Friday, February 21, 2014

Exclamation point


February 22, 1964

It hss been a lot of fun for me to write this blog over the last three years and get a sense of all the events and people who came together to make the Beatles possible.  It's impossible to overestimate the impact they have had on popular culture and so I'd like to finish by publicly thanking John, Paul George and Ringo for bringing so much joy and meaning into so many lives.

I know I promised to end this blog when the Beatles appear on the Sullivan show, but here's one more post on the day they return to jolly old England and their first days of undying worldwide fame.  And so they played a few gigs in the USA, including Carnegie Hall (practice, practice, practice!) on February 12th, and a return engagement with Ed Sullivan on the 14th.  Then, a few glorious days of rest in the Florida sun.  I wonder if they, in a quiet moment, reflect on what a long and winding road it had been.  From basement clubs and little pubs, to Liverpool dance halls and Hamburg, Germany and British package tours. And now this!

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

No More Talk, Just Listen

Sunday - February 9, 1964

It's been a long journey but, the big day has finally arrived. Sunday night. Clustered around the eerie glow from the big, bulky, black and white TV. If you were there, relive it. If not, imagine you were.

Follow this link.

Signing off now.  Happy listening to you all.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Bringing Coals to Newcastle

February 7, 1964

They are here (in the US!)  Their Pan Am flight from London Heathrow touches down at NYC's recently renamed JFK airport at 1:30 pm.  The Beatles stage a short chaotic press conference.  "Can you sing something?"  John: "We need money first!"  "Are you going to get a haircut while you are here?"  George: "I had one yesterday."

They move on, in four Cadillac limousines, to the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan. Thus starts a whirlwind of shows, press conferences, interviews, and phone calls back home.  It's all very well documented in the Maysles Brothers documentary "The Beatles, the First US Visit".  Here is some footage that was shot exactly 50 years ago today, outtakes from "The Making of...".




George Harrison is suffering with a fever of 102, but the show must go on.  The three lads from Liverpool, who've stuck together through thick and thin and a friendly drummer are about to overwhelm the new world.  You can make bringing coals to Newcastle work!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Recording in Paris

January 29, 1964

The Beatles record at Pathe Marconi Studios in Paris, the one and only time they record as a group outside the confines of England.  To facilitate their growing popularity on the continent, they use previously recorded instrument tracks and sing two hits in German, finishing "Sie Leibt Dich" and "Komm Gib Mir Deine Hand".  Their exposure to the German language during their long residencies in Hamburg as a developing band helped with proper conversational pronunciation,  I'm sure.

They lay down tracks for a brand new record "Can't Buy Me Love".  Writing and recording world beating songs has become second nature to them now.

Also, Paul makes a demo of "One and One is Two" in their Paris Hotel Room.  See Beatles Rarity - One and One is Two

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Tune Up

January 16 - February 4, 1964

The Beatles, via Brian Epstein, are actively looking for new audiences to conquer.  With that in mind, they do a three week residency at the Olympic Theatre in Paris France.  At first, audiences are reserved and sit quietly and listen, but by the end, they are screaming and carrying on like their English counterparts.

While the first Paris show was a disappointment with polite audience and equipment breakdowns, the mood improved later because of a telegram from America.  According to Cashbox Magazine, "I Want to Hold Your Hand" is going to be number one in the USA!

The Paris shows bundle the Beatles with American Latin sensation, Trini Lopez and local rocker girl Sylvie Vartan.  Below is some footage I stole from a Beatles documentary "Rare and Unseen" which is worth watching just for the reminiscences of many of the characters who appear earlier in this blog and who were instrumental in the development of the band over the last four years, or so.

It's also a tune up for their foray into the huge US market, which will take place immediately following and now with a number one record on their resume'.

Here's the shorter clip from "Rare and Unseen".

Thursday, December 26, 2013

First Shot Across the Bow

December 26, 1963

Capitol Records in the USA can not resist the rising tide any longer.  In response to a groundswell of
popularity, they move up the planned release of "I Want to Hold Your Hand" backed by "I Saw Her Standing There" officially into the US market.  It must have been about this week that I first caught the buzz.  I was just about to turn twelve and I recall being on a winter camping trip with the Boy Scouts (troop 269) in an old converted farm house at the D-bar-A camp in Metamora, Michigan.  Everyone had tinny little transistor radios including me and I'm pretty sure that is where I first heard the strains that would echo down these fifty years and beyond.

It's the first shot fired in the historic British Invasion!

Oxford University Press Blog Post


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas with the Beatles

December 24-31, 1963

The Beatles, always true to their English heritage, are always involved up to their necks at Christmastime.  For the people of northern climes, it can be a great equalizer, during the worst of the cold, dark winter months to gather together for song and fun.

This year, it's a stage production "The Beatles Christmas Show" that starts today and runs for 16 nights at the Astoria Theatre in London.  The band looks back on the long musical hall tradition that is an essential ingredient in their formation. The show includes comedy, pantomime and music.  Just what's needed to revive flagging spirits.  In addition to their music, the boys are cast in a number of skits, which prove very popular with audiences.  John, Paul George and Ritchie do fly home to Liverpool this evening after the festivities to spend Christmas Day with their families.

Rolf Harris, of "Tie Me Kangeroo Down, Sport" fame is part of the show.  The whole show is a brainstrorm of (who else) Mr Brian Epstein.

Typical Beatle zaniness from '63, by way of wishing you Merry Christmas. (I love the Freda Kelly shout out, from George.)