Wednesday, July 31, 2019

"McCartney Legacy" book on the way

This book has been in the works for while now. Glad to hear it has a publisher.

Basically the Paul version of Chip Madinger's indespensible "Lennonlogy: Strange Days Indeed" of a few years back, this is sure to be a must-buy for Macca fans. I know I'll be getting it!

Vintage Beatles pic

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

John and Yoko "Above Us Only Sky" coming to Blu-ray/DVD

The recent John and Yoko documentary "Above Us Only Sky," which focuses on the Imagine recording sessions is out on Blu-ray and DVD Sept. 10. You can pre-order it now from Amazon.


Above Us Only Sky reveals the depth of the creative collaboration between John and Yoko on John’s ‘Imagine’ album, bringing the period to life while at the same time outlining the relevance of the music and their message to a contemporary audience. The film examines how the art, activism, politics and music of the pair are intrinsically entwined, with full cooperation from and exclusive access to Yoko Ono and the John Lennon Estate.

Featuring never-seen-before footage of John and Yoko, new interviews and archive material, Above Us Only Sky illustrates how the underlying message of the album was one of radical engagement, and that it is as relevant today as ever.

Vintage Beatles "Help!" movie poster - Japan

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Paul's music for "It's a Wonderful Life" - more details

Following up on the news that Paul will contribute words and music to a stage production of "It's a Wonderful Life," we have this preview from columnist Johnny Oleksinski in the New York Post:

On a recent trip to London, I got to listen to McCartney’s stunning demo tracks. The songwriter segues easily into the musical theater style, while still giving his diehard fans that soulful McCartney sound. Every time a Beatle sings, an angel gets his wings.
On the CD, the singer performs every role from George Bailey to Mr. Potter and even tries his hand at acting. The more than 10 finished songs sound like a bona fide lost Beatles album, with one spectacular number’s rousing ending bringing to mind the “Na Na Na Na Na”s of “Hey Jude.”

Paul McCartney writing music for "It's a Wonderful Life" stage production

It was announced today that Paul is writing words and music for a stage musical based on "It's a Wonderful Life."

Details from the news release:

Today, Paul confirms a career first. He is working on a musical stage adaptation of one of the most iconic films in cinema history - Frank Capra’s “It’s A Wonderful Life”. Based on Philip Van Doren Stern’s “The Greatest Gift” the legendary movie was directed and produced by Frank Capra and released in 1946.
Paul has partnered with British theatre and film impresario Bill Kenwright who will produce the show. Bill originally approached Paul three years ago after acquiring the rights to the much-loved film that over seven decades since its release continues to be a Prime-Time must for television audiences all around the world. Paul and Bill enjoy a lifetime’s connection having both been born and raised in Liverpool, and both attended the Liverpool Institute High School (now LIPA - the acclaimed performing arts academy founded by Paul).  
In addition to writing the music Paul has been working on the lyrics with the Tony Award winning English screen and play writer Lee Hall, who is also responsible for the book of the musical.
As a child Paul inherited a love of Broadway and show tunes from his father Jim who would perform at home on the family piano on every occasion possible, and this influence would eventually permeate into Paul’s own song-writing and diverse compositions.
Speaking about this news Paul said:
“Like many of these things this all started with an email.  Bill had asked if it was something I might be up for. Writing a musical is not something that had ever really appealed to me but Bill and I met up with Lee Hall and had a chat and I found myself thinking this could be interesting and fun.  ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ is a universal story we can all relate to.”
Bill Kenwright said: 
“Working with Paul on “It’s a Wonderful Life” is a dream realised. To be honest I was hooked on first hearing him say “one/two/three/four” on the demo of the opening number! But since then it’s been an extraordinary journey - on every song I experience Paul’s unique gift of melody and composition. It’s musical theatre – but it’s always McCartney.
Paul, Lee, and I use the word “cherish” when we refer to our source material and that’s what we intend to do. Cherish Frank Capra’s creation.”
Lee Hall said:
“It’s A Wonderful Life is my favourite film. It has absolutely everything comedy, pathos and a rare humanity which has touched generation after generation. Yet it just couldn’t be more relevant. To give it a life on the stage is an immense privilege in itself but to do with Paul McCartney is off the scale. Paul’s wit, emotional honesty and melodic brilliance brings a whole new depth and breadth to the classic tale. I feel as if an angel must be looking after me.”
Paul, who has written some of the world’s most loved, celebrated and enduring music, has musically realised the emotional story of a man down on his luck George Bailey. Unaware of all the lives he has touched and how different his community would be had he never been born; George is close to suicide. However, he is saved by the intervention of a guardian angel – and, of course, as in all feel good, but resonant movies, George realises the true value of his life.  
Some 70 years since the release of the film the story still remains relevant today, probably even more so, as a reminder to cherish family, friends and the life you have, something Paul McCartney has always strived to do in his own life and work.
For Bill Kenwright, the production will be a lifetime’s ambition.  As a very young producer, Bill personally reached out to Frank Capra to see if he could get the rights to turn the film into a musical. Bill received a lovely handwritten letter by reply – but it contained a no! However, out of the blue, many decades later he was offered the rights when he was in the middle of another project with Paramount. It was a massive moment for the now hugely successful producer, and he dared to dream of involving his school friend on what would be Paul’s first major musical journey. They met, and amongst discussing all things Liverpool, school and rock and roll, they sort of agreed to take things further…
It wasn’t until two years later that Paul shared his first musical ideas with Bill. Bill recalls: “It was a Friday night and I was in the office. I suppose you could say it hadn’t been the best of weeks. No real progress on multitudinous film and theatre projects - and Everton had lost the previous Saturday. Out of the blue I got an email from Paul asking my thoughts on his first stab at an opening song. He wasn’t sure – but wanted to know what Lee and I thought of it? I played the demo. Lee and I were unanimous. Our hero was a musical theatre writer!”
Paul was in the middle of releasing his number one album ‘Egypt Station’ in September 2018 as well as launching a global tour to support the album release, but in between touring and album commitments Paul found time to work with Lee Hall on more songs. Both here and in New York. 
Bill remembers another moment in January of this year the day after he’d watched Everton lose in an FA Cup match at Millwall. He was inconsolable - but Lee rang him from the airport after working with Paul in New York and brought over a further six tracks in demo form. His gloom started to lift…
“They exceeded expectations for both of us. The songs take you somewhere you don’t expect to go. They sound simple – but it’s deceptive. That’s Paul’s genius. I don’t have to tell any lover of music how extraordinary he is – but he constantly takes my breath away. Since we worked together on the The Pitmen Painters Lee has been a special writer and person to me. And it’s a privilege to watch Paul and Lee create so vibrantly together.”

Vintage Beatles pic: Paul

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Rare Beatles color slides from 1966 U.S. tour up for auction

A batch of 15 rare color slides from the Beatles' final U.S. tour are up for bid.

According to the Daily Mail the shots were taken during the band's performance at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on Aug. 21, 1966. The band played in heavy rain under a makeshift shelter and the show marked one of the reasons why the group finally stopped touring.

Paul McCartney recalled:

After the gig I remember us getting in a big, empty steel-lined wagon, like a removal van. There was no furniture in there – nothing. We were sliding around trying to hold on to something, and at that moment everyone said, 'Oh, this bloody touring lark – I've had it up to here, man.'

I finally agreed. I'd been trying to say, 'Ah, touring's good and it keeps us sharp. We need touring, and musicians need to play. Keep music live.' I had held on that attitude when there were doubts, but finally I agreed with them.

According to the Mail:

The pictures were taken by Mark Richman who was the only photographer there using Kodachrome color film rather than black and white.

Mr Richman, now aged 73, stood just 12 feet (four metres) away from The Beatles to take the snaps.
He is selling them now with full copyright, meaning the new owner will legally be able to sell re-prints of them.

They are expected to fetch about $50,000 at auction.

Vintage John and Yoko "Milk and Honey" promo poster

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Coming up: Ringo Starr "Ultimate Music Guide"

Uncut magazine puts its focus on Ringo's Beatles and solo career in a new special. You can order a copy here.


The fourth of our very Fab Four Ultimate Music Guides to the solo Beatles: Ringo Starr. From thrilling archive features on his early days as America’s favourite Beatle to deep new writing on his film career, and his successful, hit single and Beatle-strewn 50 year solo albums, we present the Ultimate Music Guide to the work of Ringo Starr. Choose it - and choose love! 

Vintage Beatles beach hat

Monday, July 8, 2019

Ringo: Peter Jackson's documentary will be more joyful, "expressive" than "Let it Be"

Ringo Starr made some intriguing comments regarding director Peter Jackson's upcoming Beatles documentary, which makes use of unused footage from the "Let it Be" project.

"I'm looking with Peter Jackson at all the footage that was never used," Ringo told Sirius XM. "Prior to us doing that, we're all hanging out, and it's a lot of fun, lot of humour, and not like the one that came out."

Speaking of the famous "I'll play if you want me to play" scene between George Harrison and Paul McCartney in "Let it Be," Ringo said the entirety of the sessions weren't as tense as depicted over the years.

"When Michael Lindsay-Hogg put ['Let it Be'] together, which he's in quite a lot, too, they just stuck to those seconds of an argument,"Ringo said. "But there was a lot of joy, and I think Peter will show that ... this one, I think, will be more expressive and more like we were."

Jackson, meanwhile, has said, "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."

Friday, July 5, 2019

"Pre-Fab" - The story of Colin Hanton and the Quarrymen - now in production, group to record at Abbey Road

From the news release:

U.S-based motion picture production company Stars North's newest feature-length film, is producing a feature-length film, PRE FAB! which tells the story of Liverpool-born drummer, Colin Hanton, who was an original member of John Lennon's skiffle group, The Quarrymen, which eventually evolved into The Beatles. The film is currently in production and filming is taking place in LiverpoolLondonLos AngelesNew York, and Orlando.

"Viewers of the new film will be given the opportunity to experience the beginnings of one of the biggest bands in the world and to understand how Merseybeat developed," said Mark Bentley, Producer of PRE FAB!

On July 8, 2019, the filmmakers are gathering the original surviving members of The Quarrymen band to record at the legendary Abbey Road Studio in London, the footage to be included in the new documentary, PRE FAB! Members involved include Colin Hanton, Chas Newby, Len Garry, and Rod Davis. The band members will be available for interviews at the studio during the day of the recording.

Hanton provides an up-close, personal view of Lennon's formative musical adventures, and the film gives insight into Liverpool's emerging music scene in the '50s, and the birth of 'beat music' in Merseyside.

As a fellow band member of John Lennon, Colin Hanton was an insider and he was alongside Lennon when he made his debut at The Cavern Club. He was present on that fateful day when Lennon met Paul McCartney, and he was there when George Harrison plugged in and made his on-stage debut with Lennon and McCartney in early 1958. Perhaps most fascinating of all, Hanton was in attendance when Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison made their first professional recording—their version of Buddy Holly's "That'll Be The Day." PRE FAB! captures Hanton's memories of those thrilling, history-in-the-making days with frankness and good humor.

Over a period of two years, Hanton related his experiences to Colin Hall, the acclaimed custodian of Lennon's former home in Woolton, Liverpool. In his book, also titled PRE-FAB!, Hall meticulously weaves Hanton's memories together with memories of other members of the band including Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison to provide a vivid, detailed insight into Hanton's musical career with the future superstars and the era's nascent music scene in Liverpool. Viewers will get to catch a glimpse of the creation of the area's skiffle music, the British homemade alternative to America's booming rock 'n' roll industry, and how it turned a boy band into one of the biggest music sensations, celebrated everywhere.

PRE FAB! will take its viewers through a timeline that shows how the band changed from being a group of young boys just playing music for fun to something that influenced and changed the music industry forever. Hanton witnessed Lennon and McCartney share a grand musical vision for the future as their relationship grew and they began writing original songs. For three years, he was part of the beginnings of something that was going to be phenomenally huge. Stars North™ invites viewers to partake of his journey.

NOTE: Per the group itself "Quarrymen" is one word, not two.