Category Archives: Archives

A Day in the Life– Paul McCartney, Victor Spinetti, and a Magical Mystery Tour

October 2nd 2012 – a day I will never forget. A day I attended 2 very memorable events, with Paul McCartney at both!!

The afternoon was the memorial service to Victor Spinetti at St Paul’s Church, Covent Garden. Victor had died a few weeks before. I had got to know Victor quite well through various Beatles conventions, and interviewed him for the British Beatles Fan Club at the City Barge pub, that features in Help! I later found out that my birth mother was born only a mile or so from Victor in South Wales, and used to buy fish and chips in the Spinetti family’s fish and chip shop!

Victor had a profound effect on me, especially when I first met him at the 1981 Beatles Convention in Liverpool. I was very sad to hear about his passing, and was determined to attend his memorial service. I rang the church a few days before and told of my family connection, and was invited along.

I was amazed when I got there to see so many famous faces.

It was a lovely occasion, moving at times, but in the main, a wonderful fun celebration of Victor’s life. The tone was set by Fr. Simon Grigg, who said that during his life, Victor was an atheist – but now he knows different!
The programme was a mixture of song and readings, plus very nice tributes to Victor from Barbara Windsor and Jim Davidson.
The musical highlight was Michael Ball singing ‘In My Life’. As he put it, with one of the composers sitting feet away from him.
Fenella Fielding read John Lennon’s poem, Fat Budgie, to celebrate Victor’s collaboration with John on the play ‘In His Own Write’.
Paul McCartney arrived at the church just before the service started. It seems that he initially didn’t think he was going to make it, and sent a written tribute to be read out. Instead he read it himself.
He remembered at one of the Beatles first meetings with Victor, he told them to look at a cloud in the sky and that he would make it go away – and it did! Paul said that, when thinking of Victor that morning, he tried to do the same thing. However the cloud he got didn’t go away, it just got bigger and bigger. Paul joked that it was actually Victor.

Barbara Windsor, who was one of Victor’s best friends, remembered when they were both in a touring stage show, and due to lack of rooms, had to share a bed in a hotel. Barbara, then the ‘sex bomb’ of the ‘Carry On’ films etc, said she never felt so safe in her life! Of course, Victor was gay.
The service lasted about an 75 minutes and we left the church to a recording of the Beatles Magical Mystery Tour.
Afterwards I was mingling outside, when Paul McCartney came up to me, shook my hand and said “Hi Richard, how are you going, haven’t seen you for a while.” It’s nice he remembers me :>)

Although everyone was sad about Victor’s passing, the service was very funny in places – and Fr. Grigg said at the end that he’d never heard so many ‘F’ words in a church before!
A lovely service for a lovely man.

A section of the service – including Paul  McCartney’s speech https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PFfsPFkjTEQ&playnext=1&list=PL03C5D18AB9E99DCF&feature=results_video

You can see me in the audience at about 7 mins 4 seconds :>)

A report on the service http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2211815/Actor-Victor-Spinetti-star-Beatles-films-died-aged-82-cancer-battle.html

Paul McCartney arriving at St Paul’s Church
The Programme for the memorial service

Attending the service would have been a highlight of most day’s – but mine didn’t end there. That evening, I attended a special gala screening of Magical Mystery Tour. I was the guest of Jeni Crowley, who was on the original Magical Mystery Tour coach, and appears in the film. Sitting with us were Sylvia Bodhi Hillier, and Leslie Cavendish, who were also on the coach, and Roy Benson, who edited the film.
Amongst the celebrities in the audience were Liam Gallagher, Paul Weller, Neil Innes, David Walliams, Peter Asher, Barry Miles, Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam, Mark Lewisohn, and Joe Boyd. Paul McCartney was there too, and gave a short speech before the screening. He seemed surprised to see me again so soon :>) I was sitting right in front of Liam Gallagher, and I could hear him singing along to I am the Walrus.
At first we saw the BBC ‘Arena’ programme about the making of Magical Mystery Tour, and after a short break, the film itself. Magical Mystery Tour looked and sounded great on a big screen, and it was wonderful seeing it with so many of the people that appeared in it.

…A Day in the Life!!!

Paul with Liam Gallagher and son after the screening

Remembering George Harrison

Today we are remembering George Harrison, who passed away on this day in 2001. I was lucky enough to meet George on a couple of occasions – at the premiere of the ‘Handmade Films’ ‘How to Get Ahead in Advertising’ and a few years after that, at a concert by Ravi Shankar. In each case, they were very public events, and I barely got to say ‘hello’ – I would have loved to have the opportunity to sit down and have a long conversation with him, but it was not to be.

I was lucky enough to see George live at the Royal Albert Hall in 1992, his only solo UK concert. I’ve never been in a place where there was so much love. The ‘vibes’ were incredible. A brilliant moment was  ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’. Before the song, George said, ‘ ..and I’d like to bring on a blast from all our pasts – RINGO!’  – and the roof raised! During the song George sang ‘I look at you all…’ and rather than pausing, as he does on the record, he said ‘Quite nice actually’ – in his usual understated way. I’m glad he enjoyed himself that night, something that Olivia confirmed when I met her a few years ago.

For me, George was the soul of the Beatles. Yes, a complicated character, but they all were. I love the fact that, apart from music and religion,  George’s great passions were gardening, and formula one motor racing! You can’t get 2 more different hobbies than those.

Here are some photos I took of George.

RIP Mystical One

George and Olivia arriving at the Lumiere Cinema for the premiere of How to Get Ahead in Advertising

George at a Ravi Shankar Concert, Barbican, London

From the day George’s passing was announced, fans started leaving flowers at Abbey Road Studios. They were very tastefully displayed on the steps. The Studios opened their windows and played ‘All Things Must Pass’ to the fans outside.

Floral tributes to George Harrison at Abbey Road Studios

 

 

October 13th 1963 – The Beatles at the London Palladium

On 13th October 1963, the Beatles appeared on a TV show called Val Parnel’s Sunday Night at the London Palladium. The Palladium was, and still is, London’s most famous theatre, and it was regarded as a highlight of a ‘showbiz’ career to play there. Sunday Night at the London Palladium had been going for several years, and was one of the most watched TV shows in the the UK. On March 2nd 1958, Buddy Holly and the Crickets appeared on the show – and very much influenced the youth of the UK, including John, Paul, George and Ringo, who were all glued to the TV that night!

The Beatles appearance on the show was very popular – about 18 million people watched this show. By then, the Beatles already had 3 number one hits, and been on TV many times, but all on shows geared towards teenagers. The Palladium show was the first time they had been on an ‘family’ show. They topped the bill on the show, which was presented by Bruce Forsyth. Forsyth whipped the audience into a frenzy by counting down to the Beatles appearance. They sang From Me To YouI’ll Get You, She Loves You and Twist and Shout. They also appeared, together with the rest of the cast, right at the end of the show, to wave goodbye to the audience on the Palladium’s revolving podium.

No film of the show remains, as TV bosses at the time did not think anyone would want to watch this performance of the Beatles after it was first shown. There is audio of the show though – which you can listen to here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E6C_f9lvyFg

There is, however, footage of the Beatles coming out of the theatre. You can see that the street was packed with people. The Beatles come out, and there is no car waiting for them. They rush towards what they think is a taxi, but it turns out to be a police car, and policemen would not let them in. Ringo comes out first, then the other three follow, and there is nowhere for them to go. This confusion was probably because the stage door is around the back, and they came out of the front entrance. Maybe, that was deliberate, as all the press were outside here.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kNYXilEvSo4

Throughout the day the theatre was besieged by several hundred Beatles fans. Next day all the UK newspapers were full of stories of the mayhem. Although screaming girls were a regular occurrence around the Beatles by then, the national newspapers had virtually ignored the Beatles and their fans up to this point. The Palladium show changed that; from now on the Beatles were hardly ever out of the newspapers. A couple of weeks after the Palladium show the term ‘Beatlemania’ was used for the first time to describe the scenes that now greeted the Beatles wherever they went.

Beatles books have often misstated that their famous 1963 appearance on the Royal Command Performance was held at the London Palladium, when it fact it was held at the Prince of Wales Theatre, a month after the Palladium concert. This confusion was no doubt brought about by a poster that was released at the time, of the Beatles standing in a doorway. The poster said: “The Beatles, Royal Command Performance 1963, London Palladium”. This is a mistake, and a strange one, as the poster was officially licensed by NEMS – Brian Epstein’s company! You would have thought someone would notice such an error!

The Beatles made a second appearance on Sunday Night at the London Palladium in January 1964, and, if anything, were greeted by more mayhem than their first appearance. They returned to the Palladium for the last time in July 1964 for a charity concert called The Night of a Hundred Stars.

The Beatles at the London Paladium

Blogger Richard Porter is a professional Beatles Tour Guide in London. For details of his tours, see http://www.beatlesinlondon.com His book, Guide to the Beatles London, is available at http://www.beatlescoffeeshop.com/shop/product.php/2/guide_to_the_beatles_london__guide_book_by_richard_porter

From the Archives – The Day London Beatles Walkers Saw a Free Paul McCartney Concert!

People that came on my London Beatles tour on Thursday 7th June 2007 were in for a surprise – they got to see Paul McCartney play live – for nothing!!

Paul’s ‘secret gig’ at the Electric Ballroom, Camden Town, was only announced at about 3pm the previous day. When I read the report on the official Paul McCartney website my reaction turned from excitement to despair in a few seconds. They were giving out armbands for the concert at 12.30pm – when I would be in the middle of my Beatles tour!!! I wouldn’t be able to get to Camden until about 2pm. Would I miss out on seeing Paul McCartney because I was doing a Beatles tour! How ironic.

Due to the short notice there was no way I could get another guide to do the tour – and I thought that ‘taking a sickie’ to get tickets for Paul McCartney would have been a bit too obvious. I spent a sleepless night wondering how on earth I could be in two places at the same time.

I decided to go down to the Electric Ballroom early the next morning to see what the situation was. I arrived at about 8am and was amazed there were only 14 people in the queue! I was fully expecting there to be several hundred by then. When Paul did the signing for Ecce Cor Meum in December scores of people slept outside Virgin for the night. It seemed the late announcement of the concert has prevented many people from coming.

I asked the security guys when the bands were to be given out and he said between 12 and 12.30. I still had a problem. However, I stayed in the queue for a couple of hours and by 10am only another 6 people arrived. Then I had a brainwave. I was sure that everyone who arrived for the tour that day would like to see Paul live. Tottenham Court Road is only about 10 minutes on the underground from Camden. I could go down to the start point of the tour, bring them to Camden in good time for the handing out of bands at 12.30 and do the tour in the afternoon. Luckily London Walks agreed with my plan. My spirits were improving. Then just as I was about to leave Camden I got a call from Paulmcartney.com to say I had won tickets to the concert in their draw. Things were certainly looking up!!

About 25 people turned up for the tour and I told them the plans. Most were really excited but one or two had theatre tickets and couldn’t go to see Paul.

We got back to Camden at 11.30am and there were still only about 30 people in the queue. It seemed everyone on the tour would get in.

We did the tour in the afternoon and had some free time before the show. I recognised many old friends in queue, some I hadn’t seen for years.

The doors opened about 7pm and by then a fairly large queue had formed. However I heard later that all the fans who were outside managed to get in.

I was wondering whether there would be any merchandise available and was amazed to be given a FREE Memory Almost Full T Shirt as I walked into the ballroom.

The Electric is a large ballroom with a large downstairs area with a bar in the middle and also a small upstairs balcony. It holds around 1000 people. Even though it was standing only and I’m only 5 ft 5 inches tall I still I managed to get a good view of the stage.

Amongst the celebs present included Pierce Brosnan, Jeff Beck, Dave Gilmour, Kate Moss and McKenzie Crook.

Paul came on at about 8.40pm and launched into Drive My Car. Not a bad start! The crowd went wild. Paul was in great voice and great spirits. He seems to love playing these smaller gigs and throughout was interacting with the audience.  The whole band seemed to having a great time and the atmosphere was electric from the start.

The set list was as follows:

‘Drive My Car’
‘Only Mama Knows’
‘Dance Tonight’
‘C Moon’
‘The Long And Winding Road’
‘I’ll Follow The Sun’
‘Calico Skies’

‘That Was Me’
‘Blackbird’
‘Here Today’
‘Back In The USSR’
‘Nod Your Head’
‘House Of Wax’
‘I’ve Got A Feeling’
‘Matchbox’
‘Get Back’
‘Hey Jude’
‘Let It Be’
‘Lady Madonna’
‘I Saw Her Standing There’

The songs from the new album sounded really good – especially Only Mama Knows which was better live than on the CD. It deserves to be in any Macca set list for years to come. House of Wax and That Was Me were also really good.

The crowd was raucous from the start. Inevitably The Beatles songs got the most reaction but the new songs were greeted well too. Throughout the show Paul joked about the founder of Camden ‘Camp Den’ – who was very good with his hands’. Was he talking about Denny Laine??? He also made fun of someone shouting at him by replying ‘There’s always someone shouting something unintelligable’ and then did a neanderthal man impersonation!

By far the most emotional moment of the concert was when Paul sang ‘Here Today’ – and dedicated it to our ‘fallen heroes’ John, George and Linda. I think it’s the first time he’s included Linda in the dedication for this song and he was clearly very emotional when he sang it. He said at the end ‘That’s always a dangerous song to sing’.

Highlights for me were ‘Back In the USSR’  “I’ve Got a Feeling’ and storming version of Carl Perkins’ ‘Matchbox’. It was also great seeing him play Get Back and I’ve Got a Feeling just hours after I was on my tour outside 3 Savile Row.

Paul left the stage after singing  ‘Hey Jude’ but the crowd kept on singing it, and after a few minutes Paul and the band came back on and continued to play it.

After a wonderful encore of Beatles classics the concert was finally over. I suppose one surprise was that he didn’t sing Yesterday – barring the short Cavern Club gig I think it’s the first concert Paul’s done since 1973 when he hasn’t sung it. In all, the concert lasted about 1.5 hours. It was totally superb – especially as it didn’t cost a penny to get in!

Many people that had come on my tour came to thank me. I guess I made a few new friends :>)

Blogger Richard Porter Guides five Beatles walks a week for London Walks. Please go to http://www.beatlesinlondon.com  for more information.
PS – about a year after the gig, I received an email from one of the walkers who were at the gig that night and had a great time. Their child was born 9 months later :>)

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