Category Archives: Archives

My 15 Minutes of Fame – the Abbey Road 40th Anniversary Walk.

My 15 minutes of fame :>) August 8th 2009. 40 years since the Beatles crossed Abbey Road, I thought it would be a good idea to organise a tour that would cross Abbey Road exactly 40 years to the minute since the Beatles. I got the great group Sgt Pepper’s Only Dartboard Band to lead us across, dressed as the Beatles were 40 years before. They arrived in a replica of John Lennon Psychedelic Rolls Royce. I thought we might get a few press people interested… Well, when we arrived at Abbey Road on the tour, there were about 15 TV crews, scores of photographers, and hundreds of Beatles fans! The police closed Abbey Road for an hour, and my had an impromptu party in the middle of the road. A day to remember!

Here is a great video of me and my group trying to cross Abbey Road, with seemingly hundreds of cameras recording the proceedings. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8kSwqkGuSY

We cross Abbey Road 5 days a week on my London Beatles Walks. For more info see http://www.beatlesinlondon.com

Blogger Richard Porter with Sgt Pepper’s Only Dartboard Band on Abbey Road
The band arriving in a replica of John Lennon’s Rolls Royce
Me and My group trying to cross Abbey Road 40 Years to the minute since the Beatles

 

 

 

 

From the Archives – A Nice Article about my London Beatles Walks

From http://www.news.com.au/travel/world-travel/the-beatles-magical-mystery-tour-in-london/news-story/a6e17362786caab504a1c4a1b618248b (click to read the whole article)

RICHARD Porter is the smartest man in Britain – at least when it comes to The Beatles.  In reality, considering the Sixties pop scene was a hotbed of sex and psychedelic drugs, he probably knows more about The Beatles than the remaining members of the Fab Four can remember themselves.

Porter is a fan. But he’s also so much more than that. In 1991 and 1992 he won the Beatles Brain of Britain title at the Liverpool Convention Centre.

These days you will find him eight days a week conducting walking tours around London following the long and winding road that always seems to lead to Abbey Road.

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

 

An Abbey Road Reunion

September 26th 1994 was the 25th anniversary of the release of the Abbey Road Album, and to celebrate, Abbey Road Studios invited all the producers and engineers that worked on the album to attend a gathering in Studio to celebrate. Also, all day there were TV and radio broadcasts from inside Abbey Road too.

As I had organised the 25th anniversary crossing of Abbey Road, I was invited by Martin Benge, then the managing director of the Studios, to spent the day inside the Studios, and meet all these incredible people. Here are some of my pics from that day:

This first pic is a gathering of all the producers and engineers. From left to right, Geoff Emerick, Phil McDonald, Eddie Klein, Ken Townsend, Jeff Jarratt, and George Martin.

An Abbey Road Reunion
An Abbey Road Reunion

And here is Sir George Martin – love his smile :>)

sirgeorge

Remembering John Lennon

I wrote this piece for the British Beatles Fanclub a few years ago. It still holds true today…

Like Beatles fans everywhere, we look back on the events of 8th December 1980 with much sadness. John Lennon, a brilliant musician, songwriter and man of peace, was needlessly gunned down in front of his wife, outside his own home. We all know where we were when we heard the terrible news.

However, we would rather remember and celebrate the remarkable life of John Lennon, than dwell on his senseless death. We condemn those media outlets that are featuring interviews with John’s killer, who carried out the act to become famous himself. Giving him publicity now gives him exactly what he wanted. It says something about our society, that a man who was a nobody for most of his life, should become famous for killing someone who gave pleasure to millions of people throughout the world.

John Lennon said in an interview shortly before he died, “It’s hard to be Gandhi or Martin Luther King or to follow them. I don’t admire politicians particularly, I think they’re showbiz people, but people who put their thing on the line, like Gandhi, and threw the British out by not shooting anybody… those are the political people I admire. But I don’t want to be shot for it like Gandhi, and I don’t want to be shot for it like Martin Luther King. I don’t want to be a martyr, I don’t believe in martyrs, but I admire their stance.”

John Lennon was not a saint, he was a flawed human being like all of us. However, he lived his life to the full, and used his fame to send a message of peace and love. On 8th December we will be commemorating a great life, not a senseless death.

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

John Lennon at Kenwood. Photo: Marilyn Demmen
John Lennon at Kenwood. Photo: Marilyn Demmen

Sgt Pepper – I’d Love to Turn You On.

In an article originally written for the London Beatles Fanclub Magazine, Esther Shafer writes about the Beatles Classic album, which they began recording 50 years ago….

An Appreciation of a Classic Album

Believe it or not, I got into a conversation with three Beatle fans who told me they don’t think Sgt. Pepper is a very good album. Now, this is as incomprehensible to me as someone saying they don’t like ice cream, chocolate, or blue skies. Totally blown away by this revelation, I was unable to come up with much more than ‘Why not’. got two basic reasons:

1) The songs on Sgt.Pepper aren’t as good as those on Revolver.

2) Being second generation fans, they were born too late to appreciate the mood of the times, and Sgt. Pepper is to them very much tied to the 60′ s.

I wentaway to collect my thoughts. Okay, so maybe there is such a thing as a generation gap. My mind drifted back to my youth, the summer of 67 when I was sixteen and Sgt. Pepper became permanently imprinted on my consciousness. If they don’t get the meaning of Sgt. Pepper, then I will try to help them.

So, for all of you poor lost souls, I am prescribing three exercises.

Exercise one Make believe it’s your first time.

Make absolutely sure you will be totally uninterrupted for 39 minutes and 52 seconds. Unplug the telephone, lock yourself in a room if you have to. Arrange your body in your best listening to albums position. It might be lying on your bed, on your couch, on the floor. Just make sure you have no limits to how loud you can play the music. If you have nervous parents, roommates, or neighbors, headphones are recommended. A CD would prevent you from having to turn the record over, but purists will want to listen to the album (a slightly scratched model from the 60’s is best with pops and clicks from well listened to tracks). Anyway, you will need an actual album for exercise three.

Choose a time of day when you are at your best. If it’s a nice day, open the windows, lie in a patch of sunlight, burn some incense, or surround yourself with flowers. Clear your mind of all thoughts, close your eyes, and just listen. Pay special attention to the way the instruments, sound effects and background vocals blend together. Relax and breathe deeply.

When you are finished listening to the entire album, stand up, stretch, and go outside. You should be in a somewhat sobered mood, after listening to A Day in the Life. Experience your surroundings, whatever they may be. You’re taking the time for a number of things that weren’t important yesterday. Really look at a flower or a tree. Look at the clouds in the sky. Watch a bird, or a squirrel. Even if your front door leads out to a busy street, that’s okay too. Listen to the traffic sounds, other peoples’ voices. Watch the people walking here and there. Imagine all the human dramas that are being played out around you. Watch an old couple, two young people flirting. Stay out as long as the mood maintains. You are finished. Good work.

Exercise Two Awakening the Unconscious

For the next few days, play the album as background music. Pretend it’s 1967. Anywhere you went, you could hear the sounds wafting out of windows, on car radios. Your friends are playing it on their stereo. They turn the record over and over, all day long. Your mind will tune out the parts you don’t really care for. Then all of a sudden, while doing something totally irrelevant, you will find yourself humming a tune, or remembering a guitar riff. Then you know you have accomplished your goal. Bonus points for remembering how one song blends into another. You’ve really made it when you can imagine the order of the songs without thinking too long about it.

Exercise Three – Traveling Through Space and Time.

It’s 1967. For months you have heard about the revolutionary design of the Beatles’ new album cover. Start with the front. Your eyes glance from one figure to another. You won’t be able to identify them all. Notice the lower half of the cover. You keep noticing more and more detail. Some of it looks very strange to you. Now open the cover. The Beatles look very different to you now. Their eyes look rounder, and you can see far, far into them. With their moustaches, they don’t look quite the same.

Now your eyes rest on their costumes. The shiny material, the decorations. Look how much they have changed since 1963. Thrown off the old dark suits, the same uniform. Now they are all wearing different colors. Let your mind wander back to your childhood. What did you want to be when you grew up? A policeman with shiny brass buttons? A fireman in a big red hat? A meter maid? An Indian princess? Superman? How would you really like to present yourself to the world? Express the real you. Braid flowers in your hair. Grow your hair as long as you want. Embroider flowers and sew patches on your jeans. Wear slogans on your shirts. Throw away those uniforms of conformity and be yourself. The Beatles say it’s ok.

Now look at the back cover. Let your eyes wander over the lyrics. Think of the range of human emotion that is played out on this album. Things are getting better all the time – hard times are over. The heady excitement of flirtation Lovely Rita, Meter Maid. The kind of love our gradparents have – no passion, just contentment – When I’m 64. A bit lacking in self–confidence? – I Get by with Little Help From my Friends. The heartbreak of broken relationships – She’s Leaving Home. The mania that comes from living in a rat race – Good Morning, Good Morning – and then it all comes crashing down on your head with the realization that it’s all futile because it’ll all end anyway – A Day in the Life.

I could get really heavy now, and tell you how the album is a microcosm of life – or remind you that this was the first “theme” album, and therefore it can’t possibly be compared to Revolver. The songs on Revolver are precious and rare jewels – each stands alone and shines in it’s own perfection. But Sgt. Pepper is rather like a novel – you can’t just pick up the book, open it randomly, and read one chapter, expecting to grasp the story in it’s entirety. But by this time, you should be making profound statements and having mind-blowing revelations of your own. And if not – well, I’d love to turn you on . . .

Esther Shafer

‘I Sang on Hey Jude’!

One of the biggest kicks I get out of doing my London Beatles Walks is meeting people with Beatles connections and hearing their stories. Some highlights include the day some of the original Apple Scruffs turned up. Amongst them was Gayleen Pease, who one day was outside Abbey Road Studios when Paul McCartney came out and said, “Can any of you sing?” Gayleen and her friend Lizzie said yes. Then Paul said, “Would you like to come inside and sing with us?” The Beatles were recording Across The Universe and wanted some female singers to do backing vocals. It was late at night and there were no professionals around. Therefore they asked the fans instead. It was great hearing this story from someone who was actually there.

Another such occasion happened recently. A guy from Sweden on the tour and he told me he sang on the video of Hey Jude in 1968! He kindly sent me an account of his wonderful day, plus the invite he received from Apple. Here is his story.

I was 19 years old travelling in Europe by car, at this time I was staying in my car at a parking place located at Trafalgar Square.

I was invited by a girl from Apple, whom I met on Oxford Street, to perform Hey Jude together with the Beatles on 4th September 1968. Of course my answer was YES!

I had to sign an agreement saying that I’m not going to be paid (See picture)

ebookletterheyjude

 We were a group of ordinary people asked to perform the last part of Hey Jude standing besides The Beatles for the BBC. David Frost was the host. There was a symphony orchestra playing too.

 They recorded the song about five six times for the TV show and in the meantime they sang a lot of classical songs like Tea for Two, Tom Dooley etc. This went on from about 6pm to a couple of hours after midnight. They seemed to have very fun together and played and sang and joked a lot together. They talked to us now and then. Paul was gave a lot of hugs to young girls and George went around talking to people, as did Ringo. John was more quiet and very tight together with Yoko, except when he was performing Hey Jude.

 Earlier they performed Revolution for TV without any audience, but they were watching and discussed the result of the video when we were there. I was standing close to John, watching the video for Revolution. He made many positive comments to us. (I still have my clothes, which have been touched by John. Crazy, but a big thing for me).  George was smoking a lot (Kent).  George gave his phone number to a guy from US who asked for an interview for his schoolwork. George was saying he was very occupied with an album at the moment but told him to call later.

I also met George Martin years later and he have signed the agreement.

Bengt Ahlstrom

Bengt would like to get in touch with any other people that were there that day. Please email bengt.ahlstrom@telia.com