Sunday, 30 January 2011

Beatles on "I was there" ITV1

To mark the 50th anniversary of the first time The Beatles played at The Cavern Club in Liverpool, ITV1 will be showing a brand new documentary on the most famous club in the world on Wednesday, 9 February 2011, 10:40PM - 11:40PM.
"I Was There…When The Beatles Played The Cavern" tells the story of the underground venue which has become synonymous with The Beatles.

The programme includes rare archive footage of the Cavern Club in the sixties, including film of The Beatles performing ‘Some Other Guy’ at the club.

On 9 February 1961, having recently returned to Liverpool from performing in Hamburg, The Beatles played at The Cavern for the first of nearly 300 appearances at the club. By the time they played their last gig there, Beatlemania had swept Britain and the band was conquering the world.

The documentary also tells the story of what happened to The Cavern after The Beatles. It lived on until 1973 – with rock legends such as Queen, Elton John and Rod Stewart treading its cramped stage – before it was eventually closed during construction on the Merseyrail underground loop.
But that wasn’t the end of The Cavern story. A decade later the club was rebuilt on its original site and today serves a dual purpose as a venue for up and coming bands and a tourist attraction for Beatles fans from across the globe.

In this programme fans, members of other Merseybeat bands and Cavern insiders help separate the facts from the myths that have grown up around the goings on deep beneath the ground at 10 Mathew Street, Liverpool.
Gerry Marsden, who played at The Cavern with Gerry and the Pacemakers, recalls how, above all else, the thing he associates with the club is the smell of disinfectant.
The documentary includes an interview with Pete Best, drummer for The Beatles for much of their Cavern period, and famous Cavernites including playwright Willy Russell relive the heady excitement of their teenage years.

New HMC releases

"The Beatles - Unforgettable" - aka "The McCartney Christmas Album"
"The Beatles Christmas Album"

Just too late for Christmas! And a tad disappointing re the rumours of an upcoming release of Paul's Christmas album. Apparantly a tape the used to contain the album was taped over by John and Ringo, and you'll only hear little snippets of what was originally on the underlaying layer of magnetic fields. Click on a cover for further information. These are both coloured vinyl releases with a bonus CD each. The material on the CD's does not mirror the LP's. The 1965 Christmas 26 minute tape is the reel that was auctioned in 2003 but was unsold and later offered on ebay.
Note: These are unauthorised "bootleg" releases from the "His Master's Choice" company, and the releases have not been approved by the recording artists. We do not know where to get them, we are simply passing on information that has been given us.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

The Beatles on a stool



Some photos are rarelly seen these days, and can only be found in old magazines and scrap books from the sixties. Thanks to Lizzie for the middle one!

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Album covers: White album


The Beatles (aka White Album) - Richard Hamilton or John Kelly
In June 1968, shortly after the beginning of the sessions for their next album, the Beatles commissioned various designers to come up with sleeve ideas. One was a psychedelic drawing on a gate fold cover. The illustration presented the title on the front and on the back the Beatles' faces in a mountainside overlooking a sea. Another idea was a transparent cover which would reveal a colour photograph as the record was pulled out of the wallet.
Some suggest that a drawing by Alan Aldridge, used in the eighties as the front cover of compilation album called The Beatles Ballads, is one of the rejected covers for the album.

The Beatles Ballads - Alan Aldridge

Another early attempt at the album cover, when it was still referred to as A Doll's House.
At that time, John had wanted to call the next Beatles album A Doll's House, after a book by the Norwegian writer Henrik Ibsen. But that title had to be scuppered when, around the middle of July, Music In A Doll's House arrived, the debut LP from Roger Chapman and Family.
When in the fall there was enough material for a double album, that possibility was considered. The concept of two vinyl albums housed in a gate fold sleeve had rarely been seen outside the classical field. There were only two precedents: Zappa’s Freak Out and Dylan’s Blonde On Blonde. It was decided that the cover of the album had to be in stark contrast to the kaleidoscopic covers of their two previous releases.
Again Robert Fraser was asked for an established artist. This time, he suggested Richard Hamilton (45), the inventor of Pop Art. Paul knew his work and a meeting was arranged at Apple. In Blinds And Shutters, the book of Michael Cooper, Richard recalled the meeting with Paul: "Since Sergeant Pepper was so over the top, I explained, I would be inclined to do a very prissy thing, almost like a limited edition. He didn’t discourage me so I went on to propose a plain white album; if that were too clean and empty, then maybe we could paint a ring of brown stain to look as if a coffee cup had been left on it – but that was thought a bit too flippant."
As a reference to the Apple label, he suggested to bounce an apple to a bit of paper and create a smudge, "a very light green smear with a bit of pulp." But because that might prove too hard to print, the idea had to go.
In an interview for Beatles Unlimited (BU 98-99) photographer John Kelly claims the idea of a white album was his: "At the time I did a whole lot of fashion and beauty kind of stuff and I was very much into white. Different shades of white and I made a Christmas card which was all white. I printed matte white lettering on it. You couldn’t really read it unless you held it at a certain angle …. So white was it for me in that period and John Lennon in particular was fond of white. He used to wear all white during that period. I got this idea to do this cover, also the idea of the numbers on the album sleeve. The Beatles liked the idea."
Paul however remembers it was Richard Hamilton who suggested that each copy was to be individually numbered. "I also suggested that they might number each copy,"agrees Hamilton, "to create the ironic situation of a numbered edition of something like five million copies."
EMI was not as enthusiastic as the Beatles about the idea, but Paul persuaded them: "Look, records must go through something to put the shrink wrap on or to staple them. Couldn’t you just have a little thing at the end of that process that hits the paper and prints numbers on it?"
So every LP got a unique stamped serial number. The numbers 000001 to 000020 were for the Beatles themselves and their friends. "We got the first four," Paul later recalled. "I don’t know where mine is, of course. Everything got lost. It’s all coming up in Sothebys I imagine. John got 000001 because he shouted the loudest. He said ‘Baggy, number one!" He knew the game, you’ve gotta bagsy it!"
George Martin got number 000007 and Derek Taylor 000009.
Each factory numbered differently: there are reportedly twelve copies of number 000001.
They numbered over 3 200 000 of them. Collecting variations in numbering style can be an interesting sideline. Obviously the lower the stamped number the greater the value, so now 0050000 would be about £100, whereas 0000010 could be worth £5,000.
But the album still had no title. Richard Hamilton suggested 'The Beatles'. Because Sgt. Pepper’s was named after a fictitious band and the four of them not always played together as a group, it seemed a good joke to name the double album again after a fictitious band: so The Beatles it was.
Another thing that proved to be difficult was the embossing. John Kelly: "The (title) on the album cover was embossed. It was therefore somehow raising the surface of the album cover. The printer said that they could not get a hundred albums, which is the normal standard packing, in a package to send to people. It could only keep 98 or 99. So there was discussion going on to keep or drop the plan of embossing… It all went through at long last, but it proved to be a bit of a struggle."
After a while Richard Hamilton had second thoughts: "… but then I began to feel a bit guilty at putting their double album under plain white wrappers; even the lettering is casual, almost invisible, a blind stamping. I suggested it could be jazzed up with a large edition print, an insert that would be even more glamorous than a normal sleeve."
For a fortnight in October 1968, Paul drove almost daily to Hamilton’s house in Highgate, to work together on the collage. Paul: "It was very exciting for me because I was interested in art, and now I could be his assistant for a week… gather the pictures and make new prints. And then I could watch the whole week while he made the collage. It’s great to watch someone paint. The fine thing was that he eventually filled the whole collage with pictures and then added the white paper to that he sticked everywhere, to give it some space... He explained that it could breathe that way."

White album poster - Richard Hamilton/Paul McCartney
Most of the recent pictures were taken by John Kelly, though some of the pictures of Paul were taken by his new lover, Linda Eastman.

On the back of the poster, the lyrics are reprinted.
Gordon House suggested to make four portraits, for the inside of the gate fold cover. That’s a job for John Kelly.
Again Kelly states he suggested the idea: "I said: ‘If you have a white cover, you should have some pictures of yourselves inside. Not all together like the "head shot" but individual ones, just straight and simple so the fans have something.’ They agreed to do that and I did them at Apple. Well three of them. A nice easy picture of them, no incredible lightning or so. That was at the time that Paul couldn’t decide to go shaved or unshaven. We had ‘words’ about that and several attempts. Paul’s picture, by the way, was taken at Cavendish Avenue."

The Beatles individual portraits - John Kelly
The colour photographic prints of the band are also inserted in the sleeves.
The UK issue opened from the top, for the first pressings; the US issue took a more standard approach by opening from the side. Another difference was that the four colour photos were slightly smaller in the US than the UK issue. Early copies were issued with a protector sheet placed on the top of each photo and have custom black inner sleeves.

Taken from Patrick Roefflaer's excellent article on the Beatles' album covers.

Paul McCartney to rock Rio for real

Paul McCartney will perform at the Rock in Rio festival, which runs from September 23rd to October 2nd 2011 in Brazil. Paul was also part of the 2004 "Rock in Rio"-festival, but the festival was held in Lisbon, Portugal that year. The 2004 summer tour, in effect a warm-up for McCartney's appearance at the Glastonbury festival, was the last of his tours to visit Norway so far.
Rock in Rio is a series of rock festivals held in Brazil and later in Portugal and Spain.
Three incarnations of the festival were in Rio de Janeiro, in 1985, 1991 and 2001, four in Lisbon, in 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010, and two in Madrid in 2008 and 2010. The shows were organized by Brazilian entrepreneur Roberto Medina. In 2011, Rock in Rio will take place in its original home, Rio de Janeiro. Rock in Rio has been the largest rock festival in the world, with 1.5 million people in the first edition, 700,000 in the second, about 1.2 million in the third, and about 350,000 people in each of the 3 Lisbon editions. Apart from Paul McCartney, artists such as The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Korn, Metallica, and many others are due to perform at the 2011 festival.
Read more: Paul McCartney Will Rock Rio This Fall!
Paul McCartney has visited Brazil several times. In 1990, Paul McCartney performed solo at a record breaking concert in Rio de Janeiro's Maracana Stadium which attracted a stadium crowd of more than 184,000 fans. He last performed in Brazil in November 2010, a mere two months ago.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Alf Bicknell lives on as an app

"The qualities of a chauffeur are to be a good driver, to be discreet, to be honest and not to get carried away with the people in the back of your car," said Alf Bicknell, chauffeur to the Beatles during their glory years. Alf passed away in 2004 but lives on through a new app for the iPhone / iPad / iPod touch. He had a knack for being in the forefront of the technical revolution, Alf. As far as I can tell, his DVD "The Beatles Diary" was the first official Beatles-related release on that medium. This was back when DVDs were still sold in CD cases. Alf kept quiet about his Beatles involvement from 1966 to 1989, and then he published an autobiography, Baby, You Can Drive My Car! After that he went pioneering by reissuing the book as a video package, "Alf Bicknell's Beatles Diary", which later became a DVD.
Alf, who narrated and conceived the idea behind Beatles Diary, was the Beatles' chauffeur for three years. From 1964 to 1966 he drove John, Paul, George, and Ringo from gig to gig and airport to hotel. He was with them when they visited Elvis, played Shea and he got beat up in the Philippines.
The new iPhone app version of Beatles Diary is a behind-the-scenes look at the Fab Four’s history and meteoric rise to fame, offering never before seen letters, photos and videos. The unique content in Beatles Diary originates from Alf Bicknell's archives. Thanks to Google Maps integration, users can also take a virtual tour of the places that played a part in life of The Beatles in Liverpool. Beatles Diary 1.0.1 is priced at $4.99 (USD) and available worldwide through the iTunes App Store in the Entertainment category. Purchase here or use your iPhone (but beware; it's a heavy 376 MB download)! Beatles Diary is released by Dynamedia of America, a Tampa FL based advertising company.
Your's truly behind Alf Bicknell in Studio 2, Abbey Road around 1996.

Get Back to Stavanger


What: Signed The Beatles albums from the Einar Arne Iversen collection
Time: 15.00 - 16.00 Wednesday 16 February 2011
Place: Main reception area, Statoil office, Forusbeen 50, Stavanger, Norway
From the forming of The Beatles in 1960 until its break-up in 1970, the group made a great number of unforgettable hits, now treasured by all generations. The Einar Arne Iversen collection covers their whole production, in addition to special albums made after the break-up, all signed by the original members.
Programme:
• Welcome by Jens R Jenssen, senior vice president of human resources in Statoil and leader of the Statoil art programme
• Opening by Bård Ose, music journalist in the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) and writer of the book Beatles hele livet (Beatles forever)
• “My passion” by Einar Arne Iversen, the collector
• Guided tour with Bård Ose and Einar Arne Iversen
A light buffet and drinks will be served.
An illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition.
Curators: Arnt N Fredheim, Wenche Falkenhaug and Einar Arne
Iversen
Welcome!
Limited participation, RSVP by 14 February to artprog@statoil.com or +4751994519
www.statoil.com/artprogramme

Saturday, 22 January 2011

A trip to Amsterdam and Hamburg


My friend Gabriëlla van Karsbergen wanted me to mention in my blog about a trip Beatles International is organizing to Amsterdam and Hamburg on April 20th. So if you want to follow in the footsteps of the Beatles and visit the sights in Amsterdam, the war memorial near Arnhem, and the Beatles sights in and around Hamburg such as the Kaiserkeller, BeatleMania museum, Indra Club, Reeperbahn, Grosse Freiheit etc., here's an opportunity. For more info and booking details go here or send an email to Gabriella.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

How much is my old vinyl Beatles record worth?


It's the question most people ask themselves when they stumble upon a case of half-forgotten vinyl records in the attic. A lot of them wrongfully assumes that as long as it's got something to do with the Beatles, it must be valuable. Vinyl records are not scarce, and least of all Beatles records. Obscure artists and bands yes, Beatles no. Or at least, that's the general rule. After all, the Beatles was the best selling act in their time - naturally their records were pressed up in giant quantities compared to other artists. And when the first edition of a particular record was sold out, a new edition would instantly be made. And since the Beatles remained popular throughout the seventies and beyond, the record companies made sure they were always stocked up. So in general, all the Beatles standard albums, both in the USA, the UK and in most other countries remained available in record shops until CD's took over most of the market around the early nineties. In the last few years, vinyl albums have come in vogue again and the Beatles' albums have once again been re-pressed. In 2010, more new vinyl records were sold than in any previous year since 1991. And the best selling new vinyl album for the past two years in a row was "Abbey Road" by The Beatles. Even though a vinyl version based on the 2009 remastered CD editions has yet to be released. So if you happen upon a Beatles LP, it's not necessarily a sixties pressing. A 1978 pressing of, say for instance "Meet The Beatles" does not have the number 1978 written anywhere on the record sleeve or label, it still said 1964. Upon the initial release of Beatles albums on CD in 1987, no new pressings were made from the USA albums, only the standard UK releases were allowed further vinyl editions. And of those, only the ones that were released as CD's were allowed to be reissued on vinyl. So records like "A Collection of Beatles Oldies" from 1966 and "The Beatles At The Hollywood Bowl" from 1977 fell by the wayside.
As you may have gathered by this blog post so far, you can't ask a Beatles collector if such and such album title is worth a lot. Rarities in Beatles collector's circles are determined not by title but by which pressing it is. Is it a sixties original first edition pressing? Or a later edition but still from the sixties? Is it in mono or stereo? East coast or west coast pressing plant? A seventies pressing? A foreign pressing? Does it come with the original inner sleeve? Is it scratched or does it play nicely? Is there writing anywhere on the sleeve or the label? Is the cover intackt or dog-eared and worn? Most old records are worn and have the original owner's initials or full name or even his full adress written on it. And it will be scratched or worse, and have dirt in the grooves. So if you're sure your old record is from when it was first released AND it's still in a great condition, only then can you speculate whether your record may be worth something.
That's the general information and applies to most Beatles records. And then there are the exceptions to the rule. Yes there still are some real Beatles gems to be discovered.  More about real Beatles rarities in upcoming blog posts. One word of advice: If you happen upon an original copy of the US album "Yesterday...And Today", don't try to peel off the paste-on cover to reveal the underlying "butcher" cover. Too many people have done just that, so now it's more valuable unpeeled.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

"Pink" concert Beatles virtual reunion rumours



Just in: this cryptic press release from David Harrison Levi: "Rumors reported by the Daily Star UK, KEarth101, ABC News, NBC News and others regarding my tentative Sir Paul McCartney & Ringo Starr World Peace Breast Cancer Awareness free “Pink concert” at The Hollywood Bowl tentatively scheduled August 27, 2011 will be addressed at our upcoming worldwide press conference scheduled in February in Beverly Hills. Details to follow."

Just a PR stunt?

I certainly hope that the rumours regarding a "virtual" Beatles reunion are just that. A report surfaced last year from Britain’s tabloid newspaper Daily Star that The Beatles are to have a “virtual reunion” on stage at the Hollywood Bowl for a special charity show. It was believed that Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr would play alongside digital images of John Lennon and George Harrison. There has been no official confirmation from McCartney, Starr or Apple Records.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Cleveland Press Conference 1964

The Beatles’ press conference before their September 1964 concert in Cleveland was held at the Sheraton-Cleveland Hotel (today known at the Renaissance Hotel). Don Webster interviewed John Lennon and George Harrison briefly and then later had a quick second interview with them. The Beatles were on their first U.S. concert tour, which lasted one month. Cleveland was one of their last stops. From newsnet5.com.