Thursday, January 31, 2019

People's Beatles project seeks unseen photos of the band

Beatle friend and Paul McCartney biographer Barry Miles is leading a crowd-sourced effort to create a new photo book and biography of the band using fan photos. Images are being accepted through March 15.

Details from The People's Beatles website:

Commissioned by Photobox, The People's Beatles is a groundbreaking global project that aims to crowdsource, edit and publish a unique photographic biography and picture archive of The Beatles - as seen exclusively through the eyes and camera lenses of the fans who were there.

Launched to commemorate the 50th anniversary of The Beatles' last ever live performance which took place on the roof of Apple Records in London on 30th January 1969, The People's Beatles will provide a people’s portrait charting the astonishing journey from unknown Liverpudlians to the most popular band in the history of music - covering everything from Hamburg to the Cavern Club, the birth of Beatlemania, to the European and American tours; from the Magical Mystery Tour, through to their final album, Let it Be, and beyond.

Only eight years separate the release of The Beatles’ first single to Paul McCartney’s shock announcement that he was leaving the band. During that time, they became the most famous, most adored and most photographed people on the planet - with the vast majority of those pictures taken not by professionals, but by fans.

But where are those photos now?

Bestselling author Barry Miles, who has written the only authorised biography on Paul McCartney, in addition to over fifty cultural histories on all aspects of sixties counterculture, will lead a global appeal calling on members of the public to raid albums and attics for unseen, lost or otherwise forgotten photographs of the Fab Four at any period in the band's history.

The People's Beatles will be published in May 2019 featuring over 500 unseen photographs - and their accompanying anecdotes - with a written narrative from Barry Miles.

All profits will be donated to Nordoff Robbins, the largest independent Music Therapy charity in the UK, while an accompanying photographic exhibition will showcase a selection of the best images at The Beatles Story museum in Liverpool.

Images can be submitted from Wednesday 30th January until Friday 15th March 2019.

Vintage pic: Ringo and John!

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Listen: BBC radio documentary on "The Beatles' Final Concert"

Listen here.

Details from BBC World Service:

The Beatles' final public performance was a short 'rooftop concert', which took place 50 years ago at their Apple Corps headquarters in central London on January 30, 1969. 

With contributions from several of those who witnessed the historic performance, including director Michael Lindsay-Hogg, photographer Ethan Russell, engineer Alan Parsons, technician Dave Harries and Ken Wharfe, the policeman who was sent by his superiors to `turn that noise off’, the programme explains the tensions and resentment that existed between the four members of the world’s biggest band, as they struggled to rediscover the joy of playing together after 12 months of acrimonious arguments, and how the concert was an attempt to kick-start a new album. 

 In reality, the performance, which featured five songs that would eventually be included on the band’s Let It Be album, only served to highlight the deep divisions within the band, and 30 January 1969 will go down in music history as the final concert performance by one of the most influential bands of the 20th Century.

Director Peter Jackson working on Beatles "Let it Be" project

The  official Beatles site announced today that "Lord of the Rings" director Peter Jackson is working on a project making use of "Let it Be" footage to create a new film.

A restored edition of the original "Let it Be" film is also planned for release after Jackson's version comes out.

"Let it Be" celebrates its 50th anniversary of release next year.

Details from the Beatles' news release:

London – January 30, 2019 - Apple Corps Ltd. and WingNut Films Ltd. are proud to announce an exciting new collaboration between The Beatles and the acclaimed Academy Award winning director Sir Peter Jackson. The new film will be based around 55 hours of never-released footage of The Beatles in the studio, shot between January 2nd and January 31st, 1969. These studio sessions produced The Beatles’ Grammy Award winning album Let It Be, with its Academy Award winning title song. The album was eventually released 18 months later in May 1970, several months after the band had broken up.
The filming was originally intended for a planned TV special, but organically turned into something completely different, climaxing with The Beatles’ legendary performance on the roof of Apple's Savile Row London office — which took place exactly 50 years ago today.
Peter Jackson said, "The 55 hours of never-before-seen footage and 140 hours of audio made available to us, ensures this movie will be the ultimate ‘fly on the wall’ experience that Beatles fans have long dreamt about - it’s like a time machine transports us back to 1969, and we get to sit in the studio watching these four friends make great music together.” 
Although The Beatles were filmed extensively during the 1960s - in concerts, interviews and movies - this is the only footage of any note that documents them at work in the studio.
The Let It Be album and movie, having been released in the months following The Beatles’ breakup, have often been viewed in the context of the struggle the band was going through at that time. 
“I was relieved to discover the reality is very different to the myth,” continues Jackson, “After reviewing all the footage and audio that Michael Lindsay-Hogg shot 18 months before they broke up, it’s simply an amazing historical treasure-trove. Sure, there’s moments of drama - but none of the discord this project has long been associated with. Watching John, Paul, George, and Ringo work together, creating now-classic songs from scratch, is not only fascinating - it’s funny, uplifting and surprisingly intimate”.   
"I’m thrilled and honoured to have been entrusted with this remarkable footage - making the movie will be a sheer joy.”
Jackson will be working with his They Shall Not Grow Old partners, Producer Clare Olssen and Editor Jabez Olssen. The footage will be restored by Park Road Post of Wellington, New Zealand, to a pristine standard, using techniques developed for the WW1 documentary film which has been nominated for a BAFTA for best documentary.
The untitled film is currently in production and the release date will be announced in due course. This film is being made with the full co-operation of Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono Lennon, and Olivia Harrison. 
The Executive Producers are Ken Kamins for WingNut Films and Jeff Jones and Jonathan Clyde for Apple Corps.
Following the release of this new film, a restored version of the original Let It Be movie directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg will also be made available

Jan. 30, 1969: The Beatles' final live performance

The Fabs climbed to the roof of their Apple Corps HQ in London on this day 50 years ago to perform a set of tunes captured by cameras for inclusion in the "Let it Be" film. It would be the last time the band played live in public.

Vintage pic: Ringo!

Friday, January 25, 2019

1968 letter: Capitol Records execs feared Beatles' Apple label design was "pornographic"

The UK Independent has a story about a newly discovered 1968 letter from Capitol Records to then-Apple Records head Ron Kass relaying concerns from a U.S. record retailer that the Apple label design "looked like a vagina."

The Independent article makes the claim that the complaint nearly led Capitol to scuttle the release of The Beatles' "Hey Jude/Revolution" single, but nowhere in the 1968 letter is this implied.

Furthermore, as the letter points out, the entire Apple logo wouldn't even be displayed on "Hey Jude/Revolution" or any other U.S. single, due to the large center hole placed in every U.S. 45rpm release.

Americans wouldn't get a full look at the entire "half apple" logo until the release of "The White Album," in November - nearly three months after Capitol sent its letter.

As the 1968 letter implies, the retailer in question must've had an early look at the complete label in promotional materials, not on the actua U.S. releases.

Interestingly, the U.S. press kit for the first four releases didn't include a full view of the entire label, either. All the single releases it contained also sport large center holes:

Via the Independent:

...The letter, addressed to Apple boss Ron Kass, reads: “Here’s a wild and unanticipated problem to brighten up your day I just received a call from a very large and influential rack jobber in the western United States. He opened the conversation by saying, ‘Are you guys serious? Do you know what you’re doing? Do you really intend to sell products bearing the new Apple label?’

“He then stated that he felt the new Apple label was completely pornographic and actually depicted a vagina.”

The letter adds that the “graphic similarity” was “noticed by all of his key employees”.
“[He] doubted that many of his chain store customers would even be willing to stock and display products containing the label.”

Vintage pics: Paul!

Friday, January 18, 2019

New Klaus Voormann interview on "Sound Opinions"

Bassist, "Revolver" cover artists and Beatle pal Klaus Voormann is interviewed on a new episode of public radio program "Sound Opinions." You can listen here.

Details from "Sound Opinions":
Klaus Voormann was an artist living in Hamburg when he followed the sound of live music down into a cellar one night and happened upon his first live rock and roll show. He saw two acts from Liverpool that night: Rory Storm and the Hurricanes (with Ringo Starr on drums) and an irreverent dance band called The Beatles.

The friendship he struck up with The Beatles would alter the course of his life and prove to be lifelong. When they leapt forward into psychedelia with Revolver, they turned to Voormann to create a fitting cover image. That work won a Grammy and a place of honor (in tattoo form) on Jim's arm.

When John Lennon started pulling away from The Beatles, he enlisted Voormann to play bass in the Plastic Ono Band. George Harrison and Starr followed suit, trusting their "A Hard Day's Night" era roommate, Voormann, to provide the bassline on many of their solo albums as well.
His stature as a session bass player grew throughout the 1970's- he can be heard on albums by Carly Simon, Harry Nilsson and Lou Reed among many others. In the early 1980s Voormann added“producer”to his resume through his work with the German band, Trio.
Klaus Voormann

Vintage pic: John and Yoko!

Wednesday, January 16, 2019