Friday, October 28, 2016

Beatles Bits: Weekly News Roundup

A draft letter John Lennon sent Queen Elizabeth II when returning his M.B.E. medal in 1969 has been valued at £60,000 at a Beatles memorabilia fair in Liverpool.
The letter was discovered tucked away inside the sleeve of a record that was part of a collection of 45s, which was picked up for £10 at a car boot sale 20 years ago. It was recently discovered in the owner’s attic who wishes to remain anonymous.

Darren Julien of Julien’s Auctions who led the day at the Beatles Story said: “We’ll be doing some further research but this could be the Beatles find of the year. There is no doubt that the handwriting is definitely that of John Lennon.

“You can quite clearly see that the signature in this letter has been smudged. My theory is that John Lennon never sent this draft because of the smeared ink. If you’re writing to The Queen, you want the letter to look pretty perfect, you don’t want the ink to be smudged.

“This suggests that he wrote a second version of the letter, which was the one that was actually sent to The Queen.”

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Sgt. Pepper cover artist Sir Peter Blake will decorate a pair of boats for London's Grand Union Canal.
Westminster City Council gave planning permission for the boats, which will be moored opposite the Hammersmith and City line entrance to Paddington Station and decorated by the artist best known for created the album cover for The Beatles’ St Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
One boat will be used as a cafe with an exhibition space and additional seating on the roof, while the other will have a dual retail and restaurant use with tables and chairs on the roof.
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Paul McCartney has contributed a new song to the soundtrack of the upcoming animated feature "Ethel and Ernest," adapted from Raymond Briggs' 1998 storybook of the same name, The Telegraph reports.
McCartney's new song, titled In the Blink of An Eye, plays over the end credits of the movie.
Getting one of the most famous names in pop music to write a track for your film might sound like a bit of a daunting challenge but Ethel and Ernest director Roger Mainwood says he had an advantage: McCartney was already a fan of Briggs's work
"I knew that Paul McCartney was a big animation fan and I knew that Raymond Briggs's book Fungus the Bogeyman had influenced Paul's 1980s track Bogey Music," he explained. "So I asked Raymond if he might write a letter to Paul to see if he was interested in composing a track for Ethel and Ernest,  which he did on Fungus the Bogeyman headed paper!"
The soundtrack is available for pre-order via Amazon UK, but not yet in the U.S.

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Here's nice shot of Paul McCartney and daughters Stella and Mary taken during Paul's recent Desert Trip appearances:


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The Beatles' attorneys are moving to quash a "meritless" lawsuit filed by the estate of promoter Sid Bernstein over rights to a film documenting the band's famed 1965 performance at Shea Stadium.
Michael A. Kolcun, of law film Robins Kaplan, calls the suit “frivolous” and “entirely meritless” and says Bernstein “had no control over or input into the filming of the concert or in the production of the resulting film, The Beatles at Shea Stadium“, which was first shown in 1967.
The original complaint, by Sid Bernstein Presents, claims Bernstein retained the copyright to the the footage, despite The Beatles’ film-distribution company, Subafilms – with Apple Corps, one of two defendants in the case – obtaining a copyright registration in 1988.
“This case is an entirely meritless attempt by the corporate successor of the promoter of The Beatles’ celebrated concert at Shea Stadium, Sid Bernstein, to claim over fifty years after the fact that Bernstein was somehow an author and copyright owner of the film of that concert,” reads Robins Kaplan’s statement. “This is in spite of the following facts: 
“First, Bernstein’s contract with The Beatles’ management company, Nems Enterprises Ltd (the predecessor-in-interest of defendants Apple and Subafilms), explicitly provided that: ‘[Bernstein] agrees to exclude from the premises and particularly from the immediate vicinity of the stage and the backstage areas all TV cameras, and/or photographers with motion-picture cameras and/or tape recorders unless specifically authorised by [Nems] […] [Nems] shall have the sole and exclusive right to photograph, film, videotape and/or record the performance of THE BEATLES and the entire supporting show during this engagement and any receipts derived therefrom shall belong exclusively to [Nems].
“Second, plaintiff admits that Bernstein had no control over or input into the filming of the concert or in the production of the resulting film, The Beatles at Shea Stadium.
Finally, plaintiff admits that Bernstein, throughout the nearly fifty years after the Shea Stadium concert until his death in 2013, never asserted any claim of authorship or copyright ownership in the film of the concert – which first aired nationally in 1967 – despite the consistent, notorious and exclusive claims of ownership by Nems, Apple and Subafilms, all of which excluded Bernstein from any receipts from their various exploitations of the film.
“As a matter of simple contract law, copyright law and the application of the statute of limitations, plaintiff – claiming to have received a general grant of Bernstein’s intellectual property rights – has brought an utterly frivolous claim for rights Bernstein never had. The complaint should be dismissed in its entirety with prejudice.”
A response to the motion for dismissal is due Nov. 2.

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Phil Collins and Paul McCartney are feuding - at least according to Phil.

Collins, in an interview published earlier this month, said Macca acted arrogantly during an encounter 14 years ago, when Collins asked Paul to autograph a copy of Hunter Davies' Beatles biography.
According to Collins, McCartney -- then with second wife Heather Mills -- said, "Oh, Heather, our little Phil's a bit of a Beatles fan," which Collins took offense to.
“He has this thing when he’s talking to you, where he makes you feel [like], ‘I know this must be hard for you because I’m a Beatle. I’m Paul McCartney and it must be very hard for you to actually be holding a conversation with me.’”
Now Collins said Paul has contacted him about the comment:
"He's been in touch about it because he was upset," Collins says. "I certainly didn't get any flowers from him; I got more of a 'Let's just get on with our lives.' And I'm sorry he's upset that I kinda said something nasty about him -- well, it wasn't really nasty. If people don't tell people that sometimes their attitude could be a bit better then you're not gonna get any better, y'know?"
No official statement from Paul or his camp, yet.


Artifact: Beatles concert program featuring the Kinks and High Numbers (a.k.a. The Who": August 16, 1964

Via Heritage Auctions:


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Interview: Author Steve Turner discusses "Beatles '66"

British writer Steve Turner has penned several excellent books about the Beatles, including "A Hard Day's Write: The Stories Behind Every Beatles Song" and the "The Gospel According to the Beatles."

His latest, "Beatles '66," is out this week from Ecco, and is a month-by-month examination of the band's activities during that eventful year. It's a fun and informative read for anyone interested in Beatles history. You can see my review of it in the latest issue of Beatlefan magazine.

Here, Turner discusses the book and some of the new information he's turned up:
What are some of the events or aspects of 1966 that made it such a transitional year for the Beatles?
The big events that made it an important transitional year are the end of touring, the commitment to the studio as the place they’d work out the second half of
their career, the involvement with aspects of the avant garde and the so-called ‘underground,’ the swift visit to India en route from Manila, George’s study under Ravi Shankar, the solo projects of Paul (Family Way soundtrack) and John (How I Won The War), the fuss in America about John’s "Jesus" statement, the threats to their lives and the first meeting between John and Yoko.
 Do you think it was the most transitional year of their career? 
I suppose every year was a transition of some kind, but this was the transition between show business and art; live performance and studio composition; teenage heartthrobs and generational leaders; love songs and social commentary. 
 How did the Beatles change during that year? 
By giving up live performances and taking time off at the start of the year they gave themselves space to think and investigate their own whims. 
There was no longer the need to dress the same, or think the same. They were determined not to repeat themselves, despite the attraction of giving the audience more of what it was crying out for, and took the risk of writing songs that were more reflective of the fact that they were no longer teenagers but young adults. 
The Frank Sinatra generation had become more "grown up" by becoming more world-weary and singing songs about adultery, alcohol and late nights in cocktail bars. The Beatles became more "grown up" by contemplating religion, loneliness, taxation and alternative states of consciousness.

Who were the Beatles at the end 1966 compared to the start of that year?
They were more adult – George married that year, John and RIngo already had children and Paul bought his first home in St. John’s Wood. 
They were also more different to each other. They each pursued their own interests in much more depth. Yet, they brought all their new experiences together to fund the project they were all in love with – the Beatles. 
They weren’t thinking of splitting. They thought that their individual pursuits in such areas as Indian culture, acting, electronics and conceptual art would enrich their work together.
One of the big surprises of your book is the claim that Paul McCartney used LSD much earlier than reported in most accounts, including Paul's own recollections. 
What makes you so certain that the dates you report are accurate? And what is the significance, in your view, of this new revelation?
I knew that Viv Prince of the Pretty Things was with Paul and Tara Browne when Paul first took LSD. Paul has spoken about this. 
I tracked Prince down and he told me that he could remember the night particularly well because he’d met with Paul and Tara at the Ad Lib after travelling back to London from Norwich where he had been deputising for Keith Moon in the Who. 
Having been told that, all I had to do was to be able to date the Who’s show in Norwich which was December 14th 1965, two days after the Beatles’ final UK date in Cardiff. 
I think the significance is that it means that all Paul’s songs on Revolver were written after this experience rather that before (Paul has always dated his first trip to late 1966 or even early 1967). 
It means that "Got To Get You Into My Life" was, as John suspected, about LSD and not, as Paul is on record as saying, about pot (it was the first of Paul’s songs recorded for Revolver and therefore most likely the first song written after the night with Tara). 
It also explains his contribution to "Tomorrow Never Knows" – the strange tape loops he’d become fascinated with. 
Some previous commentators have thought that if he hadn’t taken LSD either before or during the making of this most psychedelic of albums, his performance must have been a result of trying to show George, John and Ringo that he was every bit as capable as they were of creating musical strangeness without having to take drugs.
Aside from the information about Paul and LSD, what surprised you most in your research?
I think there are lots of small surprises that help to build up a bigger picture of what they were doing. 
Even people like Pattie Boyd have told me that there are things in the book that they didn’t know. 
The biggest surprise though to me was the way that Revolver came together without any grand plan. 
They wanted to ‘progress’ – they actually started using that word in 1966 – but other than that they had no theme in mind. They just brought their best songs to the table and recorded them one by one, giving them the best treatment they could think of. 
They were still thrashing about thinking of a title while they toured Germany and Japan, worked out the sequencing while in hotel rooms and had the cover drawn by Klaus Voorman before they knew what it was going to be called. 
Sgt Pepper, which they started to record at the end of 1966, was much more calculated and the cover much more thought-out ahead of time.
One thing I enjoy about your books on the Beatles is the serious focus you place on the group and its members. 
You seem fairly disinterested in gossip or scandal and more interested in the group as artists and historical figures. 
In your opinion, what is the importance of the Beatles, both to the 1960s and to today? Are they still relevant? And, if so, how?
I think you’re right. 
"A Hard Day’s Write" (or "The Complete Beatles Songs," as the lyric version is titled) tells the stories behind the songs, "The Gospel According to the Beatles" looks at what they were saying and I suppose "Beatles ’66" looks at how the culture affected them and how they in turn affected the culture. 
So "Beatles ’66" has elements of the two early books. In many ways it’s a book about creativity – how did this great work arise? 
The Beatles were undoubtedly the leaders of the 60s music scene. I think they are relevant in that so many practices and expectations of music that they established are still in place so that if anyone studies how they worked and what they achieved they will better understand the world today. 
It seems unbelievable that 1966 is half a century ago because the stuff they were involved in seems so current.
Do you plan any additional books on the Beatles? Is so, what is the focus?
I have nothing planned. Ideas like "Beatles ’66" hang around for many years. When I realise that they’re not going away I know that they’ve got to be written. 
It was a challenge, but very rewarding, to concentrate my efforts on one year of their lives because I was able to devote 454 pages to a subject that only takes up 40 pages in a typical Beatles’ biography. 
It gave me the opportunity t dig deeper than most writers have time to and also discuss my findings in a more leisurely way.
You can order "Beatles '66: The Revolutionary Year" from Amazon here.


Artifact: Beatles "Joy" holiday greeting poster

Via Heritage Auctions:

Designed by Rod Dyer as a mail-out gift promotion for record stores, this Beatles poster is a photograph of a collage of sorts with an apple at the center, and a photo of the Beatles to its left, and the names of all four members of the band printed in calligraphy near the bottom edge.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

New official video: Paul McCartney at Desert Trip


Artifact: 1959 letter written by Stu Sutcliffe

Via Heritage Auctions:
Stuart Sutcliffe was a gifted painter more interested in art than music, though he is best remembered as the "Fifth Beatle," as he was the original bassist for the Beatles, and is credited along with John Lennon in naming the band. Sutcliffe quit the Beatles in July 1961 to focus on art full time. He tragically passed less than a year later from an aneurysm, leaving his former bandmates - as well as then girlfriend Astrid Kirchherr - devastated.

Here is a sprawling nine-page letter written in black ink by Sutcliffe, dated October 1959, while attending the Liverpool College of Art. Writing to his friend Sheila, he responds to a previous letter she sent, writing of the nature of excitement, and our need for it. In part: "As you said earlier in your letter nothing exciting ever happens. Things come and go in a very artificial way, we seem constantly to need excitement (that's why I am getting a motor-bike, not a car). I felt I was slowly being suffocated by my work, and I just had to do something about it...Last Saturday there was this party at Brenda's...I must admit it was the most exciting party I have ever been to...It was absolutely packed. Rod went berserk on two different occasions when he tried to strangle Ducky, the police intervened the second time...At one point when about 6 policemen were taking names, half a dozen bright boys pinched one of their cars." Sutcliffe goes on to write about how college life is warming up "mostly due to the efforts of Elvis Presley and co., on records at lunch time rock meetings." The remaining pages are filled with talk of drinking, art, school, and of Sheila, offering a candid, warm glimpse into the mind and world of the "Fifth Beatle."


Friday, October 14, 2016

Paul plays tiny gig in California

Paul McCartney and his band entertained a crowd of 300 in Pioneertown, California's Pappy and Harriett's Saloon last night.
“Welcome to Pappy and Harriet’s,” said McCartney, wearing a white long-sleeve shirt and suspenders with no jacket. “This is the biggest gig we ever played!

“We thought it would be a good idea to come out to a little roadhouse like this.”

... McCartney played a significantly different set than he played Saturday at Desert Trip. He added the Wings songs, “Band on the Run” and “Feel Like Letting Go,” and Beatles songs such as “Yer Birthday” (sic) and “I Saw Her Standing There," which was the final encore of the 90-minute show. 
See the set list here.

Below are a couple of pics from Paul's Instagram:




Thursday, October 13, 2016

George Harrison Unicef Fund will double donations for hurricane relieve

A charity fund named in honor of George Harrison is offering to double donations people make to help those in Haiti affected by Hurricane Matthew.

You can donate here.





Wednesday, October 12, 2016

British singer Joe Brown recalls friendship with George Harrison

Joe Brown, whose Bruvvers shared bills with the Beatles in the early 1960s and who performed at the Concert for George tribute recalls his friendship with George Harrison:
“What we had in common was that neither of us was a musical snob. Music was music and if it came from the heart, it was good. We liked music that went way back – like George Formby, Hoagy Carmichael. Real music.” What made George Harrison such a true friend? “Ukuleles!” says Joe. “We both love ukuleles. George ended up as my best man and he certainly was an’ all. He was a wonderful friend and I miss him every day."

Video: Lego unveils Beatles "Yellow Submarine" set

Lego is set to release a 550+-piece "Yellow Submarine" set on Nov. 1. Here's a fun teaser video, followed by pics.

The set is part of Lego's ongoing Ideas Line, which produces sets proposed and voted on by Lego builders/collectors.



Friday, October 7, 2016

New Yoko interview in the NME

Read it here.
John was very concerned with the idea of justice. Where did that come from?
I don’t know. I think it’s him. I think it had to do with the fact that he was considered Liverpool/Irish – which was the dirt, which was the worst. His father was Liverpool/Irish, his mother was English. So he related to the persecuted people in the sense and he was one of them as well.

It’s like how much he cared about women – there’s a book by Elizabeth Gould Davis called The First Sex about what women have done in history, and how things have been swung around to be credited to men. Me and John tried really hard to get this book in the 1970s, but it was sold out everywhere in New York. Then one morning I woke up and John was sitting in bed crying. He’d woken up early, got the book and read it while I was asleep. He just said, ‘I didn’t know’.

Monday, October 3, 2016

See pics and read a chapter from Mark Lewisohn's new book about the Beatles' "A Hard Day's Night"

Phaidon is providing a sneak peek at the upcoming coffee table book "The Beatles' 'A Hard Day's Night': A Private Archive" via its website.

Details:
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.


Artifact: The Beatles' "Yellow Submarine" lobby card set


"Eight Days a Week" held over for third week in theaters

"The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years" is doing amazingly well in U.S. theaters, where its run has stretched to three weeks now, beyond the originally intended two days in advance of the film's streaming premiere on Hulu.

Billboard's Beatles expert Steve Marinucci reports that the film's box office take to date is $2,088,918. Not shabby, considering the theater showing were merely considered a teaser to the film's arrival on Hulu.