Thursday, 31 July 2008

Beatles at Budokan


Video/Laserdisc Only released in Japan.
This laserdisc contains one of the Beatles' concerts in Budokan Hall,1966, in colour, as well as black and white documentary stuff from the Beatles visit to Japan.
As the story goes, VAP released this as a VHS and a Beta video cassette in Japan in the eighties and got away with it. When they wanted to release it on laserdisc, Apple got involved. It was eventually released with their approval, as witnessed by the Apple logo on the sleeve. But only released in Japan for the domestic market.
Still, a copy found it's way to a specialist import store here in Oslo, Norway - and I was able to pick it up and take it home to my collection for a mere £70 or thereabout. I had invested in a laserdisc player for the sole purpose of being able to play "The Beatles First' US Visit" (which was only available in that format at the time) and Disney's "Mickey Mouse - The black and white years," which was also a laserdisc-only release.
Then DVD happened, and Disney did the sensible thing, releasing my laserdisc Mickey Mouse collection in the new format. Apple also came around regarding the Beatles First U.S. Visit, and - lo and behold - they even included more footage as bonus material. It was a beautiful release, and much recommended by me!
But Budokan still hasn't happened on DVD. Not in Japan, even. My old trusted laserdisc player doesn't work any more, I'm sad to say, but it was still in working condition by the time I bought my first DVD recorder, so I was able to transfer it to DVD before it was too late. Legislation here in Norway states that as long as you own an original, you can make as many digital copies for personal use as you care. So with the contents of the laserdisc transferred to DVD, all I needed to do was to scan the laserdisc sleeve and reuse the art to make a DVD cover for it. And since I've already done that, I've saved you other people from the trouble. Here it is:

I haven't a clue why Apple hasn't got around to release this as a DVD yet. Incidentally, even though the photos on the laserdisc cover is from the superior July 1st concert (often referred to as "the white suits" concert), the actual concert on the disc is the inferior opening concert on June 30th (The Beatles wearing black suits), the one that Brian Epstein didn't permit to be broadcast because Paul's microphone was behaving badly, and the band delivered an abysmal performance. Brian took home with him a copy of the good concert, and who knows where it's at now. A few bits of it was shown on The Beatles Anthology.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Odds & Sods

Here's the cover for the new DVD of various Beatles material that's going the rounds. Click for the bigger version.

Don't Put Me Down Like This

The Liverpool Daily Post brings us some updates about the recently discovered BBC radio tape of The Beatles, that's going to be sold at an auction on August 5th by Cameo Auctioneers of Midgham, Berkshire.
Beatles scholars have put forward that this could be reel 1 of two reels from the recording session for the BBC radio programme "Top Gear", which took place on September 17. 1964. Reel no. 2 circulates among collectors.
A reminder of what's on this tape:
Side 1
1 Don't Put Me Down Like This (unknown)
2 I Feel Fine (probably the recording session for "Top Gear")
3 She's A Woman (more "Top Gear")
4 Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby (more "Top Gear")
5 Honey Don't (more "Top Gear")
6 I'll Follow The Sun (incomplete) (more "Top Gear")
Side 2
1 I'll Follow The Sun (incomplete) (more "Top Gear")
2 I'm A Loser (more "Top Gear")
3 I'll Follow The Sun (complete) (more "Top Gear")
4 Too Much Monkey Business (probably The Hollies)
5 Nitty Gritty (probably The Hollies)
6 Somethings Gotta Hold Of Me (probably The Hollies)
7 I Shall Not Be Moved (unknown)
The auction catalogue also contains other interesting Beatles-related lots. 
Auctioneer John King, of Cameo Auctioneers of Midgham, Berkshire, said the tape is expected to attract worldwide interest when it is sold next week.
Mr King said: "It’s a real time capsule, an audio snapshot of the Beatles in the youth when they were having fun, laughing, giggling and buzzing off each other. Among the numbers they cover on the tape is a recording of ‘Don’t Put Me Down Like This’. Our research shows that there is no other known recording of the Beatles playing that number."
His research is probably the email I sent him, where I put forward the ongoing theories about the origin of the tape. The auction house still doesn't want to go public about the fact that some of this material is the Hollies and that it's a beeb recording, but that was probably not in their interest. Note that they are now touting the song  Don’t Put Me Down Like This as the main item of interest on the tape, and no mention about the titles Nitty Gritty/Something's Got A Hold On Me or I Shall Not Be Moved, which also would have warranted the description "no other known recording of the Beatles playing those numbers", if it had really been The Beatles who were playing on them. An expert on The Hollies believes that the end of this tape likely contains 3 Hollies tracks recorded for the Saturday Swings BBC radio programme, recorded 11 Nov 1964 and broadcast 28 Nov 1964. This particular show is not in the BBC radio archives.
Due to uncontrollable laughter and boyish antics, it takes the Beatles three attempts to complete the song I’ll Follow The Sun, which is a McCartney song they should know very well in late 1964, as it was probably composed as early as 1959 and is present on an unreleased Beatles rehearsal tape from 1960 that circulates among collectors.

The tape was discovered by a man going through his father’s effects after his death. Mr King again: "The vendor was sorting out his late father’s things and they included a number of audio tapes. Fortunately he played the tapes to find out what was on them and realised that he had something when he heard what appeared to be The Beatles. It’s very thrilling to come across something from The Beatles that is completely unique after all this time. When I first listened to this tape it really made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. It sent a shiver down my spine. Potentially the value of a unique Beatles recording is enormous.We have estimated it at £8,000 to £12,000 but the value could go much higher than that because we are getting worldwide interest."
The identity of the man who found the tape is not being revealed but it is thought that he father was in the music industry. Or perhaps the radio industry?

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Majestic Ballroom, Luton

The Beatles performed their first concert in Luton at the Majestic Ballroom in Mill Street on April 17, 1963, about a month before their first album, Please Please Me, was released and made them household names.
We recently came across another one of those familiar Parlophone promo post cards from this Luton concert. Janet was the lucky girl who got their autographs, and she remembers sitting on John Lennon's lap as she allowed him to use her back as a rest for signing the post card.
Signed to the verso by all four individually, John Lennon, Paul McCartney (who adds an inscription To Janet, love from The Beatles), George Harrison and Ringo Starr. Each have signed in bold blue or black inks and all have added kisses beneath their signatures.

One of our blog readers have gotten in touch with us and sent us this item from his collection. It's from the same Luton concert, and the post card again has been used to write down the group's set list for the evening. Lucky Lorraine (maybe a friend of Janet's ?) was given this item, and The Beatles all signed the card for her.
The current owner of the card is Chuck Gunderson, and he would like to get in touch with other collectors of Beatles autographs and set lists, to compare notes. You may contact him at this email:

Set list:
01. I Saw Her Standing There (McCartney-Lennon)
02. A Shot of Rhythm and Blues (Terry Thompson)
03. Do You Want To Know A Secret (McCartney-Lennon)
04. Beautiful Dreamer (Stephen Foster)
05. Anna (Go To Him) (Arthur Alexander)
06. Thank You Girl (McCartney-Lennon)
07. If You Gotta Make a Fool of Somebody (Rudy Clark)
08. Sweet Little Sixteen (Chuck Berry)
09. From Me To You (McCartney-Lennon)
10. Long Tall Sally (Blackwell - Johnson - Penniman)

All of these songs have since been released on albums by the Beatles (some on the "Live at the BBC" collection), except for two: Beautiful Dreamer exists as a BBC radio performance, but the quality of the recording was deemed too poor for release on the Live at the BBC album. Still, it circulates among collectors. And then there's James Ray's hit single "If You Gotta Make A Fool Of Somebody", which The Beatles never recorded for BBC radio. A tape of the Beatles performing this song and others at the Cavern Club in 1962 is in the hands of Paul McCartney, who purchased the tape at an auction on August 29,1985. The fidelity of the tape was probably below the standards for it's inclusion on the Beatles Anthology albums.
The story of James Ray is one of the sadder ones in R&B history. Blessed with a voice that was uncannily similar to Little Willie John's, James Ray made his first record in 1959 for the Gallant label ("Make Her Mine", under the name Little Jimmy Ray). However, the record flopped, and by 1962 James Ray was homeless, singing in the street for pennies and nickels. Ray was rediscovered by Gerry Granahan of Caprice Records, who brought him to a New York studio to record "If You Gotta Make A Fool Of Somebody", which reached #22 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1962 and was also a top 10 R&B hit. The single was issued in the UK in 1962 as well, and was performed in concerts by The Beatles, with John and Paul sharing the vocals.  The song was written by songwriter Rudy Clark who also penned "I've Got My Mind Set On You" for James Ray.
George was the first Beatle to set foot on American soil. In September 1963, he spent a fortnight with his sister Louise, a resident of Benton, a small mining town in southern Illinois. George wandered the trim streets, checked out the stores, and  returned to the UK with a Rickenbacker 425 and a copy of James Ray's album, which also contained the song Harrison was to revive in the 80's, "(I've )Got My Mind Set On You".
John Lennon was also a fan and included "If You Gotta Make a Fool of Somebody" on his jukebox, the contents of which were issued as a double CD in 2004 after the jukebox itself was purchased at an auction.
Manchester band Freddie and the Dreamers got around to record "If You Gotta Make a Fool of Somebody", and the single reached number 3 in the charts in mid-1963.
James Ray is thought to have died in 1964 due to a drug overdose, only 23 years old.
"If You Gotta Make a Fool of Somebody" was also covered by Ron Wood in 1974 on his "I've got my own album to do", an album George Harrison was involved in. The song "was sung with staggering sincerity by Wood, Rod Stewart and Keith Richards", according to the Rolling Stone review.

If you would like to share some of your recollections or memorabilia from the 1963 Beatles concerts, feel free to get in touch!

The Beatles at the Cavern Club


A young teenager who was a regular patron at the Cavern, wrote down all the songs that The Beatles performed at the club and later presented it to Cavern D.J. Bob Wooler. Here is the track listing that she compiled, sorted alphabetically:

A Taste Of Honey (Paul)
Ain't She Sweet (John)
Anna (John)
Baby It's You (John)
Beatle Bop (Instrumental)
Beautiful Dreamer (Paul)
Besame Mucho (Paul)
Boys (Ringo)
Chains (George)
Clarabella (Paul)
Claudette (Paul)
Darktown Strutters Ball (George)
Don't Ever Change (George/Paul)
Dream (George)
Dream Baby (Paul)
Falling In Love (George)
Glad All Over (George)
Hello Little Girl (John)
Hey Baby (Paul)
Hey Good Lookin' (George)
Hey Hey Hey Hey (Paul)
Hippy Hippy Shake (Paul)
Honeymoon Song (Paul)
Hully Gully (John)
I Call Your Name (John)
I Forgot To Remember To Forget (George)
I Remember You (Paul)
If You Gotta Make A Fool Of Somebody (John/Paul)
I'm A Hog For You Baby (Paul/John)
I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Cry (John)
I'm Henry The Eighth (George)
It's Now Or Never (Paul)
Johnny B.Goode (John)
Kansas City (Paul)
Keep Your Hands Off My Baby (John)
Lend Me Your Comb (John)
Like Dreamers Do (Paul)
Locomotion (John)
Long Tall Sally (Paul)
Love Me Tender (Stuart)
Love Of The Loved (Paul)
Loving You (Paul)
Lucille (Paul)
Matchbox (Pete or Ringo)
Maybellene (John)
Memphis (John)
Money (John)
Mr. Moonlight (John)
My Bonnie
Nothin' Shakin' (George)
Oh! My Soul (Paul)
Open (George)
Over The Rainbow (Paul)
Picture Of You (George)
Pinwheel Twist (Instrumental)
Please Mr. Postman (John)
Quarter To Three (Paul/John)
Red Hot (George)
Red Sails In The Sunset (Paul)
Rip It Up (Paul)
Roll Over Beethoven (George)
Save The Last Dance For Me
Sheik Of Araby (George)
Sheila (George)
Shimmy Shimmy (John)
Shine (George)
Shot Of Rhythm And Blues (John/Paul)
Slow Down (John)
Soldier Of Love (John)
Some Other Guy (John/Paul)
Stand By Me (John)
Sure To Fall (Paul)
Sweet Little Sixteen (John)
Talkin' 'Bout You (John)
The Saints
Three Cool Cats (George)
Till There Was You (Paul)
Time (George)
Tip Of My Tongue (Paul)
To Know Her Is To Love Her (John)
Too Much Monkey Business (John)
Tutti Frutti (Paul)
Twist And Shout (John)
What A Crazy World (George)
What'd I Say (Paul)
What's Your Name (John)
Where Have You Been (John)
Wooden Heart (Paul)
Yakety Yak (George/John)
You Better Move On (John)
Young Blood (George)
Your Feet's Too Big (John/Paul)

Source: Cavern Timeline

Monday, 28 July 2008

Lobby cards

Talking about this film, take a look at the Let It Be lobby cards for the german release of the movie. Some in black and white, some colourized.

This black and white lobby card of George is identical to one I have got, and it hangs on my wall under the Let It Be poster. It has needle marks in each corner and is stamped on the back with the rubber stamp of the norwegian movie distributor.
LINK to the full collection

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Let It Be

LET IT BE (1970)

The Let It Be movie
is probably the most accessible Beatles DVD in the world, even though it was only released to the home video market for a short while.

Here's the timeline of events regarding the release of Let It Be for the home video market:

In 1981, the movie Let It Be was released to the home video market through 20th Century Fox and Magnetic Video Corporation (MCA). It was first issued on VHS and Betamax, next on laserdisc, and finally, RCA secured the rights to release it for their CED* (Capacitance Electronic Disc System) "Videodisc" format. The latter format failed miserably due to poor quality discs, which always skipped, and the players which had a very high failure rate. All of the issues of Let It Be went out of print within a couple of years.

Laser Videodisc (USA)

On a personal note, I remember coming across a VHS cassette of Let It Be here in Oslo, Norway around 1981. It was in a video rental shop, but it always seemed to be out whenever I asked for it. One day it disappeared, and the owner of the store told me that one customer had paid a ridiculous sum of money for their copy.

VHS video cassette (USA)
In 1983, "Let It Be" was shown on TV in parts of West Germany, and a VHS cassette of "Let It Be" was officially released by Warner Home Video the year after, both in Germany and Holland. This edition of the film was from a 16mm print, which showed a bigger picture than the pan-and-scanned US editions. The cassette was available at first as a rent-a-video, later as a retail video for a the then very pricey sum of around 100 Deutsche Mark (DM). The VHS was withdrawn from the German market after only a few months, due to legal rights problems between Warner/UA Home Home Video & Apple.
German video cassette edition.

Betamax Video cassette (Holland)

Note that the US release was a pan and scan of the 4:3 adaption of the widescreen theatrical release on 35mm film (and from a print with a distinct yellow hue), whereas BBC showed the full widescreen version. German TV seems to have gotten hold of the original made-for-tv 16mm version, where a bigger frame allows you to see more of the picture.

As the 80's went on, I managed to secure a video cassette taped from the final televised version in the UK of the film in May 1982. The 80's went over into the nineties without anything happening.

End credit from Furmanek's 1992 restoration of the film.
In 1992, Ron Furmanek restored the film and remastered it's soundtrack oh behalf of Apple Corps. The original film had always been in mono, but whenever 8-tracks where available, Furmanek mixed it to stereo. His version of the film was shelved indefinitely by Apple, except that in 1997 the company "VCI", announced plans to issue the movie for the home video market for the first time in the UK. They were referring to Furmanek's restored and remastered edition from 1992 and announced that they would release it in 1997. It never happened. In 2016, bootleg company HMC got hold of this copy of the film and released it on DVD in NTSC and an aspect ratio of 4:3.

In an interview with USA Today in March 2002, Paul McCartney told writer Edna Gunderson that a reissue of "Let It Be" seems to be finally moving forward. "We're cleaning up the film and going back to the original tape, before (producer) Phil Spector got hold of it," he said. Of course, only the first part of that sentence referred to the film, the rest was about the album.

In April 2002, This Is London reported that Apple is on the verge of re-releasing "Let It Be" on video, though the article mistakenly says "for the first time." (which is only true for the UK, but as we have documented, it was released in at least three other countries). Author Keith Badman told This Is London, "Apple has done an amazing job of cleaning up the picture quality. John and George hated the film, which is why it's been hidden away all these years. Lennon used to describe it as 'a project set up by Paul, for Paul'." There have been rumors through the years that it was George's dislike of the film that kept the film from being re-released. An Apple spokesman, asked about a possible re-release, said, "There has been no release date arranged. It is all up in the air and I can't say anything more at this stage".

Later on that month, McCartney talked to the Newark Star-Ledger about the film: "I happened to be on a plane about a year ago, and I met the director of the film, Michael Lindsay-Hogg, and he said, "Every time I go into a video store in L.A., all the guys say, 'When are you going to release "Let It Be" (on video)?'" I said, "Isn't it out?" 'Cause you know, I don't know all that stuff. He said no. So I mentioned it to (a business associate), and I said, "You know what would be really cool? If we put the naked version of the record out as well." So that is actually getting worked on at the moment. It's not (officially) announced or anything yet, but that's what's in the pipeline."

When the release date for the "Let It Be…Naked" album was there, the film restoration project was still far from finished, so the DVD project was delayed.

After the release of the new "Let It Be...Naked" album, and no sight of the DVD, the film's director, Michael Lindsay-Hogg had this to say:
Q: So why wasn't a Let It Be DVD released alongside "Naked"?
Michael Lindsay-Hogg: The idea, as far as I know, is to put out two DVDs sometime in 2004, one of which will be the movie Let It Be with the print restored and the sound mixed to current standards. And then a companion DVD with interviews and extra material from anyone who had anything pertinent to say, one of them being myself.

Again, this didn't happen. In June 2004, details of a 3 disc 5.1 special edition of Let It Be was leaked to the internet, in the shape of this anonymous review, originally posted in the google group:

I was lucky enough last week to accompany my brother to a special editing session for a new Let It Be promo DVD he was assembling in a Los Angeles editing suite last week (he didn't actually work on the forthcoming DVD release).
Anyway, I was lucky enough to be able to spend several hours watching the nearly final product and combing through a bunch of production notes.
The film and features I watched were on a hard drive so I have no idea what the actual discs or the DVD packaging will look like, sorry. Some of the footage was still silent and not all of the options I clicked on worked, but here's a very rough preview. It's apparently not due until March 2005 so it may still change.

A THREE disc 5.1 special edition" with extra features to be followed by a single "plain vanilla" disc 6 months later.

The special edition features all the original film footage that was used in the original 1970 theatrical release of Let It Be spread over the first 2 discs (Disc 1 is entitled Twickenham and Disc 2 Apple). Over 79 minutes in total of previously unseen footage has been added into both discs. An optional on-screen apple logo is available that pops up in the screen corner whenever "new" material appears, but there is no branching option that allows you to either select the new footage or the original footage.

The Octopus's Garden sequence has been almost doubled. Entirely new rehearsal sequences have been added for Something, I Lost My Little Girl, All Things Must Pass, She Came In Thru The Bathroom Window, Plain Yoko Jam, Fancy My Chances With You, Rock'n'Roll Music, Blues Aren't For Ringo, Isn't It A Pity and more. More footage of George Harrison.

Both discs apparently feature an audio commentary by The Beatles with Michael Lindsay-Hogg, Yoko Ono and Linda Eastman (all culled from audio recordings made during the sessions). This didn't work yet on the demo.

The third disc features even more bonus material including:

AS NATURE INTENDED: 34 minute documentary on the Let It Be sessions, includes new interviews with George Martin, Billy Preston and Michael Lindsay Hogg, as well as archive interviews with John Lennon and George, Paul and Ringo interviews from the Anthology series (including a few snippets not seen before).

: A collection of rare footage of The Beatles recording in the studio (none of this is "Let It Be" era material). The footage listed includes And I Love Her, Paperback Writer, Rain, All You Need Is Love, Hey Bulldog, Lady Madonna, Helter Skelter, Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da, Blackbird, Tutti Frutti, Hey Jude (this track alone went for 20 minutes), St Louis Blues.
ACROSS TO ABBEY ROAD: The Abbey Road album tracks of Oh Darling, She Came In Through The Bathroom Window, Something and Maxwell's Silver Hammer all matched up to footage from the Let It Be rehearsals to create brand new "video clips".
CHIMNEY SWEEP: Option didn't work - no details on notes.
BEHIND THE SHUTTERS: Option didn't work - no details on notes.
THE NAKED TRUTH: A featurette on the production of the Let it Be..Naked album including footage of Paul McCartney at a playback session. Ends with a new clip created for Across The Universe using Let It Be footage.
TRAILERS: Let It Be, The Beatles Anthology, Yellow Submarine, The First US Visit.
THE BALLAD OF JOHN AND YOKO: Option didn't work - no details on notes

Unconfirmed rumours say that the above "review" was a hoax - someone's wet dream about what the release could have been.

The Toronto Sun reported in 2005 that the "Let It Be" film was on its way to DVD that year. According to an interview with Bob Smeaton, who directed the "Beatles Anthology", the DVD was to be in 5.1 sound along with tons of lost and bonus features.

The following year, Smeaton told Archer of 99.5 The Mountain radio station in Denver, Colorado that the DVD release had been delayed due to the sheer volume of film stock shot, and colour restoration issues. He gave three possible release dates in September 2006. Nothing came of it, although The Beatles' company Apple Corps Ltd bought the domain in 2007, and they still own it..

In a February 2007 interview with Neil Aspinall regarding the remastering of the film for DVD release, he stated, "The film was so controversial when it first came out. When we got halfway through restoring it, we looked at the outtakes and realized: this stuff is still controversial. It raised a lot of old issues."

A year later, Yoko Ono told writer Bill DeYoung this, when he asked about a DVD release of the movie: "You know, life is a long time. And I hope you have a very long one, Bill."

In June 2008, plans for a DVD version of Let It Be were cancelled at the request of Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, according to The Daily Express UK newspaper. An unnamed source told the newspaper that while Paul and Ringo were planning to release it, both had second thoughts. The source goes on to say "The Beatles are still a massive global brand and it's felt it won't be helped if the public sees the darker side of the story. Neither Paul nor Ringo would feel comfortable publicizing a film showing The Beatles getting on each other's nerves."

Upon further investigation, it turned out that the two surviving Beatles members weren't as dismissive as the article implicated. So there's still hope...

Posted on a discussion board in 2009 by someone claiming to have connections with people at Abbey Road: "It's been done and ready to go for at least five or six years now. LOTS of extras; research was impeccable; Bob Smeaton (who worked on the Anthology DVDs) says they went through EVERY surviving reel of film shot by EVERY camera while doing the restoration (a fair bit can be seen in 'Anthology'). It was basically reassembled from scratch using each camera negative. Disc one would be the original film, while disc 2 would have a S******D of unseen stuff, both video and audio including outtakes from the rooftop concert. The plan was for it to be issued along with/shortly after 'Let It Be......Naked'. Unfortunately, it only takes one member of the Apple board to veto a Beatles release and that's what happened. Who was it?. Wild horses wouldn't drag his/her name from my lips. Oh no."

"Secret Cinema" - a Philadelphia movie club showed an excellent print of the film on Friday, October 23 2009. Reports tells about a mediocre sound, though - due to the original monophonic soundtrack. Latter day DVD bootlegs have substituted the original movie soundtrack with treated tapes from the Nagra reels, as well as stereo versions from Get Back bootlegs, the Let It Be album and the Let It Be ... Naked album to enhance the audio experience.

BBC Radio 2 broadcast a radio documentary on the 24th of May 2010, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Let It Be movie and album. At the very end of the hour long broadcast, announcer Guy Garvey says "The word is from Apple is that work has begun on the restoration of the film with a future re-release at a future date still to be determined."

A source who was once close to Apple and connected to the "Let It Be …Naked" project, said that the Let It Be DVD was likely to see release in 2012 for the anniversary. Which anniversary? Well, in 2012 it was 50 years since The Beatles signed with EMI. Of course, this didn't happen, but then again, 2013 was yet another anniversary year and The Beatles have started releasing their films on Blu-ray, starting with "Yellow Submarine" in June 2012, "Magical Mystery Tour" in October 2012 and "Help!" in June 2013. "A Hard Day's Night" followed in 2014. "Let It Be"? Who knows?

In October 2011, "Let It Be" director Michael Lindsay-Hogg, who has been making the rounds to promote his autobiography "Luck and Circumstance: A Coming of Age in Hollywood, New York, and Points Beyond" spoke about the film in an interview with radio station WNYC-FM. "We have been been working on it pretty much every year for the last couple of years. And the plan is, at the moment, to have it come out, I think, in 2013," Lindsay-Hogg said.
He says that second disc will be filled with the film's outtakes. "When we first put 'Let It Be' out, I had to cut out a lot of stuff that I really like and wanted to stay in there. The stuff in the new DVD has a lot of the stuff that had to be cut out. So for me, it's like the egg is now complete."

At the Paul McCartney concert at the Royal Albert Hall in March 2012, Richard Porter (Beatles walk London tour guide) learned from what he describes as a very reliable source that the film is now scheduled for release in 2014, although other sources mention 2015 as more likely.

Let It Be has by now been remastered several times. In 1992 Ron Furmenek remastered the entire film from the original negatives. He said back then, and in more contemporary interviews, that it came out great. Much better than anything previously seen. That was the version which VCI wanted to release five years later on VHS, in 1997.

During the making of Anthology in the mid-nineties, select clips, including alternate performances, were also remastered taking advantage of then-new technology. Some of these clips as seen in Anthology are quite excellent. In 2013, "Let It Be...Naked" was made available on iTunes for the first time, and along with the album, two film clips were available for purchase, "Get Back" and "Don't Let Me Down".

In 2003, original producer Bob Smeaton and others remastered the entire film again, including outtakes. This is the version that almost came out in 2005, as announced by Smeaton himself. The newly remastered clips can be seen on many boots and on the official EPK package that came out in support of Let It Be...Naked.

Apparently, another new transfer of the original 16mm film and additional outtakes was done in 2011. Again, nothing was released.

In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine in May 2012, Ringo Starr was asked about the Let It Be film on DVD:

Are you thinking about releasing the Let It Be movie on DVD?
"I think that's also a possibility. One day that will come out. But we're not talking about it right now. As you know, there's very little that hasn't come out. I'd forgotten that one though. You just mentioned the one thing that hasn't come out. I'm too busy living now…"

In July 2015, Access Hollywood asked Ringo again:

Is the "Let It Be" movie ever going to see the light of day?
"Well, it'll see the light of day, everything sees the light of day, you know. And ... yeah I'm sure it will come out, it's not planned for this year. But yeah, it'll be out".

In August 2016, Paul McCartney said this in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine:

You mentioned the Let It Be film. Is there any chance it will ever be rereleased?
I keep thinking we've done it. We've talked about it for so long.
What's the holdup?
I've no bloody idea. I keep bringing it up, and everyone goes, "Yeah, we should do that." The objection should be me. I don't come off well.

Meanwhile, Apple Corps keeps teasing the fans by including remastered footage from the Let It Be film whenever they are promoting their new releases. A version of "One After 909" from the rooftop concert was sent to TV stations to promote the remastered catalogue, and also there was some hitherto unseen footage on the mini-documentary for the Let It Be album.

Revolver Records & Video uploaded a heavily watermarked version of the last 34 minutes of LET IT BE to YouTube in 2015. Titled "Savile Row", the Apple segment of the film was taken from Ron Furmanek's unpublished 1992 remaster of the film. Although the watermarking rendered the visuals useless, this provided bootleggers with Furmanek's stereo audio mix of this important portion of the film, which included work in Apple Studios, as well as the rooftop concert. An unused version of the performance of the title song was also uploaded by the same uploader, as was "Work print" - a black and white film from one camera, filming "Run For Your Life" and "Two of Us".

A collection of The Beatles' promotional films was released officially in 2015, featuring painstakingly restored versions of these, with new stereo and surround mixes. Despite LET IT BE having undergone several restorations over the years, material from that film didn't look restored, compared to other 16mm sourced films. Speculation among fans is that perhaps Apple is saving the restored version for an upcoming stand-alone release of the film.

In 2016, bootleg company HMC got hold of a copy of Ron Furmanek's 1992 restoration of the film, and released it as part of a DVD and CD package. Although the picture is cropped at the bottom (possibly to get rid of running numbers?), it's the best version so far, with a mostly stero soundtrack.

In an interview with the film's Cinematographer Tony Richmond in February 2017, it was revealed that "Since then, we remastered it for DVD and there were so many outtakes that weren’t used in the film that really show the acrimony between all of the Beatles. But that’s still being held up by George Harrison’s estate and his wife and Yoko Ono because they don’t want the acrimony shown."

In an interview with a radio station in Quebec, Canada on September 15, 2018, Paul McCartney was asked about the fate of the Beatles' "Let It Be" film. "We keep talking about that," Paul confirmed, "we have meetings at Apple". He went on to say that nothing was definite, but he "had heard rumours" about how a new version of the film may some day come out. "People have been looking at the footage." Paul says, estimating that it's around 56 hours worth af material there. And someone told him "the other day" that the overall feeling (when examining all the available footage) is very joyous and uplifting and mostly "a bunch of guys making music and enjoying it". So Paul thinks there is "some talk" about making a new movie, re-editing it from the same footage. "Who knows, that may be happening in a year or two," Paul concludes.

On January 30th, 2019, in celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the rooftop concert, The Beatles announced that a new film will be made, culled from the 55 hours of Get Back film footage available. The new film will be directed by Sir Peter Jackson. A release date is not announced, but a restored original "Let It Be" film will also be made available in conjunction with the new film. Let's hope it's not just a theatrical release, like Shea Stadium was.


1969: 16mm footage of the Beatles filmed in January for proposed TV Special and album, "Get Back".
1969: Film and album shelved for now, new album Abbey Road recorded and released.
1969-70: Footage reworked for movie screening, to fulfill 3 film contract with United Artists.
1970: Theatrical release. Film has been blown up to 35mm, sound is in mono, retitled "Let It Be".

UK premiere at the London Pavilion
1970s: Televised in several markets globally, occasionally shows up in cinemas.
1975: BBC2 shows Let It Be for the first time on December 26. Mono.
1976: BBC1 shows Let It Be on August 24. Mono.
1978: The first screening on HBO in USA, July 29. Ran another six times the following month.
1979: BBC2 shows all Beatles films during Christmas season, again Let It Be on Dec 26.
1980: John Lennon is killed.
1980: As a tribute to John Lennon, Australian Channel 10 shows Let It Be. Simulcast. The film may also have been shown elsewhere in the world at this traumatic time, but the Australian screening is the one we know about.
1981: Home Video release (USA) of 35mm film pan-and-scan: VHS, Betamax, Laserdisc and Videodisc by 20th Century Fox/Magnetic Video Corporation. Mono. Betamax may have been even earlier.
1981: Aired in USA on "The Movie Channel" in November and on "Cinemax" in December.
1982: BBC2 shows Let It Be for the fourth and last time on May 8. 16mm version, mono.
1983: Südwest III local TV screening (south-west part of West Germany) on Dec 26. 16mm, mono. Subtitled in German.
1984: Home Video Release (Holland) by Warner Home Video. 16mm, mono.
1984: Home Video Release (West Germany) of 16mm version: VHS, Betamax by Warner Home Video. Mono. Subtitled in German.
1985: Another Channel 10 TV screening in Australia, Sunday 14 July at midday, after the Live Aid concert finished.
1992: Original 16mm film restored by Ron Furmanek, remastered sound, stereo when available.
1995: Restored footage from film and outtakes shown on The Beatles Anthology TV series.
1997: VCI (UK) announces plans to release the 1992 restoration of the film on VHS. It doesn't happen.
2001: George Harrison succumbs to cancer. Before he dies, he agrees to several upcoming projects, including reworking the Let It Be album to "Let It Be...Naked" and a Cirque du Soleil show in Las Vegas, "Love".
2002: Paul McCartney says there are plans for a DVD release of the film alongside the upcoming new album, "Let It Be...Naked".
2003: Original 16mm film plus outtakes restored by Bob Smeaton.
2003: "Let It Be...Naked" is released. Newly restored outtakes footage used to promote the album. No DVD.
2003: Movie director Lindsay-Hogg says 2 DVDs with the film and outtakes ready for 2004.
2004: A review of a 3 disc version appears online.
2005: "The Toronto Sun" features interview with Bob Smeaton who says a DVD will come out that year.
2006: In a US radio show, Bob Smeaton gives three possible release dates in 2006 for the DVD.
2007: Apple Corps Ltd register the domain name
2007: Neil Aspinall says the film is still too controversial for release.
2008: Yoko Ono says the DVD will not be released yet.
2008: "The Daily Express" (UK) says DVD was cancelled by Paul and Ringo.
2009: Unidentified "insider" claims Yoko Ono is the one blocking the release.
2009: Theatrical screening at a film club in Philadelphia, PA. Good print, poor mono sound.
2010: BBC radio show says DVD is still considered for release at a future date.
2011: Original film and outtakes re-transferred again in higher resolution for future release.
2012: Film due out for 50th anniversary of "Love Me Do", but plans are again scrapped.
2012: Richard Porter learns from insider that the film may be released in 2014 or 2015.
2012: Ringo says: "One day that will come out, but we're not thinking about it right now".
2013: "Help!", "Magical Mystery Tour" and "Yellow Submarine" released on Blu-ray.
2014: "A Hard Day's Night" released on Blu-ray.
2015: Ringo confirms that it will eventually be released, just not this year.
2015: The last 34 minutes of Furmanek's unpublished 1992 restoration uploaded on YouTube
2015: Apple releases a collection of The Beatles' promotional films on Blu-ray and DVD. The material from "Let It Be" looks unrestored. This triggers speculation that Apple saves the restored version for a later stand-alone release.
2016: Bootleg company HMC releases the 1992 restoration of the film on a DVD+CD package in NTSC and an aspect ratio of 4:3. The lower part of the picture is cropped.
2016: Paul tells Rolling Stone that he keeps promoting a release of the film internally.
2016: "Don't Let Me Down" (partial) and "I've Got A Feeling" (partial) from the rooftop concert included in the "Eight Days A Week - The Touring Years" film. The latter song is edited differently with other camera angles than in the "Let It Be" film.
2017: Cinematographer Tony Richmond reveals in an interview that the official DVD release is held up by Yoko Ono and the estate of George Harrison.
2018: Paul McCartney said in an interview with a Canadian radio station that a re-edited version of the film may come out "in a year or two".
2019:On January 30th, in celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the rooftop concert, The Beatles announced that a new film will be made, culled from the 55 hours of Get Back film footage available. The new film will be directed by Sir Peter Jackson. A release date is not announced, but a restored original "Let It Be" film will also be made available in conjunction with the new film.

Benton gets busy

Second Beatle in Benton, Ill.
Tickets are being printed, a poster is in the works and a Web site has been created for the Oct. 4 Benton George Harrison Beatle Festival.
Committee members met Wednesday to continue plans to bring a second Beatle to Benton.
Committee chairman Jim Kirkpatrick said the news is certain to put Benton on the map.
“We have confirmation that Pete Best, an original member of The Silver Beatles, will perform that evening,” he said. “The Pete Best Band: Best of the Beatles will perform at 8 p.m. in the East Gym of Benton Consolidated High School. A visit from Pete Best follows another member of The Beatles. George Harrison visited his sister, Louise, in September 1963, before he was ‘fab.’ I even wrote a book about the visit.”

Friday, 25 July 2008

New tape discovered

This looks like a once in a lifetime collectors opportunity to own a newly discovered reel to reel tape believed to have been recorded in 1964, containing a number of Lennon & McCartney composed songs, as well as cover versions with plenty of dialogue inbetween recordings from the artists themselves. Estimate £8,000-£12,000. The tape is double-sided, and running at 7.5 ips, it lasts for approximately 30 minutes. 
Side 1
1 Don't Put Me Down Like This
2 I Feel Fine
3 She's A Woman
4 Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby
5 Honey Don't
6 I'll Follow The Sun
Side 2
1 I'll Follow The Sun
2 I'm A Loser
3 I'll Follow The Sun
4 Too Much Monkey Business
5 Nitty Gritty
6 Somethings Gotta Hold Of Me
7 I Shall Not Be Moved
The full tape can only be heard at Cameo's sale-room during viewing times or by special appointment . These recordings are offered for sale without copyright, broadcast rights, performers consent or any other reproductive rights, the buyer must obtain such clearance & consent as may be necessary from relative parties.
Beatles scholars have put forward that this could be reel 1 of two reels from the recording session for the BBC show "Top Gear", which took place on September 17. 1964. Reel no. 2 circulates among collectors. The final four tracks could be unrelated from the rest of the tracks, with the first three of them attributed to the Hollies. Track one, side one is intriguing, though - as this was a single John Lennon used to have in his jukebox: Derek Martin: Daddy-Rollin' Stone c/w Don't Put Me Down Like This from 1963.
Listen to a sample here.

New Beatles Photo exhibition

Bodelwyddan Castle in Wales is the place to visit from tomorrow and until 28th September, as they are staging a new exhibition of famous Beatles photos on loan from the National Portrait Gallery in London. The exhibition features rare and unseen photographs by famous photographers, who helped to shape the group's public image.
From early ‘60s images of Paul McCartney and John Lennon as they rehearsed from one of McCartney’s High School exercise books (taken by his brother, Mike McCartney) to a number of group and individual photos captured as they performed on Top of the Pops (by Harry Goodwin), as well as the iconic "butcher sleeve" photo (by Robert Whitaker).
There’s also their final performance at the Cavern (by Norman Parkinson), and one taken at the studio (by Linda McCartney) while recording the White Album, which reached number one in the chart during December 1968.
One of the more humorous photographs is the one taken in February 1963 by Michael Ward, which features Lennon, McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison standing in front of a sign stating: “Please use the litter bins.”
As one of the world’s most successful bands of all time, The Beatles were captured on camera on many occasions.
And among the most famous images are the photographs of Lennon and his second wife Yoko Ono staging their famous “bed-in” for peace not long after their wedding in 1969.
But this exhibition focuses on the Fab Four themselves and features rare portraits.
And there is much more to the exhibition than the photographs.
“As well as providing visitors with a fantastic mixture of photography, many of the images have a fascinating tale to tell,” says Morrigan Ellis, Deputy Director at Bodelwyddan Castle.
A number of hands-on Beatles' family activities are planned to take place during the exhibition.
There will be workshops in which visitors can design, construct and create their own musical instrument from everyday “junk”, an experiment with combinations of colour to create psychedelic prints and people will also be encouraged to design their own musical heroes T-shirt inspired by the exhibition.
“The workshops will enable families to produce their own Beatles’ themed artwork, using the exhibition as inspiration.”

Another post card

The Beatles' Parlophone Records promo postcards seem to be all the rage at the moment. A RARE postcard signed by all four Beatles following a Liverpool performance is going under the hammer next month.
The autographs were obtained by the vendor who attended a concert on May 26th 1963 at the Liverpool Empire. The postcard comes with the original seat ticket for that concert, together with an official programme which also features Roy Orbison and Gerry and The Pacemakers. The programme contains an inset ticket application form for a forthcoming concert starring Jerry Lee Lewis, Freddie and the Dreamers and the British Blue Caps. This lot also contains a number of contemporary press clippings relating to the Beatles.
Each band member’s signature is clearly legible, as are sets of kisses (XXX) from John, Paul and Ringo, but not George.
The Wirral-based owner has been told by experts that it will attract bids of up to £3,000 when it is sold in Halls fine art auction house in Shrewsbury.
Stewart Orr, Halls’ collectibles expert, said: “There is no doubt whatsoever about the authenticity of these autographs, which were obtained before The Beatles were really famous.”
Included in the same lot as the autographs are the ticket and programme from the concert that also featured Roy Orbison and Gerry and the Pacemakers. The items will be lots in a toys and collectibles sale on August 8.

Live before America

The Beatles - Live before AmericaThe new Purple Chick release chronicles the Beatles' live recordings before they went to America, with the exception of the Star Club material, which was another Purple Chick release.

The Beatles
Live Before America
Purple Chick

You probably don't need another live Beatles collection, but here's one anyway: every surviving non-radio performance between the Star Club and Ed Sullivan.

Carefully compiled and restored from the best sources we could find. As always, we didn't just copy the audio from the listed souces - instead, we tried to work some of our patented sonic magic when necessary. Of course, the quality still varies from dire to delightful, but you knew that already.

Anyway, enjoy this peek at the Beatles at their peak: before they landed in the U.S.A.


Pops and Lenny - 16 May, 1963
From Me To You taken from a video of this TV-show

The Mersey Sound- 27 August, 1963
A movie about the emerging Mersey Beat scene, The Beatles perform Twist And Shout, I Saw Her Standing There and She Loves You.

Sunday Night at the Palladium - 13 October, 1963

The Beatles play on ITV's "Sunday Night at the London Palladium" which is broadcast to 15 million viewers. Here's the audio, pieced together from various sources: intro, From Me To You, I'll Get You, She Loves You, Twist And Shout , outro.

Pop ‘63 - 24 October, 1963
The legendary Swedish Radio Show: intro, I Saw Her Standing There, From Me To You, Money (That's What I Want), Roll Over Beethoven, You Really Got A Hold On Me, She Loves You and Twist And Shout.

Drop In - 30 October, 1963
They also performed on TV in Sweden: intro, She Loves You, Twist And Shout, I Saw Her Standing There and Long Tall Sally+ outro.

The Royal Variety Performance - 4 November, 1963
Rattle your jewellery with From Me To You, She Loves You, Till There Was You and Twist And Shout + outro.

The Early Beatles - 9 Nov, 1963
I Saw Her Standing There.

The Jack Paar Program - 16 Nov, 1963
From Me To You.

The Beatles Come To Town - 20 November, 1963
Derek Taylor's first Beatles experience in Manchester: She Loves You, Twist And Shout and From Me To You.

Morecambe and Wise - 2 Dec, 1963
Combined from Mythology & Anthology 1, here's intro, This Boy, All My Loving, I Want To Hold Your Hand, not like it was in your day (spoken), Moonlight Bay and outro.


It’s The Beatles! - 7 December, 1963
Back in Liverpool, The Beatles are again captured for TV. A recent youtube version of this performance seems to have improved sound and PC has mixed this anew with Mythology and Ultimate Live Masters as secondary sources: From Me To You, I Saw Her Standing There, All My Loving, Roll Over Beethoven, Boys, Till There Was You, She Loves You, This Boy, I Want To Hold Your Hand, Money (That’s What I Want), Twist And Shout and From Me To You (reprise).

Sunday Night at the Palladium - 12 January, 1964
Another performance on this prestigious venue: intro, I Want To Hold Your Hand, This Boy, All My Loving, Money (That’s What I Want), Twist And Shout+outro.

Cinéma Cyrano, Versailles - 15 January, 1964
All that's available is From Me To You.

L’Olympia Theatre, Paris - 16 January, 1964 (afternoon)
DarthDisc's excellent City Of Light is the source for From Me To You, I Saw Her Standing There,
this boy intro, Twist And Shout, From Me To You, Long Tall Sally, From Me To You (reprise).

L’Olympia Theatre, Paris - 16 January, 1964 (evening)
Again from City of Light: From Me To You, She Loves You, This Boy, I Want To Hold Your Hand, Twist And Shout, From Me To You (reprise), and Long Tall Sally + From Me To You (reprise) from the German news reel "Tumult um Die Beatles"

Purple Chick's releases are fan-made compilations and are not for sale. Available at the ususal places.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

McCartney Quebec DVD

For those who recorded this concert from TV, here's a cover for your DVD. Artwork by guthera.

Drive My Car
Only Mama Knows
All My Loving
Flaming Pie
Got to Get You Into My Life
Let Me Roll It
C Moon
My Love
Let 'em In
Fine Line
The Long and Winding Road
Dance Tonight
Calico Skies
I'll Follow the Sun
Mrs. Vanderbilt
Eleanor Rigby
A Day in the Life > Give Peace a Chance
Good Day Sunshine
Too Many People > She Came In Through the Bathroom Window
Penny Lane
Band on the Run
Back in the USSR
I Got a Feeling
Live and Let Die
Let it Be
Hey Jude

Encore 1

Lady Madonna
Get Back
I Saw Her Standing There

Encore 2


Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Two new books due

Two new Beatles books out this autumn, both dealing with the Beatles' connections to England's neighbouring countries. We're quite looking forward to both of them! The Beatles and Ireland is due out October 1st, while The Beatles in Scotland arrives November 1st.
Read about The Beatles' Irish heritage here.
Read about The Beatles and Scotland here:

The Beatles and Scotland

The faces are young – instantly recognisable, but not yet fully-grown into what will become the four most famous faces in the western world – and happy as they grin towards the camera in the cold. One of them holds a thumb aloft as they pose beside the roadside sign that proudly proclaims 'HASTE YE BACK!'
The Beatles in Scotland

The time is January 1963, the thumb (and one of the grinning faces) belongs to John Lennon, and the three other faces belong to Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. The Beatles – at the Scottish Border, returning from playing four Scottish dates in glamorous venues like the Museum Hall in Bridge of Allan and Dingwall Town Hall. Within a year they would be phenomenon on Britain and playing at the London Palladium, within two years they would conquer America. But for now, frozen in time in candid black and white, they were just four lads, barely out of their teens and happy to be travelling the country playing music.

Not that 1963 was the Beatles first visit to Scotland. As any real Beatleologist will tell you the band's first concerts outside of England – even before they went to Hamburg – happened in the spring of 1960 when The Silver Beetles (as they were still called) came to tour north east Scotland as the backing band for a singer called Johnny Gentle.

The trip was not without incident. Indeed the whole of musical history – if not popular culture – was nearly changed forever one night in May 1960, when the Silver Beetles' heavily laden tour bus was involved in a collision near Fraserbugh. Luckily – or unfortunately, depending on which seat you were sitting in! – the only member of the band to be seriously injured was temporary drummer Tommy Moore (Ringo was still two years away from joining the band) who lost a few teeth and had to be taken to hospital for stitches. It would not be a Beatles' last brush with Scotland's roads and hospitals. . . .

But the Fab Four's connection with Scotland goes back much further than the 1960's. The group's original bass player Stuart Sutcliffe – the member generally credited with having much to do with the Beatles' early imaging – was born in Edinburgh. Perhaps even more significantly from a creative perspective was John Lennon's connection with Scotland. . . .

Back in the late 1940's and early 1950's, between the ages of nine and fourteen, Lennon would regularly spend his summer holidays at Durness in Sutherland, the most north-westerly village on mainland Britain, staying at a croft in Sango Bay that belonged to relatives. He would be packed off on the bus from Liverpool to Edinburgh, where he would be collected by his cousin Stanley Parkes before the family travelled north together.

Back in the early fifties Durness was one of the most remote, inaccessible parts of the country and Lennon, Parkes says, "Loved the complete wildness of the place. We went hunting and fishing and John loved going up into the hills to draw or write poetry. He loved hillwalking, shooting and fishing and would have been quite a laird!"

It is fascinating to think of the teenage John Lennon – just a few years away from meeting Paul McCartney and changing history – writing poetry in the Scottish hills, developing the lyrical talent that would in time make him one of the most important songwriters the world has ever known. Lennon's youthful connection to Scotland was highlighted earlier this year when North Highland Tourism Operators – headed by Prince Charles – launched a new website to help celebrate Lennon's links to Durness.

Mr Parkes says "John never forgot those times at Durness. They were among his happiest memories and I hope many tourists will visit the area that meant so much to him and enjoy its beauty and charms as he once did."

Lennon was to return to Scotland many years later – bringing his wife Yoko Ono and his young children, six-year-old Julian and five-year-old Kyoko, back to Durness for a holiday in the summer of 1969. By this time, of course, Lennon was one of the wealthiest and most famous men in the world and yet he took his Scottish break with very little ceremony. . . .

Just as he had done years before Lennon and family stayed with the Parkes' in Edinburgh before heading north in an Austin Maxi, a far cry from the psychedelic Rolls Royce more commonly associated with rock stars in the late 1960's!

However, the trip was to culminate in Lennon's second cataclysmic experience on the roads of Scotland. Just as the Beatles' 1960's had begun with a Scottish car crash, so they were to end when Lennon, who had notoriously poor eyesight and who rarely drove himself, crashed the Austin Maxi on a tight Highland road.

It was a serious smash, writing off the car and leaving Lennon requiring 17 stitches for facial injuries and Yoko needing 14 in her forehead. Lennon was rushed to Lawson Memorial Hospital in Golspie, Sutherland where he was to spend five days convalescing. Ironically the peace and tranquillity of the hospital provided Lennon with a welcome break from the hectic life he was leading in 1969 – the height of his celebrity and notoriety when he and Yoko were regularly front-page news with their famous 'bed-in' peace protests.

While a media frenzy was being whipped up in London around the release of Lennon's new single Give Peace A Chance, the singer himself was enjoying fresh fruit scones, home-made marmalade and line-caught salmon while reading the newspapers quietly in the secluded grounds of a Scottish hospital! On returning to London Lennon told reporters, "If you're going to have a car crash, try and arrange for it to happen in the Highlands. The hospital there was just great!"

Around the same time as Lennon's accident, over on the other side of Scotland, on the west coast, his former songwriting partner was also beginning to fall for the charms of life north of the border.

Sir Paul McCartney originally bought High Park Farm near Campbeltown in 1968 as a tax break, but he soon grew to love the atmosphere of the property with its westerly views over the Kintyre peninsula and has credited the place with helping him recover from the depression he suffered in the wake of the Beatles split. "It's like a little hideaway," McCartney said. "I love it. I love the people there. I can sort of breathe when I get up there. Breathe pure air."

By the mid 1970's the McCartney's were regularly enjoying long summer holidays at their Scottish farmhouse and it was there, while watching the spring lambs gambolling in the fields, that the family made the decision to become vegetarians, a decision that would have an enormous impact years later when McCartney's wife Linda launched her best-selling range of vegetarian food. Fittingly she was photographed in the farmhouse kitchen in Kintyre to promote the dishes.

The area was to repay McCartney's love for it handsomely in 1977, when it inspired him to write Mull of Kintyre. The song went on to stay at number one for over two months, selling upwards of two million copies (far more than even the Beatles biggest hits) and becoming the biggest selling British single of all time in the process; a record it held until Band Aid's Do They Know It's Christmas? in 1984.

One can only wonder how it might have sounded had John Lennon penned his own musical tribute to the charms of Scotland's East Coast. . . .

Pre-order the books from Amazon:

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Azena date corrected

Just got word back from Beatles author and researcher par excellence Mark Lewisohn regarding the Azena Ballroom gig in Sheffield. It appears that:
A) The Azena Ballroom gig didn't take place on the previously assumed date, it was in fact April 2nd.
B) That means that the poster (colourized version above) is a fake, which explains the use of the "dropped T" logo.
C) The set list is in Paul McCartney's handwriting, not Lennons. This still means that Lennon may have been the one who chucked it away
D) Lewisohn is puzzled by the absence of "Thank You Girl" and "Twist And Shout" on the set list.

The Helen Shapiro Tour 8

This is the Beatles' page from the official programme of the Helen Shapiro Tour. It reads:
The Beatles hit recorders of "Love Me Do" are no newcomers to show business, the group was formed way back in 1956 when the grind and scratch of skiffle was just starting to graze the pop horizon. So their breakthrough on records is backed by six years of maturing musical notions and practical experience which has taken them from Liverpool ballrooms to Hamburg night clubs, from church hall hops to colourful strip club stints in Liverpool's China town.
Now the boys have outgrown their rock and skiffle phases to explode onto the highly competitive musical scene as a thoroughly groomed super-charged quartet.
They have played package shows alongside such top line artistes as Bruce Channel, Little Richard, Joe Brown (who thought they were fabulous), Mike Berry, Gene Vincent, Mr. Acker Bilk and Kenny Ball on their respective tours.
Their latest recording "Please Please Me" looks destined for parade honours.

Azena promo post card

This is a promotional post card from 1963, identical to the one that Lennon used to scribble down the set list for the Azena ballroom gig on the 12th of February, 1963. Since my blog post about that set list, controversy has sneaked in, as commented by Peter Checksfield: Why is "From Me To You" on the list, a full two weeks before it was supposed to have been composed? Legend has it that the song was composed on the Shapiro tour bus en route to Shrewsbury, a town that wasn't visited until February 28th. This song may now have to be dated earlier. And IF they played it live on the 12th, why didn't they attempt to record it on the 11th? Maybe it's a work-in-progress version and one that needed to be refined. Anyway, IF this set list is what it says it is, Lennon and McCartney must have composed that song on the earlier stint at the Shapiro tour (between the 2nd and the 9th of February), between two other gigs.

Shapiro tour buddies

Paul McCartney and Kenny Lynch backstage at the BRIT awards, february 2008.

Monday, 21 July 2008

The Beatles at the Azena Sheffield

Azena newspaper ad

During research for the Helen Shapiro Tour, I obtained some information about a gig performed during the tour's break. Amazingly, I was also sent a scan of the actual set list from this concert, in Lennon's handwriting. The original set list was written on the back of a Beatles promo post card from Parlophone Records, and the scan is off a photo copy of that card. Here's a Sheffield newspaper item about the concert:

In 1963 Beatlemania came to Sheffield

Peter Stringfellow, founder and owner of The Mojo Club, booked the Beatles - a band creating a stir on the music scene in Liverpool - originally to play his first music club and forerunner to The Mojo, The Black Cat Club (St. Aiden's Church Hall). In between Stringfellow booking the band and the night of the concert, The Beatles had their first number one with 'Please Please Me', and screaming, shouting, hair-pulling Beatlemania swept the country. The police suggested Stringfellow move the gig to accommodate the demand for tickets, so he booked the Azena Ballroom on the outskirts of Sheffield. Brian Epstein, the Beatles' manager, also upped the price from the first agreed price of £65 to £90, as, he said, they had a record in the charts now. (Stringfellow later managed to haggle him down to £85).

On February the 11th, the day before the Azena Ballroom gig, The Beatles recorded the remaining 10 tracks that would make up their debut album - all in one day. On the 12th they were in Sheffield for the gig. Stringfellow had sold 2000 tickets for the show - the Azena's capacity was 500, and a further estimated 1000 people turned up on the night to try their luck. It was bedlam. Amazingly, The Beatles also played another gig in Oldham that same day.

The poster

The Beatles also autographed the wall backstage at The Azena Ballroom. When the ballroom was converted into a supermarket years later (first Kwik Save, later on a Somerfield), it was rumoured that The Beatles' signatures still remained on a wall in the back of the supermarket.
Clearly and unmistakably the concert poster shows The Beatles famous dropped T logo - but The Beatles didn't start using this logo officially until May 1963 - a good few months after this posters design. At the time of the gig The Beatles were using their 'Bug' logo. Stories of the origin of the "dropped T" logo date it to Ivor Arbitor who allegedly designed the logo for Ringo Starr's new Ludwig drum kit - but this was in April 1963! Other rumours says that "a man in Hamburg" designed the famous logo. Well, this poster still seems to be the first appearance of that logo. The poster was made by Colin Duffield, who hand printed the poster on a bench screen using pro-film stencils. The original measures 80cm x 54.5cm and was sold by auction company Cooper Owens at a Rock'n'Roll Memorabilia auction, accompanied by a letter of authenticity from Duffield.
UPDATE JAN. 19-2009: This poster was eventually revealed as a fake in one of our later blogs, and the date for the concert has also been corrected.

Set list

  • I Saw Her Standing There

  • Sweet Little Sixteen

  • Chains

  • Beautiful Dreamer

  • Misery

  • Hey Good Looking

  • Love Me Do

  • Baby It's You

  • Three Cool Cats

  • Please Please Me


  • Some Other Guy

  • Ask Me Why

  • Roll Over Beethoven

  • A Taste of Honey

  • Boys

  • Keep Your Hands Off My Baby

  • Do You Want To Know A Secret

  • From Me To You

  • Please Please Me (possible encore)

  • Long Tall Sally

Azena set list

Many thanks to Peter Gray and John Hodge for providing the set list!

The actual card was picked up by the drummer with the local support group The Aidens (sometimes referred to as Mike or Mark Jones and The Aidens). He remembered being sat backstage with John Lennon as he just discarded a Beatles Parlophone postcard on which he had written down the evenings setlist. Luckily, the drummer picked up the card and kept it. The set list shows that the cold-suffering Lennon avoided going through the throat-shredding "Twist and Shout", which he had recorded as a closer for their debut album the day before.

Britain wouldn't be Britain unless someone saw a business opportunity here, so here's a T-shirt (!) featuring the design from the Sheffield Azena poster.

Azena photo

Peter Stringfellow announces The Beatles at the Azena Ballroom

Here are some more recollections of the Azena gig in Sheffield, as posted on a discussion board:

David Bowler: I was at the Azena for the beatles concert and I remember paying 6s 6d for a ticket on the black market outside, the original price was 5s 6d and someone opened the firedoor and hundreds poured in till the police restored order, I recall standing on a chair on a table. The Azena was called after the owners Arnold & Zena Fidler, Zena died this year (2003).

Timbuck: Yes the beatles did play at the azena, co's i was there, the gig was moved there after the Stringfellow Bro's found they were selling to many tickets and their place wasn't big enough...I think they got the Fab Four because they booked them just before they became famous, and the beatles honoured all bookings taken, and The Stringfellows got them for about £65 Quid.
My mate "John Bealy" was the singer in the support band at this gig and Paul Macartney borrowed his Bass players gear that night
later on that bass amp and speaker became mine.
From what i remember all the songs were "Chuck Berries" except for "Love me do".
But the Azena will always be the place for "Dave berry and the Cruisers" for me.

mojoworking: The Beatles played in Sheffield a total of seven times.

The first Sheffield concert was at the Azena Ballroom, White Lane, Gleadless on 12 February 1963. Peter Stringfellow paid £85 to book them. Although Peter had originally been quoted £65, Brian Epstein put the price up to £90 "because they've got a record in the charts", which was then haggled down by a fiver.

Stringfellow originally planned to book them to play at his Black Cat Club (St. Aiden's Church Hall), but because he couldn't fit enough people in to cover the huge booking fee of £85 (most "name" bands charged between £35 - £50 back then), he hired the Azena for the night, which cost him £29.

The Azena normally held 500 people, but Stringfellow sold 2,000 tickets and it's estimated another 1,000 showed up on the night. Tickets were four shillings (20p) rising to five shillings (25p) when demand took off.

Just pause and think about that: 25p to see the Beatles!

God knows how they did it, but the Beatles also played another gig on the same day in Oldham, Lancs.

The exact set list for the Azena show is lost in the mists of time, but they were only playing one Chuck Berry song live around that time (Too Much Monkey Business). The rest of the set would have been songs from their first LP including: Chains, Keep Your Hands Off My Baby, Please Please Me, Love Me Do, A Taste Of Honey, Do You Want To Know A Secret, I Saw Her Standing There.

By an amazing coincidence the Beatles had just recorded the remaining 10 tracks which would make up their debut LP on 11th Feb - the day before the Azena gig! All ten tracks were recorded in the one day, the remaining 4 tracks (it was a 14 track LP) being the A & B sides of their first two singles (Love Me Do & Please Please Me), which were already released.

Interestingly, The Beatles were back in Sheffield only a few weeks later on 2 March and then again on 16 March. Both concerts took place at the City Hall during the first wave of Beatlemania.

Tofty: I had the pleasure of being at their first performance at the Azena in Gleadless and I must say it was total chaos. People that had paid for tickets just couldn't get through the door. At the time I was working at Wilson Pecks who were the booking agents for the City Hall and I was fortunate enough to get a job as a programme seller when they appeared at the City Hall on the Roy Orbison concert the same year. I even got backstage and met them and Roy Orbison and still have the autographed progamme to this day.

crucible77: Despite the last posts on here being a few years ago I found them whilst searching for information on the first ever Beatles concert to be played in Sheffield which was at The Azena Ballroom,white Lane Gleadless on Saturday 12th February 1963.

I used to work with a man nearly 20 years ago who was the drummer in the support band at this show "Mike Stone and the Aidens". He told me the story of how he remembered being sat backstage with John Lennon as he just discarded a Beatles Parlophone postcard on which he had written down the evenings setlist.
Luckily he picked up the card and kept it.

He told me he had played with a lot of bands in the 60s and kept the odd item.
As I collected anything Beatle related at the time I asked him to go through his box of stuff and sure enough one morning he brought it into work for me to see. Thankfully I got a photo copy of it (front and back) as well as a cutting from a newspaper for the show.

I remember him saying it was the first time it had been out for years and he was putting it back, so I guess he will have never have let it go. I don't know if he ever thought of it being valuable really.

Anyway I am sure that someone somewhere would love to know that this exists, and the tracklisting is there clearly in Lennons own handwriting with a line between the first and second sets.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

The Helen Shapiro Tour 7

A Coventry poster from ebay had different colours than the other posters I've presented here. Don't know if it's real or a fake.

"Brian telephoned Arthur Howes about booking the group. The Beatles had 'Love Me Do' on the charts at the time but were relatively unknown. Howes, one of Britain's leading concert promoters, offered the Beatles £30 a night for the Helen Shapiro tour and wouldn't pay them at all for a performance with Frank Ifield beyond traveling expenses. Brian responded by giving Howes first option on all future Beatle tours." (Lewisohn. Chronicle p. 62)

With their first prestigious British tour scheduled to start on February 2nd, The Beatles decided once more to improve the appearance of their stage equipment. Starr's name had to be taken off the front of his drum-head. After all, the group were going to be seen by thousands of new potential fans during their first real tour. They didn't want people walking away after the performance wondering what the band was called ... or thinking it might be The Ringo Starr Band. It was time to design a Beatles logo for the front of the bass drum.
Various drawings that McCartney made for a Beatles logo were published in his brother Mike's 1981 book, The Macs. These interesting documents show the preliminary sketches that would eventually become the group's "bug" logo. The ideas were taken to a local signwriter in Liverpool, Tex O'Hara, whose brother Brian was guitarist in another Epstein-managed band, The Fourmost.
Tex explains, "We played around with different ideas to find out. which ones they liked. I did about live to ten drawings - which I've slill got - and showed them to the group. They settled on one logo, which was put on a piece of linen and stretched across the front of the drum." 2 This second bass-drum head on Starr's Premier drum set was plain while, without the Premier brandname and with the new Beatle "bug" logo. This had a script-style "Beatles", the "B" of which was decorated with two bug-like antennae. It was simply drawn on a piece of cloth that was stretched across the drum head, and held down with the bass-drum's mounting hoops.
Here's a look at the drum head logo. This photo was taken during the taping of an episode of "Thank Your Lucky Stars" on February 17th, during the break in the Helen Shapiro Tour.
McCartney played his Hofner bass, Harrison and Lennon both used their Gibson J-160E acoustic-electric guitars, and Starr played his Premier drum set with the new "bug" Beatles logo displayed on the front drum head.
The Shapiro tour carried on, and the group continued to use their familiar equipment. But Lennon was again having problems with his Rickenbacker. The Homer volume knobs that he had put on the guitar when it was painted black started to fall off: first one, then another. Lennon used the Rickenbacker with two knobs missing for a while before he once again replaced them all with a new set of Burns knobs.