to mob him even though his records were flops by then.

Was the person who posted the above comment on YouTube misinformed or just exaggerating?

The closest thing I ever thought there was to a Beatles 'backlash' was in 1966 after John's infamous 'Jesus' comment.
I did most of my growing up during the 1970s and, though the Beatles weren't hugely popular in my age group, they did have fans. Solo hits in 1973-74, the Ringo album, the "Red" and "Blue" compilations were all quite popular in the mid 70s.

But, at the same time, there also sentiments that none of the individual parts matched up to the Beatles' whole. I recall lots of joking about Paul McCartney's Wings, etc.

It was a mixed bag, in other words: Some people still adored the Beatles, they were attracting a second generation of fans (like myself), but there also were those who were eager to move on after the 1960s, and/or disappointed that the individual Beatles didn't match up.

Anway, what's interesting is that, with the death of John Lennon and the passing of time, the Beatles are generally viewed with more reverence -- and less realism -- today. They've become part of history. Though there are still folks who can't stand them.

McCartney talks Beatles, Nirvana reunions in radio interview

Sir Paul dialed into KROQ's "Kevin and Bean" morning show this week for brief chat.

He recounted, once again, being with John Lennon in New York in 1975 and discussing "Saturday Night Live" producer Lorne Michaels' joking offer to pay the Beatles $3,000 if they reunited on his show.
“We’re just sitting around and having a laugh and ‘Saturday Night Live’ came on, and [John] said, ‘Have you been watching this?’ ‘No, I’m living in England, why, what’s going on?’ He said, ‘They’ve got this amazing thing going on, where Lorne Michaels came on last week and he said I’m entitled to offer you, the Beatles, so much money[to reunite].’  It wasn’t an awful lot – it was the standard rate."

“So John said, ‘It’s a hoot, you know what would be great, we can go down there now. It’s only around the corner, we should show up.’ For about five minutes, we were going ‘We’ve got to do it.’ Then it was like, ‘Are you kidding, let’s stay in and watch the show, stay comfortable, if we go down there it’s gonna be crazy. It would be a great story,’ but we decided against it.”
This led to more discussion about why the Beatles chose never to reunite, despite numerous offers to do so:
“We talked about it, we certainly got offered a lot of money to do it, but it was one of those things, it was like, ‘You know what, guys? We’ve done it. We’ve come full circle. We’ve been through all the joys and the horrors of being in a band, we’ve done everything we wanted to do.’”

“‘If we get back together again, it could fall flat, we might not enjoy it, so why do it?’” he explained. “As we say in England, leave ‘em laughing.”

“Once or twice, it was quite tempting, we got some tempting offers. [But] Why spoil the whole thing and come out of retirement and have it not work, so we decided against it. I agree with you, it was the smartest move.”

Paul also discussed working with Dave Grohl and the other former members of Nirvana on the 2013 song, "Cut Me Some Slack."
“The thing about Dave is, he’s such an enthusiast, he’s a live wire,” McCartney said. “Anything you do with him is ‘up.’ As you know, you’ve interviewed him. He’s a very ‘up’ guy and it’s very infectious. I’m a great enthusiast too. So when he asked me to come along and do some music for the Sound City thing, I said, ‘Well, OK, we’ll see what happens.’ I got there and he said, ‘What are we going to do, should we do an old rock ‘n’ roll song?’ And he made a couple of suggestions. And I said ‘I’ve done that.’ A couple of the ones he mentioned I’d done with the Beatles. I said, ‘I don’t want to try to top those.’

“I’d just been given a new guitar by Johnny Depp, that little cigar box thing, I was so in love with it, I said, ‘Let me wail away on this and see what happens.’ I started kicking around on that, and Dave jumped in on drums, so there was no way there wasn’t going to be any chemistry. And then Krist [Novoselic] and Pat [Smear] started playing alongside us, and we suddenly had a big thing going. We listened to it, the first take was about 20 minutes and we said ‘What are we gonna do, should we structure it a little bit?’ So we agreed on what we were gonna do, got back in there, made the song, and it was all over in about three hours. All of us had a complete blast.
“In the middle of all of that, I didn’t know that I was in a Nirvana reunion,” he admitted. “I thought I was jamming with a bunch of guys. It was only when I heard them talking, ‘Hey, we haven’t done this in 20 years or something!’ I’m going, ‘What are you talking about, guys?’ ‘Well, you know, we’re Nirvana.’ I must admit, I didn’t even know, I said, ‘Oh, OK, that’s pretty cool.’”
And, finally, he said he doesn't mind at all talking about the Beatles days:
“I do enjoy it, it’s like talking about your college days, when you’re not in college anymore and there’s quite a few years gone by,” he said. “I’m looking back on it, it’s like looking at a scrapbook. People think sometimes, ‘I don’t want to bore you, I don’t want to ask you a Beatles question,’ I say, ‘No, it’s OK.’ I could be at a dinner party, and everyone is telling their stories, and I’m thinking, ‘It’d be good if they asked me a Beatles question, I’ve got a few stories there.’”

Paul McCartney posts new video of Out There tour in Lima, Peru

An official video posted on Macca's YouTube channel today:

Video: Beatles "Let it Be" movie outtakes

A playlist of unused footage from the "Let it Be" sessions has surfaced on YouTube.

John Lennon: Jackson Browne fan

Huffington Post publishes a piece by former Record World editor Michael Sigman, who remembers a 1974 close encounter with the former Beatle.
On the day in question, assistant editor David McGee was given a reprieve so that he could do an exclusive interview with Jackson Browne from the office, via telephone -- his first interview with a major artist.

McGee, who had only recently been promoted from the RW mail room, recalls, "To study up, I brought to the office not only Jackson's new album, Late for the Sky, which would be the focus of the interview, but his two previous albums, Jackson Browne and For Everyman. A pair of headphones was on the desk, and although I plugged them in while I played the albums, that didn't stop the music from pouring out of the speakers. I had my back turned to the door and was hunched over the cover of the Jackson Browne album, listening to the haunting 'Song for Adam,' a requiem for Browne's departed friend Adam Saylor, who apparently committed suicide in Bombay.

"It's one of Browne's greatest songs, as beautiful as it is mournful, and apart from its Biblical allusions it's a touching testimony to the power of friendship. As I played the song for probably a third time, I became aware of a presence in the room; I knew I wasn't alone anymore. Thinking it was probably someone from the office, I kept focused on the music, until finally I had to see why this presence wasn't leaving.

"When I turned around I was face to face with John Lennon, who was standing alone in the doorway, listening to 'Song for Adam,' apparently as intently as I was. When it finished I took off the headphones, and John, who wasn't introduced and obviously didn't need to be, said, 'That's a great song. A really great song. The whole album's like that, isn't it?' The latter wasn't really a question; it was a rhetorical statement. And then, like that, I was in a spirited conversation with John about Jackson Browne, finally getting around to Late for the Sky, of which he had heard only the title track.

'That one got under my skin,' he said, and then John Lennon -- John Lennon, mind you -- added: 'I wish I could write songs like that.'

"Talking to him was as easy as catching up with an old friend. No pretense, no attitude, no sense of entitlement on his part but exuding a real warmth engendered by a connection through our mutual awe at what a song can mean in a person's life, and how it comes out of a person's life.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Video: Original "Let It Be" movie trailer

Shared by Robert Rodriquez. The film premiered on this day in 1970.

Rolling Stone counts down six "out-of-print" Beatles releases

The Beatles and the countdown - two great things that go great together. Just ask Mojo magazine or, erm, Rolling Stone.

This latest example of a piece that pretty much writes itself is pretty random. Six items? Which are all out-of-print? It seems like "still in a vault" might be a better approach. Then you could mention "Carnival Light," the huge-long version of "Helter Skelter," etc.

But here we get an odd assortment of legitimately out-of-print but easy-to-find items such as the Hollywood Bowl concert LP and the "Let it Be" film along with some never-legitimately-been-in-print items such as the "Beatles Sing for Shell" and "Around the Beatles," which both aired as TV specials, and a compilation of all the Beatles' promo films -- something that never existed outside of bootlegs. Odd.

Mike Nesmith 1967: The Beatles are better

Here's a fun article from Aug. 5, 1967, published on the Minneapolis Star Tribune website: "Monkee admits Beatles are better."
When Mike Nesmith of the rock group, the Monkees, wants to hear good music, he goes to a record store and buys Beatles’ records.

“Don’t buy us if you want good music,” he advised as he lounged in his suite in a downtown St. Paul hotel Friday. “our music is sort of inane, banal. The Beatles give the kids the good stuff.”

Dressed in blue jeans, cowboy boots and a green velvet shirt, Nesmith talked freely about the Monkees, their past and present.

“Do you remember our second album?” he asked, waving a pair of blue-tinted sunglasses. “That was all tripe.” It was until after that album that the group began accompanying themselves on guitar and drums, he recalled.

“WE’RE LIMITED in musical ability,” he said. “We have to over-dub, but those are really my fingers strummin’ on the records."

Trends: The Beatles as self-help gurus

"4 Life Lessons from the Beatles" is the latest blog post that aims to draw wisdom from the works and career of the Beatles. I've been seeing a lot of such things over the past year or two -- not just on blogs but also various book titles, such as The Beatles Way: Fab Wisdom for Everyday Life, Life Lessons I've Learned From The Beatles and Come Together: The Business Wisdom of the Beatles.

None of these writings tend to be very imaginative, or to demonstrate a deep knowledge of the Beatles per se.

The four lessons posed by the post mentioned above are: "Never Doubt Yourself," "Take Chances/Don't Play it Safe," "Practice" and "Be Open to Possibility and Don't Be Threatened by the Talent of Others." Whoa, pretty deep.

It's only the Beatles packaging that makes these tropes "original" or somewhat fresh. Editors and publishers -- perhaps knowing the the Beatles references will attract the wandering eyes of Beatles fans and Baby Boomers -- seem to go for the Beatles angle, which makes it tempting for writers.

Remember when all we need to know we learned from Kindergartners? Now, it's moptops. It's trend not likely to last long, but it would be interesting to go deep with it. What, beyond their surface success, have the Beatles taught us about art and creativity, about relationships and spirituality, about growing up?

Introducing The Glass Onion

Hello, my online handle is jfire. You may know me from such blogs as the still-very-much-active Pop Culture Safari and the still-up, but inactive Mighty Marvelmania Museum, DC Comics Fortress of Memorabilia and Bat Channel.

Obviously, I'm a pop culture enthusiast with a particular interest in comics, movies, TV and music from the middle of our previous century. I've been sharing my views and loves online for many years via these various vehicles and recently decided to veer back into Beatles territory.

Why, for God's sake why, another Beatles blog/site/whatever? There are so many out there!

No doubt The Glass Onion will overlap with some of those other fine outlets. But I see a niche for a site that's a little more serious. One that collects not every Beatles-related headline, but all of the most important ones. A blog that provides detailed reviews of worthwhile new Beatles-related books, music and videos. A site that reviews other Beatles blogs and websites and guides you to those that are most valuable and interesting. A place that examines aspects of the band's impact and history and provides interesting perspectives. A site that peers through all the band's many layers.

I'm hoping, eventually, that this will be a place where people who study the Beatles - whether it's just for fun or as part of a more serious journalistic or academic pursuit -- can visit to learn more about the band.

I've been working, for time now, on my own Beatles book (oh, Lord, not another one of those, too!) and will share bits and pieces from that, along with some of my research findings, here, too.

So, stay tuned and please get in touch!  One thing I'd love to do, if I can attract enough interest here, is to create a bulletin board where we can all share our own Beatles news and views.