Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Rock and Roll at the Hollywood Bowl!

Venus & Mars / RockShow / Jet

Two Of Us - incomplete
Set list for last nights concert:
Venus And Mars/Rock Show
All My Loving
Letting Go
Got To Get You Into My Life
Let Me Roll It/Foxy Lady
The Long And Winding Road
Nineteen Hundred And Eighty Five
(I Want To) Come Home
My Love
I'm Looking Through You
Two Of Us
Here Today
Dance Tonight
Mrs. Vanderbilt
Eleanor Rigby
Sing The Changes
Band On The Run
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
Back In The Ussr
I've Got A Feeling
Paperback Writer
A Day in The Life/Give Peace A Chance
Let It Be
Live And Let Die
Hey Jude
Encores 1:
Day Tripper
Lady Madonna
Get Back
Encores 2:
Helter Skelter
Sgt Pepper/The End

As you can see, "Every Night" was dropped and "Letting Go" changed placement.

John Lennon: Rare and Unseen DVD

There's a new title in the ''Rare and Unseen'' DVD series, this time featuring John Lennon. The DVD is already out in the UK and Europe, and will be released shortly in the USA. The producers claim that this DVD release is a collection of rare footage you won't find elsewhere, and that it features original rare film and videos of Lennon, newsreels and photographs from private collections. Plus opinions from Phil Collins, Len Goodman and Tony Barrow.

Here are some of the contents:

"Man of the Decade," a 1969 program that has circulated among collectors and, according to the press release, "aired once in 1969 and unseen since,"
"Aquarius,"  Unseen since the '70s,
"Weekend World, Thought wiped and unseen out of the UK
"Frost", never released on DVD.
John and Yoko were regulars on David Frost's show, so this could refer to any one of several appearances between 1968 and 1971, but early UK reviews are suggesting 1968.
Aquarius was recorded on February 28th 1972 and subsequently transmitted by London Weekend Television in colour on the 11th of March the same year. The subject of this special edition of the British TV series was "The pursuit of happiness in Modern-day America". Just over 3 minutes of John and Yoko footage, filmed in their apartment in Greenwich Village, was used including a brief rendition of "Attica State" plus an interview. John: "Our job now is to tell them there is still hope and we still have things to do and we must get out now and change their heads and tell them it's OK. We can change! It isn't over just because flower power didn't work. It's only the beginning. We're just in the inception of revolution."

Man Of The Decade was recorded on the 2nd of December 1969 and transmitted by ATV in colour on the 30th of December 1969. Although the DVD producers seem to claim that it hasn't been aired since, I think it was re-transmitted in 1990. Here's a full transcript of the show, which is circulating among collectors on the Telecasts 1990 DVD by FAB Productions.

Weekend World was filmed on the 6th of April 1973 by London Weekend Television. It's a 10 minute interview, and was broadcast on the 8th.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Arizona Soundcheck

Here's the setlist from last night's pre-concert soundcheck (for the concert setlist, see my previous post):
1. Hi Ho Silver (Paul on guitar)
2. Honey Don't
3. Coming Up (switch to Hofner bass)
4. Band On The Run
5. Letting Go
6. Venus & Mars/Rock Show
7. Jet
8. Highway
9. (I Want To) Come Home (switch to piano)
10. 1985
11. The Long And Winding Road
12. The Long And Winding Road
13. Young Love (switch to acoustic guitar - this is the 1950's big hit by Sonny James)
14. Two Of Us
15. I'm Looking Through You
16. Dance Tonight (switch to mandolin)
17. Ram On (switch to ukelele)
18. Something (stops halfway through as the uke keeps going out of tune)
19. Paperback Writer (switch to the Epiphone Casino)

Venus And Mars are all right tonight!

For Wings fans it was the absolute perfect concert opening when Paul McCartney entered the stage in Glendale, AZ singing the "Venus And Mars / Rockshow" medley from the Venus and Mars album. The crowd went wild, but then they would, because it was the opener. Another favourite from the same album appeared later on, the single "Letting Go", which was well received but not fantastic. It's not among the ones that (most) people know, and it's also a bit slow. The Band On The Run album was further explored when the piano based "Nineteen hundred and eighty five" was performed, and the crowd reaction was great. After all, it's faster paced than "Letting Go", and from a landmark album that most people have or should have in their collection. From the rich Beatles catalogue, McCartney had picked a new gem in "I'm Looking Through You" from Rubber Soul. As always, it was the first part of the concert that was the most interesting one for McCartney concert veterans, whereas the second part stuck to the familiar repertoire of well tested Beatles and solo favourites. Reports indicate that McCartney's voice was top notch and strong.

The full set list: Venus And Mars - Rock Show, Jet, All My Loving, Got To Get You Into My Life, Highway, Let Me Roll It - Foxy Lady, The Long And Winding Road, Nineteen Hundred And Eighty Five, (I Want To) Come Home, My Love, I'm Looking Through You, Every Night, Two Of Us, Blackbird, Here Today, Dance Tonight, Mrs. Vandebilt, Eleanor Rigby, Something, Letting Go, Sing The Changes, Band On The Run, Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, Back In The USSR, I've Got A Feeling, Paperback Writer, A Day In The Life - Give Peace A Chance, Let It Be, Live And Let Die, Hey Jude, Day Tripper, Lady Madonna, Get Back, Yesterday, Helter Skelter, Sgt. Pepper's (reprise) - The End.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Norwegian Wood 120

The new issue of Norway's own Beatles magazine, Norwegian Wood was out in late March. This is what the front cover looks like, and the rest of the contents are as follows:
Page 2: "Butcher" cover photos
Page 3: Contents and Credits
Page 4-5: Editorial by Ole-Andreas Refsnes
Page 6-7: The President speaks by Linda Engebråten
Page 8-10: Record reviews: "Y Not" by Ringo Starr reviewed by Marius H. Johannessen, "Live in Los Angeles" by Paul McCartney, reviewed by Ole-Andreas.
Page 11-14: Act Naturally - "Good Evening New York City" 2CD+2DVD by Paul McCartney reviewed by Ole-Andreas and "Nowhere Boy", directed by Sam Taylor-Wood, reviewed by Linda.
Page 15-17: The Word: Book review of "Box of Vision" reviewed by Ole-Andreas.
Page 18-19: "The Beatles RockBand", the DLC packs Rubber Soul, Sgt Pepper and Abbey Road, reviewed by Joakim Krane Bech
Page 20-21: What Goes On: Upcoming events for 2010.
Page 22-33: Reunion, Revolution #1, Reprises, Remasters & RockBand - The Beatles Year 2009 by Roger Stormo. A chronologic summary of past events.
Page 34-38: "On Tour With The Beatles" by Joakim. Our ongoing serieas all about the Beatles' various tours.
Page 39-46: The photo that was too much for the USA: The story about the record that had to change it's face. Everything you need to know about the famous "butcher" cover by Svein Sund.
Page 47-63: The Good Evening Europe Tour: Paul McCartney's short European tour in December reviewed by members of the Norwegian Wood Fan Club: Linda reports from Hamburg and Berlin, Iris Mariska Frohe covered Arnhem, Ole-Andreas was present in Paris, Bjørn Bjerkeskaug was in Dublin and Lars-Olav Hole has an exciting tale to tell as he was able to shake hands with Ringo Starr at McCartney's London concert. No members were present at the Cologne concerts.
Page 64-65: Inside the studio in Abbey Road! Marius brings a tall tale to the table when he discovered the "other" studio in Abbey Road and the secret behind Billy Shears.
Page 66-67: Yeah Yeah Yeah - Fifty years too late! Another story from Marius, this time about last year's celebration at the Casbah Club.
Page 68-69: Guest Performances by Jon Vidar Bergan. Jon Vidar reveals his collecting passion, records by other artist with one or more Beatles members present.
Page 70-71: Joakim reports from two concert events with the "Norwegian Beatles" band in February, where Norwegian Wood was present.
Page 72: Jon Vidar has comments about the Cameo Parkway article from last issue.
Page 73: Arne Færøvik, who dismissed the Beatles Remasters in our previous issue reveals that he has bought himself a copy of the stereo remasters box from Hong Kong and endorses a book which collect picture sleeves of the Beatles.
Page 74: The News Today, Oh Boy: Martin Aasen Wright collects recent news stories: Abbey Road Studios for sale, 50 years since the Indra Club, McCartney's new tour dates, Ringo's summer tour dates, Ringo gets his "Walk of Fame" star, rumours about upcoming Lennon-releases, no prizes for Beatle Paul, Paul songs for RockBand, Zak at the Superbowl, Plastic Ono Band concert, "Nowhere Boy" DVD release plans and Dhani dismisses the idea of a "Beatles Junior" band with the sons.
Page 80-81: Beatles for sale: Ads
Page 82: Beatles Quiz by Joakim
Page 83: Names and Addresses
Page 84: Back Cover: More "butcher cover" pics.
Norwegian Wood is published in Norwegian only.

John Lennon in Cannes, 1971

Here's a clip from a never bootlegged TV interview with John Lennon in Cannes on the 15th of May, 1971.
Lennon was interviewed by the Norwegian director and film critic, Pål Bang-Hansen for the Norwegian broadcasting company NRK on May 15th, 1971, and a small clip was shown again last night in memory of Bang-Hansen, who passed away from a recently diagnosed cancer yesterday.
John and Yoko was in town to show their new film, "Fly". Bang-Hansen just happened to spot the couple while walking down the parade street in Cannes, le Croisette. Since he was on the job for NRK, he thought he couldn't pass on this opportunity, to interview a Beatle. So he introduced himself and asked for an interview. The Lennons didn't have time that day, but they scheduled a date for an interview the next day. Bang-Hansen was not prepared, he hadn't seen the "Fly" film and he was not in touch with Lennon's current music, but the interview went great and Bang-Hansen later described Lennon as a wonderful person.
The full length interview was broadcast in 1971, and has not often been rebroadcast. And whenever it has been re-broadcast, it has happened without any prior warnings, just as a feature within another program.
On one occasion, I was invited as a guest on a morning news show at NRK back in 2000, to talk about the Beatles at the 30th anniversary for their break-up, and after my guest spot they showed their Lennon interview again. I cursed that I hadn't set the timer on my VCR to record my appearance, because I then would have had a longer version of this than what's shown here.
Source: NRK

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Fiona Adams, Beatles photographer

Fiona Adams was the photographer who took the cover photograph of The Beatles Twist and Shout EP. Ms Adams actually took the shot from a distance, as you can see from this graphic illustration of the original uncropped photo.

‘I think I’ve done much better shoots than that, but it worked for that cover and the jumping image worked very well with the record’s title,’ she said.
On her return from Australia in April 1963, she went to an employment exchange in Soho in search of work. She was directed to Picture Story Publications in Regent Street on a week’s contract, but she ended up staying, doing studio and location shoots.
"I would ride around on the top deck of a London bus looking for shooting locations."
In the same month, The Beatles arrived at the studio and Ms Adams took them in a taxi to a former bomb site at the rear of Euston Station.
"This emerged from one of my first assignments for Boyfriend Magazine. I had met the Beatles (then little-known) the previous week (Sunday April 14th 1963) when they were appearing on the popular 'Thank Your Lucky Stars' Show, hosted that day by Jimmy Saville, at the TV Studios in Teddington. These were very early days and the Beatles readily agreed when I asked them to come in for a shoot."
"Come in they did to our cramped little studio at No.21, Kingly Street, W.1. The day was April 18th., 1963. I had been keen at that time to break away from the conventional Hollywood-style of stage and studio shot. To this end, I would ride around on the top deck of London buses to search out possible locations. An abandoned area had caught my eye at the crossroads of Euston and Gower Street. This was still a London blitzed in parts and awaiting rebuilding."
"As far as I remember, we all managed to pile into one taxi; the four Beatles, myself and Maureen O'Grady of Boyfriend, - plus the camera gear! I climbed down the rubble into a bombed-out cellar, open to the sky, and had a wonderful session with the Beatles lined up on the wall above who couldn't have been more co-operative."
"Taken on this single roll of film was the Jumping Shot, the shot which John Lennon and Tony Barrow chose for the cover of the Beatles EP album 'Twist and Shout'."
 "I shot three rolls of film in total, the contact sheets are shown here with a blow up of the jumping shot with my original cropping marks for printing."

"Their career hadn’t completely taken off yet, but it did after that," she said. "I remember someone coming out of the building while we were doing it and asking who they were."
She did not know that Dezo Hoffman had photographed the band jumping in Manchester a week before, though his images were not published until later.
In 2004, Ms Adams took the images and contact strips from that shoot to Christie’s auctioneers for valuation. They put her in contact with Beatles biographer Mark Lewisohn, who did a day-by- day account of the band over a three-year period, including April 1963.
He said her story helped to confirm what happened on that day.
In April 2006, the Times Saturday supplement revealed the photographer of the "Twist and Shout" photo had been found. Meanwhile, Ms Adams had done a deal with Redferns Music Picture Library to market her pictures.
Through Redferns, Ms Adams’ images were displayed in the 2006 "The Beatles on the Balcony" exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, ironically next to Dezo Hoffman’s.
"It’s lovely and I’m very happy about it," she said. "When Redferns contacted me I thought, Wow! It is a proud moment for me to have my photographs in the National Portrait Gallery."
Ms Adams photographed many of the pop elite of the 1960s, including Dusty Springfield, Adam Faith, Billy J. Kramer and Jimi Hendrix. She worked with The Beatles on numerous occasions.
"They were great fun and we always had a laugh," she said.
"I went on tour with them in 1966 and I remember being on a train with them from Munich to Hamburg which took a day but, with Beatlemania, things were getting difficult by then."
In 2009, six of her photographs were displayed in the "From Beatles to Bowie" exhibition, again at the National Portrait Gallery in London. If you missed it, you can still buy the book.

Hamburg and Horst

The first in a line of Beatles 50th anniversary celebrations will be held in Hamburg on May 22nd. Free entrance to Beatlemania Hamburg from 11-18, with Horst Fascher's book+DVD launch and a sixties memorabilia market.
50 Years ago, in 1960 the Beatles came from Liverpool to Hamburg to start their unbelievable career. Star-Club inventor Horst Fascher met them in the early years and brought them back to the famous music-club in Hamburg St.Pauli, the famous redlight district around the reeperbahn. In his upcoming new book "Horst Fascher-The Guy who brought... /Stories behind the pictures" Mr.Fascher opens his huge picture-archive and tells not only about the Fab 4 but all the other stars and musicians who became his friends for a lifetime.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

McCartney in rehearsal

Paul McCartney goes over his tentative set lists for the "Up and Coming" tour. We could only wish the photo was in high resolution, so we could get some pointers on the "surprises" he wants to spring on us. The location for the rehearsals: The O2 arena in London, the same venue where he played a successful concert on December 22nd last year, concluding his short December tour of Europe.
The Daily Mail has an exclusive report from the rehearsals here.
The tour needs 31 trucks to carry all its equipment and employs a full time crew of over 150 people to make it all work. The total weight of all the tour’s equipment is a whopping 125,000 pounds! The indoor concerts on the tour use 90 speakers and the outdoor stadium shows use 130. Backstage at each show there are 14 touring offices and dressing rooms. The tour serves approximately 480 vegetarian meals a day to keep the crew going.
The show, which features a huge production and elaborate staging, needed a place big enough to use for rehearsals. The O2 Arena is the perfect place. Paul’s crew have built inside the venue an exact mock up of how Paul’s stage will look, including massive video screens, state of the art sound equipment, pyro and elaborate lighting.

Paul McCartney in rehearsal at London's O2 Arena

Monday, 22 March 2010

Alexandra Road

This is the location for the back cover of the Abbey Road album. The photo was taken at the junction of Abbey Road and Alexandra Road (now gone). I have superimposed the back cover photo over an old fan photo from 1969, click to enlarge. Alexandra Road, the street sign and the surrounding buildings were demolished to make way for the "Abbey Road" housing estate in the early 1970s.

Part of the original photo
A 1969 photo of the junction sign

Book review: Fact and Fiction 1960-1962

The Beatles Fact and Fiction 1960-1962 by Eric Krasker was first published in French as "Enquête sur un mythe 1960-1962" in 2003.
Last year, the book was finally published in an English, updated and revised edition. I bought it and started to read it, but I was not able to finish it until now.
The years that are covered in the book is an interesting period, and one that's more important this year, because it's now the fiftieth anniversary of 1960. Krasker was born that year, so his is not a first hand account, his work has been that of a detective, historian and researcher.
There have been several earlier books dealing with these formative years of the early Beatles. Allan Williams, who managed the Beatles at this time, gave his account of these years back in 1975 in his "The Man Who Gave The Beatles Away" book, early Beatles historian, the late Gareth Pawlowski collected a lot of photos, record sleeves and information in his How They Became the Beatles from 1989, and there's been inside information (and myths) in books by people like Pete Best, Cynthia Lennon and Bill Harry. But the current standard work about this period is a book by Swedish author Hans Olof Gottfridsson, a tome with the title From Cavern to Star-Club, published in 1997.

In the course of investigating the era, Krasker seems to have become annoyed by a number of mistakes, misinterpretations and erroneous assumptions and speculations in the "From Cavern to Star-Club" book. A great deal of this new book is dedicated to expose these errors and explain how and why Gottfridsson was mistaken.

Krasker is using a method which relies heavy on documentation and rationing. In his eyes, no fact can be established unless it is certified by a document. Under each "fact" or "myth", Krasker explains the circumstances, where each "fact" has been previously published, what evidence there is and discusses what the possibilities are.

Sometimes, he has no conclusion because there's no theory which can be established as a fact - there's just no documentation. But at least he gives us all the previous information, tells us who wrote what and what he suspects is the truth.

Every time Krasker quotes from earlier publications, a numbered footnote corresponds to a list after each chapter where the original source is named. You can move to and fro as you're reading, or just explore the list after finishing each chapter, which is what I did.

Like I said, these years are important in the history of the Beatles. The years they spent as The Beatles in Hamburg and Liverpool formed their characters, playing style, competitiveness and explains the dynamics within the band. And a number of very important and interesting subjects are from this time period. What caused Stuart Sutcliffe's death? Why was Pete Best sacked as their drummer? Why was it Ringo that was hired? Under what circumstances did the Tony Sheridan Polydor recordings come about? How and why were these recordings "doctored" for the American market? Did Raymond Jones really exist? What are the Star-Club recordings, how and when were they recorded, how many sets were documented on the tape (or was it tapes), and what's the most likely running order of those songs?

Since the publication of the French edition of the book, several new facts have appeared, a few myths have been exposed and some hitherto unheard songs from the Star-Club recordings have been unearthed. Some times the original text has been kept with these new findings discussed at the end of the chapter, and some times the entire chapter has been rewritten in the light of the new discoveries.

Krasker and McCartney, 1989
So why was Pete Best sacked? This book will tell you about the many theories; George Martin was dissatisfied with Best's skills as a drummer, he was too popular with the girls, he was a loner and didn't fit in with the rest of the group, he wouldn't or couldn't conform to "the Beatles haircut", Epstein didn't want Pete's mother Mona Best to involve herself with the group's bookings, Paul didn't want to compete with Pete's looks, etc etc. Even though this is the kind of fact that can't be established with conclusive documentation, Krasker - a drummer in his own right - gives us a plausible conclusion. After a number of drummerless periods as the Quarrymen, the Moondogs and Silver Beatles, they finally found a drummer that wanted to stay, and had a brand new kit. Even though he wasn't good enough, they stuck with him, hoping he would improve and evolve along with themselves. And he did, but only to a certain extent. After he discovered his "atom beat", with heavy use of the bass drum, he was stuck in a rut. His drumming style was a problem in the studio, even as early as at the Polydor recordings, and he did nothing to accomodate the producer's needs, neither at Polydor, nor at Decca or EMI. He only had one style of drumming, which he could perform slow, medium or fast. Krasker even reckons that John Lennon's signature way of performing his rythm guitar parts was developed to compensate for Best's lack of time keeping. Besides that, he didn't have the personality. Krasker has spent time with Best and even though Best was an amiable fellow and good company, he was a quiet kind and probably no match for the wit and humour of the rest of the lads.

As for the cause of Stuart Sutcliffe's death, the movie "BackBeat" from 1994 has left an imprint in many people's minds that a blow to the head from a fight in Liverpool may have ultimately lead to Sutcliffe's headaches and later death in Hamburg in 1962. Krasker sticks to the facts: the post-mortem declares that Sutcliffe's deat was caused by "cerebral paralysis due to bleeding into the right ventricle of the brain". A possible brain tumour, as reported by Philip Norman in his book "Shout!", based on some x-ray plates showing a small shadow in Start's brain is dismissed, because it's not reported in the post-mortem. Surely they would have found it if it was ever there. A possible blow to the head from a fight, either with teddy boys in Liverpool, or as the late Albert Goldman wrote in his scandalous "The Lives of John Lennon", with Stuart's mate Lennon, causing an indentation in the skull is not reported in the post-mortem, and if there ever was one, they would have reported it. The chapter also speculates that Stuart's brain may have suffered from the abuse of drugs (preludin), alcohol and cigarettes, but again reaches no conclusion.

This book does not replace Gottfridsson's "From Cavern to Star-Club", but is an important addendum and a must-read if you're interested in the rich mythology surrounding the early history of the Beatles. It will put you straight about the facts surrounding the Polydor recording sessions, and correct earlier mistakes in Gottfridsson's book. The book is thoroughly illustrated with photos, record sleeves and important documents of the era. Ending the 442 pages of this book are four handy references: a bibliography, a name index, a song index and an index of the contents of the book.
Krasker is also co-author of the French discography book of the Beatles, "La France et Les Beatles", from 2005.

Preview the book.
Order the book.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

A photographer and the photo

Occasionally, you'll be able to find photos of the Beatles both depicting the photographer at work and the resulting photo. Like the one above, where Linda Eastman is taking a photo of Paul McCartney at the release party for Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band in Brian Epstein's house in London.
There's also a famous one of Ethan Russell taking a picture of the Beatles in front of the door at John Lennon's Tittenhurst Park, which later was to become the cover photo for the "Hey Jude" (aka "The Beatles Again") album.
Here's Ethan preparing to shoot, Paul looks down a bit and Ringo looks at Paul, but once they're done doing that, Ethan takes this photo:
Funnily enough, I have another example. In the summer of 1982, I ran into Paul McCartney outside his MPL building in London. I wasn't the only one there, quite a number of the so-called "mpl scruffs" were there, and we all took pictures of Paul. One of the other fans snapped one of me, while I was taking another photo:

Notice my enormous instamatic camera there. As you can see, the angle I'm working from is not exactly a good position to take pictures from, as you'll notice in the resulting photo:
I can assure you that I haven't been actively pursuing a career as a professional photographer after this.
Note how short Paul's hair was at the time, it was the shortest hairstyle I'd ever seen him sporting up 'till that time. Of course, a year and a half later I noticed the same hairstyle in the video for "Pipes of Peace", where Paul was portraying two different characters from World War 1. So it's an army haircut.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

VARA-TV The Beatles in Holland

The Beatles (John, Paul, George and Jimmy) arrived at Hillegom's Café-Restaurant Treslong, situated at Vosselaan 15, at around 4pm, June 5th, 1964. From 5.30pm they rehearsed for their appearance on VARA-TV, and recording began at 8pm. In the first part of the programme they answered questions from the 150-strong audience. The Beatles were seated in the bar with Berend Boudewijn, who translated their answers and relayed them to Herman Stok, who was seated with the audience. For the second part they mimed to the studio versions of Twist And Shout, All My Loving, Roll Over Beethoven, Long Tall Sally, She Loves You and Can't Buy Me Love. As their microphones were left on, the group occasionally sang along to the songs. During Long Tall Sally, members of the audience, mostly male, got onto the stage to dance with the group. Their numbers increased during She Loves You, and by Can't Buy Me Love the group was surrounded by members of the public. Mal Evans, Neil Aspinall and Derek Taylor tried in vain to clear the stage, but eventually The Beatles were forced to leave instead. As the group had been miming, the music carried on playing without them. Only Jimmy Nicol remained on stage, resolutely continuing without the others. The performance was combined with footage from The Beatles' visit to Amsterdam the following day, and screened as The Beatles In Nederland on the Nederland 1 channel on Monday 8 June 1964 at 8.30pm. This version is just the songs, taken from a TV special on the Beatles in Holland from 1989, celebrating the 25th anniversary for the original visit.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Nowhere Boy Home Video Release

Icon Home Entertainment today announced the May 10th DVD and Blu-ray release of Sam Taylor-Wood’s rock and roll John Lennon film biopic "Nowhere Boy".
The feature film and additional exclusive bonus features boast a combined running time of more than 2 ½ hours of entertainment.
Nowhere Boy is the directorial debut of conceptual film artist Sam Taylor-Wood. The film recreates John Lennon’s teenage years and his introduction to music – from first band The Quarrymen - to his early relationship with Paul McCartney and George Harrison, all of which culminates in the formation of The Beatles and their historic trip to Hamburg. But all that is just a canvas surrounding the core story of the movie, which is all about Lennon's relationship with two women: the one who gave birth to him - his mother Julia - and the one who brought him up - his aunt Mimi. A key scene in the movie is when the five year old John is forced to choose between going away to New Zealand with his father - or to stay home in Liverpool with his mother. In the end, he didn't get either one.

Nowhere Boy’s DVD & Blu-ray releases are jam-packed with exclusive bonus features, including:

* Director Commentary with Sam Taylor-Wood
* “Lennon’s Liverpool” Featurette
* “The re-creation of Lennon and the Quarrymen” Featurette
* Anatomy of the scene: “That’s When I Stole Him” Featurette
* Extended interview with Sam Taylor-Wood
* 3 Deleted Scenes, as introduced by Sam Taylor-Wood

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Beatle Week 2010 information

The International Beatle Week Festival in Liverpool is held this year on August 25-31, and their web site has just opened. Highlights from the programme: Joey Molland, Denny Laine, Mark McGann and Billy J. Kramer in his first UK concert for seven years. Of course, annual events like The Beatles Shop memorabilia auction, the convention and the Mathew Street festival are also on. Organised by Cavern City Tours, the International Beatle Week Festival is one of the biggest music events in the world.
This is truly an international event with bands from over 20 countries and fans from over 40. As well as live gigs, there are exhibitions, sales of memorabilia, guest speakers, video shows, sightseeing tours and a convention. Click on the logo to go to the festival's official web site, where you'll find the full programme. You'll also find the blog of the Beatles Shop auction in the blog list column on your right.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Magic Alex hits back

Acclaimed as a science prodigy from his teens, Yannis Alexis Mardas moved from his native Greece to England in the early 1960s. He met Brian Jones of The Rolling Stones around 1963, and was subsequently commissioned to design a revolutionary new system of linking lights with sound for the band's stage performances.

In 1966, he met John Lennon, who was so impressed by his scientific skills that he dubbed him 'Magic Alex', and often referred to him as "my guru". The Beatles were in the early stages of forming their Apple empire, and Mardas was installed as the head of Apple Electronics. He continued his experiments with audio-visual technology until the company fell foul of Apple's cost-cutting crusade in 1969.

During this period, he was arguably one of Lennon's closest friends outside the Beatles. Lennon was the best man at his weddding; and Mardas accompanied the group on many of their global adventures, including their trips to Greece and India, and the filming of their Magical Mystery Tour. Even after Apple Electronics was closed, he remained friends with both Lennon and George Harrison, and John and Yoko continued to travel to Greece to holiday with him. Since leaving the Beatles' employment, Mardas has continued to work in many different fields, not least as a security consultant to many of the crowned heads of Europe.

Many books and publications have been discrediting Alexis over the years, blaming him for Lennon's estrangement from the Maharishi, for promising to invent stuff that never got off the ground and for installing inadequate recording equipment in the Apple Studio.

Yannis Alexis Mardas has finally given his version of the events. As a response to statements in an article by Allan Kozinn in the New York Times in 2008, Alexis felt compelled to dispute some of these paragraphs:
In the years since Lennon’s death, in 1980, Harrison and Mr. McCartney reconsidered the accusations against the Maharishi. Mr. McCartney has noted that the rumors of sexual impropriety were raised by Alexis Mardas, a supposed inventor and charlatan who had become a Beatles insider. “Magic Alex,” as he was known, had agendas of his own, and may have fabricated (or at least exaggerated) the story. (Mr. Mardas has never commented on the incident.) During the 1990s both Harrison and Mr. McCartney were suitably convinced of the maharishi’s innocence that they reconciled with him and offered apologies.
Meanwhile you have to wonder whether the Beatles’ future might have played out differently if Magic Alex hadn’t been in Rishikesh to spread rumors about the Maharishi.

Here's Alexis' story:

About the Maharishi incident, Mardas has made the following remarks:
"In early 1968 I received a written note from Apple Corps that the Beatles, who were in India attending the Maharishi's Ashram in Rishikesh in the Himalayan foothills, wanted me to join them forthwith. The next day, I got on a plane and flew to India.
When I arrived, John Lennon was there with his wife, Cynthia, George Harrison was there with his wife, Patti Boyd and there were other people from the pop music world, including Mike Love of the Beach Boys. Neither Paul McCartney nor Ringo Starr were there. Nor for that matter were Donovan, Mia Farrow or her sister Prudence. Neither Paul nor Ringo joined the group at any time that I was there. I have never met Mia Farrow.

I was in Rishikesh for several months. Every afternoon, the Maharishi would give us lectures and I listened to them with interest. Frankly, there was very little else to do there. I should also mention that no alcohol was permitted in the Ashram, let alone drugs, and, so far as I was aware, nobody consumed either of these. Further, we were not allowed to go out of the Ashram.
There came a point where the Maharishi approached me. He told me that he had had a discussion with the Beatles about setting up a station to broadcast his teachings round the world. He asked me whether this was a good idea. I said that it was technically possible if that was what he wanted to do. That was the end of our conversation.
About three to four months after I had arrived at the retreat, we were attending a lecture given by the Maharishi. Also present was an American teacher, whose name is now know to have been Rosalyn Bonas. I remember the Maharishi saying that this lady had an "iceberg" in her brain and was unable to understand what he was saying. In the presence of everyone there, he told her that she should come to his villa after the lecture for private tuition.
On the evening of the following day or the day after (I do not remember which) John Lennon and I were sitting outside John Lennon's little house. The teacher came up to us and told us that the Maharishi had made sexual advances to her while she was in his villa. She also told us that, despite the fact that we were all supposed to be strictly vegetarian, the Maharishi had offered her chicken to eat. She told us that she had been invited back to the Maharishi's villa the next evening.
During the next evening, John Lennon, George Harrison and I were curious and went to the window of the Maharishi's villa at the time that the nurse was supposed to be there. We looked inside and saw that the Maharishi was trying to hug the teacher. Both of them were fully clothed.
All of us were very upset about what had seen. We had complete confidence and trust in the Maharishi and this confidence had now been severely dented.
On the next morning, John Lennon and I went to see the Maharishi about what had happened. John was our spokesman. He asked the Maharishi to explain himself, I remember the exact words that the Maharishi used when answering, namely: "I am only human". John said that he was disgusted with what had happened.
The Beatles had to go back to London anyway because there was a contract which required them to record there. I also know for a fact, because they told me, that both Cynthia Lennon and Patti Boyd were getting bored and wanted to leave anyway. We needed the Maharishi's assistance to leave, because of the isolated nature of the Ashram. He tried to persuade us to stay, no doubt because of publicity and the money which the attendance of the Beatles was producing. In the end, however, we did leave a few days later. We left for New Delhi, where John and George gave a press conference. At the press conference, John told the press what he thought about the Maharishi. It was mainly negative. By this time he had also written a song called "Sexy Sadie", which was a thinly veiled reference to the Maharishi's activities.
I wish to make it clear, that, until the issues with the American teacher, I was totally neutral about the Maharishi. I meditated, I followed all his lessons and I had private discussions with him, which were all of a friendly nature. It is simply untrue that I was in any way the catalyst for John and George falling out the Maharishi. There is also no truth whatsoever in the suggestion that I was concerned about the influence which the Maharishi had over the Beatles. Quite the contrary: I was pleased with the influence which the Maharishi had over the Beatles, because he managed to wean them off their drug addiction.
As for the allegation that, had it not been for their break up from the Maharishi, the Beatles would have been more prolific in their creative output and remained as a group for longer. I am not an expert musician, but I do note that some of the best music ever composed by them was composed after their return from the Ashram, for example their most famous songs, "Imagine" and "Hey Jude"."

"My first job as a partner and director of Apple Electronics was to manufacture light machines similar to the one which I had developed for use on a previous Rolling Stones tour. The company bought a small property in Boston Place, Marylebone, for the purpose of manufacturing equipment We started manufacturing these light machines in those premises. At the same time. I was given a large office in the Apple building in Savile Row.
The whole idea of the workshop at Boston Place was to conduct research. The Beatles arranged for a US patent attorney, Alfred Crotti, to move to England, The idea was that he and I would discuss the development and patenting of electronic devices.
I invented a large number of electronic devices, none of which had anything to do with music of the business of the Beatles, i refer to an article in the Daily Mail dated 2nd November 1968 in which some of my inventions have been listed. It must be remembered that none of these had even been thought about by others at the time, although most of them are now in common use. For example, an electronic camera is now commonly used, as is the "memory phone" and what was then called "the composing typewriter" and is now known as voice recognition. All these products were invented by me and we were in the process of patenting most of them in the United States.
My research was, however, brought to an abrupt end when, in May 1968, John Lennon told me that I was to drop all further work on such research for and build a recording studio in the basement of the Savile Row building. John Lennon promised me that, once this was completed, I could go back to my electronics research.
I told John that, although I thought that I was capable of building a recording studio, the first step would have to be a design. It was agreed that I would construct a mock up recording studio at Boston Place with all the appropriate equipment, to see whether it was suitable for moving into the Savile Row premises.
I prepared the drawings and finished the design. We built a bread board to which we connected the equipment. It was a 72-track recording studio which worked well and was in my opinion what one might call "state of the art" at the time. I stress that, at this time, I had never started to build a studio in Savile Row. I only went there occasionally because I had an office there on the second floor. I have never in my life been in the basement of the Savile Row building.
In summer of 1969, I took a two-week vacation in Greece with Cynthia (John Lennon's former wife) Patti Boyd, George Harrison's wife and Donovan Leitch. When I returned two weeks later at about 1 p.m. on a weekday, I found to my surprise that the building at Boston Place had been sealed with two padlocks. I broke the locks and went in. I thought that there had been a burglary. None of my engineers were there. I therefore went straight to the Savile Row offices. When I walked in, the receptionist told me that Allan Klein had fired all the staff of all the Apple companies. She told me that I had been fired as well. I asked for John Lennon. He was not there, so I telephoned him in Weybridge. I said that all the equipment was missing and that I had been told that I had been fired. John Lennon replied: "Bullshit, no one can fire you. You are not an employee, you are a partner."
Boston Place was ruined. They had removed all the equipment. I refused to have anything more to do with the venture.
At John Lennon's request, Allan Klein telephoned me. He told me that his job had been to clean out the whole of Apple Corporation. He said that the equipment which had installed was now in the basement of Boston Place. I said that I wanted to have nothing more to do with it and I left Apple permanently.
The suggestion that I constructed a studio which was "unusable and of hopelessly poor quality" is a complete fabrication. I never got round to constructing a studio in Savile Row. I was designing and had actually finished a mock up studio in Boston 2 Place which, when ready, would be moved into the Savile Row premises. This was destroyed and the equipment taken away. What happened after I left is none of my concern."

Mardas also counters other allegations made over the years. For instance, the following "inventions" have wrongly been associated with his work at Apple Electronics, all of which Mardas denies having ever promised nor discussed, let alone tried to invent:
1. an X-ray camera which could see through walls
2. a force field which would surround a building with coloured air so that no one could see in
3. a force field of compressed air which could stop anyone driving into one's car
4. a house which could hover in the air suspended on an invisible beam
5. wall paper which could plug into a stereo system and operate as a "loudspeaker"
6. an artificial sun which was intended to hover over Baker Street and light up the sky during the gala opening of the Beatles clothes shop, the "Apple Boutique" on 4th December 1967.
7. Magic paint which would make objects it was painted on invisible
8. Electrical paint which could be plugged into a wall and would light up the room
9. A flying saucer made from the V12 engines from George Harrison's Ferrari and John Lennon's Rolls Royce
10. A force field around Ringo Starr's drums that would isolate the drum sounds from the rest of the microphones in the studio.
In this connection, Mardas said that he once had a discussion with John Lennon about this topic. Mardas said that it was possible, theoretically, to create an ultrasonic barrier generated by ultrasonic transfusers. This would prevent sound travelling over a certain field. Mardas claims that he never suggested that he would make such a barrier.

Mardas' full statement is available from the New York Times website as a PDF file at the bottom of this page.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Ringo at Paul's Concert

I chanced upon this photo today, when I was examining my snaps from Paul McCartney's concert at London's O2 on the 22nd of December last year, which I attended. Unforgivingly, I had managed to bring my camera, but had left the memory card in my computer, which was back at the hotel. Thus, I had to limit the camera to take photos at a very low resolution, so that I could manage a few pictures. I was scrutinizing these photos, enhancing them in Photoshop, lookin for Ringo in the audience, and there he was! This was early on in the concert, Ringo is sitting with his wife, Barbara Bach. In front of Ringo, someone is standing up, and to the left of him you can notice Barbara's sister Marjorie, and her husband, Joe Walsh (blonde longish hair).

Auction News: Gotta Have Rock'n'Roll

These are some nice photos from the ongoing auction over at "Gotta Have Rock'n'Roll" at the moment. These were taken at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, Canada on August 17, 1965. In all, there are ten similar ones from the same occasion, previously unpublished photos for sale at a starting bid of $100 each.

John Lennon's original handwritten lyrics for the song "Rock'n'Roll People" (originally recorded by Johnny Winters) is up for grabs, at a starting bid of $10.000! More of a curiosity is the handwritten lyrics for "John Sinclair", as transcribed by Sinclair himself, the bidding of that item started at $100 and is currently at $275.

What intrigued us the most was Lot #77: George Harrison Original Jam Session Tape. George Harrison can be heard jamming with his friends in India circa 1994. A one-of-a-kind tape with George doing a number of songs, approximately 45 minutes in length, very good quality.
Estimate: $1100-$1300. No bids on it yet. Misterclaudel, where are you? The auction ends in 6 days.
Get on over there and take a look for yourselves!

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

McCartney announces summer dates in Great Britain

  • Saturday 12th June – RDS, Dublin
  • Sunday 13th June – Isle Of Wight Festival
  • Sunday 20th June – Hampden Park, Glasgow
  • Saturday 26th June – Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
  • Sunday 27th June – Hard Rock Calling, Hyde Park, London

The UK is set for a scorching hot summer of rock n' roll as Paul McCartney today announces five special massive UK and Ireland shows as part of his 2010 'Up and Coming' tour. Hot off the heels of announcing the opening US tour dates, Paul's announcement confirms the speculation that he's bringing his all new tour home. This summer Paul will rock the UK and Ireland with 5 massive shows that mark some career firsts for music's most valuable treasure.

Paul said: "It's always brilliant to play for the home crowd and these dates are ones that me and the band are really excited about."

Paul's first UK and Ireland appearance of 2010 will take place in Dublin at the RDS on Saturday 12th of June, six months after Paul’s sell-out show at The O2 in December as part of the ‘Good Evening Europe’ tour. The next day will see a Paul McCartney first when he headlines the Isle Of Wight Festival on Sunday 13th of June; his second ever UK festival after his now legendary headline appearance at 2004’s Glastonbury.
The Isle of Wight Festival is extremely proud to announce that the legendary Paul McCartney will be headlining the Main Stage on Sunday 13 June bringing this year’s festival, which takes place from 11-13 June, to a spectacular close.

Paul McCartney says: "I always remember hearing such great things about this festival and it has such a sense of history with the likes of Jimi Hendrix playing there the first time round. This will be my first show on the Isle of Wight and I’m looking forward to a rollicking night of rock n’ roll".

Festival promoter John Giddings adds: "Forty years after Jimi Hendrix performed 'Hey Joe’ at Seaclose Park we’ve finally gotten to 'Hey Jude’. I can’t wait!"

Next up Paul will head to Scotland for, amazingly, his first ever UK standalone stadium show on Sunday 20th June at Glasgow’s Hampden Park, almost exactly 20 years to the day since Paul last played in Scotland. On Saturday 26th June Paul plays his first show in Wales in 31 years when he brings the tour to Cardiff’s massive Millennium Stadium. He last toured Wales with Wings in 1979. Finally Paul will appear as the headline act in London at this year’s Hyde Park Calling festival. Paul has appeared in Hyde Park twice before - the first time was when he opened and closed 2005’s Live 8 concert and the second when he came on stage as a surprise guest last summer at Neil Young’s show to perform The Beatles anthem ‘A Day In The Life’.

These shows will feature a typically diverse set of music from all of Paul’s unrivalled career, with songs from The Beatles, Wings and Paul’s solo work, including tracks from The Fireman’s 2008 album ‘Electric Arguments’.

The UK got a recent taste for Paul’s live show last Christmas when he brought his 2009 ‘Good Evening Europe’ tour to a climactic and memorable finale at London’s O2 Arena, his only UK show of 2009. Reviews for the show were phenomenal and prove that Paul McCartney is a live experience that no-one should miss. “The man is living history and the way he continues to bring new energy to his past is incredible,’ reported the UK’s largest Sunday paper, News Of The World. The Telegraph exclaimed, “Paul McCartney used his only UK concert of 2009 as a showcase for an epic display of back-to-back basics music-making. Armed only with his four-piece band and the greatest collection of hits in pop history, he travelled back and forth across the decades like the Dr Who of rock and roll. Whatever elixir the 67-year-old Macca is running on remains a mystery, but he seems to get a huge charge from performing to an audience, especially one that is bombarding him with waves of adoration.”

Paul’s live shows have reached a new legendary status in recent years garnering unprecedented reviews from fans and critics alike wherever he goes. He’s pushed boundaries, performed to millions and made global news with monumental shows including performances in Red Square, Russia, outside the Coliseum in Rome, performing live into a NASA space station, the largest outdoor show ever in the Ukraine, his first visit to Tel Aviv and last year his ‘Summer 09’ tour began in earnest with an already legendary inaugural run of shows at New York’s Citi Field Stadium, the site of the former Shea Stadium where The Beatles played the 1965 concert that set the precedent for the modern day stadium rock show. Critics hailed the Citi Field performances, seen by over 100,000 people, as the concert experience of a lifetime.

This summer’s run of UK live shows are set to be the hottest tickets of the year. Don’t miss your chance to be there and witness some of that marvellous Macca magic.

The fan club pre-sale for the concerts listed below will go on sale on Wednesday 3rd March 9am over at

Saturday 12th June – RDS, Dublin
Tickets go on sale Monday 8th March at 9am

Credit Card Booking:
In Ireland: 0818 719300
In the UK: 0844 277 4455

International: +353 14 569 569

Sunday 13th June – Isle Of Wight Festival
Festival tickets on sale now.
For tickets to the 3 day Isle of Wight Festival, go HERE. 08444 99 99 55

Sunday 20th June – Hampden Park, Glasgow
Tickets go on sale Monday 8th March at 9am

24 Hour Credit Card Hotlines:
0844 847 2450
0871 297 0066
0844 481 1222

Saturday 26th June – Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Tickets go on sale Monday 8th March at 9am

24 Hour Credit Card Hotlines:
0844 847 2450
0871 297 0066

Sunday 27th June – Hard Rock Calling, London
Tickets go on sale at 9am 5 March
Box Office Number – 0844 847 2502 (24 Hours)

Tickets for Paul McCartney at Hard Rock Calling will go on presale at 9am on Thursday 4th March. Sign up for Live Nation presale HERE.
Tickets are restricted to 6 per person and billing address.