Monday, December 30, 2019

So long, Neil Innes: Rutle and Bonzo

Today brings the sad news that musician Neil Innes has passed away at age 75.

Beatles fans will know him as Ron Nasty of the Beatles send-up band, the wonderful Rutles, but his Fab ties stretch further back than that.

Innes also was a member of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, which appeared in the "Magical Mystery Tour" film, and whose 1968 single "I'm the Urban Spaceman" was co-produced by Paul McCartney under the pseudonym of Apollo C. Vermouth.

As member of the Bonzos, Innes developed ties to the fledgling Monty Python's Flying Circus comedy troupe, members of which appeared along with the Bonzos on the TV program "Do Not Adjust Your Set." Innes wrote and co-wrote a number of musical numbers for the Pythons, including tunes featured in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail."

The Rutles were co-created by Python Eric Idle and Innes and first appeared on their TV series, "Rutland Weekend Television," which ran two seasons in 1975 and 1976. Videos featuring the band were aired in the U.S. when Idle hosted "Saturday Night Live" in 1977.

SNL's Lorne Michaels produced the TV film, "All You Need is Cash," a mock documentary of the band, in 1978. George Harrison appeared in the film, heavily disguised, as a TV interviewer. Mick Jagger, John Belushi, Dan Ackroyd, Paul Simon and others also appeared in the film, which closely and hilariously mimicked the trajectory of the Beatles' career. John Lennon reportedly was a huge fan of the film and Innes' Beatles song parodies. Paul McCartney not so much.

Innes released several albums under his own name and was the driving force for the Rutles recorded output, which included a soundtrack to the TV movie and the 1996 album, Archaeology, released a spoof of the Beatles' Anthology albums.

Here's Neil with the Bonzos, and with the Rutles:

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

British singer Kenny Lynch dies at 81 - covered Beatles' "Misery"

Singer Kenny Lynch died Wednesday at age 81, the BBC reports.

Along with charting British Top 10 hits with "Up on the Roof" and "You Can Never Stop Me Loving You," he toured England with the Beatles and covered Lennon and McCartney's "Misery."

He later appeared among other celebrities on the cover of Paul's Band on the Run LP.

In addition to singing, Lynch wrote a number of songs, including the Small Faces' UK hit "Sha-La-La-La-Lee" and Cilla Black's "Love's Just a Broken Heart."

Vintage "Red" and "Blue" albums display

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Listen: New interview with Paul on BBC Radio 4 - reveals unreleased Christmas LP

Listen here.

Ten years ago Sir Paul McCartney set up Meat Free Monday - a campaign to encourage people not to eat meat on one day of the week. It is estimated that up to 5000 schools in the UK now have meat free Mondays. 
In an exclusive interview for Radio 4's World at One, Sir Paul tells Sarah Montague how that campaign came about, young climate activists, and his unreleased record of Christmas carols, made just for his family. 
He also shares his thoughts about appearing at the Glastonbury Festival in 2020.

Watch: Paul talks to astronaut Luca Parmitano

A few weeks ago Paul had an out-of-this-world video call with ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano. Although one man was floating around in space hundreds of miles above earth, and the other was in his recording studio at home - the pair bonded over their love of a really good cup of coffee!

Beatles pop-up shop pops up in NYC for the holidays

Attention if you're Christmas shopping in New York:
Beatlemania is coming to NYC this holiday season with a special limited-run pop-up from December 11-22, 2019. Offering a wide-selection of Fab Four-themed gifts, the unique retail environment immerses fans in the world of the legendary band.
Sony Music's The Thread Shop and Apple Corps, Ltd. have created the pop-up to celebrate and showcase the first wave of products available under a newly announced licensing agreement for The Beatles merchandising rights in North America.
The Beatles products will range from holiday sweaters, hats, scarves and tree ornaments to branded toys, turntables and even a Beatles pinball machine, offering shoppers fashionable and gift-worthy items for every type of Beatles fan. The Beatles pop-up shop is located at 163 Mercer Street in New York City. The store is open: Monday to Thursday: 11:00am to 7:00pm; Friday to Saturday: 11:00am to 8:00pm; and Sunday: 12:00pm to 7:00pm. 
The façade of the building will be colorfully wrapped in iconic Beatles imagery, while inside the pop-up visitors will be able to experience and create photo moments from classic eras of the band's history.
This includes an Abbey Road floor decal leading guests from the front door into the rest of the space, three album décor vignettes that incorporate merchandise and allow visitors to step inside, and a 60's mod lounge. There will also be an arcade area, a gift wrap station, and an authentic UK phone booth. 
Additionally, visitors will be able to browse a wide selection of merchandise. Beatles-branded apparel, toys and products featured in the store include: Yellow Submarine Holiday Jacquard Knit Sweaters, Abbey Road 50th Anniversary Long Sleeve Tees, Help! Striped Pom Beanies, Help! Scarves, I Feel Fine/She's A Woman Totes, Revolution/Hey Jude Yellow Tie-Die T-Shirts and Ticket To Ride / Yes It Is Crewneck Sweatshirts.
Items are available in-store while supplies last. Fans not able to visit the New York City store or seeking additional Beatles merchandise can visit the Beatles online store at for even more great Beatles products from Apple Corps and The Thread Shop.

Follow The Beatles Pop-up Shop on social media with the hashtag #ShopTheBeatles.

Vintage Beatles pic: George with the Ronettes

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Video: George jams with Delaney and Bonnie (and Eric Clapton), Dec. 10, 1969

Video: George Harrison interview Dec. 10, 1969

Netflix partnering with Paul for "High in the Clouds" animated feature

Paul's long-planned animated feature finally has a home.

From the news release:
Netflix and Gaumont are producing a new animated feature based on the popular children’s adventure novel ‘High In The Clouds’ written by Paul McCartney, Geoff Dunbar and Philip Ardagh. 
The new animated adventure follows an imaginative teenage squirrel named Wirral, who finds himself pulled into a ramshackle gang of teenage rebels who live high in the clouds. After he accidentally antagonizes Gretsch the owl, the tyrannical leader (and fabulous singer!), who steals the voice of anyone who upstages her.
Paul said: “We are  thrilled to be partnering with Netflix. They complement what is already an amazing team with Gaumont and we can think of no-one better to be working with to bring our film to a global audience. I’ve always loved animated films and this is a hugely important passion project for me. I can’t wait for the world to see it.” 
“The development of ‘High In The Clouds’  has been a fantastic journey working together with Tim and Jon and of course my amazing Gaumont Animation and Family team, Terry Kalagian and Alex Soto. We feel fortunate as this has been an extremely collaborative creative process with the incomparable Paul McCartney and his team, including Lee Eastman who has offered invaluable guidance throughout the development stage. We at Gaumont are elated to be announcing this project and are excited to be working with Melissa Cobb, Gregg Taylor and the talented team at Netflix to be able to share this truly special musical animated feature film with audiences around the world.” Nicolas Atlan, President Gaumont Animation and Family.
"Bringing the world a new animated film from the heart and mind of the brilliant Paul McCartney is undoubtedly one of the greatest thrills we've experienced at Netflix.  We're beyond grateful to be partnering with Nicolas and the Gaumont team on ‘High In The Clouds’ and with Tim at the helm, this whimsical story celebrating individuality and the unifying power of music is in great hands,”  Gregg Taylor, Netflix Director of Original Animated Films.
Director: Oscar-nominee® Timothy Reckart (Head Over HeelsThe Star)Screenplay: Jon Croker (Paddington, Paddington 2, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of GrindelwaldCreated, Produced and Original Songs & Music by: Academy Award and 18-time Grammy Award winner Paul McCartney (100 Years, Jojo Rabbit, Yesterday, Live and Let Die, Vanilla Sky).Producers: Bob Shaye  (The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, The Golden Compass, The Mortal Instrument, When the Bough Breaks, and Ambition and upcoming Netflix Limited Series The Liberator), the late Michael Lynne, and Paul McCartney, Sidonie Dumas, Christophe Riandee, Nicolas Atlan, Terry Kalagian (Gaumont) 

Vintage Apple Records display