All posts by Richard Porter

Portmeirion to celebrate 50 Years of Sgt Pepper

Things are really hotting up for the 50th anniversary Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. It has just been announced that the village of Portmeirion in Wales is to organise a special Beatles day at this amazing seaside location. George Harrison loved the village, and was interviewed here for the Beatles Anthology. He also held his 50th birthday party here. Brian Epstein also loved it, and holidayed here many times.

Portmeirion was also the location for the great TV series ‘The Prisoner’.

On Friday, March 24, locations manager Mr Jones will take members of the public on an exclusive tour around Gate House – a cottage previously used by Brian Epstein.

The tour will also take visitors outside the Watch House, up to the Bristol Colonnade and around the Hotel’s Mirror Room, which all have connections with George Harrison.

And as a finale to the event Fab Four tribute band The Mersey Beatles will perform a number of hits.

Tickets cost £30 and can be booked by visiting http://www.portmeirion-village.com, calling 01766 772390 or email ymholiad@portmeirion-village.com.

George Martin and Brian Epstein in Portmeirion

Sgt Pepper to be re-released, including Strawberry Fields Forever and Penny Lane?

The Daily Mirror newspaper in the UK are reporting that Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is to be re-released on June 1st – the 50th anniversary of its original release. They also say that Strawberry Fields Forever and Penny Lane are to be included on the album for the first time. These songs were originally recorded for the album, but EMI wanted a single release, and Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields were selected. Although one of the most incredible singles of all time, it became the first Beatles single in four years not to get to number one in the charts. It was held off the top spot by Engelbert Humperdinck and ‘Release Me’

A word of warning. This story had not been reported elsewhere, and the Mirror are notoriously unreliable. Also, there was no information as to whether this was a deluxe release, or any other bonus material.

More news when we get it!

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/two-iconic-beatles-songs-finally-9970665

 

Beatles Fan Club: a unique collection now on display at the Beatles Story in Liverpool

A unique collection of memorabilia from The Beatles’ “Youngest Fan Club Member” has gone on display at The Beatles Story .
Russell Jamieson is known as the youngest Beatles Fan Club member when at just four years old back in 1963, he was made an honorary member of the Club.
The youngster loved the band so much that he ran away from his home in Kirby to join the Fab Four in 1963, and when the story made the local papers, John, Paul, George and Ringo requested that club secretary Anne Collingham award him with an honorary membership. He even became known as “Russell Beatle”.
The highlights of the collection include a set of autographs dedicated to Russell, an original Beatles leather jacket and a Beatles collarless jacket.
Images of Russell with the Fab Four will also be on display as well as letters from the band and a newspaper article signed by Sonny Boy Williamson, the famous American Blues harmonica player.
The letter from The Beatles Fan Club reads: “At the special request of John, George, Paul and Ringo, I have very much pleasure in inviting you to become an honorary member of THE OFFICIAL BEATLES’ FAN CLUB.
“I am enclosing your membership card and a couple of special photographs which I am sure you’ll want to add to your collection.
“I want to take this opportunity of welcoming you to the Club and of hoping that you will continue to admire our favourite group, THE BEATLES. Who knows – one day you may form a recording group of your own and I shall be able to form a Fan Club for you too!
“Lots of luck, with love from, Anne Collingham. Secretary of THE OFFICIAL BEATLES FAN CLUB”.
Charlotte Kelly, Operations Manager at The Beatles Story said, “We are delighted to add this unique collection of artefacts to our exhibition, which now holds over 1,400 items. Fans of the band and musical history will enjoy this unique exhibit and the remarkable story it tells about young ‘Russell Beatle’ – who is the youngest and the only honorary member of the Fan Club as far as we are aware”.

The new display at the Beatles Story
Russell with the Beatles

March 5th 1963 – a Busy Day for the Beatles!

March 5th 1963 was a very busy day for the Beatles. They first did a photo session with John Dove at EMI House in Manchester Square, and at Montague Place, near the British Museum.

They then went to EMI Studios at Abbey Road to record their third single, ‘From Me To You’ and ‘Thank You Girl’, plus ‘The One After 909’ – which wasn’t released in 1963, but re-recorded for the ‘Let it Be’ album. The version recorded in 1963 wasn’t released until ‘Anthology One’ in 1995.

The Beatles on the steps of EMI Studios, Abbey Road, with the postman going by!
The Beatles in Montague Place, March 5th 1963. Notice John has put his glasses over the parking meter!
The Beatles on the step leading to the basement at EMI House, Manchester Squre
The Beatles in the canteen of EMI Studios, Abbey Road

March 2nd 1964 – the Beatles Start Filming A Hard Day’s Night

On March 2nd 1964, the Beatles begin filming their first film ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ at Paddington Station. They get on a specially hired train that travels between Paddington and Minehead in Somerset. While most directors would film train scenes in a film studio, Richard Lester was determined to use real locations, so a special train was hire. It was on the first day of filming that  George Harrison met model Pattie Boyd, who plays a schoolgirl in the film. They started a relationship, that led to their marriage two years later.

George Harrison and Pattie Boyd on the set of A Hard Day’s Night

From My Collection….

Over the year as a Beatles fan, I have collected lots of Beatles memorabilia. This is probably my favourite item.
My friend Marilyn Demmen used to go around to the Beatles homes on many weekends in the late 60s. She got to know them quite well, and got their autographs many times. One day she was outside John and Cynthia’s house, Kenwood, at St George’s Hill, Weybridge, when John came out and invited the fans into his kitchen! This might seem amazing now, but was quite a common thing for John to do.  When inside, Marilyn saw that John had a bookshelf full of his own books, as he did in ‘Help!’. She laughed about it – so John got one off the shelf, signed it, and gave it to her. That’s the one I’ve got now :>)
As Paul wrote the foreword, I got him to sign it outside Abbey Road Studios in the mid 90s.

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

The autographs of John Lennon and Paul McCartney in a copy of John’s book ‘In His Own Write’

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!