Monday, August 31, 2015

Listen to the BBC's "When Elvis Met the Beatles" radio drama

Available for streaming here.

BBC Radio 2 marks the 50th anniversary of a momentous meeting between Elvis Presley and the young pretenders of pop The Beatles.
Starring Tom Hughes as John Lennon, this drama is inspired by a secret meeting that took place in Elvis's Bel Air mansion on August 27 1965. That night is probably the most seismic meeting in music. No cameras, no recording equipment - and only those who were there really know what happened. When Elvis Met The Beatles recreates that evening, bringing alive the story when they met exactly 50 years ago, inviting listeners to be a fly on the wall.
Written by Jeff Young, the drama puts music at the heart of their meeting. Listeners will hear how music broke the ice between the two parties, discover what songs were played on Elvis' Jukebox and who sang what in a mythical jam session. This wasn't just the meeting of the two biggest music names in history - it was passing of the baton from the King of Rock 'n' Roll to the upstarts from Liverpool.
Tom Hughes, star of recently acclaimed BBC Two drama The Game, plays John Lennon, alongside Kevin Mains as Elvis Presley (he previously played Paul McCartney in ITV's Cilla and Elvis in the West End production of Million Dollar Quartet).
Tom says: "It's said that you shouldn't meet your heroes, I'm not sure that's true. John Lennon is a hero of mine. I'll never have the chance to meet him, so playing him is the next best thing. I was delighted to be asked and I just hope that in some way I've done this great man justice."
Other cast include Tom Dunlea as Ringo (All Is By My Side, and he played the same Beatle in Cilla), Shaun Mason (Luther, Good Cop) as Paul McCartney, Michael Hawkins as George Harrison (a role he also played in Cilla), Daniel Lapaine (Zero Dark Thirty, Muriel's Wedding) as Brian Epstein, and Colin Stinton (The Bourne Ultimatum, Foyle's War) playing Colonel Tom Parker. Music is from leading Elvis tribute act, Pete Storm, and members of Imagine The Beatles, with Paul McCartney sung by Rob Simpson, John Lennon by Geoff Raggett and George Harrison by Adj Buffone.
The drama is by Liverpool-based screenwriter and playwright, Jeff Young, one of the BBC's most experienced radio dramatists with over 25 radio plays broadcast in the last 20 years, plus a major stage adaptation of The Who's Quadrophenia which toured the UK in 2009.
Jeff Young says: "I was a big Beatles fan when I was younger, but for this project, initially, I knew very little about the Elvis and Beatles meeting. Then as I began researching the story, the strangeness of the meeting and the psychological dimensions, the dramatic opportunities became obvious. The larger than life characters involved, including Brian Epstein and Colonel Tom Parker, all set against a backdrop of corrupt American politics and the disastrous war in Vietnam, made for a strange and compelling narrative.
"The piece that has emerged is a kind of fake documentary. Elvis's life was an American Tragedy and the seeds of it are sown here in this meeting between the King and the pretenders to the throne. The Beatles were so young, bewildered and overwhelmed by their rapid rise to fame. In writing this drama I went back my old Beatles records and I became a Beatles fan, all over again.".

Video: George Harrison performs "This is Love"

Posted by George's official site the other day. Makes me kinda dizzy.

Upcoming book by Spencer Leigh: "Love Me Do, Love Me Don't: The Beatles On Record"

A new one from Liverpool radio announcer and all-around Beatles expert Spencer Leigh, out April 12, 2016.

After twenty-five years working at the BBC in Liverpool, Spencer Leigh has delved into his vast archive of interviews about the Beatles to analyse them in a new and unique way. His discussions take you on a musical journey that will leave you listening to the Beatles with fresh ears.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Tug of War and Pipes of Peace remasters now available for pre-order via Amazon

Amazon in the U.S. has posted pre-order links for the Deluxe and Standard editions of Paul McCartney's remastered Tug of War and Pipes of Peace albums.

You can pre-order the releases from Amazon via the links below.

The albums also will be available in 2-LP vinyl sets and limited edition "Super Deluxe" formats that include a special box and selection of hand-numbered photographs. I didn't spot links for these items.

The prices quoted for the Standard editions -  $24.98 - seem high to me. I'd check to see if those come down before ordering. I'll post an update and revise this post if there is a change in the listed price.

Tug Of War [3 CD/DVD][Deluxe Edition]

Tug of War [2 CD] [Standard Edition]

Disc 1 – Remixed Album

  1. Tug of War (Remixed 2015)
  2. Take It Away (Remixed 2015)
  3. Somebody Who Cares (Remixed 2015)
  4. What’s That You’re Doing? (Remixed 2015)
  5. Here Today (Remixed 2015)
  6. Ballroom Dancing (Remixed 2015)
  7. The Pound Is Sinking (Remixed 2015)
  8. Wanderlust (Remixed 2015)
  9. Get It (Remixed 2015)
  10. Be What You See (Link) (Remixed 2015)
  11. Dress Me Up as a Robber (Remixed 2015)
  12. Ebony and Ivory (Remixed 2015)
Disc 2 – original album mix (included on Deluxe edition)
  1. Tug Of War
  2. Take It Away
  3. Somebody Who Cares
  4. What's That You're Doing?
  5. Here Today
  6. Ballroom Dancing
  7. The Pound Is Sinking
  8. Wanderlust
  9. Get It
  10. Be What You See (Link)
  11. Dress Me Up As A Robber
  12. Ebony And Ivory
Disc 3 Bonus Audio (included on Deluxe and Standard Edition):
  1. Stop, You Don't Know Where She Came From (Demo)
  2. Wanderlust (Demo)
  3. Ballroom Dancing(Demo)
  4. Take It Away (Demo)
  5. The Pound Is Sinking (Demo)
  6. Something That Didn't Happen (Demo)
  7. Ebony And Ivory (Demo) 
  8. Dress Me Up As a Robber / Robber Riff (Demo)
  9. Ebony And Ivory (Solo Version) (Previously only released on the 12" vinyl single in 1982)
  10. Rainclouds (Previously released as the B-side to "Ebony And Ivory")
  11. I'll Give You A Ring (Previously released as B-side to the "Take It Away" single)
 DVD (included on Deluxe Edition):
  1. Bonus film
  2. Tug of war (Music video version 1)
  3. Tug of war (Music video version 2)
  4. Take it away (Music video)
  5. Ebony & Ivory (Music video)
  6. Fly TIA – Behind the scenes of Take it away (18 minutes documentary)
NOTE: Deluxe Edition also features a high-res audio download.

Pipes Of Peace [2 CD/DVD][Deluxe Edition]

Tug of War [2 CD] [Standard Edition]

Disc 1 

  1. Pipes of Peace
  2. Say Say Say
  3. The Other Me
  4. Keep Under Cover
  5. So Bad
  6. The Man
  7. Sweetest Little Show
  8. Average person
  9. Hey hey
  10. Tug of peace
  11. Through our love
Disc 2 Bonus Audio (included on Deluxe and Standard editions)
  1. Average Person (Demo)
  2. Keep Under Cover (Demo)
  3. Sweetest Little Show (Demo)
  4. It’s Not On (Demo)
  5. Simple as That (Demo)
  6. Say Say Say (New 2015 remix)
  7. Ode to a Kola Bear (B-side of the "Say Say Say" single)
  8. Twice in a Lifetime (Bonus from the 1993 CD, a title song from a movie)
  9. Christian Bop
DVD (included on Deluxe Edition)
  1. Bonus film (26 minutes)
  2. Pipes of Peace (Music video)
  3. So Bad (Music video)
  4. Say Say Say (Music video)
  5. Hey Hey in Montserrat (Home video 3 minutes)
  6. Behind the Scenes at AIR (6 minutes)
  7. The Man (Home video 4 minutes)
NOTE: Deluxe Edition also features a high-res audio download. 

Lennon's "last piano" and other items go on display in Liverpool

The Beatles Story museum in Liverpool will display the piano John Lennon played and composed on late in his life along with rare images of the former Beatle.
A ‘honky tonk’ piano played by the late music icon during his time in New York recording studios during the 1970s, and on his Double Fantasy album, has been loaned to the Albert Dock attraction for the next three years.

It is joined by never-before-seen images of the Liverpool legend taken by American rock ‘n’ roll photographer Bob Gruen during the 70s.
... [Lennon] was so attached to it that those closest to him renamed it as the “John Lennon Piano” due to his insistence on moving it to every studio he worked in.
He used it to compose Fame with David Bowie and Whatever Gets You thru the Night with Elton John, and it can also be heard on the album Walls and Bridges.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

McCartney drawings on auction in Liverpool

Some rare drawings by Paul McCartney, apparently from his Beatles days, will be auctioned off Aug. 29 in Liverpool.

According to the Beatles Examiner:

The sketches were discovered by the vendor in an attic, he said, and they include include Beatlesque faces drawn in ink. Each sheet also has writing by Paul McCartney on the reverse.

"This is an amazing find," said Stephen Bailey from the Liverpool Beatles Shop. "People usually think of John as the artistic Beatles but these drawings show Paul's talent for capturing an image in a quick sketch."

Also up for auction, as we reported a while back, is a weather vane from Woolton's St. Peter's Church, where Paul McCartney first saw John Lennon perform with the Quarrymen.

New Beatles statues planned for Liverpool waterfront

The Cavern Club is paying for statues of all four Beatles to be displayed on Liverpool's waterfront.

Here's a CGI rendition. So far, the statues of John and George are the only ones completed. The figures stand 8-feet tall:

According to the Liverpool Echo the statues were the brainchild of Chris Butler of Castle Fine Arts foundry.
“A statue that needs no title, no explanation, no instruments, no gimmicks. Simply... a moment that changed the world," he said.

“A monument to a moment, when the world was truly shaken. And it started here in Liverpool.”
It's hoped that the statues will be installed by Christmas to mark the 50th anniversary of the band's final performance in the city, at the Liverpool Empire, on Dec. 5, 1965.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Hear David Gilmour's version of "Here, There and Everywhere"

The Pink Floyd singer has contributed a version of the Beatles' tune to a free compilation included with the most recent issue of Mojo magazine. You can listen via NME here.

Monday, August 24, 2015

The girls who buzzed the Beatles by helicopter

Back in 1965, a group of Los Angeles Beatles fans rented a helicopter to fly over the Fabs' rented mansion in Benedict Canyon.

Now, the Los Angeles Times catches up with the "girls" for an update.

Kay turned to the Yellow Pages, for helicopter rentals — and found pilot Russell O'Quinn, who agreed to take them over the house for $50 an hour. The girls alerted the media, and on Aug. 25 flashbulbs popped as, one at a time, they took off from the roof of the Federal Building — where O'Quinn had permission to land — in the two-seat copter.The girls had sent the band a telegram, saying they'd take a wave as a sign that they could visit later that day.  

The girls later got a call from Capitol Records inviting them to meet the Beatles in person at a press conference.

Out came the band, Harrison right in front of Kay. She told him that they were the helicopter girls. He asked, "Is your father rich or something?" John Lennon signed a book for Paula. The girls took it all in wide-eyed.

Hear and download a bonus version of Paul McCartney's "Take it Away"

UPDATE: Apparently the version of "Take it Away" below is not included on the upcoming remaster of Paul's Tug of War album, but is available as a free download here.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Houston radio station posts its recording of 1965 Beatles show

The Beatles performed in the Sam Houston Coliseum on Aug. 19, 1965. Here's local station KILT's recording of the band's evening show.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Vintage news reel: Demolition of Liverpool's original Cavern Club

This would be circa 1973, I believe.

Original Stu Sutcliffe artworks

Early drawings by Stu, via Heritage Auctions.

Artifact: Beatles at the Star Club postcard, autographed by John Lennon

Via Heritage Auctions:
The Beatles did a fourteen-night run at the Star Club November 1-14, 1962, sharing the bill with Little Richard. This was their fourth trip to Hamburg, their first with Ringo as their drummer, and their second at the Star-Club. They had opened the club on April 13 of that year. It was during this trip that they met and became friends with future Apple artist Billy Preston who was playing in Little Richard's band. The band's last two-week stint at the club was December 18-31, 1962. It was during this time that their "Love Me Do" single peaked at Number 17 on the UK charts. They would not appear in Hamburg again until June 26, 1966, this time at a somewhat larger venue.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Vintage Ringo Starr "Magic Christian" movie poster

Artifact: Beatles Magical Mystery Tour Fancy Dress Party Invitation

Via Heritage Auctions:
As the Beatles typically celebrated Christmas with a party, John Lennon suggested that they have a costume ball for the launch of their Magical Mystery Tour movie, scheduled to be shown on BBC television on December 26, and invite friends, family, and the film crew. This is a rare and very desirable invitation for that party, apparently not used.

Artifact: "Murray the K Comes on Monday" sign created by John Lennon

Via Heritage Auctions:
An incredible, one-of-a-kind artifact from an event that defined the 1960s, with John Lennon at its center. Here is an actual hand-made sign from the Montreal Bed-In For Peace, reading "MURRAY THE K COMES ON MONDAY," boldly signed and dated at the event by John and Yoko Ono, and made especially notable for the mention of famous American radio personality "Murray The K" Kaufman. This sign was affixed to the wall of the Montreal hotel suite, to the left of the bed (John's side), and appears prominently in photographic and video records of the event, including the film of the recording of "Give Peace A Chance", where the sign can be seen directly between John and Tommy Smothers as they play their guitars.

Artifact: "Dear Jeans Woman" letter by John Lennon

Up for sale at Heritage Auctions:
A humorous and polite 8.25" x 10" letter of complaint written to the proprietor of a boutique called Bowinkle's Revenge in West Hollywood where he had purchased three pairs of jeans that turned out to be a bit too loose. It reads, in full: "Dear Jeans Woman,/ Would it be possible for/ THE BEARER OF THIS HERE LETTER, to/ SWAP* these 3 pairs of jeans which/ turned out to LARGER THAN/ EXPECTED for something smaller?/ Yours in baggy pants, with thanks/ [two caricatures] John Lennon/ Yoko Ono/ *in case you are somebody else, we bought/ these jeans at your place - sometime last/ week."

Beatles' first recording contract up for auction

The contract the Beatles signed to record their first professional single, "My Bonnie," with Tony Sheridan in 1961 is now up for bid via Heritage Auctions with a minimum bid of $150,000.

The contract is signed by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and the group's then-drummer Pete Best.

The document is part of a 300-plus-item collection owned by German Beatles expert and collector Uwe Blaschke. Much of the collection was displayed in a Beatles-themed museum in Hamburg.

According to Heritage:
Among the collection's highlights is a vintage snapshot of 17-year-old George Harrison modeling his first leather jacket, taken in 1960 in Hamburg shortly before his deportation from Germany for being underage (est. $3,000+); a postcard sent by Ringo Starr to his grandmother from Hamburg, signed "Lots of Love, Richy xxxxx" (est. $4,000+); an autographed copy of the group's first EMI single, "Love Me Do," (est. $10,000) from 1962, and a 1961 letter from Epstein to the Top Ten Club in Hamburg concerning a Beatles booking (est. $1,500+).
 Here's a look at the contract and the picture of George:

Beatles Atlanta show 50 years ago featured "best sound" of tour

Unlike most shows on their summer 1965 tour of America, the Beatles could actually hear themselves play when they performed in the newly constructed Atlanta Stadium on Aug. 18.

The show featured a then-new, but now universal concept: On stage monitor speakers that allowed the group to hear their own sound directly, rather than what was coming out of the amps and speakers facing the crowd.

Both the band and its manager, Brian Epstein, remarked favorably about the sound after the Beatles' performance.

According to a new article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Epstein sent the engineers at Baker Audio a thank you note later, saying the sound was “Excellent. Without question proved the most effective of all during our U.S. tour 1965.”

F.B. “Duke” Mewborn of Baker Audio said he used four Altec 1570 tube amplifiers, generating about 500 watts in power, or slightly less than the power in Mewborn’s home stereo today. (When Paul McCartney performs nowadays he uses something like a 300,000-watt system.)

The Beatles offered Mewborn a position as the sound man for the rest of their tour, but Mewborn declined. According to Keith Hicks, Baker’s current president, Mewborn “basically said he didn’t see much future in four guys with long hair.”

The story also features some interesting details about the Vibrations, a local surf music combo, that ended up performing at the show, along with the Beatles' regular opening acts for the tour, which included King Curtis and Cannibal and the Headhunters.
The Vibrations showed up early at the stadium, proudly wearing their collarless jackets and hauling their new Vox Super Beatle amps, provided by the music store.

Epstein told them to beat it. Then, fate intervened. John Lennon’s Vox organ was somehow damaged during the trip from Toronto, and there was only one other Vox organ in Atlanta. It was at Thomas Organ. The Vibrations sent a runner up to the Buckhead music shop to fetch back a working instrument.

Lennon used the borrowed Vox organ and Epstein let the Vibrations open the show. Spencer Kirkpatrick, later to form the influential Atlanta band Hydra, was the junior member of the group, and the lead guitarist. Standing on that stage, in front of 34,000 people, the 14-year-old Kirkpatrick experienced every emotion known to man, from terror to elation.

“I was about to pee down my leg,” he said.

The Vibrations played “Pipeline,” “Walk Don’t Run” and even an instrumental version of the Beatles tune “This Boy.” Then they listened to the rest of the music from the dugout.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Smoking plane engines and the Beach Boys - the Beatles in Portland, Ore., 50 years ago

The Oregonian shares its vintage coverage of the Beatles Aug. 22, 1965, performance in Portland:
The moment of excitement occurred when the Beatles' chartered airliner landed by the Old United Airlines Terminal with one of its four turbo-prop engines smoking. Officials labeled the engine trouble as minor.

The crowd of 500 teen-agers on hand to welcome the quartet and their troupe of 60 was kept well in hand when it was announced the Beatles' limousine would not pass near the restraining fence unless everybody behaved. Everybody did.

Following their first concert, the flippant foursome joked their way through a press conference and then shared a steak dinner with their five guests, the Beach Boys, America's counterpart to the Beatles.
From later accounts, notably "Ticket to Ride," Larry Kane's memoir of touring with the Beatles on their U.S. tours, we know that the smoking engine created a minor panic on board the Beatles' plane, but it did land safely. John Lennon was heard shouting "Beatles, women and children first!" as he deplaned.

Also, other accounts mention the Beatles meeting Mike Love and Carl Wilson, but not the rest of the Beach Boys. At this point, Brian Wilson was no longer touring with the group

Beat poet Allen Ginsberg was also at one of the shows and wrote a poem about it.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Upcoming graphic novel charts birth of Beatles

Recently posted on Amazon and out in June 2016. Written by Jason Quinn and illustrated by Lalit Kumar Sharma. 150 pages from Campfire Books.

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Video: First Paul McCartney and Wings rehearsal "Lucille"

Monday, August 10, 2015

New book: Kit O'Toole's "Songs We Were Singing: Guided Tours Through the Beatles' Lesser-Known Tracks"

Out now, this is a collection of essays on the Beatles' "deep tracks" by Beatlefan contributor Kit O'Toole. Well worth a look.

Take A “Magical Mystery Tour” through the Beatles’ Deep Tracks.

The Beatles’ music has become so ingrained in our culture that their songs have become an integral part of our everyday lives. Who doesn’t know the words to “Hey Jude” or “Let It Be”? Who hasn’t been moved by the poetry of “Eleanor Rigby” or energized by that opening chord of “A Hard Day’s Night”?

Songs We Were Singing uncovers the buried treasures that deserve a second listen.

Beatlefan contributing editor and Something Else Reviews “Deep Beatles” columnist Kit O’Toole serves as a musical tour guide, taking readers through the composing and recording processes of songs such as “I’ll Get You” or “When I Get Home.”

How do these songs fit in with the Beatles’ legacy, and why do they still resonate with listeners?

This magical tour covers their failed1962 Decca audition, their raw Hamburg performances at the Star Club, BBC radio appearances, and every album from Please Please Me to Abbey Road. This journey also takes some interesting detours.

Not overlooking the solo years, O’Toole also examines certain albums and tracks, reassessing their value.

How have albums such as Paul McCartney’s Press to Play and George Harrison’s 33 1/3 aged over the years?

This tour itinerary includes a look back at the 2009 CD remasters, a list of John Lennon’s most underrated songs, and a revealing discussion of Ringo Starr’s best drumming performances.

The product of many years of studying “Beatleology,” O’Toole’s Songs We Were Singing appeals to first generation fans as well as younger Beatles listeners. Grab a pair of headphones, read this book, and rediscover songs that you never knew—or thought you knew.

Coming soon: Beatles Lyrics book gets paperback release

"The Beatles Lyrics" by Hunter Davies is set for paperback release this October.

The book features analysis of the Fabs' song catalog and images of the Beatles' hand-written song lyrics.

Fans remember the Beatles at Shea, 50 years ago

The New York Daily News interviews a few fans who saw the Beatles play Shea Stadium 50 years ago, including Trea Hoving, who was just 9 at the time.
“I thought, ‘This is like meeting the Pope,’” she recalls. “This is going to be a holy vision.”

A nervous Hoving spent most of her audience with John, Paul, George and Ringo staring at the floor. “But Paul McCartney came over to me to make me less uncomfortable,” she says. “He had an envelope with a cartoon on it, which looked like a Blue Meanie.”

Then, she had her picture taken with John Lennon, who leaned down paternally.

“Believe it or not, it wasn’t a frenetic scene backstage at all,” Hoving says.
“Everyone was just milling around. It was very relaxed.”

Memoir: Cilla Black remembers Beatles encounters

The Daily Mail is publishing some of the late Cilla Black's showbiz recollections, including her relationship with fellow Liverpudlians, the Beatles.
Pop in the Sixties was a world of little white lies. I found that out early, with my first single, Love Of The Loved, by Lennon and McCartney. Brian Epstein, who was the boys’ manager as well as mine, let the media think the song had been specially written for me by John and Paul.

It was cobblers, of course. I’d heard The Beatles doing the song myself during lunchtime sessions at the Cavern.

Friday, August 7, 2015

The Asher Family "all have red hair!"

Here's a great pic posted by the Truth about the Beatles Girls blog:

Jane Asher, girlfriend of Paul McCartney during most of this Beatles years, and her brother Peter (of Peter and Gordon fame) and her younger sister, Clare, where all stage, radio and screen actors during the 1960s.

Beatles Bits: Weekly roundup

A cool stereo console once owned by Ringo Starr is up for auction.
The custom built radiogram was built for Ringo and Maureen Starr when they lived at 34 Montagu Square, London in 1965. It is a quality piece with a Garrad Record deck, Leak AMP and Armstrong Tuner with twin speakers.

Ringo gave the radiogram to his Auntie Everley and Uncle Jim at 59 Madrin Street, Liverpool, which was Ringo`s Grandad`s house. It has been in Auntie Everleys` possession since 1966 and has just surfaced after almost 50 years.
You can see Ringo's then-wife Maureen sitting on said furniture item in this pic by Henry Grossman.


A rare photo of Paul McCartney jamming with Jefferson Airplane members Jorma Kaukonen and Paul Kantner turned up on Facebook recently.

Legend has it Paul visited members of the Airplane in Los Angeles during a U.S. trip with his girlfriend Jane Asher and played the band a pre-release acetate of the Sgt. Pepper album.


The Good Stuff posted this cool image of Julie Harris' design for the schoolgirl outfits worn by Pattie Boyd (Harrison) and others in "A Hard Day's Night." Apparently Dougie Millings, who created the Beatles' famous collarless suits also had a hand in the look.


Via Meet the Beatles for Real: Here's a pic of the Beatles rehearsing for the TV show "Blackpool Night Out," joined on stage by Tivvy, the mascot of Britain's TV Times magazine. Apparently he's supposed to be a bird.


Paul didn't commission this tour poster, but fan/artist Mitch O'Connell made it anyway. And it's pretty cool.


Sunday, August 2, 2015

So long, Cilla Black

Sad news today: Beatles' friend Cilla Black has passed away at age 72. The BBC has a report here.

She had a long association with the Beatles, from her early cover of the Lennon-McCartney tune, "Love of the Loved," to her own variety series on British television, which featured a theme tune, "Step Inside Love," composed by Paul.

Ringo Starr guested on Cilla's British TV shows a number of times. Here's a rare clip of one of those occasions: