Monday, 12 January 2015

The Beatles reunion rumours

People Weekly, April 1976: The Beatles - will they sing again for $50 million?
Throughout the seventies, the press reported upcoming Beatles reunions every now and then, reunions that were never planned, and never happened.

Reunion rumours were strongest whenever two of the band members were seen together, and the first rumours got started around the Concert for Bangladesh. With two members participating, it's now known that Lennon was invited along too, but backed out.

The next time was probably in 1973, when three of them performed on Ringo's "I'm The Greatest" track on his Ringo album, with the fourth member, Paul McCartney appearing on a couple of other tracks on the album.

There were also rumours about a Beatles reunion in 1974, not because of Lennon and McCartney's jam session in Los Angeles in March, because that was not publicly known at the time, but on April 20, the rumours said that John, Paul, George and Ringo were all at the Beverly Wiltshire Hotel in LA for a business meeting.

The closest they ever got, was when Paul McCartney was visiting John Lennon in New York City in 1976, and they were contemplating going to the Saturday Night Live studios for a laugh, as the show had offered $3,000 for a Beatles reunion as a joke. This offer came just after promoter Bill Sargent had offered the Beatles $50 million for one reunion show.

Lennon later told Playboy, “Paul and I were together watching that show. He was visiting us at our place in the Dakota. We were watching it and almost went down to the studio, just as a gag … He and Linda walked in, and he and I were just sitting there, watching the show, and we went, ‘Ha-ha, wouldn’t it be funny if we went down?’” 

McCartney later recalled, “[John] said, ‘We should go down there. We should go down now and just do it.’ It was one of those moments where we said, ‘Let’s not and say we did.’ “

Lennon said, “We nearly got into a cab, but we were actually too tired …”

The New York Post September 21, 1979: THE BEATLES ARE BACK!
Exclusive: Fab Four for big UN concert in New York.
One news story that turned out to be true, was when on May 19th, 1979, George, Paul and Ringo all were at Eric Clapton’s wedding party in England. George reportedly joined Paul and Ringo for boozy renditions of "Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band," "Get Back" and "Lawdy Miss Clawdy", according to Peter Doggett’s book "You Never Give Me Your Money".

At his Hurtwood Edge home in Surrey, Eric Clapton threw a party for 200 guests to celebrate his marriage to Patti Boyd, the couple having already been married in Tucson, Arizona, on March 27. At the end of the evening, Paul, George and Ringo, as well as the other celebrities present, including Mick Jagger, Denny Laine, Ginger Baker and Lonnie Donegan, joined Clapton for an impromptu concert on a stage set up in a large marquee tent in his grounds. They ran through various old rock'n'roll hits and even some Beatles' covers.

Filling in for John Lennon: Lonnie Donegan
Later in 1979, Secretary-General of the United Nations Kurt Waldheim approached Paul to ask for a Beatles reunion concert in aid of the victims of war-thorn Cambodia, a country which recently had changed the international spelling of their name to Kampuchea. The idea of a Beatles reunion didn't appeal to Paul and the others, but Paul organized a series of concerts at the Hammersmith Odeon in London featuring Queen, The Clash, The Pretenders, The Who, Elvis Costello, Wings and others in aid of the charity.

Rumours were ripe during the night of the Wings performance that George, Ringo and John was to appear alongside Paul, speculations that compere Billy Connolly did nothing to qualm. But Paul told the audience that "they" were not here - and they weren't.



In 1980, The Beatles were planning their reunion, according to the record producer working with John Lennon during Double Fantasy recordings.

Jack Douglas, who produced Lennon's final album Double Fantasy, revealed in 2005 that Lennon and Paul McCartney were talking about working together on a Ringo Starr solo album.

Douglas said, "He and Paul planned to play on a Ringo album and that's how they were planning to do it, and George (Harrison) had not come aboard yet".

"George was already in a lot of hot water with John because of George releasing his autobiography and not really mentioning much of John in it. But I think they assumed that George would come along as soon as the thing got going."

The album Ringo was about to record was going to be called "Can't Fight Lightening". Paul helped produce and record several songs and George also came on board. In New York City in November, Lennon gave Ringo the demos for "Nobody Told Me". "Stepping Out" was another Lennon composition intended for Ringo to sing, as was "Life Begins at 40". With Lennon producing, they set a date for 14 January 1981 to record the song(s).

After John's death the album was reworked, and it was finally released in 1981 as "Stop and Smell The Roses", without any Lennon songs.

Douglas also claims Lennon's wife Yoko Ono actively blocked a Beatles reunion, saying "Let's just put it this way - Yoko discouraged Paul coming around".

"There was a writing session somewhere in the Dakota (building where Lennon and Ono lived) and there was one cancelled which John did not know about. He was told that Paul did not show. Paul was told that John was too busy to be working with him that day."


Guitar Legends Presents the Beatles

On November 28, 1980, Lennon submitted a sworn deposition against the producers of Beatlemania: "I and the three other former Beatles have plans to stage a reunion concert," an event to be filmed and included as the finale to The Long And Winding Road, an official Beatles produced documentary to be released in the mid-Eighties. John's deposition was not made public until the case was settled on June 4, 1986. An entertainment lawyer revealed later that a contract had been signed in August of 1980 for John to appear with the Beatles in this capacity.

This project was eventually going to become a reality in the mid-nineties without John, under its new title, "The Beatles' Anthology".

Jack Douglas, interviewed in "Guitar Legends Presents the Beatles," in 2009, says Lennon had already committed to touring using the musicians from the "Double Fantasy" sessions and had started doing drawings of stage sets.

Douglas claimed that John even was planning to do new versions of "She Loves You" and "I Want To Hold Your Hand". "He'd already played them for us."

According to reports, Paul McCartney insisted on a highly lucrative clause in a record label contract signed in 1979, that would allow him to work with John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr again.

The £6 million contract with CBS was been made public in 2005.

Speaking about the deal, a record industry insider said: "This is the earliest evidence of any Beatle making formal overtures toward a reunion."

The terms of the contract stipulate that McCartney must be allowed to record under the name "The Beatles".

McCartney is said to have planned for the other members of the Beatles to join him in Montserrat, where he was set for recording a new album under the supervision of Beatles producer George Martin.

That album also became a reality, but the only other Beatle eventually participating in the recordings was Ringo Starr. It was released in 1982 as "Tug of War". Again, the reunion rumours were probably unfounded.

Even after the death of John Lennon, the press continued their speculations
When Julian Lennon and Paul McCartney were announced as performers partaking in the Live Aid charity concert in 1985, again there were Beatles reunion rumours in the air - with Paul, George, Ringo and 22 year old Julian taking his father's place in the lineup. Even though he was in the show's programme, Julian eventually never performed at the event, cancelling at the last minute.

Reunions that did happen: Ex-Beatles collaborations

6 comments:

Nicola said...

Thanks for this great article, Roger! Loved every information in it and learned a lot of things i didn't know before!!

CMO#9 said...

Great pice, Rog. I often think about the reunion that never was with the Beatles and while it would've been incredibly awesome to see them perform together again (or record privately in a studio), whether it was 1981 or 2001, I think it's best that they didn't do it while they had the chance. EVERY band eventually reunites and I'm sure the Beatles would have as well had John lived but th fact that they never played or recorded together again after 1969 is another thing that sets them apart from the rest.

Pancho said...

I think they would have spent the 80's watching their children grow, with no albums as 'Beatles' but a massive comeback with a world tour in 1989

Internotional Tomes said...

Perhaps it's a coincidence that you've sparked this article but I wonder if you know that last week BBC TV aired the latest in its documentaries about the Top of the Pops show, this time covering 1980 and obviously culminating in John's death.

What was astounding was that former show host Richard Skinner a very well-respected radio and TV broadcaster made explicit a claim he'd first hinted at in a book, namely that he had been the person who phoned Paul McCartney upon receipt of the news of Lennon's murder.

He then spoke of McCartney speaking to him but refusing to go on air with his tale of how he and John had been scheduled to write and record together in London but that bookings problems had delayed it til January 1981

Skinner concluded with 'So John Lennon shouldn't even have been in New York on December 8th'

It's hard to imagine that Skinner would make this story up. He's a notably 'stable' and unegoistic personality and has interviewed McCartney many times since 1980.

Very strange.

There are no news items I can find about this since it was broadcast and it has since been rebroadcast a number of times. Hence why I don't have an accurate transcript to add with Skinner's on-screen story.

Would have thought a SCOOP was in the assembly, marrying this with Jack Douglas' widely-dismissed claims.

Taken together with Lennon's very vocal approval of McCartney's "Coming Up" single earlier in 1980, including that it had got HIM back to recording, including that Beatlemania court statement and several other nuggets, it seems that there is an untold story about what these two had been planning with or without Yoko's knowledge.

Internotional Tomes said...

Actually someone has done the transcript:

"I was listening to the BBC World Service and I woke up at 4am ... they were announcing John Lennon had been shot.

I leapt out of my bed and jumped into my car and drove into (BBC) Radio 1 (Newsbeat) newsroom. I suddenly see in my phone book I've got Paul McCartney's home telephone number. I thought about it, because it was kind of a nerve wracking irresponsible thing to do but I did phone the number and somebody did answer the phone.

I asked if they knew about John, and they didn't. And so I passed it on and asked could Paul phone back to Newsbeat because we would value a comment but appreciate that he may not be able to.

Suddenly one of the (office) girls came through and said "Richard! Paul McCartney on the phone. So I went to the back office, the editor's office and shut the door and had a long conversation with Paul who wouldn't go on air.

He was so upset and we talked about John and we talked about plans that, he tells me in the phone call, he and John had to get together and try and write music again together. That would have been happening that December. But the studio they wanted to use was booked out.

They didn't get together and were hoping to get together in the New Year.

So John Lennon shouldn't have even been in New York on the 8th of December"

Read more: http://abbeyrd.proboards.com/thread/5186/john-meant-paul-day-murdered#ixzz3OiukV4LF

CrackinThunder said...

Jack Douglas, while producing the Double Fantasy sessions, has publically stated that he was aware that while John was recording, Paul had tried to call the studio at least once being rebuffed by Yoko than John indicated he was too busy to talk to Paul..even when it was clear that John was not made aware of the call.