Monthly Archives: February 2017

With Alan Parsons Inside Abbey Road Studios

From the Archives of the London Beatles Fanclub  Magazine.

In September 1991, I was asked to do an interview with a Japanese satellite TV channel about my London Beatles Walks. I had only been doing them for a few years, and was delighted and flattered to be asked. I was even more delighted when I was told that the interview would take place INSIDE Studio 2 at Abbey Road, and that I would be interviewed the same time as Alan Parsons!

After we gave our interviews to the TV station, I rather cheekily asked Alan if I could interview him for the London Beatles Fanclub magazine, and he agreed! Here is that interview:

I believe you first met the Beatles at Saville Row, during ‘Let it Be’. Can you tell me how that came about?

I must have originally been sent down the day ‘Magic Alex’s’ console was put in. Glyn Johns was trying to get some noise ouyt of it! Everybody was waiting to start filming but basically, as we all know, the whole thing was a complete farce, nothing worked.

What was basically wrong with it?

It looked like it had been made by a 12 year old. All the holes had been roughly filed out, things were held together with one screw and nothing was on a straight line and it was banged together with bits of wood and chewing gum – it was an horrendous looking object!  It was advanced in its concept, but the execution of the concept left a great deal to be desired. It was two days later that I was brought in to work with Glyn Johns with the Abbey Road equipment.

Was Glyn Johns producing?

No, he was engineering. George Martin was very much in attendance, though he didn’t show his face every day. As often happens, he had other records to make as well. It must be emphasised, however, that it was very much a recording of an event at Apple, there was little in the way of production tricks. It was just the group in front of their instruments and record what happens, although when Phil Spector got his hands on it, it was far from that.

What was your actual role?

Tape operator – also coffee maker and cigarette buyer!

Just a few days after you became involved,t he famous rooftop session occurred – when did you first know about that?

The night before! They said ‘Let’s play in front of an audience’. ‘OK, when and where?’ ‘Why not play on the roof tomorrow!’ In normal circumstances, of course, it would have been crazy, but this was the Beatles.

An hour before, we were testing the mikes and it was a very windy day and the mikes were making a horrendous noise. I had to run out to Marks and Spencer to buy some stockings to hang on the mikes to stop the wind getting in. It was very strange walking into the lingerie department and them saying ‘What size do you want’ and me saying,  ‘Doesn’t matter’ ‘What colour?’ ‘Doesn’t matter’. I think they thought I was about to rob a bank!

Did you have any problems recording the roof top session?

Well, I was actually up on the roof. I was just on the other end of a communications system to sort out any problems. I had a wale of a time. I didn’t really have anything to do once everything was up and running and so I was just watching them play – it was brilliant. Everyone was buzzing.

I believe you did a lot of work on the Abbey Road LP. What was the atmosphere on that like?

Tense. There were various personal incompatilities between certain parties and their wives.

I think everyone was amazed the ‘Abbey Road’ LP was so good, considering the atmosphere it was recorded under. Was that down to George Martin?

I think it was a lot down to the individual writers. As you know, Paul sang on songs by Paul, John sang on songs by John…. However, the most noticeable things about the Abbey Road album is that they weren’t working together very much. They tended to come in and do their bits individually. But I was more involved in the later stages, John Kurlander did the early tracks.

Was the medley on side 2 recorded to fit together, or was that done afterwards?

A bit of both. It was just called ‘The Long One’ at the time. I wasn’t there at the conversation which led to the piecing together of it, but it was very much considered as one piece. It was worked one and always listened to as one piece. We were always running off rough mixes of it as a whole piece as it had developed to the end of that day and everyone would take it home to listen to it.

I believe you were present in the studio the last day all four Beatles were in the studio together?

What actually happened that day?

The banding of the album.

Oh yes, I remember it distinctly. Tony Hicks of the Hollies was also there to hear it. I was also present the day the Abbey Road cover was taken.

Have you worked with a Beatle since?

Yes, ‘Red Rose Speedway’ was the main time, and I went on tour with Wings on the European tour in 1972 – I was recording it. I’m not sure what happened to that. There were very interesting versions of ‘Hi Hi Hi’ on that with a different rhythm. I always preferred the live version and told Paul he should have recorded it like that.

When was the last time you worked with a Beatle? 

A year and a half ago [circa 1993] with Paul at my own studio. which came to nothing. We were just experimenting together in the studio to see if anything came out of it, but nothing did.

A few years later, Alan Parson took over as Managing Director of Abbey Road Studios, and I had a meeting with him about the possibility of setting up a shop for the studios. It didn’t happen until much later….

Then in late 2015, I attended a lecture that Alan gave in Studio 2, mainly about his work with Pink Floyd on ‘Dark Side of the Moon’. It was nice to meet him again. 

Blogger Richard Porter with Alan Parsons in the control room of Studio 2, Abbey Road Studios, November 2015.

 

Blogger Richard Porter is a full time Beatles tour guide in London. For more info on his tours, see http://www.beatlesinlondon.com

 

Happy Birthday George Harrison!

Happy Birthday George Harrison!

 

Here are some photos I took of George over the years …

George and Olivia arriving at the Premiere of How to Get Ahead in Advertising. London 1988.
George and Olivia Harrison at the Premiere of How to Get Ahead in Advertising.
George at a Ravi Shankar concert at the Barbican Centre, London

Sgt Pepper 50th anniversary in London

Things are really gearing up for the 50th anniversary of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, which was released on June 1st 1967.

2 concerts are now planned for the anniversary day: The Bootleg Beatles will be playing the whole album live at the Royal Albert Hall ( which is of course mentioned in ‘A Day in the Life’ on the album) backed by the Liverpool philharmonic Orchestra. Also that day, a special concert will take place at the Jazz Cafe in Camden (St Pepper – Jazz?) with an ‘all star band’ playing the album live, followed by guest DJs playing Beatles records until 1am. So, you could go to the Albert Hall show, and also catch the end of the Jazz Cafe show! For more info on the Jazz Cafe show see http://thejazzcafelondon.com/event/the-beatles-sgt-peppers-lonely-hearts-club-band-50th-anniversary-celebration-01-06-17

Also due around that time is the film ‘It Was 50 Years Ago Today, Sgt Pepper and Beyond’ – directed by Alan G Parker. plus many books.

All this, plus many books. Sgt Pepper is going to be very busy come June!

Tomorrow Never Knows! A Hard Day’s Night for the Beatles

It’s been A Hard Day’s Night! On 21st February 1964, the Beatles flew from Miami to New York, where they transferred to a plane for London, at the end of their amazing first American trip. They arrived at London Heathrow Airport on the overnight flight to a rapturous welcome home from thousands of Beatles fans, and event even covered live by the TV sports programme Grandstand!  They are interviewed by Grandstand’s host, David Coleman. Coleman asks Ringo about the incident when someone cut off some of his hair at a ball at the British Embassy in Washington. Ringo replies ‘Well what can you do, tomorrow never knows!’ A classic ‘Ringoism’ that of courser became the title of a song from ‘Revolver’.
You might have thought the Beatles would have then had a well earned break. Not a bit of it! The day after they appeared on the National ITV show ‘Big Night Out’. Then they were allowed one day off (lucky them!) before starting work on the songs for their new film at EMI Studios.
“Didn’t they give everything on God’s earth for ten years?” John Lennon on the Beatles.

Here is Grandstand’s coverage – Tomorrow Never Knows at around 9:43

Inside an Abbey Road Studios Recording Session

A few years ago,  I spent an incredible afternoon INSIDE Studio 2 at Abbey Road, watching the great Brazilian band ‘All You Need is Love’ record loads of Beatles songs.

I did a day tour for them the day before, and they kindly invited me to their recording session.

I was with them for three hours, and in that time they recorded 10 songs! And I thought the Beatles worked hard for the Please Please Please LP! Nearly every song was done in 3 takes or less.

They let me take photos – and I’m going to post some here.

The band are still going, but are now called ‘Hey Jude’

Blogger Richard Porter is a full time London Beatles tour guide. For more info on his tours, see http://www.beatlesinlondon.com

Brazilian band 'All You Need is Love' recording inside Studio 2 at Abbey Road Studios
Brazilian band ‘All You Need is Love’ recording inside Studio 2 at Abbey Road Studios – picture taken through the window of the control room.
Inside Studio 2 at Abbey Road Studios
Inside Studio 2 at Abbey Road Studios
Studio 2 at Abbey Road Studios. The Hammond organ was used on Beatles records
Studio 2 at Abbey Road Studios. The Hammond organ was used on Beatles records

Alan Aldridge

The Beatles world lost another personality this week, when it was announced that Alan Aldridge had passed away. Aldridge is best known to Beatles fans as the author of the book ‘The Beatles Illustrated Lyrics’ – which is in the collection of many thousands of Beatles fans. What isn’t so well known, though, is that Aldridge also did the lettering for the Beatles ‘Apple’ record label. The Apple design itself was by Gene Mahon.

Aldridge also designed the cover of ‘The Who’ album ‘A Quick One’.

RIP Alan Aldridge.

CIS:S.3615-1995
CIS:S.3615-1995

Please Please Me! February 11th 1963

On February 11th 1963, the Beatles recorded their debut album Please Please Me in one day! (Their second album took even longer :>)

In an amazing recording session that lasted just shy of 10 hours, the Beatles recorded 10 tracks. The Beatles weren’t in tip top condition either – the winter of 1962/63 was one of the coldest on record, and John Lennon was suffering from a particularly bad cold, that was affecting his voice. He got through the session sucking on Zubes throat sweets. Paradoxically, right by the jar of Zubes was a huge jar of cigarettes, that the Beatles smoked constantly through the day.

Only 2 songs were recorded in the morning session, ‘There’s a Place’ and ‘Seventeen’ (the working title of ‘I Saw Her Standing There’) At lunchtime, the engineers went to the the local pub, the Heroes of Alma, but the Beatles stayed in the studio to rehearse.

After lunch, they recorded ‘Do You Want to Know a Secret’ and ‘Misery’. Then at the 7:30pm evening session, things really started to pick up pace. They first recorded their own song ‘Hold Me Tight’ – but it didn’t really work, and the song was re-recorded for the Beatles second album ‘With the Beatles’.

The Beatles then recorded four cover versions, ‘Anna (go to him)’ ‘Chains’ ‘Boys’ and ‘Baby It’s You’. By the time the Beatles recorded ‘Baby It’s You’, John Lennon’s voice was really rasping, and he and the other Beatles were glad that they thought the day was over, and retired to the canteen. But it wasn’t, because ‘Hold me Tight’ hadn’t worked out, another song was needed. After a short debate, it was decided that it should be ‘Twist and Shout’ – a real fan favourite at their gigs. John’s voice had nearly gone by then, so, according to some accounts, he took his shirt off and ripped into ‘Twist and Shout’ in his most raucous voice possible on the first take. A second take was attempted, but wasn’t needed, as John had nailed it with the first take, and also totally ruined his voice in doing it! What an end to an amazing day.

Even though Please Please Me only took one day to record, it stayed at number one in the UK album chart for 30 weeks, only to replaces by the Beatles second album ‘With the Beatles’!

Please Please Me
Please Please Me

 

The Beatles Fan Film: Here There And Everywhere

News from  pledgemusic.com/projects/the-beatles-herethereandeverywhere

Be part of the first global fan film collaboration, telling the story of The Beatles and celebrating the fans from all around the world, who keep the legend of the band alive.

The film is being produced by Simon Weitzman, from 8 Arms To Hold You, All You Need Is Love and Tom Murray’s Mad Day Out, David L Simon, formerly of Disney, Dreamworks and Fox TV, and Pete Nash, BBFC magazine editor and journalist, plus a number of fan friends.

The film is scheduled for release in the summer of 2018 and production starts now!

You can be part of the production by pledging for a digital download, the DVD, the deluxe DVD, plus DVD T shirt bundles, and other products.

Each pledge includes your name in the final film credits, so you will be immortalised in the film, plus DVD pledgers also get the digital download as part of their pledge. In addition, pledgers will receive free animated phone screen savers and computer screen savers.

Just to confirm, the DVDs will play in all regions, so PAL, NTSC and SECAM.

The first 250 DVDs pledged for are also signed and numbered by the film’s producers.

The digital downloads will be available at both 720p and 1080p, depending on the capability of your devices.

Remember you are pledging now but your funds will not be taken for your pledge until we reach our target.

You can also be part of the film as this is a film about the fans, made with the fans. So we will be posting an update early next week outlining the ways to get in touch with stories, images, moving images and other possible contributions to include in the film. We are also looking for musical talent, as the film will feature a number of acts as well. In the meantime you can contact me, Simon, through the Pledge site.

So, come and be part of the biggest collective fan film ever attempted!

pledgemusic.com/projects/the-beatles-herethereandeverywhere

February 10th 1967 – A Day in the Life

February 10th 1967. The Beatles are in Studio One at EMI Studios at Abbey Road, recording the orchestral build-up for A Day in the Life. The orchestra are asked to start at their lowest note possible on their instruments, and go up to their highest.
The Beatles turn the session into a big party, with many friends in attendance, including Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, Donovan, and Mike Nesmith of the Monkees. Even though the orchestra were asked to wear evening dress for the occasion, one of them also wore a red clown nose, and the leader of the violins wore a gorilla paw on his bowing arm!

After the orchestra had left, the Beatles,and friends who stayed behind, got around a microphone and did a big hummmmmm. This was going to be the coda for the song, and the album. However, a few days later, this was replaced by the long piano chord.
The session is almost exactly 4 years to the day since the Beatles recorded the entire Please Please Me Album (February 11th 1963) – a quantum leap in 4 years!

This unique recording session was filmed for posterity. Tony Bramwell of NEMS was in charge of the shooting, gave out cameras to many of the participants to help. The resulting film was supposed to be part of a TV special about making the ‘Sgt Pepper’ album, but it was never completed, and the film made that day wasn’t broadcast for several years, as the song was banned due to supposed drug references.

Blogger Richard Porter is a full time Beatles Tour Guide in London. For more details of his tours, see http://www.beatlesinlondon.com

 

All You Need is Love Photo Exhibition Coming to London

A new exhibition of photos taken at the recording session for the Beatles ‘All You Need is Love’ is opening in Chelsea in March.

It was be at the Proud Chelsea Gallery at  161 King’s Road which, fittingly, used to be the Beatles’ ‘Apple Tailoring and Theatrical’ 

Proud Chelsea will showcase a rare and remarkable collection of this unique photographic session of The Beatles by David Magnus, revealing the close bond between photographer and subject. Magnus’s extensive archive from this inimitable occasion highlights the band’s domineering presence and influence within the music industry whilst reflecting the recognition, admiration and excitement that sparked the world-over across the last five decades.

For more info, and to see some of the photos, go to https://www.proudonline.co.uk/exhibitions