Friday, February 26, 2016

Test record that helped launch the Beatles' career going up for auction

Most Beatles fans know the fabled tale of a dejected Brian Epstein visiting the HMV record shop in London to have some of the group's rejected Decca tapes transferred onto disk.

That move put him in touch with the music publishers who ultimately opened the door to EMI and to the Beatles recording with George Martin.

And now, one of the disks made that day is going up for auction, complete with handwritten labels, by Epstein, on both sides.

The 78 rpm record features original tune "Hello Little Girl" on one side and the group's cover of "Till There Was You," popularized by Peggy Lee, on the other. The label on the first side reads "John Lennon and the Beatles" while the flip "reads "Paul McCartney and the Beatles." This was presumably done to highlight the fact that the Beatles featured multiple lead vocalists.

The first side also includes a hand-written "Lennon-McCartney" credit - again, likely to highlight another of the group's strengths: they wrote their own material.

Additionally, "Hello Little Girl" is spelled British style, "Hullo Little Girl" on the handwritten label.

According to a BBC report, the record "lay forgotten" for decades in the home of Gerry and the Pacemakers keyboardist Les Maguire.

Comics artist creates portfolio of Beatles art for sale at Las Vegas "Love" performances

A portfolio of four Beatles-themed prints by popular comics artist Alex Ross will be offered for sale in the Beatles Shop of the Mirage Hotel, site of the Beatles' "Love" show.

Ross will sign editions of the portfolio April 30, according to his Facebook site.

Beatles Bits: Weekly news roundup

A new working group is plotting how to make the most of Liverpool's huge Beatles tourism industry - without turning the place into Disneyland.
 “We don’t want the Disneyfication and turning Liverpool into a Beatles theme park. It’s about preserving The Beatles’ legacy – they are one of the most famous, if the the most famous, groups in the world, and possibly the coolest.”“We don’t want the Disneyfication and turning Liverpool into a Beatles theme park. It’s about preserving The Beatles’ legacy – they are one of the most famous, if the the most famous, groups in the world, and possibly the coolest.”


Yoko Ono says for the billionth time that she didn't break up the Beatles. A billion headlines ensue.


The Guardian, meanwhile, has a more detailed Yoko profile.
Even when she started writing more conventional songs, an intriguing idiosyncrasy showed through. Her contributions to 1980’s Double Fantasy are noticeably edgier and more in tune with the new wave era than anything Lennon came up with for the album: Walking On Thin Ice, the song they completed on the day he was murdered, was even more striking, a claustrophobic piece of experimental punk-funk with uncannily prescient lyrics about loss. “It’s so eerie, I mean, I thought of all that before John’s death, and I didn’t know he was going to die, and supposedly John didn’t either, so that happened in a very intricate and strange way.”

A performer in the Cirque Du Soleil's "Beatles Love" in Las Vegas was injured this week in a dress rehearsal of the freshly revamped show.
Ann Paladie, public relations director for Cirque Du Soleil, said a dress rehearsal for the show inside the Mirage hotel-casino on the Las Vegas Strip had to be stopped due to an injury to one of its artists.

The performer was in stable condition and transported to University Medical Center for treatment as part of Cirque's standard safety protocol, Paladie said.

The company did not elaborate on the nature or the cause of the artist's injury.

Allan Rouse, who acted as an archivist and reissue specialist for the Beatles' Apple Records, passed away earlier this week.
“I started off working on film scores at Abbey Road, but got the job of making safety copies of every Beatles tape,” Rouse said. “At that time they’d never been backed up. … Midway through that process, George Martin was making a program about the making of Sgt. Pepper and needed to go over the tapes again, and needed some help. So I did that, and at the end of the process he said I’ll probably be seeing you again, but he didn’t elaborate. He came back to do the Beatles at the BBC and I spent six months remastering that. And then this was followed by another stint where we worked together for a year on the Anthology series. By then, I was becoming the person people turned to when they needed some Beatles work done.”

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Phillip Norman's Paul McCartney biography available for order

Phillip Norman is the author of the popular, if flawed, "Shout," one of the most thorough Beatles biographies published before Mark Lewisohn started his epic three-part document of the group. He also published a fairly well-regarded biography of John Lennon several years back. Now it's time for Paul.

Written with Paul's cooperation, the book is due out May 3 and is available for pre-order now from Amazon.

 Since the age of twenty-one, Paul McCartney has lived one of the ultimate rock-n-roll lives played out on the most public of stages. Now, Paul's story is told by rock music's foremost biographer, with McCartney's consent and access to family members and close friends who have never spoken on the record before. PAUL McCARTNEY reveals the complex character behind the façade and sheds new light on his childhood--blighted by his mother's death but redeemed by the father who introduced him to music.

This is the first definitive account of Paul's often troubled partnership with John Lennon, his personal trauma after the Beatles' breakup, and his subsequent struggle to get back to the top with Wings--which nearly got him murdered in Africa and brought him nine days in a Tokyo jail. Readers will learn about his marriage to Linda, including their much-criticized musical collaboration, and a moving account of her death. Packed with new information and critical insights, PAUL MCCARTNEY will be the definitive biography of a musical legend.


Video: Paul McCartney - The Mike Walsh Show Filming, Myer Music Bowl, Melbourne - November 13, 1975

Hear a BBC radio documentary about John Lennon's Liverpool home

Listen at BBC Radio 4:
Every year, around 8,000 people from 50 countries pay homage to John Lennon at his childhood home, Mendips. But who are these visitors and what do they seek from an ordinary suburban semi in Liverpool? Comedian, Alexei Sayle, took the National Trust tour in 2009 and was so taken with its 1950s charm and with the spirit of it, that he's gone back; this time meeting custodian, Colin Hall and finding out what it's like to live in one of the most famous houses in Liverpool. He also talks to some of those who visited the house when John Lennon lived there - John's cousin Mike; Colin Hanton, the drummer in John Lennon's band, the Quarrymen; and Freda Kelly, the Beatles' Club Secretary. And of course just a few of those 8000 visitors.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Video: The Beatles in concert Aldelphy Cinema, Dublin, Ireland - November 7, 1963

History: Beatles Book Monthly February 1966

The February issue of the Beatles' official fan magazine catches the group still in the post Rubber Soul quiet period. Following a short British tour, their last, at the end of 1965, the band has been taking it easy, vacationing and contemplating their next film.

Probably the biggest news of the period was George's wedding, Jan. 21, to Pattie Boyd, which editor Johnny Dean notes in his opening editorial:

George is also featured in several photos at home with his new cat.

Other photos include some stage shots from the recent British tour, and the band behind the scenes, playing billiards with members of the Moody Blues.

Feature stories include continued look-backs at the Beatles' first American visit in February 1964 and the roots of the Liverpool Beatles fan club. There's also this behind-the-scenes shot from the band's famous swimming pool photo for the Aug. 28, 1964, cover of Life magazine.

The release of Rubber Soul is still in everyone's mind, and the issue includes a few more shots from the sessions, including the group rehearsing/recording "Michelle."

In the letters section, meanwhile, one American fan is glad she ordered the British version of the LP, while another correspondent complains about the cover.

Still another fan is unhappy with the Beatles wax figures created for the Madame Tussauds museum in London. George concurs, though the band ended up using the statues on the cover of Sgt. Pepper a year or so later, anyway.

In a Beatle Talk section, George and Paul talk about the band's next film project, noting the Beatles have nixed the idea of shooting the Western spoof "A Talent for Loving."

In the monthly news roundup, we get the latest details on Paul's London house, the group's verdict on the most recent James Bond film and their record-buying habits.

And we'll round things out with a few more pics from the issue.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Video: George Harrison & Bob Dylan - Peggy Sue [Live at the Palomino Club 1987]

Beatles Bits: Weekly news roundup

The Las Vegas Sun details the spruced up version of the Beatles' "Love" show.
The 10th anniversary celebration with Sir Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison is this July, and we want to use the new technology and projection and choreography that wasn’t available to us a decade ago.

We looked at it color-wise, happy-wise, also of what we can give back and take the show even higher. It’s true that we have taken many steps. We’re touching everything, so there will be a lot of new projection content. We also have new images of The Beatles that we didn’t have 10 years ago.

We didn’t have archives of The Beatles themselves, and that went into the show now because we have that confidence with ourselves, Cirque and Apple. That relationship is one that has gone very well, so those possibilities are there now.
In a separate story, Giles Martin details some of the show's musical upgrades.
Is “I Am the Walrus” really working? What if we put “Twist and Shout” here? I played the music to Paul — he never understood why “Walrus” was there anyway. He said, “It’s not in the context.” So we thought let’s put in “Twist and Shout.” It’s a very vibrant song.
Giles also mentions in the story that he's currently working on the music featuring in Ron Howard's upcoming documentary about the Beatles' live performance years.


A great story about a prank George Harrison played on Phil Collins.


Via Meet the Beatles for Real: When Paul McCartney returned to the Cavern - 1968.


A Kenyan nature conservancy has named a baby rhino after Ringo Starr.
Three years ago, to help bring awareness to the battle against poaching, Ringo changed the main page of his website to the photo of a baby rhino. With Ringo's name, this baby rhino -- and many others -- might have a little better chance of survival.

... Much to our delight, Ringo Starr replied that he'd be honored to have a baby rhino named after him and could help us spread the word.


The man who designed the posters for most of the Beatles' significant Merseyside shows is creating one to celebrate the Cavern Club's 60th anniversary.
Tony Booth, who is now 82, was discovered by Beatles manager Brian Epstein on Whitechapel when he was in his early 20s, and he went on to create some of the promotional material which helped to launch their early careers.

...He said: “I hand-painted most of The Beatles gig posters during the early 60s, but the posters also included many other top groups of the time, including Gerry and the Pacemakers, the Undertakers,  the Big Three, the Remo Four – the list is endless.”

Ringo Starr's Twitter account was hi-jacked by pranksters last weekend, resulting in one message saying "f*** the Beatles" and another suggesting One Direction's was "a bit smelly."


In more humiliating Beatles news, Paul McCartney was turned away from a Grammys after-party hosted by Tyga because he wasn't recognized by bouncers.
Paul was joined by Beck and Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins as he got turned away, after which he could be heard joking while sharing his surprise.

'How VIP do we gotta get? We need another hit, guys. We need another hit,' the music icon said, jokingly adding: 'Work on it!'
Tyga, whoever he is, later tweeted:
"Why would I deny @PaulMcCartney stop it. He's a legend," he wrote. "I don't control the door. I had no knowledge SIR PAUL was there. I just performed and left."


A funny story from Giles Martin, who'd stuck a news article about his involvement in the Beatles' "Love" show on his refrigerator.
“A few months ago, my housekeeper pulled the story off the fridge and read it,” Martin said, laughing. “I come home, and she says to me, ‘You know Paul McCartney?’ She seriously had no idea who I was or what I did, and she’s been working for me for more than a year.”

“Then she says, ‘I walked by Abbey Road (studios) and saw where they walked across the street (for the “Abbey Road” cover shoot) and saw the outside of the studios,’”
Martin said. “I said, ‘You know, you can go inside. You can tour it.”

So Martin wound up taking his housekeeper on a tour of Abbey Road. She was positively thrilled.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Artifact: Tom Palmer's cover art for Marvel Comics' "The Beatles Story," 1978

New book: The Beatles Invade Cincinnati by Scott "Belmo" Belmer

Out now.
There was no rock music act in the Sixties bigger than The Beatles. Press conference for their American tours were unprecedented for its time. In "The Beatles Invade Cincinnati", fans will relive The Beatles invasion of America as seen through the eyes of reporters, photographers, fans and many of those lucky few intimately involved in The Beatles' tour of America. The Beatles performed in Cincinnati in 1964 and 1966 and both momentous events are thoroughly covered in this book. Whether you attended one of the concerts in Cincinnati or are a fan of The Beatles, this book will enlighten and entertain you. Over 150 pages filled with rare photos, newspaper articles, interviews, and reproductions of rarely seen collectables.

Scott Belmer (aka Belmo) is the author of seven books on The Beatles and was the editor and publisher of "Belmo's Beatleg News" for fifteen years. He has guested on CNN and numerous TV and radio programs as a Beatles historian/author.

Video: Miloš Karadaglić performs "Come Together"

Video: Paul McCartney on Abbey Road Studios THIS IS YOUR LIFE - November 6, 1974

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Artifact: George Harrison handwritten letter to sitar instructor, 1967

Via Heritage Auctions:

Shambhu Das assisted Ravi Shankar in teaching George Harrison the sitar beginning in 1966. When Harrison was given the commission to compose the soundtrack to the film Wonderwall, he envisioned the project as a way of introducing the West to his beloved Indian music. He contacted Das to help perform, recruit musicians, and aid in the recording of his songs during potential sessions in Bombay.

Recording had begun on November 22 at Abbey Road Studios, continued during several days in December and January, before moving to Bombay in January.

This letter brings Das up to date about his plans for these Indian sessions saying that he was "...having difficulty with the people from the film company...".

These were budgetary problems; the entire budget for the soundtrack was £600 against a final cost of £15,000 with George making up the difference out of his own pocket. He then lets Das know that he would "...tell you how many musicians of each kind I will require." This was done in a telegram dated December 29, 1967.

Harrison then inquires about the equipment: "Can you tell me what the equipment is like in the independent studio? Is it 1, 2, or 4 tracks." It turned out to be a mono recorder converted to two tracks and was hand-delivered on a train from Calcutta to Bombay.

He then congratulates Das on the birth of his baby and closes the letter with an apology about the delay, citing money problems: "Sorry about my delay, but I really cant do anything until I am sure that they pay for all these things." George did end up flying to Bombay after the first of January and the sessions took place from January 9th through 14th. Finishing touches were done back at Abbey Road in January and February, just before George and John flew to India with their wives to take part in Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's Transcendental Meditation course.

Claremont Drive.


Dear Shambhu,

Thank you for your very quick reply.

At the moment I am having difficulty with the people from the film company and I cant go ahead now until that business is cleared up. I still think I will come to Bombay, but now not until after 1st January. I will write you again when I know the exact time I can come, and I will give you enough time to arrange these things, and also tell you how many musicians of each kind I will require. Can you tell me what the equipment is like in the independent studio? Is it 1, 2, or 4 tracks.

Lots of congratulations for you & Gowri for your baby, that really was a big surprise. I hope you are all very well.

I will keep you in touch, as to what (and when) I will do about this music.

Lots of Love from


Sorry about my delay, but I really cant do anything until I am sure that they pay for all these things.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Beatles Bits: Weekly news roundup

Paul McCartney discusses his latest project, recording music to accompany Valentine's Day emoji available on Skype, with Wired mag.
McCartney said that he was speculative about the concept, but found it rewarding in practice. "The first thing is deciding whether I want to do it or not. Is it just too silly to even get involved in? But there is a kind-of-challenging aspect to it," he tells WIRED. Working at his Hog Hill Mill studio in Sussex, he started using a Moog synthesiser. "I ran right through the 20, and gave my first thought as to what the interpretation in music would be of that certain emotion," he says. "Of course the fun was trying to pack them in under five seconds."


Paul McCartney is brewing beer on his English estate.
The Beatles legend, 73, named the ale Old Stinkhorn after a phallic-shaped mushroom which also grows on his farm.

The concoction is bottled on his land in East Sussex and given as gifts to colleagues and friends.

A new report estimates that Liverpool rakes in £81.9 million (approximately $118 million) each year from Beatles-related tourism and that amount is increasing 15 percent annually. Beatles tourism also supports more than 2,000 jobs in the city.
Lead author of the report, Professor Simeon Yates at the Institute of Cultural Capital, said: “This report clearly indicates the importance of The Beatles as a cultural and economic resource to the city of Liverpool.

“In all the interviews we conducted there was a strong belief that the city would go on attracting visitors through its Beatles connection long into the future.

“However, underpinning the economic impact and the cultural value of The Beatles heritage is a positive experience for fans, visitors and citizens, and the city needs to maintain standards in its efforts to promote this legacy.

“There is a risk to the city’s reputation if it does not ensure that the quality of services, attractions and products are maintained by all those who come into contact with visitors wanting to explore and access the heritage of The Beatles.”

Paul McCartney tweaked the lyrics to one of his old songs in a video message meant to generate support for the Evening Standard newspaper's campaign to raise funds for the 164-year-old Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.
In a video message on the Evening Standard website, Sir Paul says: “This is a message on behalf of the Great Ormond Street Hospital. I want to thank everybody who has donated to their latest campaign and has given money to keep this great hospital and the great work it does going.
“I also want to congratulate the hospital itself on its 164th anniversary. Wow! Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m 164?”

...  Sir Paul, 73, has supported the hospital for many years, paying a surprise visit to the wards, performing karaoke with patients and attending one of the Christmas parties for the children.

Rare pictures of the Beatles performing in Dublin in 1963 have been unearthed in an Irish newspaper photo archive.


Beatles scholar Aaron Krerowicz, who has published two short books on aspects of the band's legacy, is embarking on a speaking tour of U.S. cities. You can see his schedule here.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Artifact: John Lennon handwritten letter on Apple stationary, 1971

Via Heritage Auctions:

Incredible letter hand-scrawled in Lennon's quirky script, on Apple Memorandum letterhead (with hand-drawn doodles of John & Yoko in the upper right corner!), addressed to couple Patricia & Thomas. In 1971, after gaining inspiration from the book Primal Scream by Arthur Janov, the young couple wrote to Janov inquiring on the cost of the new form of therapy. They were dismayed at the astronomical amount given by Janov, and decided to write John Lennon, asking for his assistance, as they were also influenced by the Primal Scream therapy-inspired Plastic Ono Band album. Weeks later, they were pleasantly surprised to receive the rebellious former Beatle's response. The letter reads: "To: Patricia & Thomas, From: Us, Date: Yes, Subject: This & That. Art and Vivian always told us they helped the poor (he practices Marxism!) They also told us they never threw anyone out for not being able to pay. We suggest you get in there first - then let them try and throw you out. If and when they try - show them this letter. Best of luck, don't expect miracles. Love, John & Yoko. '71." With very few known pieces of memorabilia relating to Lennon's Primal Scream therapy, this is a must have rarity, a cherry on the sundae of of any Beatlemaniac/Lennon fan's collection! Measuring 8.5" x 11", it shows some toning from age, and spots of foxing on the right edge. With original envelope.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

New Netflix kids' series "Beat Bugs" features Beatles music

"Beat Bugs," coming to Netflix this summer, is a new children's animated show that incorporates Beatles music into each episode.

The Beatles covers are provided by artists such as Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, Chris Cornell, Sia, James Bay, Birdy, Of Monsters and Men and The Shins and include performances of "Help!", "Lucy In the Sky with Diamonds", "Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band", and "Magical Mystery Tour."

Videos: Paul McCartney provides music for Skype Valentine's Day Mojis


Today, a collaboration has been announced between the world's most celebrated living musician and its foremost video chat and online communication platform: Paul McCartney and Skype have partnered to launch a new range of animated love themed Moji’s for Valentine’s Day featuring exclusive new McCartney music coupled with Skype’s animated designs. This new set contains ten specially created Moji’s.

Paul McCartney’s career is unparalleled. His music has reached hundreds of millions of people globally, spanning generations. Be it through live performances, composing pop songs, classical works, electronic music, film themes and scores, and most recently composing for the most anticipated video game of the last decade – Destiny, Paul has continued to explore new ways to reach people. Paul’s music brings people together and breaks down language and cultural barriers.

Mojis are short animated clips that you can use during Skype chats when words just aren’t enough. These Moji’s will be completely unique to hundreds of millions of Skype users and feature sound as well as video, giving the users chat a whole new dimension. This collaboration will allow Skype users to use this medium to convey love through music in a new and original way.

Skype has long since been used by people all over the world to communicate and share personal moments. Like music, Skype can be used anywhere in the world to share the love, regardless of the user’s location. Visual emoticons have become increasingly more popular in recent years and have been used to communicate everyday emotions. Today’s announcement marks the launch of a new kind of digital expression – the audio emoticon. Music has always had the power to express a range of different feelings and sharing an audio emoticon is a fun way of expressing feelings via brand new Paul McCartney music.

Paul was set a brief by Skype to compose for specific emotions. More used to writing chart-topping songs around the three-minute mark than expressing an emotion musically in a number of seconds Paul embraced the task.

Talking about the experience Paul said: “It turned out to be a great laugh at the same time as challenging because you suddenly realise you’ve got to compress a musical interpretation of an expression into less than five seconds. It was like doing a huge crossword puzzle and coming up with all these solutions. And at the same time it was musical so it was great practise for me in the studio.”

Paul recorded his compositions over a week at his Hog Hill Mill studio in Sussex. Using a variety of instruments including guitars, keyboards, drums, xylophone and his voice. In order to give the whole set a signature sound Paul started the compositions on a Moog synthesizer, Paul explained: “I wanted it to sound sort of electronic so I wanted the signature to sound electronic rather than acoustic guitar, for instance. So I got the overall signature on the Moog in order to give it a modern flavor.”

Speaking about the collaboration Gurdeen Pall, Corporate Vice President at Skype said: “As one of the most iconic artists of all time, Paul McCartney is known for expressing his passion through music. When it comes to composing love songs there is no other artist in the world who has a better track record. Paul’s music has touched the hearts of millions of people all over the world. We are thrilled to lend some of his magic to a set of Mojis conveying the world’s most powerful emotion, love, through music and art. It was a great creative challenge for us to create the animations to match his legendary sound”.

Artifact: Beatles signed world premiere program for "A Hard Day's Night"

Monday, February 8, 2016

Upcoming Beatles books

A couple of upcoming releases:

With a Love Like That: The Beatles and the Women Who Loved Themby Michael Feeney Callan
Hachette Books, 288 pages

Out Oct. 4, 2016

Here, for the first time, is an intimate look inside the Beatles and their relationships with their muses, the eight women who shared the Beatles' lives from their teens, through Beatle-mania to the breakup. In evaluating the lives of these storied women, the book charts unrecorded collaborations and the startlingly revelatory autobiographical nature of the band's most famous songs. It also unfolds as an eye-opening alternative history of the forces that brought the Beatles together and ultimately tore them apart.

Readers will learn of eight women who were the key Beatles' lovers: Cynthia Powell, Mo Cox, Iris Caldwell, Dot Rhone, Jane Asher, Pattie Boyd, Yoko Ono, and Linda Eastman. In new interviews, numerous key players in the Beatles' story, among them many previously off the record, will recount the truth of their private lives, revealing a side of the Beatles never before seen.

Beatles '66
by Steve Turner
Ecco Books, 400 pages

Out Nov. 1

No details, yet, but Turner is the author of the very good "A Hard Day's Write: The Stories Behind Every Beatles' Song," so it sounds promising based on the writer and title alone. We'll provide more info as we get it.