Tag: The Beatles
No question, when we talk about 60’s music our focus and “Ground Zero” always turns to “The British Invasion” ! At one point in the mid Sixties statistics indicate that nearly every other record in “The Top 40” was performed by a resident from The United Kingdom. However dear reader, we have a question for your consideration….Would there or could there have been a “British Invasion” if John had never met Paul and they never formed The Beatles? In the late 50’s a burgeoning music scene was growing exponentially with “Skiffle” music taking root and taking hold of every youth in the U.K. Skiffle music was a kind of mix of jazz, country and jug band, played on the most rudimentary instruments, one or two stringed guitars wash boards, you get the drill and it required very little skill. In fact, as the 50’s came to an end it was estimated that there were as many as 30,000 to 50,000 Skiffle bands in The United Kingdom ! Many of course attempted to record but the records only got attention, if any, in the band’s home town, Skiffle didn’t travel well to say the least. However, you may recall a record called “Rock Island Line” by Lonnie Donnegan? The poster child for Skiffle and perhaps the only record from the Genre to get play in the U.S. But as the 60’s arrived Skiffle music and it’s players matured and a new “Beat” sound ( completely influenced by American Rock n Roll ) took over
Hundreds and hundreds of new artists began appearing in several urban centers around the U.K. Primarily Birmingham, Manchester, London and of course…..Liverpoole ! Where John, Paul, George and Ringo were one of over an estimated 350 new bands looking for work ! Along with other locals like The Searchers, Gerry and The Pacemakers and Cilla Black. ALL by the way managed by Brian Epstein. A similar scene was playing out in London where every night every club was sold out and London’s “swinging” youth rocked out to the very young Rolling Stones, Spencer Davis ( featuring a 15-year-old Stevie Winwood ) The Yardbirds, Dusty Springfield, Dave Clark Five and Moody Blues, while up in Manchester you could hear Graham Nash with The Hollies, Peter Noone with Herman’s Hermits and the wacky Freddie and The Dreamers. All getting a little traction in their hometown yet none of them ever dreaming they would conquer America. In the U.S, we heard little about these artist and their music. The only English Exports we were aware of was Cliff Richard, in the U.K. he was known as “The English Elvis” Although he had the looks and a decent enough voice,for Americans, there was nothing about Cliff that remotely resembled The King ! His slick pop songs only widened the musical gap between The U.S. And The U.K.Cliff struggled for acceptance in America but it never happened. The fact is prior to the British Invasion ,only two English recordings made it to the American top spot…. “Stranger on the Shore by Mr. Ackerman Bilk, an instrumental, and “Telstar” by The Tornados, yet another instrumental ! Reminding us of the quote from George Bernard Shaw “The U.S.A. and Great Britton, two great countries divided by a common language”…..Think about it !
The British Invasion quickly spoke loud and clear to that division, and somehow they did it without that odd sounding accent. The U.K. Was rich with talent and music was percolating in every corner of every city, town or hamlet. In retrospect it seems simply inevitable, the British Invasion would have to happen with or without The Beatles ! BUT WE SAY NO WAY ! Without The Beatles, there would never be “A British Invasion. We all agree on the incredible talent pool languishing within her Majesty’s gates, but between “The Old Garde” thinking in the U.K. And the “We know everything” thinking in the U.S. The “Invasion” needed a catalyst, something so original, yet so familiar! Something undeniable and worthy. Something to get and keep our attention across the pond and not on American Bandstand
We aren’t going to go any deeper on The Fab Four, you’ve been there, you already know it all, and we simply don’t have the time or space to tell their story once again ! Our point is…..”No Beatles, no British Invasion. However, we further believe you’d still be enjoying all your favorite English artists, only with slight variations. ( reader alert, blasphemous commentary coming ) We believe if the Beatles never came together only Paul is a “sure thing” in achieving “Superstar” status….his overall affable attitude, musicality, classic songwriting sense, musicianship, incredible vocals, stage presence and good looks makes Paul undeniable ! Lesser so with John mainly due to John’s anger and attitude, for us John also comes up a bit short on versatility. John would always be the creative focus for any band and could have enjoyed a successful solo career, but nothing like the heights McCartney would hit ! George would be well-regarded as an original and dynamic guitarist / songwriter. But it’s hard to imagine George having a solo career if he’d never been a Beatle ! Same goes for Ringo, he’d be a most “Sought after drum player with several credits on his résumé but regular folks wouldn’t know his name!
If The Stones never caught on we believe we’d still own records that feature Mick and Keith, their “perfect fit as songwriters collaborators and performers, as well as their bond and ambition would drive them on together…Somehow !
Only Blues/Rock Junkies would be listening to the Yardbirds, and without support and success in the U.S. It’s likely there would never have been a “Led Zeppelin, but Clapton would be…..Well, CLAPTON ! Eric may be the only British Invader whose career track would be exactly the same….With or without a British Invasion !
The same could be said for Peter Asher from Peter and Gordon. After his successful run with Gordon Waller Peter turned his energies to his ability as a manager and producer, remaining active, involved and meaningful…
AND….Dusty Springield, In 1964 the English press already named her “The Greatest Blue Eye’d Soul singer in the world. In the same week The Beatles debuted on Ed Sullivan, Dustys first single “I Only Want To Be With You” was shooting up the U.S. Charts ! Dusty’s soulful voiced would have shined on America no matter what !
Lastly, for the Freddie’s and the Hermans and the other drummers, bass players and keyboardist who populated The British Invasion but never got their ” Close Up” on The Ed Sullivan Show, many are still working doing reunion tours and special British Invasion appearances. If you want to see them, they’re out there especially in America !
But, before you rush out…. WHAT DO YOU THINK ? COULD THERE HAVE BEEN A BRITISH INVASION IF THE BEATLES NEVER CAME TOGETHER ?……….And of course any further thoughts you may have !
Yeah, Yeah, YEAH !
It was on this day, April 1st, 1961, The Beatles began a grueling three-month residency at The Top Ten Club, Hamburg, playing 92 straight nights. The group played for seven hours a night on weekdays and eight hours at weekends with a fifteen-minute break every hour. It was during this visit that Astrid Kirchherr cut Stuart Sutcliffe’s hair into the style destined to become known as the “Beatle haircut” which The Beatles later adopted themselves. In order to cope with the intense, unheard of schedule and along with the band’s penchant for party’s and pretty girls it was at The Top Ten Club where the band began their infamous association with drugs, of all kinds ! During this 3 month stint, the band began their daily regimen of taking “Uppers” at night to keep them going, and “Downers” by day to get the little sleep they needed !
Jornalist and best selling author Malcom Gladwell chronicles these times in his 2008 best seller, “The Outliers” sighting this experience in the band’s life as essential to their later massive success !
Pictured above, the band’s classic Hamburg photo featuting 5 Beatles, including Pete Best on drums and Stu Sutcliffe on bass ! Just prior to Stu’s girlfriend Astrid, breaking out her scissors !
Yesh, Yeah, YEAH…
Post Script : Didja ever play in a band ? Didja ever play THREE sets a night ?…
It was 50 years ago today, Feb 15th, 1968 when The Beatles, their wives and friends set off for the Ashram of The Maharishi Mahesh Yogi located in Northern India in the city of Rishikish. The plan was to spend THREE MONTHS with The Maharishi, unplug, decompress and be enlightened by this universally acclaimed guru!
Along for this now legendary ill-fated trip were The four Beatles, John’s wife Cynthia Lennon, George’s wife Patti Boyd, as well as Maureen, Ringo’s wife and Paul’s long time girlfriend Jane Asher, as well as roadies Mal Evans and Peter Brown, and friends, Mike Love from The Beach Boys, Donovan Leitch, actress Mia and sister Prudence Farrow. The original idea to make the trip came from George’s wife Patty Boyd, she was searching for some way to escape and detox from the high focus intense life they were leading, when she saw an advertisement placed in “The Daily Mail” touting The Maharishi and his Ashram! We don’t know about you, but we always were a little wary of Universal Guruh’s running adverts in our local paper?
Scepticism aside Patti happily convinced the gang and booked the 3 mos tour….( if your hearing the Gilligan’s Island theme in your head right now, You’re not alone! ) At first, everyone took a deep breath and felt good about the trip, but things began to deteriorate quickly. There were cleanliness and hygiene issues and problems with large bugs, spiders, and Scorpions and the food… hitting Ringo the hardest…..In fact by March second Ringo had all he could stand, argued that the “Ashram was nothing more than a child’s sleepover camp and was immediately outta there! Leaving John, Paul and George behind to do what they do best, write songs! And write they did. Between the remaining three Beatles they wrote 48 songs, most of which are featured on “The Beatles White Album” additionally it was here where Donovan introduced “Finger Picking” to the three guitar players. But as day’s passed The Beatles began noticing how the Maharishi was becoming less and less about Peace, Love and Enlightenment and more about Cash Commerce and the ladies in the group. Beginning with a conversation with Paul, when the Maharishi asked Paul..”.What is the best car for one to have”? Paul replied, I have a Mercedes-Benz and it’s great” The Maharishi replied, “Fantastic, I shall buy one tomorrow”…..not exactly the kind of “enlightenment” McCartney was looking for. Rapidly, it was clear that “Yogi” was determined to orchestrate and record every moment of The Beatles Trip! With photographers and cameras rolling, he began each day barking orders, and shouting directions like Cecil B. Demille….”Ringo! Get under the tent, JOHN, PAUL, “smile shake hands”….George, “Play your guitar” you get the drill. Peter Brown was the first to “Blow the Whistle on “Little Yogi” Brown soon discovered and revealed to all that The Maharishi had made a deal with American Broadcaster “ABC T.V.
“Nam Yoho Renge Kyo”….or whatever the Little Yogi sez?…we think “YIKES” is perfectly appropriate!
The most infamous and timely tales of The Beatles in India surround The Maharishi and his sexual misconduct toward the female attendees. As the story is told, beyond the Maharishi’s obvious overtures, it was Beatle hanger on “Magic Alex” who claimed to have witnessed the Maharishi having his way with a woman who was more than resisting his advances, and SHE left the next day! Beyond the food, the bugs, the heat and “T.V. Special it was The hypocrisy and womanizing by the Maharishi that eventually drove the Beatles away, with Paul and girlfriend Jane Asher leaving two weeks after Ringo with George and John departing soon after!
Lastly, as ghastly as the experience was Beatle fans were left with at least two of your favorite Beatle songs from their experience in India “Sexy Sadie” which was originally titled “Maharishi” but, upon George’s insistence John changed it! And “Dear Prudence” John’s plea to Mia Farrow’s sister Prudence to unlock her door and come out of her room. According to John, all Pridence wanted to do was sit in the dark in her room and meditate…..She stated very competitively “She was going to be “The first one to find GOD!…..Nobody knows?
Our favorite moment from The Beatles trip to India was the final words between Lennon and The Maharishi as he and Cynthia were leaving; The Maharishi asks “Why are you leaving so early”? Lennon replies….”Well if you’re so enlightened YOU FIGURE IT OUT”
” BYE, BYE “…..
You must have a story?….We’d love to hear it…
Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!
Welcome to a new feature at Sixties Music Secrets. Here’s the drill: What if you could travel back in time and completely remove one song from The Beatles incredible repertoire. Yep, eliminate any trace, history or evidence of one Beatle song, as if it never existed.Forever removed from our collective culture and memory!
What Beatle song would YOU choose AND WHY?
To get things started, we offer up our first choice of which Beatle song should be forever banished from Beatledom and Beatle history. Our choice: From The White Album, “The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill”
Why? Because the melody sounds like a child’s nursery rhyme, Lennon tries so hard to make a lyrical point, but misses his mark
Lastly the highest crime of all. “Bungalow Bill” is the first Beatle record to feature someone other than John, Paul, George and Ringo singing on it. And that someone is Yoko Ono….Or as we like to refer to her “Yoko OH NO”
But now most importantly; WHAT’S YOUR PICK? and why?
Let ‘Em rip!
Yes, it was 50 years ago today Sept. 11, 1967 when The Beatles set off on their newest project / adventure / and first major failure, their first and last film completely written, produced, directed and starring John, Paul, George and Ringo…
The full cast and crew set off in their now famously decorated bus directly for The West Country of England, specifically the counties of Cornwall and Devon. They had no plan or true destination. They had no script. Each Beatle brought along pockets full of random thoughts scribbled down on bits of paper, notes like Lennon’s… “later John Serves a fat lady huge shovel’s of Spaghetti dressed as a Maitre ‘de.” Paul collected and collated the notes and named them The Scrupt!
And the shooting began, day and night until Sept 25th Yep, just 15 day’s yielding 10 hours of film, edited down to a mere 58 minutes!
we know, you know just about everything about this ill fated project, but we’re here to share a few “Didja knows” you may not have been aware of….You remember The Beatles oddball B-Side to “Let It Be”…”You Know My Name, Look Up My Number” Paul gives a shout out to Dennis O ‘del….Who?…. Dennis was an independent associate producer who worked on Magical Mystery Tour….Paul liked him and named him in his song!….They indeed shot the film in The West Country, but one day they ran off to Nice in the south of France and in an extremely clandestine maneuver “No permits/ permissions clearances etc. and shot “The Fool On The Hill”
The only other musical guests to briefly appear in the film were “The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band” performing their song “Death Cab For Cutie” Yep same name as the indie band that formed in 1997 in Washington…
Furthermore, Traffic were originally in the film performing their song “Here We Go ‘Round The Mulberry Bush” But, their performance became a victim of “The editors knife” and were cut out at the last-minute. Probably another bad decision for this doomed project!
Although all four Beatles are credited as writers, Directors, producers and Stars…Only Ringo is singled out with his solo credit as “Cinematographer”
the truth is all four Beatles were constantly shooting. In fact Paul is credited with the idea and concept for Macical Mystery Tour as an extension of his current hobby he was calling “Home movies”
But Ringo actually got a credit, something he may regret today…Curious, ain’t it?….or, another gift from John and Paul for their humble band mate ?
The film debuted in the U.K. on Television!….BBC One on “Boxing Day” (Dec. 26) in 1967….And get this! At this point in time BBC One could only transmit Black and White images! So all the Psychedelia, rich colors and beauty were lost in a wash of dull Grey/Black/White swirls!……Audience and critics hated and didn’t understand it……They demanded an apology from McCartney and he spoke up! He said that “It was their first film and they considered it a brilliant success……Remember the quote “I did not have sex with that woman” Sumthin’ like that. Two weeks later B.B.C. Two aired the film, B.B.C. Two, ( the lessor of the two networks ) however had the technology to air the film in COLOR! At that point in time it was reported there were 200,000 color sets in England and only a fraction of their owners watched the film, the damage was done!
In fact it took seven years for the film to even get released in the U.S. New Line Cinema released the film at a gala screening in NYC in 1974. The film was received more favorably in the U.S. Afterall, even with all the bad press IT WAS THE BEATLES,…How bad could it be”?
Your mother should know!
Did You ever see the movie? Do you have an opinion?….We’d love to know!…
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THE BRITISH ARE COMING ! THE BRITISH ARE COMING ! We have discussed, analyzed, argued and reminisced about the incredible diversity of music that coalesced during the 1960’s. However, we believe there is one musical event that dominated and defined the musical landscape of the 1960’s more than anything else…”THE BRITISH INVASION”
The invasion actually commenced in January of 1964 when an unknown band called The Beatles released their new record “I want to hold your hand” in America, the first week of January. Incredibly by Jan. 25th the single shot to number one on every pop music radio station in America….Less than three weeks later Feb. 9th, The Beatles and Ed Sullivan changed the T.V. business, the music business, made history and galvanized a template and strategy that opened doors and paved the way for a wave of talent who all “talked funny” but sang great, in what occasionally sounded like a foreign language….. English! “Mods” “Rockers” the artists you loved, the ones you hated or didn’t understand. The ones you felt “You discovered” and the ones that got away…..until a little later!
As 1964 unfurled in America, day after day, week in, week out we were introduced to and fell in love with, another talented BRIT ! Yes, The Beatles led the front with The Rolling Stones at their flank and the most incredible Rank and File ever assembled marching in perfect formation toward their destination / target….America!
And on they came…. a quick glance from our Eastern shores “across the pond” and you could almost hear The Modern English Armada shouting “Hail Britania”!….We know what your thinking, “Yes! Bring ’em on” The Stones, The Kinks, The Animals….Ahh, but slow down Yankee Doodle, you’re about to be surprised by some of the names and numbers. The Beatles had established their enormous beachhead stateside, so who was the next great Brit to invade America’s airwaves?
In the U.K. She was called “The greatest white soul singer in the world and as far as we’re considered “They was right” ! In February of ’64 Dusty Springfield’s powerful “I only want to be with you” pounced on us shot past The Beatles as they we’re wrapping the Sullivan shows and again from know where charted in at number twelve. We blinked and by the end of March, everyone was proclaiming The Dave Clark Five were “The next Beatles” From these early days in 1964 “They commenced to coming'” for at least the next two plus years! Do you recall Peter and Gordon (“World without Love” a Lennon McCartney song, I go to Pieces” a Del Shannon song, and of course “Woman” credited to Bernard Webb but written by McCartney)The Animals (House of the Rising Sun and “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”j Manfred Mann (“Doo Wah Diddy”)Petula Clark ( “Downtown” and”I know a Place”) Donovan ( before “Sunshine Superman” there was “Catch the Wind” and “Colors” ) Freddie and the Dreamers ( “Do the Freddie” and “I’m Telling You Now”) Wayne Fontana and the Mindbennders (“The Game of Love”) Herman’s Hermit’s ( “I’m into Something Good” “Henry the eighth” and a half-dozen more) The aforementioned Rolling Stones ( Time is on my Side” and “Last Time”) The Dave Clark Five (“Glad all Over” and Bit’s and Pieces”) Billy J. Kramer and The Dakota’s (” Little Children” and “From a Window” another Lennon McCartney comp.) The Searchers (“Needles and Pins” written by Sony Bono) The Bachelors, (“I Believe” and “My Diane”) Chad and Jeremy ” (“A Summer Song” and “Yesterday’s Gone”) Gerry and the Pacemakers (“How do you do what you do to Me” “I Like it ” and Ferry ‘Cross The Mersey”) Their manager Brian Epstein, yep that Brian Epstein, produced a B-Movie short film about ” Ferry” ( a Movie about and starring Gerry Marsden who wrote the Title song. Epstein eventually sold this nothing movie which he then coupled with “A Hard Day’s Night” as the opener for the Beatle film! Epstein also insisted that The Beatles record their own version of “How do you do”) written by “Gerry Marsden. But The Beatles vehemently resisted the idea! ( However there is a version you can find on the Beatles Anthology series and various bootlegs…..Talk about feathering your nest? Mr. Epstein Puh-Leeze! But we digress,How about The Honeycombs with A GIRL DRUMMER (“Have I The Right”) Them (Baby Please Don’t Go” and “Gloria”) Tom Jones (“It’s Not unusual”) The Yardbirds (For Your Love”) The Yardbirds also have bragging rights to have included, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton as their lead guitarist thru their brief career! The Spencer Davis Group (“Gimmie Some Lovin” and “I’m a Man”) featuring an incredibly soulful 17 year old Stevie Winwood! The Kinks (“You Really Got Me” and All Day and All of the Night” “Tired of Waiting For You”) How about the unbelievable harmonies of The Hollies (“Look Thru Any Window”and “Bus Stop”and “Stop, Stop, Stop”) The Zombies (“She’s Not There” and “Tell Her No”) and finally The Who (The Kids Are All Right” and “My Generation) Their second single in the U.S. “generation” incredibly ends with an insane DRUM SOLO by Who drummer Keith Moon!…
What’s so incredible is all these artists had at least one or more number one records in the U.S.A. From January 1964 thru December 1966!
We should note here that in 1965, The Weekly Billboard singles chart featured an artist from the British Commonwealth in the number one position 26 of the 52 weeks of publication…On May 8th of the year, that weeks Top 10 was controlled completely by British Acts with one exception, Gary Lewis and the Playboy’s “Count Me In” held in at number Two…
Math is not our strongest suit, but consider the charts and the 26 British Artists we sighted, it’s clear between ’64 -’67 at least every other record on American radio was a Great Britonian!
Lastly we must note in 1964, April 4 The Beatles held the Top 5 chart spots in America. No other Artist has ever achieved that fete before or after….Not even the top 3!
We know we’ve probably missed one of your faves, but our purpose wasn’t to unveil the obscure….But to jog loose some great memories and perhaps dust off a few old 45’s…
Most importantly we want to hear from you…We’re you there? What was your experience and perspective about the second time the U.S. was under siege by “Mother England”…..The 1960’s…
In the beginning it was Dusty..
Then Dave Clark was Glad to come along…
Later, Gerry…The Ferry song…
And on with the X Y Z’s…Zombies…
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Didja know that on this day, April 14th 1969 The Beatles ( actually only John and Paul) entered the studio to record “The Ballad of John and Yoko. The first and only single to feature only John and Paul……John on guitars and Paul on Bass, Drums and Piano. However, The Ballad of John and Yoko was notorious for including the word “Christ” in the lyric…”Christ you know it ain’t easy” resulting in many radio stations banning the record, many others made their own edit of the record and edited in the word “Christ” BACKWARDS! however most stations opted to simply “Bleep” out the word Christ. Leading to audiences believing that the “Bleeped” version was how the Beatles intended it. However one station in L.A. KRLA Played the new hit as it was recorded “Christ and all!….Leading to a fan with a great sense of humor, to take out a mock ad in Billboard magazine accusing KRLA of wrongfully…”Christing out The Bleeps”….think about it!…..HA!
Christ…. let’s listen, and watch!
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It was on this day, March 25, 1966 that The Beatles met at Bob Whitakers photo studio in London for a photo shoot of what was to be the cover for their next (ninth) album titled “Yesterday and Today”
The lads dressed up in white coats, and then were covered with cuts of raw meat and decapitaded plastic baby dolls. Smiling gleefully at the camera, the shoot took on the image of a strange nightmare! Whitaker was one of the bands favorite photographers. He shared their love for the absurd, had a mean sarcastic sense of humor and an Avant Garde style that The Beatles, especially, as you may guess, John absolutely adored! It was Whitakers idea for the bizarre set up and shoot. At this point in time the band would try anything to distance themselves from the image of deity’s, and somehow Whitaker convinced the band that his idea would be a statement on how they were just four normal men! Yeah, we never got that either? Meanwhile, they completed the shoot that afternoon and the images were delivered to Capitol records who wasted no time prepping and producing the new release. Capitol’s initial pressing was 750,000 units. However the immediate and universal reaction was so negative that Capitol had to recall all 750,000 records and replace the offensive cover by simply pasting a new cover ( a completely uninteresting shot of the band standing with an empty trunk (see below) The recall and replace process cost Capitol records $250,000! Wiping out any profit Capitol would had made on their first run of the record….However they did create one of Beatle mania’s most sought after collectors items. For years afterwords Beatle fans scoured the bins of record stores looking for a copy of “Yesterday and Today” with the “paste over cover” To this day if you find one and hold it up to the light just right you can see the original “Butcher” cover behind the “Trunk” cover! Meanwhile, if you’re so inclined, you can pick one up on E Bay for a cool $3,000
Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!
Have you ever seen one? Or…..Do you have one?