Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Ringo on the cover of the Rolling Stone

Here's a look on the cover of the new issue of Rolling Stone, out this week.

Video: Watch Ringo play drums on Miami Beach

Via Rolling Stone:
Watch the Beatles legend drum, run and spread the love in behind-the-scenes footage from his cover shoot with Mark Selinger. In the new issue of Rolling Stone, Starr opens up about his poverty-stricken youth, battles with drugs and alcohol, upcoming Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction and whether the Beatles would have reunited if John Lennon and George Harrison were alive.

Monday, March 23, 2015

In the background: Man who watched Beatles cross Abbey Road passes away

Every wonder who that gentleman in the sport coat is, standing in the background as the Beatles famously cross the street on the cover of their Abbey Road album?

It was a Florida tourist, Paul Cole, who passed away this week at age 96.
On a London vacation with his wife, Cole — then a resident of Deerfield Beach — declined to enter a museum on the north London thoroughfare.
"I told her, 'I've seen enough museums. You go on in, take your time and look around and so on, and I'll just stay out here and see what's going on outside,'" he recalled.
Parked just outside was a black police van. "I like to just start talking with people," Cole said. "I walked out, and that cop was sitting there in that police car. I just started carrying on a conversation with him. I was asking him about all kinds of things, about the city of London and the traffic control, things like that. Passing the time of day."
In the picture, Cole is standing next to the police van.
..."I just happened to look up, and I saw those guys walking across the street like a line of ducks," Cole remembered. "A bunch of kooks, I called them, because they were rather radical-looking at that time. You didn't walk around in London barefoot."

Friday, March 20, 2015

New, affordable edition of Ringo's "Photograph" book out soon

Originally published as a pricey limited edition, Genesis Publications is coming out with a more affordable edition of "Photograph" by Ringo Starr.

You can pre-order the book now from Amazon now. Details:
Photograph features Ringo Starr’s personal archive displayed as a photographic memoir and visual history of his childhood, the Beatles, and beyond.

Ringo personally curated this selection of images and memorabilia. Photographs that only he could have taken are shared here for the first time.

Hundreds of unseen images, taken by Ringo and from his personal collection, come together in the photo album of his life.

In creating this book, Ringo shares mementos his mother had saved, for the very first time. Letters home are truly personal, while promotional posters and newspaper clippings take you back to the beginnings of a musical legend.

See Ringo growing up in Liverpool amid the excitement of the emerging Merseybeat scene, remembering his time in hospital, his first car, drum-kits, girls, and bands. Ringo recounts his life story with honesty and hilarity in an original manuscript of over 15,000 words.

Ringo found forgotten photographs, recalling memories from his Beatle days. Join Ringo on his travels from Pwllheli to Delhi, obscurity to superstardom, in his photographic memoir. Hear about Ringo's adventures, mishaps, music, and movies, with his Beatles bandmates, family, and an all-Starr cast of friends.
"Photograph," which also appeared earlier as an e-book from Apple, will be out in September.

Abbey Road Studio launches educational program

The Abbey Road Institute is a new educational program launched out of the legendary London facility offering training in audio production and engineering, and music theory and music business management.

More details from the Guardian:
Students aged 18 and over from around the world will be able to study for a 12-month advanced diploma in music production and sound engineering at the institute, which will be housed in the legendary north London studio complex where the Beatles recorded nearly all their albums and singles.

They are also promised the opportunity to use the studio’s recording spaces, control rooms and equipment.

...The course will be taught by recognised music industry experts, including producers and label executives, with guest lectures from Abbey Road Studios engineers. Additional Abbey Road Institutes will launch in Berlin, Munich, Melbourne and Sydney for the September 2015 intake, with more locations to be announced. But all students will have the opportunity to visit and learn at the London base, where there will be a new, purpose-built classroom and studio facilities.

John Lennon French TV interview, 1975

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Review: The Beatles and the Avant-Garde

How often are you tempted to put on "Revolution 9" and really listen for the nuances? That's what I thought. Even the most devoted Beatles fan is unlikely to name the song as a favorite. It may be the only Fabs song you leave off your iPod. If you still have an iPod.

But it's probably the first tune that springs to mind when you think of the weirdest, wildest, most experimental song the Beatles ever recorded. It's also the most obvious, and least subtle example of the band incorporating avant-garde influences into their work.

It's these influences Aaron Krerowicz traces in his short but valuable study, "The Beatles and the Avant-Garde."

We've all read in various Beatles biographies how the group was influenced by Luciano Berio, Karlheinz Stockhausen, John Cage and other ear-bending composers of the mid-20th century. But Krerowicz does more than drop their names. He provides history and context, explains how the music sounded and how it was created. And then he shows us how, specifically, the Beatles used similar ideas - knowingly and not - in their own compositions.

He traces, for example, how the "sound mass" in "A Day in the Life" -- the huge orchestral crescendos heard in the song -- are similar to features of earlier classical works by Jean-Féry Rebel, Charles Ives, particularly, Iannis Xenakis.

Drawing on the memoirs of Beatles producer George Martin and recording engineer Geoff Emerick, Krerowicz digs into the technical side, too, discussing how the Beatles used tape speed manipulation and loops in ways similar to those used by classically trained experimentalists.

He even wanders into that no-mans' land where most Beatles fans and authors fear to tread: The solo recordings of John and Yoko. Maybe some of us own a copy of Two Virgins just to shock friends with the cover. But how many of us have even heard Life with the Lions or the Wedding Album? If these recordings even get mentioned in books, it's usually just an aside: "Then John and Yoko made a bunch of weird, unlistenable records that nobody liked."

Krerowicz listens with open ears - not making any claims for the music's lasting value, but not disparaging it, either.  Instead, he considers Lennon and Ono's intent, describes the music and connects it to music of a similar bent by more academic composers. He goes briefly into the history of the Fluxus movement, Yoko's performance art and John and Yoko's short films, as well.

Lennon, being the most experimental Beatle, gets the most space in the book, although Krerowicz explains how Paul McCartney was actually the first Beatle to get interested in experimental music. It's his tape loops playing on "Tomorrow Never Knows." He's also the one who considered having the BBC's Radiophonic Workshop provide the musical backdrop to "Yesterday." And he led the sessions for the still-unreleased freakout track, "Carnival of Light," which pre-dated the recording of "Revolution 9" by more than a year.

George Harrison, in contrast, gets little attention apart from his Moog experiments on the Electronic Music album. Ringo Starr, not being one of the composing Beatles, gets nearly none at all. But Krerowicz logically explains these omissions in defining the scope of his study.

The material may seem lofty and Krerowicz is an academic with a graduate degree in musical composition from Hartford University, but the book is very accessible and clearly written.

More insight into how the Beatles' experiments were received at the time and how they can be traced into the music of later pop- and rock-based performers would have been nice, yet the book still serves a valuable purpose in its examination of the band's experimental side.

The book is available in the contiguous U.S. from the author's website and elsewhere via Amazon and

The Beatles and the Avant-Garde
By Aaron Krerowicz
$17.99 list (discounted via author's site)
138 pages, 2014

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

McCartney "The Family Way" vinyl re-release on tap for Record Store Day

The list of limited edition vinyl for Record Store Day, April 18 is a vinyl reissue of Paul McCartney's 1967 instrumental soundtrack for the Hayley Mills' film "The Family Way."

Featuring arrangements by Beatles producer George Martin, the soundtrack was released on CD a few years back.

You can see the complete list of Record Store Day releases here.

Video: Allen Ginsberg and Paul McCartney perform "Ballad of the Skeletons"

In 1995, the late Beat poet Allen Ginsberg collaborated with composer Philip Glass and Paul McCartney, who set his "Ballad of the Skeletons" to music. Here's a look at Ginsberg and Paul performing the piece live.

How much are the Beatles worth to Liverpool?

A study has been launched to look at the economic impact of the Beatles on their hometown.

Researchers from Liverpool University and the Institute for Cultural Capital plan to map out all locations with ties to the band and evaluate current tourism sites and events connected to the group to get a measure of how much money interest in the group generates for the local economy.
Wendy Simon, city council member for culture, tourism and events, said: “Talk to anyone in or outside of the city about Liverpool and its history and you can guarantee the Fab Four will get a mention. 
“We know that The Beatles are a massive pull in terms of tourists, but we don’t know exactly what this translates to in terms of financial impact on the city and where the gaps are.  
“There is always a huge amount of debate around whether we as a city make the most of Beatlemania, and so this report will be a vital and informative piece of work which will shine a light on the legacy of The Beatles and what it really means to Liverpool.”
According to Liverpool University, the study will focus on three areas:

• Historical Mapping – The University of Liverpool’s Department of Music will carry-out a concise mapping exercise identifying all the historical events which tie the Beatles to specific city locations and spaces.

• Space and Place Mapping – The Institute of Cultural Capital (ICC), which works across both universities, will develop a map of the current cultural and heritage offer relating to the Beatles in the city. When completed, it will be compared with the results of the historical mapping to see how they complement each other.

• Cultural Impact of the Beatles - The ICC and the Department of Music will provide a concise account of the past, current and future non-economic value of the Beatles to the character of Liverpool.  This will examine the impact the band have on the social, community and cultural reputation of the city.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Do newly revealed pics show breakup of Beatles? Experts say "no"

The Daily Mail has published a typically sensational story featuring a previously unseen pictures of George Harrison, John Lennon and Ringo Starr - but not Paul McCartney - gathering at Harrison's house in 1968.

The photographer, Michael Herring, was 19 at the time and turned up at Lennon's home:
‘John opened the door and said exactly these words: “Well then, what’s it about?”,’ he recalled. 
Mr Herring said he won Lennon over by joking: ‘John, I wish you could be me so that you know what it feels like to meet you.’ He was promptly invited in for breakfast. 
...They jumped into Lennon’s Mini and drove to Harrison’s Surrey bungalow, Kinfauns – adorned with psychedelic murals – to find George sitting on his lawn, playing the guitar. 
....It was here that Mr Herring captured his series of evocative images.
 Ringo arrived at the home a short time later. The Beatles were gathering to record tracks, which later surfaced on bootlegs and the Beatles Anthology compilation, for "The White Album." But Paul didn't turn up at the session Herring attended.

Instead, Herring tells the Mail, a man arrived with a letter for George, which Herring claims was from Paul's attorneys, the father and brother of Linda Eastman, later Linda McCartney. The letter reportedly stated Paul wanted to quit the band.

George is depicted in one of the photos with a white paper sticking out of his shirt pocket.

However, Beatles biographers Mark Lewisohn and Hunter Davies told the Mail they both doubt the claim about the letter.

Lewisohn told the paper:
‘There’s no way that can be accurate because the Eastmans had no part in Paul’s life until his relationship with Linda began in October 1968, and there was no way Paul was quitting at this point.  
They had a number of sessions at George’s house and Paul was certainly at most of them – maybe not this one – because we have the recordings.’  
But he added: ‘This does not undermine the general story, which I do believe.' 
Meanwhile, in a accompanying column, Davies says:
The photos look genuine – that is George’s house, so I believe he was there that day.  
But I am not sure about the letter from Paul which allegedly says he is quitting.
That would have been a dramatic moment in pop music history. 
In 1968, the Beatles were beginning to have tiffs and fallings out, but they were still working and composing together – and did so for at least another year. 
Omega Auctions has reportedly contacted Herring about including the photos in its next Beatles auction later this month.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Paul contributes to new recording of "Come and Get It"

Paul McCartney has guested on a new version of "Come and Get It," a hit song he contributed to Apple Records band Badfinger back in 1969, recorded by a new band that includes Johnny Depp, Alice Cooper and Aerosmith's Joe Perry.

The group, Hollywood Vampires, is recording tracks for a planned album, which will include the new "Come and Get It" featuring Paul, reports Rolling Stone.
"I was joking with him and said, 'You probably wrote this in 20 minutes,'" says Perry, who had met but never worked with McCartney before. "And he said, 'Actually, I was in bed sleeping and I knew they needed a song for this band we signed, and I went downstairs and played it on the piano and then went to Abbey Road an hour before the rest of the [Beatles], played all the instruments, made the demo and gave [Badfinger, then called the Iveys] the song.'"

Beatles oddities: "All This and World War II"

An article out of Australia today recalls perhaps one of the weirdest and most tasteless uses of Beatles' music: the 1976 film "All This and World War II."

Conceived by Russ Regan, the film combined Beatles music with news reel footage of World War II. Critical response was brutal, with writers highlight the extreme tackiness of the whole enterprise. The film ran for two weeks in U.S. theaters before disappearing, seemingly forever. It's never surfaced on any format of home video. But it is, like everything else, on YouTube. See below.

The soundtrack also is available, and it's interesting. Unable to get permission, or afford, to use the Beatles' own recordings, a diverse lineup of stars was recruited to perform the tunes. Along with the hit version of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," there some decent stuff on it.

I never picked up the LP in the 1970s, as I was too busy catching up on getting the "real" Beatles albums. At that time, this meant the U.S. Capitol versions of all the 1960s recordings.

Here's soundtrack track list.
Disc: 1
1. Ambrosia - Magical Mystery Tour
2. Elton John - Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
3. The Bee Gees - Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight
4. Leo Sayer - I Am The Walrus
5. Bryan Ferry - She's Leaving Home
6. Roy Wood - Lovely Rita
7. Keith Moon - When I'm Sixty-Four
8. Rod Stewart - Get Back
9. Leo Sayer - Let It Be
10. David Essex - Yesterday
11. Jeff Lynne - With A Little Help From My Friends/Nowhere Man
12. Lynsey De Paul - Because
13. The Bee Gees - She Came In Through The Bathroom Window
14. Richard Cocciante Michelle
Disc: 2
1. The Four Seasons - We Can Work It Out
2. Helen Reddy - The Fool On The Hill
3. Frankie Laine - Maxwell's Silver Hammer
4. Brothers Johnson - Hey Jude
5. Roy Wood - Polythene Pam
6. The Bee Gees - Sun King
7. Status Quo - Getting Better
8. Leo Sayer - The Long And Winding Road
9. Henry Gross - Help!
10. Peter Gabriel - Strawberry Fields Forever

Remembering the photography of Linda McCartney

A new edition of Linda's "Life in Photographs" serves a news peg from the Daily Mail article today, which recaps her career and shows some of her work.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

A curious video tribute to the official Beatles Fan Club publication

This just turned up on YouTube - a video tribute to the Beatles Book , which was the official monthly magazine of the Beatles Fan Club from 1963 to 1969.

A later incarnation of the digest-size mag ran from 1976 through 2003 and included archive articles along with new articles about the Beatles and their group and solo careers.

I have the original run on PDFs, but it would be fun to see it in print. Despite the glossed over image the mag portrayed of the group, there was real news and insight in its pages, too. Not to mention fantastic, exclusive photos.

This video provides a feel for what it was like.