Monday, 16 April 2018

If The Beatles never existed

What if the Beatles and their songs never existed?.
Richard Curtis, who has delivered scripts to movies like "Four weddings and a funeral", "Love Actually" and "Notting Hill" is working on a new movie, tentatively titled "All You Need is Love".

The movie is about a struggling musician in a world where the Beatles and their music never existed. One day he wakes up, remembering them all - but he is the only one.

Popular British pop star Ed Sheeran has been in talks about writing some of the music in the movie, and also having a cameo. Of course, the Beatles' music will also be used.

Director is Danny Boyle, previously famous for "Slumdog Millionaire".

Source: The Daily Mail

Of course, the notion that The Beatles never really existed is a premise for a conspiracy theory. Conspiracy theorists have alleged the Fab Four group were formed of "multiples" and "body doubles", not the four individual men from Liverpool we have been led to believe.

"Proving" that John is not John takes the same route as the "Paul is dead" conspiracy lunatics.
And they claim there's visible proof that photos of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr differ throughout Beatlemania – making it “impossible” for them to have been the same people.

A website called The Beatles Never Existed has been dedicated to this theory since 2011, but is now closed, citing "other more current and pressing worldwide issues confronting humanity". For more info about this, we therefore refer you to The Daily Star.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Chema Ríos from La Coruña

Chema Ríos from La Coruña
This is an old photo of Chema Ríos from La Coruña, Spain when he was in his teens. He is a fan of the Beatles, amateur musician and has been working as a gynecologist.

For some reason or other, the internet thinks that this is a photo of John Lennon aged 13, in Liverpool, England. Why do they all think it is? And where did it start? Somewhere on the internet, this photo of Chema was posted with a caption indicating that it's a young John Lennon. And someone believed it and spread it. It's now all over the internet, especially on Pinterest but also elsewhere with the wrong caption. I’m just afraid that In 20 years time it will be the gospel, because more people have repeated it. Just try an image search yourself: Click the photo, then right-click it and choose Google's image search.

John Lennon still had no guitar at age 13, he would not have known the chord seen in the photo and he did not have a Beatles haircut.

John Lennon with his group The Quarry Men in Liverpool, July 6, 1957. John's age: 16. 
Here is a photo from an event with Chema's group: Chema Ríos, Carlos Otero, Ramón Sánchez & Miguel Ríos. (between 11 & 13 years old) at Colegio La Salle Santiago de Compostela, Spain.

And here is a latter day photo of Chema Ríos, taken in 2018. He also has a Facebook page.

Chema Ríos in 2018

Now, why am I posting this? Because now, every time you come across a photo of young Chema Ríos on the internet wrongly captioned as John Lennon, you can post a link to this very blog post to inform the uninformed.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

The "lost" Cavern Club tape

Live at the Cavern Club, 1962.
In mid-1962, "a fan in the audience" at the Cavern Club in Liverpool recorded a Beatles' performance, more-or-less in full. It's the only full-length recording of them live known to exist prior the Star Club tapes from late December 1962.

On August 29th 1985, the tape was auctioned and sold at Sotheby's in London. Sotheby's said it was recorded in February or March of 1962, but this can't be accurate, as one of the covers they play wasn't released until May and didn't reach British charts until June. Most say the show was recorded in June or July of 1962. It's definitely Pete Best on drums. Sotheby's sold it that day for £2,310. Who bought it? Paul McCartney of course!

Nobody knows anything about the sound quality. The setlist (as recorded anyway) is:
- Words of Love
- What's Your Name
- Roll Over Beethoven
- Ask Me Why (listed as 'Tell My Why' by Sotheby's, but that's almost surely an error)
- The Hippy Hippy Shake
- Til There Was You
- Hey! Baby
- If You Gotta Make a Fool of Somebody
- Please Mister Postman
- Sharing You
- Your Feet's Too Big
- Dizzy Miss Lizzy
- I Forgot to Remember to Forget
- Matchbox
- I Wish I Could Shimmy Like my Sister Kate (aka: Shimmy Like Kate; aka: Shimmy Shimmy)
- Memphis, Tennessee
- Young Blood
- Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream)

McCartney has neglected to release the tape to the public. This blog post was prompted when someone asked me what I would ask Paul McCartney about, if I just had one question. My question would be: Why, oh why haven't you released this tape to the fans? You had the opportunity around The Beatles' Anthology! If the three others voted no, give me the tape and I'll get it to bootleggers who would leap at the opportunity to release this! What are you saying, it sounds just as bad as the Hamburg Star Club recordings? We LOVE the Hamburg Star Club tapes! We promise you, we will still remain Beatles fans even if the tape sounds crappy, we won't deflect to the Rolling Stones or anything! Please, please us - some of us don't have long to live and we would die happy if we could just have one listen to this. Pretty please with sugar on?

Monday, 9 April 2018

New footage from Candlestick Park

The Beatles live at Candlestick Park, San Francisco, 1966.
Recently some hitherto not publicly available colour amateur film footage from The Beatles' final concert was uploaded to YouTube. As you probably know, that final concert took place on the field of San Francisco's Candlestick Park, which was demolished a few years ago.
You can find the new video here:

Now one of our esteemed readers has taken it upon himself to stabilize the image in this footage:

Still silent, it's a well known fact that at the last minute, Paul McCartney asked their publicist Tony Barrow to record the performance on a little cassette recorder. The tape ran out during their final song, "Long Tall Sally". Barrow's recording can be found here. The concert was held on August 30, 1966.

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Ed Sullivan Shows - enhanced

New edition of the four Ed Sullivan Shows starring The Beatles.

New edition of the Beatles' Ed Sullivan Shows to be released on May 25, - but still only on DVD, and not Blu-ray. Still, the image is digitally upgraded (so, no new transfer, just digital enhancement?) from standard definition to high definition video.
This looks like a US release only, so far.

More here: udiscover Music
Amazon preorder link

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Yellow Submarine heads for U.S. Theaters

Back in January, we told you about 50th anniversary screenings of the "Yellow Submarine" film in the UK, and now U.S. theaters are also going to show the restored film. Above is the theatrical trailer for the U.S.

NEW YORK / LONDON / LOS ANGELES – APRIL 03, 2018 – Abramorama announced today a deal with Apple Corps Ltd. and Universal Music Group (UMG) to theatrically release The Beatles’ classic 1968 animated feature film, Yellow Submarine, across North America this July in celebration of its 50th anniversary. Abramorama, Apple Corps Ltd. and UMG have teamed to give Beatles fans of all ages the opportunity to come together and share in this visually stunning movie and soundtrack.  Abramorama originally partnered with Apple Corps, Imagine Entertainment, White Horse Pictures, StudioCanal and UMG’s Polygram Entertainment on the Ron Howard documentary The Beatles:  Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years. Abramorama has a proven track record in the music-driven film space, partnering numerous times with Neil Young, Pearl Jam and Green Day and now once again with Apple Corps Ltd.

Yellow Submarine was restored in 4K digital resolution by Paul Rutan Jr. and his team of specialists at Triage Motion Picture Services and Eque Inc.  The film’s songs and score were remixed in 5.1 stereo surround sound at UMG’s Abbey Road Studios by music mix engineer Peter Cobbin. Due to the delicate nature of the hand-drawn original artwork, no automated software was used in the digital clean-up of the film’s restored photochemical elements.  This was all done by hand, frame by frame.

Richard Abramowitz, CEO of Abramorama said, “We’re thrilled to have the privilege of bringing Yellow Submarine back to the big screen so that 3 generations of happy Beatles fans can enjoy the ground-breaking animation and classic tunes and that have long been part of our collective cultural DNA.”

Directed by George Dunning, and written by Lee Minoff, Al Brodax, Jack Mendelsohn and Erich Segal, Yellow Submarine began its voyage to the screen when Brodax, who had previously produced nearly 40 episodes of ABC’s animated Beatles TV series, approached The Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein with a unique vision for a full-length animated feature. 

Yellow Submarine, based upon a song by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, is a fantastic tale brimming with peace, love, and hope, propelled by Beatles songs, including “Eleanor Rigby,” “When I’m Sixty-Four,” “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds,” “All You Need Is Love,” and “It’s All Too Much.”  When the film debuted in 1968, it was instantly recognized as a landmark achievement, revolutionizing a genre by integrating the freestyle approach of the era with innovative animation techniques.

Inspired by the generation’s new trends in art, the film resides with the dazzling Pop Art styles of Andy Warhol, Martin Sharp, Alan Aldridge and Peter Blake. With art direction and production design by Heinz Edelmann, Yellow Submarine is a classic of animated cinema, featuring the creative work of animation directors Robert Balser and Jack Stokes with a team of animators and technical artists.

Information on local screenings can be found here:

© Subafilms Ltd 1968

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

From Sweden

Paul, George, Lill-Babs and John
News have reached us that Swedish singer Lill-Babs (real name Barbro Svensson), here depicted with the Beatles during their appearance on the Swedish TV-show, «Drop In» in 1963, passed away April 3, at the age of 80. During the show, Lill-Babs performed her Swedish language version of Lesley Gore's hit, "It's My Party" as "Leva Livet". The Beatles recognised Lill-Babs as a celebrity, because she also had a career and was a well known star in Germany. Interviewed by the Swedish press, she claimed that the Beatles asked for her autograph, but she didn’t ask for theirs. They certainly posed for a few photos with her.
This photo is usually cropped a bit closer elsewhere on the net.
The Beatles may have tried to flirt with her (especially George, it seems), but she thought they were a bit young. After all she was two years older then the older Beatles, Ringo and John. Interviewed by the press, she said that she was intrigued by the length of their hair and that she taught them to dance the Twist.
George tries his luck
Lill-Babs kept busy as a singer and entertainer with performances, and she was also a popular visitor to Norway. In fact, I happened to pass her on the street just a couple of years ago, when she was booked to perform in my home town.  She continued to perform until just weeks before she was hospitalised with a heart condition. An aggressive cancer was then detected, eventually causing her death. Rest in peace.

Swedish singer Jerry Williams.

This was announced just a week after the death of another Swede associated with the Beatles, Jerry Williams. Born Sven Erik Fernström, Jerry performed at the Star Club in Hamburg in 1962, at the same time as the Beatles, who he met there for the first time. Not very impressed with their stage act and performance of mostly cover versions, Williams thought they had improved a lot when he was booked to open for them during their tour of Sweden in October 1963. At the time, Jerry was handling the vocals for The Violents but was billed separately, as he was a big name on the poster. Jerry Williams continued in show business (his version of Lennon's Working Class Hero is available on YouTube), until his farewell tour in 2013. Born April 15, 1942, Jerry passed away from cancer on March 25th, 2018. Rest in peace.

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Catalogue reissues from Paul McCartney

4 catalogue releases from McCartney, also available on colour vinyl this time.
No news about Paul's forthcoming new studio album, I'm afraid - but meanwhile here are some catalogue reissues, due out May 18, 2018.


March 28, 2018 (Los Angeles, CA) -- On May 18, Paul McCartney will release four 2018 edition catalogue reissues via MPL/Capitol: NEW, Chaos And Creation In The Backyard, Wings Greatest and Thrillington. All four titles will be issued in affordable single CD digipak and 180 gram black vinyl single LP formats—and will be made available for the first time in limited edition 180 gram coloured vinyl pressings. All vinyl LPs will include a download card.

Released and over-released but back again.
Upon its release in 2013, NEW was lauded by Rolling Stone as "energized and full of joyous rock & roll invention.” Executive produced by Giles Martin and also featuring production by Mark Ronson, Ethan Johns and Paul Epworth, NEW entered the U.S. chart at #3. The album scored positive reviews from Entertainment Weekly to Pitchfork and all points in between, while the title track, “Queenie Eye” and “Save Us” would become staples of the McCartney live show over the course of the Out There and One On One world tours. NEW’s 2018 edition will feature the first vinyl pressing of the album since its 2013 release, including a limited edition pink vinyl 180gram vinyl LP with download card and 12x12” insert.

The original vinyl album is now expensive.
Released in 2005, Chaos And Creation In The Backyard was instantly hailed as continuing a hot streak that included Flaming Pie, Run Devil Run and Driving Rain. Produced by Nigel Godrich (Radiohead, Beck) and featuring the singles “Fine Line” and the Grammy-winning “Jenny Wren,” Chaos And Creation… debuted at #6 on the Billboard chart. It remained on the charts for nearly half a year, while Paul mounted the massive ‘US’ Tour. In 2007, “Jenny Wren” won the Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, while the album was nominated in three other categories including Album of the Year. The 2018 edition of Chaos And Creation… will make the album available on vinyl for the first time since its initial run and will include a limited edition gold vinyl 180gram vinyl LP with download card and 12x12” insert.

Gave some singles an LP home.
Originally released in 1978, Wings Greatest was the first ever compilation of Paul McCartney’s post-Beatles hits, featuring four classics that had previously been unavailable on any McCartney album: "Another Day," "Junior's Farm," "Hi, Hi, Hi" and "Mull of Kintyre.” The penultimate Wings album release, Wings Greatest was naturally a worldwide hit, and the soundtrack to the 70s for a generation. As part of its 2018 edition reissue, Wings Greatest will be available as a limited edition blue vinyl 180gram vinyl LP with download card and 20”x30” poster.

Thrillington was a rarity LP before this re-release
Recorded in 1971 but not released until 1977, Thrillington remains one of the most enigmatic entries in the storied McCartney discography. Credited to the pseudonym Percy “Thrills” Thrillington, a fictitious socialite whose activities were chronicled in UK newspaper ads, Thrillington was actually a fully reimagined instrumental lounge/jazz version of Paul and Linda McCartney’s RAM. With Thrillington’s 2018 edition, Percy is given a new lease on life with this collector’s item available on vinyl for the first time since the 1977 first pressings that fetch hefty sums on the collectors’ market, plus a limited edition red/black marbled 180gram vinyl LP with download card.

But enough about the press release. Of course, vinyl collectors who missed out on Thrillington and Chaos and Creation in the Backyard when they were new, are probably delighted to find out about these re-releases.

The original editions of those two albums are now getting top prices on auction sites like ebay, but this re-release may affect the collectability. As for ourselves, we found "Thrillington" in a bargain bin very cheap in the late seventies and got "Chaos and Creation..." when it was new.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

John&Yoko exhibition in Liverpool

John and Yoko exhibition opens in May in Liverpool.
Announced on March 20, the 49th wedding anniversary of John Lennon and Yoko Ono Lennon, from May 2018, the Museum of Liverpool will show a ground-breaking exhibition, exploring the personal and creative chemistry of this iconic couple and their ongoing Imagine Peace campaign.

Double Fantasy – John & Yoko, at Museum of Liverpool from May 18, 2018 to April 22, 2019, is a free exhibition, celebrating the meeting of two of the world’s most creative artists who expressed their deep and powerful love for one another through their art, music and film. They used their fame and influence to campaign for peace and human rights across the world, transforming not only their own lives, but art, music and activism forever.

Featuring personal objects alongside art, music and film produced by John and Yoko, the exhibition is drawn from Yoko’s own private collection, some of which has never been displayed.

Yoko Ono Lennon said: "I am so happy and grateful that we are having our Double Fantasy -John & Yoko show in Liverpool. This is where John was born and I know John would be very happy too. We were a very simple couple just loving each other every day and I just wanted to show the simple truth of us. 
In our personal life we were pretty simple people, and we made all sorts of things with love for each other. Everything was made out of love. We found that we were both very strongly interested in world peace. I feel John and I are still working together. I always feel his warmth next to me."

Taking a chronological journey, the exhibition starts with two unique individuals – a leading figure in the avant-garde art world and a global rock ‘n’ roll star. From a tender first meeting at Indica Gallery in London, it was 18 months later that the album, Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins was issued. What followed was breathtaking in its rapidity and productivity until John’s tragic and untimely death on 8 Dec 1980.

Through interviews, quotes and lyrics, the story of their personal and creative relationship along with their political activism and peace campaigning, will be told in their own words for the very first time.

John Lennon gets his "green card" which grants him permanent residency in U.S.A.

From the intimate to the iconic, the exhibition brings together unmissable objects and artworks including:

– Hand-written lyrics by John Lennon, including "In My Life", "Give Peace a Chance", "Happy Xmas (War is Over)" and "Woman".

– "Grapefruit" –Yoko’s artist book, which she gave to John as a gift in 1966. Published in 1964, the book represents a seminal piece of conceptual art and was a direct influence on the lyrics and ideas behind "Imagine".

– Original artwork by both, including Yoko’s "Ceiling Painting/Yes Painting", "Painting to Hammer A Nail" and "Apple", as well as "The Daily Howl", a hand-made book by John from his childhood and numerous examples of his distinctive line drawings. The exhibition also features conceptual work the couple produced together, such as War is Over, Plastic Ono Band, and elements of their first collaboration "Acorn Peace".

– Many personal items, such as John’s wire-rimmed glasses, Yoko’s large Porsche sunglasses, iconic items of clothing, such as John’s New York City t-shirt, and items from their wedding outfits.
An extremely rare Sardonyx guitar used by John on the album, Double Fantasy, and the acoustic Gibson guitar, illustrated on by John, from their 1969 Bed-Ins.

– John’s hard-won Green Card.

– Items from the couple’s famous 1969 'Bed-Ins' in Amsterdam and Montreal.

– A rolling programme of the films that John and Yoko created, and music videos made under Yoko’s supervision. A music room, overlooking the Mersey with the couple’s albums played for visitors will feature album cover art.

– A recreation of the Imagine mosaic circle in Strawberry Fields, Central Park, New York. An intimate and contemplative space, it will also reflect on the global impact of John’s death.

John Lennon's "green card" will be on display.
Sharon Granville, Director of the Exhibition for National Museums Liverpool said: “We have worked closely with Yoko and her team for several years to tell an intimate story of the couple’s relationship and work, using her and John’s words wherever it was possible. Setting this against a backdrop of the volatile late 1960s – Vietnam War, civil rights protests and social unrest and revolution across Europe and the USA – reveals just how creatively and bravely the couple harnessed their fame and influence to express their radical ideas, challenge preconceptions of the role of artists in society and promote universal themes of peace, love and equality, which continue to have strong resonance and importance today.”

Liverpool remained with John throughout his life. Testament to this is Yoko’s own longstanding connection to the city and her decision to have this incredibly personal exhibition celebrating their life and work at the Museum of Liverpool.

Double Fantasy – John & Yoko is a major part of Liverpool’s celebration of its 10th anniversary as European Capital of Culture.

This exhibition has been made possible with the kind permission of Yoko Ono Lennon.

Website: Museum of Liverpool/Double Fantasy

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Sir Richard Starkey

It was such a special occasion that Ringo decided to wear a hat!
Yesterday, Richard Porter reported that Ringo Starr was about to be knighted at Buckingham Palace today. And the Daily Mail had photographers posted, snapping several photos of Ringo with his wife Barbara Bach, prior to the ceremony. Their article mistakenly reported that Starr was about to receive an OBE, which is one rank above his previous MBE but still no knighthood.

The Daily Mail before they realised their mistake.

Later, they realised their mistake (probably alerted by Beatles fans) and amended their article.
At the ceremony, it was The Duke of Cambridge, Prince William who performed the ritual with placing the sword on Ringo's shoulder.
After the event, Ringo tweeted this image from the ceremony.

Interviewed by the BBC afterwards, Ringo quipped that he was going to wear the medal he received "for breakfast". A film of the interview can be found on this page.

The Daily Mail

Monday, 5 March 2018

New source for "It's The Beatles"

Imaginary CD cover for an imaginary CD.
Last week, someone uploaded to Soundcloud his own audio tape recording of the televised concert "It's the Beatles", which was filmed at the Empire Theatre in Liverpool December 7, 1963.

The Beatles Bible: The performance took place in front of 2,500 members of The Beatles' Northern Area Fan Club, between 3.45 and 4.30pm. It was filmed in its entirety by the BBC, and 30 minutes were broadcast that evening from 8.10pm to 8.40pm during a special programme entitled It's The Beatles.

The group played a short version of From Me To You, followed by I Saw Her Standing There, All My Loving, Roll Over Beethoven, Boys, Till There Was You, She Loves You, This Boy, I Want To Hold Your Hand, Money (That's What I Want), Twist And Shout, and another version of From Me To You.
Technical problems and lack of rehearsal times meant the sound balance for the concert recording was sub-standard. Both The Beatles and senior figures at the BBC later expressed concern at the often embarrassing nature of the footage, which included the absence of Ringo vocals during Boys and the director focusing on the wrong members of the group during key moments.

As we know, this particular video tape was later used by the BBC to train video editors in the technique of cutting and splicing, resulting in only four songs having survived.
Still, the (mostly) complete audio has survived, so far three sources have been known, but the new upload has proven to be the fourth and best of the crop, so far.

The uploader recorded the audio from the TV by wiring a tape recorder to the TV speaker. This is very dangerous. TVs had what was called a "hot chassis" in 1963, so poking around inside a TV set gave you about a 50-50 chance of electrocution.

Upon learning that bootleggers would probably use the recording for profit, the uploader deleted his Soundcloud file, but fortunately for Beatles historians and collectors, it was up there long enough for it to make it to some of these collectors.

The 70s vinyl boot "December 1963" featured the debut appearance of this concert - in terrible quality! Recorded six feet away from the tv set by a guy holding a mic. It came with bonus sounds of the family having dinner in the background.

The Amazing Kornyfone label released this offline recording as a vinyl bootleg in the seventies.

Then nothing happened until the mid 2000s and someone uploaded a version to YouTube. It was a line recording, but was plagued by speed problems, phasing and loud clicks and YouTube's at the time terrible audio quality. This was later released on the bootleg label Unicorn.

A few years later another line recording was unearthed, this one better quality but incomplete and missing all the verbal introductions plus three songs. It was released on bootleg called "The Beatles BBC Archives: BBC Beatles Night", which was freely shared on the internet.

Now we have this version, which is far and away the best one so far. It's a line recording, and is complete from start to finish, including the announcer continuity at the end!

Like I said, the recording was downloaded before it was deleted, and enthusiasts in the Beatles audio recordings community have been able to clean it up. This process has included speed correction (using the surviving video as reference), stereo playback head azimuth digitally corrected and recording then folded down to mono (recording was originally mono but played back on a stereo machine), mains hum removed, equalised for sharpening a somewhat dull sound, and bursts of static interference replaced with previous version of the same concert.

The result has been shared on a few internet Beatles forums for free, and not - as the original taper and uploader feared - for profit. But as you probably suspect already, somewhere down the line, some bootlegger will find this and release it for profit, no doubt.

Unfortunately, the BBC are not paying any finder's fees for unearthing recordings they used to have but which they have deleted in the past. And if you should have or find rare Beatles recordings and donate them to Apple or the BBC or whatever, you can never be sure if they are ever going to use or release them in some form. This means that if you really want other Beatles fans to hear or see what you have, it's best to share it on the internet - even if this means that some bugger is going to press discs and make money from it.

The surviving footage from the televised concert.

Monday, 26 February 2018

Blue Jay Way

George Harrison would have turned 75 yesterday, had he lived. To commemorate this occasion, The Beatles uploaded this Harrison composition to their Vevo and YouTube Vevo accounts:

The video is a bit different than the version included within the TV-film, Magical Mystery Tour.

As pointed out by Jeff Slate in this article, newer generations seem to appreciate George's compositions more than the hit making machine of Lennon and McCartney.
According to Spotify, the most popular Beatles song to stream, is Harrison's "Here Comes The Sun", with nearly 150 million streams, with Lennon's "Come Together" as the runner up, more than 40 million streams behind.

Monday, 5 February 2018

The Beatles in India - new documentary

Beatles et al in India. Photo: Paul Saltzman

The Beatles In India
A feature film documentary about Transcendental Meditation, the quest for inner peace, 
prolific song-writing and the road to The White Album... Set to be released in 2018 

UK, London: Thursday 1st February 2018 – New feature film documentary THE BEATLES IN INDIA, directed by two time Emmy award winning producer-director, Paul Saltzman and produced by Paul Saltzman & Reynold D'Silva for Sunrise Films, Ren/oir Pictures & Silva Screen is set to be released worldwide in Autumn 2018.

In 1968, with the eyes of the world upon them, The Beatles travelled to Rishikesh, India, to study Transcendental Meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in a remote ashram on the banks of the sacred river Ganges. Those few short weeks became one of the most prolific and creative periods of their lives.

Also present at the ashram was a young Canadian filmmaker named Paul Saltzman, there to heal a recently broken heart while seeking his own path to understanding and enlightenment. In the informal and relaxed atmosphere, he captured some of the most famous and intimate photographic portraits of The Beatles ever taken.
Photos: Paul Saltzman
The film details Saltzman's return journey to India, The Beatles stay and the songs they composed at the ashram as well as meditation as it applies to creativity, the divine inner journey and the healing power of love and music.

Integral to the story will be the background of many of the songs written in India and how they progressed through their initial writing, intensive rehearsals back in England and the release of the White Album on November 22nd, 1968.

Rarely seen footage and images, in depth interviews from India, the UK and North America and an authoritative team behind the film heralds its release later this year.

Producer Reynold D’Silva said: "The idea of a Beatles in India documentary has been with me since the mid-nineties. By pure coincidence, or perhaps it was fate, three separate people put me in touch with Paul early last year. It turned out he had been harbouring the idea for even longer than I had! After our first phone call, we were set on a path to produce the film together. Paul has a stellar track record in his field of producing and directing films. He has a clear vision with a profound knowledge of the subject matter borne out by the fact he was at the ashram in Rishikesh with The Beatles in February, 1968."

Paul Saltzman's new Beatles in India book
And that's the press release. As you may have noticed, the distribution of the film is not announced, so we don't know whether it will be a theatrical release, a TV documentary or if it's a straight-to-dvd & Blu-ray kind of thing. The progression of The Beatles' compositions from concept to finished recordings will be a difficult task to document, unless they have gotten into a deal with Apple and Universal Music about the use of original recordings. Also, the description "rarely seen footage and images" probably means that there's nothing new, Beatles scholars, photo and video collectors will already be familiar with all of this, but it still may appear new to the public at large.

Meanwhile, Saltzman's photos from the ashram is about to be made available again in the hardcover book Beatles In India – due out 13. Feb, 2018 in the UK and USA. Also available as a Deluxe edition, limited to 350 copies.
Back in 2000, you could find Saltzman's photos from the ashram in the book "The Beatles in Rishikesh".

The Beatles in India Film
The Beatles in India book (Amazon UK)
The Beatles in India book (
The Beatles in India Super DeLuxe Limited Edition book

Friday, 26 January 2018

Who's that girl?

Embed from Getty Images

You've seen her. That girl posing with the Beatles in French hats. At present, the copyright is held by Getty Images. This is how they caption the image: "English group The Beatles posed with a female actress and wearing a variety of French hats including a kepi and beret in Paris in January 1964. Clockwise from top left: John Lennon (1940-1980), George Harrison (1943-2001), Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr". So the model is not named, but she is described to be an actress. Place and time provided as Paris and January 1964. She strikes a pose, but she knows more than one:

For some, she's a mystery girl. And especially to people who write captions, it seems. And was the photo taken in Paris in January - or was it in London in December as a publicity image for their forthcoming residency at the Paris Olympia?

This is a 60's ollector's card from Sweden, locally called a "filmis", with a mirror image of the photo.
The caption here leads us to speculate if she's the fifth Beatle.

In this German magazine, the image is again flipped, and the caption describes it
as a scene from "Help!" with Eleanor Bronn (sic).

Out on the internet is a sleuth of false information, and captions are in many cases guesswork. The woman who is featured alongside the Beatles here, and also wearing the same outfit on a Parisian street is sometimes identified as Sylvie Vartan (the singer who shared the bill with the Beatles at L’Olympia the time), as artist Miss Mirabelle, who happened to pass by, as French actress and occasional model Sophie Hardy, and while I was doing my research, the names Eve Bowen and Mireille Darc also appeared.

Embed from Getty Images

Another Getty Image, the caption goes: "English group The Beatles posed with an unidentified girl in a street in Paris in January 1964."
This blonde has the same hairdo and outfit as in the photo studio, accessorised with a black scarf. No doubt a good way to  protect against the chilly January weather in Paris.

Of course, John and Paul were no strangers to Paris,. As an early 21st birthday present in 1961, John had been given the lump sum of 100 pounds, and he and Paul left the Beatles in the lurch for a while, and went hiking for Spain. They never made it further than Paris, and there they happened upon their Hamburg friend Jürgen Vollmer who was studying photography in the French capital. They visited the artist's district of Montmartre, and upon revisiting the city in 1964, no doubt John and Paul wanted to show George and Ringo the sights.

John Lennon and his wife Cynthia had spent a belated honeymoon in Paris just a few months before the Beatles arrived in the city, from September 16, 1963. And lo and behold, once again John met a friend from Hamburg in Paris, this time it was Astrid Kirchherr.

The first concert the Beatles held in France was on January 15, 1964 i the Cyrano theatre in Versailles, whereupon they moved their act to L’Olympia in Paris the next day.
The programme clearly shows the three biigest names on the bill.

There were around ten acts performing on each of the shows, an the biggest names apart from the Beatles were Trini Lopez and Sylvie Vartan. There were three shows every night the four first days, after that they only played twice a night. There has always been a bit of confusion about who were the real bill toppers, but according to the owner of L’Olympia, Bruno Coquatrix, it was the Beatles.

A page in the programme.
For their stay, the Beatles occupied a suite at the posh hotel George V, the same hotel where John and Cynthia had stayed at a few months earlier. They had an upright piano installed in a corner, which led Monsieurs Lennon & McCartney to compose "Can't Buy Me Love", which they also recorded while in Paris. The Beatles had a couple of Wednesdays off, the 21 and the 28 of January, and John and George flew over to London that latter Wednesday. Arriving back Thursday morning, they found that George Martin had arrived from England, and at EMI's Pathé Marconi Studios, the Beatles recorded German language versions of their last couple of singles, "She Loves You" and "I Want To Hold Your Hand". After having delivered "Sie Liebt Dich" and "Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand",  they recorded four takes of the new composition, "Can’t Buy Me Love".

Another page in the programme is an advertisement for their French records, both 45's and albums.
Their final perfomances at L’Olympia was on February 4, when they were journeying on to conquer America. A lot had happened while they were in Paris. Derek Taylor had been visiting, as he was ghost writing a newspaper column in the Daily Express for George, photographer Harry Benson had captured their pillow fight, they had been informed that they were top of the pops in USA with "I Want To Hold Your Hand" and they had discovered Bob Dylan. It was Paul McCartney who had been given Bob Dylan's album by a French DJ, and the Beatles listened a lot to it while in their hotel suite.

Photo exhibition
One of the photos we posted earlier in this story, was on display in Paris a few years ago, in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the Beatles Paris residency. From November 28, 2013 to February 8, 2014 the exhibition consisted of just a few photos from Paris, and more photos from the rest of the Beatles career. There was a note beside the photo, which mentioned a certain Eve Bowen.

EVE BOWEN. The Beatles posing at Eve Bowen's photo studio, a few weeks before their tour of Paris. December 1963.

However, this is just a photo credit. The note also claims that the photo in question was taken in December 1963, a few weeks before their arrival in France. We also find that Eve Bowen is credited as a photographer (or perhaps just a copyright holder?) in other pictures at the exhibition.

Exhibition catalogue page.
We haven't spent much time researching Eve Bowen, but we did see her credited as an American photographer at Artnet Among her photos are some from The Beatles' train ride between Washington and New York in February 1964. She also appear to have been present at the Beatles' dress rehearsal for the Ed Sullivan Show. The little bio we have seen reads: "Eve Bowen was a female photographer, but she is to a large extent unknown today. Her estate is kept at the Hayward Archive in London." Hayward however, sold Bowen's photos with full copyright at an auction in Surrey in February 2015.
Bowen also took some photos of Jimi Hendrix in 1967. Some people over at the French Beatles site Lucy in the web are saying that she was Dezo Hoffmann's assistant at the time, and took a few photos of her own. So perhaps she did take these photos after all. But the time placement mentioned at this exhibition we doubt.

Outdoor photos

The Beatles posing outside with the girl, Lutterbach is a Frensh beer from the Alsace district.

Dezo Hoffmann tells a tale about the girl in these photos: "It was «a very cold day. We went into a bistro for a hot cup of tea. Instead we got a cup of good French coffee from the young lady behind the counter. She was so attractive I asked her to pose outside on the pavement with the Beatles. She’d never heard of them, but did me the favour and went upstairs to change into some flimsy French-postcard style clothes. It only took me three minutes to get the pictures, but she was blue with cold, despite John snuggling up against her at the back.”
The girl's name was Mirielle, according to Bill Harry. The quote is from Dezo's book «The Beatles Conquer America» (Virgin Books 1984).

Clearly present in Paris, this photo captures photographer Dezo Hoffmann behind George..
That was a nice story, Dezo, but I think you may have invented it. In fact, it's French Beatles fan Jacques Volcouve, founder of the Beatles fan club "Le Club des Quatre de Liverpool" who delivers the goods. The name of the girl is Sophie Hardy (born October 4, 1944 or 1938, depending on source). Jacques says about the quote from Dezo: "I don’t believe this story. It is all untrue. Dezo’s memory has failed here. The same day they shot a photographic session in a studio with the Beatles wearing a typical French hat (i.e. Napoleon’s cocked hat, a cop’s kepi and a Basque beret). This girl was called Sophie Hardy and was an actress. I interviewed her a few years ago about that. She said at the time she was modeling and her agency called to ask her to pose with a foreign group called the Beatles. She did not know anything about them and just did her job, never realising who she was posing with. The Beatles still mean nothing to her."

Another version has the girl as Mireille Darc (1938-2017), another famous French bombshell at the time. But compared to the Beatles photos, her 1964 hair is far too long.

Mireille Darc in 1964 – too long hair.

Sophie Hardy was a young actress in Paris, mostly in 1964-67, and she also took modeling jobs.

Embed from Getty Images
This is Sylvie Vartan, the singer who shared the bill at L'Olympia with The Beatles,
and often wrongly identified as the girl on the street and in the photo studio.

Sylvie Vartan, captured in performance at L'Olympia in 1964.
Of course, in no way are the photos we are talking about featuring Sylvie Vartan, she may have had short hair at the time, but the model had even shorter hair and quite a different hairstyle. Vartan later married French singer Johnny Halliday, who died just recently.

Sylvie Vartan with Paul McCartney in 2008, when he once again performed at L’Olympia.

Ringo was also taking a few photos of his own at the photo studio session, Here is one of his photos of Paul,
which is currently exhibited by Genesis Publications..

Ringo brought his own camera to the photo session, and took a few photos. The above one is one of his portraits of Paul, and here is an interesting newspaper clipping from back then:

Ringo's photos. The clipping verifies that the actress was Sophie Hardy, but the photo of Jane Asher we're not so sure about.
After having appeared in a number of motion pictures and television shows in France, Italy and elsewhere in Europe, Sophie Hardy still accepts model assignments for the Cindy Brace agency. Here is her current head shot:

Sophie Hardy at 73 or thereabout.
So now that we have identified the blonde in those photos, who took the studio pictures? It seems to us that Dezo writes himself out of the picture with his fantastic tale of the girl in the coffeee shop, and that he only took the pavement shots. Was it perhaps the elusive Eve Bowen? If you have any information, please use the comment section.

And yes, we know that Dezo is credited as photographer on this EP cover:

A rare version of this EP, which also exists with a different front cover, taken by Dezo Hoffmann.

On June 6, 2018, L'Olympia is again revisited by a Beatle, as the venue is where Ringo and his All Starr Band open their European tour.

The Mersey Beat by Bill Harry
Lucy in the web
Getty Images
Model Agency Cindy Brace
The Daily Mirror