Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Ringo Starr makes cameo in new "Popstar" parody film

Ringo Starr is among celebrities making cameo appearances in the new mockumentary "Popstar" from actor Andy Samberg and producer Judd Apatow. The film opens this weekend.

The film stars Samberg as a Bieber-like singer, along with his backup vocalists played by Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer.

Along with Ringo, the movie include cameos by Mariah Carey and Justin Timberlake.
How did they get them onboard? “All kind of ways,” said Samberg. “Some of them were people we worked with before so we would just call them, or email them. Some we did through reps, some people like Ringo Starr, Judd Apatow was the one who called.”

Jorma added, “We don’t have his number.”

“Yeah, we don’t have Ringo on speed dial,” Samberg said. “But yeah, we just sort of cast a really wide net and had a huge list of people we would love to be a part of it and we were actually really fortunate, a lot of them said yes – clearly, a ton of people.”

New from Genesis Publications: "Songs By George Harrison" pocket edition

Available for order now from Genesis Publications:
In 1985, George Harrison was introduced to artist Keith West and so began a collaboration to produce a stunning set of watercolours illustrating the composer's many memorable songs. West, one of the finest botanical watercolour artists in the world, soon found himself travelling regularly from his cottage in North Wales to Oxfordshire to discuss the interpretations of Harrison's song lyrics to prepare his illustrations. The result, "Songs by George Harrison" was published in February 1988 as a songbook of lyrics and commentary with fine watercolour illustrations and hand-drawn lettering.

Described in the book's original prospectus as a 'superb collection of art... with small paintings that possess an irresistible charm', Songs by George Harrison was limited to 2,500 copies and sold out very quickly. Harrison explained, 'in a world of crass, disposable junk, it's meant to be a lovely thing'.

"The Songs by George Harrison" pocket edition features over 100 pages of selections from the original, includes written contributions from Jeff Lynne and Elton John, and is the first chance in over twenty years to see and own this beautiful book.

New Paul McCartney virtual reality video: "Early Days"

Artifact: Beatles Harrogate Royal Hall Concert Program, 1963

Via Heritage Auctions:
A 6.5" x 8" eight-page souvenir programme on cardstock from this single date concert sandwiched between the Helen Shapiro and Tommy Roe/ Chris Montez tours. It contains photos and bios of the Beatles as well as the other acts, Barry Corbett and his Mustangs and Ricky Fenton and the Apaches. Promoter Derek Arnold had booked this Yorkshire show the previous December on the strength of their first single, "Love Me Do / P.S. I Love You" which reached Number 17. By the date of the concert, they had climbed the charts to Number One with "Please Please Me / Ask Me Why" though their first LP had not yet been released. They were reportedly paid £50 (with an additional £25 going to Brian Epstein) and didn't even get to spend the night as their previous and following shows were each hundreds of miles apart.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Artifacts: Original Dezo Hoffman Beatles photo contact sheets

Via Heritage Auctions:
Two 10" x 8" b&w photo sheets, each containing twelve 2.25" square images made from original Kodak Safety Film negative strips. One of the sheets consists of twelve images of Ringo seated and the others gathered around and includes the shot used for the American "I Want To Hold Your Hand" picture sleeve. This one has small red numbers handwritten on each image and a "Copyright Photo/ Dezo Hoffman Ltd. rubber stamp on the verso. It is in Very Fine condition with only light wear. The other contact sheet consists of three standing gag shots and nine images of them seated in four different chairs. There are numbers and crop marks on various of these images. Multiple rubber stamps on the verso, both Dezo Hoffman's and Rex Features Ltd. Wear and light creases, Very Good. The third item is a glossy postcard-size photo with individual headshot images and facsimile autographs with a Dezo Hoffman stamp on verso.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

History: Beatles Book Monthly May 1966

While providing no explicit details about the Beatles in-production new LP (Revolver), the May 1966 issue of the group's official magazine mentions that band has been busy in the studio.

Contrary to an article in the mag's previous issue that mentioned the group's interest in recording in the U.S. - potentially Stax Studios in Memphis - the lead editorial makes clear that these sessions are taking place at Abbey Road:

In the Beatles Talk section, however, George Harrison again mentions that he'd still like to record in Memphis at some point:

Unfortunately, the band never made good on the plan.

George also discusses his continuing interest in Indian music:

The Beatles News section, meanwhile, includes an item about a new Beatle-model Vox amplifier:

... Ringo sympathizing with fans about Capitol Records' slicing and dicing of the band's British LPs:

... along with an article about the group's planned summer U.S. tour, which notes that a scheduled engagement in Philadelphia's JFK Stadium, a larger venue than Shea Stadium but will be attended by fewer people:

and, finally, this mention of the group's ever evolving-style changes:

Tune in next time, when we'll learn more about the group's next single, album and tour.

John and Paul with Beatles assistant Neil Aspinall (center) and press officer Tony Barrow (back to camera)

Ringo posts video for new cystic fibrosis campaign

Ringo Starr is among the celebrities supporting a new campaign launched by singer Richard Marx to raise awareness of the lung disease cystic fibrosis.
Marx’s “Take a Breath for CF” campaign, which officially kicks off today, May 27, encourages social media users to post videos of themselves taking a breath in and a breath out and saying, “I’m taking a breath for CF.” It’s an effort to raise awareness of the disease and collect donations to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
Here is Ringo's video:

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Things We Said Today podcast #185

Allan, Ken, Al and Steve begin this week's episode by following up on last week's interview with Philip Norman and giving opinions about the book "McCartney: The Life," then give some thoughts about the Mark Lewisohn - Conan O'Brien interview, and the connections of Bob Dylan and Brian Wilson with the Beatles.

Pop Artifact: 1974 letter - signed by all four Beatles - authorizing rights to three Indian music albums

Via Heritage Auctions:

A one page document, 8" x 13", in which the rights, titles, and all interests in three albums are transferred, for a consideration of £100 (noted as received), from Apple Corps Limited to Ganga Distributors, B. V. Signed at the close as Apple Corps Directors: "Paul McCartney", "George Harrison", "R Starkey", and "John Lennon". The albums named were Ravi Shankar's Raga and In Concert 1972 as well as The Radha Krishna Temple, an album of Hindu devotional songs. 


To: Ganga Distributors B.V.
Dear Sirs 
In consideration of the sum of £100 receipt of which is hereby acknowledged we hereby assign to you all our right, title and interest including the copyright (if any) in the following recordings made by us subject to our continuing right to sell off inventory for our own account and your right to first refusal of purchase of such inventory at cost and to your indemnifying us against any adverse tax consequences of this assignment: 
L.P. Album Raga (Distributed in the United States only)
L.P. Album In Concert Sapcor 1002
L.P. Album Radha Krishna Temple Apple 3376 
This assignment is subject to all necessary Exchange Control consents being obtained. 
Yours faithfully, 
[signed] Paul McCartney
[signed] George Harrison
[signed] R Starkey
[signed] John Lennon 
Directors for and on behalf of APPLE CORPS LIMITED

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Hear Sean Lennon's new album with Les Claypool

Sean Lennon has recorded a new LP with Primus' Les Claypool. You can have a free listen at Rolling Stone now. The mag also has a fun interview with the pair.

The album, The Claypool Lennon Delirium, is out June 3. And the pair is hitting the road to support it (including a stop in my town!).
Claypool: A big inspiration was us sitting down and watching the Monkees' Head.

Lennon: Head is, like, my bible. Any project or important thought I've ever had was inspired by Head. We were talking about the amazing revelation that Buzz [Aldrin] revealed on C-SPAN. He said, "There's a monolith on Phobos with a tiny, potato-shaped moon that's revolving around Mars." It's the most mind-blowing thing I've ever seen on television. We were just hanging out watching that video, and Les came back the next day with a full song about it.

Claypool: Sean is like Encyclopedia Brown. He's full of these little nuggets of weird information. He throws them at me and I'm dazzled. He started talking about the monolith on Phobos and showed me the Buzz Aldrin video. Because I'm not a science, techie guy, I was more inspired by the human element of an elderly astronaut and his perception of what's going on in the universe.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Preview video: Paul McCartney uses virtual reality to plug new best-of compilation

Paul McCartney is debuting a series of six virtual reality teasers focused on different songs included in his upcoming Pure McCartney best-of release. Here's a preview:

The 360-degree VR teasers can be see with the Jaunt app on iPhone, Adroid and other devices. You can download Jaunt here.

See Paul McCartney on BBC's "Master Tapes"

BBC 4 presents a 46-minute program featuring performances and an interview with Paul here.

Artifact: Vintage Odeon "We Can Work it Out" picture sleeve

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Upcoming book: "The Beatles' A Hard Day's Night: A Private Archive" by Mark Lewisohn

Out in September.


 In March of 1964 director Richard Lester began shooting A Hard Day's Night, a black-and-white feature film starring the Beatles. With slapstick humor and a fantastic soundtrack, the movie imagines the excitement and chaos of thirty-six hours in the life of the Fab Four, and stars John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, with Wilfrid Brambell portraying McCartney's grandfather.  The Making of A Hard Day's Night is a collection of photographs and rare ephemera that documents the band on set and behind the scenes. This private archive captures the infectious energy and anarchic spirit of this groundbreaking film.  An authoritative essay and lively captions by Beatles’ historian Mark Lewisohn provide context and explores its impact and enduring legacy.
284 pages.

Remix of Paul McCartney's "Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five" now available

The remix versions of Paul McCartney's "Nineteen Hundred and Eight Five" released on a mysterious, bootlegesque "white label" 12-inch recording is now being made more widely available.

A 12-inch featuring the two remixes of the song, plus a radio edit is out May 27 and available for pre-order from Amazon UK (no U.S. listing, yet). Or, you can download an MP3 album of the three tracks from Amazon US right now.

The "white label" pressing, which was quietly approved by Paul, was released back in March and limited to only 300 copies worldwide.  The remixes are the work of DJ Timon Maas and producer James Teej.

History: Beatles make "Paperback Writer" and "Rain" promo films - May 19-20, 1966

On May 19 and 20, the Beatles and TV director Michael Lindsay-Hogg, later to helm their "Let it Be" film, made a series of promo videos to plug their upcoming single "Paperback Writer" backed with "Rain."

They made a few videos for each song, taped in black and white at Abbey Road Studios, on May 19. These were later broadcast on "The Ed Sullivan Show" and the British programs "Goodbye Lucky Stars" and "Ready, Steady, Go!"

But the most memorable visual versions of the songs were filmed the following day at Chiswick House and Gardens, a 65-acre heritage site in West London. Aired only once each, in black and white, on "Top of the Pops" they capture the band on a beautiful, sunny spring day at their mid-60s prime. They look glorious on the recently released Beatles 1+ video collection.

If you look closely, you can see Paul's chipped front tooth, the result of falling off a moped in Liverpool the previous December and the reason he eventually grew his Sgt. Pepper mustache, with all the rest of the band following suit.

Paul was hanging out with Guinness Beer heir Tara Browne at the time of the accident. Browne, himself, later died in a car accident, which was referenced in "A Day in the Life," and the conflation of Paul's accident and Browne's ultimately became fodder for the "Paul is Dead" rumors of 1969.

Chiswick House, naturally, is celebrating the Beatles' visit there this month with a talk and numerous articles.

Here's the story of a gardener present at the time, while this article features interviews with a number of visitors who witnessed the video filming. And here's one about a schoolgirl who had a chance to meet the group at the time.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Beatles Bits: Weekly news update

Beatle kids: Sean Lennon posted a nice pic of himself with Stella McCartney on his Facebook page this week, likely taken during their attendance at the George Martin memorial service in London. Mary McCartney took the photo. Paul McCartney and, reportedly, Yoko Ono, were also in attendance.


Allan Williams, who played a vital role in booking the Beatles' early shows, including their first engagement in Hamburg, Germany, has been named a Liverpool Citizen of Honor.
“Of course I remember those days, there was a lot of fun and excitement in the swinging sixties,” he said.
“But we didn’t know we were creating history, that we were creating world history and the Beatles would become world famous. That is still a complete shock to me.
“The fact the group is still at the top doesn’t surprise me, having known them for that long. They deserve it and I can’t see anything topping them.
“Was I miffed at Brian Epstein coming in as their manager? No,  not really.  I was proud if anything. I more or less did all the ground work for them.
“When Brian Epstein took over he didn’t discover them. They were going for years before he took over. So I am really responsible for the most important years, their formative years. 
“I don’t hear from Paul or Ringo, nothing at all. I don’t even know where they live.”
Williams with former Beatles Fan Club Secretary Freda Kelly

A second weekend of shows has been added to the Desert Trip super festival at the Coachella site in Indio, Calif., this October.

The lineup, which includes Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones, the Who and Neil Young, will perform on Oct. 7-9 and again Oct. 14-16.


Paul McCartney visited the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts earlier this week, causing a stir among the school's students on social media.

The performing arts school was founded and funded by Paul at the site of his former high school, the Liverpool Institute, which was also attended by George Harrison.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

"George Fest" tribute show airing on U.S. PBS stations

The "Georgefest" tribute concert held at the Fonda Theater in Los Angeles is now airing on U.S. PBS stations. Check your local listings. Performers include Brian Wilson, Norah Jones, Dhani Harrison, Ann Wilson of Heart, Ben Harper, Wayne Coyne and Steven Drozd of The Flaming Lips, Brian Bell of Weezer and more.

Artifact: Italian movie poster for "Yellow Submarine"