Saturday, September 30, 2017

50 years ago today: George Martin's "Theme One" launches BBC Radio 1

Fifty years ago today, the BBC (sort of) shrugged off its stuffy mantle and entered the world of pop music radio.

Radio 1 launched in response to the popularity of England's pirate radio stations. At a time when there were few commercial alternatives to the government-run Beeb, the likes of Radio London and Radio Caroline broadcast the latest pop music from ships parked in international waters off the nation's cost.

The pirate stations took their cues from American Top 40 radio, with chatty deejays, chart tunes and snappy jingles, and Radio 1 assumed the same template.

Artists such as Jimi Hendrix and The Who recorded jingles for the new station and George Martin composed and recorded its theme song, the groovy orch-psych instrumental "Theme One."

"Theme One" was the first music listeners to the new station heard following an initial welcome from BBC Controller Sir Robin Scott. After the theme, chirpy deejay Tony Blackburn came on to introduce the first proper tune of the day, "Flowers in the Rain," by the Move.

"Theme One" was played on Radio 1 at the start of each broadcast day through the mid 1970s and was later featured on the station in a cover version recorded by Van Der Graaf Generator.

You can hear the original version on the highly recommended Produced by George Martin box set.

The BBC is celebrating Radio 1's anniversary this weekend with a "pop-up station" that will replicate Blackburn's first broadcast and air highlights from the station's history. Listen here.

They are the eggmen: Vintage Beatles egg cup

Friday, September 29, 2017

Beatles news roundup: Beatles' barber speaks; Kraftwerk bigger than the Fabs; So long, Billy Hatton; "Eight Days a Week" coming to PBS

The Beatles' hairdresser during the late 1960s, Leslie Cavendish, has a new book out. Here's an interview from The Daily Express.

“There’s one headline that reads ‘Barber who made Paul a skinhead’ and I had to trace it back in my head to late 1966 when he was going on safari with Jane.

"He’d got his Beatles mop cut and was worried he’d be recognised everywhere on holiday so I told him that we’d have to disguise him by cutting it all off.


Billy Hatton, bassist of Liverpool's the Fourmost, passed away this week, The Guardian reports. Hatton's band was the second group after the Beatles signed to Brian Epstein's NEMS roster.

Their first hits, Hello Little Girl and I’m In Love, released later that year, were produced by George Martin and written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Hatton’s relationship with Lennon was strained, however, as he had stopped the Beatle from beating up the Cavern Club’s DJ Bob Wooler at Paul McCartney’s 21st birthday party. “Lennon deserved a smack, no doubt about that,” Hatton said, “but someone shouted out: ‘Billy, if you hit him, your career will be over!’”

Hatton is on the right, below.


Paul McCartney sang a tune from Disney's "Little Mermaid" with Emma Stone and Alan Cumming at a small club earlier this week.

According to one blessed attendee, Cumming asked that the audience not record the performance with their phones, but "with their hearts." After channeling Ariel, McCartney played some tunes on the harmonica, and the three hit the dancefloor for ABBA, Donna Summer and beyond. 


German synth-pop Kraftwerk are now more influential than the Beatles, per this LA Weekly article.

If you think I’m off base, try this: Put on any damn pop station (and I’m not talking about college radio or Sirius specialty channels, I’m talking about freaking hear-it-in-the-gym, drunk-people-sticking-their-head-through-the-top-of-the-rented-limo pop radio): Nearly every song bears the imprint of Kraftwerk’s invention. 


Marleybone Town Hall in London will re-open for weddings in early 2018, according to Richard Porter. It is site to several Beatles weddings, including Paul and Linda, Ringo and Barbara and Paul and Nancy.


PBS stations will air the "Eight Days a Week" touring years documentary Nov. 25 at 8 p.m. ET, followed by an encore broadcast of “Sgt. Pepper’s Musical Revolution” 10:30 p.m. ET., reports Variety.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

George Martin instrumental works set for new album - video preview

George Martin: the Film Scores and Original Orchestral Compositionsout Nov. 10 on the Atlas Realisations label, collects newly recorded instrumental works by the late Beatles producer.


This recording collects - for the first time - the major orchestral works of iconic composer, arranger and producer George Martin. Performed by the Berlin Music Ensemble conducted by Craig Leon, the album features music from the films Yellow Submarine, Live and Let Die and the previously unrecorded choral and orchestral score for The Mission. Also included are the Overture to Under Milk Wood, the suite Three American Sketches and other previously unreleased original compositions. 

The music is performed by the Berlin Music Ensemble under the direction of Craig Leon.

Here's a preview video:

And here's the tracklist:

       1. Pepperland
  2. March of the Meanies
  3. Sea of Holes
  4. Sea of Monsters
  5. Pepperland Reprise
  6. Whisper Who Dares
  7. Bond Meets Solitaire
  8. Snakes Alive
  9. Baron Samedi's Dance of Death
  10. Westward Look!
  11. Old Boston
  12. New York, New York
  13. Judy's Theme
  14. Under Milk Wood (Main Theme)
  15. Love Duet
  16. Waldo's Song
  17. Belle Étoile
  18. Waltz in D Minor for Flute and Chamber Orchestra
  19. Prelude for Strings
  20. Prelude
  21. Chorale 1
  22. Chorale 2
  23. Orchestral Interlude
  24. Chorale 3
  25. Chorale 4
  26. Orchestral Interlude 2
  27. Chorale 5
  28. Chorale 6
  29. Chorale 7

Videos: Paul plays with Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel

Paul performed with a couple of fellow stars during recent shows in the Northeast.

Here he is performing with Bruce Springsteen in the Garden on Sept. 15:

And with Billy Joel on Sept. 26 at Nassau Coliseum.

New Dhani Harrison LP streaming on NPR

You can hear In///Parallel, the first solo album by George's son, Dhani Harrison, here.

Vintage Beatles pic

Friday, September 15, 2017

George's sitar up for auction

The sitar George Harrison played on the Beatles' "Norwegian Wood" is for sale, reports the BBC.
The instrument was purchased from a shop on London's Oxford Street in 1965 and later gifted to a friend of Harrison's first wife, Patti Boyd.

Bidding for the sitar will begin on 28 September at $50,000 (£37,327).

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Video: Ringo on the Beeb

Ringo Starr appeared on BBC's "News Night" yesterday talking about who deserves credit for the Beatles' songs. He also doubled down on his support of Brexit, saying it's time for Britain to "get on with it" and leave the EU. Here's the segment.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

New video celebrate "The Beatles: Love" Vegas show

Posted today on the Beatles official YouTube channel. I still need to get to Vegas and see this ...

Report: "Strawberry Fields" oboist dies

Michael Winfield, who played the oboe solo on the Beatles' "Strawberry Fields Forever," passed away this week, Slipped Disc reports.
Mike played oboe and cor anglais in the Halle and London orchestras for almost half a century. He taught oboe at the Royal College of Music, in London, and was hugely influential on three generations of players.

Vintage pic: George and Pattie

Vintage pic: The Beatles with Harold Wilson

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Luke Skywalker is a Beatles collector

Mark Hamill, talking to British GQ:
"Basically I started collecting things that I wanted when I was a kid but couldn't get them so I got all the Monster Model and Kits that I wanted. The Beatles, I never paid any attention to their merchandising except for their records. Of course the minute they broke up, I wanted all that stuff. So I have a pretty nice Beatles memorabilia collection. That was my 'Star Wars'."

Beatles-themed buses hit the road in Liverpool

John, Paul, George and Ringo got a double-decker each, as four Beatles-themed buses hit the road in Liverpool yesterday. The buses will run around the city through 2018, when Liverpool celebrates its 10-year anniversary as a Unesco-designated European Capital of Culture.

Ringo drums on Sheila E.'s cover of "Come Together"

Sheila, a onetime member of Ringo's All-Starr Band, called on her old friend to contribute to her new cover the Beatles' tune.

Q: Ringo Starr plays drums on your cover of “Come Together.” Did you just call him up and ask?
A: I left him a message and said, “Hey, Ringo, I’d like you to play a song on my record.” He called me back and said, “I heard you wanted me to enhance a song?” I said, “Yeah, your song!” He did it in one take and made it sound so amazing it didn’t make sense to have both of us on there.

George song, John glasses sell at auction, no buyer for Eleanor Rigby papers

A reel-to-reel tape containing a lost George Harrison tune was the big seller among Beatles-themed items up for auction in Britain this week.
The reel-to-reel tape features an Indian-influenced track called Hello Miss Mary Bee, which was written especially for the vendor in early 1968. It was sent to her, along with a six-page letter from Harrison’s wife, Patti Boyd, which was included in the lot, as well as postcards sent by the Beatles guitarist.

A pair of John Lennon’s glasses went for £5,600.
A deed for the real Eleanor Rigby's burial plot in Liverpool, however, failed to sell.

While Paul McCartney says he invented the name for the title of his 1966 song, an actual Eleanor Rigby is buried at Woolton Church in Liverpool, the same spot where McCartney struck up his friendship with John Lennon in 1957. Paul admits that maybe he saw Rigby's gravestone and subliminally incorporated it into his song.

Paul dedicates Newwark show to 9/11 victims

Paul McCartney dedicated his performance at Newark's Prudential Center last night to the victims of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, with the following statement:
“We’re going to dedicate this show to all the people who were involved in what happened 16 years ago today. We want people to know we are against oppression, prejudice and violence and we want people to know that we are for friendship and freedom.”

History: "Film song - by George!"

Monday, September 11, 2017

Mary McCartney to direct Elvis Costello music video

Paul's daughter Mary will direct a video for Elvis Costello's song “You Shouldn’t Look at Me That Way," which plays over the end titles of director Paul McGuigan’s new film, “Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool.”
Annette Bening plays Hollywood siren and Oscar winner Gloria Grahame, Jamie Bell is her young lover Peter Turner. The story is based on Peter’s memoir and produced by the James Bond team of Barbara Broccoli and Michael S. Wilson.
The backstory for the song is that McGuigan and Broccoli went to to a Costello show last year at which, by coincidence, Costello mentioned Grahame in his patter. “We knew it was meant to be,” McGuigan told me last night at Sony Pictures Classics’s annual star studded dinner. “We went backstage and told him about the movie. He said, I’ll write you a song. And sure enough, on Christmas Day, it arrived in our emails. And it was perfect.”

Theft accusation ends auction for "Eleanor Rigby" score

Omega Auctions has called off the sale of George Martin's handwritten strings score "Eleanor Rigby" after a woman claimed the item was stolen.
The auction house said an allegation of theft had been made to Thames Valley Police.
A spokeswoman said the allegation was made following a "family dispute" over the score's ownership.
The score is autographed by Paul McCartney.

Ad: Beatles ice cream bars

Monday, September 4, 2017

History: Beatles under fire in false eyes furor

The Beatles joked around with false eyes during a photo shoot at the Madame Tussauds wax museum in 1964.