Saturday, February 28, 2015

Proud to be in the new Beatlefan!

Thanks to the long-running Beatlefan magazine for using two of my book reviews in its latest issue.

Along with my reviews of "The Beatles Through Headphones," by Ted Montgomery and Louise Harrison's new memoir, "My Kid Brother's Band, a.k.a., The Beatles," you'll find lots of great stuff.

Here's the official skinny:
In honor of Ringo Starr's induction on his own into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Beatlefan #212 has a special package of articles that includes a couple of recent fan encounters (including a tale of how Ringo is himself a Beatles memorabilia collector!) from Cortney Kintzer and Dave Persails and interviews by Ken Sharp with some of the current All Starr Band. 
Also in the new Beatlefan is All About That Bass, in which Rick Glover, who is a bassist in addition to being the original Fan on the Run, takes a look at the various bass guitars Paul McCartney has played over the years, with a focus on the iconic Hofner and its place in his legend. 
Among the other features in the new issue are Ken's interview with legendary record producer Glyn Johns, who talks about The Beatles' "Get Back"/"Let It Be" sessions; Bruce Spizer's 50th anniversary look back at the "Eight Days a Week" single; and Howie Edelson talking with Nick Lowe of Rockpile fame about opening for Wings in 1973. We also have an opinion piece by Jeff Cochran inspired by the recent reissue of "Wings at the Speed of Sound" and Bill Harry's tale of the girl The Beatles left behind. 
Plus, four pages of reviews and all the latest news! 
A sample issue costs $8 in the U.S. or $11 abroad. U.S. funds only. If you want the latest issue, be sure to specify #212. For more information, email 
Send to P.O. Box 33515, Decatur GA 30033. A year's subscription in the U.S. costs $33 for six issues or $37.50 if sent First Class Mail in an envelope. Canadian subscriptions cost $43 per year and for Mexico the cost is $50. International subscriptions to all other countries around the globe are $56 (sent Air Mail) U.S. funds only. CREDIT CARDS AND PAYPAL ACCEPTED ( For credit card orders, you can call 404-713-6432 or e-mail

Friday, February 27, 2015

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Paul McCartney's boyhood home sold in six minutes at auction

A Liverpool home that once housed Paul McCartney's family sold at auction within six minutes at auction. A local "mystery buyer" made the winning bid of £150,000 ($231,156).

The house, at 72 Western Avenue, was home to McCartney, his parents and brother Michael, from 1946 to 1948.

The home is less known than the one at 20 Forthlin Road in Liverpool, which is now on the historic register in Britain. This was the home where Paul and John Lennon occasionally wrote songs and where the early Beatles occasionally rehearsed.

New memorial tree for George Harrison replaces one killed by beetles

After a first tree was, somewhat ironically, killed by a beetle infestation, a new tree honoring George Harrison was planted this week in Los Angeles.
...a yew pine honouring the late Beatles guitarist was planted Wednesday in Griffith Park on what would have been Harrison’s 72nd birthday.

It was placed near the Griffith Observatory and replaces a Canary Island pine that was planted in 2004.

...A plaque near the tree site says it honours “a great humanitarian who touched the world as an artist, a musician and gardener.”

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Monday, February 23, 2015

Carnegie Hall in search of mystery moviemaker at 1964 Beatles show

Carnegie Hall is hoping to identify a woman depicted with a movie camera filming the Beatles during the band's Feb. 12, 1964, performance in the famed showplace.

Whoever she was, the presumably amateur filmmaker had a great vantage point, actually sitting on stage near the band.

In 1991, I had the opportunity to ask Paul McCartney if he knew the mysterious woman on stage. Paul was here for the US premiere of his Liverpool Oratorio, but he didn’t know who she was. I didn’t think he would, but it didn’t hurt to ask.
Over the years, I was in touch with several people who were at the concerts. Many saved their ticket stubs, yet no one was willing to part with them. We were contacted by one of the police officers who was on stage with the group right near that lady with the camera. He also assisted them out the backstage door.
One of our former staffers in the booking department told me she went in to the Hall to see what all the fuss was about. All she could see were the mouths of each Beatles member moving, but she couldn’t hear them because the audience was screaming so loudly. I was thrilled when we acquired the only known Carnegie Hall program (where Paul is misidentified as John McCartney!). The program book is autographed by all four members of The Beatles, so I have always been positive thinking that someday we will find the lady with the camera, or she will find us. Perhaps even someone connected to her would get in touch.

New plaque marks Brian Epstein's Liverpool home

A plaque marking the birthplace of Beatles manager Brian Epstein at 4 Rodney Street was unveiled in Liverpool over the weekend.
It was unveiled by Watford's Viv Jones, once an employee of Epstein, who said she was "very proud" to honour "the man who made the Beatles".

John Lennon's half-sister Julia Baird and Jeni Crowley who was secretary of The Beatles fan club were also at the ceremony.

Before Apple Corps, the Beatles were in the Apple CLUB

The Beatles promoted the British Dental Association. These ads reportedly appeared in English dental practices during the mid 1960s.

New information: The ad were reportedly developed by the British Medical Association to promote healthy eating and were displayed in medical offices and at fruit stands during the early 1960s.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Who clicked the shutter on the Sgt. Pepper cover shot?

The Independent talks to Nigel Hartnup, assistant to the late photographer Michael Cooper who was hired to take the photos featured on the cover and gatefold of the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper album.

Though he takes, and took, no credit, Hartnup claims he's the one who actually clicked the shutter for the cover photo simply because the camera was set up high and he was taller than Cooper.

 While the gatefold photo is credited to Collins, the cover is credited to "MC Productions."
And are there any “souvenirs” that he still has from the shoot? “There was a time when we needed a new kitchen,” he says, “so I sold my signed Marlene Dietrich cut-out. I got £2,300 for it and was thrilled, though it did sell again in 2003 for £86,000.”

50 years ago today: The Beatles leave London for the Bahamas to film "Help!"

The group with "Help!" co-star Eleanor Bron, no audio:

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Beatles fan Lizzie Bravo recalls singing on "Across the Universe"

A Brazilian living in London, Lizzie Bravo was one of the fans who used to congregate outside Abbey Road Studios in London during the late 1960s.

She is publishing her diaries from that time in a book, "From Rio to Abbey Road," and recently told the BBC about her guest spot singing backup vocals on "Across the Universe." 

"We were outside the studio as usual. Paul simply came outside and asked if any of us could hold a high note," Ms. Bravo told BBC Brasil. 
"I immediately raised my arm, as I was a soprano at my school choir back in Rio de Janeiro. But I had no idea why Paul asked that."  
"The four of them were there recording this song," she said. 
"All of a sudden I was hearing instructions from Paul and John about the part they needed us to sing. I was sharing the same microphone as Paul and John, who had always been my favorite Beatle."
Fellow fan Gayleen Pease was also selected to sing on the track.

Designer of John Lennon's psychedelic Rolls Royce builds replica

In celebration of Rolls Royce's 90th year, J.P. Fallon Coachworks has built a replica of John Lennon's Phantom, which he purchased in 1965 and had repainted in psychedelic fashion a couple of years later.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Review: John Lennon - The Collected Artwork

Would we be interested in John Lennon's art if he hadn't been a Beatle? Probably not. Yet, Lennon's facility for expressing himself with sketches, cartoons and paintings was an important part of his character. Examining his artwork and gives us another window into understanding him as a personality and creative artist.

Lennon certainly had a knack for art. The pen-and-ink cartoons that accompanied the offbeat poems and stories of his 1960s books "In His Own Write" and "A Spaniard in the Works" are primitive, yet imaginative, funny and sometimes cruelly sarcastic.

Meanwhile, his works from the mid to late 1970s, before his death, are gentle and whimsical and still funny. You can see he's relaxed, mellowed and enjoying domestic life as a stay-at-home dad to his son Sean. Images of the sun and clouds and comical, smiling naked figures abound in a sort of minimal dreamscape. In one memorable image, Lennon's giant face floats over a group of hills with the caption: "At last he could see the mountains."

In these later works, Lennon uses the minimum number of lines necessary to create the images he wants to display, as if he's challenging himself not to put anything more on paper than necessary. It's a reflection of his approach to music and lyrics, too. Many of Lennon's best and most moving music is primitive and minimal - consider the simple, straight-forward lyrics and stripped-down arrangements of his Plastic Ono Band album.

Many of his later drawings and watercolors have a touch of Matisse to them in their curved, minimal lines, yet Lennon had a recognizable style of his own.

A few of his cartoons display a talent that wouldn't be out of place in pages of The New Yorker. Lennon claimed James Thurber as an influence, and that's clear in the cartoons from his 1960s books. There's a late-in-life cartoon, too, that has this element. Showing Lennon and little Sean passing another man on the sidewalk, it features a New Yorker-style caption at the bottom. The first man says, "I'm getting into jazz," while John replies, "I've been avoiding it all my life." It's funny stuff, and demonstrates how Lennon used images and words as a sort of journal or diary of his feelings and observations on life.

Lennon, Sean and Yoko Ono took summer trips to Japan between 1977 and 1979 and, while there, he studied traditional sumi painting, which matched and inspired his own minimal-line approach and resulted in some lovely works.

Since his death, Lennon's art has been grouped by period and style and reproduced in a number of slim volumes, but "John Lennon: The Collected Artwork" is the most lavish and complete to date.

Featuring an introduction by Ono and text by arts writer Scott Gutterman, it displays Lennon's work pretty much chronologically, from childhood crayon and ink drawings inspired by his readings about Ivanhoe and the Saxons, to the cruel/funny cartoons of his books, to the lighter, gentler works of his post-Beatles life.

The only thinh left out are the controversial erotic works of Lennon's "Bag One" portfolio, which he created as a wedding gift to Ono in 1970. The portfolio was infamously displayed for one day in London before Scotland Yard shut the exhibition down on grounds of indecency. The absence of the works isn't explained in this book, and the works aren't mentioned, which is mysterious.

The text in general is light on detail. There's not much analysis of Lennon's art or much context for it - just enough to navigate us through the works on display. The details provided on Lennon are somewhat distorted, too. The myth of his having been born during an air raid on Liverpool is repeated and much is made of Lennon having attended art school. It's not mentioned that he barely got in and soon dropped out.

Some exploration into why Lennon created visual art throughout his life, despite having given up on pursuing it as a formal career would've been interesting and might have provided more insight into the creator of these works.

The inclusion of excerpts of lyric manuscripts in Lennon's own hand scattered throughout the books also seems a little haphazard. For the most part, the lyrics included don't match up with the images they accompany. They are just there.

As a collection of Lennon's artwork, the book is fairly complete and lovely to look at, but you'll need to go elsewhere to learn more about the artist himself.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Video: Paul McCartney, Sean Lennon and more with Taylor Swift at SNL anniversary after-party

Comics artist Alex Ross produces Beatles Yellow Submarine print

Comics artist Alex Ross, known for his hyper-real takes on DC and Marvel superheroes is also a Beatles fan, and has produced a large format limited edition print inspired by the band's "Yellow Submarine" feature. It's a bit like Norman Rockwell doing Peter Max.

You can check it out, and order, here.

Quiz: Test your Beatles memorabilia IQ

The Guardian has a fun feature today, asking fans to guess prices paid and other facts about sometimes bizarre Beatles memorabilia that has come to auction, including John Lennon's toilet. Check it out.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Jürgen Vollmer recounts taking cover shot for Lennon's Rock'n'Roll" album

On the 40th anniversary of John Lennon's Rock'n'Roll covers LP, Goldmine magazine catches up with Jürgen Vollmer, the Hamburg pal who supplied the cover shot.

Vollmer took the photo of Lennon leaning in a doorway at Jagerpassage 1, Wohlwillstrasse 2 in Hamburg in 1962.
“Before I even started taking any pictures, I said to John, ‘You just lean there and look arrogant, like you always do,’” Vollmer recalled with a laugh. “And I wanted the other three out of focus.”
The other three in the shot were Paul McCartney, George Harrison and the group's then-bassist Stu Sutcliffe.

Year's later, Lennon's girlfriend called Vollmer out of the blue, asking if John could use the photo on the cover of his new LP. Vollmer said yes, but earned only $750 for the shot.

How did the Star Club become a strip club?

This article from Rolling Stone regarding the gray-area live recordings of the Beatles recorded in Hamburg's Star Club during the Beatles' 1962 performances there refers to the venue as a "strip club."

Other media outlets have done the same. I see more than a dozen references to it on Google News.

Most likely, all these references stem from the same initial report or press release. But they demonstrate a lack of homework and general knowledge. Rolling Stone, in particular, ought to know better.

The Star Club was a showcase for rock'n'roll in the early 1960s on the admittedly sleazy Reeperbahn. But it wasn't a strip joint.

The only strip club the Beatles ever performed at was, briefly, Liverpool's New Cabaret Artists Club, where they backed up one of the dancers during her performance.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Documents detailing breakdown of John Lennon's first marriage up for auction

In news to make you glad you're not a celebrity: Legal documents detailing the demise of John and Cynthia Lennon's marriage is going public via an auction slated next month.
The previously unseen and unpublished five page dossier, which was drafted in 1968 by a solicitor dealing with the divorce of Lennon and Cynthia, includes a draft statement made by the Beatles member’s former housekeeper, Dorothy Jarlett.

It details the housekeeper’s account of what she saw while working for Lennon at his family home Kenwood in Weybridge, Surrey.

Hand-written notes by George Martin on Help! LP going on display

The Beatles Story in Liverpool will display producer George Martin's hand-written note regarding songs on the Beatles' Help! LP.
Beatles expert David Bedford explains: “These notes are important because we get a look into what George Martin was doing with production. We often talk about him being the fifth Beatle, and here you can see what he contributed to the songs.

“The notes are also significant because of the change in the recording process. Until then, they’d only had two tracks which was quite limiting. Their first album, Please Please Me, was recorded in one 14 hour day.

“Now they were looking at recording over four months at different times, and they could start to experiment using four track machines for the first time.

“The genius of George Martin was how to make use of those four tracks. It was the start of their experimenting – four tracks for them were like having 1,000, and it wasn’t far from there to Sgt Pepper.”

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Ron Howard details plans for Beatles live concert documentary

Director Ron Howard tells Rolling Stone about his in-production documentary focusing on the Beatles' live performances, which will use original footage from the band's concert performances.
"We are going to be able to take the Super 8 footage that we found, that was all shot silent. We'll not only be able to digitally repair a lot of that, but we've also been finding the original recordings," explains Howard. "We can now sync it up and create a concert experience so immersive and so engaging, I believe you're going to actually feel like you're somewhere in the Sixties, seeing what it was like to be there, feeling it and hearing it. And as a film director, that's a fantastic challenge."

...the team has already unearthed some surprising footage from the Beatles’ final concert at San Francisco's Candlestick Park in 1966.
Howard also recalls the time John and Julian visited the "Happy Days" set.
"We got word that John Lennon wanted to come by and bring his son [Julian], and he was a big Fonzie fan. I managed to sneak in a picture," he recalls. "He was graciously cool, but mostly it was for his kid, which we all really appreciated."

Howard adds, chuckling, "A year or so later, Ringo and Keith Moon wandered by. I don't know what they were doing in the lot, and I'm not even sure they knew where they were, but they seemed happy to be there."

Pattie Boyd exhibits rare photos of Beatles

A collection of rarely seen photographs by Pattie Boyd, former wife of George Harrison and Eric Clapton, are on display at the San Francisco Art Exchange through March 15.

The pictures date from Harrison's Beatles days and after.

50 years ago today: Ringo and Maureen TV interview following their wedding

Ringo and Maureen are interviewed the day following their wedding, Feb. 12, 1965:

Monday, February 9, 2015

Ringo "Postcards from Paradise" cover art

Amazon is now using this image accompanying its listing for Ringo Starr's new LP, Postcards from Paradise.
While it may not be the final design used, this pic has been used to plug the upcoming release on Ringo's website and social media, so it will likely be at least part of the design.

Video: John Lennon and Yoko Ono - 1968 Interview

Video: John Lennon - 1964 Interview During Australian Tour

Beatles tour photos - prints on sale via eBay

Here's a look at photos shot by tour manager Bob Bonis during the Beatles' 1964-66 U.S. tours. They are available in limited edition prints, along with Bonis' shots of the Rollings Stones, on eBay.

Video: Rihanna, Kanye West & Paul McCartney performance "FourFiveSeconds" - Grammys Awards 2015

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Video: Ringo Starr February 2015 update

New photo book spotlights John Lennon's "Double Fantasy" years

Published by Taschen, "Kishin Shinoyama. John Lennon & Yoko Ono. Double Fantasy" is a lavish collection of Japanese photographer Shinoyama's images of Lennon and Ono during the recording of their final LP together.

Unfortunately, the collection is priced at $700, far out of my price range and, I suspect, most other fans.

Still, here's a video preview:

And from a New York Times Magazine story on the book:
Though he’d been nervous about meeting the former Beatle, as Shinoyama recalls in the video, he was quickly put at ease by how approachable Lennon was:  
“He was so nice and sweet.” It set the tone for the day. “I did not try to step into their private life,” Shinoyama remembers now.  
“I tried to not interfere and capture his tender and gentle personality silently, so that I could shoot him in a very natural way, so that you couldn’t imagine that we had never met before.”

Friday, February 6, 2015

Video: Ringo Starr performs "Heart on My Sleeve" 1978

Interview: Billy J. Kramer details new album

Billy J. Kramer, who shared Brian Epstein as a manager with the Beatles and recorded tunes written by Lennon-McCartney back in the Merseybeat days talks about his career and new album here.
His new album – I Won The Fight – is Kramer’s first-ever album of his own material...

“It is very autobiographical,” he added. “One of the songs is called to Liverpool With Love and is about people I used to know when I was younger and never saw again.

“Paul McCartney heard it and he rang me. He said: ‘You captured the moment and brought back a lot of happy memories. That was great coming from him.’ “But there were darker times in my life too.”

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Macca now working with Gaga

Paul McCartney is really getting into these collaborations lately. Lady Gaga posted the following on her Instagram today:
"Had a beautiful session with Sir Paul McCartney and friends. Working on one of his many secret projects!"

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Video: Ringo Starr sings "You're Sixteen"

Video: Beatles at Hamburg 1966

New video: Paul with Rihanna and Kanye West "FortyFiveSeconds"

Paul McCartney to join Kanye and Rihanna in Grammy's performance

Paul will strum guitar along with Kanye West and Rihanna in a performance of Rihanna's new single "FortyFiveSeconds" at this Sunday's Grammy ceremony on CBS.

This story highlights some of Paul's recent Grammy appearances:
Sir Paul has been a part of a few epic collaborations at the GRAMMYs over the years.

For instance, at the 48th annual ceremony in 2006, he performed his solo song “Fine Line” followed by the Beatles‘ “Helter Skelter,” but later on joined Linkin Park and Jay Z for their medley of “Numb/Encore,” which went into the Beatles classic “Yesterday.”

Three years later, at the 51st GRAMMYs in 2009, he performed the Beatles’ “I Saw Her Standing There” with Dave Grohl sitting in on drums.

At the 54th GRAMMYs in 2012 he was joined by Joe Walsh and Diana Krall for “My Valentine”; he also ended the show with a classic rendition of the Beatles “Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End” with Walsh, Grohl (this time on guitar) and Bruce Springsteen.
And at last year’s 56th annual GRAMMY Awards, we were treated to the Paul collab that people wanted to see the most—when his former bandmate Ringo Starr sat in on drums for “Queenie Eye.” That, of course, was a prelude the their lengthier reunion the following night during The Night That Changed America: A GRAMMY Salute To The Beatles.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Paul McCartney to appear on Saturday Night Live anniversary show

Paul will appear on a three-hour special Feb. 15 honoring SNL's 40th anniversary.

The show, on NBC, will also include appearances by Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Bill Murray, Jim Carrey, Steve Martin, Dan Aykroyd, Alec Baldwin, Christopher Walken, Tom Hanks, Eddie Murphy, Jack Nicholson, Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock and more.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

John Lennon's returned MBE medal found in royal storage

Liverpool Beatles fans who want John Lennon's MBE (Member of the British Empire) medal displayed in his childhood home have reportedly located it in storage.

All the Beatles received the MBE from Queen Elizabeth II in 1965, largely for their contributions to British trade. But Lennon returned his four years later in a war protest. Since the, it's apparently been kept in a cabinet in the Chancery Department in St. James Palace.

The Liverpool Beatles Appreciation Society would like to see the medal displayed at Lennon's former home in Liverpool on Menlove Avenue, which is now operated by the National Trust. However, Yoko Ono would need to ask for it back.

A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman...said: "John Lennon's MBE is in storage at the Central Chancery at St James' Palace. 
"It has been retained since the day Mr Lennon returned it but a decision over whether the medal could go on display in a museum is not up to us. 
"It would be up to Yoko Ono as she is the custodian of John Lennon's estate." 
...One Beatles fan in Liverpool said: "Let's hope Yoko will agree that John's medal should be displayed in his home town.  
"We completely respect John's decision to return the MBE but we also believe that showing it to the public would be appropriate since it would raise awareness of John's campaign for peace.  
"We are urging Yoko to put in a request to Buckingham Palace for them to return the medal to her."