Saturday, 30 November 2013

Paul McCartney's Making of New

Palladia's TV schedule for December 5th has a strong McCartney theme

December 5th, a TV programme titled "Something New" has been announced on the US high definition music TV channel "Palladia". Here's the description: "Something NEW documents the creation of Paul McCartney's latest album 'NEW', widely hailed as possibly the finest solo work of his peerless discography. The doc alternates between intimate footage of the actual recording process and vivid memories and incisive reflections of all involved. The result is an unprecedented behind-the-scenes look into Paul's creative process and his collaboration with the album's star-studded production team."
VH1 Classic will also air the special on Friday, December 13th at 9:00 PM ET/PT. Something NEW features incredible live and backstage footage shot around the world during his amazing run of shows in 2013 and documents the creation of Paul McCartney's recently released album NEW.
Palladia TV

Friday, 29 November 2013

Recent Beatles music videos

Still frame from the 2013 "Words of Love" music video
When the new "Words of Love" video was released to the public a few weeks back, some journalist wrote that this was the first new Beatles music video since 1996's "Free As A Bird". Of course, this only testifies to said journalist's attention span and lack of research. Here's a list of music videos released by the Beatles/Apple since "Free As A Bird", I found most of them listed on that brilliant website for archived information about Beatles film footage, (no, there are NO videos there).

1996: "Real Love"
1996: "Two Of Us"
1996: "For You Blue"
1999: "Hey Bulldog"
2000: "She Loves You"
2000: "Yesterday"
2000: "I Feel Fine"
2000: "Come Together"
2000: "Get Back"
2000: "I Want To Hold Your Hand"
2000: "Ticket To Ride" (Remastered)
2003: "Two Of Us"
2003: "Get Back"
2003: "Don't Let Me Down"
2006: "Dizzy Miss Lizzie"
2006: "Within You Without You/"Tomorrow Never Knows"
2013: "Words Of Love"

Each title is linked to it's own entry at, except for "Don't Let Me Down", which is linked to iTunes and "Words Of Love" is linked to the official Vevo video on YouTube.

Granted, some of these videos are remasterings of old TV-appearances or sixites promotional films, but some are new inventions. Like "Words Of Love", several feature animation, for instance 2000's I Feel Fine and Come Together, as well as 2003's Two Of Us and 2006's Within You Without You/Tomorrow Never Knows.
Most of the new music videos were put together to promote then current releases, like the "Yellow Submarine Songtrack", "Anthology" VHS and Laserdisc releases, "1", "Anthology" DVD series, "Let It Be...Naked", "The Capitol Albums Vol 2" and "Love".

With 1999's "Hey Bulldog", they were in luck, as the original recording session had been filmed in order to make the 1968 music video for "Lady Madonna". The footage works a lot better when used to illustrate the actual song they were recording! The "Hey Bulldog" video is available from iTunes.

The new(ish) "Get Back" and "Don't Let Me Down" videos were also released on iTunes in conjunction with the digital download debut of "Let It Be...Naked". However, most of the music videos were distributed to TV stations only, and some were used at website. As the projects get old, these videos were pulled from the website and the powers that be are also closely monitoring YouTube to get fan uploads of the videos banned. We were unsuccessful in locating a fan upload of the brilliant 2003 "Two Of Us" video. That video was an example of turning film footage from the Get Back sessions into black and white and augmenting the video with animated pencil drawings in the background.

The 2006 "Dizzy Miss Lizzie" music video was simply taken from the remastered (and still unreleased) Beatles At Shea Stadium film and released to TV stations to promote "The Capitol Albums Vol. 2".

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Shea Stadium book

There's a new book out on the subject of The Beatles' famous 1965 concert at Shea Stadium. The book has been written by David Schwensen, who also authored a book about their Cleveland concerts, "The Beatles In Cleveland: Memories, Facts & Photos About The Notorious 1964 & 1966 Concerts". The new book is called The Beatles at Shea Stadium The story behind their Greatest Concert.

The Beatles' performance at New York's Shea Stadium on August 15, 1965 is one of the most exciting and important concert events in the history of popular music. Produced by Sid Bernstein and introduced on stage by television legend Ed Sullivan, John, Paul, George and Ringo played, sang, sweated and laughed for a record crowd of 55,600 fans. It was the height of Beatlemania and launched the modern era of outdoor stadium shows.
"The Beatles At Shea Stadium" tells the story of this concert through researched commentary and exclusive interviews with Beatles insiders, friends and fans. The story begins in 1963 with Bernstein scheduling the then-unknown group for two concerts at Carnegie Hall and the first wave of U.S. Beatlemania. Follow events leading up to the concert as the Beatles arrive in New York, tape "The Ed Sullivan Show" and attend a never-before revealed dinner at Rockefeller Center. Then go backstage as they nervously prepare to face their largest live audience.

The concert and excitement surrounding their performance are described in detail based on unedited live recordings and eyewitness accounts, and gives new insights into making the television special, secret recording session to overdub the live audio for network broadcast, and subsequent restoration of the classic film. Book includes rare photos, memorabilia, and never-before published correspondence, documents and production notes.
Look inside the book
The print version can be ordered from here:
So Apple, where's the corresponding DVD?

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

The Making of the "Words of Love" video

Songs for the Philippines

Despite having been treated so badly while visiting the Philippines that neither of them has ever visited the country again, The Beatles have donated two songs to the new 39-track digital charity compilation album "Songs For The Philippines". The album opens with "Across the Universe" and closes with "Let It Be". This is one of the very few times Beatles tracks are included in a compilation album. Of course, "Across the Universe" (The Lizzie Bravo/Gayleen Pease version) in itself was originally a track on the charity album "No One's Gonna Change Our World" back in 1969 (depicted above).

Official site:

In a 2011 interview, Imelda Marcos says that she had nothing to do with the manhandling of the Beatles at the airport. In fact, “When I heard they were being manhandled at the airport on their departure, I immediately ran to the airport to have it stopped. I remember reprimanding the airport manager Mr. Willy Jurado," Mrs Marcos claims.

The Beatles BBC Special for Thanksgiving

Photo: © Apple Corps Ltd

The Beatles BBC Radio Special, produced by Kevin Howlett will be aired on the Thanksgiving weekend in USA. We've been trying to locate a radio station who is broadcasting it, and found Rock 92.1 WBIK FM, which is a commercial classic rock radio station licensed to Pleasant City, Ohio. Here's a link to their announcement: The Beatles BBC Special for Thanksgiving. The program will feature interviews with Paul, George and Ringo, reminiscing about their BBC radio days. According to Howlett, the McCartney interview was taped this summer. The show will be streamed online at 9am (EST) at Thanksgiving, Thursday, November 28th from this URL. You can also listen to the station by visiting Tune-In Radio online or download the Tune-In Radio APP for your phone of tablet or from iTunes or the Google Play Store.
Meanwhile today, NPR are broadcasting a Howlett interview during their NPR Fresh Air with Terry Gross show.
Sunday on the Beeb itself, Bob Harris presents a Beatles Special during his near three hours long show, as detailed (or rather, not) here. This MAY be the same Howlett production as the one at Thanksgiving, Stateside.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

"On Air" - chart action

After having taken the cover photo for "On Air", the Beatles looked around, wondering what to name their future record company. Photo: Dezo Hoffmann.

Here in Norway The Beatles' "On Air - Live at the BBC Volume 2" entered at no. 9 on the official album chart, "VG-lista", while Paul McCartney's "New" has dropped out of the top 40. Over at Billboard's album list they fared slightly better and made it to no. 7 with 37 000 units sold. And the remastered "Live at the BBC" sold 9000 units, which re-entered the album at no 34.
From Great Britain, the Official Chart Company has "On Air" at 12 and "Live at the BBC" at 57. However, and this is nice, on "The Official Record Store Chart", which is compiled by Britain's independent record stores, the Beatles are number one with "On Air". The NME has a story about it. Of course, that chart is all about physical media. And the two-fer with both CD's is at number 26 on the same chart.

In Austria, there's a TV commercial for The Beatles' "On Air - Live at the BBC Volume 2". 

Friday, 22 November 2013

Imagine...a new format

Now you'll have to buy "Imagine" again? 

On the 16th of December, John Lennon's "Imagine" album will be released on Blu-ray audio by Universal Music. The format gives a higher fidelity than CD's.

Read more:

It was 50 years ago today...

Poster for the Beatles concert on November 22nd, 1963
22. November, 1963. President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed in Dallas, Texas. Everyone who was around at that time remembers where they were when they got the message.
It was also the release date of the Beatles' second album, "With The Beatles".
But where were the Beatles? They were playing in Stockton.
Tony Bramwell remembers the day: "50 years ago on November 22nd I was in Stockton-On-Tees doing two shows on The Beatles huge British Beatlemania Tour. Between shows we were informed that President J.F.Kennedy had been assassinated in Dallas, Texas. The mood for the second concert was definitely subdued, although of course the audience had not heard the dreadful news!" takes us back to that day.

The Beatles on stage at the Globe in Stockton.
Mark Lewisohn has also done some research about how the news reached the British public, check out his article on the subject here.

What's hard to fathom is that it was only 17 years between the murders of the two namesakes, president Kennedy and "our own" John.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

McCartney Recording Sessions Book

Luca Perasi's book "Recording sessions (1969-2013). A journey through Paul McCartney's songs after The Beatles" has finally been translated to English and also updated to include "New".
The book has the stories behind all of Paul McCartney's solo career songs in chronological order of recording, from "McCartney" to "New". The book was previously only available in Italian, and spanned the years 1969-2011.
Recording dates, studios and "who played what" on each song. Includes 70 exclusive interviews with musicians, arrangers, producers and collaborators who worked with McCartney through the years: Denny Seiwell, Laurence Juber, Richard Niles, Richard Hewson, Alan O'Duffy, Carl Davis, Neil Dorfsman, Carlos Alomar, Jerry Marotta, Steve Holly... and many others!
Foreword by Tony Clark.
The book is now available through Amazon UK, France, Spain and Germany. US customers may order it from Amazon UK.
440 pages.
ISBN-10: 8890912219
ISBN-13: 978-8890912214

Unseen Lennon Photos For Sale

Some very cool John Lennon shots by photographer Richard Rosen has been put up for sale at And very reasonably priced too! So if you know a Lennonite who has everything, here's something to think about for a Christmas present. Or if you're a cheapskate like me, you can just look at the pretty pictures at the website.

Ed Sullivan Show remembered

The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show, February 9, 1964
Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr will be taking part in the upcoming TV special honoring the 50th anniversary of the Beatles' first appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show."

Australia's says Beatle widows Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison will also appear on the show, along with a number of other stars. Australian TV executive Brian Walsh says the lineup features Justin Timberlake, Adele, and Lady Gaga along with Pink, Bruno Mars, and Katy Perry. Walsh runs the network that will be airing the special in Australia.

"The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute To The Beatles" will air on CBS on Sunday, February 9th, 2014 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern - exactly 50 years to the day, date, and time of the original "Sullivan" broadcast. The show will be taped on Monday, January 27th - the day after the 56th Annual Grammy Awards.


Friday, 15 November 2013

Mark Lewisohn vs Fab 4 Free 4 All

Mark Lewisohn, "Tune In: The Beatles: All These Years" | Talks at Google. Renowned Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn discusses Tune In with Fab 4 Free 4 All hosts Mitch Axelrod, Rob Leonard and Tony Traguardo.

The extended edition of Lewisohn's book is now available.

Words Of Love music video

The Beatles/Apple has produced a new music video for the version of "Words Of Love" from "On Air - Live at the BBC Volume 2".

Paperback Writer at Top Of The Pops. Photo: Robert Whitaker

We just got wind of something, videowise: A large cache of missing television material of the Beatles (Jukebox Jury, Top Of The Pops, Pop Goes Charts etc.) has been discovered and is currently being restored for tentatively a 2014/2015 release. Though how they will use this material depends on how the "On Air - Live At BBC Volume 2" and the remastered "Live at the BBC" performs, saleswise. Still, exciting possibilities, and we are happy to hear that material thought lost a long time ago, survives.

Here's the only surviving, or so we thought, extract from their debut at Top Of The Pops and also the first time the audience could see them in what was to become known as the "Shea suits".

Thursday, 14 November 2013

When The Silver Beatles became the Beatles

The Beatals, 1960

There's a news story making the rounds, originatíng from Wirral News about a Beatles fan who supposedly has solved the mystery of when the Beatles decided to drop the "Silver" prefix from their band name.  Ken Harrison - manager of the Grosvenor Ballroom in Liscard, Wallasey - was looking through old newspaper cuttings from the Wallasey News hidden away in a drawer there. Especially the small advertisements caught his eyes. On Whit Monday, June 6, 1960, the fabulous Silver Beetles, direct from their tour with Jonny Gentle performed a double bill with Gerry and the Pacemakers.
The following Saturday night, June 11th, 1960 the Grosvenor Ballroom advertised a swing session featuring the sensational new group The Beatles.
Fellow Beatles fan Robin Bird said: Historians have said the Silver Beetles changed their name to the Beatles when they left for Hamburg on August 16, 1960 starting a new chapter in their amazing musical career.
However, from the old cuttings it is apparent the band changed their name before that date when they played at the Grosvenor Ballroom.
Ken now has enlarged the adverts and will be getting them framed to put on the wall.
However, there's a discrepancy at the end of the article, which reads: Violence at the Grosvenor put an end to the Beatles performances there, but they did return on September 15, 1960, making their first appearance since their German tour. Admission was 4/- and the Beatles were billed to play from 7.45pm followed by Cliff Roberts and the Rockers.

It was probably 1961.

The Beatles performed at the Grosvenor Ballroom on 14 occasions between June 1960 and September 1961. The dates were 4, 6, 11, 18 and 25 June; 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30 July; 24 December 1960; 24 February; 10 March; and 15 September 1961.

Another thing is that Johnny Gentle, who toured Scotland with the "Silver Beatles" or "Silver Beetles" in May 1960 remembers them as being introduced on stage simply as "The Beatles", so the name change may have occured even earlier, although not in print. Allan Williams, their manager from that summer never got their name right, always misspelling it as "Beetles" and he also mixed up their Christian names, forgetting which one of them who was Paul, George or John.

Paul McCartney talked about the Grosvenor Ballroom in The Beatles' Anthology: "The Grosvenor Ballroom in Wallasey was one of the worst places; there would be a hundred Wallasey lads squaring up to a hundred lads from Seacombe and all hell would break loose. I remember one night a rumble had started before I realised what was happening. I ran to the stage to save my Elpico amp, my pride and joy at the time. There were fists flying everywhere. One Ted grabbed me and said, 'Don't move, or you're bloody dead!' I was scared for my life, but I had to get that amp."

Here's a set list from Grosvenor Ballrom, possibly from 1960, in Paul's handwriting:

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Got That Something

The New York Times will focus on the British invasion of the 1960s for its next collaboration with Byliner.
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ “I Want To Hold Your Hand” and the arrival of Beatlemania, the New York Times is publishing Got That Something! by Times music critic Allan Kozinn.
The new e-book chronicles the birth of the John Lennon-Paul McCartney-penned song and explains how it became the hit single that sparked the British Invasion.

“In Got That Something! the author paints a vivid picture of the legendary songwriting duo at work, and the emergence of this distinctively British-sounding tune that — contrary to the assumptions of American record labels — became beloved in the United States, paving the way for the invasion to come and the lasting impact on American music that continues even today,” the Times said.

If you're not familiar with Allan Kozinn and his level of expertise on The Beatles, here is his review of the new Beatles BBC releases, here's a piece he wrote about the upcoming Tracks auction, and here's his obituary for John Tavener.

Purchase links:
Amazon (where you can also look inside)
Barnes & Noble

While we're on the subject of the 50th anniversary of the Beatles' break through in the USA, here's a little mock-up I did in Photoshop yesterday, regarding the upcoming plans of re-releasing the Beatles' US albums:

Note the "peek-a-boo" peel job for "Yesterday and Today"

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

USA albums in January?

The American "Hey Jude" album

As I'm sure you now, The Beatles/Apple released CD versions of the USA albums in 2004 and 2006 in the boxed sets "The Capitol albums" Volume 1 and 2. The CDs were not available individually, and the series stopped after "Rubber Soul".

The Capitol albums Volume 1
The Capitol albums Volume 2

In new listings on Amazon, it now looks like they are releasing the USA albums individually on CD in connection with the 50th anniversary of the Beatles' breakthrough in the USA, and the titles that weren't  released before are now making their CD debuts.

The albums are listed on Amazon in the UK and Japan and so far not the USA Amazon site. Of course, since "Yesterday and Today" has made the list, people are wondering if it will come with a "butcher" cover design. Still no Beatles' Story album, though.

The Beatles' Story was a 1964 documentary album in USA

Here are the individual album listings from the UK Amazon site, all supposedly due for release on January 20, 2014:

The Early Beatles
Meet The Beatles
The Beatles Second Album
Beatles VI
Beatles '65
Something New
Rubber Soul
Yesterday And Today
A Hard Day's Night
Hey Jude

Monday, 11 November 2013

Henry Grossman's Beatles photos

Photographer Henry Grossman shows some of his Beatles photos in this 60 minutes web spinoff from CBS. There's also an article here and a photo gallery here.

Review: The Beatles' BBC albums

The two CD albums are available as a double boxed set. Photo: © Apple Corps Ltd
Review by Anna Crusis

The Beatles:
Live at the BBC (Remastered for 2013, originally released in 1994)
On Air - Live at the BBC Volume 2 (new for 2013)

Like many people I am enjoying the two new BBC releases from Universal Music, one being a completely new collection of material and the other being a remastered-from-scratch update of an older title. But do these new discs have anything to offer to the seasoned fan? Surely most of these tracks have already been on bootlegs for years? But wait - there's good reason for grabbing these two titles, as you'll see.

First of all, there are loads of upgrades. The BBC have access to many high quality tapes that have been out of the reach of bootleggers for many years. Some of these upgrades are drastic, some are slight but there was enough of them to bring a huge smile to my face for a couple of hours. And the old tracks from the '94 set sound much better too. There's so much more life to them. There are occasional telling signs of tape wear and damage, but you've got to expect that with 50 year old recordings, many of which were never archived properly. I think it goes without saying that we all prefer to hear the tapes warts and all, without the NoNoise.

My own favourite beatle period is 62-63, so this new set is manna from heaven for me. Some of the tracks that blew me away include Till There Was You, Chains, Twist And Shout, PS I Love You, Please Mr Postman, Words Of Love, Please Please Me, Anna, Ask Me Why, Devil In Her Heart and Sure To Fall. There's also a neat upgrade of You Can't Do That from Top Gear, with the original Brian Mathew voiceover intact (I'd been afraid they'd cut it). There's other great sounding tracks too, of course, but the ones above are the ones that really stood out for me as being significantly improved.

Amongst the old tracks, songs like I Got A Woman, To Know Her Is To Love Her and Nothin' Shakin' really come alive without the heavy handed noise reduction. The fades are also longer, so a track like Don't Ever Change isn't cut short before it's finished, and the final chords of A Shot Of Rhythm And Blues and Ooh My Soul are allowed to decay naturally instead of being cut short. On songs like Crying Waiting Hoping and Kansas City/Hey Hey Hey Hey, the final chord of the previous song is no longer audible over the guitar intros, something which drove me absolutely nuts with the original 1994 release.

Anything unbooted? Well, I Feel Fine is a different take to the broadcast version and has a great conversation at the start where Paul and George advise John on how to get the feedback. A tiny bit of this was heard in The Beeb's Lost Beatles Tapes but here it is unedited. And there is a really funny Pop Go The Beatles moment from John you won't have heard before.

Okay, so any down side to the sets? Production wise, no, but they needed someone to advise them on their sources as far as boots go. A handful of bootleg sources just sound terrible including Misery, which seems to have been copied from a faulty cd. They also used less than stellar sources for I Got To Find My Baby, Youngblood, Baby It's You, I'll Be On My Way, Some Other Guy, That's All Right Mama and Johnny B Goode.

Some of the bad edits from the first volume are still present, including Ooh My Soul and Keep Your Hands Off My Baby. I Want To Hold Your Hand is also looped, which is a shame. On On Air - The Beatles Live at the BBC Volume 2 there's a horrible looping/editing job at the start of Memphis which was totally unnecessary since other tracks have been left with the voiceovers intact. But fortunately, we have un-tampered versions of all these tracks on bootleg, so no big deal.

So all in all, aside from a few sub-par moments, these are great sets and essential purchases. With the addition of Kevin Howlett's book, this will be a bumper Christmas for Beatleheads. And that's not including Lewisohn's extended book due out shortly!

Saturday, 9 November 2013

On Air TV-spot

Monday's the release date for the new Beatles album "On Air - Live at the BBC Volume 2", but people are reporting having received their copies early. Also, a few record shops around the world have been selling them for a few days already. The album will not be promoted on TV everywhere, but here's a TV Spot from Austrian TV.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Abbey Road car for sale

The "Abbey Road" front cover. Photo: © Apple Corps Ltd.
One of the cars parked on the cover of the Beatles' Abbey Road album has come up for sale on ebay.
It's not the famous Volkswagen Beetle, though.
Just above Paul's head is a 1967 Triumph Herald 1200, with the licence plate no. NHS31F. The number is not visible on the Abbey Road cover photo. The car, fondly known as ‘Jezebel’ was in August 1969 owned by a man who worked in sales for the Carrier Air Conditioning company based in Portland Place, London.
The current owner purchased the car from South Western Vehicle Auctions with the following description: "This vehicle is believed to appear in picture form on the famous Abbey Road L.P.cover". This was based on word of mouth passed on between the second, third & fourth owners. The second and third owners were next door neighbours while the third owner sold the car to a good friend of his. The car seller has contacted the widow of the original 1969 car owner, and she has confirmed the story. At the time of writing, the current bid is £2,500.00.
Update after auction end, the vehicle went for £6,352.75.

Another photo from that day. Photo: © Linda McCartney/MPL

Ebay link.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Randy Scouse Gits: The Sex Lives of The Beatles

This new, somewhat speculative book title was recently brought to our attention. It's a self-published job, written by debutant author Danny Friar. The ominous Amazon blurb reads: "So you think you know everything there is to know about The Beatles? You don't know anything yet! There's a side to The Beatles' story that's never been told. That is, until now. Was John Lennon gay? Who were Polythene Pam and Maggie May? Secret Beatle babies! Wife swaps, prostitutes, groupies, orgies, affairs and more!"

You can read an extract from the book on Danny Friar's blog.
Here's the link to and here is is on, where you can also take a look inside the book.

Of course, the title is a nick from the Monkees' song.

Born in Leeds, England, Danny Friar has been a regular contributor to The British Beatles Fan Club magazine since 2011. Since then, he has written on the subject of The Beatles for several newspapers and magazines across the UK and US. His blog on The Beatles is read by people in 25 different countries.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

New Beatles at the BBC radio special

From the BBC Media Centre:
Thursday 14 November 2013

Tonight’s programme offers a rare chance to hear the Beatles as BBC audiences would have originally encountered them.

This programme compiles extracts from Pop Go The Beatles (July 1963), Public Ear (November 1963), From Us To You (March 1964), The Alan Freeman Show (July 1964), Saturday Club (Christmas Day 1965), Where It's At (May 1967) and The Kenny Everett Show (1968) to create a revealing portrait of how British audiences would have originally heard the Beatles, the way they presented themselves and the impressions that they left.

In addition to songs recorded in BBC studios, the programme also contains interviews with the Fab Four and, in the case of the Kenny Everett programme, a visit to Abbey Road studios to eavesdrop on the making of the White Album.

Producer: Mark Hagen for the BBC

From the description, this is probably not the Kevin Howlett produced "On Air -The Beatles Live at the BBC" radio special that the author talked about in the Things We Said Today podcast the other day. That special was to feature the fabs reminiscing about their days at the BBC, mainly archival interviews, but the McCartney segments were newly taped this summer. That radio special will air in the USA on the Thanksgiving week end. We don't have a UK broadcast date for that one yet.
Meanwhile, Today is the last chance to listen to the full stream of "She Loves You" from the new album "On Air - Live at the BBC Volume 2" before they stream the next track!

Alma Cogan 1932-1966

Alma Cogan and the Beatles
Alma Cogan (19 May 1932 – 26 October 1966) was an English singer of traditional pop music in the 1950s and early 1960s. Dubbed "The Girl With the Laugh/Giggle/Chuckle In Her Voice", she was the highest paid British female entertainer of her era. Throughout the mid-1950s, she was the most consistently successful female singer in the UK.
Her father's family, the Kogins, arrived in Britain from Russia, while her mother’s family were refugees from Romania
When, on October 26, 1966, giant headlines across the front of newspapers informed a shocked public that Alma Cogan, Britain's greatest female recording star of the Fifties and early Sixties, had died from cancer at the tragically young age of 34, there was universal grief and incredulity.
It just didn't seem possible that the bouncy, bright and bubbling Alma, with her sequinned, voluminous dresses, brunette beehive, sparkling eyes and wide, dynamic smile, could be snuffed out of existence with such shocking suddenness at so early an age.
In a brief but meteoric career, Alma packed theatres all over the country, dazzled millions of TV viewers with her exuberant Jewish chutzpah, and clocked up 20 hit records, more than any other British female singer, spending an astonishing total of 109 weeks in the charts.
As she belted out one novelty hit after another - Bell Bottom Blues, Dreamboat, I Can't Tell A Waltz From A Tango, Twenty Tiny Fingers, Never Do A Tango With An Eskimo, Cowboy Jimmy Joe, and Just Couldn't Resist her with her Pocket Transistor - her style was the very quintessence of kitsch and the height of high camp.
But as she remained unmarried into her 30s, rumours swirled around her. It was whispered that she was a lesbian.
Two of the men who regularly escorted her, composer Lionel Bart and Beatles manager Brian Epstein, were both gay. And one of Cogan's closest friends, the late broadcaster David Jacobs, said: "I always thought of her as a virgin."
One story, allegedly told by the young Dusty Springfield, an admitted lesbian herself, with whom Cogan was said to be closely involved, was that Alma was not really gay, but had been raped as a young teenager and had developed a mental block about sex with men as a consequence.
One more dramatic twist in the mystery of Cogan and sex is the clandestine love affair between Alma and John Lennon.
Alma's sister Sandra Caron, who knew the Beatles even earlier than Alma and became very close to Paul McCartney, broke her silence on this story for the first time in 2006.
She told the Daily Mail: "I knew about Alma and John, of course, but it was something no one admitted because John was married. We had a very strict Jewish upbringing and my mother would never have approved of a relationship between Alma and a married man."
Ironically, before The Beatles rose to fame, Cogan represented everything Lennon most disliked. As a student at the Liverpool College of Art, Lennon "used to make horrible jokes against the singer Alma Cogan, impersonating her singing: 'Sugar In The Morning, Sugar In The Evening, Sugar At Suppertime.' He'd pull crazy expressions on his face to try to imitate her." This according to Helen Anderson, John's friend.
But in 1962, when The Beatles appeared with Cogan in Sunday Night At The London Palladium, it was obvious that Lennon rapidly revised his view. "John was potty about her," George Harrison revealed later. "He thought her really sexy and was gutted when she died."
After the Fab Four's first visit to Alma's home in Stafford Court, Kensington High Street, where she lived with her widowed mother, Fay, and her younger sister, Sandra, Lennon gave Cogan the name 'Sara Sequin', while Fay became 'Ma McCogie'.
The Cogan flat was probably the most celebrated showbusiness salon in London history. Princess Margaret, Roger Moore, Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant, Sir Noel Coward, Ethel Merman, Danny Kaye and Sammy Davis Jr were all regular visitors. Of her first visit to Stafford Court,
Alma had the closest friendship at this time with The Beatles' manager Brian Epstein who was also from a Jewish family, only two years younger than her in contrast to the eight year gap with The Beatles, and both were deeply into the glitzy world of good old-fashioned show business.
Brian brought her presents back from all his trips abroad and took her to Liverpool to meet his parents. The two seemed so attached that many people thought that despite Brian's homosexuality, they were destined to marry.
In 1964 when Alma was preparing the single she had penned herself - I Knew Right Away/It's You, Brian published it under his company JAEP Publishing which had originally been set up to take care of all George Harrison's compositions after Don't Bother Me was issued. Paul McCartney reportedly played tambourine on both tracks of the single.

Lennon's first wife, Cynthia, records: "John and I had thought of her as out-of-date and unhip. We remembered her in the oldfashioned cinched-in waists and wide skirts of the Fifties."
"But in the flesh she was beautiful, intelligent and funny, oozing sex appeal and charm. Walking into her home for the first time was like walking into another world."
"It was decorated like a swish nightclub with dark, richly coloured silken fabrics and brocades everywhere. Every surface was covered with ethnic sculptures, ornaments and dozens of photographs in elaborate silver, gold and jewelled frames."
Cynthia became convinced that Alma and John were lovers. "I could see the sexual tension between them," she recalled, "and how outrageously she flirted with him. But I had no real grounds for suspicion...just a strong gut feeling."

Her suspicions were correct. Alma and Lennon, both heavily disguised, took to meeting for passionate interludes in anonymous West End hotel suites, where they sometimes registered as 'Mr and Mrs Winston'.

The Beatles became regular visitors to the Cogan residence. It was on Alma's piano, with Sandra at his side, that Paul McCartney composed Yesterday. It was 3 am and McCartney first called the tune Scrambled Eggs because that's what 'Ma McCogie' had just cooked them.
Here's a BBC documentary from 1991 about Alma Cogan.

When EMI released a double album of her music called Celebration , Paul McCartney penned a brief sleeve note for it and the gatefold sleeve featured a picture of her with The Beatles.
Paul remembers the visits to the family flat as a learning curve for The Beatles about a new way of life. "They were very nice, Alma and her sister Sandra... I saw a documentary about John Betjeman, who said that when he got out of college there was a country house to which he was invited. And he said, 'There I learned to be a guest,' and that's what was happening to us at Alma's flat. There we learned to play charades, and we started to do it at our own parties. It was just a little learning curve. We'd never seen anything like this but we liked a laugh so we played charades with Stanley Baker and with bruce Forsyth; he was always at those things, Bruce was absolutely great... They were all a little older than us, probably ten, twelve years older than us, but they were great fun, very confident showbiz people who welcomed us into their circle. It was exciting for us, we would hear all the showbizzy gossip and meet people there that we hadn't met before; Lionel Bart would sometimes be there, Tommy Steele, Lionel Blair would nearly always be there."

Paul McCartney played tambourine on Alma Cogan's single "I Knew Right Away" in 1964.

As the emergence of The Beatles and of younger female singers - such as Lulu, Sandie Shaw and Dusty Springfield - revolutionised the pop music scene, Cogan's records ceased to become hits and her star dimmed in Britain, though not internationally, she still scored hits in Sweden and Japan.
Andrew Loog Oldham, the manager of the Rolling Stones, also thought Alma 'very sexy...we all fancied her'. He considered her later recordings 'naff', but noted Lennon's anxiety to help Cogan recover a foothold in the charts.
Cogan tried to update her image by recording some Beatles numbers and a spin-off from The Man from U.N.C.L.E. ("Love Ya Illya"). But by 1965, record producers were becoming dissatisfied with Cogan's work, and it was clear that her health was failing. Here she is, singing "A Hard Day's Night", recorded live at The Stockholm Concert Hall, Sweden, 1964.

Two weeks after Cogan's death, Lennon met Yoko Ono for the first time.

Further reading:
The Daily Mail

Friday, 1 November 2013

On Air - At Abbey Road

Photo: © Apple Corps Ltd

To celebrate the forthcoming release of a new collection of Beatles music, On Air - Live At The BBC Volume 2, a panel of music experts will meet at Abbey Road Studios in Studio 2, where The Beatles recorded almost all their albums, on November 14 to discuss the importance of radio in breaking the Beatles.

Competition - Win tickets

The Guardian has 25 pairs of tickets to give away for The Beatles “On Air”: broadcasting, bands and breaking into the mainstream. If you'd like to attend, simply write in to tell them about your first memories of listening to the Beatles. They will be awarding the tickets to the most engaging, original and thoughtful responses.

Enter here
The official Beatles calendar for 2013 struck a bit of luck with their November photo. © Apple Corps Ltd

Paul McCartney: Out There UK 2014


It seems that Paul McCartney will be bringing his Out There tour to the UK in 2014. According to this website, you can participate in an auction to meet and greet with Sir Paul, as well as attend a concert when his tour reaches the UK.
Usually, whenever he tours the UK, he will also visit a few other European countries. Meanwhile, the tour hits Japan on November 11th, the release date of the new Beatles album. He will play six concerts in Japan, ending in Tokyo on November 21st.